Mike Scott (The Waterboys) new song about Arthur’s Day





One of the highlights of working with the band the Pleasure Cell occurred when Mike Scott from the Waterboys came to the Underground and joined the band onstage.

It was an act of incredible generosity on his part. Here was a little Dublin band doing their thing in the swampy, sweaty basement on Dame Street that was the Underground. Scott was loved and revered by many Irish music fans. The Whole of the Moon is still a song I enjoy immensely, and at that time it was fresh from the pop charts.

Anyhow up jumped Mike Scott and brought a surge of excitement and a burst of electricity to the Pleasure Cell that night. Anyone who saw and enjoyed the band will know they were pretty powerful in their own right. With the addition of Scott as they played his song Be My Enemy, they were even more wonderful.

That was then; this is now.

This morning on the Mike Scott and the Waterboys web site I discovered this little gem of a song. It is sure to anger and irritate lots of people; yet it reopens the debate about why alcohol companies love music and music fans so much. It makes me think of Neil Young and his song opposing commercial sponsorship of rock and roll: This Note’s For You.

I am going to print some of  (what I think are) the lyrics. This probably breaks so copyright law, so feel free to email me if you want them removed.

I am also including a link to the song, because that’s the type of person I am.

  • “We’ll puke in our hands and piss where we stand on Arthur’s Day.
  • We’ll reinforce the stereotype on Arthur’s Day.
  • That Paddy is a guttersnipe on Arthur’s Day.
  • A bestial dog, just up from the bog, no manners in his head.
  • ‘Cos drink is all that matters on Arthur’s Day.
  • We’ll raise a glass, fall on our ass, and never give a damn
  • Or have a bother, that we’re all just fodder for an advertising scam


Wild Hearted Outsider

Phil Chevron Testimonial, Olympia Theatre, August 24, 2013

Phil Chevron Testimonial, Olympia Theatre, August 24, 2013
Chevron reminding us of the celebration that life is never what we expected. And always worth embracing.

What Irish artist of our generation chronicled more accurately that twilight world between despair and hope? Who gave voices to the margins? Who sliced through the haze obscuring chances and chancers, resources and fairness?
There are really only two types of people these days; the one who leave and the ones who get left behind. And it was to the intersection between these two tribes that Chevron’s pen sliced with the care and skill of a surgeon’s knife.
The two Radiator’s albums are steeped in loneliness and camaraderie. What other Irish band of the era left behind such an incendiary pair of documents scrutinising Irish life and the lives of the Irish at home and abroad?

And tonight we honour Philip Chevron. I don’t know the man. I may have shaken his hand once or twice over the years. Yet his work, his worldview, his artistry changed my life. He sang and wrote about places I knew. Places I had been. And recently he had helped me massively with a book I am doing about the music industry. He gave his time to answer questions from a virtual stranger. Not only did he give his time, he provided me with pages of his recollections about his early life, career and influences. I was already in his debt. I had enjoyed the Radiators deeply and during times in my life over and over.
The Radiators have forever reminded me that you can combine the music and literature of the world with the poetic musings of contemporary life.
In every sense of the word, tonight was A Variety Show. An idea surely that would have pleased Phil. The music testified to a wide range of musical tastes and proved how Chevron could unite so many disparate tribes. Represented on stage we had traditional Irish music, German cabaret, Brill building pop, folk, and rock.
Camille O’Sullivan was a new to me. She was a name I knew of, whose music I had never heard. Somewhere in my mind the word ‘cabaret’ was assigned to her; and that is not always a great box to live in, with its connotations of amateur dramatics and bludgeoned clichés.
Her interpretation of Nick Cave’s ‘The Ship Song’ was a dangerous move. So closely bound up with Cave’s swagger and machismo; in anyone else’s hands it can sound like a parody. Yet O’Sullivan invested it with a deft energy and lightness of touch, she infused it with a burning sweetness. An accomplished performer, she delivered the song with a mesmerising performance. It seemed unlikely that she could top that until she launched into a sensational version of Chevron’s Pogue song ‘Lorelei’. The lyrics, with their mythical tale of longing, complicated love, and fate were heightened by O’Sullivan. Her stagecraft was captivating and shone a light on Chevron’s accomplishments. He was a consummate wordsmith.

This afternoon I was ignorant of Camille O’Sullivan. Tonight, and forever, I’m a fan.

Another unanticipated highlight for me was Patrick McCabe. If O’Sullivan brought Chevron’s words to life, McCabe did the same for Chevron’s Dublin. His reading of John McGahern’s work (I’m not sure what book it was) conjured up the perplexing evenings of Dublin and the torturous emotional landscape between sensuousness and seriousness. The frantic search for the lover in the streets of the capital city, the hope that the woman in the cheap dresses that were popular that summer would be her, were read with perfect inflection by McCabe. The reading placed the walks taken by the inhabitants of Chevron’s songs in the context of writers like McGahern. It is worth remembering that while the Irish authorities were banning The Life of Brian, the South African government was doing likewise to McGahern.
Roddy Doyle later reads a specially written piece. It is moving and funny and poignant, speaking to humanity and mundane life. It is the type of eye-for-detail that makes Doyle outstanding. Tonight he shows his respect for Philip and the rest of us gathered here by putting the people we knew into the story. The young men and women watching the Blades and the Atrix in dank venues, worried about what life in Dublin was going to bring to us, yet knowing three minute slabs of pop could take us somewhere else.
If there were unknown pleasures on the bill tonight, the act I was most looking forward to seeing, The Radiators surpassed my every expectation. This was how the youth of my generation, who sought meaning in music, were introduced to Chevron. There is something so exciting about your hometown producing a band you know are as good as anyone in the world. As the evening rolled into the night, the band performed a stormer of a set, reminding us that Chevron’s accomplices in the band possessed energy, creativity and skill.
They demonstrated how they had the dynamics to bridge the best of 1970s original rock in Ireland with the passion of the next wave. With guest vocalist Brush Shields, they opened the can of hidden delights they polished up for last year’s essential album Sound City Beat. It was a powerful honouring of the ancestor spirits.
Even more visceral: the Radiators with Gavin Friday. He swaggered and strutted, channelling the aggressiveness of the boot-boys who happily intimidated him and his ilk in late 70s Dublin. These hard lads were a constant reminder of the ugly frustrations of daily life. The corner boys from the mean streets whose gauntlet had to be run if you wanted to see bands in Pearse Street or Cabra.

And we are treated to a reworked ‘Johnny Jukebox’. It serves to show how skilled the Radiators are. Instead of playing it safe and giving the audience what we want, they twist the original into something even more original. As a non-musician I can only imagine the work that goes into a process like that. It warms my heart and fills me with admiration. Friday is fantastic and then brings his dark art to Weill’s ‘Alabama Song’ ably backed by the current Radiators and future Trouble Pilgrims.

The Radiators are more than capable of backing the best up as well as fronting up themselves. ‘Enemies’ proves Holidai’s current credentials as a worthy focus. In some ways it is the greatest song of the band’s first era, a blistering clarion call for unity and understanding. It stands up with the best punk songs of any circa ’77 act. Rapid on keyboards is the rockin’ vicar, the shaman of circuitry, wriggling with the same voltage as Iggy, Ian Curtis or Jerry Lee Lewis.
Bass player, Paddy Goodwin appears during the night with other leading lights and acquits himself well. With the ever-solid Johnny Bonnie on drums, he forms a strong rhythm for Holidai and Rapid to experiment and soar. ‘Sunday World’ is also strong tonight with its comment on media manipulation. There is never a bad time to witness the Radiators. Tonight, with their band-mate Philip watching, it is particularly special.
Paul Cleary is the first man onstage alone. He doesn’t need any accompaniment. The mainstay of Dublin sharp pop-combo the Blades, Cleary build up a following in ‘80s Dublin with tight shows, minimal fuss and good tunes. Tonight he reinvents the Radiators’ ‘Enemies’, a one-man-band stripping the song down, rendering it more poignant and plaintiff. He follows this with his own ‘Downmarket’, a song about dwindling prospects and scarce resources. Could any Irish writer of songs in that eighties era have honestly written a song called ‘Upmarket’? Probably not. And Cleary captured the mood with this piece about “living from day to day”.
I also thoroughly enjoyed both Damien Dempsey and Declan O’Rourke, my first time seeing either of them live. Duke Special can command most audiences and his two song set of Kurt Weill’s ‘Applejack’ and his own outstanding ‘Condition’ transcended even the drunken lout who decided that the spirit of charity shouldn’t preclude him yelling his invectives. It was good to see three Pogues there for their bandmate too. And Shane Mc delivered a credit-worthy performance looking battered, bewildered and ravaged. He performed Chevon’s ‘Thousands Are Sailing’ and reminded us what a precarious place immigrants and emigrants hold in history. It was to these travelling souls that the Pogues spoke with greatest resonance. The O’Connor family who had performed earlier had turned in a great ensemble performance with vigour. Irish traditional music deserved and enjoyed its place in Chevron’s appreciation.
Despite owning some of their albums, I had never seen Horslips with their dramatic fusion of traditional music and rock. And tonight was the tonight. And they were a treat. They reminded me what good musicians can achieve with imagination and dedication. Their sound blossomed with the addition of a brass section and a trio of backing vocalists. They still have it; that is for sure.

It was a night for reflection. My mind marvelled at how people like Billy McGrath, Ian Wilson, Ted Carroll, Pat Egan, Elvera Butler, John Fisher, Kieran Owens, Mick McCaughan (who brought the Pogues over for their first headlining tour of the country), the dedicated Ents Officers of educational establishments and countless others laboured with tenacity and entrepreneurial audacity to hand-make an original music scene in Dublin. I have never met most of those people, yet know I have them to thank for making the Dublin I grew up in more wonderful than it would have been.
It is a night for thinking. Thinking of ordinary men and women as well as heroes. I muse on some of my heroes through the years. Tonight the starting line-up would be: Strummer, Connolly, Lydon, O’Connell, Friday, the Suffragettes (I know that’s against the rules), Marx, Bowie, Holidai and Rapid. And naturally Chevron, the Captain and the King.

Here’s to the Captain and the King.


Everybody’s On Top of the Pops….except the people not on it!

One of the most interesting things about the TOTP documentary was talk of the Clash and their notorious boycott of the show. They refused to appear and I am sure their record sales suffered to some extent. BBC had their revenge though…and put their troupe of dancers on screen to cavort to Bank Robber when it was stealing (sorry!) up the charts.

But that Clash decision has to be placed in the context of musicians who refused to do something on principle. Something that would help their career, help them sell product. How many acts would actually take a stance that results in lost sales?

Richard Jobson from the Skids said their decision to play the show almost caused the band to break up. Stuart Adamson was furious as he didn’t want to play according to his bandmate. The inspiration of the Clash led to his wish to boycott the show. Jobson talked about the dilemma. It was particularly acute because ‘his friends’ Cook and Jones from the Sex Pistols were telling him to go ahead and play the show…while Adamson was wracked with guilt about it because of the Clash example. The Clash and the Pistols: same era different decisions, different values.

The documentary also discussed how Captain Sensible was told they were off the show if he wore his chosen outfit of a fetching (bridal?) dress! Funny to think of the power wielded by the TOTP producers.

Don’t forget the Gang of Four refused to appear when BBC wanted them to change the lyrics to a song to erase (sorry again, that’s twice) the word rubbers from their song. All of this reminds me of when Krusty the Clown wanted the Red Hot Chili Peppers to tone down their words and they exclaimed what a great idea that was…and then performed the song as written.

I shall continue to think about other bands who have made principled stands. It is a great change from people grabbing at every opportunity for some publicity.


Everybody’s On Top of the Pops – The Rezillos

In 1978 two songs (there may have been more) that mentioned Top of the Pops were performed on Top of the Pops. Producer Robin Nash said it was nice to be remembered even if it was irony. Dublin band the Boomtown Rats located their song ‘Rat Trap’ in their native city, where watching Top of the Pops was like literally witnessing a foreign land. In ‘Rat Trap’ little Judy is trying to Top of the Pops but is disturbed by her parents’ arguing. Rock and Pop music in the 1970s was not synonymous with Irish youth.

The song that invoked Top of the Pops most clearly was ‘Everybody’s on Top of the Pops’ by Scottish group The Rezillos. Singer Faye Fife was lucid on the TOTP Story of 1978 admitting that the song was poking fun at the show rather than honouring it. The band were a fantastic glam amalgam of sixties retro-chic/kitsch, pop smarts and all round good fun. I never saw them in their early days, although it should be remembered that they were one of the first ‘new wave’ bands to visit Ireland. Indicating the paucity of live venues at the time they played the Liberty Hall venue. Unions and Punk Rock…the unexpected relationship! Vox Magazine had a good interview with the band who sounded positive despite the violence at the gig. Sadly that was almost expected at the new wave gigs during the era.

I did catch them in the Blackpool Rebellion Festival a couple of years ago and they were incredible. One of the best acts I have seen there. The songs were sharp, tight and energetic. And the band looked like they were having a good time. Really punchy performance. Really memorable performance. Highly recommended.

A couple of interesting facts about the Rezillos:
Early member Jo Callis later joined the Human League where he enjoyed lots of success.
Another early member, David Smythe has a really good section on his website about his involvement with the band. He also has some great information about nuclear power and climate change which are his areas of expertise!
The band were signed by Sire Records who had the Ramones and Talking Heads and toured with the Ramones.
They opened for the Stranglers in Glasgow in 1977.
They were probably the first Scottish ‘new wave’ band to release a single!

I love this quote from David. It sums up what I have always maintained about the music industry. Few things happen by accident. The people who work the hardest and who get co-operation by enthusiastic supporters often make the greatest progress.

“In hindsight, the early success over the next seven or eight months was due to hard work, brilliant art-school publicity, no drugs or groupies, and good organisation. We had enthusiastic volunteers like Alpin Ross-Smith who ran the sound system, and roadies who worked just for the free beer.”

Check out these links for some more insight into the career of one of the most unique bands of the era.



Music and Politics – Johnny Marr

Music and Politics: Johnny Marr

This is a really interesting interview with one of the great guitarists of our time. I always loved how Marr made the guitar sound and how he collaborated with such a variety of acts. I got to see the Smiths a couple of times and was really swept up by the music they created both times. The first time was in Trinity when the Ents Officer Paddy Goodwin brought them over with about one week’s notice. There was little fanfare, and as I recall about 300 people there for one of the best gigs of my life. They were still in excellent form when they came back and played two nights in a SFX.

One quote really stood out for me. And I am putting it at the end of this blog entry. Marr finds fault with the original punk movement and it is great to see it questioned and critiqued. There was a fantastic piece of television on recently: a BBC show about Top of the Pops in 1978. I am going to write about that later. One thing that jumped out was how the BBC producers (who came across as a very conservative bunch) dealt with the punk/new wave bands with strong women singers. For Blondie and Debbie Harry with their pop smarts and her conventional good looks the camera lingered on her. For Siouxsie with more challenging and daring music and a more unconventional appearance the BBC authorities slapped on the special effects and made the band appear spooky and weird. Viv Albertine was her usual insightful and composed self in the documentary, and praised Siousxie for being so commanding and composed. A role model for lots of women who took up music.

“We were of that generation that came after punk and post-punk,” he explains. “We’re grateful for the revolution, but there was a bit of homophobia there, and sexism. There wasn’t in indie. People don’t talk about it now, but it was non-macho. If you were an alternative musician, you were political, because of the times [Thatcherism and the Falklands war]. It was taken for granted that the bands you shared a stage with had the same politics. I’m not sure you could say that now.” Johnny Marr 2013

PS for a great insight into Marr, The Smiths and the second-generation Irish in Britian check out Sean Campbell’s incredible book: Irish Blood, English Hear: Second Generation Irish Musicians in England


Incredible web sites for people who love music.

I was reading about Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark on the Guardian website while eating my breakfast yesterday. In the comments section there was a link to this INCREDIBLE site. It looks like some Irish person has gone to A LOT of trouble to scan in copies of Smash Hits magazine from the 1980s. Most people probably don’t appreciate that before it became the exclusive domain of boy and girl bands for teens it actually covered some really good music. I know that term ‘good music’ is pretty subjective, yet the ska and two-tone of the early 80s was incredible music. A lot of the post punk music was interesting too. Anyhow even though I have no time these days for anything…I did manage to take a trip down memory lane via the scans of Smash Hits. The interview with Malcolm McLaren was really interesting. And the behind-the-scenes report on the new pop show called the Tube was also really interesting. Host Paula Yates came across really badly, while co-host Jools Holland came across much better. There was a really funny insight into how the bands and their management behaved too. Twisted Sister (remember ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’?) were very angry when the photographer took snaps of them during rehearsal. Their manager demanded the camera so he could destroy the film lest their fans see them without make up! Also mentioned was how Motorhead were really angry to avoid Iggy Pop who was on the same show as them. Apparently he had bitten one of them at a previous meeting.
Metal bands and manners!
Thank you to the magnificent blogger at Like Punk Never Happened. Blogspot.ie

The issue at the top of the page is 30 years old and features Malcolm McLaren, The Tube and the Jam. Does life get any better?


Happy New Year

I was watching the Jools Holland End of Year Show.

It was really interesting to see the respect he gave to the Dubliners. It is funny how a folk band who emerged in the wake of the Clancy Brothers could still command such respect and prominence on the TV across the Irish Sea. It makes me wonder about what other Irish acts from the 1960s would still be respected today if they were still around.

I really enjoyed Dexy’s too. Hard to believe that time has rushed past since my first ever gig when they played in the Mansion House in 1980. It literally changed my life. The Tearjerkers from Northern Ireland opened and there was a comedy interlude by a young comedian by the name of Keith Allen. He told jokes about the SAS which the audience didn’t seem to find funny at all as I recall. One of the most incredible things about the gig was how at the end Kevin Rowland announced that as there were no barriers between the audience and the band we were all invited to come and say hello and meet the band. I was faced with the prospect of missing the last 46a home…yet who could resist such an invitation? It led to a life of going to gigs and walking.

Happy New year
the wildheartedoutsider

Ireland’s Oddest Pop Stars Pt1

Michael Landers

I was delighted to see a mention of Michael Landers on the excellent BrandNewRetro site. They have some really great scans of early Irish pop music magazines like Heat and Spotlight. It is always well worth a visit.


In 1971 a new face appeared in the Irish pop charts. He took to the road to bring his youthful stage-presence to the people of Ireland. His first (and only) chat song climbed all the way to number 11. It spent five weeks on the charts. That was appropriate because he was five years old! Michael was the youngest of six children from Kilcullen, county Kildare and according to court records had been performing from the age of three.

His chart song “If I could be a sailor man” featured “Mr Taxman” on the B-side. What taxes young Michael must have had on his mind are anyone’s guess. Hopefully not taxes on the old age pension!

One of his career highlights was a gig at Dublin’s National Stadium in September 1971 where he appeared on the bill with Slim Whitman.

 Part of an ad for a Michael Landers gig in Ballinamore, county Leitrim in Feb 1972.(Note the name Christy Moore on the  bill as well as the fantastic news that the hall was specially heated. That makes me wonder how cold a lot of the ballrooms of Ireland were in the early seventies!

Landers released another two singles on the Ruby label, neither of which charted. Yet the reason his short career was cut short was because of laws preventing children from touring the ballrooms of Ireland. Enter Fine Gael TD Oliver J Flanagan who was well known for his very hostile attitude to certain groups in Irish society. Oliver J expressed outrage about young Michael.

In an extraordinary court case the boy’s father argued that parts of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act was inconsistent with the Irish Constitution.

The Irish Government kept quite a few of the laws they had inherited from the British. One of these was the pre-Independence Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act (1904). This was designed to protect the exploitation of children by making them work in unsuitable conditions. When young Michael went on tour tickets were sold and a few people raised objections. According to court statements in nine months his appearances had earned £2,000. £800 was put away from him, while his career cost £1,200.

The Irish Attorney General refused to rule the Cruelty Act as unconstitutional. He even told the young lad that he was free to perform…just not within the 9 pm – 6 am period outlawed by the act. He also told him that once he reached double digits, age 10, he could become a professional singer with minor restrictions!

He was never heard of again.

Here the question that we can think about arising from this case?

Should we have restrictions on how many hours children can work?

What should those hours be?

And at what age should children be able to work full time?




Not only boxing at the Stadium

When Rock n Roll came to Ireland! The National Stadium was there!
This is a great one. Front page of the Irish Press, November 19th 1956. It is one of the first, probably the first, rock n roll gig in Southern Ireland. I like the description of the crowd response: “The performances were punctuated by hand-clapping, cheering, whistling and a few boos. Occasionally enthusiasts rose to their feet to demonstrate physically the effects of the music on them.”
Irish Press Monday, November 19, 1956 Page: 1
It is funny to think how many outstanding artists performed at the National Stadium. It was built for boxing, yet from the start it was used as a music venue. Another early gig was by Louis Armstrong in May 1956. In fact he played two sets that day. A matinee gig was added although the reviews suggested it was only half full. Either way it is proof that by the late 1950s jazz had a fairly decent audience in Dublin. His film appearances certainly helped make him a recognisable figure in that era.
wild hearted outsider

The Olympic Bounce

Lots of the acts featured on the wondrous Olympic opening ceremony have enjoyed huge sales increases this week.
Maybe that is the solution to the decline in music sales…hold the Olympics every week!
65 songs from the top 200 were featured in either the Olympics opening or closing ceremonies. It certainly proves that Mega Events can stimulate sales!
 wild hearted outsider