Strange Passion

Various Artists

Finders Keepers Records/B Music, 2012

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The compilation album is as common as ever in the digital age, but few unearth gems as previously hidden as Strange Passion. Concentrating on the years from 1980-1983, the collection brings rare and unreleased music from Ireland that was created following the birth of punk rock and New Wave. Formerly only found on limited vinyl and homemade cassettes, these lost songs helped pave the foundation for future post-punk and electronica outfits in their area, and now you won't need to pay collector prices to hear it. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

While most people will associate U2 as the defining Ireland band during this time, there were also legions of smaller bands who, despite shorter lifespans, made a significant impact on their scene. Strange Passion leads off with Dogmatic Element's “Just Friends,” a rowdy garage rock tune with plenty of punk spirit and female vocals. This song was previously only available on their self-released 7” that was limited to 1000 copies. Punk rock is represented well here: The Virgin Prunes offers a timeless track of jagged guitars and thundering percussion with “Twenty Tens (I've Been Smoking All Night),” while Chant! Chant! Chant! contributes a more bristling form of punk, mirroring a lot of the strife and contempt going on in Ireland during this time well.

New Wave is the other component to this disc, with a handful of early pioneers in the area of synth and electronica contributing rarities. Stano bring their drum machine to the party, showing a lot of funk swagger amid their appearance. PH sound ahead of their time with futurist synth playfulness, while Peridots keep things simple with a dark approach to their New Wave stylings. The best selection of this ilk is SM Corporation's female-led synth pop that sounds as relevant today as it did 30 years ago. Fortunately two of their songs are included.

You'd have to sift through endless used record bins in the UK to come close to assembling this, and even then you'd probably have a hard time finding all of these tracks buried somewhere. A must hear for any fan of punk or New Wave history, and a glimpse at unknown bands who were ahead of their time, this is a great listen of vintage sounds that are still in high demand today.

Rating: A

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© 2012 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Finders Keepers Records/B Music, and is used for informational purposes only.