This collection of eight tracks gives an opportunity to relish some of the lesser known and more experimental material recorded by the Virgin Prunes in the early 1980s. As Gavin Friday states in the original sleeve notes: ‘We wanted to show the different sides to the Virgin Prunes…These projects are nothing to do with the rock and pop world, but neither are they weird for weirdness’ sake or to be belittled for their rarity – there is a method to the madness.’
Over the Rainbow begins with the magnificent ‘Down Memory Lane’, the band’s own parodic reworking of a stereotypical Irish folk song, complete with accordion and electric drum kit. It adopts and subverts its clichés, giving its nostalgic message a mischievous and satirical twist. ‘Red Nettle’, which follows, is a powerful piece of collaged and looped sound fragments. It was the band’s contribution to C81, Rough Trade Records/NME audio cassette compilation released in 1981. In his sleeve notes, Friday points to the Bible and to John 3: 16: ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that everyone who has faith in him may not die but have eternal life.’ The next two tracks, ‘Mad Bird in The Wood’ and ‘Jigsawmentallama’, continue in this experimental vein, with site-specific, field recordings of birds flapping around inside the Beautifull House and ambient sound collage, respectively. ‘Jigsawmentallama’ (which was first released as a 7” Flexi-disc in the Netherlands) was the name Friday gave to one of his co-workers in the Dublin Meat Packers, where he worked briefly at the time. ‘The King of Junk’ is a child-like fairy tale by Dave-Id and rendered as a pop single, and ‘Just a Love Song’, also written by Dave-Id, is a heartfelt version of an ersatz love song.
The final two tracks, ‘The Happy Dead’ and ‘Third Secret’, highlight the more esoteric and mystical qualities of the Virgin Prunes’ early work. Improvisation and atonal piano music combine in ‘The Happy Dead’, which dates from A New Form of Beauty project in 1981 and was to be used as the soundtrack to the film. The album ends with the hypnotically haunting ‘Third Secret’, a track that became their contribution to Perspectives and Distortion, Cherry Red’s compilation album released in 1981.
2022 BMG digital release