1. A House – Call Me Blue (1988, A Side, Dublin)
2. Hey Paulette – Commonplace (1988, A Side, Dublin)
3. Guernica – The Humming Of The Engine (1988, A Side, Dublin)
4. Premonition – The Streets Are Paved With Lead (1988, A Side, Dublin)
5. So She Said – So Happy (1988, Compilation, Dublin)
6. Lord John White – Kill The One You Love (1988, Soundtrack LP, Dublin)
7. Cypress Mine – The Sugar Beet God (1988, A Side, Cork)
8. Stump – Charlton Heston (1988, A Side, Cork)
9. Shark Bait – Problem Child (1988, Compilation, Dublin)
10. Paranoid Visions – City of Screams (1988, LP Track, Dublin)
11. Something Happens – Beach (1988, A Side, Dublin)
12. Blue In Heaven – She Is Everything (1988, EP Track, Dublin)
13. Toasted Heretic – Sodom Tonight (1988, LP Track, Galway)
14. Bam Bam & The Calling – Scraping Off The Shine (1988, A Side, Derry)
15. That Petrol Emotion – Cellophane (1988, A Side, Derry)
16. My Bloody Valentine – You Made Me Realise (1988, A Side, Dublin)
17. The Stars Of Heaven – Lights Of Tetouan (1988, LP Track, Dublin)
18. The Fat Lady Sings – Be Still (1988, A Side, Dublin)
19. The Stunning – Got To Get Away (1988, A Side, Galway)
20. A House – I’ll Always Be Grateful (1988, A Side, Dublin)
21. Something Happens – Forget Georgia (1988, LP Track, 1989, A Side, Dublin)
22. Power Of Dreams – A Little Piece Of God (1989, EP Track, Dublin)
23. The Slowest Clock – Carnival (1989, EP Track, Dublin)
24. Scale The Heights – Goodbye To All That (1989, A Side, Kildare)
25. The Dixons – Ingrid Bergman (1989, A Side, Dublin)
26. Into Paradise – I Want You (1989, EP Track, Dublin)
27. The Train Walkers – Girl I Used To Know (1989, Compilation, Dublin)
28. The Would Be’s – Must It Be (1989, Compilation, Cavan)
29. Venetian Blonde – Friends (1989, Compilation, Dublin)
30. The Outpatients – Pearl (1989, A Side, Dublin)
31. Rex & Dino – Busy Sleeping (1989, A Side, Dublin)
32. The Malfunctions – Say Goodbye (1989, A Side, Donegal)
32. Giant – Put Yourself In My Shoes (1989, A Side, Dublin)
34. The Golden Horde – 100 Boys (1989, A Side, Dublin)
35. The Real Wild West – The Sixties (1989, A Side, Dublin)
36. Hinterland – Dark Hill (1989, A Side, Dublin)
37. An Emotional Fish – Celebrate (1989, A Side, Dublin)
38. The Radiators – Under Clery’s Clock (1989, A Side, Dublin)
39. Fatima Mansions – Only Losers Take The Bus (1989, A Side, Cork)
40. Beethoven – Day Tripper (1989, EP Track, Cork)
41. Brian – A Million Miles (1989, A Side Dublin)
42. The Slowest Clock – Millenium Train (1989, EP Track, Dublin)
As the 1980s drew to a close, the Irish Alternative music scene was vibrant, south of the border . There was so many new acts appearing that Dublin was, exaggeratedly, referred to as the ‘city of a thousand bands‘. Several of the groups that had emerged in the middle of the decade had progressed and signed international record deals, although few had found major success. Others continued to produce excellent music, but had to eke out an existence through independent label releases. North of the border, the scene was quieter, although what little music did emerge was of the highest quality.
Following two self released singles, Underground graduates, A House signed a major record deal with WEA subsidiary Blanco Y Negro, making their label debut with Heart Happy in 1987. The following year’s single releases ‘Call Me Blue’ and ‘I’ll Always Be Grateful‘ picked up plenty of airplay on MTV, but missed out on a chart placing. Both tracks were taken from the band’s debut album On Our Big Fat Merry Go Round.
Dublin band Hey Paulette were distinguished by the jangling guitar work of Derek Dalton. ‘Commonplace’ was released on Sean A McDermott’s imaginatively titled Mickey Rourke’s Fridge label. The single was played by John Peel, who also invited the band to record a session for his BBC radio show.
‘Humming Of The Engine’ was the third and final single from Dublin band Guernica. Vocalist, Joe Rooney went on to become a well known comedian/actor/podcaster, while other band members later played with Sack and The Honey Thieves.
Dublin band Premonition won a battle of the bands competition organised by former Stougers guitarist, Pete “The Roz” McCluskey, and Hot Press writer “Steady” Eddie Joyce, that took place over several weeks in Dublin’s Underground bar. Their prize was a one-off single release on EMI Ireland, ‘The Streets Are Paved With Lead‘.
The above mentioned Pete “The Roz” and “Steady” Eddie increased their involvement in the local scene by setting up, Danceline Records. ‘So Happy’ by Dublin band So She Said was the standout track from, Swimming Out Of The Pool, the first compilation on the new label, released in 1988. Unfortunately, the band had no further releases.
Lord John White And The Bottleneck Train took their name from an Orange Juice B Side. The name had been shortened by the time ‘Kill The One You Love‘ featured prominently on the soundtrack of 1988 Dublin based feature film, The Courier.
Cypress Mine followed their Exit Trashtown album with a new single ‘The Sugar Beet God’, on Solid Records. The band also recorded an, as yet, unreleased second album.
Stump released their full length debut, A Fierce Pancake, in 1988. ‘Charlton Heston’ was the third and final single taken from it. Despite plenty of airplay for the video the single missed out on a Top 40 place, and the band were dropped by their label, Ensign. A follow-up album was recorded, but its tracks remained unreleased until 2008’s Anthology.
The Dublin scene had it’s fair share of Psychobilly bands, chief amongst them Shark Bait, fronted by Dave Finnegan. ‘Problem Child‘ appeared on the third Comet compilation. Shark Bait reformed in 2012 to record and release the album they never made first time around.
Paranoid Visions marked Dublin city’s Millennium celebrations in their own inimitable way with ‘City Of Screams’.
Something Happens were another graduate from The Underground bar to sign a major label deal. Their debut album on Virgin Records, Been There, Seen That, Done That produced by Tommy Ramone was released in 1988. ‘Beach‘ and early live favourite ‘Forget Georgia’ were single releases from the album.
Blue In Heaven left Island Records following the commercial failure of their second album Explicit Material. ‘She Is Everything‘ was included on the band’s final release, the Rock’N’Roll R.I.P EP, released on Solid Records in 1988.
1988 saw Galway band, Toasted Heretic self record and release the cassette album Songs for Swinging Celibates, which featured ‘Sodom Tonight’.
Derry band Bam Bam & The Calling survived the defection of guitarist Raymond Gorman to That Petrol Emotion, to release ‘Scraping Off The Shine’. A second single Neck Tattoo was also released by the band.
End Of The Millennium Psychosis Blues was the final album before songwriter John O’Neill left That Petrol Emotion. Lead single ‘Cellophane’, despite its gentle melody, was a damning indictment of the British military presence in Northern Ireland.
After the departure of Dave Conway, and arrival of Belinda Butcher, My Bloody Valentine only retained the old band name because they couldn’t come up with a new one. Their first release on Creation records ‘You Made Me Realise’ was a seismic leap forward for the band.
There was no single releases from The Stars Of Heaven’s full length debut Speak Slowly, though ‘Lights Of Tetouan’ has become the album’s best known track. The band departed Rough Trade soon after the album’s release. They signed to Mother Records, but sessions for a third album only saw the light of day in 2003, with the release of the Unfinished Dreaming compilation on Dublin label, Independent Records.
The Fat Lady Sings managed to avoid the fate of several other Irish bands, and not disappear completely after their move to London. Ex Vipers guitarist George Sweeney, departed the band before the release of second single ‘Be Still’.
‘Got To Get Away’ was the debut single from Galway band, The Stunning. The band had several hits in Ireland, but this success did not translate outside the country.
London based Dubliner, Keith Cullen set up Setanta Records to give new Irish bands access to the UK market. The first three Setanta releases appeared in 1989.
Power Of Dreams were a young Dublin four piece. Their ‘Little Piece Of God’ EP was the label’s third release. The band then signed to MCA, but kept Cullen as manager.
Scale The Heights, from Maynooth in County Kildare, won the Hot Press Band Of The Year competition in 1988. The ‘Goodbye To All That’ single released the following year, was part of the winners prize.
The Dixons debut single I Have Fun was released on Mother Records. It’s follow-up, ‘Ingrid Bergman’ was on the Dublin band’s own Purple Records.
Dropping the ‘Backwards’ from their name, Into Paradise released The Blue Light EP, featuring ‘I Want You‘. The EP was the second Setanta Records release.
Stand out tracks from various artists compilations released in 1989 were ‘Girl I Used To Know’ by Dublin band, The Train Walkers, from the Nationwide album on Danceline Records. The Train Walkers also appeared on the fourth Comet compilation, alongside ‘Must It Be‘ by new Cavan band, The Would Be’s (already on the second of several female vocalists), and ‘Friends’ by Venetian Blonde (a Dublin band that had been around since the late 70s and were previously known as The Frames).
Dublin independent label Danceline, as well as issuing a number of compilation albums, also released several singles, including ‘Pearl’ by The Outpatients, and ‘Busy Sleeping’, the second single, from Dublin band Rex And Dino, both from 1989.
Donegal band The Malfunctions, and Dublin band Giant, like Premonition before them, won battle of the bands competitions that resulted in one-off single releases on EMI Ireland. ‘Say Goodbye’ and ‘Put Yourself in My Shoes’ were both bands only releases.
Following their numerous earlier releases, The Golden Horde signed to U2’s Mother Records. The ‘100 Boys’ single was the first result of the new deal.
A band that had appeared on the Guru Weirdbrain compilation alongside the Golden Horde was The Real Wild West from Dublin. They released a new version of their contribution to that album ‘The Sixties’ in 1989, on Solid Records. A rumoured album never appeared.
All three members of Hinterland have featured with other bands in this series – Gerry Leonard with The Spies, Donal Coghlan with The Departure, and Wayne Sheehy with Cactus World News. ‘Dark Hill‘ was a single release in 1989, and preceded the band’s only album Kissing The Roof Of Heaven, released the following year. Donal Coghlan died following a long-running battle with Multiple Sclerosis in 2016.
An Emotional Fish released ‘Celebrate’ on Mother Records in 1989. The single reached number 46 in the UK charts upon its release there the following year. A cover version of the song topped the Italian charts in 1993.
After splitting up in 1981, The Radiators regrouped to record two new songs for inclusion on the first CD release of their 1979 album, Ghostown. One of those songs, ‘Under Clery’s Clock‘ was also released as a single in 1989.
Two old Cork favourites reappeared under new monikors in 1989. After Microdisney, Cathal Coughlan formed the harder edged Fatima Mansions. ‘Only Losers Take The Bus’ was their first single.
Meanwhile, Finbarr Donnelly and Ricky Dineen’s next vehicle after Five Go Down to The Sea was Beethoven. Their interpretation of The Beatles ‘Day Tripper‘, from the Him Goolie Goolie Man, Dem EP was the first release on Setanta Records. Plans to follow the EP with a version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody sadly never materialised due to Donnelly’s accidental drowning in London’s, Hyde Park. Part Two of Paul McDermott’s Oral History: The Story of Finbarr Donnelly comprehensively covers this period and is highly recommended reading.
The Slowest Clock hadn’t released anything since debut single Clarke & Jones in 1987, although they did record one of the great Fanning Sessions in 1988. As 1989 drew to a close, the band self released two four track 12″ EPs in quick succession. 2-Car Garage and No Hand Signals both had uncompromising lead tracks in ‘Carnival‘ and ‘Millenium Train’.