It’s clear that individuals can dictate how an entire radio station–especially one as loosely structured programmatically as a college radio station–sounds. Commonly, this comes from those in leadership positions, particular whoever has the task of sorting through the various music that shows up in the mailbox and making sure it gets into the studio, probably with some sort of note on guidance affixed to it for deejays who may never have heard of the artists in question. Sometimes, though, it manifests as a broader tribute. At the station of my undergraduate years, there was a long-lasting, I believe wholly unintentional influence that my friend Colin (who has graciously written for this site) had upon the station’s playlists: 90FM played a lot of Irish music.
As anyone might be able to surmise, Colin’s family heritage stretched clearly and directly to the Emerald Isle, even if he actually hailed from a Wisconsin city that drummer Keith Moon once opined was only marginally more lively than the most desolate portions of the Isle of Wight. To the 90FM air chair, he brought with him a devotion to those bands that offered their lyrics with a brogue, a group that proliferated on American labels quite a bit in the late nineteen-eighties and early nineteen-nineties, when record executives were desperately trying to recreate the massive success of U2. Of course, it further helps that U2 had the clout to have their own vanity label, Mother. And the first act signed to that label was the group In Tua Nua. Taking their name from a phonetic rendering of an Irish phrase meaning “the new tribe,” the group was fronted by Leslie Dowdall and delivered a sort of glistening, folk-tinged pop. The also had a fairly tumultuous tenure, with label shifts and extensive personnel changes, which didn’t prevent them from having a few modest hits in their homeland, but it certainly short-circuited the band’s longterm viability (although if there’s one thing the modern music era has taught us is that any and all bands can reunite to exploit their history).
In Tua Nua’s album The Long Acre was released in the States by Virgin Records in 1988, right as I was arriving at the station and Colin was easing his way back in. We probably both accounted for plenty of spins of the album over the course of the next couple years, especially the peppy, poppy single “All I Wanted.” I can’t speak for how it might have stirred up Irish pride in the blood, but it sounded dandy to my mutt ears. I was glad to follow my cohort’s lead.
Listen or download –> In Tua Nua, “All I Wanted”
(Disclaimer: It looks to me like In Tua Nua hasn’t left that deep of a footprint on this side of the Atlantic at all, with only the vaguest of references to their couple of stateside album releases. It definitely looks like the album pulled from here is out of print as a physical item that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store. It’s with that understanding that I post the song here, believing that doing so impedes no one’s business. Certainly from the look of things, it may be easier to get your mitts on some of their music back in Ireland, but if you’re traveling there, I’d probably recommend saving your euros for the pubs. Anyway, I’m glad to remove the track if I’m asked to do so by an individual or entity that has due authority to make such a request. That doesn’t include you, Bono. You don’t own them!)