Live At Record Room Vol. 1: Inspired by The Reindeer Age

Ray Burke (Wired FM), Rocky O’Shea (The Commercial Bar/Record Room) and Richard Dowling (Wav Mastering) produced the new vinyl album Live At Record Room. Photo: Graeme Dalton (Ravenous Studio).

It’s 331/3 years since The Reindeer Age album was released. Live At Record Room highlights Limerick music today.

THE Reindeer Age album was recorded at Xeric Studios, Limerick between August and November 1989 before being released in 1990. Xeric Studios is where The Cranberries first created the sound that made them Limerick’s biggest music success a few short years later.

Curated by studio owner Pearse Gilmore, The Reindeer Age was a compilation of tracks recorded at the studio by The O’Malleys, Private World, Tuesday Blue, Toucandance, The Hitchers and many more. Its release on vinyl and its distinctive album sleeve has made the record a durable time capsule of its era, beloved by those on the album and the many music fans who flocked to the gigs in a thriving era for music in the city.

That record is the inspiration for a new Limerick compilation recorded live at Limerick’s Record Room downstairs at The Commercial Bar on Catherine Street.

Recorded over the Summer of 2023, Live at Record Room is a compilation album featuring some of Limerick’s most exciting artists recorded live before an audience at the city centre venue, featuring 50 Foot Woman, Anna’s Anchor, Dylan Flynn and The Dead Poets, Hazey Haze, Laura Duff, Paddy Mulcahy, Post Punk Podge & The Technohippies, Small Church, Strange Boy, SWEETS, T.A. Narrative, The Low Field and The Personal Vanity Project.

One track was selected from each individual set, which amplifies the vibrant live energy of each of the included artists. 

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Live At Record Room Volume 1 is a co-production from Record Room and Wired 99.9FM in association with Wav Mastering.

Talking to Limerick Post about the new album is Eoin “Rocky” O’Shea (proprietor of Record Room) and Richard Dowling of Wav Mastering.

Rocky has a love for The Reindeer Age album (he was a kid when it was released) and there’s a framed copy of it on the wall in the Record Room. 

Six years ago, Rocky had just opened his new bar on Catherine Street, followed a year later by its live venue.

He remembers, “When we opened and I put The Reindeer Age on the wall it was unbelievable the amount of old heads that would come in and look at it.                      

“I always compared it to a Rowing Club, it was like a championship trophy on the wall where young fellas go to a club and they have something to relate to. I felt that within the music scene in Limerick, that there should be something like that. You know, not everyone is going to sell out the 3 Arena but they can go – I was on that record at that time.

 “When I planted that seed of an idea, it was one thing, then Ray (Wired FM) and Richard brought their ideas to the project.

“The bands have to play in the Record Room, it’s a record, it’s from the Record Room.”

Richard sets out the history of this project, “Rocky asked me about doing a vinyl album in 2018. He was interested in creating a new version of The Reindeer Age and wanted me to get involved.” The idea fizzled out due to many reasons including the lockdown but the idea came up again in 2023 when Ray bounced up from the Record Room one night in May, he said we’re making a record and I said to myself I’ve heard that before!        

“The truth of the matter is I went home that night dismissing it in my head and by the next morning I had constructed the plan of attack. 

Hazey. Photo: Graeme Dalton (Ravenous Studio).

“At a recent gig in Dolan’s I had observed Mike Gavin multi-track recording the show. The fundamental idea was unlike 2018. This could not be a simple compilation — it had to be bigger, it had to be recorded live and, of course, Rocky now had the venue and the brand identity which was also to be on the album cover.  

“So we set Mike up to live record in the pub office two floors above the venue, splitting signals on route back to Greaney’s FOH (Front Of House) mix. 

“Mike then mixed off site, I mastered, it was to be cut in London and the vinyl broker for manufacture was lined up. It was late May and I wanted the finished product for sale by Christmas — no mean feat.”

So the 3R’s (Rocky, Ray and Richard) and this scribe sat down to consider contenders. 

The major brief was the chosen had to capture the zeitgeist, this Limrock in the now. A few were unavailable and others then stepped up. 

This was all at incredible short notice, sorting through the runners and riders late May / early June, gigs late July to early September. Mike started doing rough all-track mixes straight after gigs so if a decision hadn’t been made for the chosen track per artist on the night then it could be reevaluated. 

Laura Duff

Richard adds, “Mike and I then made production calls on the chosen tracks and I got on with the mastering. Besides vinyl specific mastering, every track was also mastered to digital release specifications for each artist to use as they wished and also for radio play on Wired 99.9FM. 

“Running in parallel was the artwork back and forth action with Graeme Dalton at Ravenous Studio and by early September we were ready to hit the manufacturing button.”

Rocky adds, “When the seed was planted, it grew into a tree where Richard was thinking what bands would play each night. He had got to a whole other level, things that I wouldn’t think of without his expertise.”

For example, Anna’s Anchor was on the list for this record but AA’s main man Marty Ryan is currently based in the US in college.

“We had to get them in. I knew that Marty was in Limerick for the All Ireland hurling final.

“He played at the homecoming for the team on Monday and he played in the Record Room on Tuesday and went straight back to America.”

 The album was recorded over a short series of free gigs held in the downstairs venue. 

Rocky says, “There were certain gig goers that I would have looked up to, when I was growing up, that I saw at all the gigs, it was a great series of live shows.

“It was free in but you were getting top quality music. You can reminisce about the gigs you were at when you hear these recordings.”

 The live sound engineering was done by Eoin Greaney and the recording and mixing for the record was done by Mike Gavin. 

The thirteen track album was then mastered by Richard Dowling and the vinyl was cut by Geoff Pesche at Abbey Road Studios in London.

The Reindeer Age was released in 1990.

Running at 26 minutes per side, that is a lot of music to fit on one record (records normally run to approximately 18-22 minutes per side).

Richard adds, “You need someone with absolute experience to fit that amount of music on a vinyl record, hence I went back to my London past to get it cut right. Actually both compilations were cut in London, ours at Abbey Road and The Reindeer Age at the long closed historic Townhouse.”

 There are further connections between the 1990 album and this new vinyl compilation. The O’Malleys appear on The Reindeer Age and the late Brian Mulcahy’s son Paddy Mulcahy is on it and the drummer with Up The Downstairs Ian Mac can now listen to his son Ben McNamara, guitarist with 50 Foot Woman, on Live At Record Room.

 Talking to Limerick Post about the album, Wired FM’s Ray Burke said, “It’s so exciting to see this project come to fruition, and to release it in such a glorious physical form – we just can’t wait for people to hear it now! 

“We’re especially excited about those uninitiated to the Limerick scene, getting to hear the talent and uniqueness of the artists that call this city their home.”

This vinyl is a must for music lovers to embrace the current Limrock music scene in a physical format as did those back in 1990. Go try to find a vinyl copy of The Reindeer Age now, it is quite a task.

Dylan Flynn

2023 has seen a peak in vinyl sales since 1990  and the new year sees the biggest amount of live events announced in Limerick ever. Live At Record Room Volume 1 reflects this thriving Limrock music scene.

The few remaining copies of the first vinyl press are exclusively available now from The Commercial Bar, Catherine Street.

We look forward to Volume 2.