Microdisney: The Clock Comes Down the Stairs

Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 00:00


The Clock Comes Down the Stairs


Cherry Red


They might be little more than a lengthy footnote now, but more than 30 years ago Cork’s Microdisney were well on the way to becoming an anti-pop hit act. That it didn’t happen was down to a number of reasons. One of them was lead singer Cathal Couglan’s outright refusal to engage with the major label ethos of their then corporate bosses, Virgin Records. That said, the band- sanctioned “Microdisney Are Shit” T-shirts presumably didn’t help their cause.

As they jettisoned their early flume of apoplectic rage to make way for a rather more refined (but no less lyrically deadly) modus operandi based in London, Microdisney quickly appeared out of sorts, but not before releasing (on Rough label) The Clock Comes Down the Stairs in 1985.

This rare reissue, and the first of two consecutive records (the second is 1987’s Crooked Mile, issued by Virgin Records) that regularly appear at the upper end of the best Irish Albums of All Time lists, is an instructive listen.

The Clock Comes Down the Stairs was written and recorded at a point in the band’s life when they had moved from the relative rural merits of Cork to a London that was infested with yuppies. Lyricist Coughlan details a list of grudges against elements of society in general and the music industry in particular. The joy is in discovering how Coughlan welded such discourse (via literate, acerbic diatribes) to songs that chime and ring with large swathes of pop/rock melody.

Horse Overboard, Birthday Girl and Begging Bowl (to cherrypick but three) blend non-rock instrumentation and arrangements that see classical viola slug it out with country rock cadences – the latter of which echo the band’s love of fellow maverick Gram Parsons. Fellow ’disney player Sean O’Hagan, meanwhile, filters highly inventive guitar lines across songs that remain as gorgeous as they were nearly three decades ago.

Pop music? Undoubtedly – albeit lobbed with dangerous, often subversive intent.
Download: Horse Overboard, Birthday Girl, Are You Happy, Begging Bowl