V/A — Strange Passion: Explorations In Irish Post-Punk and Electronic Music 1980-83

homepage_large.12831ee5With the okay-ish series recently on the BBC about British punk and post-punk scene now is a good time for this record to land, because in comparison to the more showy and egocentric music going on across the water these Irish acts had an altogether more tough time, with less media exposure, and existing in a land experiencing a particular hard brand of socio-economic problems unique to itself

This is an Irish compilation of tracks from the early ’80s (just like the title assumes that it perhaps might be) featuring DIY post-punk, new wave and electronica.

This LP compilation sounds both of its time yet strangely fresh due to this sort of thing being nowadays done by stacks of bands whose members were not even born at the time of these tunes, or very young if they were. It includes on the disc those immediately recognisable vocals of Gavin Friday’s Virgin Prunes with their ‘Twenty Tens’; the odd sounds of ‘Austrian’ by Operation Theatre. There is also ‘Always in Danger’, a Human League-type cut from Choice, and the not dissimilar sounds that has the act PH  perform ‘Last Days’. The supremely kickin’, and still kind of fresh, ‘Avenue B’ by Major Thinkers is especially enjoyable, and arguably the standout here.

Strange to think that if U2 hadn’t become super-massive they’d also perhaps be featured on this disc, which goes to show that despite the hardship and struggles, there was room and opportunity to wriggle free and gain mass exposure and stardom a world away from here. Whatever you think of U2 their story becomes even more astonishing when seen in this context.

Most of what’s on here is new to me (and one assumes you too) and for that reason alone it’s a worthy compilation. It’s also pretty focused and tight, and any eclecticism is equally matched by a host of acts and tracks with much common ground. It was such a different time to be in a band back then. Whether easier or more tough than now is a difficult one to answer.


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