I can’t claim to have summoned this out of the ether with my last post, but coincidentally it transpires that a Microdisney anthology is about to appear, making their music more widely available than it has been for some time. It includes six-tenths of The clock comes down the stairs, on which Cathal and Sean O’Hagan achieved a perfect blend of devastating couplets and melodies which trod the right side of the fine line between timeless and syrupy. Let’s hope the anthology – a double CD which spans the group’s lifetime – generates sufficient interest to put the whole of that album (at least) back in circulation.
The Fatima Mansions are simultaneously getting similar treatment. I confess I’m not familiar with any of Cathal’s solo work, having come to feel that neither he nor Sean ever quite matched apart what they did together. But even so, as spiritual and intellectual kin to Jacques Brel and Tom Waits, Cathal’s status should be much closer to those two anti-legends than to the gutter of underratedness in which he currently seems to reside.
There was a time when I would have point-blank refused to let pages from my fanzines see the light of day for a second time, as looking back on my efforts has routinely induced a muscle-wearying degree of wincing embarrassment. But it’s the distant past now and I offer what will be an ongoing selection in the spirit of cultural archivism and with lately-found affectionate amusement at my eighteen year old self.
So this was the cover of my first fanzine, published in the autumn of 1986. Bear in mind it was printed on a shade of yellow considerably brighter than the curd of the titular pie.
An Ivor Cutler song supplied the line ‘I’m happy and I’ll punch the man who says I’m not!’ John Peel would have been playing lots of Ivor around that time and I would have been listening most evenings to John.
That’s Cathal Coughlan of Microdisney in the top-right hand corner, showing that already there was a battle for my soul going on between the forces of throwaway pop and the serious, literate, built to last stuff.