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Baker's Dozen

Stir My Teenage Soul: Karl 'Regis' O'Connor's Favourite LPs
Luke Turner , July 1st, 2020 08:47

Karl O'Connor guides Luke Turner through the 13 teenage hits that made him Regis, with tales of smelling like a badger on the mail train to Brum and what happens when you get a member of Einstürzende Neubauten the wrong gravel on the way


Virgin Prunes – …If I Die, I Die
I was born in the Coombe in Dublin, so the Virgin Prunes were my band. Growing up in Birmingham in the 70s and 80s I got a lot of antagonism, not from pupils as I could sort that out myself, but from teachers, a lot of whom had been in the military. I couldn’t escape the brutalisation of constantly putting me down for being Irish, because of my name. I felt singled out in that way. But I felt there was nothing good from Ireland until through the Dave Ball record I found Gavin Friday. I listened to this and yet again I was amazed, there was this Irish band who were better than anything I'd ever heard - it hit me at the core of who I was. What I loved about the Virgin Prunes is that it didn't celebrate being Irish in the way that other people do, that very yokel way, they weren't like U2, who were good at promoting the brave new world Irish spirit and the open plains of America, they were the opposite. They were the Catholics at the underbelly of Irish culture, they were this amalgamation of the disfigured beauty of Joyce and the perversity of the Church. They knew what I knew, they'd had to go to Mass and sit through the tedium and see all the nonsense of the icons when all they wanted was to go out and play some music. They never turned their backs on Irish culture, but only successful artists really get into that dark underbelly, and I love them for that. I could never find Virgin Prunes albums in Birmingham, even though I thought I was the only fan, but one day I found them in the Van Morrison section - I found out later it was this guy Mark Farmer, who's now one of my closest friends, hiding them so nobody else could have them. I eventually got it at Vinyl Dreams in the Oasis market. Mark Farmer hadn't been.