'No Shelter' + 'Urban Beaches'

Formed by Eoin McEvoy and Frank Kearns, CWN had the big sound and bombast of acts like Simple Minds and Big Country but, eventually, not enough hits to fuel the machine. Now the re-release of their debut Urban Beaches, plus bonus tracks, and the first release of the cancelled No Shelter give pause for a re-evaluation.

For a while in the mid ‘80s Cactus World News were the current big thing, hitching a lift on the coat-tails of U2, both soundwise and through their initial release on Mother records with Bono in the producer’s chair. Formed by Eoin McEvoy and Frank Kearns, CWN had the big sound and bombast of acts like Simple Minds and Big Country but, eventually, not enough hits to fuel the machine. Now the re-release of their debut Urban Beaches, plus bonus tracks, and the first release of the cancelled No Shelter give pause for a re-evaluation.

Urban Beaches is here in its original form with Bono’s productions of the energetic ‘The Bridge’, a haunting ‘Frontiers’ and ‘The Other Extreme’. ‘Years Later’, about Dublin, is still a sumptuous slice of pop-rock, Eoin McEvoy’s declamatory vocal propelled by a rocket-fuelled rhythm that would get the vote in any era. You get the second version of ‘The Bridge’, the crisp power-pop of ‘In A Whirlpool’, an exhilarating ‘Worlds Apart’ and a host of sturdy melodies welded to widescreen guitars and drums that capture the times more than we realised back then.

The band’s second album, No Shelter, saw David Rhodes (Peter Gabriel’s guitarist) and Andy Wallace (of Nirvana’s Nevermind and Jeff Buckley’s Grace fame) sharing production duties. But record company shenanigans prevented its release until now, and its new incarnation features three bonus tracks. While it’s not exactly an Irish Smile, it’s very much of its time, with the influences of U2, Lloyd Cole and Simple Minds a little too obvious, especially on ‘Falling Sun’. ‘Say Goodbye’ could be Bon Jovi in ballad mode, but the album is more than worth a listen if only for gems like the delicate, spacy ‘On The Run’ and ‘Taste Of Mercury’ with its hints of Robert Smith.

All told, two important albums in the canon of Irish rock that stand the test of time better than most of their contemporaries and are better available for your delectation than not.

No Shelter SIX/TEN

Urban Beaches EIGHT/TEN

 

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