The Drays – Look Away Down Collins Avenue...

I first encountered Stephen Ryan as a callow teenager circa 1986. A Friday night in the cramped confines of the Baggot Inn.  Ryan and his band the Stars of Heaven regularly played at this most iconic of venues at a time when the Dublin music scene was at its most vibrant. Our relationship got off to a rocky start.  In truth, I wasn’t particularly taken with him. The band and Ryan in particular, projected an almost haughty disdain for their audience, an arrogance that seemed borne of a belief that they were better than this. It didn’t take long before I succumbed and shared that belief. The Stars of Heaven made two albums and a couple of EPs before splitting up in 1990. Everything they released was magnificent. In the context of the Irish music scene, they were quite simply peerless. Their music, a deeply unfashionable shade of country rock, had an elegant beauty at odds with a local scene obsessed with unearthing the next U2 or Simple Minds. After the Stars split, Ryan re-emerged sporadically to remind us of what we were missing – two albums of sustained brilliance with a new band the Revenants were released in 1993 and 1999. And then nothing. It seemed almost criminal that one of the great Irish songwriters of his generation should drop off the radar, as a succession of charlatans, spoofers and fakers with a fraction of Ryan’s talent went on to enjoy considerable success.  News that Ryan was ready to end his self imposed exile and release a new record under the fresh moniker The Drays was greeted ecstatically by his loyal coterie of acolytes. Look Away Down Collins Avenue is the first fruits of his newest venture and it’s an absolute pleasure from start to finish. Closer...

Rewind: 10 Most Underrated Irish Bands of the 80s Dec30

Rewind: 10 Most Underrated Irish Bands of the 80s...

Nostalgia trip: 10 eighties Irish bands that could and should have went on to greater things including A House, Stars of Heaven and Microdisney.