Cork’s always been an individualistic corner of Ireland, and it’s that sense of isolation, blended with a touch of local genius and an ever-impressive music scene that’s the focus of this encyclopedic yet eminently readable scene summary from Mark McAvoy. Inevitably, there’s a hefty early focus on Rory Gallagher (who’s given an almost biographical going over), but the key aspect of this book is in the playful facts and clever imagery that adds a truly personal dimension to the scene.
Did you know, for example, that the title for Oasis’ Don’t Believe The Truth album was taken from the slogan of a Frank and Walters tour t-shirt, with Noel Gallagher once acting as the band’s roadie? What about the city’s artists forming a protest group called -Where’s Me Culture’ (a twist on the title of The Sultans of Ping’s biggest hit -Where’s Me Jumper’) in response to the lack of music included in the European Capital Of Culture program in 2005? We won’t give away all Mark’s gems, but he’s certainly dug deep, with extensive interviews (from the man who sold Rory Gallagher his first guitar to chats with the various impressive artists who’ve come from Bishopstown Secondary School over the years), and a level of detail that’s sufficient to quench the thirst for knowledge, but doesn’t go so far as to become dull.
Of course, unless you have a particular connection with Cork, this isn’t something you’re likely to pick up, but for those in the thick of the scene in Munster’s music capital, it provides a wonderful overview. Cork might lack any truly huge names in recent times, but – alongside Gallagher, his band Taste and Sultans of Ping – Microdisney, Fred, Simple Kid, Cypress Mine!, Waiting Room and The Frank And Walters are all given a thorough going over, alongside local rock nights, inter-band issues and dozens of other less influential local stars. In short, if you’re into Cork music – or just want to learn more about it – you could hardly ask for a more quirky, fact-filled and well-written guide.