The cream of Ireland's independent rock and dance artists have joined together for the charity album "Collaborations: The Best of the Irish Independent Music Scene." Profits raised from the set, relea

The cream of Ireland's independent rock and dance artists have joined together for the charity album "Collaborations: The Best of the Irish Independent Music Scene." Profits raised from the set, released by Crimson Entertainment, will benefit the Chernobyl Children's Project, an Irish-based charity which has links to U2 frontman Bono's wife, Ali Hewson, and whose executive director, Adi Roche, was a candidate in Ireland's last presidential election.

Among the contributors is Pogues leader Shawn MacGowan, who has re-recorded that band's classic, "A Rainy Night In Soho," set to a sumptuous widescreen dance backdrop provided by the project's coordinator, Liam Clarke of Dublin's Sound Training Centre and his musical partner, Tom Watson. MacGowan's rough and ready vocals are offset by the sweet, angelic tones of Watson's sister, Emma, who despite sounding like Dido's Irish cousin is, amazingly, not even a professional singer. Although not actually released as a single, the song has received strong airplay on Irish radio.

Clarke says perseverance was the key when it came to working with MacGowan. "We met Shane in February 2001 in Dublin," he tells Billboard.com. "He agreed immediately to do it but it took ages to get him into the studio! I'd set dates and he'd never turn up. At the very end, I decided to just go to his hotel one night and physically drag him down. I had to do it. It was two o'clock in the morning when I got him into the studio. There were two vocal takes and we got it on the second one."

In a musical climate where folk and rock artists rarely mix with their electronic/dance counterparts, the album revels in this culture clash. Indie rock outfit Sack is given a complete dance makeover by Dublin-based electro experimentalists Decal, while Northern Irish acoustic-based singer/songwriter Juliet Turner is remixed by Dublin dance mainstay Razor. But perhaps the most fascinating alliance is the marriage of Cara Dillon -- a gifted singer of traditional Irish ballads -- with a bunch of beat-oriented studio boffins (Daniel Figgis, Dave Donahue, and Mark Clarke), transforming the traditional "Spencer the Rover" into a club-friendly dance anthem.

So where did the inspiration come from for this project? "I had observed that a lot of Irish artists had been either dropped from their major label deals or else were finding it difficult to get signed," Clarke says. "So there seemed to be a kind of development of the independent attitude where they were starting to do it themselves. First of all, they would collaborate with other artists and would financially pitch in to release stuff.

"So I decided to put together an album to celebrate this vibrant independent scene," he continued. "On top of that, I wanted to help out the Chernobyl Children's Project. The artists agreed that all money raised would go to the charity. It meant that the artists had an impetus to try and do the best that they could with their tracks, so egos were left to one side." Although "Collaborations" is currently only available in Ireland, Clarke hopes to negotiate a U.K. release and possibly also make strides into the wider European market.

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