Thursday, June 18, 2009


Incredible as it may sound, and apart from a large splodge of DNA, the 45 on the left is the only thing of any real value I managed to inherit from my dad when he died in December 2001. "Issued by the Andersonstown Civil Resistance Committee" in 1971, Barleycorn's Men Behind the Wire b/w Freedom Walk had the official pleasure of being banned in Britain - a fact the old man would gleefully recount, warning us, as kids, not to touch the vinyl (so hot it hurt!)... before opening the windows and playing it at full whack. The neighbours might have been a "SHOWER OF NOSEY BASTARDS!", but they weren't police informants, evidently. Apparently, this was viewed as an IRA recruitment record, a fact hardly obscured by the lyrics. It's also one of the earliest records I remember hearing.

The A-side starts off with a spoken statement on behalf of the 'civil resistance campaign', dedicated to the Irishmen interred in H-Block ("Long Kesh concentration camp") that year. Barleycorn went on to become one of the biggest Irish rebel groups on the circuit and re-recorded this song 'officially' with slightly changed lyrics- this appears to be an original version, with gruffer voices in the chorus and no flute at the start. Freedom Walk is genuinely beautiful, a real tear-jerker with a spooky undercurrent.

Another mystery - on the run-out to side B, there's the inscription - FREEDOM TO YOU ALL - and then the Jimmy Page ZOSO sigil. It'd be fun to speculate whether the hairy axeman had a hand in releasing this, but I doubt it - more like a Led Zep fanboy at the pressing plant.

I don't miss my dad. Don't get me wrong, I loved him to death (not literally, natch...), though it took me a while to realise it. But I'd never want to drag him back to life for 5 minutes, and I don't think he'd thank me if I could. Unless, of course, he was going to do his anti-Terry Wogan rant - I'd raise him from his ashes if I could hear that cracker one more time. We never really went for parent-son chats. His attitude was, get out of the house, go and sort it out for yourself, accept help but don't expect it, and don't be a lazy, whiney ponce. Once, when I was very young, we were driving past a cemetery, and he hollered, "AH, BOY! WE'RE ALL HEADIN' THERE, ONE DAY!" Maybe you find that morbid, I found it hysterical. Anyway, if I could only save one record featured in this self-indulgent, nostalgia-ridden series of hot 7" platters, it would have to be Men Behind the Wire. You could offer me £10m for it right now, and I'd still not plonk it in your grubby paw.

Meanwhile, Dermot Hegarty's Nineteen Men b/w Old Dungannon Road 7" from 1974 SHOULD have been banned - just dreadful, dreadful stuff, with a really annoying 'jaunty' tin whistle and a chorus that still makes me piss myself with laughter (but not entirely in a good way...). Basically, I did a swoop on all my dad's records after the funeral, figuring my mum would probably throw them out (she was about to 'n' all, I later discovered) and, fuck my luck, this happened to be in the batch. It's in pretty mint condition, near enough, which isn't suprising - it seems like the old man had a modicum of taste after all!! Seriously, I can't emphasise how bad this is. Altogether now, to the tune of 'Rising of the Moon' - Well, there's 19 men a-missin' and they didn't use the door / Just blew a little hole where there wasn't one before / now the army and the gardai* are searching high and low / For the men from Port Laoise Prison, who have vanished like the snow...

(* - he actually sings that. Garda are the Irish police, for anyone who doesn't know, but I'm not sure if it's really pronounced 'Gard-ee', or if Hegarty just threw that in so it rhymed with 'army'. Anyone care to elaborate?)


Two more from the old man's vaults - it cheers me to think of him coming back from The Crown in Cricklewood in the 1960s and changing my siblings' nappies while bellowing about something or other, with these spinning in the background. If you came from Irish stock in London, your folks usually had something, somewhere by the Dubliners. In my dad's case, about 5 LPs and these two beauties: Paddy on the Railway (later covered by the Pogues) b/w Seven Drunken Nights and Black Velvet Band b/w Maloney Wants A Drink. I always thought it'd be great to hear a punk / powerpop version of Black Velvet Band...but hey, I think it'd be great to hear loads of things that have as much chance of materialising as an Elvis Patelvis triple box set...
One Garda (pronounced Gard-a), but yes, the multiple is indeed prounounced Gard-ee... :)
Gotcha, ta!
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