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
December 28, 2017
Formally the legendary Irish punk band The Radiators From Space (see the following review). The Rads morphed into The Trouble Pilgrims after the death of one of the RFS founding members (and Pogue) Philip Chevron. The surviving band wanted to continue but didn’t feel right going forward as The Radiators from Space without Philip. Taking the tile of the Radiators magnificent third album Trouble Pilgrim the Pilgrims became Ireland’s best new band. Trouble Pilgrims play raw and dirty rock’n’roll showcasing influences from the first wave of rock’n’roll onto sixties bubblegum and onward to the proto-punk of the Velvet Underground to seventies glam and the early NYC punk sounds then kicking and screaming through 1977 into 2017. A mighty fine album indeed.
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.
January 5, 2016
Dublin’s newest punk band channel the spirit of their ’77 punk roots. Trouble Pilgrims were formally the seminal Radiators from Space, Ireland’s first punk band. Instant Polaroid (the bands second single) reminisces back at a Dublin long gone with a genuine hard edged sound and authenticity that wouldn’t be outta place on TV Tube Heart.
July 14, 2012
Sound City Beat has been a project that I’ve been very familiar with over the past year plus. I had met the Radiator’s Philip Chevron in March of last year when he was in Boston gigging with his other band to discuss Shite’n’Onions doing the US release of the Rad’s 3rd album – TROUBLE PILGRIM. He had given me a heads up on what the Rad’s were already planning for their 4th album – a collection of covers of Irish rock/beat groups for the mid 60’s to early 70s ranging from tracks from the legendary (Van Morrison’s Them, Thin Lizzy and Rory Gallagher’s Taste) to the long, long forgotten (Sugar Shack, Blue Ace’s, The Creatures) – the primordial soup era of Irish rock if you will.
Now, while it would be pretty easy for a band as good as the Radiators to knock out the 18 tracks here on SCB and call it a tribute or a history lesson but not so as the boys have obviously spent a tremendous amount of time on picking the right track from each band covered as opposed to picking the bleeding obvious, so that each song on the album flows effortlessly into the next and almost to the point where the listener could be convinced into believing that SCB is an album of originals. How does it sound? While the songs are true to the origins, whether beat/garage/ psychedelic/folk rock or even pure pop but dragged through ’77 for the attitude and snarl and reborn into the 21s century yet still as fresh as it was ’67.
Sound City Beat is out on the legendary Chiswick Records and the Radiators are joined by Henry McCullough (the only Irish man to play Woodstock and who was Paul McCartney’s guitar man for years) who add licks on the version of Eire Apparent’s – Yes, I Need Someone – Henry was Eire Apperent’s guitar player but unfortunately got booted from the band prior to their debut album being recorded with Jimi Hendrix twiddling the knobs – so a nice opportunity to complete some unfinished business for Henry. Also joining the Rad’s is Terry Woods, Philips mate from his other long time gig and Eamon Carr drummer from Horslips who does the spoken word portion of Thin Lizzy”s Dublin….which makes a decent lead into The Lady Wrestler, the long lost, should have been Horslips debut single but was never released that spiritually closes the albums – my involvement with the Radiators came about trying to compile a Horslips tribute (which is still ongoing) and the offer of the band to cover The Lady Wrestler. While never really a beat group it seems to fit the album and symbolically close out the era in the same way the Johnny’s Wedding, Horslips debut single was the beging of the new era of Irsh rock….and rest is history
Not a Pogues album, not a punk album but something that anyone interest in Rock music from Ireland (or just an interest in perfectly performed though uncompromising rock’n’roll) should own.
The Radiators from Space were (are) a band way ahead of their time. They were the first Irish punk band – formed in Dublin back in the mid-seventies. Their first 7” single “Television Screen” is a major punk classic and the first punk single to break the top 20 anywhere in the world. Rolling Stone Magazine ranks “Television Screen” as the best of all the early punk singles. The band released 2 classic LP’s the fast and furious “TV Tube Heart” and the very clever “Ghostown” – unfortunately by the time “Ghostown” hit the shelves punk was dead or at least it’s openness to new ideas was dead and the Rads were way too cleaver for the cartoon punk had become. The band members went their separate ways. Phil Chevron (guitar and vocals) as you all know joined The Pogues, Pete Holidai (guitar) became a member of great 80’s band Light a Big Fire (and the first band I ever saw live at the age of 14 in Arnotts Department Store of all places) and Steve Rapid (vocals) told some band from Dublin called The Hype their name sucked and they should try something cool like “U2” as a name – they did and Bono’s being annoying us since.
In 2003 the band decided to get back together and put out a couple of CD EPs of re-recorded versions of their early classics including an explosive live version of “Television Screen” and “Kitty Ricketts” with new (and now since departed) bass player Cait O’Riordan handling vocals giving the song an extra snarling sleazy edge.
28 years after the release of “Ghostown” the Rad’s have released their 3rd CD, “Trouble Pilgrim” and what a great CD it is. Possibly the best real rock CD I’ll hear this year or next. Everything is about this CD is first class – the songs, the lyrics, the playing, the production. The music is trashy punk, heavily influenced by the early 70’s American punk sound (Iggy & The Stooges, The MC5 and The New York Dolls) mixed with classic British glam (Bowie, Mott the Hoople and T Rex) and 60’s bubble gum pop (Beatles, Byrds). The Joe Strummer tribute “Joe Strummer” is a must hear as is “Huguenot” and the re-recorded “Hinterland”.
Dated? No, not at all, in fact if the Rads weren’t a bunch of Irish men, aged 50 plus but say 25 year old Glaswegians they would be on the cover of Rolling Stone today as the future of Rock’n’Roll. Any justice in this world? No, but let just be thankful that great bands like The Radiators from Space are still making great music for the love of it because it’s music that needs to be heard.
PS Check out this indepth and spot on review of “Trouble Pilgrim” by Boz of The Steam Pig – Rabble Rouser Reviews and Sean Holland excellent review of “The Very Best of” for Shite’n’Onions
When they are remembered in the States, if at all, it is normally for being the breeding ground of future Pogue Phil Chevron. Much more than this, however, is this fact: The Radiators From Space are an all-too often overlooked punk band. Histories omission is our loss, but this collection seeks to right this wrong, if only in a small way.
Formed in Dublin by Phil Chevron, the Radiators From Space have been called the best band to ever come out of Ireland. I’m not too up on the band’s history, nor their early days, save for what I have read: The Radiators were discovered in late 1976/early 1977 by influential London label, Chiswick Records, and their vinyl debut pre-dated such luminaries as the Clash and Elvis Costello. The Radiators were most certainly among Ireland’s first punk bands. ‘Irish’ being the operative word.
Chevron, while acknowledging the bands punk roots, also recognizes the uniquely Irish vision that band had. They weren’t London kids, after all.
Irish teens life-experiences were entirely their own; hence the subject matter wouldn’t be entirely the same, although the attitude was one they could rally behind.
Chevron explains: “While we shared many of the characteristics of the UK punk bands – the energy and the attitudes – we had nothing to say about tower-blocks or anarchy. Our best songs came from our experience of growing up in an Ireland still paralyzed 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.”
Sadly, most of the original albums are now deleted, and fetch collectors’ prices. The first two albums, “TV Tube Heart” and even more so their second, “Ghosttown” are considered influential classics, inspiring everyone from Thin Lizzy (toured with ‘em) to Christy Moore (who does a nice version of “Song of the Faithful Departed.”)
This collection, however, is fairly easily picked-up, and is a wonderful introduction to the band. Chevron is a great guitarist, and his vocals start out with the ’77 sneer so familiar to most, but as the band progresses, his talent expands and the songs become much more than punk rock.
The opening cuts show the band at their fiery best. “Television Screen” shows teenage frustration with a rockabilly cum punk guitar propelling the tune all the way. “I’m gonna stick my Strat-o-caster through the television screen” a young Chevron roars.
As he said above, subject matter was more Irish-oriented, with songs like “Sunday World” showing a typical slice of mundane Irish life, and hints at a growing distance from the Catholic Church to the crazed rev-up “Enemies” to the namesake of the first album, the prison ditty “Prison Bars” (where Chevron does his best Johnny Rotten) to the Boomtown Rat-ish sounding boredom of “Let’s Talk About the Weather.”
As the disc progresses, so do the band. The fast, three-chord-type punk is replaced by angry rock-n-roll. “Johnny Jukebox” has a ‘50’s flair all it’s own and rocks. “Kitty Rickets” has an almost Specials-type feel, an Irish “Ghosttown” if you will. It breaks down Ireland’s legends in one fantastic song.
Then we come to “Song of the Faithful Departed.” It is now considered a true Irish classic, sidestepping any boundaries imposed by genres. With good reason, its modern Irish poetry, giving the more recently exiled a ballad of their own. The ghosts and tales of the Ireland of past and present are twisted and re-imagined in this tune, myths broken down, and spit back out with complete honesty. This one is probably the best on the disc, the best they ever did, and packs quite an emotional wallop for a ‘punk’ band. You can see the seeds of Phil’s later work with the Pogues in this, although it may well be his finest hour.
To attempt to fill up the review with any more drivel would be useless. I don’t know what became of any of the members other than Phil, I don’t know why they disbanded, I only know the legacy they left behind, and know how many bands count them as major influences. If you’re a true student of the punk movement in Ireland, this band is as indispensable as the Undertones and the Stiff Little Fingers, and pre-dated both of them. Pick it up and see what Chevron’s made his reputation on, and why the Shane and the Pogues were so glad to pick him up (“Thousands are Sailing” anyone?)
Review by Sean Holland