A break from strike talk and TV mutterings today. Let's call it my own news blackout. There is a lot to talk about, and rant about (oh, Jeff Zucker... JUST STOP TALKING), but I'm collating my thoughts on that.
In checking around the blogosphere last week, I was horrified to run across a band I had completely forgotten existed. Thanks to John Scalzi, I have been re-introduced to the magic that is Giuffria.
I'm not alone, right? You guys all remember the big-haired keyboard master, don't you?
So that got me to thinking. And thinking led to procrastinating, which in turn has led to me spending my entire morning and the early part of the afternoon on this blog entry.
I used to buy a lot of records. With the disappearing record stores and the rise of mp3s, however, not so much anymore. But it was really fun to drive for hours to get to a used record store and then spend even more hours going through the stacks. The only place you can do that anymore is Amoeba.
I always had a list of albums and artists to look for. Because back in the day, that's what you had to do -- actually physically fucking look for shit. I usually got pretty lucky, but tenacity will do that for you. I've got some pretty obscure import 80s stuff, but there's that one record I could never find. And even with the vastness of the internets and that whole series of tubes, I still can't find it.
I've decided that this is the year I track this record down. Yes, that's my resolution for 2008 -- to find an obscure record from the 80s. I think it's a good resolution because so far, me and 2008 aren't getting along. So I don't want to stress it out. I'll give it something fun and stupid to do and then maybe it will love me.
First, a little background.
In the 80s, I Hoovered up every import of every Irish band I could get my hands on. Like I said, this wasn't an easy task. It required a great deal of commitment, which could be one reason I'm not qualified to do anything today. I would read about bands in Hot Press, NME and Melody Maker. Occasionally in Rolling Stone and Spin and a surprising gold mine of obscurity, Tower Records' in-store magazine. They had a Desert Island Discs section, where readers could send in lists of their ten favorite records. That's where I learned about The Chameleons and Ruefrex. Reading interviews with Bono and The Edge were also fruitful, as they talked about new Irish bands almost as much as Noel Gallagher talks about his favorite new bands. So I'd go seek out bands like The Fountainhead and Cactus World News (Bono wasn't always right, but his heart was in the right place).
Then U2 started their own record label, Mother Records, and it became that much easier to make lists of obscure bands. The plan was to release singles by Irish bands, which would hopefully give them worldwide exposure. The early sleeve design was fantastic. Really detailed and cool. The best known bands on Mother were Hothouse Flowers (their first single was on Mother), Cactus World News and In Tua Nua. Incidentally, their first single, "Take My Hand," was written and sung by fourteen-year-old Sinead O'Connor.
Several bands would release albums that actually got distribution in the U.S. (An Emotional Fish, Black Velvet Band and the Longpigs). The rest of 'em, well... it's a nice snapshot of the period, and I'll bet things would be slightly different if all of this had happened now. The internets are terrific for organization and distribution. Mother would have its own MySpace page, and you could actually hear bands like The Dixons (criminally obscure) and the Subterraneans. They could sell their singles and give away live tracks. They could build a fanbase.
But this was Ireland in the 80s, and America was virtually impossible to crack. Now, of course, bands couldn't give a shit about cracking America. They don't really need to in order to survive anymore. But back then, gigging around Ireland could only take you so far.
There was a veritable music explosion in Ireland in the 80s but you, gentle readers, haven't heard of any of them. Wait, you've probably heard of one, although you may not know it. Glen Hansard, from the movie "Once," is in The Frames, a band that has had tremendous longevity, so much so that I saw them live in Ireland. And that was pre-euro. There are a few more than are still active. The Stunning became to The Walls. The Prayer Boat, one of my favorite Irish bands, disbanded but the singer, Emmett Tinley, has a terrific album out. A House was The Coral of its day, releasing what seemed like a single a week. Broken up, but singer Dave Couse has a new band called The Impossible which, unsurprisingly, rocks. The Fat Lady Sings only released two albums but its singer, Nick Kelly, has two solo albums out.
I've managed to track down a lot of this stuff but the one thing that has eluded me all this time is the only album from the Blue Angels. This band formed out of the ashes of Blue In Heaven. They're considered obscure, but thanks to U2's popularity, their two albums were released in the U.S. Only on vinyl and cassette, but still. the first time I heard the Blue Angels was on Deirdre O'Donohue's radio show on, I think, KLSX. You may have heard of the radio show "Breakfast With the Beatles." That was Deirdre O'Donohue. But she also promoted underground indie stuff and at that point, she'd made a trip to Ireland and she'd come back with stacks of cool records. One of these was a single, "Over the Edge," by the Blue Angels.
It fucking rocked.
I managed to find several CD singles by the band but their only full-length album eluded me. CDs had really become something by the time the album came out (1993) so it was a lot harder to find import vinyl. So, 2008, if you could see it in your heart to help me find "Coming Out of Nowhere" by the Blue Angels, I'll sing your fucking praises.
I know this is asking a lot, because I've been all over the internets looking for it. One dude claimed he could get his hands on it, for seventy-five bucks. He didn't have it; he could just get his hands on it.
I call bullshit.
The Blue Angels had eluded even the vastness of the YouTubes, but there's some Blue In Heaven material up. The video to I Just Wanna is here.
np - Blue In Heaven, of course!