The Blades formed in 1977 in the South Dublin neighbourhood of Ringsend, with Paul Cleary on bass and vocals his brother Lar on guitar and mutual friend Pat Larkin on drums.
As uncompromising as they were gifted as pop songwriters, the original line-up released two 7” singles: Hot For You and Ghost of a Chance, the latter of which they performed on the Late Late Show in 1981.
These aspiring young musicians honed their craft in infamous venues like The Magnet on Pearse Street, McGonagle’s on South Anne Street and of course The Baggott Inn, where the band performed a 6-week residency with U2 – an event that has long since gone down in Irish rock folklore.
As Paul moved to guitar and Lar and Pat left, Jake Reilly and Brian Foley were welcomed to the band in 1981. In this period they released two singles in 1982, Revelations of Heartbreak, and the double A-side The Bride Wore White/Animation.
In the same year, The Bride Wore White was voted best single while The Blades were voted ‘Most Promising Act in Ireland’, and Paul Cleary ‘Best Irish Songwriter’ in the prestigious Hotpress National Poll.
Carving a sound based around socially conscious lyrical content, gorgeous pop melodies and cutting powerchords, these early singles perfectly encapsulate the boredom, uncertainty and fatalistic solidarity of a recession-decimated Dublin in the 1980s – aswell as clearly illustrating Clearys’ gifts as a songwriter.
In 1983, the Blades’ expanded their sound with additional brass instrumentation, as Frank Duff (trumpet) and Paul Grimes (trombone) joined the band. In the same year, they began recording their debut LP at Windmill Studios in Dublin, with John Porter (The Smiths) enrolled as producer.
In 1985, the band signed to Reekus Records and ‘Raytown Revisited’ was soon released, a collection compiling all the bands’ seminal singles from 1979 and 1985. Also featured were previously unreleased tracks, like Tell Me Lies and Fool Me.
Dave Fanning memorably wrote in the liner notes of ‘Raytown…’ how The Blades were “simply the best home based Irish band of the last five years” and “if you’re a fan you’ll need this compilation; if this is your introduction you will want the best: This is it.”
In 1986, Reekus Records released the much adored “The Last Man In Europe”. Recently chosen as “Classic Irish Album #1” on Irish music blog Swear I’m Not Paul, it’s a proper classic, filled with “gorgeous New Wave power-pop songs” (Swear I’m Not Paul) and a brilliantly sharp lyrical sensibility.
Sadly, the band split in 1985, but fast forward to 2001, and Reekus Records re-released ‘The Last Man In Europe’ and ‘Raytown Revisited’ onto CD format as part of the 2CD Box Set, entitled ‘Those Were The Days’.
Fast forward further still to late 2013, and Reekus were proud to announce the band’s return to the stage.
On December 13th, the first The Blades gig in over fifteen years will take place at Dublin’s The Olympia on December 13th. As expected, tickets are moving fast so get them quick, and get ready to welcome back one of the true greats of Irish music.