Friday, 12 September 2014

The Music - Microdisney do “Birthday Girl” Live on BBC

When I wed, I would dream, in a champagne haze, of my first affair

Seminal Irish indie band Microdisney - aka Cork kids Cathal Coughlan and Sean O'Hagan - blast out the scabrous Birthday Girl live on the BBC's wonderful Old Grey Whistle Test music show back in 1985.

The XTC-tinged, "Birthday Girl" was released as a single on UK indie label Rough Trade in 1985.

The song also appeared on the wonderful The Clock Comes Down The Stairs LP that same year. It would, much later, appear on the wonderful 2-CD compilation Daunt Square To Elsewhere: Anthology 1982-88.

“Birthday Girl”was the song that catapulted Microdisney into the consciousness of the major label drones and won the them a contract with  Virgin Records.

Listening to it again, it's easy to see why. This thing - indeed all of Microdisney's stuff - was way ahead of it's time and could not be pigeon-holed.

Especially so, when you remember the mid-Eighties music world was crammed with garbage like Duran DuranForeigner, Wham! and that ilk. In that morass, stuff like this stuck out like a broken thumb stuck in a broken nose!
Counterpointing the gorgeous Steely Dan meets XTC, O'Hagan melodies lies Coughlan's bleak, blighted tale of a ruined single mother and her nihilistic, psychotic, bastard son - a bloke who wants to "feed the birds poisoned bread in the square beneath my place of birth."

A tale featuring some lighthearted lyrics like "people die, so will I, cut and dried and empty, quite alone"! Stuff that might make even Morrissey go "Hey mate, lighten up a little, will ya!"

What a shock the target market masses of the major labels would not go on to lap this sort of sublime stuff up!

After two marvellous albums on Virgin - Crooked Mile (1987) and 39 Minutes (1988) - Microdisney would be canned by the label.

The band, sadly, called it a day in 1988.

Cathal Coughlan went on to form the ferocious Fatima Mansions while Sean O'Hagan founded uber-melodic The High Llamas.

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