Thursday, November 18, 2010

All Art Is Quite Useless According To.....

Sticking with tonight's theme of Irish bands that should have been bigger than they were I present A House. Formed in the mid 80's A House honed their unique sound in various Dublin bars, coming to the attention over here of John Peel who they recorded a session for. In the early 1990's they released a couple of EP's, the latter Bingo EP featuring the track that most people remember them for Endless Art, which was also the first time they worked with our very own Edwyn Collins who produced the track.

I will now hand over to Wikipedia for the story behind Endless Art...............

With the sort of commercial luck that sometimes hit A House hard, in the week that "Endless Art" was the most played song on British radio, Setanta, which was only teething as a label, could not get enough copies into the shops to take advantage of the situation (Keith Cullen of Setanta had already had to borrow money from his father to fund the recording of the song). Parlophone Records tried to step in, redistributing 50,000 copies, but by the time these reached the shops it was too late and the re-released version of "Endless Art" (1992) did not get the same radio support, although it did reach the UK Top 50.[6]
"Endless Art" had also benefitted from an accompanying video using clever stop motion animation which gained significant airplay on MTV in Europe, but again due to the bad timing with the song's distribution, the video seemed to be everywhere but the record was not selling. Nevertheless, "Endless Art" became A House's signature, replacing "Call Me Blue" as the song everyone associated with them. The video was memorable, and the song itself – somewhat unusual in its musical approach, and even more so in its lyrics, which led off with a quotation from Oscar Wilde and ran through an extensive roster of famous artists from various fields, all dead, with years of births and deaths specified – stabilized the band as a cult favorite among indie lovers, and is the paradigm of the surprisingly successful "list" style of song which Couse has frequently used (the first example of this style had been the title track on I Want Too Much).
At the time, however, the band had run into criticism because all the artists mentioned in the original "Bingo" release of the song were men. Despite the facetious excuse that they thought Joan MirĂ³ was a woman, they tried to make amends by making available a second version of the song, called "More Endless Art", which lists only women artists, as the B-Side of the single version. Controversy aside, "Endless Art" is frequently featured on representative compilations of Irish rock and pop music. The 12" single included two other tracks, "Freak Show" and "Charity" which had been recorded for the band's second John Peel Session very early in 1992.[7]

The accompanying album I Am The Greatest is considered by many to be one of the finest albums made by any Irish band setting Dave Couse's unique lyrics to a much more expansive sound than previous albums but sadly major success eluded them.

A House broke up in 1997 playing their last gig at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin and in 2008 the Irish Times voted I Am The Greatest as the third best Irish album of all time. Personally I saw the band some time in the early 90's at King Tuts and it still remains one of the best night I have spent at King Tuts.

The following video is an updated version of the track recorded at Tower Records in Dublin in 2006 by former lead singer Dave Couse.

1 comment:

  1. Great single! The a-side listed an all-male cast. The b-side all female, I seem to remember.

    My pal winched the lassie that sings with A House after a gig in King Tuts when they supported House Of Love. Not as good as someone else I know's Tracie (was it?) story, but good nonetheless.