Focusing on a three year period from 1980 to 1983,Strange Passion, due July 17 on Finders Keepers Records/B-Music, is a fascinating compilation of rare, unheralded and unreleased music that emerged inIreland following the first wave of punk and new wave bands. Culled together from limited privately pressed vinyl and homemade cassettes by resident B-Music Dublin DJ Darren McCreesh, the album compiles 14 ultra rare and seldom-traveled Irish post-punk, DIY and electronic oddities. The comp will be the first release onCache Cache, a new sub-label of Finders Keepers set up to "seek out shyly excitable pop music from the not too distant past." Finders Keepers Records/B-Music are proud to present this first ever compendium of Irish post punk and new wave, which features extensive liner notes and rare photos with the full participation of the featured artists and bands such as The Virgin Prunes, Major Thinkers, Dogmatic Element, SM Corporation, The Threat, Chant! Chant! Chant! and Operating Theatre.
Ireland in the late 1970s and early 1980s was an island in the grip of unrest, with civil and political strife in the north, and a tardy economy and religious hegemony in the south. To be young in Ireland at this time was extremely tough with many choosing to follow the well worn path of emigration. A significant number of those that stayed had little choice but to join the dole as employment opportunities were scant. However, the increasing influence of those windows to the wider world such as television, radio and print were combining to fuel imaginations and plant seeds of disaffection amongst an increasingly sophisticated and pop literate youth desperate for change. Needless to say when punk entered the mainstream the cultural and social conditions were such in Ireland that a new generation of kids were perfectly primed to tap into its energies and values.
This was catalyzed by new youth scenes which sprung up particularly in the main urban centers such as Belfast, Derry, Dublin and Cork. Fueled by boredom, and antipathy towards society it was a time when the raw primitive sounds of punk began to absorb new ideas and technologies and emerging acts were reaching audiences on an unprecedented scale thanks to new magazines such as Hot Press and Heat, fanzines like Dave Clifford's VOX and Imprint, and a determined focus on youth programming by the national broadcaster RTÉ. Awareness of what was happening in the UK and elsewhere was also significant in developing DIY culture in Ireland, with the sounds of John Peel's radio show, music magazines like NME and Melody Maker, emerging record shops and independent distribution networks like Rough Trade all doing their bit to create new demand for content.
Strange Passion is an intriguing snapshot of the music made in the Irish underground and DIY scenes in the early 1980s. While U2 were undoubtedly the breakthrough act from this new generation, the compilation shines a light on some of Ireland's undervalued acts, many of whom only lasted a year or two but made a big impact in their short but exciting existence. The female-fronted Dogmatic Elementopens the album with "Just Friends," a rumbling, garage-punk tune that was self-released in 1982 on the band's first 7-inch, which was limited to only 1000 copies. From there the compilation explores the dark, cacophonous punk of The Virgin Prunes,whose "Twenty Tens (I've Been Smoking All Night)," the band's first single, is a primal dose of stabbing guitars, tumbling vocals and clattering drums that still sounds as urgent and relevant today as it did when it was released by Rough Trade in 1981. The Threat's tribal punk gem "High Cost Of Living" and the brooding "Play Safe" byChant! Chant! Chant!, who were spawned from The Threat after they broke up, perfectly captures the anger, disillusionment and frustration that was rampant among the Irish youth.
The second half explores the new wave, electronic and experimental sounds that were being created all across Ireland. The comp features the spacey new wave of Operating Theatre and Choice, the drum-machine sputtering punk-funk of Stano, the stomping new wave dance of Major Thinkers, the tweeish female-fronted synth-pop of SM Corporation, the futurist synth-wave of PH, the gothy minimal wave of Peridotsand the lo-fi electronics of Tripper Humane.
Nearly all of the songs that make up Strange Passion have been out of print since the early 1980s and original pressings of the limited run cassettes, 7-inches and 12-inches are ultra rare. It's safe to say that it would be nearly impossible to collect these songs for yourself aside from crate digging through Ireland or spending hundreds of dollars on eBay. Luckily for everyone, they don't have to as Finders Keepers has once again put together a beautiful compilation that shines a light on an important and deserving musical era that might have otherwise gone unnoticed or been forgotten.
(Finders Keepers Records/ B-Music/ Cache Cache)
Street Date: July 17, 2002
Formats: CD/ LP/ Digital
1. Dogmatic Element - Just Friends
2. The Threat - High Cost Of Living
3. Chant! Chant! Chant! - Play Safe
4. The Virgin Prunes - Twenty Tens (I've Been Smoking All Night)
5. Operating Theatre - Austrian
6. Stano - Town
7. Peridots - No Water
8. Choice - Always In Danger
9. PH - Last Days
10. Major Thinkers - Avenue B
11. SM Corporation - Accentuate
12. SM Corporation - Fire From Above
13. Tripper Humane - Discoland
14. Operating Theatre - Eighties Rampwalk