The Real Eighties: Hold The Shamrocks

One of the glorious things about the Eighties – mostly the first half of the decade, but it reverberated through the last half as well – was the notion that almost anything went; from the last shrapnel of the punks, to the synth-pop weenies who’ go on to create “Techno”, to the infancy of hip-hop…

…to a series of reframings of traditional folk forms into something really genuinely fun and exciting.

Folk music underwent a bit of a neutered, callow revival in the nineties – but in the eighties, a slew of groups tretched the basic forms of folk music until they met rock and roll.

One of the most gloriously underrated of the entire bunch was the Irish band “In Tua Nua, a band that answers the trivia question “name a top-forty band that includes a bagpiper”…

…and the lovely Leslie Dowdall, one of the niftiest singers never to make it really really big.

In Tua Nua broke up in 1990, amid a trail of sniffing that they were “ersatz folk”…

…prompting me to give at least one unnamed “rock critics” a swirlie in the rest room of a local bar.

From Scotland – or was it Ireland?  Wales?  England?  I dunno – but I used to love the Waterboys:

And the biggest and best of all – the Pogues:

…who managed to make it almost thirty years before ending up in car ads.

Shh.  Don’t tell.  Just crank the tunes.

This idea that “anything went” was one of the things I miss about the entire decade.  For 5-10 glorious years, almost anything went.

Sort of like today, I suppose.  Today, though, “anything goes” because nothing stands in “anything’s” way.  Thirty years ago, it was pretty much an upset win.

What? You thought I was going to write about U2?

7 thoughts on “The Real Eighties: Hold The Shamrocks

  1. The Waterboys debut was a great album. I’ll have to listen to Fishemen’s Blues when I get home. I wish I was a brakeman on a heartland deisel train.

  2. >What? You thought I was going to write about U2?

    no, thought you were going to write about all the gay British bands in the 80s… (Bronksi Beat, Culture Club, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys, etc…)

  3. The Waterboys Fisherman’s Blues concert is in my top 5 list for shows at First Avenue in the 80’s.

  4. AX,

    We’re both right. Uilleann pipes are a form of bagpipe; the bellows, rather than the player’s elbow, pumps the air supply.

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