Once upon a time long long before they became the go to outfit for Celtic mystic atmospherics and had all the big name collaborations and special appearances Clannad produced albums like this – Dúlamán, their third album, released in 1976. They might not be the Ramones or the Pistols, but mighty fine they were in their own way: albums filled with spare traditional standards, beautifully produced and performed. And yet with an odd undercurrent. Cumha Eoghain Rua Uí Néill (Lament For Owen Roe) typifies this strand, albeit the guitars are perhaps that bit more emphatic than might be expected.
And therein lies the fascination of this album for me, the way the title track- surely one of their finest moments – has something of their future in its vocals and arrangements, particularly the central part and the end which nod to (then) contemporary folk and rock. It reminds me of what Robert Christgau once observed about the second Boston album, that there was some hint of corruption of the form that pushed it beyond the purely formalistic. To me that’s a strength rather than a weakness and the proof seems to me to be the effortless way they blend the styles together. I won’t overstate it. Such excursions were far from unknown in groups then and now.
But the approach is replicated to a greater or lesser extent on track after track. Two Sisters, with lilting vocals that are just about crystal clear and which within a minute or so pushes in a more muscular direction. Or what of the multi tracked wordless vocals that open Éirigh Suas A Stóirín (Rise Up My Love) and the genuinely lovely instrumental arrangement of the song – is it too much of a stretch to suggest someone had been listening closely to CSN and those of that ilk?
The Galtee Hunt also moves from traditional music in a more folk direction fairly sharpish. This pattern is evident in many of the tracks, Éirigh is Cuir Ort Do Chuid Eadaigh (Dress Yourself) where semi-instrumental passages arrive about half-way through. It’s as if a subtly different aesthetic is smuggled into the music. The rhythm guitar on Mo Mháire is yet another example.
A lot to like here.
Éirigh Suas A Stóirín (Rise Up My Love)
Éirigh is Cuir Ort Do Chuid Eadaigh (Dress Yourself)
Cumha Eoghain Rua Uí Néill (Lament For Owen Roe)
Bigger than the Beatles? May 17, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
This from the Guardian recently…
Research by a group of London academics focuses on musical patterns in the US pop charts from 1960 to 2010, using data analysis to pinpoint the year in which trends appeared in the charts and measure their duration.
The study’s findings may come as a shock to fans of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, as its authors believe there is no musical evidence to suggest that the “British invasion” of the early 60s caused a revolution in the US charts at all. Rather, the music style those bands displayed – measured by properties such as chord changes and tone – was already established in the US charts before they arrived.
I remember the first time I went to the US in the late 1980s I was surprised by how big a part of a certain demographic’s musical imagination it remained – the term British Invasion even then had a currency. I’ve always felt it was a bit of a construct – commercial, media, etc, but, that said it’s hard to believe it was inconsequential either. I’m not hugely surprised by the lack of change in musical style, but perhaps it speaks of something more ephemeral, concepts of youth, other and so on, that led to the British Invasion have such a prominence.
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Three Years ago I popped up some songs from my days in a band.. . Well I have some more and it’s weird because I hadn’t listened to them at all in the past year but was prompted during the week to give them a listen again…. and sure if you lot wont listen to me nobody will :)
Some of it is shite but funnily enough the ones I think are shite, other people have thought that they were less shite.
A good word for the Independents and Small Parties… May 13, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
At the weekend there was a comment or two on the site about Mick Wallace. I’m not here to defend him, but… I was struck by something Pat Leahy wrote in a piece in the SBP on Independents and small parties where he suggested they now have to offer some answers as to what they would do in government. As he notes:
One of the biggest changes that the Great Recession has wrought on our politics is how it has fuelled the rise of independents and small parties. Never before have independent deputies and small parties played such a role in the Dáil, and in wider politics.
Even before the crash, the number of independents we elected in Ireland was highly unusual. Since then, we’re off the charts.
That’s a most interesting point and one well worth returning to again and again, just what is it about this state that has led to such numbers of independents? My own read, for what its worth, is that it is a combination of a very weak centre left/labour tradition, perhaps an attitude that there’s a partial aspect to the state (conscious or unconscious, and this derived from partition to a great, though not exclusive, extent), obvious failure of the larger parties and perhaps something approaching a localism as a substitute for other isms as they appear to founder. That’s just off the top of my head, no doubt there are many more factors and/or those I point to are over emphasised by me.
And judging by the polls, independents and small parties – the “others” – are set to continue to play a significant role in Irish politics. After the next election, they may play a pivotal role at the very centre of government formation. That is certainly what many of them are gunning for.
Some of them, let’s be clear on that. There are those who have no intention – perhaps sensibly given the degree of support afforded them by the electorate – to attempt to enter government, for whom indeed state power seems so far off as to be unrealisable. That’s not, as it happens, an unprincipled position, or in its own way unrealistic, though whether it can resonate with sufficient citizens to make substantive changes to the way things are run is another matter.
But Leahy takes a line that is refreshingly different in all this, arguing that even in opposition those Independents and small parties – or some of them – have been remarkably effective (though one could cynically argue that so they should be given the number of them).
It is popular and somewhat fashionable to dismiss the role of independents as simply opportunist, seeking to trade their votes for constituency favours from government, classic purveyors of political pork and little else.
But an examination of the record of the current Dáil demonstrates that independent TDs and the small parties have made significant contributions on a variety of issues. For sure, many of them are interested in little more than their own constituencies. But they are hardly alone in that – many party backbenchers (and some ministers) are the same.
Recent events offer some evidence of some independent TDs’ effectiveness.
And he points to the centrality of Daly and Wallace in highlighting this evidence.
The former justice minister Alan Shatter is in the throes of a High Court challenge to the report by senior counsel Sean Guerin which led to his resignation last year. Leave aside for a moment the fairly entertaining consequences if Shatter wins his challenge, and consider how we reached this point.
No senior counsel – or anyone else – would have investigated the events concerned had they not been indefatigably pursued by the independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, as part of their continuing campaign against Garda malpractice.
Nor is he unwilling to engage with problematic issues:
Let us observe in passing that – presumably unrelated but coincident with this campaign – Daly was arrested on suspicion of drink driving, handcuffed and the details of the incident leaked to the media. She was subsequently released without charge, having passed a urine test in the Garda station.
In most countries, Wallace would have been forced to resign after the revelation of his tax cheating. Most people would have resigned without being forced, recognising that their actions had brought their status as a law-maker into disrepute. But you can’t dispute that Wallace has done some significant public service since. Remember, both the Garda commissioner and the top official in the Department of Justice have left their posts too.
This is not to cheer for the pointless rolling of heads; merely to point out that Wallace and Daly have been instrumental in the achievement of a level of accountability that is rare in Ireland.
He also points to Catherine Murphy’s – amongst others – championing of questions over Siteserv, and there are other examples too (though the thought also strikes what of high profile Independents who haven’t been quite as… ahem… high profile as one might have expected on substantive issues?).
Leahy argues that as the election approaches the success, as one might characterise it, of these Independents is such that it may lead to a sort of failure if they cannot fashion a means of being relevant. And perhaps small wonder that we see so many vehicles being rolled out by them, albeit in markedly different forms:
For independents and small parties seeking to hold the balance of power, it’s all about the numbers. There are two possible governments that might need the support of one or more of the above groups – the current coalition, or a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil combination short a few seats of a majority.
In that case, we could see different groups of independents or small parties effectively bidding one another down.
If that happens, the group that has the most discipline, and the cheapest demands, will be the one to join the government. But, one way or another, independents and small parties are here to stay.
But beyond that it suggests that Independents and Small Parties can have a relevance as oppositional forces in the Dáil and Seanad. Question for some is whether they can have a relevance as supporting governing forces. Perhaps a lot rides on whether this is a good election to win or to lose?
Soviet Science Fiction May 10, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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It’s funny, I went looking for information on this guy, Ivan Yefremov, a Soviet era SF writer and paleontologist – turned sort of dissident, who I’d not heard about before, and found this overview of SF in the Stalin period and after. It’s an interesting analysis of the tensions between writing for and around the state in such societies. There’s a lot more on that site including fairly theoretical analyses of SF from around the world.
The beleaguered population of the United Kingdom? Well, the Tories back, again. A supine centrist LP. Murmurs and more of the UK breaking up. It’s just like the late 1970s all over again.
What better time for a documentary on The Damned – punk survivors, but more than that? And here is the trailer…
Doesn’t it look great? And so it should because the Damned released the first British punk single, released the first punk album, were the first British punk group to tour the US. And yet others tend to have a greater prominence. It’s difficult to quite explain this. The documentary suggests that they should have released one album and had one of their number die.
I can’t help but think that it was a mixture of the sense they were messers (the names of various members Rat Scabies, Captain Sensible spoke of a sense of humour), that despite or because of the punk, later goth and garage stylings they achieved a fair measure of chart success as something remarkably like a pop group – even became, whisper it, popular… and that yes they stayed the course mostly, surviving and even prospering. And perhaps too their visual style, a most unpunk like tilt towards the melodramatic, Dave Vanian being exhibit A with his Hammer Horror movie look, didn’t help either for those who liked to keep it pure.
Perhaps it also was the duality of their output, particularly early on. There was a rigour to their singles – I Feel Alright being a good example, but also an underlying melodicism. Their first – that historic first punk single in the UK full stop – New Rose, was a perfect blend of rock and roll and punk, a combination of the energies drawn from both sources. But listen to their output as they progress and it was clear that psychedelia, garage, a pinch of prog, proto goth and eventually goth proper and other strands were as, if not more, important.
Messers they might be, and messers they were, but they could play – Vanian’s voice was great with a range that covered punk, crooning, goth, whatever – and they clearly had ambitions beyond the often self-imposed constraints of punk. Perhaps too it was that in some ways those ambitions were quite traditional. Look at that list again, psychedelia, garage, prog, goth and so on. It’s not that they never used sequencers – their goth phase and before saw them couple their sound to some fairly rigid beats, but when you’re releasing a cover of Alone Again Or in the late 1980s it’s fairly clear that your vision is one positioned firmly in a certain context. And perhaps that’s it, they didn’t go the post-punk route, not at all. They remained a rock group.
But what a rock group. It’s difficult to pick out individual albums. Damned Damned Damned was an abrasive burst of punk – guitarist Brian James, later of the entertaining and often excellent Lords of the New Church with Stiv Bator, brought a certain tortured aspect to the group on tracks like Feel The Pain. Roughly produced, raw, elemental, these are key document from the front line of punk.
But tellingly their next album, Music For Pleasure was almost an F.U. to punk tropes. Produced by – of all people – Nick Mason of Pink Floyd (and with an intriguingly New Wave styled cover by the peerless Barney Bubbles) it was goodish, perhaps hinting at rather than attaining the potential promise of their sound, but poorly received critically. Machine Gun Etiquette from 1979 had a much stronger welcome, not least due to tracks like Smash It Up and Love Song which seemed to crack the melodic/punk issue perfectly. The Black Album from 1980 was a two disc magnum opus – tinged with proto-goth numbers but not forgetting their punk past (check out the times of the tracks, most are under four minutes). Strawberries was excellent, a sort of distillation of its predecessor. Phantasmagoria was commercial, if by commercial one means a sort of goth pop with tracks like The Shadow of Love, Grimly Fiendish and so on. All tongue in cheek, but given a certain pathos by Vanian’s none more deep vocals. But by now Sensible was long gone and with him a certain oddness that added something intangible but important to the group. That said I’ve still a soft spot for the follow up album Anything, though it’s hardly a masterpiece and was a commercial flop.
An hiatus in the 1990s led to Rat Scabies releasing an album under the Damned name, with Vanian on vocals, though it seems to not be regarded as canon. The late 1990s saw Sensible return and with him Patricia Morrions, late of the Gun Club and Sisters of Mercy and now partner of Vanian. They released a good album Grave Disorder, that pushed back towards their garage/goth roots, and more recently, which is to say seven years ago Vanian and Sensible with assorted accomplices released the even better ‘So, Who’s Paranoid?’
Actually I’ve never seen them as an albums band really. Years ago I got The Light at the End of the Tunnel two disc/tape/CD compilation best of and while I’ve acquired a fair few of the individual albums subsequently it never struck me as a bad testament to the group – spanning the Brian James years, the Captain Sensible and post Captain Sensible period and on up to their surprising return to the charts in the mid to late 1980s. Indeed the sense of them as an excellent singles group comes across loud and clear – and not just singles. All the albums have non-single gems like Stranger on the Town, Disco Man amongst others. That said there are albums I do like, Machine Gun Etiquette, The Black Album, yeah, even, for all its gloss, Phantasmagoria (look closely at the cover, by the way, you’ll see a jet in the background of the none more gothic cover photograph).
Saw them three times, once in the SFX in 1984 or 1985, later in the Top Hat in 1986 and then in the Music Centre, as was, ten years ago. They were pretty great on all three occasions, though at a push the first and last gigs were most memorable – the latter perhaps because Sensible was back in the fold. They’re still going and I’m looking forward to the documentary. By the by, those interested in their garage/psych roots will probably like a spin-off album released under the name Naz Nomad and the The Nightmares.
Plan 9 Channel 7
Smash It Up
History of the World (Pt. 1)
Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde
I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
Stranger on the Town
Shadow of Love
That Dublin City Council Dalymount Deal May 6, 2015Posted by irishelectionliterature in Culture.
Just curious as to thoughts on the proposed takeover of Dalymount by Dublin City Council and Shels moving in to share the ground with Bohs.
Seems a decent enough deal for Bohs in that the Zurich debt will be covered and their future at the ground will be guaranteed. Ground improvements are also likely.
I gather a section of Shels fans are none too pleased but again do Shels not have massive debts and isn’t there an issue with the lease on Tolka (not owned by Shels?). The ground is deteriorating and Shels don’t have the funds to invest in it. So whilst a move to Dalymount may not be ideal, would it leave Shels free from the debt built up over the Ollie Byrne years and since?
Given that they are in the news I figured that this weekend I’d be listening to some songs about buses. Some good songs in there too. Ironically its on the bus that I listen to most music these days too.
Many moons ago I worked as a bus conductor and there were tape players in the drivers compartment. So if the driver was agreeable my walkman was opened and the bus would be listening to Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy, AC DC or some other musical delights. The reaction was generally good , especially at the quieter times of the day.
Civil unions… April 30, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics.
…I wonder if that would have been better ground for the No camp to base their critique on the marriage equality referendum on – which they sort of do with one poster. It’s not particularly pleasant but it would be quite logical. As the SBP notes:
Analysis by a team of political scientists, who are collaborating with The Sunday Business Post on polling research for the duration of the campaign, suggests that the contest is likely to be much closer that the voting intention polls suggest.
Some 46 per cent of voters feel that, as gay couples have access to civil partnerships, there is “no need to go further and completely change the definition of marriage”.
The poll was carried out among more than 1,000 voters nationwide last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The details of the research by Professor David Farrell (UCD), Dr Jane Suiter (DCU) and Dr Theresa Reidy (UCC) are fascinating. The study asked for responses to the following contentions:
• Change is welcome, but we are going too far nowadays and undermining traditional society.
• Same-sex couples can enter state-recognised civil partnerships. There is no need to go further and completely change the definition of marriage.
• Children have always been central to marriage. It is inappropriate for children to be raised by gay couples.
There is no doubt that a large swathe of the population who agree with these statements will be voting No on May 22. But what about those who say they’re going to vote Yes? What do they think?
The results are:
The data reveals that 37 per cent of those in favour of marriage equality think that it is inappropriate for children to be raised by gay couples; 54 per cent of those voting Yes think that change has gone far enough; and 51 per cent of those who favour marriage equality actually feel that there is no need to change the definition of marriage!
There is clearly some cognitive dissonance. And yet, this doesn’t spell disaster, it is entirely possible for people to hold contradictory views on matters. Or to think that there is an element of truth to some of the above contentions without feeling that they are bound or limited by them. For example, change on these issues has occurred in the context of broader societal changes, very rapidly.
Or not to have fully thought through them. The authors of the report are very cautious, and rightly so, as to the outcome. My own feeling is it should pass, given the polls. But…
The Man who broke the music business April 30, 2015Posted by irishelectionliterature in Culture.
Fascinating article in The New Yorker on the dawn of online piracy.