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First Irish Act You Loved...

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ATL | 13:45 UK time, Monday, 8 February 2010

After a little chat in the office, and some soul searching, we're sharing our memories, our troubled pasts and our obsessive natures in confiding about the first Irish or Northern Irish band we were engrossed in. Those that changed our musical paths (and more) and hail from this very isle!

So, have a think back to the first Irish band you were infatuated with and share via twitter, email or text (81771 once we get on air at 8pm)! Once on air, we'll be seeing which band comes up tops for stalkerish fans!

As for Team ATL, then...

Watercress (Rigsy - ATL Presenter)

Watercress.jpgThere used to be a venue in Newcastle called the Mariner - a dingy, grey cube of a 'venue', with peeling carpet/ wall-paper and a poor selection of beverages (most of which I shouldn't have been drinking back in 1996 anyway). For some reason, Watercress (and the equally awesome Tunic) came to visit - performing to (as far as I can remember) myself, my sister, her boyfriend and three of my friends. And no one else. I loved Watercress, with their insanely catchy, vaguely silly tunes and seemingly random covers (that night, Prodigy's 'Firestarter'). Shame they were all such hippies, mind.

David Holmes (Paul Hamill - ATL Presenter)

davidholmes.jpegBack in the early 90s there were few non-specialist shops that stocked anything remotely electronic, and often I ended up looking for clues from the artwork, production credits or record label address, absolutely anything, to find good music. Warp Records however where the one label that seemed relatively easy to find and were always on the money. I discovered David Holmes the producer, before I discovered David Holmes the DJ, through his first release on Warp with the track Johnny Favourite. I remember reading the sleeve notes and there being a reference to EPI Studios on University Road in Belfast and being amazed that somebody in Ireland was actually making really great electronica on my favourite label at the time. Thinking back, that record was actually the main reason why I moved to Belfast in the first place, to go the clubs where I could hear this kind of music and be close to shops where I could buy it.

The 4 of Us (Paul McClean - ATL Producer)

Thefourofus.jpgAfter seeing the home-made video for either 'Mary' or 'Drag My Bad Name Down' on Mike Edgar's Channel One (or something like that), I near fell off the seat when I hear they were from Newry. Newry! So that's Pat Jennings AND a decent band. Plain greed if you ask me... Following The 4 of Us meant also by default seeking out the media they were featured in, so it was goodbye 'Shoot!' magazine and hello Hot Press and NME, and an introduction to music hitherto regarded as some form of aural voodoo. It also got me listening to Across the Line, which I now produce. Bingo! I kinda stalked them for a bit, trying to get into backstage and aftershow parties, but the real sense of satisfaction was when 'Mary' was becoming a nationwide hit, and I had my first proper muso smug "ha, well I remember seeing them in...(insert toilet/venue here)" back in the day, which we never truly grow out of. They 'belonged' to me and my mates and every note of that album remains with me to this day.

U2 / Watercress (Warren Bell - ATL Web Producer)

U2_JoshuaTree.jpgNot really sure which to go for on this one. On the one hand, U2 were undeniably the first Irish act I fell in love with. From the harsh, edgy, raw sounds on War and The Unforgettable Fire, the big, radio-friendly breakthrough of The Joshua Tree, the much criticised and in my humble opinion underrated Rattle & Hum to what I consider their best work on Achtung Baby, I thought they were fantastic. After that, meh. But the main point is that it meant little or nothing to me that they were Irish. They could have been from anywhere really. Their music descended on me, and even though I liked it, it travelled the same route as did that of any other major artist of the day. Watercress, on the other hand, I only discovered because they were a local band supporting Sebadoh in the Limelight in 1994. This, and the fact that they were literally the first act I had heard singing with local accents, had a big impact. Quite a few folk I know fell in love with them that night, and the connection was such that, for many years (even through a subsequent incarnation as Drat) we considered them ours. A wonderful band, much missed.

Turn (Amy McGarrigle - ATL Content Assistant)

Turn_antisocial.jpgDecember 2000... Off I went on a little adventure to the big smoke of Derry as part of my birthday pressie - tickets to see the latest saviors of Irish music *cough* JJ72. However, it was the support, Meath power three piece Turn, that made their impression. Songs like 'Too Much Make Up On', 'Beretta' and 'Queen of My Heart' meant there was a band who played near my home town (sort of) that bloody well rocked! Turn inspired trips back to Derry and down to Sligo several times over the next few years. I still have a signed EP, a scribbled set list and I'm pretty sure I stole a sweaty towel at the Coolera House gig outside Sligo. Turn became synonymous with getting out of Donegal Town, and going to a real gig; small, sweaty and not a cover band in sight. In my head they were legends. They never quite matched their live experience on record, but Turn infected me with a need for ear crunchingly raw live music for the rest of my life. And for that I am forever thankful.


  • Comment number 1.

    It's gotta be the ol' Watercress.

    I remember seeing them on Gerry Anderson's TV show back in the day, and they were all wearing masks and things, and I was just blown away by them.

    They played a bar in Antrim some time later, and I remember everyone there just falling in love with them. Dan Donnelly played a piece of guttering like a didjeridoo, and the whole place just went insane.

    And after the show, about four people went out the next day and got mandolins....including me.

  • Comment number 2.

    I wish it was something a bit cooler, but it was probably Ash. I have very vivid memories of listening to 1977 on my old walkman on the bus going home from my first GCSE paper, way back when.

    It was the perfect teenage summertime album, it never fails to bring me back to sunny summers, messing about towards the end of term in school when the teachers just couldn't be bothered anymore, when my file was plastered in pictures of Blur, Oasis, REM, The Beatles and Ash. Ah, the days when all you worried about was which band's logo to use to fill that blank spot on the cover of your homework diary...

  • Comment number 3.

    Not Watercress for me

    But i do remember this album http://www.allindie.com/img/0166watercress.jpg and it came in a really awesome fold out cover with loads of art work in it.

    I know this because I still have my mate Billy's copy which I borrowed when I was in 5th year.

    For me, the first Irish band i fell in love with was Jetplane Landing. Jetplane, or Jet Plane as it was then, opened the door to a completely different genre of music and a nice departure from the stuffy boring brit pop rubbish i'd been forcing myself to listen to.

    I followed JPL across the UK to shows in the most random venues and I miss them so...

  • Comment number 4.

    It would have to be the Outcasts for me. Although, as a wee boy growing up in Newry, I listened to Horslips and Thin Lizzy there was always too much extra fat on them. Punk woke me up to the fact that music could be all blood and gristle. I only ever owned one record - Self Conscious Over You' - but I saw them live when I was really too young to be let in the door and they lit the place up. You can still listen to them now, it hasn't lost its edge.

  • Comment number 5.

    On .... it was Taste - first album On the Boards - first concert I ever went to in the Ulster Hall ... (1968ish I think)


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