Friday, March 12, 2010

The St. Patrick's Season Rolls On...

The first punk single to be released in Ireland was 1977's Television Screen, by a Dublin band named (no doubt inspired by that wonderfully innocent combination of hubris and geekery that would lead another teenager to dub himself "Bono Vox" soon after) The Radiators from Space. The inspiration for this single, and its follow-ups, was explained by frontman Phil Chevron (nee Philip Ryan) in this fashion:

"Our best songs came from our experience of growing up in an Ireland still paralysed by political and religious hypocrisies but which, we believed, was in its heart youthful and forward-thinking. We were the first Irish band to grapple with these contradictions but first and foremost we were a pop group and we could readily identify with the UK's 'No Fun' slogan."

Of course, the next Irish (here using the word to describe the island itself, not the republic) punk band to explode onto the scene (check out the notes concerning the release of the first single) was Belfast's Stiff Little Fingers (a future blog post? you betcha!), whose sound was harsher... it's the difference between describing "political and religious hypocrisies" and describing political and religious slaughter.

Anyway, back to the Radiators from Space... their first album 1977's TV Tube Heart is a great artifact of the punk era. Press Gang and Sunday World cover ground similar to that covered in the Jam's News of the World. Blitzin' at the Ritz references changes in trade policies and politics. All-in-all, it's a fantastic, and woefully unappreciated, album.

The band shortened their name to The Radiators (not to be confused with The Radiators from New Orleans who are, in a mind-boggling coincidence, playing B.B. King's in Times Square tonight), and relocated to London for their follow-up album Ghostown, which was released in 1979. This album saw a maturation of the band's sound, and a multiplicity of styles, ranging from the simple rave-up Johnny Jukebox to the brilliant, bizarre Kitty Ricketts. My personal favorite from the album is the incredible (Song of the) Faithful Departed, an epic sprawl through Irish history and literature, incorporating Christian iconography and folk balladry, and referencing the works of such Irish literary greats as Sean O'Casey, William Butler Yeats, and James Joyce:



I would love to know what the deal is with the dude who is seen in the video before the song begins. The performance itself is a lip-synch of the album version of the song, but a stripped-down acoustic version of the song was included as a bonus track on the live retrospective Alive-Alive-O. The guitar intro to the album version of the song, to me, is reminiscent of Television's twin-guitar sound- I so proud of my little observation that I was just a little crestfallen when I found that this writer scooped me, but I am happy to have discovered his blog. Faithful Departed was covered by Moving Hearts, a band fronted by (BE NICE, ZRM!!!) Christy Moore.

After Ghostown, the Radiators split up, but Phil Chevron went on to join the Pogues for their second and subsequent albums. He wrote the incredible emigration song Thousands are Sailing
and the gorgeous, heartrending Lorelei (on which he sang lead vocals).

Apparently, the Radiators recently reunited and released a new album. Just that knowledge alone makes me glad I wrote this post.

Further reading on Phil Chevron

12 comments:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

It was Proclamation Day here in Columbus.

Sadly, work kix my ass too much this weak to show up.
~

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

There are a couple of parades this weekend, but my Saturday AM volunteer work and Saturday PM work take precedence... it'll also be a friggin' monsoon weather-wise.

Gotta work Sunday too- one of my co-workers just had surgery. It's a pity, because my future ex-wife will be playing at my favorite haunt in Brooklyn.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I recognized the name Chevron, from the Pogues.

Hey, I'm not gonna slag Christy Moore. I imagine Kirwan wouldn't either, but from their early days got tired of hearing requests for 'normal' Irish music....

Confess I dunno much from the RfromS, other than the name. May need to check some out. Looking forward to the SLF post....

Gotta bizzy bizzy bizzy zombie weekend, starting by teaching small children to fight tomorrow WAY EARLY in the fuggin AM.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Oh, and Zombie better not drink too much at the Tossers on Thursday, or I will be angry at him....

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Hey, I'm not gonna slag Christy Moore. I imagine Kirwan wouldn't either, but from their early days got tired of hearing requests for 'normal' Irish music....

Just takin' the piss, old boy! Christy's awesome.

Gotta bizzy bizzy bizzy zombie weekend, starting by teaching small children to fight tomorrow WAY EARLY in the fuggin AM.

Doin' the Lord's work- LORD OF BATTLE! I'll have the alarm set for 7AM.

Smut Clyde said...

The Doktorling does tae kwon do. I will not boast about the colour of her belt since if she wants that bruited about she should start HER OWN FECKIN BLOG.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

TKD is what I'm on about, Smutto.

If you want to boast, you gots to take it up your own damn self. Besides, at some point you're going to want to be able to defend yourself against the Youngling.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Stiff Little Fingers is a Northern Irish punk rock band from Belfast, formed in 1977. They started out as a schoolboy band called Highway Star (named after the Deep Purple song), doing rock covers, until they discovered punk.

I remember that band! (SLF, that is.)

Also. Deep Purple - Machine Head is one of the first albums I ever bought.

*resumes head banging*
~

Johnny Pez said...

I remember that band! (SLF, that is.)

Their single "Alternative Ulster" made it onto one of Rhino's punk rock compilations, which is where I heard it. I've got an ancient cassette tape that I still play on my car's cassette player now and then.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Their single "Alternative Ulster" made it onto one of Rhino's punk rock compilations, which is where I heard it.

DIY UK punk- was it volume one or two? I have the same cassette.

Johnny Pez said...

Volume two.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

SLF - All The Best on cassette.