15 September 2010

Microdisney Singles Update (Birthday Girl, Singer's Hampstead Home, Gale Force Wind)

I think I've probably waffled on at length about Microdisney more than most bands, so for an overview of their previous work and career, it probably makes sense to simply skim back over the old entries.

What I'm doing here is scrabbling together the last remains I have of their 45 back catalogue (although there's nothing to say I won't stumble upon more examples over the next few years) placed here so that you, the Microdisney fan - or the soon-to-be Microdisney fan - can enjoy some of the odder moments in their catalogue.

Microdisney - Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl
Label: Rough Trade
Year of Release: 1985

"Birthday Girl" was supposedly the single which caught the eyes of Richard Branson's slaves at the Virgin headquarters, and won the band a major label contract.  Listening to it again as part of the "Clock Comes Down The Stairs" download, it's easy to hear why - this is wonderful stuff.

Equally intriguing, however, is the lesser-heard B-side "Harmony Time" which chooses a jaunty, twanging melody to undercut some anti-Thatcherite lyrics.  "If you want luncheon in your lap/ knife your neighbour in the back/ if you don't do it/ somebody else will" sneers Cathal at one point, emphasising the prevailing culture of the time (which still exists in London and the South East to this day, regrettably).  It was a strange track to relegate to B-side status, given that it outperforms a lot of the "Crooked Mile" album they went on to release.

Odd, off-kilter B-sides were definitely forthcoming, though...

Microdisney - Gale Force Wind

Gale Force Wind
Label: Virgin
Year of Release: 1988

I've never heard a satisfactory answer as to why three different versions of the rather tacky "I Can't Say No" found their way on to the twelve inch version of "Gale Force Wind".  It could have been that the band were trying to piss Virgin Records off - they were certainly at the tail end of their contract by this point, with little hope of a renewal - or it could have been that this was all a private joke the rest of us will never be party to.

I suspect the former, however, as Cathal is heard to utter "What song would our record company like us to do?" at the start of one version, before an inappropriate and rather tuneless Eastern version of the ditty begins.  The "Hackney Aid" version even features assorted cockneys talking about how shit Microdisney are.  It's an interesting one, and no mistake.

"Gale Force Wind", on the other hand, is another anti-yuppie, anti-Conservative piece of greatness, but you all knew that anyway.

1. Gale Force Wind
2. I Can't Say No (Betty Lou Version)
3. I Can't Say No (Thank You For Speaking To Me Mustapha)
4. I Can't Say No (Hackney Aid)

Microdisney - Singer's Hampstead Home

Singer's Hampstead Home
Label: Virgin
Year of Release: 1988

Whether "Singer's Hampstead Home" was a genuine tirade against Boy George's excursions into "Hello" magazine or just an attack on that celebrity culture generally is unclear.  The B-sides, however, are peculiar indeed - "Brother Olaf" is a queer old piece, whereas "She Only Gave Into Her Anger" sprawls all over the shop in a manner more akin to the Fatima Mansions records Cathal Coughlan would later create.  The brief segment of the song aping a British Rail advert is so unexpected it's actually hilarious, which was probably the intention.

If I come across any more of these goodies, rest assured you'll be the first to know.

1. Singer's Hampstead Home
2. Brother Olaf
3. She Only Gave Into Her Anger


nlgbbbblth said...

Thanks for bringing me back to being a teenager in the mid 1980s listening to Peel and Fanning. They both played lots of Microdisney. I bought the five LPs at the time but missed a couple of the singles so these b-sides are much appreciated. I never caught Microdisney live but saw a number of incendiary Fatima Mansions gigs in the 1990 - 1993 period.

corneilius said...

I knew this band in Cork way back in the last century. We loved them! there was another band called "The Nun Attacks" a punk band whose energy and joy de vivre was immense, poignant and illuminating. Their lead singer drowned in the river Thames, London..

23 Daves said...

Didn't they become "Five Go Down To The Sea"? If so, there's a blog entry on here about that lot, too...


Ian said...

Excellent. I have both the "Birthday Girl" 7" and "Singer's Hampstead Home" 12" on vinyl and have been meaning to upload those.

Dolph said...

Great work -- thanks very much! Any chance of a "We Hate You South African Bastards" post?

23 Daves said...

Dolph - I really should, shouldn't I? I own the record, but the only reason I've held off uploading it so far is the fact that it contains some of the band's weakest material. Still, so many people are seeking it out that it's probably fair to give this stronger consideration in the New Year.

Anonymous said...

Singer's Hampstead Home was about the man who overdosed on heroin at Boy George's house. I seem to remember the music press being not quite sure whether this made the song a righteous blast of anti-pop star anger (good) or an anti-dugs, and possibly homophobic, rant(bad).

Aid00 said...

Hello 23 daves Would You Have 'Microdisney Town To Town Single'
To Hand

23 Daves said...

I'm pretty sure I have it somewhere, though having said that I don't remember seeing it for awhile…

It's the double-pack 7" with "Little Town In Ireland" on the flip of the first single, and Peel Sessions tracks on the second.

Aid00 said...

Well If You Do Would You Be So Kind To Upload It That Would Be Great,By The Way Top Blog

23 Daves said...

If I ever manage to find my copy of it again, I will!

"Little Town In Ireland" is rubbish, and I already own "Town to Town" and the Peel Sessions tracks elsewhere, so I may well have sold it at some point.

Aid00 said...

Well If You Do Have It Then Great But If You Don't Not To Worry