Microdisney: C/D?

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I checked the search and there seems to be every possible variation on Coughlan/O'Hagan's endeavours outside of an outright bollocking Microdisney thread.

So, is O'Hagan the Paddy equivalent of McAloon (incidentally, who reached greater heights of sophiscation and/or greatness?) or does he deserve a more complex description? Is Coughlan the supreme whingeing leftie rock lyricist? Is "Loftholdingswood" simply too charming? etc. etc.

, Thursday, 25 August 2005 11:14 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

You had to be there

Dadaismus (Dada), Thursday, 25 August 2005 11:20 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i was there,,it wasn't that good..despite th endless kool permutations of their releases,,10" size..shaped like a fish..flashing badge in th middle..they never got offa my mat of rice

dan bunnybrain (dan bunnybrain), Thursday, 25 August 2005 12:50 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Always thought the had some quite cool singles, Singer's Hampstead Home and Town To Town especially.

mzui (mzui), Thursday, 25 August 2005 12:58 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

10" size..shaped like a fish..flashing badge in th middle..they never got offa my mat of rice

Are we talking about the same band?

Dadaismus (Dada), Thursday, 25 August 2005 13:04 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

(There were multiple formats of Town To Town I suppose...?)

I like Microdisney very much, even though I wasn't really There. I saw them, once. I have the notorious rude t-shirt, which now more or less fits me.

Tim (Tim), Thursday, 25 August 2005 13:16 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

only just dloaded their stuff recently because of the high llamas connection and i can't say i liked it very much - too UK indie for my tastes. and fatima mansions are even less intruiging.

phil turnbull (philT), Thursday, 25 August 2005 21:23 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Always had a big soft spot for "Horse Overboard". Nothing else by them comes to mind, though.

Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Thursday, 25 August 2005 22:45 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

and fatima mansions are even less intruiging.


Si.C@rter (SiC@rter), Thursday, 25 August 2005 22:51 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The Virgin albums (singles aside, and that includes b-sides) were hugely disappointing, but the earlier Rough Trade stuff was nearly perfect - I'm
surprised that's not a universal opinion. The first three albums (the first
isn't actually an album, but a collection of early singles and outtakes
most recently available as "82-84: Know Your Enemies") see the band
sway from incredibly vicious lyrics set against skeletal Steely Dan-muzak-
soundalikes to a somewhat more cohesive yet strangely off-kilter attempt
to (I guess) ape the sort of move towards commercialism previously
attempted by Aztec Camera or Scritti Politti.

How can anyone forget "This Liberal Love" or "Everybody Is Dead" or
"Pink Skinned Man"?

Sometimes I don't get you people.

Dee Xtrovert (dee dee), Thursday, 25 August 2005 23:54 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

When I was in 9th grade, in 1986, I wanted to buy a birthday present for this girl I liked; I knew she liked what was then called "progressive" or "college" music, so I went to the most advanced record store I knew about, Yesterday and Today Records in Rockville, MD, went up to the counter, and said, "Can you recommend a record of progressive music for a present?" Kind clerk asked if I knew the names of any other records the girl liked. I did not. I left with two cassettes -- Microdisney and Colourfield. Looking at the titles on Trouser Press, I think the record was probably "We Hate You South African Bastards." So, ILM: did I buy the girl a good record? (Present did not inflame romantic prospects as desired but girl & I remain close friends to this day.)

Guayaquil, Friday, 26 August 2005 00:21 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I don't think "WHYSAB" (which forms most of the CD, "Love Your Enemies") was ever on cassette, but assuming it was, I think it would have been most fair to expect the girl to have "given it up" for you. And I say that as a girl.

Dee Xtrovert (dee dee), Friday, 26 August 2005 01:29 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...
the recording work they did was patchy - never found the right producer I think - definately talented - and actually one really excellent collection in the shape of The Peel Sessions - get this if you can - its really excellent - the best stuff they have out there - better versions than are on the over worked albums.

garax, Monday, 17 April 2006 20:38 (twelve years ago) Permalink

They was the screaming hysterical Irish Steely Dan that never got the love they richly deserved. We Hate You South African Bastards, oh yes.

Mingus Realty (noodle vague), Monday, 17 April 2006 23:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Cathal was just the funniest frontman around. Sample song intro: 'This song is about authority - cos all the bands hate authority.'

dr x o'lskeleton, Tuesday, 18 April 2006 09:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I like how he changed his name to Blah Blah because no fucker in London could pronounce Cathal Coughlan properly

TS: Mick Ralphs vs. Ariel Bender (Dada), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 09:59 (twelve years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

"Horse Overboad" is now the official theme song of the 2008 Noodle Vague World Drinking Cup squad.

Also, is O'Hagan the Paddy equivalent of McAloon (incidentally, who reached greater heights of sophiscation and/or greatness?) or does he deserve a more complex description? Is Coughlan the supreme whingeing leftie rock lyricist? is some straight bullshit.

Noodle Vague, Sunday, 20 January 2008 13:00 (ten years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I suddenly realized the genius of Birthday Girl after like 20 years. Really nifty lyrics hidden under pop-sheen:

"When I'm wed
I will dream
In a champagne haze of my first affair

Like a private joke
On the one I love
Between myself and me"

and then later the wonderful uplifting:

People die
So will I...

I still can't get behind the whole Clock Comes Down The Stairs album, but paying attention to the lyrics definitely changes things.

Their website has a rather interesting (which does not mean good) live version of them doing No Xmas for John Quays.

dlp9001, Tuesday, 29 December 2009 03:47 (eight years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Man, I hate it when I come back to ILM to check in on a band that I've randomly gotten into again, and find that I was the last person to post about them.

Anyway, weird how well Clock Comes Down The Stairs has aged. It was one of the very first "indie" albums that I bought back when I was in college (it showed up in the bookstore cut-out bin. Also got into Eno and Kim Fowley via that bin). At the time, I sort of liked Horses Overboard and didn't really notice anything else, and I totally assumed I'd forget about it entirely. And here we are like 20 years later and I'm playing the hell out of Birthday Girl again (and have about zero interest in hearing Big Black's Atomizer, as an example of what I really loved 20 years ago).

dlp9001, Wednesday, 27 April 2011 16:16 (seven years ago) Permalink

Funny, cause I saw the vid for 'Time' by Culture Club on the oldies channel in our gym yesterday and I've had 'Singer's Hampstead Home' going around in my head since.

the crap gig in the sky (MaresNest), Wednesday, 27 April 2011 16:51 (seven years ago) Permalink

My go-to Microdisney album is the Peel Sessions compilation. It's just the right tracks and the right sound, I tried the recent 2cd compilation. "Daunt Square To Elsewhere", but it didn't do much for me.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 28 April 2011 22:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

I remember reading Cathal talking about an encounter with MES. MES just dismissed him with "You aren't Irish" and walked away. Microdisney passed me by, but I remember Only Losers Take The Bus. Might have to investigate.

Damo Suzuki's Parrot, Monday, 2 May 2011 19:18 (seven years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

They were fucking great. Really interesting sound. Sean O'Hagan was playing around big time with very ordinary compositions.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 21 September 2011 17:31 (seven years ago) Permalink

MES just dismissed him with "You aren't Irish"

Uh, what?

Juice Should Be Sterliized (Tom D.), Wednesday, 21 September 2011 17:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I enjoy eating my words. Just picked up the "Daunt Square To Elsewhere" anthology and it's all fallen into place, the bile and bilge of Cathal and the sweetness and charm of Sean. Rumor has it Cherry Red will finally reissue their albums? Let's pray they don't master them from a scratchy old LP.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 10 December 2012 03:17 (six years ago) Permalink

i bought a cd by them in london about 20 years ago. listened to it once. it was rubbish. dispensable indie.

alex in mainhattan, Monday, 10 December 2012 18:24 (six years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

classic. an amazing band, crooked mile is brilliant (angels, bullwhip road, mrs simpson, everybody just wants to dream, the whole goddamn thing) as is everybody is fantastic (dolly, moon, dreaming drains, escalator in the rain, the whole goddamn thing). 39 minutes wasn't very good save for the afirementioned lead single, but i need to check out the clock came down the stairs cos i only heard what was on the peel sessions. AN HONEST REAPPRAISAL, PLEEZE!!!!

OutdoorFish, Thursday, 16 January 2014 01:52 (four years ago) Permalink


OutdoorFish, Thursday, 16 January 2014 02:00 (four years ago) Permalink


OutdoorFish, Thursday, 16 January 2014 02:04 (four years ago) Permalink


OutdoorFish, Thursday, 16 January 2014 02:12 (four years ago) Permalink

I love 'em, thoigh less so with the Virgin stuff, and they'd agree. The new reissues are ace, and make a good case for them being *the* underrated band of the 80s. Their problem was always in their subtlety and sly wit, humor and refusal to act out cliché. Four or five years ago in Budapest, I saw this middle-aged woman doing a kind of cabaret thing, which included odd interpretations of several Microdisney songs, of which she apparently had no specific knowledge. Were they big over there?

crustaceanrebel, Friday, 17 January 2014 18:27 (four years ago) Permalink

I've lived there for several years, and have never met a Hungarian who's heard of them. That sounds fantastic though, what you saw.

Freedom, Friday, 17 January 2014 18:32 (four years ago) Permalink

I like them.

But I'm a Sean O'Hagan fanboy.

Also, I like 39 Minutes...

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 17 January 2014 18:46 (four years ago) Permalink

xpost(? I'm not sure how these work...I posted it in the Stereolab thread): http://www.southlondonhardcore.com/2013/12/episode-96-sean-ohagan.html

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 17 January 2014 18:46 (four years ago) Permalink


do i have to now dig out 'valhalla avenue' from the archive ..

don't think i have ever listened all way through the album.

at one time i have all three cd singles (and box !) of the big hit ..

mark e, Friday, 17 January 2014 18:47 (four years ago) Permalink


Song puts a big smile on my face.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 17 January 2014 18:48 (four years ago) Permalink

have = had

mark e, Friday, 17 January 2014 18:50 (four years ago) Permalink

btw anyone that decides they are rubbish after listening to one album once is a fool.

OutdoorFish, Friday, 17 January 2014 19:53 (four years ago) Permalink

Love Your Enemies is on spotify, for anyone who was not aware

Dolly Dilly Dally (soref), Friday, 17 January 2014 19:56 (four years ago) Permalink

crustaceanrebel, do you remember which Microdisney songs were performed in the cabaret act? I would have loved to have seen that

Dolly Dilly Dally (soref), Friday, 17 January 2014 19:59 (four years ago) Permalink

How's the sound quality on the recent reissues? I recall being appalled by the very thin sound on the 1996 remaster of Clock...

doug watson, Friday, 17 January 2014 20:03 (four years ago) Permalink

have cherry red taken them from the original tapes? their reissues are normally spot on cos they work from the fan's perspective.

OutdoorFish, Friday, 17 January 2014 20:14 (four years ago) Permalink

Mondays I go clubbing,
Just outside of Leipzig in a pin striped suit,
And a bunch of roses,
Strolling through the vestry being beaten up,
By those English b-boys, Soho tea-boys.
I forgive them all because they are really into what they do.

Love that verse.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 17 January 2014 20:16 (four years ago) Permalink


Video really does it for me for some reason.

Man, I couldn't really get into The Fatima Mansions as much as I would've liked to. "Blues for Ceausescu" is pretty great, though...

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 17 January 2014 20:18 (four years ago) Permalink

al the stuff i posted above was on virgin and its all gold. i wonder if some people would regard it differently if it were released on rough trade, an infinitely cooler label.

OutdoorFish, Friday, 17 January 2014 20:20 (four years ago) Permalink

fatima mansions did some good stuff, but it's different. and mostly not as good as microdisney, a delberate reaction against the subtle nuances, cathal sick of being ignored, musically far more rudimentary.

OutdoorFish, Friday, 17 January 2014 20:25 (four years ago) Permalink

Definitely to interesting to see/observe just how different the two creative minds were. It'd be nice if they could hook up again someday.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 17 January 2014 20:41 (four years ago) Permalink

i love the contrast between cathal and bono. one is just real you believe every word he says, the other is bono.

OutdoorFish, Friday, 17 January 2014 21:53 (four years ago) Permalink

The new reissues are taken from the master tapes, with the exception of two tracks - "Harmony Time" and "Money For The Trams," for which master tapes could not be found. They sound good, though, and they weren't on the previous CDs. "Everybody Is Fantastic" was meant to have eight Peel session tracks instead of four, but suitable masters could not be found. Sound quality is better than the 1996 ones, for sure. And the liner notes - brief interviews providing the contextual backdrop(s) of the recordings - are good, too. And of course, you get a handful of Peel session tracks that weren't even on the Peel Sessions album.

The Budapest singer was . . . odd. She seemed like she'd probably lived through hard times. Kind of attractive but cold and somewhat feral. I was meeting some friends at a rundown bar, paid no mind to the cabaret standards, until I realized, hey, I know those songs. (Well, half of them maybe.) It took me a while to realize the source. The tunes were pretty different (Brecht / Weill -styled) but entire verses and choruses were identical to Microdisney lyrics. She did some similar stuff in Hungarian, which I can't say anything about. Of course, I was intrigued - there were maybe twenty people in the bar, most of them solitary sad alcoholic kinda guys. I paid my respects during a break. She said she'd been singing these songs every Tuesday (or whatever day it was) for twenty years and shrugged when I asked about their origin. I wish I would have gotten to the bottom of it but she wasn't too friendly and I don't even know that her English was that good. All the songs were from the early period - "We Hate You South African Bastards" and "Everybody Is Fantastic." I remember "Sun" and "Before Famine," but there must have been half a dozen others. There was a weird song in English about the national anthem, but I don't know where that came from. If anyone knows about her, please let me know. It's kind of haunted me!

crustaceanrebel, Saturday, 18 January 2014 00:25 (four years ago) Permalink

truly bizarre, but yeah fascinating

OutdoorFish, Saturday, 18 January 2014 00:36 (four years ago) Permalink

"Everybody Is Fantastic" is my favourite, along with the "In The World" EP. Could never really get into "Clock" despite liking the songs, I think because I always find the cheap-sounding keyboard they used on it a bit distracting.

Sad to hear(from a Quietus interview) how badly Cathal was fucked over by record companies in the 90s.


Also quite surprised that he and Sean did have a one-off reunion as Microdisney some time back, but it seems like it was just that, a one-off.

Pheeel, Saturday, 18 January 2014 01:10 (four years ago) Permalink

shame :(

OutdoorFish, Saturday, 18 January 2014 01:39 (four years ago) Permalink

I know nothing about this band but what a great name

calstars, Saturday, 18 January 2014 01:46 (four years ago) Permalink

crustaceanrebel, that sounds really creepy and incredible. I'd love to bring that story up to Sean or Cathal.

afriendlypioneer, Saturday, 18 January 2014 02:09 (four years ago) Permalink

Dug em! Had a chat with Cathal at WFMU once, in the Fatima Mansions era.

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 18 January 2014 02:11 (four years ago) Permalink


afriendlypioneer, Sunday, 19 January 2014 23:07 (four years ago) Permalink

That's one of the ones where the Peel version is...different. Check the ending...

dlp9001, Sunday, 19 January 2014 23:24 (four years ago) Permalink

Compared to many bands, a lot of those Peel sessions are different enough that you do need to hear. I'd aver that most are better than the "official" studio versions, though it's all good.

crustaceanrebel, Monday, 20 January 2014 02:14 (four years ago) Permalink

Cathal's spoken outros were brilliant.

doug watson, Monday, 20 January 2014 13:57 (four years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

That's great news.

This might also be of interest: https://soundcloud.com/ucc98-3fm/iron-fist-in-velvet-glove-the-story-of-microdisney

Iron Fist in Velvet Glove – the story of Microdisney
produced by Paul McDermott

Iron Fist in Velvet Glove – the story of Microdisney is a 60 minute radio documentary produced by Paul McDermott for UCC98.3FM and funded through the television licence fee under the BAI’s Sound & Vision scheme.
The documentary details how Cathal Coughlan and Sean O’Hagan met in Cork in 1980 and formed Mircodisney. The duo moved to London in 1983 and released four critically acclaimed albums for Rough Trade and Virgin records before disbanding in 1988. Microdisney’s 1985 album The Clock Comes Down the Stairs topped the UK Indie Charts upon its release and regularly features at the top of “the best Irish album of all time” list

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 27 November 2017 15:16 (one year ago) Permalink

i got a ticket! it sold out pretty fast actually

Well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Wednesday, 29 November 2017 15:08 (one year ago) Permalink

AHH FUCK why didn't see this two days ago?? I've had Microdisney on my mp3 player all week as well, really feeling them at this time of year.

This is probably never going to happen again, is it.

Pheeel, Wednesday, 29 November 2017 23:00 (one year ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...


Freedom, Thursday, 14 December 2017 19:19 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I wonder what a new Microdisney album would sound like. Probably a bit mind-blowing?

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 15 December 2017 14:41 (eleven months ago) Permalink

probably never going to happen

i'm just imagining an extremely well produced album full of very lush string arrangements

and it sounds really weird in my head

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 15 December 2017 19:20 (eleven months ago) Permalink

According to that documentary mentioned upthread, the unrecorded fifth album would probably have been produced by Don Was! What could've been, eh.

i'm just imagining an extremely well produced album full of very lush string arrangements

and it sounds really weird in my head

― afriendlypioneer, Friday, December 15, 2017 7:20 PM (one hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Some as yet unheard middle-ground between the Wilson-esque opulence of the Llamas and the stripped-down starkness of Cathal's solo material? I'm not sure what that would be like, but I do want to hear it.

Pheeel, Friday, 15 December 2017 21:08 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I love almost all of Cathal's work, and you can't maintain that level of anger without burning yourself up, but I miss the sheer bile and spleen-venting of Fatima Mansions.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 15 December 2017 21:49 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Some as yet unheard middle-ground between the Wilson-esque opulence of the Llamas and the stripped-down starkness of Cathal's solo material? I'm not sure what that would be like, but I do want to hear it.

Realized the song "Genius" probably comes close to what I'm imagining.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 18 December 2017 16:32 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I find this band fascinating for some reason. They're a little less refined than their peers, their hooks don't always work, and there's a couple duds on every album, but I find myself wearing out each of their albums when I'm in the my Microdisney mood.. I've noticed they have their share of diehard fans who truly believe they were that one in a million band, too. Sure, every band has them, but I've noticed they have a particularly devoted fanbase.

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 19 December 2017 16:19 (eleven months ago) Permalink

There was a weird song in English about the national anthem

Bit late to reply to this now but "National Anthem" was an early Microdisney track from when they were a five piece post-punk act based in Cork, and called Micro Disney. Funny that these reunion gigs should come up because I'd been reliving my indie kid youth and listening to a lot of Microdisney and Go-Betweens, who were probably my favourite bands of that period but I hadn't listened to either in centuries. I must admit I ended up listening to Microdisney a lot more than the Go-Betweens, for reasons that I should probably post on a Go-Betweens thread. Anyway, yes, a flawed band, all of their albums are compromised by poor choices over production and arrangements - the Peel session versions are pretty much always superior (but then I think the same is true of the Fall). They were brilliant live, as were the Go-Betweens, again probably better than their recordings.

Whiney Houston (Tom D.), Tuesday, 19 December 2017 17:28 (eleven months ago) Permalink

four months pass...

Cathal and Sean performing 'Dolly' in the Barbican Exhibition Halls.


Portsmouth Bubblejet, Friday, 11 May 2018 18:48 (seven months ago) Permalink

That's really...pleasant. I like it!

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 11 May 2018 19:04 (seven months ago) Permalink

I wouldn't put it past them to show up the night of their reunion show in that format. I'd love it, but would all their loyal fans love it?

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:14 (six months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Good reports from the NCH show last night. Anyone going to the Barbican next Saturday?


Brainless Addlepated Timid Muddleheaded Awful No-Account (Pheeel), Sunday, 3 June 2018 16:40 (six months ago) Permalink

I'll be there.

Poisoned by Johan's pea soup. (Tom D.), Sunday, 3 June 2018 19:42 (six months ago) Permalink

I was at the gig last night too. It was excellent. Cathal's voice is in fine fettle. They played the album and then followed it up with the "hits" (and oddball instrumental "Michael Murphy")

Dark Mavis (Michael B), Sunday, 3 June 2018 22:15 (six months ago) Permalink

I've heard nothing but good things. Chances of a new album?

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 4 June 2018 13:49 (six months ago) Permalink


Man, Cathal's voice hasn't aged at all.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 4 June 2018 14:07 (six months ago) Permalink

I've heard nothing but good things. Chances of a new album?

― afriendlypioneer, Monday, 4 June 2018 13:49

I've heard O'Hagan and Coughlan are writing some new stuff but it wont be under the Microdisney moniker

Dark Mavis (Michael B), Monday, 4 June 2018 14:55 (six months ago) Permalink

That's really exciting.

Obviously I love Sean, but it'll be nice to hear him finally write some more traditional music...if that's what they're doing.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 4 June 2018 15:04 (six months ago) Permalink


afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 5 June 2018 13:42 (six months ago) Permalink

Saw them a lot in the 80s, they were friends of friends. Cathal was hilarious. "This song is about authority... cos all the bands hate authority..."

Dr X O'Skeleton, Tuesday, 5 June 2018 23:13 (six months ago) Permalink


Looks like some great footage exists.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 6 June 2018 18:40 (six months ago) Permalink

I thought they were great on Saturday night. A friend who was at Dublin and London reported that they did the same songs (but in a different order) at both shows. He thought the sound was slightly better in London.

Sorry I missed you, Tom.

Tim, Monday, 11 June 2018 10:33 (six months ago) Permalink

Yes, great, Cathal's voice was incredible as was his whole stage presence. In between fiddling about with the sound, Sean's guitar playing was as 'tasty' as ever, if I can be allowed to lapse into NME speak ca.1974. Sean's tribute to Cathal at the end was so heartfelt and touching, I get the feeling he really meant it when he said he would never have had a career in music if he hadn't met him.

We can be herpes (Tom D.), Monday, 11 June 2018 12:13 (six months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

After some 30 years the band reconvened to perform their seminal album, The Clock Comes Down the Stairs at the National Concert Hall and The Barbican in 2018. Having enjoyed that experience, the band will play a fully standing show at Vicar Street.

Cathal: “We were genuinely moved by the response to the 2018 shows, and we feel it’s right to play once more, to a standing audience at Vicar St, and to offer a fresh slant on the Microdisney songbook.”

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 20:06 (three months ago) Permalink

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