was the first chance for Microdisney to produce an LP with reasonable
studio resources and, at the time, the LP felt unecessarily jazzed up.
Some of the more passionate live renditions were replaced by overcrafted
guitar work that went off down some strange cul-de-sacs. In retrospect
though, the production isn't nearly so bad and the extra layers add depth
to the music, though not necessarily to the emotion. Songs they had been
playing live for months, even years, were finally being released alongside
a couple of new treats.
The record begins their transition to harder hitting content which no
doubt reflected their move to Yuppie-infested London. The songs and subject
matter are more varied than on their first LP, ranging from the quirky,
humorous 'Horse Overboard' (God knows what that one is about) to the slit
your wrists despair of 'Are You Happy Now' and 'Begging Bowl'. While the
lyrical content was still focused on personal lifestyles, some of the
songs such as 'Past' and 'Humane' were edging towards a more directly
Top of the pile for me, 'Goodbye- It's 1987', nods more towards the first
LP. Two lovers cling to each other while society disintegrates outside
their bedsit. Pitched somewhere between a love story and a criticism of
apathy, it's a deeply moving song with strong imagery. The inability,
either by choice or circumstance, of people to change the environment
around them- love and companionship being a release from that environment
but still affected by it- 'they only wanted to want each other, but
that could never ever happen'. Maybe way off track, I always saw this
as a post election blues song. Written around the time of the 1983 general
election, the song contains a reference to 'June 87' which was the likely
date for the next one. Nostradamous or not, it did turn out to be the
date of the next election where 'The Sun' proclaimed Thatcher 'three times
a lady'. And if society hadn't quite crumbled as predicted then it bloody
well ought to have done. Click on the lyrics for realplayer audio:
phone is ringing; the kettle's singing
this humid heaven is west eleven
the airless silence- June 87
the grey bed, next to the wall holds them
tense but still asleep, dreaming.
they only wanted to want each other,
but that could never, ever happen-
all the luck in the world won't save you,
you're not broke anymore, you trod on their hands,
so sleep on and on.
GOODBYE AND GOODBYE
'I found a bullet with your name on it.
I ran and hid it; you didn't see it. Tanks rolled
through the peaceful streets, and smiling hippies
held guns and grenades.'
GOODBYE AND GOODBYE
and in his dreaming; he rolls with strangers,
as she looks on smiling faintly. Time stands still
for awhile; they still slide. Soon, when they awake,
they'll shed sweat and tears in acts of love which say:
GOODBYE AND GOODBYE...
'Birthday Girl' is another classic,
not so easy to be misunderstood as 'Dolly' was but still not impossible
for the hum-along casual punter to miss. Cathal's mother gives birth to
a baby boy- a joyous event, but the joyous event himself is none too pleased:
fear, zero years, come to seek damnation and a veil of tears
'Birthday Girl' is Sean's finest
moment on the LP. He ups the tempo, adds layers while still managing to
keep that uniquely Microdisney style. A song with the highest quality
lyrics and music. A song you can dance to while never forgetting how shit
For a while, the live renditions included the wonderfully angry intro
Something Positive' (live MP3).
Summing up the sentiments of 'Birthday Girl' with a rousing 'Where there
is life there is DEATH, DEATH, DEATH, DEATH, DEATH, DEATH, DEATH!'. If
anyone had missed the point of the song on record, they wouldn't do at
The songs on the previous LP had tended to edge towards people's lack
of ambition and unwillingness to change- a result of coercion from a traditionalist
establishment. The songs on this one were very much more London based.
A city freed of parochial concerns, family structures, superstitions and
peer pressure. A city left to run rampant with greed and self interest.
Cathal Coughlan summed this
up in an interview where he said 'In Ireland you do have all this loathsome
superstitious bullshit that the Catholic Church has nurtured but at the
same time people do have an appreciation of things that don't have anything
to do with a direct gain for themselves'.
'Friend With A Big Mouth' and 'Past' both focus on the golden age of Yuppie
self interest that was London in the Eighties. 'Friend With A Big Mouth',
like 'Horse Overboard' is impossible to fully comprehend, but has a 'look
after number one' theme:
i took home
his money, nailed it onto the wall
dowsed it with diesel and as it burned I prayed
watch history made with a glass and a blade
a friend with a big mouth is waiting for you
'Past', was much more specific
and easier to follow than many of their earlier songs. It wasn't the best
song on the LP, the tempo being slightly uneven, but was one of the most
moving and, for me, totally summed up the state of the nation. Conspicuous
consumption, Cocktail Bars opening up and a post Falklands euphoria ('Who
won the war, who ruled the world'). Communities were being torn apart
around them and no-one cared. There was also a direct dig at London ('you
can't deny their London Pride'). What hit home though was the focus
on the political lead that generated an atmosphere that said it was OK
to be greedy. A right wing press was out of control and the supposedly
neutral establishment following their lead:
to work, you're all alone
old fashioned, weak and childish
Each day I would watch the BBC
tell us that 5 more miners in Wales had returned to work and they'd all
be back by Monday. Even now the line sums up a total feeling of despair
at the insidious media manipulation that has become even more prevalent
'Are You Happy Now' and 'Begging Bowl' are the most emotional songs on
the LP. They contain Joy Division style sentiments but with more fight
and bite in them- anger venting depression. 'Begging Bowl' veers more
towards personal relationships, 'Are You Happy Now' is more political
but both are mood records for any deeply unhappy occasion.
'Genius' and 'Horse Overboard' showed the lighter side to the band. 'Horse
Overboard', which features a sailor boy coming and going from his wife,
has something vaguely to do with non conformity and breaking free from
a structured way of life. The final line 'My wife is a horse' makes further
The LP finishes off with the beautifully produced 'And' which was the
only song on the record never to be featured live. More reflective than
the rest of the LP, the words and music come together in perfect harmony.
Despite its almost nursery rhyme-style presentation, the song still holds
some bitter demons ('and some people have it bad yes it's true, but
they wouldn't if they did not know you'). It's a finale to rival even
'Everybody Is Dead' from their first LP.