The Stars Of Heaven – In session for Dave Fanning – RTÈ Radio – 1988 –
The band once described as “the Irish answer to The Byrds, Gram Parsons and The Velvet Underground all rolled into one”, The Stars Of Heaven were a highly regarded band, featured prominently on Ireland’s RTÈ radio network as well as John Peel at BBC Radio 1 and critically acclaimed at the time. But it wasn’t enough to keep them going past 1990, having begun life in 1983.
The Stars Of Heaven formed in 1983 by Stephen Ryan (vocals, guitar), Stan Erraught (guitar, formerly of The Peridots), Peter O’Sullivan (bass guitar), and Bernard Walsh (drums). After a début single on the Hotwire label (“Clothes of Pride”) which received airplay from John Peel, they were signed by Rough Trade, who issued the album Sacred Heart Hotel in 1986, which reached number 11 on the UK Independent Chart. Peel’s patronage continued throughout their career, with the band recording four sessions for his BBC Radio 1 show, the first of which was included on Sacred Heart Hotel. They also appeared on RTÉ television. They released a further single and EP (“Never Saw You”/The Holyhead EP) which was a top five hit on the independent chart, and in 1988, Rough Trade released their second and final album, Speak Slowly, which peaked at number 6. Speak Slowly included the track The Lights of Tetouan although this was not released as a single. The song is written by the band’s singer, Stephen Ryan, about growing up on the south coast of Spain from where he could see the Moroccan town of Tetouan. The Lights of Tetouan was covered (as The Lights of Te Touan) by Everything But the Girl on their 1994 EP Rollercoaster Along with the original, as this version is a B-side, it is not widely known/available. However, it is available for listening/viewing online.
The band split up shortly after the release of Speak Slowly, with Ryan going on to form a new band, The Revenants, along with former members of The Would-Be’s and Something Happens, who released two albums (Horse of a Different Colour and Septober Nowonder) in 1993 and 1995 respectively. Erraught went on to form The Sewing Room, with Eamonn Davis and Colm Fitzpatrick from Hey Paulette, which released two albums and an EP during the mid-to-late 1990s.
In 2009 the group’s two albums were made available as a free download from the Independent Records website.
For a sample of what they did for Dave Fanning, here is that session, recorded and broadcast in 1988.