The Establishment – Bad Catholics
In 1979, a talent scout for Gulf Hotels saw folk/rock duo The Establishment in a Dublin bar and signed them for a three-month residency at the Dubai Hilton in the United Arab Emirates. Emerging from the ashes of pop group Julian’s Heirs, guitarists/vocalists Michael Kiely and Patrick Brady had recorded as hard rock trio Cromwell in the mid-’70s before adopting their new name for their 1977 semi-concept album The Unfree Child. Within weeks of their arrival in the Middle East they wrote the track Life In The Emirates, recorded it in Sharjah, gave the tape to a pilot to take back to Dublin, and took delivery of a consignment of freshly-pressed singles. In the song, they managed to name-check every district of the UAE – a trick Cromwell had also tried on their 1975 single You Got It Made (“Dublin City right, Donegal too right, way down in Cork right… Belfast City right, Mayo and Clare right, through Mullingar and all the other places we didn’t get time to mention”) – and had a local hit. The single was released in Ireland through the Faetain label in 1980, followed by a second Establishment LP, Bad Catholics, in 1981. Most songs on the album continued in the wistful folk vein (not in the Irish trad. sense) of the previous LP. Tracks like the reprised How Long Does This Charade Go On, Monday Morning and The Girl Downstairs deal with the angst of people unable to communicate their true feelings against the backdrop of the drudgery of everyday life; The Best Half-Hour Of My Life documents the plus-side of a near-death experience, and the album closes with the sarcastic, Lennon-ist Thank God I’m Normal. Jolyon Jackson (of Supply Demand & Curve) recorded most of the album in Dublin and also played keyboards, while Des Kiely (ex-Julian’s Heirs, and Michael’s brother) designed the artwork for the LP, which was dedicated to – and derived it’s name from a quote by – Brendan Behan.
Like The Unfree Child, Bad Catholics lacks the immediate gratification of the excellent Cromwell hard rock album At The Gallop, but both albums have a heartfelt and intimate lyrical quality which somehow becomes more rewarding with every listen, and they’re highly recommended. The Establishment were able to capitalise on their new-found popularity in the Persian Gulf after the Hilton contract finished by touring the region for a further four years until their split, after which Michael Kiely returned to Ireland while Patrick Brady stayed on as a solo performer. Brady later moved to Australia, where he toured with The Irish Drovers for many years and still works the hotel and cruise ship circuit. He has released a number of CDs, including a second wind for Life In The Emirates.
- Tonight She’s Miles Away
- Monday Morning
- The Girl Downstairs
- Rudolf The Red-Nosed Wino
- A Small Boy Came Walking
- It’s Really Hard (She’s So Busy)
- Al Hiyat Fi Al Emirat (Life In The Emirates)
- How Long Does This Charade Go On
- The Best Half-Hour Of My Life
- In Another City
- Thank God I’m Normal