Part Five: 1988-89

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)

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1988-89

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.

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Hey Paulette debut single Commonplace

‘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.
sootp

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.

courierCD

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.
shark bait_album

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’.

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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.

bam bam

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.

dark hill

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.

beethoven

Dublin duo, Brian (apparently named in reverence to Vipers/Blades bassist Brian Foley) self released their wistful debut single ‘A Million Miles‘ in summer 1989.

Brian

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’.

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Part Four: 1985-87

1. The Stars Of Heaven – Clothes Of Pride (1985, A Side, Dublin)
2. Light A Big Fire – CIA (1985, A Side, Dublin)
3. The Blades – The Last Man In Europe (1985, A Side, Dublin)
4. Cactus World News – The Bridge (1985, A Side, Dublin)
5. That Petrol Emotion – Keen (1985, A Side, Derry)
6. Andy White – Religious Persuasion (1985, A Side, Belfast)
7. Microdisney – Birthday Girl (1985, A Side, Cork)
8. Five Go Down To The Sea – Singing In Braille (1985, EP Track, Cork)
9. Stump – Buffalo (1986, Mini-LP Track, Cork)
10. Tuesday Blue – Tunnel Vision (1986, A Side, Limerick)
11. The Atrix – Very Much in Love (1986, A Side, Dublin)
12. The Golden Horde – Adrienne (1986, Compilation, Dublin)
13. Paranoid Visions – Strange Girl (1986, EP Track, Dublin)
14. The Pleasure Cell – New Age (1986, A Side, Dublin)
15. Cuba Dares – Yellow And Red (1986, A Side, Dublin)
16. Dorian Mood – It’s A Funny Thing (1986, A Side, Drogheda)
17. That Petrol Emotion – It’s A Good Thing (1986, A Side, Derry)
18. The Fat Lady Sings – Fear And Favour (1986, A Side, Dublin)
19. The Stars Of Heaven – Sacred Heart Hotel (1986, Mini-LP Track, Dublin)
20. Something Happens – Burn Clear (1986, A Side, Dublin)
21. A House – Kick Me Again Jesus (1987, A Side, Dublin)
22. The Slowest Clock – Clarke And Jones (1987, A Side, Dublin)
23. My Bloody Valentine – Sunny Sundae Smile (1987, A Side, Dublin)
24. The Gorehounds – Cargo Cult (1987, A Side, Dublin)
25. Paul Cleary & The Partisans – Partisan (1987, Mini-LP Track, Dublin)
26. St Vitus Dance – Meet Mohammed (1987, Album Track, Belfast)
27. Carpenter Joe – No Ordinary Joe (1987, EP Track, Belfast)
28. Subterraneans – Slum (1987, A Side, Dublin)
29. Guernica – Orange And Red (1987, A Side, Dublin)
30. Cypress Mine – Justine (1987, A Side, Cork)
31. The Summerhouse – Everything I Ever Wanted (1987, Compilation EP, Dublin)
32. Cliff Edge Panic – Girl On The Bridge (1987, Compilation EP, Dublin)
33. Backwards Into Paradise – There’s A Mountain (1987, Compilation LP, Dublin)
34. The 3355409s – Barbarous (1987, Compilation LP, Cork)
35. Paranoid Visions – I Will Wallow (1987, EP Track, Dublin)

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1985-87

Often dismissed as an era dominated by U2 wannabes and soundalikes, the reality was a more varied tale. Although Bono and co did inspire their fair share of would-be successors, there was also an explosion of bands with more modest aspirations, as genuine Indie/Alternative scenes sprang up in Dublin, and other parts of the country. As ever, there was also the mavericks, the one-offs, and the old reliables who all helped make 1985-87 another memorable period in Irish Alternative Music.

The Stars Of Heaven formed in 1983 and featured two songwriters, Stephan Ryan and, former Peridot, Stan Erraught. The band emerged from a new venue, The Underground, on Dublin’s Dame Street, to release ‘Clothes Of Pride’ in 1985. The single was played by John Peel who invited the band to record a session for his BBC Radio 1 show. The ‘Sacred Heart Hotel’ mini-album released on Rough Trade in 1986 featured tracks from that session.

Light A Big Fire released two albums and several singles over their career. The band were popular in Ireland, but never broke outside the country. ‘CIA’ was their first single.

After more than one record label setback, The Blades finally released an album in 1985. The title track ‘The Last Man In Europe’ preceeded the album as a single. Sadly,  it was to be the last in their brilliant run of 45s, as Paul Cleary called time on the band the same year.

Cactus World News debut single ‘The Bridge’ was the second release on U2’s Mother Records, following In Tua Nua’s, Coming Thru. The label was set-up to assist emerging Irish artists. The band then signed to MCA and released the Urban Beaches album in 1986. Cactus World News also played at Self Aid, a controversial benefit concert that ambitiously aimed to help unemployed people through the creation of jobs.

Upon returning to Derry following The Undertones split, John O’Neill began working with former Bam Bam & The Calling guitarist Raymond Gorman. Moving to London the duo were joined by John’s brother and fellow Undertone Damian, another Derryman, Ciaran McLaughlin on drums, and American singer Steve Mack to form That Petrol Emotion. ‘Keen’ was the band’s first single in 1985. ‘It’s A Good Thing’ from debut album Manic Pop Thrill followed a year later.

Belfast man, Andy White’s Dylanesque ‘Religious Persuasion’, released on Stiff Records in 1985, offered a poetic dreamlike vision of religious bigotry in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the entire Cork post-punk scene seemed to have transplanted itself to London. Microdisney‘s ‘Birthday Girl’ was taken from their final Rough Trade album The Clock Comes Down The Stairs, which is generally regarded as the band’s creative peak. Microdisney subsequently signed to Virgin and released two further albums before calling it a day in 1989. A short TV profile of the band featuring interviews with Cathal Coughlan and Sean O’Hagan can be seen here.

Following the release of The Glee Club EP, drummer Keith ‘Smelly’ O’Connell departed Five Go Down To The Sea and returned to Cork. The band then had a difficult period where they used a drum machine, before recruiting a new drummer, signing to Creation Records and releasing third EP ‘Singing In Braille’. Though, according to guitarist Ricky Dineen, in a detailed interview for Irish Left Review,  Alan McGee lost all interest in the band following the release of the EP. Second guitarist Mick Stack left for the USA following a group brawl, and Five Go Down To The Sea ground to a halt soon after.

Mick Lynch and Rob McKahey were two more veterans of the Cork Arcadia scene to relocate to London. The duo made up one half of Stump, whose ‘Buffalo’ featured on the NME’s seminal C86 cassette. The song was re-recorded for the band’s mini-album ‘Quirk Out’, and a video for the track was made by Channel 4’s The Tube TV show. Sadly, Mick Lynch died in December 2015, less than a month before the broadcast of another excellent Paul McDermott radio documentary, Lights! Camel! Action! – The Story Of Stump.

Tuesday Blue from Limerick were another band to make their debut on Mother Records. ‘Tunnel Vision’ was undoubtedly the band’s stand out track. An album, Shibumi, was released on EMI in 1988.

As mentioned in previous post, when The Atrix split in 1983 John Borrowman and keyboard player Chris Green began working under the name ‘Very Much In Love’. Before releasing a song of the same title as a single they were persuaded to revive the old band name. The A and B Side of this single were reversed for release in Denmark, where Borrowman had settled, under the moniker, Afghan Trucks. One further Atrix single Your Halo Is Burning was released in 1986.

The Golden Horde led by frontman Simon Carmody had a number of releases during this period. ‘Adrienne’from the Guru Weirdbrain various artists compilation was an early career highpoint.

Punk band Paranoid Visions had been releasing material on cassette for a number of years before the vinyl EP The Robot Is Running Amok appeared in 1986. ‘Strange Girl’ from the EP referenced the Granard Tragedy. The following year the band released the ‘I Will Wallow’ EP, which took a humorous swipe at the by then massively successful U2.

The Pleasure Cell quickly built a reputation for their intense live performances. The band self-released ‘New Age’, and then departed for London. They returned a year later to make a video for RTE’s Visual Eyes TV programme.

After high profile Dublin support slots to New Order, Depeche Mode and ABC, Cuba Dares also made the move to London. ‘Yellow And Red’ was an NME Single Of The Week in 1986.

Drogheda band Dorian Mood’s ‘It’s A Funny Thing’ was released on One by One Records in 1986. The band also released a mini-album Can’t Stand Still in 1989.

The Fat Lady Sings released ‘Fear And Favour’ on a revived Good Vibrations imprint, although Terry Hooley’s only involvement was in allowing use of the name. Another Dublin band that quickly fled to London.

Several exciting new guitar bands soon followed The Stars Of Heaven from the emerging scene centred around Dublin’s Underground bar. Something Happens were an energetic four-piece initially influenced by R.E.M. ‘Burn Clear’ featured on the Two Chances EP, released in 1986. A House  combined an edgy live sound with the sharp lyrics of frontman Dave Couse. ‘Kick Me Again Jesus’ was their debut single. The Slowest Clock led a second wave of bands to emerge from The Underground, and released ‘Clarke & Jones’ on Comet Records in 1987.

My Bloody Valentine formed in Dublin in 1983 and relocated to London via Amsterdam and Berlin. The band had several releases before they began to find their sound with ‘Sunny Sundae Smile’. Original vocalist Dave Conway left the band soon after the single’s release.

The Gorehounds also emerged from an underground location. The BaseX record shop on Dublin’s quays was the go-to place for those seeking otherwise difficult to find independent records. Three members of the band worked at the store, and used the space to practice afterhours. Initially influenced by The Cramps, the band employed twin drummers, and featured former Revolver guitarist (and brother of drummer Brian) Colm O’Kelly. ‘Cargo Cult’ was the title track of the band’s second EP. It also featured on their only album Semtex, released in 1989.

After The Blades, Paul Cleary formed The Partisans and released the mini-album Impossible, which featured the track ‘Partisan’. Quality wise, it was business as usual.

Belfast band St Vitus Dance relocated to Liverpool where they released the album Love Me Love My Dogma, which included ‘Meet Mohammed’ on Probe Plus in 1987. Lead singer Noel Burke later joined Echo & The Bunnymen, as Ian McCullough’s replacement .

‘No Ordinary Joe’ is taken from Bangor band’ Carpenter Joe’s Maverick Genius EP released in 1987.

The Subterraneans ‘Slum’ was one side of a double A Side single on Mother Records. TV appearances for both sides of the single (two for Slum) can be seen below.

Guernica were another leading graduate of The Underground bar. ‘Orange And Red’ was the band’s second single, after Deep Sea Diving. A remix of the song has appeared on several Spanish compilations.

‘Justine’ was a 1987 single from Cork band Cypress Mine taken from their album Exit Trashtown.

After relocating his record shop to the Temple Bar area of Dublin, Gorehound Brian O’Kelly did his bit for up and coming bands by releasing a series of various artists compilations. Named after the new record shop, Comet Records released a six track EP and a 14 track LP in 1987. ‘Everything I Ever Wanted’ by The Summerhouse and ‘Girl On The Bridge’ by Cliff Edge Panic featured alongside tracks by The Slowest Clock, and Cypress Mine on EP1, while ‘There’s A Mountain’ by Backwards Into Paradise and ‘Barbarous’ by Cork band The 3355409s were highlights of LP2.

COmet 1&2

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Part Three: 1982-84

1. Tokyo Olympics – Radio (1981, A Side, Dublin)
2. Kissed Air – Kariba (1982, A Side, Belfast)
3. Neuro – Nairobi (1982, A Side, Waterford)
4. The Atrix – Triad (1982, A Side, Dublin)
5. The Camino Organisation – Human Voices (1982, A Side, Dublin)
6. Stano – Room (1982, A Side, Dublin)
7. Virgin Prunes – Pagan Love Song (1982, A Side, Dublin)
8. Kissed Air – Out Of The Night (1982, A Side, Belfast)
9. Pop Mecanics – Soldier Boys (1982, A Side, Dublin)
10. U2 – A Celebration (1982, A Side, Dublin)
11. The Blades – The Bride Wore White (1982, A Side, Dublin)
12. The Alsations – 5 Honours And A 175 (1982, A Side, Dublin)
13. The Tabs – Million Miles (1982, A Side, Dublin)
14. Blue Russia – Russian Around (1983, A Side, Dublin)
15. Eugene – Julie Cries (1983, A Side, Dublin)
16. Microdisney – Pink Skinned Man (1983, A Side, Cork)
17. Five Go Down To The Sea – Elephants For Fun And Profit (1983, EP Track, Cork)
18. Neuro – Silhoutes And Silent Figures (1983, A Side, Waterford)
19. Reufrex – Capital Letters (1983, A Side, Belfast)
20. Big Self – Ghost Shirts (1983, A Side, Belfast)
21. Autobop – Secrets (1983, A Side, Dublin)
22. The Blades – Downmarket (1983, A Side, Dublin)
23. Five Go Down To The Sea – Glee Club (1984, EP Track, Cork)
24. Microdisney – Dolly (1984, A Side, Cork)
25. Blue In Heaven – Julie Cries (1984, A Side, Dublin)
26. The Fountainhead – Rhythm Method (1984, A Side, Dublin)

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1982-84

To illustrate this curious period in alternative Irish music you don’t have to look any further than DC Nien’s transformation from tough looking, edgy sounding post-punks (that’s them above deafening that poor woman) to the New Romantic / dance band, Tokyo Olympics. Initially released in December 1981, Radio was the title track of the band’s only album released in 1982. Despite the makeover and new sound, success outside Ireland proved elusive.

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Tokyo Olympics

Also employing those distinctive early 80s dance, bass and drum patterns and guitar rhythms were Kissed Air. Kariba was the first of three releases from the Belfast band, that initially relocated to Dublin before moving to London and releasing the follow up ‘Out Of The Night’. Kabuki, the record label started by the band would also help launch the careers of other important Irish acts.

kissed air

Kissed Air

Neuro from  Waterford, were another band to marry a Post Punk / New Romantic look and sound. The band signed an international deal with WEA and released two singles ‘Nairobi’ in 1982 and ‘Silhoutes And Silent Figures’ the following year. However, a mooted album never appeared. The band’s session for the Dave Fanning Show can be found on the excellent Fanning Sessions blog.

 

The Atrix’ first post Procession album release ‘Triad’ had a more synthesized sound than their earlier material. It was to be the last release by the original band, though John Borrowman did reuse the name for the Irish release of his next band’s ‘Very Much In Love‘ single in 1985. The singer’s final set ‘Stoned Circle’ recorded some years later, can be heard courtesy of Fanning Sessions. Fan of the band, John Fleming has posted a half hour gig originally recorded and broadcast by RTE in March 1982.

 

Also embracing the latest technology were Dublin band The Camino Organisation on their 1982 single ‘Human Voices’.

Following the demise of The Threat, their synth player, Stano released the experimental single ‘Room’. He went on to release several albums.

After their ambitious New Form Of Beauty project, The Virgin Prunes released their debut album, If I Die I Die in 1982, which included the single ‘Pagan Love Song’. The band’s powerful stage presence is well demonstrated in this live performance of the song.

Pop Mecanics were a Dublin New Wave / Pop band. The excellent ‘Soldier Boys’ was their only single release.

U2’s only release in 1982 was the standalone single ‘A Celebration’.

Thankfully, The Blades didn’t allow new trends or technology to influence their sound. The band continued to release timeless singles, including ‘The Bride Wore White’ in 1982, and ‘Downmarket’ in 1983.

 

The Alsations released a number of singles, the most memorable of which was ‘5 Honours and a 175’, which they performed on RTE’s Non Stop Pop.

Dubin Power Pop band, The Tabs released their only single ‘Million Miles’ on Vixen Records in 1982.

Blue Russia featured future Cactus World News guitarist Frank Kearns. ‘Russian Around’ mixed by Phil Lynnot was a single release in 1983.

Dublin band Eugene made their live debut supporting New Order at the city’s SFX Hall in 1982. They also won the Hot Press ‘Best Unsigned Act’ the same year. The band performed their only single ‘Julie Cries’ on The Late Late Show in 1983, and presenter Gay Byrne certainly gave them a detailed introduction.

As already mentioned, Kissed Air set up Kabuki Records to release their debut single ‘Kariba’, and the label also put out early releases by London bound Cork bands Microdisney and Five Go Down To The Sea, as well as the comeback single from Belfast band Ruefrex.

After the release of ‘Pink Skinned Man’, their second single on Kabuki, Microdisney signed to Rough Trade. ‘Dolly’ was a single from their 1984 debut album, Everybody Is Fantastic.

Five Go Down To The Sea evolved from Nun Attax, and released the Knot A Fish EP on Kabuki in 1983, featuring ‘Elephants For Fun And Profit’. The following year ‘The Glee Club’ EP was released on Abstract Records. Paul McDermott has produced an excellent radio documentary Get That Monster Off The Stage which explores the life and music of lead singer Finbarr Donnelly.

Ruefrex had split in 1980 shortly after they featured in the BBC documentary Cross The Line, but regrouped in 1983 to release ‘Capital Letters’ on Kabuki. An album, Flowers For All Occasions followed in 1985.

Belfast band, Big Self’s 1983 single ‘Ghost Shirts’ was used as the theme tune for RTE arts programme Visual Eyes.

Autobop from Dublin made a number of TV appearances including this Late Late Show performance of their only single, ‘Secrets’. The band featured the late music journalist George Byrne on bass.

Blue In Heaven and The Fountainhead both released two albums and several singles, but it could be argued that neither act ever bettered their debut 45’s, ‘Julie Cries’ and ‘Rhythm Method’.

 

Part Two: 1980-81

1. The Atrix – Treasure On The Wasteland (1980, A Side, Dublin)
2. The Spies – Thinking About The Sun (1980, A Side, Dublin)
3. The Threat – Lullaby In C (1980, A Side, Dublin)
4. U2 – Another Day (1980, A Side, Dublin)
5. Nun Attax – White Cortina (Live) (1980, EP Track, Cork)
6. DC Nien – Nightclub (1980, A Side, Dublin)
7. Katmandu – I Can Make The Future (1980, A Side, Belfast)
8. The Blades – Hot For You (1980, A Side, Dublin)
9. The Resistors – Jeanie (1980, A Side, Dublin)
10. The Vipers – Take Me (1980, Compilation EP, Dublin)
11. Shock Treatment – Belfast Telegraph (1980, Compilation EP, Belfast)
12. The Tearjerkers – Murder Mystery (1980, A Side, Portadown)
13. Tango Brigade – Donegal (1980, A Side, Belfast)
14. U2 – 11 O’Clock Tick Tock (1980, A Side, Dublin)
15. The Threat – High Cost Of Living (1980, AA Side, Dublin)
16. Virgin Prunes – Twenty Tens (1981, A Side, Dublin)
17. Chant! Chant! Chant! – Quicksand (1981, A Side, Dublin)
18. Peridots – Open Season (1981, A Side, Dublin)
19. The New Versions – Like Gordon Of Khartoum (1981, A Side, Dublin)
20. Tony Koklin – Claude Monet (1981, A Side, Dublin)
21. The Blades – Ghost Of A Chance (1981, A Side, Dublin)
22. The Shade – 6:05 (1981, A Side, Dublin)
23. The Teen Commandments – Private World (1981, A Side, Dublin)
24. The Sussed – Don’t Swim On The East Coast (1981, A Side, Dublin)
25. The Atrix – Procession (1981, A Side, Dublin)
26. Virgin Prunes – In The Grey Light (1981, A Side, Dublin)
27. Big Self – Surprise Surprise (1981, A Side, Belfast)
28. The End – Picture Postcard (1981, Compilation, Dublin)
29. Know Authority – Work Of Children (1981, Compilation, Belfast)
30. The Departure – Convoy (1981, Compilation, Dublin)
31. The Fuze – Zealano (1981, Compilation, Galway)
32. Logic – President (1981, Compilation, Dublin)

 

77-89 P2 copy

1980-81

If Punk and New Wave had been slow to gather pace in Dublin, by 1980 the city was overflowing with artists releasing music that encompassed every sub-genre of the movement. The city’s music scene was healthier than at any time since the late Sixties when Beat Groups offered an alternative to the Showbands. Southern bands also started to emerge from outside the capital. Up North, the golden age of Good Vibrations had come to an end, though there was still some quality releases from the region’s bands.

The Atrix released the Midge Ure produced classic ‘Treasure On The Wasteland’, which obviously lends it title to this project. Their sole album was released the following year, when the title track ‘Procession’ was also issued as a single.

‘Thinking About The Sun’ was the only release by The Spies from Howth in Dublin. The catchy single is driven by some fine guitar work from future Bowie band member Gerry Leonard. Singer Joe Barry also later resurfaced with The Amazing Colossal Men, and Compulsion.

The Threat were one of the more enigmatic Dublin Punk bands. Their self-released and distributed double A-Side single ‘High Cost Of Living’ / ‘Lullaby In C’, quickly sold out from Dublin record shops. John Peel was a fan and played the record on his BBC show. Momentum came to a sudden stop, however, when singer and guitarist Maurice Foley left to join a Hare Krishna community.

3in1 1980dub

Classic Dublin Singles: 1980

U2 followed up their debut EP with ‘Another Day’, in February 1980. The following month they signed an international deal with Island Records, and by May had their first release outside Ireland, the Martin Hannet produced ‘11 O’Clock Tick Tock’.

Legendary Cork band Nun Attax’ only vinyl appearance was three tracks on the ‘Kaught At The Kampus’ EP, which also included an early track from Microdisney. ‘White Cortina’ was the opening track on the EP. Members of the band later relocated to London and had further releases as Five Go Down To The Sea and Beethoven.

DC Nien were one of the leading attractions on the Dublin scene, and were a powerful live band. They followed up their appearance on the ‘Just For Kicks’ compilation with ‘Nightclub’. The band also self-released a cassette album, ‘The Red Tapes’.

Katmandu relocated from Belfast to Dublin and released ‘I Can Make The Future’. The band made a number of TV appearances and established themselves as a top live band through several residencies in the city’s venues.

 

Another leading attraction on the local live scene were The Blades. The band emerged from the ‘Mod Revival’ wing of New Wave. Distinguished by the songwriting talent of Paul Cleary, they had a run of classic singles, starting with ‘Hot For You’ in 1980 and continuing with ‘Ghost Of A Chance’ in 1981.

The Resistors were another band to graduate from the ‘Just For Kicks’ album to their own single release. ‘Jeanie’ was a lively mod/reggae tinged number.

After the ‘I’ve Got You’ single in 1978, The Vipers relocated to London, recorded a session for The John Peel Show, and toured as support to both Thin Lizzy and The Boomtown Rats. Sadly, their only subsequent vinyl release was ‘Take Me’ from the ‘Room To Move’ compilation EP, which also featured Shock Treatment with ‘Belfast Telegraph’, and two other second wave Good Vibrations bands.

The Tearjerkers from Portadown were yet another Northern band to debut on Good Vibrations. Second single, ‘Murder Mystery’ followed on Phonogram imprint Back Door, and reached no 74 in the UK Singles Chart.

After the ‘War Stories’ near-miss, Starjets changed both their bass player and their name. The newly christened, Tango Brigade split soon after the release of ‘Donegal’, though two members of the band had several hits later in the decade with The Adventures.

The Virgin Prunes formed in 1977 and built quite a reputation with their live shows, which placed huge emphasis on the visual as well as musical elements of their performance. Their gigs often took place in unusual locations, rather than regular pub venues. ‘Twenty Tens’ and ‘In The Grey Light’ come from their first and second EPs respectively.

1981 saw the release of several more essential singles from Dublin bands, including ‘Quicksand’ from the Post-Punk ’Chant! Chant! Chant!’, Peridots ‘Open Season’ which added electronic elements to a minimal acoustic sound, and The New Versions wondrous ‘Like Gordon Of Khartoum’. Sadly, none of these bands had any further releases.

3 in 1 1981dub

Classic Dublin singles: 1981

Also essential was Tony Koklin’s second single ‘Claude Monet’, which also appeared on his only album ‘Time Chaser’.

The Shade’s ‘6:05’, was another highlight from 1981, and was the first of two singles from the band.

The Teen Commandments, featured vocalist Philip Byrne from Revolver. ‘Private World’ was written and produced by Pete Holidai from The Radiators.

The Sussed’s raucous ‘Don’t Swim On The East Coast’, had a video that was played on a continuous loop as a test signal for a Dublin pirate TV channel.

Big Self released their debut single ‘Surprise Surprise’ on Reekus Records.

Vinyl Verdict was an excellent sampler album released on Scoff Records in 1981. Five of the album’s most Post-Punk tracks were: ‘Picture Postcard’ by The End (featuring a pre-Something Happens, Tom Dunne), ‘Work Of Children’ by Belfast band Know Authority (who were soon to change their name to Kissed Air), ‘Convoy’ by The Departure (who also featured on The Boddis EP alongside Big Self, Chant! Chant! Chant! and Peridots), ‘Zealano’ by Galway band The Fuze (who went on to release two singles), and ‘President’ by Logic (who evolved into The Camino Organisation).

VA VV

Part One: 1977-79

1. Radiators From Space – Enemies (1977, A Side, Dublin)
2. The Boomtown Rats – Born To Burn (1977, B Side, Dublin)
3. East Coast Angels – Punk Rockin’ (1977, A Side, Dublin)
4. Revolver – Silently Screaming (1978, A Side, Dublin)
5. The Vipers – I’ve Got You (1978, A Side, Dublin)
6. The Radiators – Million Dollar Hero (1978, A Side, Dublin)
7. Rudi – Big Time (1978, A Side, Belfast)
8. Victim – Strange Thing By Night (1978, A Side, Belfast)
9. The Undertones – Smarter Than You (1978, B Side, Derry)
10. Stiff Little Fingers – 78 R.P.M. (1978, B Side, Belfast)
11. XDreamists – Right Way Home (1978, A Side, Belfast)
12. The Outcasts – Self Concious Over You (1979, A Side, Belfast)
13. Strange Movements – Dancing In The Ghetto (1979, A Side, Dublin)
14. The Atrix – The Moon Is Puce (1979, A Side, Dublin)
15. Tony Koklin – Cinderella (1979, A Side, Dublin)
16. Sacre Bleu – Broken Promises (1979, A Side, Dublin)
17. Berlin – Over 21 (1979, A Side, Dublin)
18. U2 – Boy Girl (1979, B Side, Dublin)
19. Protex – I Can’t Cope (1979, A Side, Belfast)
20. Starjets – War Stories (1979, A Side, Belfast)
21. Rudi – I Spy (1979, A Side, Belfast)
22. The Static Routines – Rock n Roll Clones (1979, A Side, Dundalk)
23. The Zipps – Friends (1979, A Side, Belfast)
24. The Moondogs – She’s Nineteen (1979, A Side, Derry)
25. Reufrex – One By One (1979, A Side, Belfast)
26. The New Versions – Tango Of Nerves (1979, Compilation, Dublin)
27. The Resistors – Service With A Smile (1979, Compilation, Dublin)
28. Berlin – Stop Stop (1979, Compilation, Dublin)

 

77-89 P1 copy

1977 to 1979

If you were to judge solely on records released by Irish bands in 1977, it might appear that Punk Rock hadn’t had much of an impact on the country. The absence of any real existing rock scene in the South, and the political situation / civil war in the North, undoubtedly, contributed to the delayed reaction.

Dublin band The Radiators From Space released the first Irish punk single in April ’77, and followed it with the equally excellent ‘Enemies’, in September.  Another Dublin band, The Boomtown Rats found immediate international success. ‘Born To Burn’ was the non album b-side of their debut hit. Perhaps, the most curious release from 1977 was ‘Punk Rockin’ from Dublin band East Coast Angels.

Events in London, and elsewhere, did in fact have a motivating effect across the Irish Sea and a host of new bands eventually began to appear. The transition from Punk to New Wave seemed to suit the mood in Dublin and a trio of excellent singles were released by the city’s bands in 1978. ‘Silently Screaming’ by Revolver, ‘I’ve Got You’ by The Vipers, and ‘Million Dollar Hero’ by the newly name shortened and less punky, Radiators.

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Classic Dublin singles: 1978

Up North, there was a more faithful though quite distinctive take on Punk, and in 1978 Rudi’s infectious ‘Big Time’ and Victim’s ‘Strange Thing By Night’ were the first two releases on Terry Hooley’s Good Vibrations record label.

The Undertones debut soon followed on the same label, and thanks, in part, to John Peel, famously playing ‘that song’ twice in a row, the band became a regular fixture on the UK Charts. ‘Smarter Than You’ was the single’s non-album b-side. Stiff Little Fingers also benefited from Peel airplay, and were unusual for a Northern Irish band, both, in that they weren’t on Good Vibrations, and that they actually addressed ‘The Troubles’ in their songs. 78 R.P.M. was listed as the a-side of first pressings of the band’s second single, although all subsequent pressings reversed it with the band’s most famous song.

XDreamists, ‘Right Way Home’, the fifth Good Vibrations, release had a more New Wave sound than its predecessors. In 1979, Good Vibrations released ‘Self Concious Over You’ by The Outcasts, which was also the title track of the band’s, and label’s, debut album, released the same year.

The Dublin scene continued to develop and diversify during 1979 with the emergence of several more new bands. Strange Movements ‘Dancing in The Ghetto’, released on Good Vibrations International, had a quirky Post-Punk vibe. The Atrix incorporated, eh.. theatrics to their off-kilter music. ‘The Moon Is Puce’ was the first in a run of classic singles. Tony Koklin’s wonderful ‘Cinderella’ took a Power-pop twist.

Sacre Bleu were more a Rhythm and Blues than New Wave band, but their single ‘Broken Promises’ had all the energy of the New Wave bands. Berlin’s ‘Over 21’ was a teenage anthem in waiting. U2 also released their first three track EP in 1979. ‘Boy Girl’ was the only track on the EP not rerecorded for the band’s debut album ‘Boy’ the following year.

Protex made their debut on Good Vibrations, but had signed to a major label by the release of ‘I Can’t Cope’. A Belfast band with no Good Vibrations connection was Starjets. ‘War Stories’ was performed by the band on BBC’s Top Of The Pops. Despite this prestigious TV appearance, the single stalled at number 51 on the UK Chart.

Also in 1979, Rudi followed up ‘Big Time’ with the ‘I Spy’ EP, and Dundalk band, The Static Routines also benefitted from Terry Hooley’s patronage, releasing ‘Rock’N’Roll Clones’ on his Good Vibrations International offshoot.

Belfast band The Zipps released their only single ‘Friends’ on English label, Rip Off Records.

Two further 1979 releases on Good Vibrations were ‘She’s Nineteen’ by The Moondogs, who went on to have their own afternoon TV show, and ‘One By One’ by Belfast band Ruefrex.

 

‘Tango Of Nerves’ by The New Versions, ‘Service With A Smile’ by The Resistors and ‘Stop, Stop’ by Berlin, all appeared on the 1979 up-and-coming Dublin artists sampler album, ‘Just For Kicks’.

 

VA JFK

Treasure On The Wasteland

‘Treasure On The Wasteland’ is a comprehensive anthology of music from the Irish Punk, New Wave, Post-Punk, Alternative and Indie scenes: 1977-1989. Featuring 163 tracks, many sourced from original vinyl. A large number of these tracks have never been issued on CD.

Irish Nuggets: 1977-89
‘Treasure On The Wasteland’

Part One: 1977-79

Part Two: 1980-81

Part Three: 1982-84

Part Four: 1985-87

Part Five: 1988-89

 

 

A second five part series will cover the years 1990-99

Irish Nuggets: 1990-99

‘The Stars Are Underground’

Part Six: 1990-91
Part Seven: 1992-93
Part Eight: 1994-95
Part Nine: 1996-97
Part Ten: 1998-99

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