The world is a cruel and heartless place where dreams are dashed at every corner and hopes are dismissed with effortless and ruthless abandon.
Music is littered with should haves and never-should-haves, but it’s the ones who slip under the radar that cause the greatest heartache. Some imploded, or didn’t have the tactical nous or ambition to make the next step, some were dealt poorly by inconsiderate record labels while some were ahead of their time, misunderstood geniuses who’s legacy has been kept alive by those who know better.
To my own personal list of 5:30, The Blue Ox Babes, Easterhouse and the Brilliant Corners, I can add Hurrah! who hailed from the north-east of England.
They supported U2 at a huge arena in England but a support band is a support band and the following night they headlined to dozens of people in Wolverhampton. Bono’s leg-up was only a few bricks up the wall.
On the way to work I stuck on Tell God I’m Here, their 1987 classic. The album itself is brilliant, bristling with intensity and ragged guitars. But I was tuned to the second disk of rarities and one track, Funny Day, was so rousing I was slapping the steering wheel and signing along in my loudest voice. Luckily, it was dark outside.
It was that kind of energetic, near mob chant, versus-chorus-verse melody that was most apparent on tracks like Sweet Sanity – strangely not a hit in 1986 – and How Many Rivers. Alas, getting into the charts back in the 80s was virtually the only ticket to prime time television appearances and regular radio airplay in Britain, at the very least.
Both were singles, but not hits, and the video for Sweet Sanity (see below) was banned in the United States, because two girls were holding hands – something that may have been considered risque in 1936, but … in 1986?
By this time they had evolved considerably since their humble beginnings in the early 80s as an indie jangling band, originally called The Green-Eyed Children before realising their music and the name weren’t compatible.
They formed at an art school in Newcastle, with a core of Paul Handyside, David ‘Taffy” Hughes and David Porthouse with various others coming and going.
The leather jackets revealed influences such as Motorhead and Springsteen but they still retained the melodies of an earlier age. Perhaps that was the problem, Hurrah! weren’t out and out rockers that would entice that crowd but in hardening up they may have lost those who hummed along to the enchanting tweeness of their early days.
Curiously, in 1988 they were invited by the generally stuffy British Arts Council to go to Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, becoming one of the first Western bands to play in the Middle East. In Iraq they were escorted everywhere by the armed forces, and to avoid any controversy they dropped God from the album title and replaced it with Them.
There was a follow-up album, The Beautiful, in 1989 and while it certainly was, it was not considered beautiful enough by the public and they split in 1991.