The Would Be’s – My Radio Sounds Different In The Dark [peel session]

• “My Radio Sounds Different In The Dark [peel session]” set to a picture of the housing EP cover.

9.5 “All-time classic Indie Pop from Ireland”

Recorded 25th February 1990; broadcast 19th March 1990. First released on their 12″ EP “Bittersweet” in April 2015.

Somewhere in a cold storage warehouse, I have around a couple of hundred cassettes with all of my captured Peel treasures. One of these days, I shall undertake the mammoth task of digitising them and re-acquainting myself with some long-forgotten gems. On those tapes is the full Peel session by “The Wood Beez” as I called them back in the days when we dealt only in the spoken word in the locality and used smoke signals for long distance communication. How I will laugh at many more mis-pronounced howlers now that the world wide wotsit is here and I can clear up the mess : – )

Anyway, the Would Be’s session was a true classic and it was long overdue a release. It can now be found as a magical bonus to a new single, “Bittersweet” that they released for Record Store Day back in April 2015 (I get there eventually). I’m not sure whether this should qualify for my “new acquisitions” blog. Is it really new if I had it taped back then? Och well, I’ve typed this far… CARRY ON…

For this session the County Cavan sextet were: Julie McDonnell (vocals); Aidine O’Reilly (trombone, sax); Mattie Finnegan (guitar); Eamonn Finnegan (bass); Paul Finnegan (guitar) and Pascal Smith (drums). Writing in his book “The Peel Sessions: A story of teenage dreams and one man’s love of new music” Ken Garner revealed a little of the background:

This short-lived band formed by the Finnegan brothers in 1989, and managed by brother James, recorded and financed their debut single “I’m Hardly Ever Wrong” late that year, and Peel loved it and played it to death. Their debut (and only) session astonished Dale Griffin and Mike Engles with its charm, accomplishment and humour – the trombone is not often a lead instrument in rock. “Paul Finnegan on guitar, only 14 years old!” Dale wrote admiringly to Peel on the sheet. “My Radio Sounds Different In The Dark”, for obvious reasons, became an immediate favourite with Peel and listeners. But after another EP or two, the band split in 1991.

In their prime, they were defined for me by the wistful vocals of 17-year-old Julie McDonnell and that trombone of Aidine’s. “The inclusion of the trombone was a deliberate decision not to take ourselves too serious and to be a bit different” said guitarist and Johnny-Marr-would-be Mattie “I mean how many indie pop songs have you heard with a trombone solo?

As a nice bonus, you can see them in action in their promo video for the EP version of “My Radio Sounds Different In The Dark” which was released in 1991:

The Would Be’s dared to be different – they deserved so much more.

Available from Bandcamp.


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