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Choice – Irish Post Punk / Electronic pop from Dundalk 1980-82

Choice began as a four piece with myself (bass), Ciaran Vernon  (synths, guitars), Noel McCabe (drums) and Jaki McCarrick on vocals. We later became a three piece, using a  drum machine.

irish times tv listings rte1 youngline Jan 12 1981

article, photo & review of first Choice gig by Fanzine -Too Late

Our first demo tape (recorded at our local Setanta Studios) helped us get on on RTE’s Youngline Programme.  We recorded a video (directed by news reader Michael Murphy ) for our song ‘Multitudes’ for a show first broadcast on Monday, 12th Jan, 1981.  At the end of that series of Youngline,  RTE ran a competition where they produced a show devoted to replaying and reviewing the tracks from all the groups who guested on Youngline during the year to decide who was the best act.  After that show – where we got nicely praised – it went to a postal vote, which we won! So we got invited back again to perform another track ” Who are they”  (I think!) which was broadcast on Easter Monday (20th April, 1981).

I’m specifically stating these dates as I hope that someone might be able to get a copy of the videos from RTE. At the time we knew only 1 person in Dundalk who had a VCR  recorder. They taped the show, but the tape was subsequently over taped by her mother recording Dallas.
Being on TV and in RTE was great, particularly the first recording session.  We had our own dressing room with the classic light bulbs around the mirrors and all.  RTE paid well too, must have been musician union rates. We were annoyed though that the presenter, Ultan Guilfoyle, mistakenly introduced us as hailing “from Drogheda”. Sacrilege!

Here is a selection of Choice demo tracks. Please bear with the poor quality of the 1980 tracks, “Multitudes”, “Spy” & “Stung” all from a copy of a copy of a dodgy cassette. The others are fine though.

The RTE appearances generated a bit of stir and we had one genuine approach with a contract offer from a record company.  We turned it down, convinced we’d get a better offer. We probably could have done with a manager. Or a phone….., none of us or our parents had one!

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“Fab Dundalk Group” from Hotpress Circa April 1982 after winning Battle of Bands Competition

copy of Choice photo shoot session – Dundalk

We recorded a few more demos. There was also session for Dave Fanning’s 2fm show, produced by Ian Wilson. We later became a 3 piece, moving more to the synths with less guitar and using a drum machine which I bought in London. (It was the DR-55 which I later replaced by another Roland family member the TR-606).  Ciaran must have charmed the credit union as he had a Korg 2000 Polyphonic Synth & Sequential Circuits Pro-One. Or maybe it was all on the old HP – play now, pay later. There weren’t many young groups using synths or drum machines in Ireland in early 1980.

We won another competition, A Battle of the Bands event, sponsored by Hot Pres & held in Trinity College.  The Falklands war had just started, so pretty sure this took place in April 1982.

Later, as I remained in Ireland, Jaki & Ciaran moved to London, continued to write, record and perform and later became the Axis…, but, alas, there were no more TV appearances.
I look forward to sourcing and adding more Choice stories, audio and hopefully video!

Here are links to some other scans…..

short article Drogheda Independent
photo shoot picture (copy)
Advert for Gig in Cellars
Argus plug for Cellars gig (Tom Gilsenan)
Short piece from Hot Press- Liam Mackey

Check out Jaki’s blog.   She is still very much actively involved in the culture world.
Also worth checking out is the Fanning Sessions blog, an excellent archive project, which has a short feature on Choice but loads more on other 80’s Irish groups.

14 replies »

  1. OMG! I can’t remember seeing any of these shots before bar the one where it says ‘Jackie’s the one in the middle’. It’s so bloody weird but also really delightful to see all this stuff. We will get you some other recordings. I think Ciaran has stacks somewhere. Will post it on FB and let Roger know. Thanks Doug! Jaki x

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  2. Oh, and CV says he PAID CASH UP FRONT for the synths. He says he worked his ass off and saved every bean. If only we’d known – we could have raided the mattresses chez Vernon. Roger is on the hunt for more recordings, too.

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  3. Ah now, no need to be ashamed of your Drogheda roots…))

    But my memory suggests not everyone in “De Town” “got” the superb Choice. I have a clear recollection of Cellars supremo and all-round Head Harridan Carmel (Thatcher) pulling (out) the plug on the band in mid-flow one night due to, erm, musical (volume) differences…

    Ring any bells out there?

    Perhaps the first genuine unplugged show before it became a Zeitgeist thing?

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    • Carmel (Thatcher)…. oh yes! brilliant. I had forgotten about that. Sounds like you remember it better though, so look forward to hearing more. Thanks for adding comment Jake.

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  4. Hey Doug,
    Nice video from Brilium! Have to say I really love Noel’s drumming and love the moody drum sound on Spy especially! Oh and we think we’ve identified a few more original recordings of other Choice tracks so hope to get these to you.

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  5. Ha Ha. Small world. I organised that Battle of the Bands in Trinity. it was part of Community week. not sure if it was the same year that we had 5 Buck’s Fizz copycat bands. I asked Liam Mackey to judge it but I can’t remember if Hot Press (tight bastards) had anything else to do with it. Was Simon Carmody another judge? I also asked some bloke to be a judge who I saw in front square who looked really cool in a pair of stripey pyjamas – just like Johnny Fingers from the Boomtown Rats. Halfway through the competition I noticed that he had “St. Brendan’s” written on his slippers. I have a memory of some band from Finglas who were real “new romantics” and had loads of GIRLS with them. Strange what one remembers.

    Ahhh the memories come flooding back. I do remember a band from Dundalk playing an NMS gig in Drogheda (in Sarsfields?). What I remember is they were programming a drum machine (I’d never seen one before) while having a drink in Carberry’s before the gig. Sounds like it might have been you because the only other Dundalk connection we knew back then was Turkey Mullen and Some Kind of Wonderful.

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  6. Just looked at that Liam Mackey article and the new romantics from Finglas was Meelah XVIII who later transmogrified into Aslan. There’s nothing wrong with my head.

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