Monday, October 9, 2017

The Stars of Heaven - Sacred Heart Hotel

Dublin band The Stars of Heaven released their debut album in 1986.  This was surely the era of the jangly guitar, even more so than the sixties.  It opens with the hushed clear, crisp guitars of the title track and Stephen Ryan's spooked-out vocals, with a very countrified feel which rocks a little towards the end.  Talk About It Now is a gently swaying country-rocker with a gorgeous guitar solo.  Admittedly there are echoes of what early REM were trying to do at the same time, (as does the faster You Only Say What Anyone Could Say) but it's still a great song.  A slow build up introduces the almost Meat Puppets-style country stomp of Moonstruck, a theme they revisit later on Man Without A Shadow which may be a little too much of a hoe-down for some.  The songs are brief, mainly 2 or 3 minutes long.  So You Know rocks harder than anything else here, while maintaining a little debt to the Byrds.  These songs (especially Folksong) are late night classics, downbeat jangly guitar songs.  

CD versions of this feature the Holyhead EP which is just as good.  Opening with the heavily acoustic country-rocker Never Saw You we get similar variations on the palette established by the album.  After the brief, guitar picking instrumental Before Holyhead, they get a bit more ricking on Widow's Walk and Someone's Getting Tired of You.  But such sharp, crisp guitars, this band definitely deserves more acclaim.  Beg, borrow or steal this one, it seems to be impossible to find.

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