Operating Theatre was originally formed in 1981 by composer Roger Doyle and performer Olwen Fouere. It operated as both a theatre company, integrating music as an equal partner in the theatrical environment, and as a band releasing records. Roles were flexible within the company in that Fouere also sang and Doyle also acted.
‘Queen Of No Heart’ and ‘Spring Is Coming With A Strawberry In The Mouth’ were the result of an initial collaboration between singer/lyricist Elena Lopez and Roger Doyle and were released by Mother Records, the label set up by U2, as a single by Operating Theatre in 1986, with Lopez on main vocals and drummer Sean Devitt joining the band for this recording.
Roger Doyle has been called ‘the Godfather of Irish electronic music’ by Hot Press and is active as a composer most recently winning the Magisterium Prize at the Bourges International Electro-acoustic music competition in France. He also composed the score for the Bob Quinn movie Budawanny (1987) which starring Donal McCann. Roger’s website contains a welath of material and is well worth checking out.
A double CD to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Operating Theatre was released is available.
Spring Is Coming With A Strawberry In The Mouth (1986)
I realised while re-reading the rundown of the 1986 Fanning Fab Fifty that I hadn’t yet posted this track. In Tua Nua were huge back in the day. They headlined big venues, appeared on TV and even played Croke Park (supporting Simple Minds) but ultimately they never quite made it. Formed in 1982 by Ivan O’Shea (guitar), Martin Clancy (keyboards and guitar), Paul Byrne (drums), Jack Dublin (bass), Leslie Dowdall (vocals), Steve Wickham (violin) and Vinny Kilduff (pipes and whistles) In Tua Nua recorded four albums, only two of which, ‘Vaudeville’ and ‘The Long Acre’ were officially released. Their first single ‘Coming Thru’ was the first ever release by Mother Records in 1984. Sinead O’Connor deemed too young to front the band is co credited on second single ‘Take My Hand’. The band recorded both Fanning and Peel sessions (anyone got those?). The final album ‘When Night Came Down On Sunset’ was released on iTunes in 2007. This track, the b side to single ‘Seven Into the Sea’ on Virgin Records, was voted number 46 by the listeners to the Fanning Show. Unfortunately this song is just as relevant 23 years on..
An Emotional Fish were formed in February 1988 by Ger Whelan (vocals), Martin Murphy (drums), David Frew (guitar), and Enda Wyatt (bass) but it would be a year before they played their first gig. They released two singles on Mother Records before signing deals with majors East West and Atlantic where they released their debut album. This track is from the first single ‘Grey Matter’ / ‘Cry Like A Baby’ released in June 1989. Their follow-up single ‘Celebrate’ (1990) would go top 10 in Ireland and there would be no stopping them. I saw them on a ill-fated trip to the big smoke and it was an impressive performance indeed.
Formed in 1984 Cactus World News recorded a Fanning session in May 1985. Three months later they released their first single “The Bridge” on Mother Records produced by none other than Bono. The band received much media attention in the UK press and were thought to be the next big thing to come from these shores. This of course resulted in less favourable reviews closer to home. Despite an appearance on the soundtrack for mould breaking TV series Miami Vice (for heavy use of popular music) and kind words from Lou Reed the band disintegrated in 1989 when their second album was shelved. The second album was finally released in 2005 along with an expanded edition of the first album ‘Urban Beaches’ which included the Fanning Session track I have chosen today although this is the original version from my trusty cassette archive.
In the absence of an official RTE Fanning Session archive consider this blog a humble starting point. Any musical submissions would be gratefully accepted as are any corrections or recollections... click on the pic to send an email or even better comment on the post in question. We are interested in anything recorded from irish radio or TV in the 1980s.