Stano: Anthology review – a true blue maverick who never got his due

Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 05:30

   
 

Album:
Anthology

Artist:
Stano

Label:
All City Records

Genre:
Alternative

The 1980s in Irish music tend to be eulogised retrospectively as chiefly about U2 and Sinéad O’Connor. Dublin venues were reportedly thronged with hordes of A&R scouts looking for the next big thing, and far fewer international alternative acts performed here compared with the 1990s and the live music boom of the noughties. Gavin Friday’s advice to Kevin Shields and his fledgling band My Bloody Valentine was blunt and to the point: “Get out of Dublin.” 

However, another Dublin was quietly brewing. Freebird Records was established and John Peel and Dave Fanning continued to champion emergent talent on their radio sessions. An influential fanzine called Vox documented everything weird and wonderful, including poetry from Stano, a former member of a Dublin punk band called The Threat. 

Between 1982 and 1994, Stano made five albums and collaborated with Roger Doyle, Michael O’Shea, Daniel Figgis and Colm Ó Cíosóig from the aforementioned My Bloody Valentine. All City Records has compiled material from these releases, including the final LP, Wreckage, which was initially released on Hue Records in 1994. 

Stano’s improvised electronic music still sounds adventurous and highly singular. I recall being captivated by his unique live sound supporting Power of Dreams in McGonagles of South Anne Street sometime in the mists of the early 1990s. 

Considering the numerous old and defunct labels involved, including U2’s Mother Records, getting this compilation over the line is a remarkable achievement from Stano and All City Records. It’s a timely reminder of an unsung hero of Irish music, a true-blue maverick who never really got his due. The release of Anthology should change that.