An Amadan’s Guide to The Guireans :
The Unauthorised Tape-ography of The Worst Band in Sandwick - Ever
In the history of popular music, the most influential movements are invariably seen to begin in the humblest places: Sam Phillips’ tiny Sun Studios in the bad part of Memphis in 1954; the Cavern Club in Liverpool in 1961; CBGB’s in New York’s squalid Bowery in 1976. Adverse surroundings and the derision of society have often been the catalysts in the rise of the great artistes.
The Mean Street
In 1979 the mean, sheep’s-cac-strewn streets of Thatcher’s Sandwick had these ingredients in trailerloads. The North Street ghetto was racked by endemic Woodbine and 4-Crown abuse, and by religious extremism from black-suited Nation of Curam activists. Violent drug wars erupted regularly on Saturdays as gun-toting gangs at the notorious “Fank” battled over money to score the week’s Flukanide drench.
White Riot: A roving posse of disaffected youth terrorises the 'hood
Sandwick was a powderkeg, the kind of town that seemed primed to explode and spew out the Next Big Thing After Punk. And the world was looking to North Street to produce the phenomenon that would fill stadiums from San Francisco to Sheshader and dominate the international rock scene for years to come.
Unfortunately, that would have required the group in question to possess some modicum of musical ability, talent or at least looks. Which the Guireans didn’t.
Still, that didn’t stop four chirpy bobbantops from North Street (and one from the Cearns but his uncle was Geordie Golidy) from founding a band who were undoubtedly Sandwick’s worst ever. This status has recently been confirmed officially by experts from the University of Plasterfield's fine arts department, who have concluded, after years of heated debate, that the Guireans were indeed even worse than Eagles-fixated 80s Parkend medallion men Oasis.
From these humble beginnings, the Guireans have gone on to perpetrate a catalogue of cassette atrocities that has spanned four decades.
The abominable sound quality of these efforts has always failed to mask the band’s basic inability to master any style of music, though they've tried them all. From the Gaelic proto-harcdore of 1979’s grammatically questionable “Is Mise Punk” through the electro disco of 1983’s “Last Night a DM Saved My Life” to the stadium bombast of 1988’s “I Still Haven’t Found What a Guga’s For” and the blank Teutonic robotica of 1990’s “The Maw-del” , the Guireans covered all the bases. Metal, Country, Psychedelia, The Blues, Jazz, Folk, Industrial, Goth, “World Music”, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Indie and all flavours of “Dance” music were fair game for the Guireans’ treatment.
No star from the canon of popular music was respected. From Elvis to the Velvets, Coward to Cliff to Cobain, 2 Live Crew to Husker Du, Van Morrison to Jim Morrison, The Beatles to the Bunnymen to the Beastie Boys, the litany of victims is endless. These distinguished artistes had their greatest works trivialised and butchered, their most heartfelt and considered lyrics replaced with parochial Leodhasach nonsense about sheep, peats, being sick on the ferry or buying drink under-age from certain Stornoway off-licenses. Definitive popular songs of the 20th Century were twisted into abusive tirades directed at “local characters”, politicians, white settlers, teachers, teachers who were white settlers, members of the clergy and innocent bystanders. Often, the targets were unfortunate friends and neighbours chosen for no other reason than that their names happened to provide the talentless popsters with a convenient rhyme.
Peatstack Lightnin' - Hitsville, Sandwick, where it all began
All this could have led to a deluge of lawsuits from irate pop stars and their publishers, or from those closer to home whose characters had been assassinated. The Guireans were saved from litigation, bankruptcy and prison only by the undisputed quality of the material.. “Quality” in the sense that had anybody ever heard a Guireans track, they wouldn’t have been able to recognise what song it was supposed to be, nor to make out what the “revised” lyrics were saying.
Of course, nobody ever did hear their recordings. At the end of a “session”, not even the band members could usually be bothered to make copies of the tape to take home. As a consequence, the majority of Guireans releases are now extremely rare, and would be highly prized collectors’ items if anybody actually wanted them.
So, here, before the tapes wear out one by one and the Guireans’ sound, like smallpox, is eradicated from the world forever, is the full catalogue of their crimes in chronological order:
Midges of Rock (Live 1983) (and alleged Winter Feis 1982)