Simply Red Card

WITH Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds at Number One in the UK with the Britpop terrace anthem, Three Lions, the football…

WITH Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds at Number One in the UK with the Britpop terrace anthem, Three Lions, the football fever season has been declared well and truly open. Next week, Brummie football fan Mick Hucknall togs out with the official Euro `96 theme song, We're In This Together (EastWest). Simply Red's footie tune is a gospel style chant, Mick Hucknall playing the FA preacher man while the choir sings unto heaven and the drums beat out the soul stirring rhythms. With its redemptive tone and heartfelt sentiments, it sounds like a hymn to the Lord a prayer for peace, love and fair tackling.

With her hit single, One of Us, Joan Osborne had God talking on the telephone and travelling on the bus, perhaps on his way to Wembley to work some much needed magic for England. In her follow up, St Teresa (Mercury), Joan paints a gritty picture of a drug addicted prostitute for whom canonisation would seem a remote possibility. It's not half as catchy or quirky as One Of Us, although the Losing My Religion style mandolins keep it jangling nicely along. How about this scenario for her next hit Joseph and Mary turn out to be from Tullamore, making Jesus eligible to join the Irish squad he turns back the millennium clock, and we qualify for Euro `96 instead of England, who have to settle for winning the Eurovision.

The girls are scoring all over the charts these days, so it's no surprise that every record company boss is busily grooming some gorgeous young star in the hope that she will quickly qualify for the Big League. While Mick McCarthy scours the pitches up and down Britain, PVL hit man Pete Waterman has set his sights on Clonmel, Co Tipperary, and lo there he discovers gorgeous Bianca Kinane. The 19 year old Irish diva's debut single, All The Lover I Need (Coliseum/ PWL International), is a pleasant slice of disco pop heaven, with all the bleeps and heats in the right place, and Bianca's vocals sounding as mature and accomplished as the press release promises. However, rummage as I might, I cannot discern a smidgen of "compelling Irish texture" in this particular Handbag.

Just up the road from Bianca, in Birr, Co Offaly, another young star is on the rise, but I, doubt if the dance floors of Ireland will be moving to the song, on Mundy's debut offering, the L MN E.P. (Epic). This three track thingy starts with the slow building Song For My Darlin which sounds a bit like Pink Floyd meets The Levellers (careful with that Crust, Edmund). Blown Away has the same swirling, windblown quality, but Pardon Me is a more, direct, folk grunge effort, with a rousing chorus and a sharp, wide eyed sense of wonder.


Dubliner Garrett Wall has a honeyed voice similar to Brian Kennedy's, and Sweet Mary (Stare) lets his tones drip nicely over a relaxed, jazzy back beat. The Cafe Orchestra backs him on the second track, Michelle Fell For Yellow, confirming this single as the perfect coffee shop soundtrack.

A ha What's this then, eh? Morten Harket, erstwhile Norwegian heart throb and recent Eurovision presenter, returns to the pop arena with the song he performed as the opening number at Oslo earlier this month. Heaven's Not For Saints (Let It Go) (Arista) hangs on a Beatlesque piano signature, then soars into the ether with Harket's usual larynx busting abandon.

Anyone remember The Raincoats? Ask your punk parents, then. Formed by two art school students, Gina Birch and Ana da Silva, in 1976, The Raincoats were part of the angry young women's movement which included follow punk experimentalists The Slits. Don't Be Mean (Rough Trade) is the band's first single since 1982, and its banging bass, fragmented guitars, and strangled violin provide a tightly wound backdrop to the weird, warped vocals of Birch and da Silva. Shrill but strangely likable, this is what Shakespear's Sister could have sounded like if they'd had the er, balls.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist