Boomtown Rats

MIXTAPE: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK 0

Another week, another mixtape. Mark your calendars as Chris Rooney takes you on a musical journey through the seven days of the week right through the weekend.

The Bolshoi, “Sunday Morning” (1986)
Growing up it was either sleep in late or off to church bright and early Sunday morning. By the look of things, someone still has a grudge with their strict religious upbringing and doesn’t want to revisit those Sunday mornings.

Morrissey, “Everyday Is Like Sunday” (1988)
Boredom naturally comes on a Sunday when everything is closed, stuck at seasonal destination when its off-season or simply growing up in a small town with no vitality left in it. Etch a postcard, “How I dearly wish I was not here”. In many American states, Sunday blue laws still exist that prohibit businesses such as car dealerships from being open, abstain alcohol sales, bar horse racing and prevent hunting because of lingering puritan beliefs. At least Morrissey can get behind that ban on hunting.

U2, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (1983)
U2’s overtly political, yet nonpartisan, protest song reflects upon Sunday, January 30, 1972 when British troops fired upon Northern Irish unarmed civilians, killing 14. Other musicians such as Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Black Sabbath and Stiff Little Fingers all wrote songs in response to the events of that day prior to U2’s concert anthem.

New Order, “Blue Monday” (1983)
How does it feel to be treated like this on the first day of the work week? Bernard Sumner lackadaisical delivery sums it up perfectly what it is like to start a Monday morning.

The Bangles, “Manic Monday” (1986)
You’re not fooling us Prince penning The Bangles’ breakthrough hit under the name “Christopher”. We know all about the period of time when you were the artist formerly known as Prince using that unpronounceable symbol, but surely “Christopher” is your 9-to-5 worker bee alter ego who has a regular desk job and run-of-the-mill worries like the rest of us.

Boomtown Rats, “I Don’t Like Mondays” (1979)
Why so much disdain for this day in particular? Five years later after wanting to shoot the whole day down, Bob Geldof must gotten over it as he chose to release his big musical creation, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” on a Monday.

Duran Duran, “New Moon on Monday” (1984)
Monday is almost over and the nighttime darkness is the ideal cover for the boys of Duran Duran to stage an underground rebellion (complete with lit torches and perfectly coiffed hair) on a society run by an oppressive militaristic regime.

‘Til Tuesday, “Voices Carry” (1985)
Ah, quiet little Tuesday. Never drawing attention to itself stuck between the beginning and the middle of the work week until ‘Til Tuesday’s Aimee Mann just couldn’t take it anymore of her douchebag boyfriend and stood up for herself during the most opportune moment at Carnegie Hall. Makes you think that she was holding out for the great acoustics to make her point and dump the a-hole.

Fisherspooner, “Wednesday” (2005)
It’s Hump Day and here to ride that cresting wave in the week is Fisherspooner’s sexy electroclash single that combines a ‘80s new wave sound influenced by Gary Numan, Kraftwerk and early Pet Shop Boys with modern electronica.

Pet Shop Boys, “Thursday” (2013)
Despite having to the chance to coordinate the release their 54th (yes, 54th!) single on the same day that the song references, The Pet Shop Boys chose instead to debut it on a Monday.

David Bowie, “Thursday’s Child” (1999)
“Thursday’s Child has far to go”, so says the 19th century nursery rhyme that is supposed to tell a child’s character or future based on the day he or she was born. Bowie, in case you were wondering, was born on a Wednesday.

The Cure, “Friday I’m In Love” (1992)
Disheveled hair, badly applied lipstick and untied high-top sneakers can mean only one thing – it’s Casual Friday for Robert Smith!

The Specials, “Friday Night, Saturday Morning” (1981)
Forget the oh-so-pleasant expression “Thank God It’s Friday”. The Brits and the Aussies have a term for the last day of the workday that tops that by a mile – POETS Day, which stands for “Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday”. The Specials’ weekend ritual encapsulates that vibe to a tee with lines like “Out of bed at eight am / Out my head by half past ten / Out with mates and dates and friends / That’s what I do at weekends / I can’t talk and I can’t walk / But I know where I’m going to go / I’m going watch my money go / At the Locarno, no”.

David Bowie, “Drive-In Saturday” (1973)
It seems like Saturdays were more wild and crazy in the 1970s compared to the 1980s. Think about it. You had the birth of Saturday Night Live, the blockbuster Saturday Night Fever igniting the disco craze, Elton John sang “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and the tartan teen sensations, The Bay City Rollers were shouting out, “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!”

The Cure, “10:15 Saturday Night” (1979)
It’s damn near impossible to get a plumber late on a Saturday night, much less all-day Sunday if your kitchen sink tap drips drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip. Better luck ringing him up on Monday.

Étienne Daho “Week-end à Rome” (1984)
The French, including their very own pop star Étienne Daho, have a thing about not messing with their culture and language. Yet they have adopted the English word, “weekend”, by adding a little French twist with a hyphen in the middle. In the 1990s, the English electronic pop group Saint Etienne teamed up with Daho and had one of their biggest hits with a reworked English version of the song called “He’s On The Phone”.

Lloyd Cole & Commotions, “Lost Weekend” (1985)
True story. I’m on my honeymoon seeing the sights of Europe and I caught the worst cold possible. The last few days we spent in Amsterdam. I’m relaxing in our hotel room trying to feel better when I suddenly hear Lloyd Cole singing on the TV, “…it took a lost weekend in a hotel in Amsterdam, double pnuemonia in a single room and the sickest joke was the price of the medicine…”

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Band Aid Insider: The Artists Remember “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” 2

When Jonathan and I were making the list of songs to include in Mad World: The Book, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” wasn’t on it. After all, it was a novelty hit (albeit a huge one). But as we progressed with our interviews, we realized how important Band Aid was to new wave. For one, it was a song that brought so many of the pivotal artists in our book together. But it also signaled the end of the era: After Band Aid in 1984, the new wave party quickly came to an end. It only seemed fitting that we include “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” as the final chapter.

Then, this past summer, after about book came out, I began working on a piece about Band Aid pegged to its 30th anniversary. Though many of the artists were eager to reminisce about “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and proud of all of the good that it’s done, I initially had trouble getting Bob Geldof to talk. Apparently he had had a moratorium on the subject for years. After months of chasing him down through various managers, publicists, and friends, an interview was finally scheduled for late September…although on the morning of our chat, his rep emailed to say he still didn’t want to talk about Band Aid. That afternoon he relented, but when I finally got him on the phone, he let loose a barrage of expletives before allowing himself to recall a few of his favorite memories.

But, as Geldof told me, he never got into music to change the world. Nor did any of the other artists in Band Aid. That’s exactly what happened, though. And whatever one thinks of Geldof and his prickly nature, or the song’s controversial lyrics, or Band Aid II or III or IV, it cannot be disputed that the record altered the course of the 80s musical landscape and, more importantly, it saved lives. When I was in Los Angeles recently, my Uber driver told me that he was a victim of the Ethiopian famine who owes his life to the song.

Below is an “extended mix” of the Band Aid story that was published by Rolling Stone. Happy holidays, and have a peaceful and prosperous new year! —Lori Majewski

 

By Lori Majewski

Weeks before Thanksgiving, those commercial-free holiday-music marathons are already inescapable. Listen long enough and, along with repeat playings of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” and the bludgeoning of countless classics by Mannheim Steamroller, you’ll eventually be treated to that darkest of year-end chestnuts: Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

“The lyrics are bleak, but essentially so, and a welcome change from the bromides of mistletoe and the saccharine Christmas fare that is usually served up,” says Sting, recalling the charity single he recorded 30 years ago on November 25th as a member of the mostly-British supergroup.

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Nearly 40 artists — many of the biggest acts of the early eighties: Duran Duran, Culture Club, Wham!, even a then-bubbling-under U2 — converged that day at London’s Sarm Studios in response to a harrowing BBC report on the starving victims of the Ethiopian famine. And every year since, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” reminds us, as we gobble down our holiday dinners, that “there’s a world outside your window/it’s a world of dread and fear,” and, in its bluntest moment: “Tonight thank god it’s them instead of you.”

“It was a song written for a specific purpose: to touch people’s heartstrings and to loosen the purse strings,” says ex-Ultravox singer Midge Ure, the song’s producer and co-writer, along with Band Aid organizer Bob Geldof, frontman for the Boomtown Rats. “[The lyrics] had to be brutal. We were looking at television pictures of children spending five minutes trying to stand up.”

Their initial goal was for “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to claim the coveted Christmas number-one spot in the UK and raise about 100,000 British Pounds (approximately $160,000), Ure says — enough to fund a few shipments of food to Ethiopia and hopefully urge world leaders to take action. But the record became bigger than anyone could’ve imagined: According to recent figures from the Band Aid Charitable Trust, it’s made more than $190 million to date.

“Band Aid helped to keep, I would say, millions of people alive — certainly hundreds of thousands,” Geldof says. “It was deeply satisfying, because we [saw] an immediate benefit to a number of people.”

In stores just three days after it was recorded, the song became the fastest-selling single in Britain. A world-wide number one, it spent five consecutive weeks atop the UK singles charts (it got as high as number 13 in the U.S.) and was the country’s biggest-selling record until Elton John’s Princess Diana tribute version of “Candle in the Wind” in 1997.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” also opened the floodgates for myriad rocker-led charitable efforts — most notably USA for Africa’s “We are the World” and the bi-continental mega-concert Live Aid (also a Geldof and Ure production), along with Farm Aid and Hands Across America — consequently turning the Me Decade into the We Decade.

“Band Aid and Live Aid were a great contradiction to what people thought, another side of the decade,” says Boy George. “The eighties were about greed and excess — we were called Thatcher’s Children.”

“We got lumped in with Thatcherism because people thought we were living the high life,” says Simon Le Bon. (Though Duran Duran were the yacht-lounging, supermodel-squiring embodiment of eighties extravagance, he insists they weren’t Tories: “We absolutely hated Thatcher and her policies.”) One reason Le Bon and his contemporaries found Band Aid so attractive, he says, was because it “was this opportunity to do something that wasn’t about ‘me.’ It made you feel you could do something useful. We made young people believe they had some kind of power and were able to do something that did have an effect. Bono and Bob[’s philanthropy and activism], the Red foundation, the whole Drop the Debt campaign — it all started with Band Aid.”

Three decades on, the work of the Band Aid Charitable Trust — still led by Ure and chairman Geldof — is far from over. Thanks to the more than $480,000 in annual licensing fees and royalties from “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, the trust is able to provide consistent support to aid agencies on the ground in Ethiopia, Niger, and Chad.

“While it was modestly and ironically called a ‘band aid’ designed to react to an emergency, many of its projects were designed to be sustainable, and continue to this day to be useful,” says Sting.

In recent years, the trust has helped to fund “orphanages, medicines, blankets, fields of stuff,” according to Geldof, as well as larger projects, such as a gravity pipeline built by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to supply fresh water to Somali refugees in eastern Ethiopia. Meanwhile, $300,000 gained from the 2011 cast singalong on Fox’s Glee will likely go toward the building of a new school in the country.

Though at least one member of Band Aid is calling for a 2014 update (“Tell Bob we need to do it again,” says JT Taylor, whose Kool and the Gang was the sole American group on the record. “The world is a mess, man”), Ure says he and Geldof are thinking about moving on. “In the not too distant future, we’re going to have to hand this over to someone else,” says the Scot, who was made an officer of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth in 2005. (Geldof, an Irishman, was granted an honorary knighthood in 1986.) “We’re getting older. We have to think: How do we ensure that it carries on [and that the money is allocated] safely, securely, and with the same kind of passion about it that we have?”

For now, Geldof wouldn’t mind going a holiday season — or 20 — without having to hear the song that made it all possible.

“I associate it with the meat counter at my local supermarket,” he says. “Every time I arrive to buy the fucking turkey, I hear [hums the song’s intro]. The butcher looks at me with a little smile and I go, ‘Yeah, yeah. Give me the fucking turkey, dude’.”

Read on, as Band Aid alumni share stories about “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, what it was like that day in the studio — and why Bono had a problem with the song’s most dramatic, climactic line.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” began life as a rejected Boomtown Rats tune. 

Midge Ure: Bob turned up at my place with a guitar that looked as though he’d found it in a dump. It had hardly any strings on it. He started singing me this thing — it was obvious he was making it up as he went along. He sounded like a demented Bob Dylan. There was no melody, no structure, and every time he sang it, it sounded different. He presented me the idea for the lyrics, the “It’s Christmastime, there’s no need to be afraid.” My main contribution was changing “And there won’t be snow in Ethiopia this Christmas,” which doesn’t scan in anybody’s book. We changed that to “Africa,” and we wrote the middle section together: “Here’s to you, raise a glass for everyone,” which is the nod to the irony of [it being a] Christmas record.

 

Simon Le Bon thought “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was going to be a duet between him and Sting. 

Simon Le Bon:  I was the first one Bob called. He called out of the blue and said, “Simon, did you see the [BBC report on the Ethiopian famine] last night? We’ve got to do something.” I didn’t see the program. He told me what it was about, and he said, “I have an idea. We should make a charity record. What do you think?” I said, “Yes, mate. Absolutely.” But it wasn’t sold to me as, “This is going to be a whole pile of musical legends”; it was, “You and Sting do it.” I thought I was going to get  half the song. I was a bit pissed off, because when I walked into [Sarm Studios] they’re already recording somebody else singing one of my lines! That took a while to sort of get my head around.

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Sting didn’t want to sing the lyric, “the bitter sting of tears.” 

Bob Geldof: Sting was moaning: “Do I have to sing that?” I said, “Yes, because it’s just a coincidence that the word sting is in it.” If you listen to the song, there’s a deep bitterness in Sting’s voice.

Sting: There’s a touch of irony there. When we had to dole out the lines to everyone else, it wasn’t an accident. I was still the King of Pain after all.

 

Bono didn’t want to sing his line — “Tonight thank god it’s them instead of you” — either.

Ure: Bono had a problem with it. He said, “Why would you say that?” That can be perceived as a brutal, unfeeling line.

Geldof:  He said, “Are you really sure that’s what you want to say?” And I said, “I’m really sure.” I went through it with him rather like a director goes through a line that the actor may not be happy with.

JT Taylor (Kool and the Gang): I hated that line. All these years, I thought I was the only only person who felt that. For me, it was the worst line in the whole song.

Ure:  But we’re not saying rather them than us; we’re saying how lucky we are that we don’t have to deal with that kind of extreme poverty. [After] Bob explained, Bono got it, and turned it into this magical moment on the record.

Geldof:  He just has a profound rage. If you listen to the way the emotion of the song scales up, that’s the big powerful explosion.That became a phenomenon, which none of us expected.

Ure:  I think he probably scared himself when he did it. He jumped way up an octave, and it was just astonishing — the sound that this little guy could radiate! It was like standing next to an opera singer. He did it twice but I think we kept the first [take].

 

Band Aid taught Bono that rock ’n’ roll can change the world.

Ure: The Band Aid process changed a lot of people; it changed him quite considerably. I saw a U2 concert three, four years ago, and they stopped the concert in the middle and said, “In the audience tonight…” And the spotlight came on me. Bono said, “Him and Bob taught me how to care.”

Geldof:  I pulled him into Band Aid. [U2] were young turks on the make; they hadn’t really crested yet. But I thought, He’s got such a voice… And then, Live Aid — they thought they blew it. It actually pushed them over the top. A few years later, he wanted to get involved in a related subject [i.e., the ONE Campaign, which fights extreme poverty and disease in Africa; Bono is a co-founder, Geldof an advisor]. We argue all the time; it’s kind of a good cop/bad cop [friendship]. He wants to give the world a big hug; I want to punch its lights out.

 

Boy George almost missed the recording session entirely.

Boy George: Culture Club had just done a show at Madison Square Garden, and I was in bed at the Plaza hotel. I got a call at 3 o’clock in the morning from Bob Geldof, whom I’d never met.

Ure:  We had to have him. So Bob woke him up in New York. George said, “Who’s there?” Bob said, “Every fucker but you. Get your ass on Concorde.” And he did — at his own expense, I might add.

Boy George:  When I arrived, around 8 o’clock in the evening, there was no time to practice or maybe have a go at the song to make sure you’re in the right key. It was literally: “You’re on!” I was thinking, “Oh my God, what’s going to come out of my mouth?”

Ure:  He turned up, and he said, “Can someone get me a brandy?” I had to press the intercom button and say, “No! We don’t have anyone here to go running about for you.” We didn’t have mountains of food, we didn’t have champagne, there was no sponsorship going on. It was incredibly basic.

Boy George:  I did pretty well, though. I remember Bob saying, “Oh George, you sound like a black lady — like a black mama!” I was like, “That’s what I’m aiming for, so thank you!”

 

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Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet arrived together, and a little worse for wear.

Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet): The night before we were in Germany on the piss with Duran, having a real good drink. By the morning, we were all pretty rough. We didn’t look great. I remember arriving back at Heathrow and someone said, “There’s all the press, there’s cameras out there, there’s about 400 screaming fans.” All of a sudden we’re all in the bathroom trying to make ourselves look presentable — you know, Nick Rhodes putting stacks of makeup on. I think we all put a bit of makeup on that day, actually.

Le Bon: I remember turning up in the car with a hangover. I did everything with a hangover in those days. I don’t think John [Taylor, Duran Duran] had been to sleep at all. But that was John. He just didn’t need much in those days because of chemical sleep.

 

The session was “like a carnival of celebrities,” according to Boy George.

Boy George: You could not move for famous people. I remember being in this room with a lot of people I hadn’t met before — Bono, Phil Collins — just thinking, “Everyone’s being quite well-behaved. People have really parked their egos for the evening.”

Sting:  It was a funny day, like a school reunion for truants. All of us had a lot in common but had rarely been in the same room together. There were no fights as I remember.

Le Bon: That was the first time I met Sting. He was very friendly, apart from when I said, “God, it’s really hot and sweaty in here,” and he told me not to do so many drugs.

Boy George: I had had a feud with Simon Le Bon, a bit of a confrontation in Paris, and we ended up walking into the studio arm in arm for the press.

Nick Rhodes:  We were among the first people to say yes, which I am proud of. Because I think it helped to say “I’ve got Duran Duran on board.” It was such a bizarre mix to have us, Spandau [Ballet] and [seventies British rockers] Status Quo. And you had Paul Weller, who I seem to remember arrived by bus.

Le Bon: My God, he was grumpy! Paul Weller wasn’t very friendly. He was very political…and [Duran Duran] as a band had always stayed clear of politics. But [Band Aid] wasn’t about politics, it was about saving lives. People wanted to have an effect, and that really is the line that joins me to Paul Weller. He wanted to help feed some kid in Africa, same as I did.

 

The “Feed the World” chorus was inspired by Lennon’s “War is Over” refrain.

Ure: There was a moment in the studio when Bob said, “We need something like the John Lennon thing, some anthemic thing we can sing along with.” Between the two of us, we came up with “Feed the world/let them know it’s Christmas time again.”

 

When Boy George first heard George Michael’s vocals, he thought it was Alison Moyet.

Boy George:  I remember hearing the voice after me and saying, “Who’s that? Who’s the girl?” and then being told it was George Michael. I said, “He sounds really camp.” Then I said, “But he is, though, isn’t he?” I was always trying to out George.

 

George Harrison advised on how to prevent Band Aid from turning into another financially questionable Concert for Bangladesh.

Ure:  The Concert [for Bangaldesh]…all of the money didn’t get where it was meant to go. It was spent on overhead and ad men. So [Harrison’s advice to Geldof] was, “Get yourselves good accountants.” We have the same accountants today who [ensure] we don’t spent a penny on anything. We’ve had no office, no secretaries. We begged, borrowed, and stole telephone lines, space, whatever we could. We didn’t spend a penny of Band Aid money on running Band Aid.

 

The record sleeve was designed by the same artist who did Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Ure: It’s a Peter Blake original. Peter Blake is kind of a British Andy Warhol. All those Victorian cut-outs, he pasted the whole thing together. And he did it for free.

 

Compared to USA For Africa’s meticulously-planned “We are the World,” “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was like Britain itself: cold, dark, and pessimistic.

Sting:  Ours is less slick, less polished and thrown together, with a spontaneous, make-do enthusiasm and passion that translates into heartfelt authenticity.

Rhodes:  The British one was very naive, and then suddenly America stormed in with “We are the World.” The title alone says something to you. It was a big, lush production. In many ways, it does define the differences between American music and British music at the time.

 

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” created the mold — and then broke it.

Boy George: If there was an extreme situation like [the famine in] Africa, I can imagine most of today’s artists being drawn into it. Whether it would have the same impact, I don’t know. It’s such a different time now, because we are bombarded with so much information. You tend to get neutralized by all the different tragedies and situations going on in the world.

Le Bon:  Yes, it could [happen]. Would it be the same? No. I think a lot of people would [think] “Oh, we need to do this because everybody else is doing it.” We’re going through a time where everybody’s scared of sticking their neck out. Not only do they not have politics in their songs, they don’t really have a lot of anything in their songs.

Taylor: When we were coming up, we had Motown, the Beatles and the Stones, Woodstock, Joe Cocker, and Sly Stone. We had Santana saying, “You can be an artist, and you can speak your voice.” Today, they only sign youths, beautiful-looking young girls, handsome young boys, and their world isn’t so much about the politics of life; it’s about, “Wow, I’m a star now.” It’s refreshing to hear someone singing about doing something other than shaking your ass.

 

 

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Slainte! The St. Patrick’s Day Commemorative New Wave Mixtape 0

Ah, yes, Ireland: That nation of soulful drunken poets. The Irish gave us James Joyce, Edna O’Brien and Leprechaun in the Hood. But as we approach the day when we vomit green beer, it’s time to take stock of Ireland’s contribution to new wave. (Click here to play our Mad World St. Patrick’s Day Playlist on Spotify.)

 

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“Julie Ocean,” The Undertones

This list could be — and nearly was — all Undertones. This song appeared as a wistful little sliver at the end of the group’s third record, Positive Touch, which was a bit too down-tempo and noodly for fans of their cheeky-lads-from Derry persona to digest. Expanded and rearranged for single release, “Julie Ocean” became a shimmering thing of beauty that sailed straight into my malnourished heart and never left. This is one of these songs where you strain to hear the fade-out because you want to catch every second. Meanwhile, somewhere in Weehawken, my co-author is half-glancing at this list and screeching “Someone from Ireland wrote a song about Billy Ocean? Are you serious?”

 

Dance Stance,” Dexys Midnight Runners

The pre-fiddles, banjos and dungarees Dexys were a Stax-style soul revue band and a platform for Kevin Rowland’s vitriol. They were swept along with the mod revival and the 2-Tone explosion but this, their debut single, marked them out as a breed apart. A platform for the thin-skinned Rowland to lash back at at the thick-Irishman jokes he’d been hearing since landing on English soil, “Dance Stance” turns a list of Irish authors into a taunting chorus: “Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan, Sean O’Casey, George Bernard Shaw!”

 

“Song Of The Faithful Departed,” The Radiators

Dublin’s Radiators From Space were the first Irish punk band to make a record. A few years later, they dropped the `From Space’ part and released Ghostown which is revered among people who make lists of great Irish records as one of the greatest Irish records ever made. Recorded in London, produced by Tony Visconti, it’s a giant, emotional, angry. romantic surprise of an album that staggers from powerpop to vaudeville to colossal anthems like this one.

 

“A Rainy Night In Soho,” The Pogues

The late Philip Chevron left The Radiators to join The Pogues. Once I was aware of that fact, I stopped thinking of them as part of the clump of London bands thrashing away at banjos and banging tin trays off their heads–I’m looking at you, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Bluberry Hellbellies and Yip Yip Coyote. As much of a waste of human life as Shane MacGowan turned out to be, the fact that he was capable of writing songs like “A Rainy Night In Soho” is exactly why he’s been given a million second chances.

 

“A Sort of Homecoming,” U2

You can’t do a St. Patrick’s Day mixtape of Irish new wave without U2. (Well, JB tried, but then I got home from SXSW and, upon seeing the Bono-less playlist, added this in. —LM) “A Sort of Homecoming” is the bridge between classic U2 and the Biggest Band in the World that this Dublin band were to become.

 

“Shiraleo,” Starjets

Never let it be said that Irish bands didn’t have it in them to write love songs about robots.

“Send My Heart,” The Adventures

Starjets turned into The Adventures who were a much more mainstream act with massive eighties production and huge hooks. Very surprised someone hasn’t pilfered the chorus of this one and surgically attached it to a more current-sounding song. The accompanying video is a classic of the wow-the-band-are-kind-of-rough-looking-let’s shove-them-way-in-the-background genre.

 

“All I Wanted,” In Tua Nua

Here’s another bunch of gargoyles but in this case the director put them front and center, hoping that the music is strong enough to detract attention from the perplexing dollops of humanity on display. He’s almost right. Another swelling wave of a hook that sounds like a forgotten hit but never was.

 

“November November,” Auto Da Fe

And again, a song that sounds like it was a hit that was never off the radio but in reality vanished without trace. Wikipedia tells me Auto Da Fe were an Irish new wave band who formed in the Netherlands. Their singer used to be in Steeleye Span. This song was produced by Phil Lynott. Very useful to know on Irish new wave trivia night.

 

The Boomtown Rats, “I Don’t Like Mondays”

Well, except for this particular Monday, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day. In a time when there are so many school shootings, it’s hard to imagine a record like this ever being released — never mind becoming a hit — today. Unless the artist completely obscured the meaning, like in that “Pumped Up Kicks” song.

 

“Who’s Gonna Tell Mary?” The Moondogs

The Moondogs were a kind of junior Undertones. Also hailing from Derry, they had their own after-school TV show where they awkwardly told jokes and played their three or four songs every week. Todd Rundgren produced their unreleased second album which I would be very excited to hear thirty years ago.

 

“I Can’t Cope,” Protex

Amid bombs, gunfire, grenades and endless violence, Ireland produced a huge array of powerpop bands singing heartfelt love songs. Protex made some of the catchiest.

 

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