t was way back in 1989 that GG conducted his first-ever interview.
And it was one of the very first interviews for Newry newbies The 4 Of Us too.
Busking in Paris pre-fame
The occasion was the release of the band’s debut album, Songs For The Tempted, and a giddy review in Hot Press from yours truly led to the five of us meeting up at The International Bar in Dublin.
The album would go on to earn double-platinum status in Ireland, and would beat U2’s Rattle And Hum for Album Of The Year at the Irish Music Awards. That the album’s killer single, Mary, dominated the airwaves – and The Stables – throughout 1989 secured The 4 Of Us one very loyal fanbase.
A fanbase who have been more than happy to catch up with brothers Brendan and Declan Murphy over the past three decades as they continued to perform and record. Such loyalty may explain why their gig at The Whale this Saturday night sold out in a day.
To mark the occasion, we asked the bould Brendan to choose the tracks that have inspired him to become the rock’n’roll god he is today, and where that music bug first took hold…
Basking in the sun, pre-rock stardom
Someone once said, “Find something you love to do and figure out a way to get paid for it”.
“I knew I loved listening to music and soon realised that I also loved writing, recording and performing. These songs helped to give me a roadmap.
Some of them I heard before I even wrote a lyric or learnt to play an instrument. Now even though I’ve been doing this line of work for quite a while the set of songs below have lost none of their mystery. None of their magic.
They are the reason I still pick up a guitar and try to surprise myself with a decent lyric or melody.
Elvis Presley Heartbreak Hotel One of the first songs I ever remember hearing. The opening lines were so explosive and his singing so thrilling that it took my breath away.
Planxty Raggle Taggle Gypsy When I was still too young to buy my own records I used to browse my parents collection and I found Planxty sandwiched between the showbands and Rodgers and Hammerstein soundtracks. The front cover of the album was intriguing. Black with just a single shaft of light picking out a group of long-haired musicians. But I wasn’t prepared for the sound of the music that came out of the stereo speakers. It was unlike anything I had ever heard up to that point. Strange singing voices and even stranger instrumentation.
Raggle Taggle Gypsy was the very first song but, in truth, the whole album is a masterpiece.
The Police Roxanne I still remember hearing this for the first time on The Kid Jensen Show on BBC Radio 1. Within 15 seconds I knew that the song would be huge. I saw the band perform it live a few weeks later on The Old Grey Whistle Test and they didn’t disappoint. When the dust settled on the punk movement it was ultimately the songwriters who prevailed and Sting was one of the best.
Prince When Doves Cry Such an unusual track. I couldn’t get my head around it so I went out and bought the 12 inch single. I wore that record out. He released so many thrilling singles but this was the first one that knocked me sideways.
Roxy Music Street Life The first time I heard sound effects in a song. The singer describing a ‘new world not like yesterday/That could take you higher than the Milky Way‘… This song made me want to form a band
Kate Bush The Sensual World Like Joni Mitchell she has always created her own world. This song was inspired by Molly Bloom stepping out of the black and white, two-dimensional pages of James Joyce’s Ulysses into the real world, and is immediately struck by the sensuality of it all. What a voice! And an inspired performance by Davey Spillane on the uilleann pipes.
Roger Miller King Of The Road Brilliant storytelling and such a cool vocal performance.
Talking Heads Once In A Lifetime Completely innovative but also tribal. This song made every other song in the chart at the time seem safe and unadventurous.
The Rolling Stones Just Wanna See His Face It sounds like it was recorded in a cave. It’s not even trying to have a proper arrangement. But the feel of the track is hypnotic and mysterious
The Blue Nile Tinseltown In The Rain Frank Sinatra meets Blade Runner. Paul Buchanan’s soulful singing was an inspiration for a young singer trying to find his own voice.
The Kingsmen Louie Louie As if someone left the tape rolling during a party at the end of the recording session.
Bob Dylan Subterranean Homesick Blues Funny, poignant, sarcy, rebellious and the first time I heard a singer rap.
Leonard Cohen Tower Of Song The perfect song about the craft of songwriting written by one of the best.
The 4 Of Us play The Whale on Saturday, August 21st – waiting list here. You can find out more about the Murphy gang right here.
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