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This review was first published on CLUAS in 2002
Other albums reviewed in 2002

Louis Walsh's "History of Irish Pop" (Vol. 1)

Uh oh. Read on...

What is this shit? For the deaf or ignorant, Irish pop didn't exist before Louis Walsh. In those far-gone misty days (up until the mid-90s, it seems) 'Irish pop' was that kind of fast, singalong stuff that the guys with beards played in the dirty pubs no-one goes to anymore. Since RTE Radio first broadcast Elvis we had been crying out for 'pop' of our own, and had watched the pop showboats of rock n roll, glam, disco, and more, pass us by. Until our saviour arrived, accompanied by five apostles who couldn't dance (and two who could sing).

Louis Walsh and some, er, pillars of the Irish Music sceneAnd so comes the latest footnote on Louis Walsh's CV, his grandiose 'History of Irish Pop Volume 01' (there's plenty more where that came from kids!) As a collection (dustbin perhaps?), it's cut down the middle. 'CD 01' is jam-packed with the 17 modern Irish classics, all cut from the Louis Walsh stable, and all instantly, freshly, hip-ly and coolly forgettable - with the possible exception of Keith n' Shane's 'ironic' (thanks for letting us know) rehash of Milli Vanilli's 'Girl You Know It's True'.

Having dropped his ego-guard for the briefest of moments, Walsh has consented to allow a number of other Irish acts playtime on CD02 of his 'History'. Perhaps Something Happens, The Frank and Walters, the Stunning? Think again folks - it's now the Swarbriggs, Johnny Logan and the Carter Twins. When the outstanding track on a double-CD 'History' is Joe Dolan's 'You're Such a Good Lookin' Woman' you know there's a loose wire somewhere.

And a loose cannon to boot - in the shape of music hack Joe Jackson, commissioned to write the liner notes and explain the detailed 'History of Irish Pop'. Have no fear, Jackson tears through his task in six paragraphs, managing to kiss the ass of 'King Louis' (honestly - his words) on a dozen or so occasions. Now will that be cash or cheque?

In fact, Jackson's garble is worth the entrance price alone (the 34 tracks certainly aren't - unless you've spent the last 18 years desperately seeking a copy of Linda Martin's 'Terminal 3'); and if Walsh wanted someone 'credible' to deal an advanced PR blow he could at least have picked someone capable of sober writing. To quote:

"Ever since Elvis came along bellowing rock songs like Hound Dog and thus rendering null and void, virtually overnight, pop and all it's sillier manifestations. Such as well - let's keep things canine here! - How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? Ruff ruff indeed. That certainly is the myth perpetrated by most rock historians."

If you can make sense of this shit, and again, there's plenty more where it came from, then you're a sloppier man than I, and maybe this is the collection for you. As it stands, I think I can happily live out the rest of my days without re-encountering Omero Mumba's 'The Boy', Chicane's 'Saltwater' or Niamh Kavanagh's 'In Your Eyes'.

On the back of this CD there's a sticker - 'Promotional Copy, Not For Sale'. If it was only that simple.

Cormac Looney

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