The Ignition Of Irish Punk | 43 years ago, Radiators From Space released their debut album 'TV Tube Heart'
The ripple felt around the globe in 1977 from New York to London, The Ramones to The Sex Pistols, the aggression and angers built in the youth culture could not be contained any longer and the last remnants of the hippy dream was extinguished with a flamethrower of angst.
The Radiators From Space landed at the right time and the right city, cut with a blade of stinging guitar into the right audience. They released their debut album 'TV Tube Heart' on 21 October 1977.
They had inspiration, the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland, the lack of jobs in the cities, the depressive atmosphere was finally given a voice, an album, suddenly an anthem grew from the littered streets. The album, 'TV Tube Heart' is an unequivocal masterpiece, make no mistake, and they did on this recording, the perfection lies in the imperfect delivery.
Not well honed or soaked with perfection, but then again neither is life. This is what the album mirrored in a time capsule of angst, Dublin- in -1977 and the atmospheric, downtrodden mood of the inner city.
The album opens with the distorted screech of feedback but nobody cared about the delivery as they got caught up in the speeding juggernaut of free speech.
Up until this point we were subject mainly to the lush sounds of progressive rock, organ and keyboard driven music with complex structure and melodies, when this album arrived it dragged away that format from the streets of the capital and replaced it with simplicity, of two guitars, one set of drums, one singer and one bass player, the only organ to be had been held back behind a ripped, dirty pair of jeans.
This was music so basic it could easily be repeated when young kids picked up instruments and so its influence spanned across a generation of musicians, not to put together a punk band but to play an instrument and in turn finding another type of escapism. This was the cause and reaction in its most direct form held together with the glue of; Philip Chevron, Pete Holidai, Steve Rapid, Jimmy Crashe and Mark Megaray.
The signing to the UK Label Chiswick in 1977 was a turning point and meant distribution outside of the island, within the island however the debut single 'Television Screen' became the first and one of the few true punk releases to break the Irish top twenty, proving their arrival was well-received, not just by critics but the actual buying public, heightened by their support of fellow Irish man Phil Lynott and his band Thin Lizzy on their Bad Reputation tour across the UK.
Then there is the follow-up, sometimes they do not match the intensity of the debut album, they lack at times the hunger, in this case however it is the opposite. With the departure of forming member Steve Rapid, which only led to a shortening of the name to simply the Radiators and under the watchful eye of Bowie supremo Tony Visconti the now four piece reconvened to record the staggeringly brilliant 'Ghostown'.
A concept album of sorts, drenched with heavy theme of society, force-fed paranoia and the isolation felt through the working classes; 'Who Are The Strangers', ‘Walking Home Alone Again', every note licked the grime from the streets of Dublin in the 1970s and was immediately hailed as one of the most important releases of the era. An importance not translating In sales and the band dissolved shortly afterwards after a relocation to London in an attempt to heighten the public attitude towards the band.
The following is a brief Question and Answer session we had in 2019 with Pete Holidai, guitarist with The Radiators From Space and The Trouble Pilgrims.
What drove you as a person to the punk style of music? Was there a particular event you witnessed, a band or even a particular song?
PH;”My first real Interest in music was the Glam-Rock era of the early seventies T. Rex, Bowie, Roxy Music in particular-guitar music that was full of energy was always a style I was drawn to although like most 'Punks' we like the occasional tearjerker”.
Do you feel that The Radiators debut album ‘TV Tube Heart’ is more so a result of the environment than any outside musical influences?
“It was recognized by the UK press as an Irish version of Punk where our anger was focused at our reality...the church, the politician, the guard and the other so called pillars of society..we needed to be free from their shackles of emotional oppression”.
What do you think is the high-point in the career of The Radiators?
”All of it. The very fact we created and lead the scene in Ireland before leaving these shores to seek our fortune just like those before us..’TVTH’, ‘Ghostown, ‘Trouble Pilgrim’ and ‘Sound City Beat’ is our legacy”.
Looking back do you feel The Radiators achieved what they set out to do?
”Yes we did, we helped kick this God-forsaken island into the 21st century”.
Why do you think that a band who brought out an album of such a high quality as ‘Ghostown’ did not make it bigger?
”The reality is you need major financial backing to reach the bigger audience via marketing etc...however we were released in all the major territories via licensing deals”.