Well now, given that my lovely late ma was half Irish, I'll always have a soft spot for many things that come from the emerald isle, even early bloody U2 are spirited enough to doff a cap and down a pint o' the black stuff to! Finders Keepers have done a smashing job of compiling a bunch of essential lost post-punk curiosities into a formidable album here, the songs throughout are durable gems from dusty private press vinyl/tape archives and demand your attention from the word go.
Dogmatic Element open proceedings with the excellent tumbling jangle of 'Just Friends', their ravishing singer was still at school and her mum only found out from reading about the band in a local paper that her daughter was leading a double life! There's charming stories littered about this album in every unearthed musical treat, check The Threat, whose snotty tribal squall 'High Cost of Living' echoes with malevolent rumbling bass and cosmic wooshes punctuated with sharp doodlebug guitar shapes, lost their singer to the Hare Krishna movement after just one single and effectively disbanded despite interest from John Peel and a burgeoning deal with Rough Trade. Oh what could have been...which makes the surviving songs even more treasurable dontcha think?
Chant! Chant! Chant! weigh in somewhere between Josef K and early Fall and their 'Play Safe' is infused with some excellent shambling guitar scratch and punchy hypnotic bass that keeps on slipping into middle eights of a real sensual tunefulness that kind of predates the melodicism of cult Scots Close Lobsters in a way! The Virgin Prunes debut is rightfully represented here and what a cracking piece of wired itchy beserk-pop Twenty Tens is! Coming from an avant-garde and theatrical background means M/F duo Operating Theatre were always gonna stand out as more culturally graceful and arty, their two tracks here are really fresh slices of icy electronic drama drizzled with soul and longing. The minimal wave track from The Peridots is a murky, gurgling, austere glacier of a tune, moody shit that more than represents the times and sounds thrilling to this day with its Curtis-inspired vocals, and foreboding synths.
Choice's 'Always in Danger' is one of my highlights from a compilation stuffed with treasure. A melancholic synth-pop beauty that recalls Young Marble Giants gone total pop. It's the singer Jaki, she has such a pure voice, I'd be curious to hear their more punky beginnings but I'm confident that this fluttering sad-eyed jewel of a song must've been one of their finest as it leaves me feeling intensely moved! Major Thinkers combine glam with new wave and tack on a kind of Warsaw-like guitar. It's a perfectly situated slice of rhythmic chanty fun that leads into two tracks from perky synth bubblers SM Corporation. Their style is intensely DIY and melodic and sounds like Harmonia meets Devo or summat. 'Fire From Above' is the more sensual of the two tracks and once again I'm thrilled by the airy warm melodies and retro space vibe. Brilliant tune and this is the fucking demo version!! I haven't felt so compelled to write such an in-depth review of a comp for ages, if ever! This is an essential purchase for anyone into outsider music from the era, I feel like I owe Finders Keepers a pint as I've enjoyed this repeatedly for over a month now...