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Old 03-11-2012, 04:36 PM   #1001 (permalink)
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Wow that looks good with the NWOBHM section, what I'll do is do both and that is to continue page by page and also skip to page 32 and comment on the NWOBHM at the same time.

I've just seen on page 5-6 that you're looking at similiar proggy 1980s bands to Marillion, bands such as Pendragon, IQ, Pallas and Twelfth Night. I was listening to these bands around 15 years ago and have kind of forgotten them apart from Marillion of course. What would you say were the essential 5 or 6 albums of these bands in the 1980s? As I'm thinking on re-listening to these bands but just need a selection of their best material.
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:08 PM   #1002 (permalink)
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:10 PM   #1003 (permalink)
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:13 PM   #1004 (permalink)
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Dia is muire diabh --- that's Irish for hello. As you can see from the changed graphic, the worm will not be outdone keeping things Irish for this week. Stacey-Lynn may have dyed her hair, but the worm has translated the name of his section into Irish. Probably badly. It's pronounced, for those who need to know, “On crew-iv clue-sag duh law”. Anyway, here to start things off are the Sawdoctors.
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:54 AM   #1005 (permalink)
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I think we need some songs from The Pogues!
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Old 03-12-2012, 05:20 AM   #1006 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
Wow that looks good with the NWOBHM section, what I'll do is do both and that is to continue page by page and also skip to page 32 and comment on the NWOBHM at the same time.

I've just seen on page 5-6 that you're looking at similiar proggy 1980s bands to Marillion, bands such as Pendragon, IQ, Pallas and Twelfth Night. I was listening to these bands around 15 years ago and have kind of forgotten them apart from Marillion of course. What would you say were the essential 5 or 6 albums of these bands in the 1980s? As I'm thinking on re-listening to these bands but just need a selection of their best material.
Ok well to be honest IQ I never got into despite trying really hard. Spock's Beard I'm still working on, but getting there... Pallas the only one of theirs I have is "Arrive alive", which is great apart from the title/opening track. Twelfth Night I'd have to say "Fact and fiction" (reviewed earlier) though the live album "Live and let live" has the excellent "Sequences" on it.

Pendragon are a whole different matter. The first of their albums I listened to was "Believe", after which I went for their back catalogue, and put it on a rotating playlist, so hard to say which of their albums, other than "Believe", I would recommend, but put it this way: I have yet to hear a bad Pendragon track!

I'd also recommend Arena, particularly "Contagion", "Immortal?" and "Pepper's ghost", the latter if you're into the more heavy prog, as well as Jadis, particularly "Fanatic", though these are more 90s than 80s. Oh, and don't forget Mostly Autumn...
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Old 03-12-2012, 06:26 AM   #1007 (permalink)
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To kick Irish Week off, I'd like to feature some bands who nearly/never quite made it. Ireland is unfortunately full of these bands, people who gigged for years and built up a decent following, perhaps released a record or two, sometimes even made it onto the radio or even TV, and yet somehow never made the big step to fame and fortune, and ended up just fading away, whether their members joined or formed other bands, or they gave up the music biz altogether. It's sad, as many of these were really good bands, and should have had a better and more successful career than they had. Many of these bands are now no longer even known outside these shores, but here we remember them.



Winter's Reign were an AOR styled band whose best years were 1983-1987, during which time they recorded two albums, although the second, “In the beginning”, was in fact recorded by a totally different lineup, as “musical differences” had caused the original members to split, with three of the six --- founder members Leo Larkin (vocals, keyboards) and his brother Billy "Bo" Larkin (guitar) as well as drummer Stuart MacMillan leaving the band and the remaining ones --- guitarist Mike Cavanagh, Keyboard player and vocalist Robbie Hurley and bassist Paul Dixon --- continued on, bringing in a new drummer.

I'm not quite sure what happened to them after the second album, but they seemed to just disappear from the Irish rock scene, which is a pity, as they really did look like they had the talent to take it all the way. Here are some of their songs.






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Old 03-12-2012, 10:46 AM   #1008 (permalink)
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Tourist history --- Two Door Cinema Club --- 2010 (Kitsune)


And from bands who never made it and faded into the mists of Irish music history, to one who most certainly are. Making it, that is. This, their debut album, scooped the first prize at the Meteor Choice Awards (our version of the Brits: very posh) and their star is certainly in the ascendancy at the moment, with their long-awaited second album due out soon. Maybe. Hopefully.

Alex Trimble (lead vocals, rhythm guitar and synth), Sam Halliday (lead guitar) and Kevin Baird (bass) met while at school, and soon realised their talents and their future lay in music, concentrating on their newly formed band. Considering the band has only properly been in existence since 2007, and that their first recording, an EP, only came out in 2009, Two Door Cinema Club's rise to fame and glory has really been nothing short of meteoric, sorry about the pun.

The album opens with “Cigarettes in the theatre”, a sort of echoey, atmospheric start before jangly guitars and heavy drums cut in and the song takes off as a real airplay-friendly rocker, definite flavour of very early U2, especially in the guitar, with splashes of everything from Big Country to the Housemartins and some Deacon Blue as well. Poppy but also with a real edge of rock, and Alex's voice is clear and distinct, one of those rare voices that rises effortlessly above the music without having to shout or scream: kind of reminds me of John McManus from Mama's Boys. There's a great feeling of optimism about the opener, very upbeat and happy, a real toe-tapper. The mad trumpet bit at the end is really weird though, and, I feel, out of place: kind of knocks the whole thing askew, and it's the last thing you hear, but I think the track itself is good enough for that little bump not to ruin it.

“Come back home” is a harder, rockier track with not so much of the pop music about it, touches of the Killers maybe, early Simple Minds? Sam Halliday has certainly decided to try to make his own signature guitar sound, and so far it seems like he's succeeding. It does owe a lot to the Edge's style of course, but has its own individuality and charm, enough so that it doesn't seem like he's trying to rip off or ape the U2 guitarist.

Everything here is around the three-minute or less mark, one or two going towards the three-and-a-half minute but nothing longer, which is good, as this seems to fit the musical style of TDCC; can't see them engaging in any epic tracks really. “Do you want it all” slips back into the pop style, very catchy, very radio-friendly material, with nice effects from Alex on the synth, and a really infectious hook. There's a pretty mad guitar passage in about the last minute or so as the song really speeds up, and I have to say I really like this: makes a great impression first time, which is always good, with a nice and unexpected acapella ending. It's followed by “This is the life”, which sort of carries the musical theme through, another mid-paced popper, with lush keyboards and some nice sharp guitar. Here they really remind me of those happy pop icons the Lightning Seeds, and they definitely seem to be enjoying themselves on this song, and why not?

There's a much more funk drive to “Something good can work”, and indeed it does, with sparkly keyboards and catchy hooks, very pop with hardly a breath of rock about it at all, but still very nice to listen to, then things speed (and indeed, rock) back up for “I can talk”, with an interesting phrasing in the vocal, almost spoken in ways, and some pretty damn good guitar from Sam. There's no slowing down for “Undercover Martyn”, driven along on a great keyboard line and some fine drumming from Johnny Welton, some powerful guitar from Sam backed by bippy keyboard noises from Alex, and Sam's guitar drives “What you know”, with some excellent bass from Kevin Baird, laying down one heck of a groove. Alex's vocals should in no way be overlooked, either, as they are the glue that holds this fine band together, never too high or low in the mix, and always meshing with the music, not detracting from it or relegating it to second place.

The whimsical “Eat that up, it's good for you” bops along nicely on keyboard and bass, with some nice touches on the guitar, and the album ends on “You are not stubborn”, a rocker somewhat in the style of Tom Petty, not as hard but very upbeat and tight. My only quibble is that there are no slow songs on this album: I would have liked to have seen how Two Door Cinema Club handled a decent ballad. Everything here is fast or at least mid-speed, boppy and uptempo. Would have been nice to see what happens when they take their foot off the pedal. Ah well, they're young after all. Maybe next album.

You'd have to hold your head up high really though as an Irishman, to realise we have home-grown talent of this calibre to export our music to the world at large. This is one of the reasons I intend to push Irish music more this year, and especially this week, when everyone wants to be Irish, because often I feel Irish music --- be it pop, rock, electronic, soul, punk or native noseflute music (!) --- tends to be largely ignored by the music press outside Ireland. To the rest of the world, we're the home of U2, Rory Gallagher, Phil Lynott and (no please don't say it!) Jedward and Westlife, but there's so much more to hear and enjoy about good Irish music.

If nowhere else, you'll be sure to hear it in this journal. A lot.

TRACKLISTING

1. Cigarettes in the theatre
2. Come back home
3. Do you want it all?
4. This is the life
5. Something good can work
6. I can talk
7. What you know
8. Undercover Martyn
9. Eat that up, it's good for you
10. You are not stubborn
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:23 PM   #1009 (permalink)
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And from an upcoming band with much to prove and some of the future of Irish pop/rock music in their hands to one who lead the way, almost forty years ago. None of the guys from Two Door Cinema Club were even born when Horslips were formed, and it was this band who most agree went the furthest in fusing the music of traditional Irish with rock, two genres which had been not only separate up to then, but more or less universally despised one by the other. Those who played traditional Irish --- or “trad” --- music believed that rock musicians were bastardising the form, while rockers looked down on trad musicians as old men playing jigs and reels, which they were, mostly, but neither really gave the other any credit, considering their genre the only “true” musicians.

Horslips did a lot to change that. Formed, appropriately enough, on St. Patrick's Day 1972, Horslips began playing Irish trad music but soon began to inject folk and then rock and even pop music into their recordings. Their biggest crossover was the album below, one of several concepts that they released during their ten-year career, and one which has helped to cement their position in Irish music history as the founding fathers of celtic rock.

The Tain --- Horslips --- 1973 (Horslips Records)


“The Tain”* is an ancient Irish legend, which concerns the theft of the “Brown Bull of Cooley” from Maeve*, Queen of Connaught* (one of the four main Irish provinces) by the men of Ulster (yeah, another province, but you'll probably know that one) including the Irish legendary hero CuChulainn.* Rather than put in brackets how to pronounce all the Irish words, I'll stick an asterisk after each and put a key after the review, okay? Cuchulainn comes up against his foster-brother and friend, Ferdia, and has to battle him. As in most lore, this does not go well.

Much of the album is instrumental, and most of the tracks very short, and I have to pay a great debt of thanks to the official Horslips site (The Official Horslips Web Site) for its depth of information on this album, so that I can explain it the better. “Setanta”, which is one of the many instrumentals, opens the album, and is essentially chronicling the early life of the hero CuChulainn, who began life known as Setanta, but got his name when he killed one of the hounds of the master of Chulainn --- cu in Irish means hound, and Setanta agreed to stand in for the dog and protect the lord's place, thus becoming the hound of Chulainn, or CuChulainn. It's a short, almost Jeff Wayne-ish instrumental --- even though it would be years yet before we even heard of a musical version of the War of the Worlds --- and goes into a sort of jig, reel or something called “Maeve's Court”, and then the first vocals come with “Charolias”*, a boppy uptempo song with guitar and fiddle, pipes and booming drums as the men of Ulster invade Queen Maeve's realm to steal away her black bull, which she is so proud of and which the king of Ulster covets, as kings often did. Nice tin whistle solo --- yeah, it's trad, get used to such phrases! --- from Jim Lockhart followed by a great guitar solo from John Fean, and while the main vocal is a little quiet, the backing vocals are quite strong.

A march then in the style of “The battle hymn of Munster”, which also forms the basis of the preceding track, with some good organ and again some fine whistle, which takes us into “You can't fool the beast”, with a great vocal line and some smooth guitar from Fean. Horslips were always at their best and strongest when they were all singing together, and indeed so it proves again here. Ian Anderson would have been proud of Lockhart's whistle, and there's also a great guitar solo that's just this side of Thin Lizzy, with the other foot tipping Carlos Santana territory. Oh, didn't I mention? Some excellent fiddle from Charles O'Connor too.

This takes us into Horslips' most successful and famous track, “Dearg* doom”. Literally, red doom, or red destroyer according to the Horslips site, it will be familiar to anyone who has ever heard the Irish World Cup song from Italia 90, “Put 'em under pressure”, as it forms the main guitar riff in that song, and its use helped introduce a younger and wider audience to the band, and of course revitalised their career and back catalogue for a little while. It's probably the rockiest of the tracks on the album, hopping along at a great lick, with great guitar and fiddle, a bass line to die for and of course that guitar riff. Special. The song itself concerns CuChulainn, who is the “dearg doom” referred to, as he prepares to go into battle.

“Ferdia's song” then is a reprise of the tune of the opener, as CuChulainn tries to dissuade his friend Ferdia from fighting him, knowing he must kill the man, but Ferdia of course will not be frightened off. Nice guitar again, some lovely keyboard work from Lockhart and some lonely tin whistle adding a real note of despair and frustration to proceedings. Another great guitar solo and some mournful fiddle, which runs then into an instrumental continuation of the theme, under the name of “Gae bolga*”, this being the name of CuChulainn's spear. Ends on some frantic, swirly keyboard as Ferdia dies.

A low tin whistle then accompanies the vocal as “CuChulainn's lament” gives pause, as the hero mourns his fallen friend, fiddle and percussion joining in with some nice oileann* pipes, then we hear from Maeve's messenger, MacRoth, as he reflects on the battle to come in “Faster than the hound”, a sort of Beatles sound to the music, mixed with a certain sense of ELO. A nice, laidback ballad, the calm before the storm, as the men of Ulster prepare for battle in “The silver spear”, which is, according to the Horslips website, a trio of different reels, and certainly gives the impression of building excitement and anticipation.

“More than you can chew” is a folk/rock uptempo song, as CuChulainn warns Maeve that she does not know what she's taking on. Nice female backing vocals, unfortunately uncredited, as the song moves to the theme of the March of the King of Laois*, then one more instrumental in “The Morrigan's dream”, set to an Irish dance tune called “Old Nolls' Jig” --- the Morrigan was the Irish queen of combat and war, usually represented as a crow or raven --- and we close on “Time to kill”, set to another jig, “The humours of whiskey”, as CuChulainn lies dying, wondering whether it was all worth it. Great vocal harmony opening, then the jig comes in with keyboards, guitar and fiddle, drums and whistles.

To properly appreciate this album you need to understand the story of the Tain, but I have not the space or the inclination to go into it here. If you want to, you can look it up on Wiki: it really is a fascinating story. But you can still appreciate the difference Horslips made to Irish music by listening to this album: the fusion of various different styles into one cohesive and recognisable whole set the trend and laid the groundwork for some excellent albums that were to follow, and was no doubt a big influence on the already-reviewed “Erinsaga”.

TRACKLISTING

1. Setanta
2. Maeve's court
3. Charolias
4. The march
5. You can't fool the beast
6. Dearg doom
7. Ferdia's song
8. Gae bolga
9. CuChulainn's lament
10. Faster than the hound
11. The silver spear
12. More than you can chew
13. The Morrigan's dream
14. Time to kill

LIST OF PRONOUNCIATIONS:

*Tain = Tawn or sometimes Toyn
*CuChulainn = Coo-kull-in
*Maeve = Mayv
*Gae bolga = Gay bulg-ah
*Laois = Leesh
*Connaught = Conn-aw-ckt
* Dearg = Dar-ag or jar-awg
*Charolias = Shar-oh-lay
* Oileann = Illin'
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Old 03-12-2012, 06:29 PM   #1010 (permalink)
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