Posts Tagged ‘The Cure’


Monkey Gone To Heaven


Pixies – Doolittle

circa 1989.

Ev, Brian and I were in our 5th year of secondary school. Ev’s older brother Fergal was doing an arts degree in UCD. He went to Boston on a J1 Summer work visa to paint houses or something. Don’t remember what we got up to but I’m sure it wasn’t very exciting.

Ferg returned in September with a selection of miniature bottles of aftershave for Brian and a tape of The Head On The Door by The Cure for me. Cheers Ferg. We’d gather round him, rapt as he told tales of exotic radio stations that played non-stop alternative music for American student types. Terrific.

The closest thing we had to this in Ireland was the late night Rock Show on 2FM. It’s presenter was Dave Fanning – the biggest wanker I’ve never met. He styled himself as Ireland’s answer to the BBC’s John Peel, though the gulf between Fanning’s gigantic ego and the latter’s humility couldn’t be greater.

To his credit Fanning did play a lot of stuff you wouldn’t hear on daytime radio, and he did try to give a leg up to bands on the burgeoning Irish music scene. Unfortunately, back in the 80-90’s, if you were to believe Fanning, and pseudo music journal/political mouthpiece, Hot Press magazine, seemingly any four fuckwits with guitars were going to be the next U2. The sad fact is that in the past 30 odd years Ireland has produced only a tiny number of successful bands of any real quality.

Anyway, no sooner was Ferg back than he bought a copy of Doolittle by Boston’s Pixies. I’d never heard of the Pixies before and I’d never heard anything that sounded like them either.

The bizarre, vivisection-astronaut-monkey freak show on the outside only hinted at the sonic science-experiment-gone-wrong on the inside. I don’t recall listening to the album for the first time – I know that I didn’t get into in the beginning. In fact I think I kept the album at arm’s length, so new, so different was it that I could not figure it out. I just couldn’t get my head around it. Brian loved Doolittle straight away. He’d play Crackity Jones over and over and delighted in the whoop, whoop yelping vocals.

Powerful drums,  pounding bass, and ferocious surf guitar, the music was all over the place, but direct and focused at the same time. The album’s lyrics – half yelled, half screamed, half in Spanish? – what I could make out I didn’t understand, but I grew to love it all the same.

There was little mention of the band in the liner notes. No photos either. I imagined a gang of greasy long-haired rockers wearing black leather motorcycle jackets. Months later I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the four members were giant nerds. They looked like they’d walked off the very college campuses whose radio stations championed them.

The following year Ev gave me one of the two tickets Ferg had bought him for their October gig at the National Stadium in Dublin. That might sound a bit grandiose, but in reality the National Stadium was a smelly boxing arena that maybe held 1,000 people. Back in those days we’d always get to gigs super early to see all of the opening bands. I wouldn’t usually drink either for fear I’d have to go for a slash during the headliner.

Eventually the Pixies came on and blasted everyone away, tearing through Doolittle, its predecessors and the new album Bossanova. When the houselights came up at the end we walked out into the cold night air, the sweat steaming off us with giant grins plastered across our faces.



Artist: Pixies

Album: Doolittle

Label: 4AD

Released: 1989

Recommended Tracks: Where to begin? Debaser, Gouge Away, Tame. Look, they’re all fucking great.

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In Between Days


The Cure – Standing On A Beach


Brian was in my class in primary and when we moved to the secondary school, Coláiste Phádraig, up the hill we were the only faces each other recognized so we stuck together. He introduced me to his neighbor Evin from the classroom next door. As it turned out we all lived a few streets away from each other in the Hillcrest housing estate.

After school and on the weekends we’d hangout and occasionally sneak booze from Ev’s parents drink cabinet. Sometimes we’d get Ev who was already pushing 6ft to get us cans from the offie (off-license). Top of the shopping list was Ritz Cider. Considered a drink for the ladies, it’s strength and therefore particular ability to inebriate earned it the nick name the leg-opener.

We spent a lot of time hanging out at Ev’s. He was the youngest of four. His older brothers and sister had a bunch of lps and singles that we’d stick on their rickety old record player. Thin Lizzy, Depeche Mode, Queen and Madness were staples.

At some point Ev’s brother Fergal picked up The Cure’s singles collection Standing On A Beach. I’d heard them before, The Lovecats was a pretty big hit a few years previous but this swept me up. At a time when the last thing awkward teenagers want is to stick out from the crowd, saying you liked The Cure allowed you to express your singular identity in the safety of large groups of similarly black-clad, pale-faced individuals.

Ev would disagree, but I never went in for the whole Curehead look, though I did grow my hair long at the front like everyone else. No one understood me, or so I thought. In actual fact everyone but me realized I was a mopey faced teenager with a ridiculous haircut.

"No one understands me" - apparently.

However, the importance of Standing On A Beach in my musical development cannot be overstated. It tapped into a desire for something different, an alternative to the pop and rock shite of top 40 radio. Side A featured dark and edgy material like Killing An Arab and A Forest. Flip over to Side B and there’s the poppy psychedelia of The Caterpillar and the sheer exhilaration of In Between Days.

All in a terrific lp of groundbreaking original songs. Highly recommended and their videos were always cool too, check out Boys Don’t Cry below.


Artist: The Cure

Album: Standing On A Beach

Label: Fiction

Released: 1986

Recommended Tracks: A Forest, Boys Don’t Cry, Close To Me.