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March 31, 2021 / rockroots

The Clowns – Rockin’ the Trolls

Presumably, The Clowns had no idea that ‘trolls’ would come to mean something else entirely in the internet age. In fact, if it’s hard to know exactly what they are singing about in this 1981 single, it might be because it was written by Dutch group BZN. The lyrics concern a Scottish sailor who warns his audience that the trolls will one day ruin humanity (perhaps they did know what they were talking about after all?). BZN themselves started playing rock ‘n’ roll in the mid-1960s before moving to hard rock for a while, and then back to pop in the late ’70s. After a long career they split in 2007. This was a hit for them in 1980 and, like most of their songs, was written in English.

The Clowns, meanwhile, are a little more obscure. This was the fourth of five singles released on the Polydor label between 1980 and 1983. It will be no surprise to discover that – in the finest Irish showband tradition – The Clowns really did perform in full clown makeup and costumes; cute in theory, sinister in photos. But their exuberance and upbeat pop-rock made them a popular live draw for a time. The original five-piece promoted their debut single on national television, but soon expanded to include Christine ‘Angel’ Delahunty as a second singer alongside frontman and songwriter Padraig O’Rourke. From there, their billing evolved with first ‘Angel’ as featured singer and then ‘Idle Jack’ (O’Rourke himself, maybe?).

This ‘A’-side is a bouncy singalong. ‘B’-side ‘I Never Though I Could’ – written by O’Rourke – is a soft rocker dominated by piano and an insistent synthesizer.

By 1983 The Clowns were winning country music awards from RTÉ, indicating either a change of style by the group or a broad definition of ‘country’ by the broadcaster. It seems the band continued with many line-up changes, but still led by O’Rourke. Although he married Delahunty, he recruited a succession of ‘Angel’s to front the band up until his untimely death in 1997. One of the Angels continued with a solo career for some considerable time after this.

The Clowns – Rockin’ the Trolls (192 kbps):

  • Rockin’ the Trolls
  • I Never Thought I Could

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