'In From the Cold?' by Helen FitzGerald, Melody Maker Jan 1987.
Microdisney and Lenny Kaye, their new producer, pissed out of their heads
after rehearsals, embark on a pub crawl. They end up in the Assembly House,
Kentish Town, where they barrack the landlord into letting them take over
the stage for a quick song. The pub is brimming with bohos, downbeats
and second generation Irish labourers squandering their Thursday pay packets
at the bar. Microdisney ham it up with Lenny to give them a very drunken,
very bawdy version of "Little Town In Ireland", they fall over
laughing and get turfed out on the street to search for the next whiskey
and a few new fans follow them into darkness.
The nicest thing about Microdisney is that they still take such a simple joy in their music in playing and making records. It's a joy that's seen them through their darkest hours, through the misery and frustrations of battling their way through the indie circuits, through the arduous years when they first arrived here from their native Cork, and through the depressing phase when things moved so slowly for them that it seemed they would never escape the numbing treadmill or rough living and depressing one night stands.
after two Rough Trade albums and the caustically titled mini-LP, "We
Hate You South African Bastards" (as well as a proud collection of
singles) they take their first steps on a major label with the release
this week of "Crooked Mile" on Virgin, their third and finest
retrospect, it may well have been good for us to have had a somewhat tortuous
journey to where we are now," says Cathal. "The indie scene
is instilled with a sense of its own importance, inflated way beyond its
record sales and it's hard not to be a little embittered when you get
to see the way the whole thing works at close quarters. It's quite pathetic
angered them to be called MOR because of their fluid sense of melody.
It angered Cathal to be called a "lumbering ox" on stage, it
angered them greatly that their fluent sense of musical heritage is absorbed
in classic style and content, a strong sense of melodic progression and
a striving for warm, rich songwriting styles to counterpoint the vitriol
in their subject matter. They came to London in 1983 and, three years
of rough living and three record labels later, they're only now beginning
to feel comfortable with themselves.
with Lenny Kaye producing they have the confidence to proceed. John Cale,
Gram Parsons, Scott Walker, Alex Chilton, Al Green, Microdisney.... all
merge their soul with a lilting rock and roll, a sweetness of melody,
a curvaceous and expressive country styling that wends its way to the
outer parameters of pop and back again.
"Sure,there was a strong temptation to tone it down," says the man who, on the new album, makes vicious references to Lord Mountbatten "By anyone's standards this man was a shit," he says. He was keen to go to India basically because he liked the boys and so did his wife. You have to credit the English with a strong sense of realism really- their world is a surreal one. Mountbatten was the epitome of the character I was trying to portray."
Cathal's world-view has became even more venomous: "What I'm good at basically is unsuitable for radio and I'm quite proud of the fact."
Microdisney still Insists that they can't see the Irishness in what they do- or if they can, they don't want it overrated. They have lived there and here- and both countries come in for some well-deserved invective.
"Living here, and getting the opportunity to travel as we do, we
can't help but conclude that the English are one of the most under-educated
and pig-ignorant nations in the world."
Cathal does allow a little ambivalence to creep in: "I think there actually is more compassion and humanity in this country than people are generally aware of ... you just have to look a bit harder."
hate the "upwardly mobile" set, the world of coffee table magazines
and social aspirations- ironic then that they are at last allowing themselves
some home comforts. Glamour, however, is not something you'd ever associate
with Cathal, Sean, Tom, Steve and James: "The media makes me sick,
filling people's heads with shit because they want to take the important
issues out of their hands as swiftly and easily as possible."
This pursuit-of-glamour thing that hits us through TV and the press is
trivialising people's lives. People now have to scrabble so hard to maintain
some decent sense of living and, of course, thousands go under. The Tories
are just itching to get rid of the Rent Act now - they want to make this
a country for Japanese industrialists and a place to launder American