STATE OF THE NATION, 1993

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Half way through 1993, Melody Maker asked a handful of its writers to assess the state of the music industry as we saw it and to highlight those acts, clubs or movers that were likely to do damage before the turn of the century. So I caressed my crystal ball, took a couple of steps back and then smithereened it across my living room with a ferocious funt.

To me, U2 were, at that stage, the past, present and future of Irish rock music. Was I wrong ? My short piece is re-printed in full below.

IRELAND

There’s a curious smell of change in the air. Like it or not, THERAPY?, THE SULTANS OF PING and THE FRANK AND WALTERS are the heavily-accented voices of a brand new pop ball game.

It’s all about search-and-find, of course, so while U2’s Mother label re-locates to London and says hello to Bjork, it’s labels like Belfast’s Blunt and Wallcreeper, Cork’s MS and Dublin’s Hunter S that have been around to the credit union, getting by on some believing ears, a bucketful of integrity and borrowed shoestrings. Fun times and happy days with no easy press rides, no outlandish adjectives or committees. I guess that, basically, Ireland’s got a pop underground again.

Not only have we seen a wonderful rise in free broadsheets, there’s also been a re-birth of pirate radio with Radioactive, Sunset and Radio Dublin coming over with a great big attitude and a whole load of new pop. Like SUNBEAR, some Dublin mid-teen guitarniks with a debt to WHIPPING BOY and some slash-and-burn noise. Or SOON, a dashing Beefheart-latino-Fall-Microdisney pure-pop barrow of pout. Or MIKE TV, straightoutta the arse-end of nowhere in particular with a fridgeful of mid-Pixies agit-guitars and lots of circular strains. Or PET LAMB and IN MOTION and LIFT and LMNO PELICAN and TREEHOUSE and IN DUST and SCARY EIRE and THE FAR CANALS.

Right now, bands like BUTTERFLY CHILD, PAPA SPRAIN, THE DIVINE COMEDY and ROLLERSKATE SKINNY are better known in exile than they are at home, where they generally play token walk-on parts in those after-thought side columns. But then Ireland’s biggest-selling last year was some slooped-up, folk-ish slop that went, ‘A heart is low/A heart is so low/As only a woman’s heart can be’. CACTUS WORLD NEWS are cutting edge by comparison.

Meanwhile, Dublin’s specialist groove-houses and late-night dance clubs go bulge, Belfast prepares itself for its first all-nighter of the year and THE CRANBERRIES shoot through Billboard for the umpteenth week. The Voodoo Queens and Afghan Whigs are here for dates next month and ROLLERSKATE SKINNY’s ‘Shoulder Voices’ could easily be one of the best and most important records ever. Some of us breathe hope in the piss-filled air and there were no Irish acts dropped from major labels this week.

Past: MICRODISNEY, U2

Present: THERAPY?, U2

Future: ROLLERSKATE SKINNY, SUNBEAR, SOON, U2

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