22
Apr

Thanks to Mark Lyons for the fantastic interview! Resque released one album and a string of popstastic singles in the early nineties, with “Yeah!” becoming big in Japan! They also recorded many promo videos, and toured extensively. As there is not that much written about them on the web I asked Mark if he’d be up for an interview after he commented on my blog. Hope you enjoy the interview and that you discover (or rediscover) the brilliant Resque!

++ I got in touch with you thanks to a comment you left on the Hookline & Silverfish post I did some time ago. You mentioned the Majestic gigs. I was never there of course, so I’m curious about them. Care telling me a bit about them?

The majestic gigs were two big charity shows organised by the local Reading radio station ‘Radio 210’. We shared the bill with bands like ‘Hookline and Silverfish’, ‘The Jeremiahs’ and ‘Sometimes Sartre’. They were legendary. Completely packed the largest venue at the time in Reading and certainly launched International Rescue locally.

++ Resque was formed in 1989. So I wonder if you were in any other bands before that?

I was in a band at school called ‘The Unknown’. Honestly we were like a art experimental band! We were like a cross between Psychic TV and Echo and the Bunnymen. At least we thought we were! I was 14/15 years old when we we started gigging. I once got spat at by about 50 skinheads at Reading town hall. Pretty scary for a 15. Luckily it got better quite quickly after that experience. Couldn’t get any worse.

++ And going further in the past, what would you say are your first music memories, like what sort of music you grew up listening to? And what was your first instrument?

My first musical memory is my mum playing me ‘Help’ by the Beatles when I was 7 years old. It was a real ‘lightbulb’ moment. I loved how it was a really catchy pop song with a really dark message. My first instrument was an second hand acoustic guitar at 12 years old.

++ Resque actually formed as International Resque. Why did you drop the “International”? And who came up with the name?

We actually called ourselves ‘International Rescue’ originally. Dave Simons, the lead singer, came up with two choices ‘International Rescue’ or ‘The Men from Uncle’.

++ Who were the members of the band? What instruments did each of you play?4

The original line up was Dave-Vocals/guitar/Harmonica, Andy Lawlor-drums,Tim Banks-percussionist, Jem King-bass, me on guitar.

++ What would you say were your influences at the time of forming the band?

We were really influenced by 50/60’s music, Def Jam and skate punk.

++ How was Reading back then? What were the places to go to? The venues to go check out up and coming bands? Were there any like-minded bands?

Reading back then was a completely different beast. There were only a couple of pubs and 3/4 music venues. ‘Cartoons’ wine bar was a great bar, the legendary ‘After Dark’ club, the ‘Majestic’ and 21 South St. There were lots of excellent bands in Reading at the same time. Too many to mention to be honest. Apart from the ones already named above there was ‘Jo Jo Namoza’, ‘The Jaybreaks’ and ‘Jonah Reece’ but most of the bands at the time in Reading were very good.

++ Your first release was the popstastic 7″ single “Yeah!”. What a song! I have to ask, what is the story behind this song?

Our first release wasn’t ‘Yeah’ but ‘Love in the right direction’. It came out on local record label ‘Acorn records’. There were only a 1,000 pressed I think. Maybe only 500. It’s actually worth a few quid. Especially in Japan now. It features a saxophone solo from the chap who, I believe, played with Dexy’s midnight runners. But I may have imagined that! It got lots of radio play on 210 and really helped cement our reputation locally. We were completely filling venues in Reading now. It was at this point that myself and Dave decided we wanted to take the band more seriously and make it our full time job. This decision caused a few of the band to re think their positions within it. It led to the only major personnel changes in the bands history. We welcome Roger Wells on bass and Wez on drums. With full respect to the first line up (who I still love dearly!!) this, for me, was the classic Rescue line up.

It was also at this point that we had to change the name from International Rescue to International Resque. We’d recorded the first single in Gerry Anderson’s (Thunderbirds creator) studio and he didn’t like the fact we’d stolen his name so we had no choice. It was then that we signed to ‘Davy Lamp’ records. Steve Lamacq’s co owned indie label based in Harlow. We put one single out with them called ‘Yeah’.

++ This song also had a promo video and it looks like you had a blast recording it. Where was it recorded? Who were the girls on it? Your girlfriends at the time? And how was that first experience doing a music vid?

We got good airplay nationally with ‘Yeah’ but the video really pushed us up the ladder. We recorded it on a rooftop in London. I had a friend who worked for a top modelling agency (Jess Hallett from Storm agency) and she got some of the girls to appear in it with us. The policeman in it was 100% real. He was very understanding.

++ This 7″ came out in a great label, Davy Lamp, who released another favourite band of mine the Blind Mice, how did you end up with them? How was that relationship?

We didn’t really have a relationship with The Blind Mice. We were from different parts of the country. I remember they were good though.

++ Your 2nd single “So Way Down” came out on Groovy Tunes. Never heard that label, was it a self-release perhaps?

The next single was on the ‘Groovy tunes’ label. The only other act on Groovy tunes were ‘Jive bunny’!! Their success paid for our single. We did go on lots of record labels. We enjoyed the signing parties!! 7 and 12 inch releases were all the rage at the time.

++ This 2nd release of yours came out in both 7″ and 12″ formats. What was the intention with that? And what would be your favourite format for music?

We did extended versions for the 12 inch.

++ Again, for “So Way Down” you recorded another promo video. At that time you wouldn’t see so many indie bands making videos, how important do you think they were for you in promoting your music?

At the time videos were a really important promotion tool. The video for ‘So way down’ was a nightmare to record though. The director wanted us to play on the tube at closing time on a Friday night in London. It was an awful experience with half of London drinking population shouting abuse and throwing things at us!! If you look closely you can see how terrified we were.

++ It is just after releasing this single that you changed your name to Resque. And then on 1991 you were to release your debut album “Life’s a Bonus”, a record full of fantastic pop tunes. I read a bio about Resque saying that if you had released this album some years later you would have been accepted as a Britpop band, that at the time you didn’t fit anywhere. Do you agree with this?

We then signed a longer deal with ‘Musidisc’. A much bigger label home to ‘The Levellers’ and ‘Zodiac Mindwarp’.  I think you’re right about the britpop comparison. Just a decade to early!! And we definitely didn’t fit into any genre at the time.

++ Was wondering if there were any other labels that were interested in your music at that time? the big labels perhaps?

We did have interest from the ‘major’ labels at the time. But Musidisc seemed to understand us the best. They were supportive of us. And we had all the normal band v label nonsense as well but they did their thing well.

++ You contributed to a couple of compilations. There was a song called “Move It” on a 1990 tape from the BRAG agency. Was it like your promotional agency? Or who were BRAG?

Brag agency was our booking agents. Lisa Bennet was the most incredible agent I’ve ever worked with. We pretty much toured non stop for years and years and she was truly superb. A major factor in the bands (small) success. We also had a superb manager called ‘Gary Pettit’ who really was the fifth Beatle.

++ There was also the “Disposable But Happy – Dozen” tape released on the fanzine of the same name. It came with a bunch of other awesome indiepop bands like The Penny Candles, The Rileys or Shelley’s Children. How important was for you, and the independent pop scene in general, the fanzine culture of the late 80s, early 90s, do you think?

The fanzine culture at the time was a big asset for us at the time and we were regularly championed.

++ There was also a flexi-disc shared with The Hinnies on Why Not! Records in 1991. How did this happen? Were you friends or played gigs with The Hinnies perhaps?

I have no idea about the Hinnies Flexi disc!! You know more about that than I do!

++ In the hypothetical case of you being able to chose a band that was around the time as Resque for a shared flexi or 7″ what would your dream choice had been?

My dream choice for a shared Flexi disc with us back then would have been ‘Senseless things’. We were fortunate to play a lot of the gigs with them and they were truly excellent in my opinion. Great songs and they looked fantastic.

++ I saw on Youtube a TV appearance of Resque playing “Watch Me When I Fall”, which was your next single released by Musidisc. What TV programme is it? How was that experience? Did you get to be on English TV again?

The ‘watch me when I fall’ tv appearance was on a Saturday kids television show called ‘Eggs and Baker’. Hosted by Cheryl Baker of ‘Bucks Fizz’ fame. It was actually one of the last things we did as a band in the U.K. And I think you can see we were tour frazzled after years and years of constantly playing most nights.

++ There is also a Japanese video of a Resque interview on Youtube. On it there are bits of a promo video of “She Drives My Train”. Will that be ever uploaded to Youtube perhaps?

We did make a video for ‘She drives my train’, our most successful single. We got met by armed police at Brighton train station as we’d let off a smoke canister while filming on the train. I don’t think it’s online. We got played on Radio 1 with this I think. It’s so long ago now! It was another push up he ladder either way.

++ Speaking of Japan, you had several no. 1s there in the independent charts. Do you remember which songs were the ones that reached that number?

We only actually had one Japanese number one and that was with ‘Yeah’.

++ And how was your experience touring Japan? What cities did you play? And what was what surprised you the most of that country? Have you been back?

It was one of the highlights of the bands career. The tour of Japan was incredible. We were s lot more popular there than anywhere else. We had people waiting at the hotels for us to sign albums. That hadn’t happened before. Both signing and hotels!! We played about 14 gigs in 16 days all over Japan and the islands. Finishing with two nights in Tokyo. We loved Japan and they loved us. We did consider relocating there at this time but it never really materialised. I’ve never been back but I’d love to.

++ What about gigs? I read you supported Carter USM several times. What other bands did you play with? And what would you say are the gigs you remember as the best and why?

We played lots and lots of shows with Carter USM and that was probably the most important factor in the whole Resque story. This really helped us get a following national and we got to the point where we were confident of pulling punters in all over the country now. Not an enormous following but a really amazing little cult following that would come to most gigs. Bunking off college and school to come to see us play. They were fantastic. The hardcore even had their own name. They were the ‘Bros rape squad’. They were a group of about 12 girls who would just turn up wherever we played. They were such a mad following. It wouldn’t have been the same without them.

The gig I remember most was the first time we played the famous ‘Marquee’ club in London. Not only was it an amazing show but it was the first national review we received. Melody Maker called us ‘The Monkees of the 90’s’. We were more than happy with that.

++ Where there any “bad” gigs?

There were bad gigs but not many considering we toured non stop for so long. Without blowing our collective trumpets we were really good live. In my humble opinion.

++ There is a fantastic gig of International Resque on Youtube were you play songs like “Things Our Mother Said”, “Take Me Back in Time”, “Social Worker”, “Bounty Girl” and “Hobbies” I believe at a venue called The Square. What do you remember of it? What year was it?

No idea when that Harlow gig was but I do remember it. Just. As you can imagine they do blur a bit as age creeps in. It’s probably the only ever recorded version of our post modern classic called ‘Hobbies’. One of the most popular songs we played live.

++ What about the press and the radio? Did you get much attention from them?

We got great support from both press and radio over the years. We weren’t press darlings but we only had one bad review as much as I can remember. That was from Caitlin Moran in the melody maker. She said of our cover of Prince’s ‘Alphabet Street’ that we didn’t murder it as such but we threw it’s still twitching body into the boot of a car and drove it over a cliff! Apart from that one it was all good.

++ Was wondering if Resque left many more unreleased tracks? Or if everything you recorded was released?

There was one last recording session that remains unreleased. It did have one really great song called ‘Fairweather friend’ which was going to be the next single but unfortunately it never saw the light of day.

++ What happened in 1992, why did the band broke up? Did you keep in touch?

In 1992 I left the band after the Japanese tour as I’d given it 7/8 years and really wanted to try something different.

++ I read many of you went to different bands afterwards. Wez to Carter USM, you went to form Chuck and Roger joined Airhead. Do you think there were any similarities to the sound of Resque in these bands?

I don’t think Resque’s sound influenced the bands we all joined afterwards to be honest. Not because we didn’t like it but just we all needed a change.

++ Has Reading changed much since those days? If one was to visit, it is one of the many cities I haven’t been in the UK yet, what would be the places, the sights, one shouldn’t miss?

I’ve not lived in Reading for about 14 years now. When I go back it has changed a lot since the 80’s but that’s no bad thing. Everything moves on.

++ Thanks again Mark for this extensive interview! One last question though, what was the biggest highlight for you in Resque?

The biggest highlight of being in Resque for me was the fact we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. I got to travel the world with my closest friends. I pretty munched laughed from start to finish. We’re all still really close and it was a huge part of my life. Im very proud of what ever little we achieved and I think we’re generally remembered as a good band.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for showing an interest in my past. I really enjoyed reminiscing.

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Listen
International Resque – Yeah!

20
Apr

There’s been a bunch of interesting news this week! So I can do two posts this week!

Firstly let me start with the most important news according to me, the one that involves the label. That is that finally I can announce the 9th Cloudberry Cake Kitchen release: The Potting Sheds!!!!! Right now I have uploaded a taster for you all on Soundcloud. That is the song “Take it Away (quickly)” that you can start sharing and loving all around! The album contains 20 songs and it is your classic Cake Kitchen custom made digipak, meaning it comes with our classic indiepop fanzine design plus full liner notes. More info and pre-order button very soon on the website. The album will be out this summer, hopefully early July. I’ll keep you informed here!

Stephen Lawson from the band Bluenose B who I was in touch and interviewed just some weeks ago has two new solo songs on Youtube. They sound fresh as a lettuce and you can check them both if you click the links for “Summer Girl” and “Marianne“. Very nice videos indeed, DIY style, with cool images of Stephen on about town.

The Legendary Hearts, who I interviewed as well, have two new singles out. Both have their accompanying videos on Youtube. You can check out the jangly goodness of “Faded by the Sun” and “Make a Home” if you click on the links. Really nice stuff!

John Douglass and Steve Hogg from Kid Sinister, another band I interviewed some years ago, have a new album titled “September Song” out on July 6th. That same day they will be performing a launch gig at The Cube Cinema in Bristol if you are around. You can listen to two tracks from the album on their Soundcloud. I link them here: “The Devil I Know” and “Blues in the Morning“. I especially like the poppier “The Devil I Know”. It is great to see both John and Steve back in action!

Thanks to the Sugarfrost Records Facebook page I got to know about some cool live recordings from B-flower. There is a very nice cover of The Smiths’ “This Charming Man” dating from November 1990 in Kyoto. Then from the same year there’s covers of Felt’s “Rain of Crystal Spires” and “Don’t Die on My Doorstep“. And later from 1991 another Smith’s cover for “You Just Haven’t Earned it yet Baby“. And that’s not all, there’s an 1988 live cover of The Smiths’ “Asleep“. That’s very early B-flower!

Two other classic bands have new releases coming up on Elefant Records. I’m talking about The Primitives and the BMX Bandits. The Primitives are at the moment promoting their new single “New Thrills” with the song “Oh Honey Sweet” which I suppose is the B side as Tracy Tracy is not singing! The BMX Bandits, on the other hand, are releasing an album titled “Forever”. The song “It’s In Her Eyes (With Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab)” is the song the band and the label are using to promote it. Good to know that both bands are still going strong!

And last but not least, in this recap of classic band news, it seems the Scottish documentary about post-punk (1979-1985), Big Gold Dream, is available on Youtube now. I ordered the DVD and I’m happy to have supported this effort as I hope there will be more documentaries where indiepop/c86 is covered.  (Not anymore, seems because of copyright, it has been taken down)

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Applejack is a strong apple-flavored alcoholic beverage produced from apples, popular in the American colonial period. The name derives from “jacking”, a term for “increasing” (alcohol content) and specifically for “freeze distilling”, the traditional method of producing the drink.

I’m going to guess that the band, being Irish, named themselves after Feargal Sharkey. For those unaware Feargal Sharkey was the vocalist of The Undertones! A little bio coming from Wikipedia too:
Seán Feargal Sharkey (born 13 August 1958) is a singer from Northern Ireland most widely known as the lead vocalist of pop punk band The Undertones in the 1970s and 1980s, and also for solo works in the 1980s and 1990s. His 1985 solo single “A Good Heart” was an international success. After becoming less musically active in the early 1990s, he has performed various roles supporting the UK’s commercial music industry, winning several awards and honours for his work in that area.

Or perhaps, the vocalist of Feargal is the Applejack was actually called Feargal? Could be too, no?

It is definitely a disappointment that Discogs doesn’t have Feargal is the Applejack in its database. This will complicate our detective work. Where to start? As last week I decided to check on the website Irish Rock. Yes, even though I’m not sure where in Ireland they were from, I’m 100% sure that they were Irish.

Irishrock.org doesn’t have them in their database either. But they do have a compilation on there that Feargal is the Applejack contributed to. Titled “My Favourite Things”, this tape compilation was released by the label Mickey Rourke’s Fridge in 1993. The catalog was MRF11. This label does appear on Discogs, it was the label that released the classic (and favourite band of mine) Hey Paulette.

On “My Favourite Things” the band Feargal is the Applejack appears on the B side with the song “Come On Home”. I look forward to hearing this song sometime. Other bands that appear on the compilation were The Dadas, The River Babies, The Wiporwills, Eilleen Gogan & Niall O’Sullivan, 16 Again, Freres Jackman, Interference, The Quack Squad, Revenants, Hank Halfhead & the Rambling Turkeys, Rapture, The Deportees, Sean Foy, Sean A. McDermott & The Wayfaring Strangers. Aside from The Dadas  I’m not familiar with any of them!

Then I stumble upon Boards.ie, an Irish message board. On a post dating from September 18, 2008, a user remembers Feargal is the Applejack:
Feargal Is The Applejack – a small Dublin band which sounded very like the realism of Whipping boy and the spoken word type vocals of Fearghal McKee.

So the band must have been from Dublin. A quick googling tells me that Feargal McKee was part of the band Whipping Boy. Honestly I’m not familiar with this band and I believe there is no connection between them. From some of the songs I hear on Youtube, they sound much rockier, 90s alternative sounding.

The one song I do know from Feargal is the Applejack is titled “Talking to Yourself”, and what a song it is. I love the vocals, the guitar, the melodies, the vibe. Top song. This song seems that came from another Mickey Rourke’s Fridge compilation, one titled “Dostoevesky Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?”. This compilation is available in its entirety on Youtube. It was released in 1992 and was the fourth release on the label, catalog MRF 004. The other bands to appear were Freres Jackman, The Skips, Hey Paulette, Icehead and Grievous Angels. The compilation was compiled by Seán McDermott.

The last mention I find on the web about Feargal is the Applejack comes from a PDF thanks to the Westland Library. It is a scan of the Westland Observer from Westland, Michigan in the US. Strange, no? How did the tape “Dostoevesky Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?” gets a review in such  a place? Who knows! But there it is on the June 22nd, 1992, edition of the paper. It says:
…Side two stays more’with convention, albeit damn fine sounding. An Irish ska band? “Limbo Police” by Freres Jack-man deftly captures a bit of the blue beat spirit while; Feargal is the Applejack’s ‘Talking to Yourself is sugary pop gloriously doused with arsenic….

I also could find an abandoned Myspace for the band, one where the songs don’t stream anymore. At least I could find out that the band recorded some more songs. From the same demo tape as “Come On Home” and “Talking to Yourself” come the songs “You” and “Fire Alarm”. There were also live recordings for the songs “Beautiful (Gerry)” and “Talking to Yourself”. There are also a bunch of press photos available.

Then there is also the connection with the band Cliff Edge Panic. As I wrote about them in my previous post, after this short-lived band split, some members went to Feargal is the Applejack.

Not much more on the web. I would love to know who where the band members. Would love to listen to their other songs. If they had more recordings other than the demo tape. If they played many gigs. What did they do after. So many questions. Maybe someone remembers them? In the meantime I’ll enjoy this song and maybe discover some more Irish indiepop on the “Dostoevesky Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?” tape on Youtube.

EDIT 22/04/17: Seán McDermott from Disques Fridge reminded me that there was a promo video for Talking to Yourself. I had seen it on Youtube and thought I talked about it on the post, but seems it totally slipped from me! If you hadn’t seen it yet, please check here.

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Listen
Feargal is the Applejack -Talking to Yourself

17
Apr

I’ve been getting some good feedback after reviewing “newer” bands on the blog. People have told me that these days it is very difficult to find new bands on the web, that there’s not a good filter to find them.

So I’ll recommend some new discoveries today. Before that though I want to give a big thanks to Wally from The Beautiful Music who has sent me some of his releases, Dot Dash, Armstrong, Roy Moller and more, because I’ve been enjoying them lots this weekend. Also huge thanks to Ronny because this past weekend The BV’s debut album arrived home. It is a gem. Get it before it sells out!

In the coming days there will be another 10th anniversary offer. This time around we’ll have the “Paul Towler pack”, which includes two 7″s where he has been involved, The Westfield Mining Disaster and The Haywains ones. For domestic orders you can get both 7″s for $12 including postage, while for those abroad the price will be $20. That offer should be up on the website tomorrow and it will be available until May 15th.

So here are some new recommendations for you all.

Medio Hermano: It translates to half brother. This is the last band that was added last week to the Lima Popfest lineup which I already covered on a past blog post. The band hails from Chile and their last release is the album “Lucha Libre” (2016). This record has 9 songs and it says it was released by Sudamerican Records, though I’m not sure if there are physical copies for it or if it is a digital-only release. Would be good to know as I’m liking what I hear. The band is formed by Juan Fernando Rubilar, Ricardo Herrera, Leo Saavedra and Luis Herrera. The Santiago band have more releases on their Bandcamp and I look forward to explore them. For the time being I’m enjoying the cool guitar pop of their last record! Lucky those at Lima Popfest, wish I could be there!

Un Verano en Portugal: I feel a lot of the bands I recommend today will be from Latin American countries, and that is thanks to the Facebook page “Latin American Twee” that my friend Joel runs. Now and then he puts together MP3 compilations of bands he discovers. I downloaded the latest one, his fifth volume, and found some good bands that I will recommend. The first one is this one whose names translates to “a summer in Portugal”. I believe their name is taken from a 2013 movie of the same name. The band seems to be the solo project of Jesús who is also part of the great band Pure Morning whose album I was sad to miss and now seems sold out. Anyhow there are a bunch of wonderful P!O!P! tunes on their Soundcloud. Glorious.

Verano del 83: More summer bands. This one with nostalgia for the summer of 1983, a time when the band members weren’t probably not even around! I could only find a Facebook for the band, and several songs uploaded to Youtube. No Bandcamp or Soundcloud. The band seems to hail from Trujillo, in the north of Peru. The song that caught my attention was “Llévame a Casa” which seems will also be the name of their debut album which they are working on at the moment. Their last song to be available on the web is called “Friends” and sounds good too. The band’s sound sounds a lot like Vacaciones from Murcia, Spain. And that’s always a good thing!

1994: I thought I had recommended this Tamperley, Argentina, band before. I couldn’t find myself mentioning them on my blog through the search function. Who knows. I went back thanks to Joel’s compilation to their self-titled release from 2015 on Bancamp. There there are 5 songs of lo-fi upbeat indiepop. The songs are pure gold, they are naive and fun. They also have punk influences clearly, they make me think of Vancouver’s finests Cub. The song “Historias de Mentirita” is a hit! The band is formed by Diego Medina, Guido Pasciucco and Valentina Schwarz.

María: last band for this week, María from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is not to be confused by the fab Maria from Oxnard, California, that released some 7″ singles almost 10 years ago! This María sing in Spanish and have a four song EP that was released by Compacta Discos on tape. Oh yes, more tapes. Tapes, I’m not a fan of yours. Shame. Because the 4 songs on this EP are superb. The band is formed by Germán Kresser on guitars, Leandro Pancotti on bass, Florencia Agra on vocals, Jorge García on drums and Boris Domínguez on guitars and synths. A fantastic debut indeed that I hope a lot more people start paying attention. The EP is titled “Breve Cielo” and if you are only going to listen to one song to get a taster, try “¿Qué es el otoño?” which may be or not be inspired by the 1976 Argentinean Oscar-winning movie of the same name.

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Seems like I’ve been on a streak of Irish bands on the blog. Today won’t be an exception, I’ll continue the trend, trying to find out more about long forgotten bands, obscure recordings, and most importantly GREAT pop music that deserves to be heard.

So then, have you ever heard of Cliff Edge Panic?

Usually in cases like this, when there’s an Irish band involved, we go directly to Irishrock.org. Last time it didn’t work out with the band Red Circus. This time it does. There’s an entry for the band. Firstly we learn they were from Dublin and that they were active around 1986. A good year to be around, no?

We also get to know that the band was formed by:
Ken Corbett – vocals
John Prendergast – guitar
Ger Corbett – rhythm guitar
Mark Willis – bass
Dave Burke – drums

There is just a very short bio on the website where we get just a few interesting bits of information. It says that the band played many gigs in 1986, including the Comet All-Day Festival in August of that year. They split in 1987. That was before their one and only appearance on a physical record. I’ll get onto that soon.

We also know that two members, John Prendergast and Mark Willis went to form The Train Walkers afterwards and Dave Burke to the Slowest Clock. The Train Walkers were around a bit longer, around 3 years and released some records. Slowest Clock the same, released a bunch of records up to 1994. Would be interesting to investigate these two bands, never heard them!

Back to Cliff Edge Panic. Their one appearance on vinyl, right? Indeed. That was on a compilation titled “Comet EP One” released by Comet Records in 1986 according to Discogs (1987 according to Irish Rock). On the compilation there are 3 songs on each side, and we see Cypress Mine!, a favourite band of mine, on the B side. Also Slowest Clock, the band Dave Burke was to join afterwards appears on this compilation on the A side. Cliff Edge Panic appears last on the B side with the wonderful song “Girl on the Bridge”. Other bands on the compilation are The Experiment, The Summerhouse and Baby Sex Priest.

I find a ReverbNation page for the band. Sadly there’s no music for the band but an interesting bio which I’m copying here:
Originally known as Fractured Fairy Tales, Dublin rock band Cliff Edge Panic were an enigmatic five-piece that brightened up that city’s live scene during 1986. Strong song writing from three members of the band – John Prendergast (guitar), and brothers, Ken (vocals) and Ger Corbett (rhythm guitar) – made for an impressive set. Mark Wills (bass), and Dave Burke (drums), who replaced original drummer, Geri, completed the line-up. Legendary Hot Press writer Bill Graham chose Cliff Edge Panic as the highlight of the all-day Comet Festival in August ’86, and was a regular at the band’s gigs in Dublin’s Underground. Their only release was ‘Girl On The Bridge’ which featured on the first Comet EP, in early ’87. However, the increased interest the band received, thanks to generous airplay and favourable press, was offset by the fact that they’d split up just before the record was released. Members of the band later resurfaced in The Train Walkers, The Slowest Clock, and Feargal Is The Applejack! In 2001, a limited edition, Cliff Edge Panic retrospective CD was released. The CD will be reissued in early 2011, to coincide with the band’s 25th anniversary live shows.

Interesting! There was a CD released!! And I didn’t know once again. Will I be able to find out now? And also someone in the band was in Feargal is the Applejack. Who was it?

Then I find the same bio on an Archive.org page. And what’s even better I find another song by the band which I’ve never heard before, “Flower”. You can check that here!

Later, a Myspace, where no songs stream sadly. At least I get to know some more song titles, “Secret Conversations”, “Children (live)”, “Soldier of Misfortune (live)” and “One Night in a Million (live)”.

My next stop is the Irish Nuggets blog. There they put together a compilation on Spotify (the evil!) and Cliff Edge Panic is included. The cool thing is that a blurb was written for each track. Thanks to that we get to know a bit more about the Comet EP release, it says:
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.

My last stop is a Facebook page for the band. Seems it was created last year, 2016, but it seems not to be maintained. Only one post of “Girl on the Bridge” is up on the page.  At least I got the pleasure to click on the Like button.

Back to the Feargal is the Applejack connection. I like this band a lot and I’ve meant to write about them on the blog. Maybe next week could be a good opportunity if no one gets in touch about Cliff Edge Panic, no? Anyhow, who was in both bands? I can’t figure it out just yet.

The other mystery to be solved is that of the CD. The only information I could find was that John Prendergast issued the CD. I read that he also did a compilation CD for his other band Train Walkers as part of a degree course in media production. Both CDs were sold through his website but it doesn’t exist anymore. What a shame.

This is where I hit a wall. I can’t find out more about them. I figure that the compilation CD included all their recordings. I want to listen to that! Maybe someone can help with that? In the meantime I’ll explore the other bands they were in. Could be fun!

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Listen
Cliff Edge Panic – Girl on the Bridge

10
Apr

A bit bummed now. So I learned that Pale Spectres will be delayed until early May. I don’t know exactly why, but as it is something on the factory’s end, I’m assuming it has to do with the stupid Record Store Day. Probably they are swamped. I’m very sorry about it. The record went to press late January and normally it takes around 2 months or so. As soon as it is available I’ll let everyone know.

A new video by Lost Tapes premiered today. Not from our old single, but from their latest album, the one I haven’t yet managed to get. You know, it is not very easy to get Mushroom Pillow releases this side of the world, or outside of Spain to be honest. But to make it a little bit better, here you can listen and watch “Mexican Flag“, just another beautiful song by the duo.

A new band I discovered last week, thanks again to Richard Suncharms, was the English band Heavy Heart. He had posted the video for the song “Firefly” saying they sounded a bit like The Darling Buds. I had to play it. It does have that feeling! And again I start getting a bit angry, why the hell such a nice sounding band doesn’t play Indietracks? What are these people doing? Destroying the legacy of the most perfect festival ever booking bands like Crywank, Me Rex or Milk Crime. Anyways. This superb slice of pop, “Firefly”, is taken from the 12 track album “Keepsake” which is out now. I have to get it. I also wonder if they had played New York before. I saw a video for the song “Time Will Stand Still” which seems to be recorded late in 2015 in Coney Island. I would be very sad if I had already missed them here!

Back to the 1,2,3 Alright! blog to check the few bands I still needed to explore. It takes time doing this, discovering bands. I kind of get transported back to the old days, around 2007, when I would discover great sounding bands day after day on Myspace. I think these days it is a bit more difficult, but it can still be done. You just need to dig deeper.

Girl, Girl: Bree, Becky, Jorgen and Will are bringing back the 90s indiepop! I’m loving their songs. It feels like I’m back to the golden days of Northwest p!o!p!, Tiger Trap, Cub, All Girl Summer Fun Band. The band hails from Seattle and have, as far as I know, a digital EP with four songs, “Generic Girl, Your Heroine”, “Public Librarian”, “Kim’s Theme” and “She Sleeps She Dreams, She’s Mine”. A superb debut that I hope I see on a physical record sometime soon!

Black Springs: hailing from Sydney, Australia, this guitar pop band have a new LP out titled “When We Were Great”. On their Bandcamp one can stream the 10 songs from this self-proclaimed Sydney’s no. 1 fuzzy jangle good time band. The album is enjoyable, there are some rockier songs that I’m not crazy about, but there are the poppier moments like on “Slinky Day” or “Boys in Blue” where I feel they can be pretty good!  The band has been around since at least 2013 when they released the CD EP “Sunrise”.

Slow Decades: this Newcastle band has just released their second album, “Hinterlands”. Their first, “The Frost & the Concrete”, dates from 2014. Another indiepop band in the UK not invited to Indietracks. Keep counting. The album kicks off with “Sleep it Off” and I think of the likes of Butcher Boy or The Understudies. This is good stuff. Let’s listen to the second song, “Savages”, which is the one Brucey recommended on his podcast. Much more upbeat. Sounds good. And elegant. I’m liking the sound of this band, would like to give them a proper listen. The band is formed by Ben Lowes-Smith, Paul Gardner, Gary Cameron, John Egdell and James Grey. The album was released on March 20th.

The King in Mirrors: I haven’t heard a Swindon band since The Swindonians from back back in the day. And as good as they were, The King in Mirrors are no disappointment. The song “Foolish Things” sounds fantastic. Who are they? It seems they have been releasing songs for years now, the oldest one dating from 2012. The band is formed by Rich May on vocals and guitars, Colin May on synth and Jase Bush on bass. I’m so impressed that I decide to check their previous release, “Talk About Today” which is a 5-song EP. Sounds jangly to me. It is approved. And again, I cannot understand why bands like this one are not being championed by the UK scene instead of silly and talentless folkie ditties.

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Not much to say this week about the obscure band I’m trying to find more information on. As you know I’ve been going through my LPs checking out anything worthy of being recommended. Last week I went through the compilation “First Things First” and introduced you to The Donnelly Brothers. On the B side of that same compilation you’ll find Red Circus performing the song “Fabulous Love” and it is the only other song on it that deserves your attention.

Last week I said I couldn’t find the compilation on Discogs. For some reason I did find it today. So it seems officially the compilation is titled “First Things First… It’s a Strange Kettle of Fish”. As I wrote a week ago, it was released by One by One Records (catalog FIRST 1) in 1987. According to Discogs this same label released a 7″ by a band called the Keep in 1985. I think that is correct as The Keep also appears on the compilation.

Red Circus is almost at the end of the B side. It is the 5th song from 6 total. A Discogs user, “joseluiserans”, comments that the song “Heart of Shame” by Sontiche is indiepop at its best. I don’t think so. I think the two songs that make this compilation worth are the ones by The Donnelly Brothers and Red Circus.

We learned that this record was released in Belfast. That most, if not all, bands are Irish. I would assume then that Red Circus was too.

I can’t find any information at all about this band. Maybe the great The Fanning Sessions Archive blog could help me out this time even though I really doubt they recorded a Fanning Session.

The only song I know by them is a pop gem of chiming guitars, upbeat vocals, and for some reason the melody reminds me a bit of The Bats from New Zealand. It is very good! It would be fantastic if we could find anything else from them, hopefully more songs! Do any of you remember them?

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Listen
Red Circus – Fabulous Love

06
Apr

Second post this week, full of new discoveries mainly thanks to Bruce from the superb blog “Everything, Alright!” who he just updated for the first time in 2017!

In his last Soundcloud sort of compilation/podcast (Bruce, you should talk in between bands, give us some of your insights!) he recommends 25 new (or newish) songs. Some of them I’ve recommended on the blog already, but there are many that I had never heard before. So join me in discovering them.

Radio Orwell: a band that has a proper website is not that common these days. It is a little extra to have it, definitely, even though in their case there is not much information on it. We get their schedule of gigs (mostly around their hometown of Ipswich in the UK) and their two releases embedded from Bandcamp.  The song I discovered through the blog was “Speak About It” that is included in their 2nd EP titled just “#2”. No wonder their first EP was titled “#1”. Lots of originality there. Both EPs have 4 songs and they are just straight guitar pop that sounds very nice to me. As you know, every time I find a UK band that is quite good it pisses me off that Indietracks is such a blind and deaf festival not booking them.

Small Imperfections: Magnus Karlsson, once member of the legendary Happydeadmen (and The Charade to boot), has a new project based in Stockholm. Alongside Daniel, Stefan, Christian and Tove, they have a 4 song EP available for streaming on their Soundcloud including four songs, “If You Are My Tammy I Can Be Your George”, “Ashes”, “Better Hold On” and “Race With the Devil”. This is classic indiepop, and it sounds pretty pretty, especially the first song on it, my favourite. Hopefully this will be released physically at some point.

These Unfortunates: Seems this London four-piece have been around since at least 2013. I only hear from them now thanks to this new digital single that includes “A Question for Mr Richardson” and “A Repertory Man”. I especially enjoy the opening track, sounds like English indiepop circa early 2000s. Love it. It’s been a while since I heard something like this. Maybe since the ultra underrated Tales of Jenny? Again how the hell are they not playing Indietracks? I do see they are playing the Betsy Trotwood on May 19th. Hopefully some of my London friends can check them out.

Closure: even though Brucey recommends the song “Would She Love Me”, I first stumble upon their Soundcloud and find another song titled “Slow Drive” as well as a live performance at MFM Radio 101.3. I believe the band comes from Malang in Indonesia and have a CDR (thank god! someone is releasing a sensible format and not tapes) on the label Let’s Kiss a Secret. You can stream the classy sounding 4 songs from the label Bandcamp. It makes me terribly happy that the Indonesian scene, on that I supported many times through the Sound of Young Java CDRs, is still very healthy.

Luby Sparks: another gem on the Sailyard label, a sister label of Fastcut Records that I believe is run by Atsushi of Miles Apart Records and Masami from the band Wallflower. Seems Sailyard is pointing to releasing the new talent of Japan, as all of their releases (which I’ve recommended in the blog before) so far are just too good. Luby Sparks debut release was a 7″ that include two songs, “Hateful Summer” and a cover of Camera Obscura’s “Lunar Sea”. Top stuff!

Ourselves the Elves: this Manila band will be the last band I’ll review today. “Wounds” is streaming on their Bandcamp and it is such a beautiful, fragile song. Lovely. The band is formed by Aly Cabral, Aki Medina, Paula Castillo and Ponch Salvador. They have some other releases also available on Bandcamp the oldest dating from 2013. Hopefully this song, “Wounds”, which is so sweet gets to be released in one way or another!

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Now a little pause on me going through my 12″ records. I’ll go back to that next week, probably on Monday. Today I want to discover, get to know more about Black & White Lovers, whose one and only release, a 7″, released in 1986, is one that I would love to have, to own one day.

With luck, I think I’ll be able to get a copy sometime. In the meantime I wonder who they were. They seem quite mysterious, don’t they? That strange black and white cover art work. What is it? I find that the always recommended blog From a Northern Place had posted the sleeves back in 2015. It seems the cover art is actually a portrait of Charles Aznavour done by a Steven Brady.

Charles Aznavour, born Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian, is a French, later naturalised Armenian, singer, songwriter, actor, public activist and diplomat. Aznavour is known for his unique tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. He has written over 1300 songs and recorded over 1,400, sung in eight languages and sold more than 180 million records.

On that back cover  I can also see a photo of the band, playing live perhaps, or rehearsing, taken by Norman Collins. The tracks are listed, not as A or B, but 1 and 2. The first song being “Best Years of Our Lives” and the second “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. Both songs are credited to M. Tivnan. Both songs were recorded in May 1986 at Suite 16. The record was produced by the band.

The only other fact we gather from the record is that it was released by Guillotine Records, from Stockport (catalog GR 001). On Discogs other bands seem to be listed on this label, but I think it is a totally different Guillotine Records as the releases date from the 90s. Was the band from Stockport as well? Maybe it was a self-release?

Stockport is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, 7 miles (11 km) south-east of Manchester city centre, where the River Goyt and Tame merge to create the River Mersey. The town is the largest settlement in the metropolitan borough of the same name.Historically, most of the town was in Cheshire, but the area to the north of the Mersey was in Lancashire. Stockport in the 16th century was a small town entirely on the south bank of the Mersey, and known for the cultivation of hemp and manufacture of rope. In the 18th century the town had one of the first mechanised silk factories in the British Isles. However, Stockport’s predominant industries of the 19th century were the cotton and allied industries. Stockport was also at the centre of the country’s hatting industry, which by 1884 was exporting more than six million hats a year; the last hat works in Stockport closed in 1997.   

Where next? To my surprise there are many videos on Youtube by Black and White Lovers. Yes, this time no ampersand, but an “and” between Black and White. First video I find is one video that even has Gary Lineker scoring some goals. On the little description it says that this version of “Best Years of Our Lives” was recorded at Spirit Studios in 1985. This said video was a rough edit and was never finished it seems.

This same song was to be re-recorded for the single. And I could find a live video of the band performing it at the International in Manchester on August 1986. How cool is that?

The Youtube account owner is a Martin Briars it seems. Was he part of the band? Could be. I’ll drop him a message through Youtube. Will there be any luck? I doubt it, seems his last upload was 6 years ago.

There are more videos. I see the vocalist with some maracas playing live the song “Remember“. It sounds jangly and fantastic! On the little info it says the band formed in 1984 and disbanded in early 1987. They also had positive reviews on the NME and City Life magazines.

From that same gig, at Berlin in Manchester on the year 1985 there is also the song “Carpmael“. On the info it tells a bit about the story of this particular song: Despite the vagaries of the PA, which seems reasonable, you might be able to hear one or two of the words to this one – not because the words are particularly good…. the tune’s crap…..it’s a story. The story is of a man gifted with the ability to see into the future, and becomes rich and successful . He dreams he is paralysed in a hospital.

The band would play the same venue in December 1985. From that time we find a video of them performing the song “Nightingales” at the soundcheck.

Next up is a video of the song “Same People” that was recorded at Spirit in 1985.

Then there are a lot of videos from the same gig as the first video I shared, from the International in Manchester 1986:
Stolen Kiss (with an intro from Jimmy Saville)
Nightingales (after Maurice Chevalier’s “if a nightingale could sing like yououuoou…..”, or rather the Marx Brothers take on him in “Monkey Business”, because of the supposedly “French” feel to it… !!)
Until You Come Along
Remember (walked straight into a dream, an 18-carat dream, remember, i remember, we were happy then……. things were different then!!!!)

I then decided to look for M. Tivnan. Who was he? I find a Myspace for an Anthony Tivnan from Stockport. That is a clue indeed. But he is no M. Tivnan, but an A. Tivnan. Probably the brother? But what about this interview to Steve Murphy from the band Gods Gift on the New Hormones blog? I see a mention of a Martin Tivnan!

….But at that time we were perhaps mid-20s and these kids were 15, 16 – we used to share gigs with this band called The Enigma – they were fantastic. I’m astonished that nothing ever became of them. The lad that played the guitar, sang, did all the songs, he was only 15 and he was brilliant. Martin Tivnan he was called. They were a good band.

What’s even better is the comments section! I think Martin Tivnan actually comments and says:
I was the drummer in The Enigma, I remember sharing a few gigs with you back then, also doing the recordings for the album in Stockport. Also sharing your bands drum kit also Mike Joyce’s from The Hoax. I’ve still got the “Unzipping the Abstract Album”, reckon your track and ours were the best! I bought your single as well. Great to see this interview and cheers for giving us a mention, I didn’t save anything from that era which is a pity. I do remember that you were quality on the guitar though.

On the said record, Unzipping the Abstract, The Enigma contributes the punky song “Play With Fire”.

And lastly, someone called Brendan Chesterton makes the connection I was hoping for:
After Jeff died I joined up with Martin Tivnan and the Enigma guys to form Black and White Lovers. You are spot on about Martin’s talents, he was Noel Gallager’s equal or better 15 years before.

So there we go. We got two names now from Black & White Lovers, Martin Tivnan and Brendan Chesterton! And maybe a third with Martin Briars. Quite some detective work.

Who else remembers them? Did they leave any more unreleased songs? Whatever happened to them after Black & White Lovers? Would be great to find out more about them!

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Listen
Black & White Lovers – Best Years of Our Lives

03
Apr

Already April here. Today I woke up and was surprised to see me tagged on Facebook by Richard from The Suncharms. What was it? A beautiful video of McCarthy, my favourite band ever ever, playing live in concert on French TV on their first date of their European Tour dating March 19th 1988 in Lille. What would I give to see them one day, to have been there then. Wow. Really.

April 27 has been announced as the single date for Lima Popfest. There are many details on their Facebook event page that I’d like to share as well as to review some of the new crop of Latin American pop bands that will be participating.

The 6th edition of Lima Popfest will be hosted at the FUGA venue and it starts quite late, at 10:30pm. 6 bands have been announced but seems there will be a 7th band from Chile to be announced shortly.

The bands playing are:

Carmen Sandiego (Uruguay): I’ve never really explored their music, but I do know that they are the most well known indie band from their country. So many times I’ve seen their name on websites as well as fans requesting them to play in different countries. On their Bandcamp I notice that they have many, many releases, the oldest dating from 2006. Their last one though is the one I’m listening now, titled “Mapas Anatómicos”. There are 10 songs on this album which seems to be available only digitally, I don’t see any information about any physical format for it. The band is formed by Matías Lens, Flavio Lira, Lucía Riera, Ezequiel Rivero and Leticia Skrycky. The album is not strictly jangle pop, there are many more influences than classic indiepop. Some songs are genuinely great like “Fines de Semana” and others are quite boring like “El Skater”, but in general I’d say it is a good record. Would be nice to catch them someday, check their live set.

Los Waldners (Costa Rica): my favourite pop band from Central America, jangly as fuck. Sadly I’m still waiting to get their first album which I thought was a masterpiece. I hope one day I’ll be able to have it. That one, “Eclipse Total del Corazón”, was released in 2014. But their latest is a 6 song release on Bandcamp titled “Malas Decisiones” dating from 2016. And sounds great, so great. Upbeat, jangly, definitely the band one has to check out at Lima Popfest. The band is formed by Andrea, Luis, Tavo and Daniel. Hope this 6 song mini-lp (or EP?) gets released physically and once and for all there’s a way for me to get their records. It is always so hard to get records from Latin American bands, sadly it seems they only cater the local market.

Niños Envueltos (Argentina): never heard about this band before. So I’m discovering them as I write this post. First shock, Tonga’s vocals. First impression, what is with his voice? Then it grew up on me. I actually like it. I’m just listening their one and only release, “El Último Casette del Parque” which I’m not sure if it has been released physically. It includes 7 songs and all of them are streamable on Bandcamp. The band is formed by Tonga, Franchi, Alito, Fede, Nico and Gus. They seem to include many instruments other than the classic ones like clavinets, violas and violins and that I enjoy this time around. The band seems influenced by Belle & Sebastian and other folky influenced pop bands. A nice new discovery indeed.

Nicolás Mateo (Argentina): “Palanca Sin Cambio” is the name of the latest release by this one-man band. It seems he has been around since at least 2008 when he released “Todo es Espejo”. It seems their releases are only available digitally also. I’m listening to their last release, discovering it for the first time, and I have to say I’m not liking it that much. It is not terrible or anything, but it is not the kind of music I’m into. Whereas Niños Envueltos was folky but influenced by pop music, Nicolás seems to be influenced by folky rock music. Not my thing.

Mundaka (Peru): I think in the past I’ve complained about this band, they shared a split EP with Almirante Ackbar where the songs by the latter where truly fantastic but I didn’t like one bit Mundaka’s. That was many years ago. Today I’m listening to their latest effort, a 12 song album titled “Sonata Tropical del Ártico” which is actually available as CD digipak. The first song I listen is the one titled “Morrissey”, who can blame me? I notice some nice guitar work on it. Quite a surprise. Is the band getting it right now? Well, it sounds great, but there are no vocals! I will need to check another song, and well, they are not as good, they are a bit boring for me, too psychedelic maybe? I don’t know what it is, but the great tempo, rhythm and guitar work on “Morrissey” is nowhere else to be found But be sure to check, even though it is quite different in style, “Insomnio” which is for me  the only other standout track on this effort.

Fiebre Aviar (Peru): The only band I’ve seen before once upon a time in Lima supporting Eva & John. A very underrated band, with the right influences creating simple pop with fun, quirky and smart lyrics. On Bandcamp they have two newish songs recorded in September 2016, “(Creo que) mis besos te volvieron leca” and “Carnaval del 98”. They sound fun to me. Though I hope to see one day a recording of their hit “Castolo”, a tribute to my favourite videogame, Pro Evolution Soccer (Winning Eleven).

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As I have shared with you the past weeks, I have been going through my 12″ records. Some of them quite obscure that deserve to be showcased in the blog. One picked up my interest this weekend, a compilation titled “First Things First”. I remember buying it in Toronto when I visited a secret record store with my friend Jessel. I’m sure he must have recommended me buying it as I didn’t (and don’t) know any of the bands that appear on it. He must have been familiar with it. I can’t even find it listed on Discogs.

I wonder why he recommended this to me. I think there are only a few good songs in it. It must have been because of them, I’m sure. Possibly because of The Donnelly Bros song, “The Breadwinner”. Yeah, that must have been it. But who were they? Why have I never seen their name before?

This compilation was released in 1987 by One by One Records (catalog FIRST 1). It seems the compilation actually has a longer title, “First Things First … It’s a Strange Kettle of Fish Vol. 1”. Other bands on the comp are One Deaf Ear, Uncertain Trumpet, Western Justice, Big Electric Pic, Cut the Bag, The Rhythm Method, Sontiche, Violet Sky, Meanwhile in Czechoslovakia, Red Circus and The Keep. I believe all songs are by Irish bands. The only place I found information on this record was on the great website Irish Rock. Thanks to them too, I could find more information about The Donnelly Bros.

The Donnelly Brothers were an indie band from West Belfast. They were formed in
1985 by Martin Burns (vocals), Bap McGreevy (lead guitar), Stephen ‘Punker’ McGreevy (bass), Paddy O’Neill (guitar) and Barney Carson (drums). They played a few gigs around Belfast and made a few demos, including “Clawing at the Sky” (1986). This lineup had a post-punk sound, with effect heavy guitars, darker and heavier than the later recordings by the second lineup.

Barney and Paddy left after a year to form their own band. A 14-year-old drummer
named Ali Donnelly joined along with rhythm guitarist Nick Sadlier, ex of Belfast punk band Rebel. This second line-up was an indie guitar band with a slight country twang, echoes of rockabilly/psychobilly influences, and a light and nimble beat.

The band recorded a flexi in 1986 which was sold in the shops and given away free with Helden fanzine. In 1987 the track “Breadwinner” appeared on the First Things First sampler LP on Keith McCormack’s One By One label. In June 1987 they recorded a popular session for the Dave Fanning Show on RTE, including a new version of “Breadwinner”. This session was broadcast twice and led to a 2FM tour. One track “Mystery Machine” became especially well known as it was dancey, had a great riff and was all about Scooby Doo…

The Donnelly Bros supported The Wedding Present on their Irish tour in 1988, playing Galway, Cork (Sir Henry’s), Dublin (McGonagles), Derry and Belfast (Art College). They also played with The Jazz Butcher, The Prisoners and The Charlatans.
Hot Press described their sound at the juncture as ‘manic trash country’.

They split in 1989. The Fanning session plus a couple of older demo tracks (“Boy In A Biscuit Tin”, the aforementioned “Clawing at the Sky”) are now available on the band’s myspace page.

Stephen McGreevy (bass) and Barney Carson (drums) went on to form indie rock trio Non-Stop Yellow in 1991 with Paul Turner (guitar/vocals) who released two singles (on Screw Records and Beat Crazy Records) in the early 90s, swapped Barney Carson for Gary Thompson (ex Burnin’ Kisses), recorded demos for Polydor Records but split in early 1994 before work on an album was completed. Nick Sadlier formed long running Irish reggae act Bréag who are still active twenty years after their inception
circa 1994.

There is also some extra information about their discography. It seems that in 1986 they released a flexi with the song “Liberty and Honesty” and another song (which seems Irish Rock doesn’t know the name, so I don’t either) that was given away for free with the Helden fanzine.

The other item in their discography, even though it is not a proper release, is their appearance in the Dave Fanning Show for a Session in June 1987. The tracks they recorded for it were: “The Breadwinner”, “Mr. Debussy”, “The Tomorrow People” and “Mystery Machine”. Alright, we do know our friends from the blog The Fanning Session Archive. Time to look there.

We notice first that the band had set up a Myspace page. Those of course are useless now sadly. But they had posted a bio there.

The Donnelly Brothers were an indie band from West Belfast who existed between 1985 and 1989. The first line-up was Martin Burns (vocals), Bap McGreevy (lead guitar), Stephen ‘Punker’ McGreevy (bass), Paddy O’Neill (guitar) and Barney Carson (drums). The band played a few gigs around Belfast and made a few demos. Barney and Paddy left after a year to form their own band. A 14-year-old drummer named Ali Donnelly joined along with rhythm guitarist Nick Sadlier. The line-up of Burns, Bap, Punker, Nick and Ali played a few gigs, did a few demos, supported The Wedding Present on tour, played with The Jazz Butcher, The Prisoners and The Charlatans. The band recorded a session for the Dave Fanning Show on RTE in June 1987. It was broadcast twice on the radio station and led to a 2FM tour. The recordings on this page are from that Fanning session. Track three, Clawing at the Sky, is from the first demo in 1986.

We also see someone that had commented in that entry saying that the band had also played in The Republic of Ireland a handful of times, playing a Trinity Ball, at McGonagle’s in Dublin, Sir Henry’s in Cork, in Galway, Belfast and Derry with The Wedding Present. Also in Dundalk, Limerick and at The Underground in Dame Street.

There are two more posts about them on the Fanning Sessions blog. The first is a post with the demo of “The Handicap Bus”. Not much info there but some interesting comments, like that one that says that Ali, the drummer, used to dye his eyebrows like Keith Moon.

The second post is much more interesting. Dating from 2013 it mentions the release of a compilation album, including all their songs. How should I feel? Awful. I missed it. It seems it was released as a CD by Flaming June Records and it sold just for 6 pounds. It included 14 tracks!

Don’t despair. I keep digging and find the release available digitally on Bandcamp. All 14 songs. I suppose coming from the Fanning Sessions, the flexi and the “First Things First” compilation plus more recordings. The songs on it are:
“The Handicap Bus”, “Liberty and Honesty”, “Mystery Machine”, “Big Screen Star”, “Whiplash Curve”, “Mr Debussy”, “The Breadwinner”, “These Are the Days”,”The Tomorrow People”, “Sackville Street”, “Clawing at the Sky”, Smoke Filled Bars”, “Texan Town” and “Elysian Days”. Through them you can enjoy their country influenced indiepop.

But how can I get the CD? Is it totally sold out? That becomes the important question at this point. I look for the label. I find a Soundcloud for Flaming June Records. It says the label only existed between 2010 and 2014. Now it is kaput. I’ll send them a message. Probably is my best chance? Or should I try tracking the band members? What would be easier? I send messages to both, Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Crossing fingers I hear from them.

The last thing I could find by digging the web was a mention of Stephen “Punker” McGreevy and Martin Burns being part of a short-lived combo named Liar that was around in 1984 thanks to the Spit Records website. Seems they didn’t leave any recordings.

Anyone out there remembers them?

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Listen
The Donnelly Brothers – The Breadwinner