Dublin 1980 - 19??
Des Traynor Vocals
Ronan O'Hanlon Guitar
The band had a residency at Toners from July to November 1980 with Ad Lib.
13/09/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin with 19:91
Modern Disgrace were young, energetic, enthusiastic and playing their third gig. I can’t say it was a cause for celebration, but beneath the dull pastry of ramonic guitar and vocals prat – antics lurked some surprisingly good punk pop songs; beaty, melodic little chewns, knowarramean? Modern Disgrace are no disgrace, but where is their place in the universal scheme of things? Is it too early to say or is it too early to tell?
The gap between new and neu is the difference between being modern and being modern for the sake of it, a tightrope of distinction stretched across a grand canyon of Germanic spellings – new:neu; modern: modern (hip:hype, anyone?). 1991 walk that tightrope and for most part keep their feet, though sometimes wobbling badly.
Where Modern Disgrace are down to basics, counting their fingers and thumbs, 1991 are on another hand and have the upper hand. They are musicians and as a result are able to realize their ideas with much greater accuracy – they are the most professional and well rehearsed new, young band I have ever seen.
Their sound is built on a very solid, hard, bass/drums foundation, overlayed with a chiming and imaginative guitar: Joy Division spring to mind, but this is more “rock”. Various other suggestions loom: Magazine, D.C. Nien, Echo and the Bunnymen, XTC….. Dylan?!
The songs are short, semi – melodic, well – constructed, often very dynamic. They are also occasionally boring, generally too similar and though lyrics were difficult to make out, they did at times seem to evince a dangerously “holier – than – thou” attitude.
The group functions very much as a solid unit, in which vocalist Des “Are you going to say I worked for the Hot Press! Traynor is the focal point: undeniably a solid element of the whole, he also presents the groups most apparent weakness. A frontman he has not yet found the measure of the stage or himself and he tumbles down the hole left by Bono of U2, looking awkward when he is perhaps trying to look vulnerable, silly when he is trying to be strong. Equally, as a vocalist he doesn’t cut, basically because he does not understand his voice: Des can’t sing, but he sometimes works as a non singer, which to a certain extent accounts for the echoes of Magazine, XTC and especially Dylan, but more control and understanding is required, less straining to reach the impossible note.
1991 have made a promising introduction, playing a driving and for the most part cohesive set (discounting two dubiously included Dylanesque country songs!). This is a first report and whether they will sharpen up and straighten out, tomorrow only knows. They deserve your attention. Neil McCormick
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