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Some Irish music for you… October 25, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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Not necessarily in any particular order…

1 Supernaut

Who knows about them? Me, sir! Me, sir! Shane O’Neill of Blue in Heaven teamed up with Dave Long from Into Paradise (a fine band in themselves) and created an album that sank without trace and yet for my money is a definitive slice of Irish experimental indie.

2 Stars of Heaven

Ah, a true classic. Brilliant stuff. Great vocals, great guitar. All that pent up and restrained enthusiasm that blended into a sound that was clearly Irish and yet also clearly drawing on a range of reference points beyond these shores. Best in show along with Microdisney.

3 Great Western Squares

The second album was better than the first, but I imagine this is what will always be associated with them.

4 Blue in Heaven


A lot of people didn’t like them. They might have been right. Shane O’Neill had a bit of an image problem, and the fixation on Iggy was fine, but a) seven years out of date at the time and b) Iggy was – and remains – still alive. Still, every once a while along came a song which proved a lot of people wrong. I like the funny synth sound in the background on this… not so keen on the video though.

5 Microdisney

Probably my favourites. The first album is perfect. I hadn’t listened to it for some years until recently and I still remembered lyrics. That’s good going for me. I never remember lyrics. And here’s a funny thing. Listening to the music now I can hear snatches of Steely Dan which somehow I missed first time around. Odd that.

6 Golden Horde

The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy from the mid 1980s was a fine slice of punk-powered psychedelic-infused nonsense with perhaps the only mention of an Fine Gael Ard Fhéis on an Irish album that I can think of… There may well be good reasons for that, not least the fact that somehow they managed to entice Robert Anton Wilson aboard. It took them years to release their first album proper but it wasn’t a patch on this. The above was taken from that album. Why didn’t they have a video for the earlier stuff… ah well.

7 Rollerskate Skinny

Very very unfairly dismissed by the UK music press as a rip of the Boo Radley’s this was actually a much more subtle beast. I saw them live only once but I can still remember the hairs rising on my arm as they played. Amazing stuff.

8 My Bloody Valentine

Firstly they’re not exactly Irish. Perhaps we can call them half Irish. Secondly most would prefer the second album. I still tend to prefer most of the first, but this from the second album is classic.

9 VNV Nation

I like em. And they’re half Irish. It helps that there’s only two of them. Electronic music that is wildly popular on the continent amongst select groups and wildly unpopular here. A shame. That said they’ve had their troubles with their imagery, and for a while on their website they had to point out that they subscribed to no ideology… hmmm… the problem being? Well, let’s just say it wasn’t a great ideology that a tiny fraction of their fanbase was into…

10 The High Llama’s/Fatima Mansions

This is cheating. But why not? The first few Fatima’s albums were great – the song Only Loser’s Take the Bus remains on my playlists. As does this. Then the more shouty side took over and while I admired it I never really loved it.

And so were the High Llama’s. Gideon Gaye being a particular highlight. With them too the longer they went on the more I admired them but the less I loved them. That said for both men to produce not merely Microdisney but two separate subsequent groups of remarkable talent was no mean achievement.

11 Rory Gallagher

It’s strange that it took me years to appreciate how much his music meant to me. A unique sort of a character with a sound of his own.

12 The Undertones

Ireland’s answer to the Ramones (yes, I know the Golden Horde wanted the job, but these guys were better). John Peel famously broke down when he heard Teenage Kicks, his favourite song, on the radio one day. They do have other songs on the first album. Many of them its equal.

13 Thin Lizzy

A tough one. The albums I like are the ones generally disliked, if not actively reviled, by their fans. But I still drag Renegade out. And enjoy it. And Thunder and Lightning also gets the odd listen.

14 Ash

Obvious, but no less good for it. Awful video, great song, fantastic group.

15 Bawl

An unremembered classic from the 1990s. Sly and witty lyrics (in a later incarnation they became a little less sly and a little too humourous which = a lot less likeable) Apparently Morrissey liked them too. Cue end of their career.

16 David Holmes

Dancey. And all the better for it. Incidentally the woman in the bath at 2.25 looks awfully like whatshername from Season One of Boston Legal and that action/horror movie earlier this year set in a post-apocalyptic and cannibal infested Scotland.

17 Planxty

The Blacksmith. In black and white. On the Late Late Show. Good God…

18 Sweeney’s Men

Again, what to say? Simple genius.

19 Horslips

The Unfortunate Cup of Tea remains for me their pinnacle, the point where they were still straddling two different musical worlds but doing it successfully. After that I’d go for Dancehall Sweethearts. The clip above is from a bit later. And who knows what prompted them as their career progressed to wear some pretty unusual clothes. But there’s something about this song… See him walking that golden wire… see the world reflected in his face. (oddly enough Rush wrote a song with a not dissimilar theme called New World Man).

20 Stiff Little Fingers

What was it with the North and punk that they did it so effortlessly? One can quibble with aspects of their career subsequently, but they certainly meant it maaaaaan! back then.

I’m aware that this list doesn’t have a great representation of contemporary bands… so any suggestions gratefully accepted…

Comments»

1. eeekkk - October 25, 2008

Some Lost Irish Bands Refound from Mid 90s

Wormhole http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRAFOcHWAI4
Flexihead No Vids
Rumble http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NstIowyvKBU
Jubilee Allstars http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb7EIdCwm8o
Female Hercules http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZSxTCJj3zA
Pincher martin No Vids
The Revenants No Vids
Tension http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUxw4qxeAlQ

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2. WorldbyStorm - October 25, 2008

I liked the Jubilee Allstars.

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3. D.J.P. O'Kane - October 26, 2008

I think I’ll stick with Lyric FM, thanks.

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4. GoodHardRant - October 26, 2008

Also John Peel’s Portstewart favourites, The Catchers. Another great lost 1990s band.

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5. WorldbyStorm - October 26, 2008

D.J.P. you might like *some* of them… 🙂

The Catchers, what were they like GHR? I never heard them…

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6. Damian O'Broin - October 26, 2008

What, no Whipping Boy, WbS?

Kudos on unearthing that Smalltown Reel clip – pity it’s only a snippet.

And seems as you criminally omitted raytown’s finest, here’s a link to Downmarket, which seems to be an apposite tune for the moment.

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7. GoodHardRant - October 26, 2008

Jangly (and occasionally, fey) indie, in nordie accent. They had an excellent female vocalist back in the days when Norn Irish girls wore floral dresses with DM boots. Which dates them.

http://www.last.fm/music/Catchers?autostart

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8. Wednesday - October 28, 2008

The Catchers today = The Sleeping Years.

Current Irish bands worth checking out: New Amusement, the Funeral Suits, the Rags, the Flaws, A Lazarus Soul, Seeping Into Cinemas.

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9. Seán Báite - October 31, 2008

Only seeing this post now WBS – glad to see you were listening to about the same home/exilegrown stuff in the late 80s/90s just the other side of the Belfast line.
Completely missed out on Supernaut – I see you mentioned them on Conor’s recent BIH post. (Backwards) Into Paradise were fairly decent alright.
Love the Microdisney clip – with the late great Ivor Cutler an’ all – never knew he was a fan… Stars too – loved that band – remember a last glimpse of them in the grotty dressing room of the New Inn just after their last ever gig as we headed for the traipse to the bus home to D5. I suppose they can get away with playing a reel in waltz time and schweating almost as much as the Blessed Christy on stage..
The current crop ? Don’t be asking an auld codger like me… Seems to be precious few getting any notice outside Ireland.. Yer man Duke Special sounds half decent – if he’d only get rid of those Shop Street, Galway rattails….

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10. nn - April 9, 2010

is there any old flexihead vids out there?

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11. This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… The Golden Horde, the Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - July 9, 2011

[…] eventually arrive at the Golden Horde. And not the first to do so, although note they were also namechecked here, but… nonetheless a band worth covering, and particularly the earlier stage in their career […]

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