Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for March 16, 2012

[When Irish Eyes are Rocking] -- I posted the other day about why I am not celebrating St. Patrick's Day. So, I'm sure it is a tad surprising that the Flashback this week is about Irish bands. Well, I can be opposed to the celebration of St. Patrick and still be in favor of great rock music that just happens to have come out of Éire. Now, when most Americans are asked, "Who is the best Irish band of the 80s?" they will invariably answer: The Pogues. However, the Pogues -- although they do play punk rock with a certain Celtic flair -- are from London, so they will not be making an appearance in today's Flashback (sorry, Gary). And this Flashback post is not about the "best" Irish rockers of the 80s, it's about the most overlooked Irish bands of that era. That means we will be short on chart burners, but long on quality today. Well, I think these bands are long on quality, and I hope you enjoy them as well. To find out who made this week's list of underrated performers, you can read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"Mixing in with the purest magic | I move with the kings and the comic tragic."

Formed in 1984, Cactus World News drew many comparisons to fellow Irishmen, U2, after the release of their debut album, Urban Beaches (1986). Perhaps the similarities to early U2 is what Bono, U2's frontman, heard when he listened to a demo tape that Cactus World News sent to him. He certainly heard something, because was instrumental in getting the fledgling band into a proper studio to record their first album. This aural similarity and a connection to U2 probably had something to do with Cactus World News being hailed as "the next big thing." Too bad it didn't translate into sales (often the fate of any band branded "the next big thing"). Although Urban Beaches reached #56 in the UK, it failed to chart in the US. Seems that fame and Cactus World News were ... "Worlds Apart."

Flashback #2"Got a peaceful feeling | I've found the reason | For taking nothing seriously.."

Originally an Irish duo when they formed in 1980, Microdisney evolved into a five-piece band with two frontmen. Broody, angst-ridden lyrics coupled with atmospheric, guitar-driven music make these blokes pretty much the poster boys for 80s rock. Their first album for Virgin Records -- which was their fifth overall release -- yielded the single which is our second flashback of the day. "Town to Town" was their first single on a more commercial label, and it very nearly cracked the UK top 50. It was barely played in the US, which is surprising because one would think a song about yuppies trying to eke out normal lives during a nuclear holocaust was tailor-made for college-age record buyers in the mid-80s. These days, Crooked Mile (1986), is pretty much the domain of true believers and music archivists. 

Flashback #3"I just wanna be with you | Do the things I want to do."

Dublin rockers Blue in Heaven got their start releasing a few singles through the U2-owned label, Mother Records. By 1985, the quartet had moved up the record label food chain and found themselves with a contract with Island Records. Their collaboration with the label's chief, Chris Blackwell, helped them evolve a more upbeat rock sound, but they still retained a veneer of moody new wave. The result of this collaboration, Explicit Material (1986), showed tonal similarities with Iggy Pop and even The Damned, one of the acts they toured with in 1986 and 1987. Our final Flashback of the day came from this album and it was a minor college radio hit. I hope you enjoy "I Just Wanna." 

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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