Spiral Scratch


I’ve been set a challenge through work to create a successful blog. Not sure quite what that means but I guess I need to get loads of hits, visits, comments etc.

I’ve never followed or read extensively any blogs, I’m not into connecting with people or much else on the internet apart from a bit of news, online banking and some other stuff that I probably shouldn’t mention here. Oh, and eBay, I buy a lot of stuff on eBay. I guess what I’m driving at is that I don’t know what I’m doing here, so I’m just going to make it up as I go along.

I remember advice I got in a writing class years ago about writing what you know. So what do I know? Well in my humble opinion, quite a bit. I love history, politics, travel, photography, art, books – all the usual stuff people add at the end of their resumés. In truth though, there is only one topic on which I could claim to be an authority enough to write about, and that’s music. Ever since I was young, very very young, I’ve been fascinated by the art, the artifice and the theater of pop and rock.

I grew up in Lucan, one of the many satellite towns around Dublin. It was a fairly picturesque place, more of a village than a town to be honest. Life was pretty idyllic, bike riding, climbing trees, playing football past dark until the auld-one (mother) came looking for me. Seemingly endless summers, you get the idea. It’s a sad reflection really but amidst all this my favorite pastime was watching TV.

TV was great as a kid, Saturday morning cartoons and Swap Shop (look it up). I’d watch all the American imports like the A-Team, Starsky & Hutch and Knight Rider. BUT, the highlight of the week was when the whole Brennan clan – Mam, Dad, brother, sister and I would gather in front of the TV to watch the top 40 chart show Top of the Pops.

This BBC show was vital viewing, it was a kind of portal into a technicolor, parallel world of the rich and famous. It featured singers and groups of the day lip syncing to their latest hit in front of an adoring studio audience. When an artist couldn’t make it to the studio, dancers would fill in and later video took over. Amongst the saccharine pop hits the occasional gem would come along, David Bowie, The Smiths and the Sex Pistols all appeared over the years. The Clash stayed away because the show was too commercial. Wankers!

“Beelzebub has the devil put aside for me, for me, for meeeeeee!”

Top of the Pops features prominently in one of my earliest memories. By Christmas 1975, Queen had been at the number one slot for a record nine weeks with Bohemian Rhapsody. Week after week the video, featuring the group’s disembodied heads, terrified me. As the line goes – “very, very frightening me”. No fucking kidding, I was 3 years old but the seed was sown. Far from turning me off music, it became a passion, a lifelong obsession.

I took the name for the blog from Spiral Scratch, the debut single by Manchester’s Buzzcocks. Their title refers to the groove a record player needle follows on an lp. This blog is for anyone that’s mad into music, anyone that ever mimed guitar solos on their brother’s tennis racket or banged their head on a door jumping around the living room to A Town Called Malice by The Jam.

Anyway, I’m going to pick records from my collection and write a short piece (shorter than this anyway) explaining how it transformed my life and maybe how it could transform yours.

Tune In, Turn On, Rock Out.





  1. TOTP. Too bad it’s gone now. Looking forward to the next post.

  2. Great beginning…I’m riveted! Especially since we can’t argue in person now ;).

    Looking forward to installment #2… h.

  3. Hi Paul,

    Were you in that band Lungcut?

    Imaginary reporter: So what happened to the band after they split up, Jimmy?
    Jimmy R: Well, I still see Paul A busking in Grafton Street from time to time. He works in IT. Ev is still the Rock n’ Roll rebel, got a degree and is working for a major international bank.
    Imaginary reporter: And Flitch? What happened to Flitch, Jimmy?
    Jimmy R: Flitch went on to become a Rock n’ Roll legend. Listen to this, right? He got tne same degree as Ev, is married with kids, and works for a fossil-fuel burning energy company… So say it right, say it loud, I am middle-aged and have an index-linked pension!
    Imaginary reporter: Bleedin’ rapid.

  4. Howdy Paul, nice opening, looking forward to the upcoming installments.
    But no mention of Foster and Allen’s leprachaun-suited appearance in your list of TOTP gems? Tsk, tsk

  5. Too many words, not enough copywrited photos.

    • If the subject was Star Trek you’d be all over it.

      • …or Hall and Oates.

  6. So Queen scared you as a nipper? The video to Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ did it for me. I was convinced she was a witch and for some reason they kept showing it on TV. Freaked me out. I was 5.
    And we won’t even mention how horror-struck I was when I saw a clip from the original 1922 Nosferatu movie…

    • Ha. Stay tuned, you can expect a mention when I get around to Violator. Can you believe it’s 20 years old?

  7. Hey there Paul,

    Queen’s getting old for singing such high pitch songs too.
    Anyway, thanks for commenting at my blog.

    Best regards,
    Marcus C. S. Tan

  8. Hi Paul,

    This blog is a great read. Was Hatchet also in a band called Flexihead around the time?

    Also, interesting to read your views of Dave Fanning at the time – I would have thought he would have been ‘cool’ with the Lungcutters.

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