Favourite Irish albums of the CLUAS writers
Anthony Morrissey's top 5 Irish albums of all time...
Album: "Soon it will come time to face the world outside" (2002)
The Cork based band's 2002 debut sounds fresher with each listen. Country tinged, melancholic, restrained, utterly utterly gorgeous, this collection does not have one weak moment, never mind a weak track. It's classed as lo-fi but if anything the production is crystal clear, every note, brush stroke is treasured, heightened and enhanced. "Clarence White", all whispers and shimmers, is the most magisterial piece of music you'll ever hear, "Maginot Line" is languorous, and "Burn" is the weariest of resignation set to music. Best heard in darkness.
Act: Divine Comedy
Album: "A short album about love" (1997)
The Divine Comedy's recent "Absent Friends" may be a sign that Neil Hannon's ship has not sailed, but it's unlikely he will ever touch the same heights he did with this 1997 truncated album that muses on love and lionises the lovelorn. Made on the hoof, recorded mostly live in a London cinema, and decked out with Joby Talbot's lush orchestral settings, "Short album about love" is an innocent counter to the band's ultra arch "Casanova" collection. "In pursuit of happiness" is a musical power surge, a Eurovision song gone mad, "Everybody knows that I love you" is more acned than hackneyed, "If I were you" brings self deprecation to the level of high art, "If..."manages to be both lachrymose and laughable, and the closing "I'm all you need" shows Hannon for what he is - affected, overbearing, but ultimately a great songwriter. Listen when you're in love.
Album: "Zooropa" (1993)
Zooropa represented the only time that the foppish four ever performed without a safety net. Much like the Divine Comedy set mentioned earlier, "Zooropa" was made on tour when U2 and the world around them were going mad. There was no time for posturing, no reinventions, no business plan - this was music made for fun. Many of the album's tracks are unpolished demos, there are mistakes, false endings, fire alarms, aural cul de sacs and "Zooropa" finishes with "The Wanderer", a completely irrelevant collaboration with Johnny Cash. And yet it all works-the opening title track sounds like seven sick songs stuck together with some wondrous guitar chops, "Lemon" is very much tongue in chic, "Babyface" is sleaze on a plate, and "Stay (far away so close)" is the best piece of unadulterated verse/chorus/middle eight song writing this overrated combo ever put their name to. For once, the music was as subversive as their public pronouncements.
Act: David Holmes
Album: "Don't die just yet" (1997)
Makers of the truly awful televisual car crash that is "Sex in the City" tell us in the most po-faced way that their programme somehow represents a tribute to the beauty that is New York. I don't buy it ? Holmes' collection of sounds, sassy grooves and gripping beats bears repeated listens and is the real deal. For the most part he paints a vulgar picture - spoken interludes leave us in no doubt that New York is the best place in the world for beers and bars, for drugs, cutting the rug and loving the ladies. There's darkness and dark deeds too, but tracks like "My mate Paul", "Gritty Shaker" and this album's wondrous title track stink of the glamour and gore of a million New York summer sidewalks.
Act: High Llamas
Album: "Hawaii" (1997)
Brian Wilson was about to put lyrics and vocals over one of the "Pet Sounds" instrumental cuts but Capital blew the whistle and told Wilson "enough already". You're sick of hearing it but "Pet Sounds" lack of commercial success was one of the things that did for Wilson and made an old man of a child. It's my view that if "Pet Sounds" had racked up the units the Llamas' "Hawaii" would have been the follow up. It's that good. "Hawaii " is probably too gentle for many people's tastes, there's no standout singles, no major variations in mood, but from "Sparkle Up" through to "Dressing up the old Dakota" and "Campers in Control " (a near carbon copy of the Beach Boys' "Sail on Sailor") it's perfectly played, the songs are quirky, the instrumental passages are perfectly judged, and the arrangements throughout remind you why strings and brass were invented. It might be elevator music but the elevator is going to heaven.
Anthony Morrissey (read more about this writer)
- Check out the final Top 50 Irish Albums of All Time as voted by CLUAS.com readers
- Discuss this selection of best Irish albums of all time on the CLUAS Discussion Board.
- Check out the top 5 Irish albums of all time chosen by these other CLUAS writers:
Allen Conlan Anthony Morrissey Brano Brian Farrelly Brian Kelly Celine O'Malley Chris Ford Ciaran Wrenn Cormac Looney Donal Griffin Dromed Gav Reilly Hugh Tynan Jimmy Murphy Jules Jackson Ollie O'Leary Stephen McNulty