Archives for January 2011

A Score Of Screamadelica

Stuart Bailie | 22:54 UK time, Monday, 31 January 2011

Monday mornings at the NME often involved a trip to the typesetters, a rough little gaff between Clerkenwell and Shoreditch. It was the domain of burly tradesmen who also worked on titles such as Asian Babes, examples of which were proudly taped to the cement walls. It wasn't an attractive place, but there was a kind of romance there. In the days before email and Quark software, this was how you put your paper to bed.

So the production team would gather over bacon rolls, tetchy manners and red biros to manage the final parts to the paper - the breaking news, the live reviews and other stories that warranted a tight deadline. You may laugh, but back then, writers would deliver their copy by hand, staggering up the stairs with their precious sheaves of opinion.

My favourite moment there occurred in mid September 1991. I was looking after the albums section and we had cleared an expanse of the paper to recognise that there was something of a bounty. 'Nevermind by Nirvana, 'Use Your Illusion' by Guns 'N Roses, The Pixies with 'Trompe Le Monde' and Primal Scream's 'Screamadelica'.


James Brown, future creator of Loaded magazine, arrived with a pithy dismissal of The Pixies. They were on the edge of a breakthrough but had overplayed it. Then Mary Anne Hobbs came roaring into the room, irate that the Gunners had given us two albums of immoderate noise. Hobbs couldn't believe that their shimmy was essentially gone, but she made a good case for the decline.

Steve Lamacq had been following Nirvana for a while, interviewing the band at their Shepherd's Bush B&B when 'Bleach' had appeared, and he declared that the follow-up was going to be a popular item.

Finally, then, my chance to review Primal Scream. I'd been aware of the band from the early days, when their mate would introduce them in the sinkpits of New Cross, dressed as an undertaker. And like other critics, I was loving the various instalments of 'Screamadelica' as they appeared, track by track over the ferment of 1990 and 1991. So I gave the review an entire page and wrote it myself.

Every music writer I know wants a bit of posterity, the chance to deliver words that hold up in the future as being decently written, prescient, perhaps. I could never equal Nick Kent's review of 'Marquee Moon' or Charles Shaar Murray's discovery of 'Horses', but I wanted to try. And I guess 'Screamadelica' was my run at the prize.

Twenty years on, and the review has reappeared on the NME website. The page is full of typos, suggesting that the publication's subs are more thinly spread these days, but I enjoyed reading my old work. A little self-conscious maybe, and certainly over-arching, but neat enough. A little footnote to an amazing album.

My reward was a couple of perilous road trips with the Scream Team - to Amsterdam, Tokyo and Kawasaki. Stories worth telling, another time.

Emma, In Love And Squalour

Stuart Bailie | 10:13 UK time, Friday, 28 January 2011

When I first met Emma Forrest, she was a teenage contender in London, writing with rare talent about the popular culture that enthused her. She had decided that Richey from the Manic Street Preachers was the Byron of his age. She was dining with Julie Burchill, Cosmo Landesman and Brett Easton Ellis. Her unfiltered copy in the broadsheets was equally gauche and bold.

So we decided that she should write for the NME. As Assistant Editor, I was trying to manage new talent, and thus myself and Editor Steve Sutherland worked to find her a place in the paper, which was chiefly staffed with orthodox, indie boys. Unfortunately, the incumbents didn't care for Emma, and she was basically snubbed. She didn't spend enough time at the Bull & Gate, watching Bogshed and Swervedriver. She hadn't served her dues on the fanzines. Emma was gradually edged out, something that pained herself, Steve and I.

Which was a shame, because her references were odd and precocious. She saw Britpop in a different way to the others. She had a sharp understanding of Richey Manic, an experience that was later revealed in her debut novel, Namedropper. And she had a pet interest in the Jewish dimension of pop culture, causing her to draw interesting lines from Leonard Cohen, Justine Frischmann and the storylines of Friends.

It was NME's loss of course, and I last saw Emma back here around 1999, when she addressed my journalism class in Belfast Institute. She was younger than most of the students, but was already active in New York's media world, with a fine book and a dozen other projects.

At that stage, I didn't know that she was also self-harming and regularly visiting a therapist. All of this is now common knowledge, thanks to her new book, Your Voice In My Head. The papers are making much of her connection to the actor Colin Farrell, and his similarity to a character in the book. Me, I'm merely pleased that Emma is still writing like a good one.

Tomorrow From A Tombstone

Stuart Bailie | 16:51 UK time, Thursday, 27 January 2011

I thought the old songs had been decommissioned. The hand-wringing songs, the vicious words, the bleeding liberal hearts, the patronising concepts, all those histories and doom and despair. We've had our 'Suspect Device', our 'Zombie', our 'Invisible Sun', 'Belfast Child', 'Though The Barricades' - all that stuff. If I never hear any of them again, I'll happily take the trade for tolerance and agreement.

But all of this was raised again this morning by the Stephen Nolan Show on Radio Ulster. It centered around a discussion on the Antrim Road bomb, which endangered many people. Then the airwaves were charged by 'Sheila' who made the case for those who planted the bomb. No apologies, no flim flam, no quarter.

Nolan gave Sheila her time and her views. He also encouraged her to talk about the death of her neice, apparently shot by the SAS. It was awful, compelling radio, as Sheila's views alternated with voices of the wives of policemen and soldiers, with apoplectic callers and sorry observers. Some people were drawing parallels with Afghanistan and citing media bias.

In my head there was an old soundtrack. A piece of history, panning across the cedars of Lebanon and then the busted streets of Belfast and Derry. Paul Brady putting his signature on 'The Island'. Remember how it went?


"And we're still at it in our own place,
Still trying to reach the future through the past,
Still trying to carve tomorrow from a tombstone..."

How long to sing this song?

Playlist 24.01.11

Stuart Bailie | 21:02 UK time, Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Decemberists are from Portland, Oregon. They dig Irish mythology and the British folk revival. They are fans of REM and The Waterboys and in 2007 were joined onstage in London by Mike Scott for a rendition of 'Fisherman's Blues'. We also hear that singer Colin Meloy once made a pilgrimage to Spidal House in Galway where the aforementioned album was recorded, jumping over the wall for a better look.

Now here's a quality album by the band called 'The King Is Dead'. Peter Buck from REM is apparently on a couple of tracks and to be frank, 'Down By The Water' is the spit of 'the One I Love'. There's also a snatch of 'Raggle Taggle Gipsy' on a track called 'Rox In The Box'. I like, actually.


BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Online: www.bbc.co.uk/radioulster
Mondays, ten - midnight

Bo Diddley - Who Do You Love (Chess)
Gruff Ryhs - Sensations In The Dark (Ovni)
Elvis Costello - National Ransom (Universal)
Piney Gir - White Wedding (Damaged Goods)
Mona - Teenager (Island)
Steve Earle, Allison Moorer - After The Fire Is Gone (Sony)
The Decemberists - January Hymn (Rough Trade)
Belle And Sebastian - I Want The World To Stop (Rough Trade)
Charlie Parr - 1922 Blues (Tin Angel)
Burning Codes - We Are Like Gold (white)
Twin Shadow - At My Heels (4ad)
Wanda Jackson - Teach Me Tonight (Nonesuch)
Gonzales - You Can Dance (Gentle Threat)


The Decemberists - Down By The Water (Rough Trade)
Piney Gir - Lucky Me (Damaged Goods)
Noah And The Whale - LIFEGOESON (Mercury)
CW Stoneking - Going To The Country (King Hokum)
Gillian Welch - Acony Bell (Acony)
Bob Dylan - Only A Hobo (Columbia)
Thomas Truax - January Egg Race Dream (SL)
Judee Sill - Down Where The Valleys Are Low (Water)
J Mascis - Not Enough (Sub Pop)
Gram Parsons - In My Hour Of Darkness (Reprise)
Todd Snider - Good Fortune (Aimless)
Glenn Lee - Joyous Sounds (Ryko)
Those Dancing Days - I'll Be Yours (Wichita)
British Sea Power - Heavy Water (Rough Trade)

Ruby Revisited

Stuart Bailie | 20:40 UK time, Friday, 21 January 2011

I enjoyed the Ruby Murray documentary on Tuesday night with Duke Special. The RTE production didn't sensationalise, but it did show the pain of an artist who had a dramatic year in 1955 and a most traumatic 40 year decline. Pop music is often brutal to its biggest stars, consuming and then rejecting, and the girl from the Donegall Road was severely used up. Alcoholism may have been latent in her system, but the showbiz experience amplified everything.

There were two especially resonant moments. Firstly when Ruby's old husband Bernie recalled seeing Ruby again after a period of estrangement, when the drink had wreaked a lot of damage. The poor guy broke down at the memory of it. Then Duke added his own perspective. For a working musician, he explained, every night has the potential to be Saturday night. For better or worse...

Playlist 17.01.11

Stuart Bailie | 09:06 UK time, Friday, 21 January 2011

I'm reading the Keith Richards biography, 'Life' at a leisurely pace, and enjoying it plenty. His childhood stories are perhaps a little drawn out, but once the story moves to the squalour at Edith Grove with Mick and Brian, it peps up. In his own way, Keef is a little chivalrous, dealing with his old pals in a tolerant fashion, apart from Brian Jones, who is scorned as a user and a bully.

In Marianne Faithfull's biography, Keef is presented as an Aquarian quester, testing the limits of the era, bound for transcendence. Oh, and a music fan. His own account lives up to that, with eulogies to Chicago blues, Memphis soul, the harp playing of Little Walter and the hi-hat technique of Charlie Watts.

He is oddly withdrawn about Mick but passionate about Gram Parsons. And when Ry Cooder helps him to unlock the secret of playing in open G tuning, it's pure awe. Immediately you want to hear 'Let It Bleed' and 'Beggar's Banquet' and the power of those records is freshly revealed.


BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Online: www.bbc.co.uk/radioulster
Mondays, ten - midnight

Playlist 17.01.11

The Impressions - We're In Love (MCA)
Greg Allman - Floating Bridge (Rounder)
PJ Harvey - The Words That Maketh Murder (Island)
The Decemberists - Don't Carry It All (Rough Trade)
Joan As Policewoman - The Action Man (PIAS)
The Rolling Stones - You've Got The Silver (Decca)
Iron And Wine - Tree By The River (4ad)
The Secret Sisters - Tennessee Me (Decca)
The Dirt - I Would Like To Lay On Your Bed (Big Rock Candy)
Cowboy Junkies - Strange Language (Proper)
Malcolm McLaren - Paris Deux (Virgin)
Vagabonds - John Mellor (First Born Is Dead)

Greg Allman - I Can't Be Satisfied (Rounder)
The Decemberists - Calamity (Rough Trade)
The White Stripes - Rated X (Sony)
NI Soul Troop - We're Gonna Miss You (white)
Anna Calvi - Blackout (Domino)
Joan As Policewoman - Human Condition (PIAS)
The Commodores - Night Shift (Motown)
Young The Grant - Apartment (Young And Lost Club)
Caitlin Rose - Own Side (Names)
Pat Dam Smyth - U (Public Sector)
Lucinda Williams - Somebody Somewhere (Sony)
Wynntown Marshalls - Thunder In The Valley (Chargere)
Duke Special - Smile (Reel To Reel)

Nile Rodgers, Hard Times

Stuart Bailie | 10:54 UK time, Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Last September I was blogging about Nile Rodgers and his exceptional moment at the Waterfront in Belfast. He was in conversation with Paul McClean from ATL and he talked us through his rich career with the likes of Chic, Bowie, Madonna, Michael Jackson, even Van Morrison.

I've rarely felt that much charisma. While he talked and played guitar, he was also scoping out the room, checking out the audience reaction and constantly tuning his responses to suit. Afterwards, he had time for everyone who wanted to say hello, and you had your second of intimacy with a proper legend.

Now we hear that he's been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer of the prostrate. Typically perhaps, he has turned this into an emotional adventure and a blog that he calls Walking On Planet C. Our hearts are there with him.

Whole Lotta Rosetta

Stuart Bailie | 19:32 UK time, Sunday, 16 January 2011

Time to summon the iplayer if you didn't get the chance to see Friday's splendid documentary on BBC4. Sister Rosetta Tharpe isn't celebrated often, and 'The Godmother Of Rock And Roll' was making some bold claims with that billing. But happily, it delivered.

She was an impeccable singer and guitarist, with a physical presence that prepped American culture for Elvis, Chuck Berry, Pops Staples and the rest. The archive film was wonderful proof of her ability to ride that boogie while saving your soul at the same time. She could crank out these riffs at the end of a vocal line that have entered the rock idiom. But they have rarely been played with such individual verve.


Like Bessie Smith, another underrated pioneer, Rosetta had a vivid personal life, and the account of her public wedding at a Washington stadium before 25 000 paying guests was a great one. It was also unusual to see the Sister on a disused railway station outside Manchester, roaring through a downpour, willing us to ride that glory train.

Next morning, I woke in a state of unusual bliss. Her work, I'll wager. Sister Rosetta goes before us, still.

The Boys Of Strummer

Stuart Bailie | 12:53 UK time, Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Defects were a punk band from Belfast, active from 1979 until 1984. I saw their first live show, at Clonduff Community Centre (supporting my band since you're asking) and I also witnessed their last gig, backing The Clash at the Ulster Hall. There have been a few reformations, but now it seems that singer Buck and Glen the drummer are giving it a proper run.

On Monday night's show they let me play a live recording of a new song, 'Revelator'. This was a tribute to Joe Strummer, aka John Mellor, singer with The Clash and revelator without equal.

It got me thinking about the many songs Joe appears in. There's 'Strummerville' by Stiff Little Fingers and 'Walk Out To Winter' by Aztec Camera. And indeed 'Constructive Summer' by the Hold Steady and 'Joe Strummer' from New Orleans combo, Cowboy Mouth.

I vaguely recall a cameo role in The TV Personalities song, 'Posing At The Roundhouse' and the lesser known 'Joe Strummer's Wallet' by The Stingrays.

Now there's a great Irish song to add to the tradition. The Vagabonds are young chaps with rumbling intent. They've just released a three track CD that was produced by Morrissey and Blur cohort Stephen Street. Each song is a throwdown, a heap of opportunities. They could go punk or intellectual or they might follow The Whipping Boy into that realm of Celtic regret, friction and brilliance.

For now, I'm just happy to listen to the fierce testimony of 'John Mellor'. Tune.


Reeling With The Rocker

Stuart Bailie | 21:57 UK time, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Summer 1996 and I'm listening to Phil Lynott's personal archive. The singer is ten years dead, but his stash of master tapes, demos and multi-tracks is in roaring good health. Just to make each listening experience all the more attractive, you get to see Philo's notes, written in that looping, elegant hand on each of the boxes.

The Thin Lizzy archive has an unusual history. For some years, the record company and management couldn't find the master tapes of 'the Boys Are Back In Town'. It simply wasn't there, and while various people went down to the store room (a secure part of London Underground, conveniently cooled by the deep location), there wasn't a sign. Then someone spooled up the contents of a tape box marked 'Kitty', and there it was, that famous invitation to party at Dino's Bar And Grill. A mocking engineer had figured that 'The Boys Are Back In Town' was terribly similar to the Springsteen tune, 'Kitty's Back', hence the inscription. But if truth be told, both Phil and Bruce were copping their stories of street corner soul from Van Morrison. That was the connection.

So anyway, I'm listening to the Lizzy archive, getting information for my book, the authorised story of the band. I've met a load of Phil's colleagues and friends, and this latest part of the journey has taken me to a bungalow in Southampton, where the tapes reside.

Even this is a bit of a story. Apparently when Phil's mother has been asked to leave her son's old home near Howth in Dublin, she had discovered a false wall, and behind it, the archive. Philomena had then passed on this trove of material to a super-fan, who was guarding it in his home on the English south coast.

He had met me at Southampton railway station, wearing an old Lizzy tour jacket. Then we got down to listening to the tunes on a vintage tape machine. It was a privilege and an exciting ritual, especially when we got away from the well known tunes and onto the unreleased material. Such was the furtive nature of all this, that I wasn't allowed to hear any of the rare material in full. But hey, I was happy enough.

Lizzy fans have waiting for decades to hear a fresh selection from the archive. But that will be partially amended next week with the reissue package of three albums: 'Jailbreak', 'Johnny The Fox', 'Live And Dangerous'. Now the likes of 'Derby Blues' and 'Blues Boy' will be in the public domain, along with session tracks and some of the coolest live tapes.

It may be that the Southampton archives have finally been unspooled. Then again, I wouldn't be shocked to know that they are they still under protection, holding back on their deepest treasures for another day.

Playlist 10.01.11

Stuart Bailie | 12:29 UK time, Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Anna Calvi's self-titled album really is a bounty - goth-flamenco, mordant blues, strings, classical filigrees, big time sensuality. Rob Ellis, a former colleague of Polly Harvey, is producer while Brian Eno is a mentor. So clearly, it's going to be remarkable in many ways, and I look forward to learning the rare language of these songs.

And of course, there will be a lot of indulgent notions written about this artist. I was looking for a few salient facts for my broadcasting duties, but every article online was full of obtuse fancy. There was apparently a childhood illness in London, a love of Piaf and an epiphany with a pal who now plays harmonium. She is already becoming a projection - more than a person, but less also. I trust that the creative person inside of all this will recognize the drift and keep the important stuff alive.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Online: www.bbc.co.uk/radioulster
Mondays, ten - midnight

Mavis Staples - We're Gonna Make it (Anti)
Justin Townes Earle - I Ain't Waitin' (Bloodshot)
The Loves - That Boy Is Mine (Fortuna Pop)
The Defects - Suspicious Minds
The Defects - Revelator (demo)
Ed Harcourt - Lustre (Piano Wolf)
Randy Newman - Short People (Warner)
Harry Nilsson - Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear (Camden)
Randy Newman - You Can Leave Your Hat On (Warner)
Randy Newman - You've Got A Friend In Me (Disney )
Anna Calvi - First We Kiss (Domino)
Duke Special - I'll Come When You Call (Reel To Reel)
British Sea Power - Living Is So Easy (Rough Trade)
Joe Pug - Nation Of Heat (Lightning Rod)
Twin Shadow 0 At My Heels (4ad)

Simple Minds - Promised You A Miracle (Virgin)
Elizabeth Cook - El Camino (Proper)
Duke Special - Happy Days Lonely Nights (Reel To Reel)
The Delphonics - Think It Over (Philly Groove)
Anna Calvi - Desire (Domino)
The Turtles - You Showed Me (Manifesto)
Zola Jesus - Night (Souterrain)
Greg Allman - Just Another Rider (Rounder)
The Go Betweens - Bachelor Kisses (Beggars Banquet)
Jenny And Johnny - Just Like Zeus (Warner)
Elizabeth Cook - I'm Beginning To Forget You (Proper)
Drive By Truckers - Mercy Buckets (PIAS)
The Hot Eight Brass Band - Sexual Healing (Tru Thoughts)

The Joy Of Sixx

Stuart Bailie | 13:06 UK time, Friday, 7 January 2011

The first week of January 1988 and I'm in the offices of Warner Records in Kensington, London, putting out the strangest story. My job as a press officer is to manage the profiles of acts on the roster, and one of my current headaches is the ferociously wayward Mötley Crüe.

The UK tour has just been cancelled, and so I inform the UK papers that this is because a pile up of snow on the venues makes it too hazardous. A roof might collapse, or something. And to be fair, it is desperately cold and conditions aren't perfect. However, within minutes, the first news editor calls up. It's the guy from Sounds, evidently pleased with himself.

"C'mon, the tour is off because Nikki Sixx died of a heroin overdose at Christmas. Nothing to do with the snow, eh?"

"Really? That's the first I've heard of it..."

I'm lying, of course. I have been briefed by the offices in New York and London to put out this fabrication. The truth is that Nikki Sixx, bass player with the Crüe, a tattooed lollygag and full-time drug waster, had died of an overdose on December 23. Fortunately the paramedics had arrived on the scene and one of them (a fan of the band apparently) had administered two adrenaline shots to the heart. The musician had been saved, but the tour was off.


I had been preparing for this visit for months, arranging photo shoots and interviews in California, prepping the media, putting together tour itineraries. We were expecting the drummer Tommy Lee to bring along his girlfriend Pamela Anderson, plus his amazing, rotating drum sphere that allowed him to play upside down. Meantime, I had also done my best to suppress a story from Kerrang magazine about a sinister case of changed identity.

The magazine had wondered if Nikki Sixx had been replaced in the mid-80s by a lookalike called Matthew Trippe. Allegedly, Sixx had been injured in a car crash, and so the band had needed a substitute. With forensic bravado, Kerrang had studied a series of photographs, comparing navel profiles and other anatomical issues. You have now idea how much grief I had been getting from the offices of Elektra Records, New York about this.

And then the ingrate had to go and die on us. Lucky old Nikki escaped from the hospital wearing just his leather pants and eventually got to write a bad song about the experience called 'Kickstart My Heart'. The history of his decline was later for sale as 'The Heroin Diaries'. None of which was much of a comfort for me that bleak January, when I was employed to tell lies for a living.


Playlist 03.01.11

Stuart Bailie | 09:38 UK time, Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Mighty Stef tells his story with a gutbucket moan. In this respect, Stefan favours Shane MacGowan, Nick Cave and the late Ronnie Drew. I suppose that he'd be happy to find company with any of those fellas, but I wouldn't want to be looking after the bar tab. Lyrically he's not avoiding the messy stuff either, and in December he revealed 'We Want Blood' as a bristling anthem for the Irish underclass. The language was unflinching and the video pointed out a few villains, chancers and thieves.

I saw him pinballing around Austin Texas last March and his third album, 'TMS And The Baptists' carries some of that momentum, from Dublin to Berlin and beyond. 'Georgia Girl' is an affectionate tune, but there's little danger of the happy couple parading in fancy duds or fretting over the cuisine. There will be lacerated hearts and tears after sundown.


BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Online: www.bbc.co.uk/radioulster
Mondays, ten - midnight

Wanda Jackson - Thunder In The Mountain (Nonesuch)
Him And Her - Don't Look Back (Domino)
Thin Lizzy - The Cowboy Song (Vertigo)
The Burns Unit - Trouble (Proper)
Dion - In and Out Of The Shadows (Ace)
Spokes - 3 4 5 (Counter)
Nina Simone - Another Spring (BMG)
Olof Arnalds - Crazy Car (One little Indian)
Manic Street Preachers - Postcards From A Young Man (Sony)
The Mighty Stef - Georgia Girl (The Firstborn Is Dead)
Jane Weaver - Heart Of Gold (Bird)
Jolly Boys -I Fought The Law (Gee Jam)
Zola Jesus - Poor Animal (Souterrain)

Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up (Motown)
Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River (Bloodshot)
Barb Jungr - Once In A Lifetime (NAIM)
The Kissaway Trail - New Year (Bella Union)
Kurt Wagner, Courtney Tidwell - A Special Day (City Slang)
Willie Nelson - Stardust (Columbia)
Captain Kennedy - Factory Whistle Call (white)
Joan As Police Woman - Magic (Play It Again Sam)
Villagers - Old Man (Domino)
The Only Ones - Out There In The Night (CBS)
Sebastian Blanck - Black Sanded Beach (Make Mine)
Warpaint - Shadows (Rough Trade)
Laki Mera - How Dare You ( Part Time Heroes remix) (Just)
The Soul Stirrers - Jesus Gave Me Water (Specialty)

You Praise Me Up

Stuart Bailie | 21:49 UK time, Tuesday, 4 January 2011

While it's still online, I suggest you check out an excellent documentary, made by a Radio Ulster colleague, Paul McClean. Rock Of Ages was broadcast on New Year's Day, and it followed the influence of the Christian Fellowship Church on the NI secular music scene.

It's a theme that people have commented on before, but the programme filled in a lot of the details, complete with quotes from the likes of Duke Special, Brian Houston, Paul Archer, Two Door Cinema Club and Robin Mark. The CFC church in east Belfast was their inspiration, training ground and support system.

Just as many American soul singers have been birthed in a gospel tradition, so the CFC has been an evangelical base, using music as a focal part in their services. Not all of the songs that have travelled out of those walls are palatable to the rest of us, but the documentary suggests that Snow Patrol's 'Run' is essentially a spiritual anthem, with some of its origins in Belmont. It's a pity that CFC regulars Iain Archer and Johnny Quinn weren't on the record to give their thoughts, but the context still makes sense.

When I returned home from London in 1996, I was bemused by the early stirrings of this scene. When the CFC artists played in a rock venue, they brought their audience with them, wide-eyed and zealous, applauding even the most banal songs. I thought that the music was often plodding and unambitious, and the lack of any artistic critique was a poor show. It was symptomatic, to my ears, of Northern Ireland's ingrained conservatism.

So why are some of those acts now valued parts of my music collection? There's a telling part of the doc when Duke Special says he regrets not listening to worldly music earlier in his career. This is the guy who once burnt his sister's AC/DC records because he had been conditioned to fear backward masking and coded Satanic messages.

Many of those artists simply had to get into the world to make their way. And on that journey, they cottoned on to Tom Waits, Rufus Wainwright and Sufjan Stevens, to dance music and the challenge of alternative culture. Some of them still reserve the right to preach and give testimony, but they're also hip to Bono's strategies of stealth and subterfuge. In short, they're getting more interesting as they grow older.

It's a rare story and no doubt, our music will be affected by those CFC emissions for some time.


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