This is the 40th anniversary re-issue of Ghostown, the 2nd album by Dublin’s original punk band, The Radiators (from Space). Ghostown is many things; a post-punk masterpiece, a document of Dublin as it was in 1979, the first modern Irish rock album. Not an easy album initially to get into but stick with it, it’s well worth the listening effort. The re-issue is 45 tracks on two disks with disk one the original album plus related b-sides from the albums supporting singles and disk two for the hardcore fans – various demos and outtakes. A true masterpiece.
January 27, 2011
“Then the Radiators From Space came out, Television Screen, which was a great single, that was a real inspiration to us” – Bono, U2
Shite’n’Onions very f**kin proudly announces the North American Release of “Trouble Pilgrim”, by seminal Dublin punk band THE RADIATORS FROM SPACE.
The Radiators from Space – The best band you’ve never heard of.Some of you out there in readerland will be very familiar with The Radiators from Space, some of you might know the name and most of you will know squat. I would argue that the Radiators were the most important band in the development of the sound of modern Irish rock – sure there were great Irish rocks bands before The Radiators formation in 1976 – Them, Thin Lizzy, Taste and Horslips and I’m a big fan of all of them (including Them!) and each of them was uniquely influential and laid not only the foundations but also the walls of the house of Irish rock. It was The Radiators who I would argue that all the great and the should of been great Irish bands of the 80s and onward can trace their sound and attitude to – The Undertones, That Petrol Emotion, SLF, Cactus World News, Therapy?, A House, The Fatima Mansions, Blue in Heaven, Sinead O’Connor, The Pogues, The Virgin Prunes, My Bloody Valentine and of course those muckers from Ballymun and Malahide – U2 (and Bono even admits it).
The following feature was written a few years back my friend and Horslips fanatic Lora Templeton and originally posted on the excellent irishrockers.com. My thanks to Lora and Aidan Curran of irishrockers.com for allowing me to reprint.
The Radiators From Space
June 16, 2004 was the centennial of Dublin’s most celebrated literary almanac entry. It would take a bold soul to launch any public venture not in line with the Tourist Board’s agenda for the day. But there were five bold souls – Philip Chevron, Pete Holidai, Steve Rapid, Cait O’Riordan and Johnny Bonnie – who did exactly that, when the Radiators (from Space) hit the stage again after a 24-year absence and re-emerged on the Dublin music scene as the Radiators (Plan 9).
And for the Radiators (Plan 9), this high-energy Village gig was the opening of a new and ongoing chapter in the history of one of Ireland’s most influential bands.
The Radiators (from Space) grew out of a succession of early seventies garage bands formed by singer Steve Rapid and guitarist Pete Holidai, notably Bent Fairy and the Punks, and in 1975, Greta Garbage and the Trashcans. The Philip Chevron Band also made their debut in the summer of 1975 at Blackrock Park, Co Dublin. Chevron established contact with Holidai at the end of the year and they begin rehearsing as a new band in the spring of the following year.
With the advent of Chevron (guitar), and then Jimmy Crashe (drums) and Mark Megaray (bass), a truly consistent group emerged as a threat to the moribund Irish music scene and quickly began making history. Band names tried and discarded throughout 1976 included Rockettes, The Hell Razors, Rough Trade, and finally the Radiators (from Space).
In September 1976, as Rough Trade, they recorded a demo for CBS man Jackie Hayden and Horslips drummer Eamon Carr, who had recently launched independent record label, Midnite. Shortly after the session, there was another name change, and the band became officially the Radiators (from Space). In November, Carr played the tape to Roger Armstrong and Ted Carroll at Chiswick Records in London and the band signed a contract with Chiswick. That same month the Radiators made their ‘live’ debut as support to pub-rockers Eddie and the Hot Rods from Essex, England.
In early 1977, the Radiators recorded their debut single ‘Television Screen’ b/w ‘Love Detective’ with producer Roger Armstrong. In Ireland, it was licensed by Midnite to CBS Records and became the first Top 20 punk single anywhere in the world.
‘Both Television Screen and Love Detective outdistance most of the competition. The drumming is a powerful slice of rock’n’roll, the bass is neat and modest and the guitars don’t get carried away in their distorted frenzy. May best of all, the engineering concentrates on the higher frequencies, giving the songs real bite.’ (Charley Waters: Rolling Stone, October 6)
If the entire audience walked out of the Radiators gig at Asgard House, Howth, Co Dublin in January 1978, a sell-out show at legendary Moran’s Hotel, Dublin in March demonstrated how fast the band was rising in the music scene. In June, they performed alongside The Undertones, Revolver, The Gamblers and The Vipers at the University College, Dublin Punk Festival, a show marred by tragic violence when a member of the audience was stabbed and killed. In August, they played at Dalymount Park, Dublin, sharing the bill with Thin Lizzy, Graham Parker and the Rumour, The Boomtown Rats, Fairport Convention, Stepaside, and Stagalee. It was Steve Rapid’s last gig with the Radiators (from Space), although he remained a guiding light over the years that followed.
Singles released in September 1977 included ‘Enemies’ b/w ‘Psychotic Reaction,’ and ‘Sunday World’ b/w ‘Teenager in Love.’
‘No wall-to-wall sneers here, and after all living on the other side of the Irish Sea would justify them a lot more than those who insist on adopting such a stance just to be chic. A hit, I hope.’ (Steve Clark, NME, October 8 )
Following close behind the summer of singles, their first album TV Tube Heart demonstrated that beyond the fast-and-furious punk sound lay a couple of major songwriting talents in Philip Chevron and Pete Holidai. Then, an offer from Phil Lynott landed the band a support spot on Thin Lizzy’s 1977 UK tour, and with this, they left Dublin.
‘That what makes TV Tube Heart stand head and shoulders above so much of what’s currently going down. There’s hardly a song on the album that doesn’t have the kind of claw that sticks in the brain and just won’t go away… a great debut. It’s an album that puts the final stamp on what’s been an astoundingly good year for Irish rock.’ (Niall Stokes/Hot Press October 29)
Within four months of their arrival in London, the Radiators (no longer ‘from Space’) began work on a new album in Soho with producer Tony Visconti. The resulting record Ghostown, released in 1979, remains a unique outpouring of love, frustration, anger and heartbreak. Chevron and Holidai delivered songs that offered visions of Dublin and Ireland trapped in a childhood jam-jar and set free again in exile. The sheer scale of the material could be seen when ‘Million Dollar Hero’ became the great lost hit single, the late Agnes Bernelle performed ‘Kitty Ricketts’ in her West End show and Christy Moore (and later Moving Hearts) covered ‘Faithful Departed,’ adopting it as the perfect song with which to launch his own vision of modern Irish music.
Singles released in 1978 bridged the two albums, starting in April with ‘Million Dollar Hero’ from Ghostown b/w Blitzin’ At the Ritz’ Live, a TV Tube Heart composition. In July, another glimpse of Ghostown with ‘Walking Home Alone Again’ b/w the ‘The Hucklebuck’/’Try and Stop Me’ was scheduled, but cancelled. A remix of ‘Million Dollar Hero’ appeared in September.
‘The single of this summer… a new epoch in the Radiators story… This should be a complete and utter chart smash. For me the summer of ’78 will always be epitomized by ‘Million Dollar Hero.” (Hot Press) ‘If there’s justice, it’ll chart’ (Record Mirror)
In October 1978, the Radiators, with supporting band Stiff Little Fingers, performed to an unreceptive audience at the Electric Ballroom in London. It would be their last concert in the UK and they returned to Ireland in December.
‘If there is a lesson to be learned from last Tuesday’s performance at the Electric, it is simply that the band’s music has progressed so dramatically that they must now find a new audience to appreciate it.’ (Harry Doherty/Melody Maker Nov 11)
Despite gigs in Dublin, including a one-off conglomerate of the Radiators and Horslips playing as ‘The Meanies,’ Mark Megaray and Billy Morley left the Radiators in early 1979. The summer saw the release of two more singles from the Ghostown album. ‘Let’s Talk About the Weather’ b/w ‘The Hucklebuck’ and ‘Try and Stop Me’ in June, and ‘Kitty Ricketts’ b/w ‘Ballad of the Faithful Departed.’
Ghostown was not released until August 1979 and it bombed commercially. But reviews attested to what would become its enduring significance.
‘It’s a monumental achievement in rock, possibly the most significant Irish rock album ever… its greatness lies partly in the fact that it’s not purely dismissive, that it explores aspects of what it’s challenging and in doing so discovers a language which is all the more moving for the associations it evokes.’ (Niall Stokes/Hot Press August 10) ‘An epochal statement of Irish rock, an utterly indispensable artifact in even the most selective collection of Irish albums… Ghostown is – to utilize that much debased word – a classic. It positively redefines the artist terms of Irish rock… the Radiators rise to the top of the class of ’76.’ (Bill Graham/Hot Press August 10) ‘A magnificent record… full of inspired and memorable urban images’ (Mark J. Prendergast/’Irish Rock’ O’Brien Press 1987)
Four on the Floor, an EP featuring ‘Television Screen,’ ‘Psychotic Reaction,’ ‘Enemies’ and ‘Teenager in Love’ was released in February, 1980. Other singles that year included ‘Stranger Than Fiction,’ produced by Hans Zimmer, b/w ‘Prison Bars’ and ‘Who Are The Strangers’ in July on the Chiswhick label and again ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ b/w ‘Paddy ‘Guitar’ Paddy’ and ‘Who Are the Strangers’ on Mulligan, the Radiators’ Irish label. In September, various mixes of ‘The Dancing Years’ were released and the Radiators made three major Irish TV appearances, including The Late, Late Show. An autumn and winter of gigs throughout Ireland followed.
‘Before a packed audience in the Project, they played a fine set that made a mockery of their fruitless search for gold across the water.’ (Joe Breen/Irish Times Nov 4)
In March 1981, ‘Song of the Faithful Departed’ b/w ‘They’re Looting the Town’ was released. That same month the Radiators cancelled their proposed Irish tour and ceased work on the demos for a third album (to be called Absent Without Leaving). The band formally broke up.
But it was still only 1981 after all, and it would take a few more years before the world was ready for a band expressing a new generation’s view of Irishness. By then, Philip Chevron was himself a member of that band,The Pogues. They went on to tour the world, sell millions of records, craft modern classics such as ‘The Old Main Drag,’ ‘Thousands are Sailing’ and ‘Fairytale of New York,’ and inspire wave after international wave of bands eager to find out what happens when you smash the genres of traditional folk and do-it-yourself rock-n-roll together.
Meanwhile back in Dublin Steve Rapid, the Radiators member who chose to stay behind in 1977 and concentrate on both his graphic design business and building a local scene, crossed paths with Dublin band The Hype, Rapid demonstrated that he had not lost his aptitude for striking band names and The Hype soon became known as U2. Steve (aka Steve Averill) also designed the sleeve of the band’s U23 EP and continues to be involved in their design process to the present day.
Under Clery’s Clock debuted at a one-off gig at Hawkins, Dublin in 1985, when the Radiators reformed for one night only at AID TO FIGHT AIDS, a Dublin charity event. In 1988, the band recorded this song and Plura Belle, another new composition, with Chevron and Holodai producing. Released as a single in January 1989, Under Clery’s Clock was named NME’s Single of the Week in February. That same month, both songs appeared on the digitally mastered CD release of Ghostown.
‘This really and truly was the one that got away, one of the most important and enduring LPs in my life… This is outrageously masterful stuff.’ (Carol Clark, Melody Maker Mar 11)
‘The transcendence of its art means that it will endure beyond the wildest aspirations of albums which have sold 100,000 times more. No contest.’ (Panel of 95 Irish music business/media people vote the album #16 of all time/Hot Press Yearbook 1989)
And the music endures, even thrives, beyond its own time. In February 2005,
Ghostown appeared in the Hot Press People’s Choice readers’ poll of the top 100 greatest Irish albums of all time. In April, Brian Boyd of the Irish Times reviewed the Ghostown reissue and reminded his readers that ‘Musically, the album was audacious for its time; lyrically, it’s never been better. Ghostown represents the first time in Irish cultural life that a rock music 33rpm could sit pretty alongside the country’s literary and dramatic outputàquite simply: a monumental artistic achievement.’
The Radiators’ Bloomsday gig of 2004 was not a one-off. The new band, with former Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan and Those Handsome Devils drummer Johnny Bonnie joining Chevron, Holodai and Rapid, rocked the Oxegen Festival in Ireland soon after. On June 24 2005, they were special guests on U2’s Dublin homecoming show at Croke Park. An EP The Summer Season was released in the same month. Tracks include ‘Hinterland’ a new and stunningly current Philip Chevron song, ‘The Girl with the Gun,’ and ‘live in the studio’ versions of ‘Sunday World’ and ‘Electric Shares.’ An active official website and discussion forum illustrates that the Radiators now have international and second-generation fans as well as the original punk kids who first rocked out to ‘Television Screen’ at Moran’s Hotel, Dublin.
Reissues of earlier albums TV Tube Heart and Ghostown in 2004, as well as news of recording of a much anticipated third album in 2005 show that the band continues to live up to the Sounds magazine pronouncement of ’77 that ‘The Radiators are [still] playing FIVE-STAR ROCK’N’ROLL PETROL.’
by Lora Lee Templeton
March 4, 2012
It may have taken nearly 30 years for the seminal Irish punk band Radiators From Space to cut their third album, but don’t tell Phil Chevron that they sound any different than before. “To me, it doesn’t sound any different,” says Chevron. To him, even though their debut, T.V. Tube Heart, had a sound more like their contemporaries in the late 70’s punk scene, the fact that their latest, Trouble Pilgrim, has slower-tempo songs and more of a pop sensibility has more to do with their growth as musicians, as well as their changing influences over the years. “When you’re young, you start out playing what you can, and eventually you end up playing what you want.”
And don’t call this a “Reunion Album.” “We really never actually split up,” he says. “We just ran out of road…but it was always the idea that, when the opportunity arose, we would get back together. And we have done a few times before this.” The difference now? Says Chevron: “There isn’t that sort of pressure to return to the hamster wheel of commercial grunt work. We do what we like, without the pressure of having to have a career plan, as such.” And in that spirit, the Radiators have gotten back together several times in recent years. Does the fact that they’re older, and not trying to compete in the same markets as younger bands? “Oh, of course,” he says. “None of us, at this point, have any interest in going back in the factory line. We’re competing with no one.”
Chevron, as a member of the Pogues, has toured the world many times over the years. Are the Radiators planning on touring behind this release? “If someone wanted to arrange that, we’d definitely be interested, but it doesn’t seem very feasible at this point.” And as for the gap between the new CD’s release in Ireland and it’s appearance in the States, Chevron says this has more to do with the fact that the band has no plans to try and sign with any major distributors. “The album’s been out there, available for anyone who wanted to release it. We knew that Shite ‘N’ Onions were champions of the album when it was first released. When you own your own masters, which we do now, you have the freedom to license to whoever you want.”
That the album makes references to US foreign policy is only natural, says Chevron, but “America has such a huge footprint on the world, it has to accept people commenting about it.” He points to the fact that Shannon airport is now virtually being run like a US military installation as a reason that someone from Ireland might have cause to make their feelings about the conflicts going in the Middle East known.
The track most likely to get people’s attention this time around is the song “Joe Strummer,” the subject of which should be obvious to anyone with ears. According to Chevron, it’s a kind of musing about what the great Clash front man and solo artist (and, for a brief period, a member of the Pogues) would have to say about the state of the world today. “We started out admiring him, as everyone did at the time, to working with him as our producer, to being mates with him. We introduced him to football.” Strummer’s ability to, as Chevron puts it, “put that point of view across,” makes to world a completely different place for not having him in it.
Trouble Pilgrim may not sound like your classic 1-2-3-4 punk rock album, but the subject matter is as passionate and as pointed as the Radiators From Space have always been. The nearly 30-year gap between albums has only served to ensure that the band put its best foot forward.
Trouble Pilgrim is available in the US from Shite’n’Onions
Interview by: John Curtin – Comedian, Irish Musician, Dork
I’ve been a fan of The Pogues and have been going to their shows since the mid 80’s. Holy shite! I was going to write a review of their show last year in Las Vegas, but I didn’t get the chance. I’m glad about that now, however, because I just saw one of their best gigs ever. No shit.
Here is what happened…..
I was on tour with my band (The Mahones), and had a night off from our St. Paddy’s tour of the USA and Canada when we happened to land in DC the night of The Pogues show there. We drove from Virginia, where we had played the night before, and scrambled to get passes – we did thanks to some of our friends. We got there just as the first pick hit the strings. Perfect timing.
Then lads blasted out of the gates with ‘Streams of Whiskey’, ‘If I should Fall from Grace with God’, ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’ and ‘Turkish Song of the Damned’. Four direct blows to the face that left us all hot and sweaty in no time! Next up was the classic ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’, and Shane had everyone in the crowd arm-in-arm singing “and a rove and a rove…”. The vibe was now set for the night. The old classic ‘Dark Streets of London’ was next – the boys were now dipping into the very old stuff. Fuckin’ fantastic and it just gets even better with age, I’ll tell you that much !!
Up next is the band’s other front man, Spider. He pulled out their big hit ‘Tuesday Morning’ and got the crowd rocking! Shane then returned for ‘Sayanora’, (one of Hell’s Ditch’s best) and then made his way into an acoustic version of ‘Kitty’ off Red Roses for Me. The band then returned in full force to get to get the ball rollin’ (yet again) with ‘Sunny Side of the Street’. At the point, the house was nothing but smiles, as if we all knew that this gig was a special one – even the band themselves were all smiling. I must say, the lads are looking fantastic in their fedora hats and cool suits. Crazy!!
Next up was ‘Repeal of the Licensing Laws’ (an old original instrumental by Spider), which is a classic Irish Punk jam that has not only set the template for Irish Punk as we know it today, but is covered by many bands. Amazing. Maybe one day they will do ‘the Battle March’ ? Anyways, Shane then returned with ‘Body of an American’ and ‘Boys of the County Hell’…and the place went nuts. It’s not over yet folks!
Spider then took center stage again for a cool acoustic number call ‘Love You Til’ the End’. Now, I thought this was a new song, but my friends tell me it’s not. Anyways, this song was a great track and had radio hit written all over it. Very cool indeed. Where is it from?
Next up is Phil Chevron. I never really knew about Phil and his other work in the past, but always knew he wrote the classic ‘Thousands are Sailing’, which should be a play, by the way. As a musician, I never thought much of his guitar playing (I’m a Pete Townsend fan), but after seeing The Pogues in Las Vegas last year with a stand-in guitarist, I have definitely changed my tune. Not only is he a great guitarist, and the only guitarist for The Pogues, at that, he is the heart of the band !! Welcome back Phil. You were missed more than you know.
Shane returned once again to take the band home. The old classic ‘Greenland Whale Fisheries’, the audience favorites ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘Bottle of Smoke’ and ‘Sick Bed of Cuchulainn’ were blasted out to bring this show to its finale – and what a finale it was. The crowd went wild as if Ireland had just won the World Cup (one can dream) and off they went! You know they are coming back:) !
There they were, hands in the air, like the champs they were that night. ‘Sally Maclennane’ blasts out of the PA system and the place goes ape shit. I was lifted off of the ground but I just didn’t care. Beer was flying through the air and I could not have been happier. What a party! Next up was my personal favorite, ‘A Rainy Night In Soho’. This song in the most romantic song in the world and it comes from The Pogues. Go figure (I actually got on my knees and proposed to my wife Katie while they were playing this live in Las Vegas 2 years ago). Love that fucking song! Wow! Sorry got sidetracked…Where was I ? Oh Yeah, then came one of the best Irish Traditional songs ever, ‘The Irish Rover’ a.k.a ‘The Dog’. What a great ending. Off they went again like the fucking Kings they are, and yes, the crowd was still going nuts. Yeah baby !!!!
Well, guess what?! The shows wasn’t over yet! Out they came again, this time with Andrew Rankin up front, and off they went into that old trad classic ‘Star of the County Down’. Andrew sings like Tom Waits on Jamesons, and the Darryl Hunts Gibson SG slow bass groove shook us to the bone. Master musician Terry Woods and multi-instrumentalist Jem Finner picked out the melody with precision and were off! Shane returned to center stage, this time to do ‘Paddy On the Railway’. This song is so much fun to enjoy from the mosh pit, with its slow verses and fast choruses – its like a self-contained party concealed in one song, and one of my favorite traditional Irish songs of all time. Then, the shit hit the fan one last time, and it was time to Fiesta! Jem pulled out the saxophone -people were jumping, spinning and throwing the last of their drinks in the air as if the New Years ball had just dropped in Manhattan. You should have seen James Fearnley throwing that accordion around! Punk accordion like you wouldn’t bel ieve! It was like a bomb went off. With one last wave good-bye, the band was off. What a fucking show! I was standing there at that point covered in beer, soaked in sweat, kind of drunk, and happier than a pig in shit. Now that’s what I call a concert! No ‘White City’, ‘Young Ned of the Hill’ or ‘Fairytale of New York’…but it doesn’t matter. Best fucking gig ever. Hell Yeah !!!!
Now listen up Paddy Punks: all I can say is that there is no question that The Pogues are the best Irish Punk band in the world and always will be. I’ve seen all the bands including The Dropkick Murphy’s, Flogging Molly, and my favorites, The Mahones (shameless plug lol) etc……., but none of them even come close to the talent and the songwriting of these crazy bastards from Ireland. Terry Woods once told me that The Pogues should get back together and take their crown back. Thank God they did. Not only have they taken back their crown, but they have their heavyweight belts to boot. “The Irish Punk Clash”. No one is better or more important to this genre of music. So, please don’t break up again lads. We need The Pogues in this crazy world more than ever now. Thank you for a great show. Can’t wait until then next one. The Kings have returned, and long live the Kings. Cheers to that !!!!
Review by: Finny McConnell – Singer, Guitarist and Songwriter for The Mahones
I’d never actually managed to see the Pogues before. Even after Shane was booted out. I never seemed to be in the same place as them at the same time. I’d seen Shane McGowan and The Popes supported by Stiff Little Fingers before, which was a night to remember. Shane was about an hour late taking the stage that night. His opening very drunken, very slurred comments to the crowd were “It’s great to be back here in Wolverhampton!” Which would’ve been fine had we not been 80 miles away in Nottingham! So with memories of the great man’s gaff in mind we set off for the Big Smoke… the dirty old town that is London. The gig in our adopted town of Birmingham had sold out before we even knew about it.
My cohort on the day was one Rich McCormack, singer and guitarist for old skool punkers DOGSHIT SANDWICH and head honcho for PUNK SHIT record label. Now Rich comes from a small village in the middle of the Republic of Ireland and came to these shores after the Pogues had split. So here’s two mad-keen Pogues fans who’d never got to see ‘em first time around and we’re heading down to the hell that is London. We drive 115 miles down the motorway followed by some late Friday rush hour city driving to get across to the South of the Thames. We get to the place we’re staying at with only a vague set of directions then jump in a taxi to Brixton (one of London’s nearest equivalents to bits of the Bronx, Oakland or South Central LA). After a quick toss of a coin we pass up on a jar or two at the nearby cheapest Irish pub in London and head straight in to the Academy for some very expensive beer from cans. I head for the tiny bar with the huge queue and slow bar staff whilst Rich heads for the large toilets with the larger queue. As the young lady behind the bar siphons the last drops of ale into our ‘plastic’ glasses and Rich finishes siphoning the last drops from the proverbial python we hear the first strains of Stream of Whiskey. Not bad timing considering the distance we’d traveled.
Now, unfortunately we have tickets not for the downstairs drunk-as-fuck, leap about Punk rock Ciledah, but for the upstairs-seated balcony. But, hey, was that going to stop people dancing? No bleedin’ chance!
By the time we get up to the balcony there’s no sign of the great poet, and that sets the scene for about the first half of the set. Shane limps on, sings a song or two and then limps off again whilst the band do a song without him. I later asked an acquaintance about this and he assures me that three nights earlier Shane had no limp. He couldn’t have fallen over in a drink riddled stupor at sometime between could he? Well, looking at the state of him that night I should say that he wasn’t sober for the whole of the tour. The small amount of banter with the crowd was indecipherable at best but the songs… well they were as clear as he ever gets. That great tumble of slurred words that fall out of his crumbling-tombstone toothed mouth is just as great ever. Who cares whether he can sing or not. It’s one of the most distinctive voices in music and also the ultimate singalong voices. And singalong the crowd did.
We get a blast through all the greatest moments that the Pogues have to offer and then some. They seem to play early on several songs that I wasn’t aware of and some old trad songs interspersed with the likes of “Turkish Song of the Damned”, “Misty Morning, Albert Bridge”, “White City”, “Repeal of the Licensing Laws”, “Waxies Dargle” and then saving the best until last we get some of the best from what I consider to be their greatest moment… “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash”. “Dirty Old Town” slows the crowd for a moment. Their legs are rested and their lungs take over as they bellow that great folk song written by Kirsty Macoll’s father back in the faces of the band. We get “The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn”, “Sally Maclananne” and “A Pair of Brown Eyes”.
The greatest moment of the night has to be the sound of couple of thousand drunks singing “Fairytale of New York” which I swear almost drowned out the band. “This one’s for Kirsty!” and for Kirsty we sang! Glasses and hands are held aloft and voices half shouted and half drawled the greatest Christmas song ever. If they didn’t hear us in New York City then I’d be amazed. I didn’t catch the name of the young lady who sang Kirsty’s parts but she sure did it justice.
A couple of encores give us an old trad song that I didn’t recall hearing before followed by the greatest party song of all time… “Fiesta”. Ever seen the video? See those weird mosaic Mediterranean seats and buildings in the background? Well that’s in the Gaudi Park in Barcelona. I was there a few months earlier and with the combination of beer, my jumping imagination and that song I was temporarily transported back there. Brandy and Half-Corona indeed! And then… the song that they couldn’t have left out… “The Irish Rover”. It’s over. That’s it. Rich turns to me and tells me exactly what I’m thinking. “I wish we had tickets for Tomorrow night”. Hell, yes!
Out into the streets of London we go armed to the teeth with Pogues t-shirts and hooded tops and music spinning around our heads along with the animated chattering of a couple of thousand drunks. All there is to do now is dodge the drunks, drug dealers and pigs in riot gear and make our way back to our hosts with our tales of glory.
By Mark V. (Rock ‘Em Dead Records)
by Ol’ jimmy from Siobhan
I’d like to begin this review with a small message for our American readers. And that message is this:
Oh, look at us. We’re the United States. We’re big and powerful. We have most of the money in the world. We grab all the headlines. Our military could conquer Canada 50 times in a week and still have enough time for a relaxing weekend in Bermuda. We have the Dropkicks. We have The Tossers. We have Flogging Molly. We’re the centre of the universe!
Well, let’s just be clear here: Terry Woods and Phil Chevron just did a tour in CANADA. And it rocked both folk and punk ASS.
I mean, The Mahones were awesome, they always are. The Peelers kicked ass. The only real let-down was Siobhan, who played some of the worst music I had ever heard. I mean, I don’t want to be cruel here, but these guys were worse than Creed. They make Creed sound like the Mahones. But anyway, let me get down to the nitty-gritty, the real stuff. The Pogues.
On each night, Terry, Phil and their bad-ass Irish accordion player, James, followed up the Mahones’ set with an acoustic set of their own. This set included some tunes I’d never heard, such as beautiful instrumental “The Lament for Grosse Point” and “Brave New World”, a rousing folk number. And each night, they turned the house lights down, and Phil sang Thousands Are Sailing in an “Unplugged” style.
This was the song that first roused my interest in the Pogues, the song that started me on that long, dark, and drunken road to having a band. And to hear Phil himself sing it was beyond incredible. Shane was great on the album, but seeing this old, frail man sing his own song (on North American soil, even!) gives the tune a whole new power. He also did another song of his, “Faithful Departed”, a Radiators From Space tune that has become an underground classic in Irish music.
The Mahones jumped on stage again as the backing band, and out came “If I Should Fall From Grace With God”, “Young Ned Of The Hill” and “Gartloney Rats”, among others. Those of us in the room who understood what was going on were mesmerized, while those who had never heard the Pogues were amazed to hear Irish music being played so well, better then any band in Canada or the U.S. does. Terry’s fingers absolutely flew on the bouzouki, and his concertina work was masterful. Occasionally, when the sound was bad, I would turn to a band-mate and say, “I wonder if the sound guy realizes he’s fucking up the bouzouki sound for one of the five best players in the world.”
In the end, the shows were magical, and we all have Finny MacConnell from the Mahones to thank for organizing them. The last time Terry and Phil were on this continent, they were playing to five or six thousand people a night, and here they were, in dark underground clubs and halls, playing their hearts out to anyone who would listen. They weren’t trying to get famous, they were trying to show people what Irish music could and should be.
I’ll never forget seeing these guys, and getting to play banjo with them on “Gartloney Rats” is something I’ll take to my grave. But the experience was also humbling for all of us who play this music: there are still giants across the broad Atlantic who play far better than we do. Leave it to the Pogues to put a bunch of Canadians in their place. Health to you, boys, and don’t stay away too long.
-Ol’ Jimmy (whose efforts to get Phil to say “Oooh Terrence! You farted!” in a high pitched, squeaky voice were sadly in vain)
December 27, 2017
Ireland’s original punk band. Sometimes relegated to the footnotes of Irish rock history as Philip Chevron’s (The Pogues) punk band or even the band that inspired U2 to give it a go. The Radiators have the distinction of being the first punk band to have a top 20 hit single anywhere in the world – Television Screen in April 1977. A slightly delayed debut album TV Tube Heart showed up later in ‘77. Forty years later Chiswick Records has re-released TV Tube Heart in all it’s punk rock glory along with an additional 20 bonus tracks. If you are not familiar with the original TV Tube heart it’s a very fine punk album comparable to the best of the 77’ class. Television Screen is teenage frustration and primal rock’n’roll, Enemies an absolute classic and the album as a whole has stood the test of time very well. The bonus track are wide and varied including a 2017 live in the studio re-recording of the album, previously unreleased live tracks from 1977 and the obligatory single versions. Still the greatest band to come out of north Dublin.