MICRODISNEY PRESS

'ARE YOU SCARED TO GET HAPPY' article- Mark 1985.
AYSTGH was one of the starting points for SARAH RECORDS- the best record label in the history of the world.


'Hello, we're God...'- live on a wet March night? In Woolwich Poly bar? Well, there's these two Irishmen up on stage, and their band; they're doing a song now, all sweet-coated driving keyboards, rocky guitars ... the singer's sweating buckets, screaming tunefully - 'Stood in the Sunday rain was a still escalator...'. They've stopped: 'No, actually, we're not God- and this isn't a microphone stand either, it's a pile of shit!' O.K., who exactly are you? Let's take a stroll through Fiction-Land and try to find out...
...(First stop- John Peel Show, Summer '83: A Night Out With Microdisney?) ... So, it's evening, and you're walking down a semi-lit alley in some less-salubrious area of town; as you're passing this bar, you hear music ... well ... lurching out onto the pavement - guitars slipping and tripping over swaying, sliding keyboards - somewhere a wheezing drum-machine is calling 'Time'. You go in, and the noise fills the room - the sound of late nights and solitude and grown men crying into their beer. Up the far end, a hunched figure is half-way through some heart-rending confession ... 'Guess where I slept last night?' ... the rest of the bar is empty. You move closer, catch odd words - 'BEFORE FAMINE, I can't want you...' - revelations of betrayal pile on self-pity in disconnecting phrases - '...gone where I'm hated...': is this guy dangerous? A shock of curly black hair, wild bloodshot eyes, a huge frame of muscle and moroseness - very probably, yes. 'Let's just get drunk,' the ox moans: 'no faith, no love, nothing!'
The view of the world through the bottom of a half-filled glass - you're about to leave but he's noticed you for the first time. Suddenly his mood changes - like some bloated, beer-blown Ancient Mariner, you can bet he's got a story to tell. 'I drink gin like a 1960's wino,' he roars in best Irish brogue. 'I can't go for it!' (you're not very surprised). He insists on buying you a drink, and embarrasses you in front of the bar-maid (where the hell did she come from?) - dancing round the room in a disconcerting show of exuberance, all verging on exhaustion and hysteria. Strange obsessions, too - 'I hate the heat, the heat hates me... there is a SUN!' You've been here before, you know what happens next: when he collapses in the corner with a slurred, defiant 'I'm just drunk!', you're the one who's got to take him home.
Of course, on the way back, you get his life history. Nothing much makes any sense- lots of stuff about someone with blood 'where he once had eyes' who ends up in a sorry state - 'the cathedral was big and black, 'twas the doctor who brought him here' - he doesn't seem to care much for religion, or the medical profession for that matter - 'They have built a race who can't read, and are' - What? Oh- 'SLEEPLESS, like the sun'. This is worrying - you almost understand what he's on about.
But then you've arrived back at his mothers house, and he's sobered up a bit, lost all the over-bearing vitality - in it's place rueful sentimentality. You accept the offer of a cup of coffee, then begin to regret it when he starts talking to a photograph of an old man - the bloke in the story? - here we go with more pity and pathos. 'Oh my God, I thought you were great, and I swam in your every whim ... fat little man in the MOON'. You don't know why, but tears are rolling down your cheeks - as you make your excuses and leave hastily, you sense somehow things will never be the same again ...
... There are some fascinating little by-ways to be taken round here - like 'Love Your Enemies', a survivor from April '82 - that same old tipsy guitars, and a drum-machine sounding remarkably cheerful given the circumstances ... but then you can tell Sean and Cathal are happiest when they're getting it off their chests, as here ... a vocal performance which ranges from sulky-sullen to marvelously sarcastic-angry - some of the lyrics demand to be quoted ... 'Why don't you get down on your knees, adore your enemies?' is grumbled disbelievingly ... 'We lay in our bed in the hot afternoon, and we argued about only the money we had ... Life in the dark, life in the cold, this is the reason why we were born?' ... well, would you trust someone who talked of 'our freedom and our right to do just as we please with the likes of YOU!' ... Cathal, of course, has a ready reply - 'See what your love can do - say 'Oh, look what my love did!' - brilliant....
... A few local landmarks ... 'Hello Rascals'/'Helicopter Of The Holy Ghost' - an A-side smeared with despair, 'darkly drenched in silence': this is a world where people 'watch the dawn in sick amazement' and find comfort only in old dreams. On the B-side, not even that luxury is allowed as Microdisney take a panoramic stare at Ireland's squalor - 'We have nothing decent we can dream about ...' - know the feeling? They don't pull punches: this song contains the following lines 'Where's the hope or beauty, truth or dignity? Put that suitcase down before you answer me!' - I'd like to explain why it's worth buying this record for the words alone, but I suspect you either see or you don't ... coming up on your left, 'Pink Skinned Man'/'Fiction Land' - more wit and wisdom ('Dear lover, you're no good; dear lover, you've no right- yours sincerely someone else.'), a more aggressive and optimistic (?) sound- in case anyone still cares, Microdisney USE keyboards, not vice versa, and create an accessible pop music which perfectly counterpoints the off-beat humour of the lyrics - there's even a mournful violin in the tail-end of this track, and it works! ... all the above-mentioned delights can be found on the 1984 collection 'We Hate You South African Bastards'.....
... A slight detour now, to the forgotten idiosyncracies of the 2nd Peel session, and 'Everybody Is Dead' ... starts innocuously enough, a bit like the testcard backing music in fact ... little guitar flourishes; is that Sean on background vocals, lending that extra something to lines like 'Spent my money, spent my energy, spent my purpose, will that improve me?'? So far so fair, but when the tune starts running on the spot and Cathal delivers a spoken vocal you might suspect the fun is only just beginning - 'there was only one thing I could say: 'I love you, I love you, I love you ...'' he shouts louder and louder - then screaming faster and more furious as the music trundles cheerfully onwards into the abyss of sound created by Sean hauling out strings of feedback - an attempt to drown out Cathal, who's now resorted to incoherent grunts and roars - the whole builds to some sort of crescendo, then abruptly stops ... sheer manic brilliance, closer to the true nature of punk rock than a 1000 singles by the Membranes or Nick Cave ... the ruins of this and many other former glories may be glimpsed on the Ruff Trade L.P. 'Everybody Is Fantastic', if you're that way inclined - well, the sleeve-notes are good .....
... and now, the highspot of this or any other tour round the ravaged land of post-punk pop, Microdisney's 3rd Peel session. Some random thoughts ... the ideal soundtrack for a spring and summer of love? ... playing a tape of these songs to death last May/June, windows open wide ... what's happening - 'Friend With A Big Mouth', relaxed and tanned, comes trotting out of the speakers ... nursery-rhyme lyrics, then 'warm sun and breeze in the grass and in her hair' ... this is just right - but who the fuck is Howard? ... 'There is no hope for some of us yet' - not while people can ignore this gorgeous noise ... I always laugh at the fade-out, all those Goon-show voices screeching 'Hello eveybody' ... this is the sound of happiness; this is Microdisney's first serious move ... this is 'Dreaming Drains' - 'What is the meanest thing they can do?' Take away my tape, of course ... this music melts me. People will tell you Microdisney are gloomy: don't be taken in - they just know all about sadness ... Sean's awkward choirboy vocals are the (dream-)topping, a yearning sound, probably meant to be played in the dark (lying alone) ... 'Just savour this moment when your heart is broken; how long since I told you how much I hate you?' - that stings ... 'Teddy Dogs', and ringing guitars stutter, announce a sing-along tour-de-force ... 'Love and money, banks and beds, this is all there is ...'- Microdisney are learning about London ... keyboards which sound like a brass band- perfect pop music which belongs in the hearts and charts of the whole world, the real voice, the eye for important detail - 'Several shelves are standing next to where you stood' ... 'They don't want reason- they want obedience': is this man bitter? Check the run-off, single or session, to find out Sean and Cathal know all about hollow words and empty ceremony - 'Only a puritan hides his fear of Springtime by pretending to celebrate it. To each puritan his daffodil, his hydrangea ...' - Stephen Morrisey, are you listening? ... so let's look into 'Loftholdingswood' ... this will always be some sort of peak, right from the opening bars, the spacious piano which sets you at ease before the needle slides in - 'I died on a cross, and now I'm the boss' ... sad summer evenings, tired questions - 'Aren't you glad you were born in England, aren't you glad you were born an angel?' - are you? ... Microdisney use words for effect, with due respect, economy, precision - every phrase tells its own tale ... 'You turn away, I hear you say 'Loftholdingswood...' - there's an effortless grace about this chiming, seductive music, about Cathal's voice, just before the beat ... my heart always bleeds a little as this song ebbs away ... you can't take these songs individually, only as a whole ... as an E.P., this would be the best single ever, a sound to reclaim that sullied word 'pop' from the harlot-shops of radio and music-press ... so many moods - aggression or reflection, jaunty cheeriness or stately grandeur. This is pop? This is progress, a genuine new wave, stamping in the ashes of indie synth-crap, not bowing before Born-Again guitarism ... it betters any previous best ... Beg, steal or borrow a tape of this session from someone who knows, but the 'In The World' 12", see for yourself ... right now, it's back to Woolwich - the 3 Johns are on, playing 'A.W.O.L0, once, twice ... the third time it starts, we leave.


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