Andy White Buy Now
Year: 1998
Label: Cooking Vinyl 1998


Andy’s best-known songs from his first six albums 1985-1996, plus two tracks unavailable elsewhere.


  1. Six String Street
  2. Religious Persuasion
  3. Get Back Home
  4. Looking For James Joyce’s Grave **
  5. Street Scenes From My Heart
  6. You And Your Blue Skies
  7. In A Groovy Kind Of Way
  8. Vision Of You
  9. Between A Man And A Woman
  10. The Pale Moonlight
  11. Reality Row
  12. Something New *
  13. Whole Thing #2 **
  14. Come Down To The Sea

Eight UK singles including the original EP version of ‘Religious Persuasion’, one new song [ * ] , two new recordings [ ** ]

Song by Song

Six String Street
Good Vibrations, Belfast’s legendary record label run by punk svengali Terri Hooley, released this track as a single in 1990.
After living in London during the years when my first two albums came out, I moved back to Ireland in 1989. To a little house in the Northern Irish countryside, in a town whose name – Cullybackey – is the Irish equivalent of Timbuktu. After all the pressure of writing the second album I picked up my old Epiphone guitar and started writing songs again. The sound at the end is the pigs grunting just like the lion roared at the end of ‘The Soldier’s Sash’ on the first album. Which is of course why it says ‘The Lion Goes From Pride To Pig’ on the inside groove of the LP version of ‘Himself’. So now you know.

Religious Persuasion
Andy’s first release on Stiff Records, the U.K.’s legendary punk record label run by svengali Dave Robinson. This is the original EP version from 1985 and hasn’t appeared on CD before.
We recorded it in Randalstown, County Antrim, in July 1985 as the marching bands marched past the studio door. The rhythm track is a door slamming. My sister Cathy and Fiona, Rod’s wife, came to sing and the record was ready by teatime. This recording resonates through the years for me. I only ever thought of it in terms of where I come from – until I played it in Glasgow, London, Berlin, Italy, America… it certainly rang some bells. Whistle Test came to Belfast to film us after release and we stood on top of Windsor House with the wind blowing through us looking down at the steeples through the mist.

Get Back Home
Cooking Vinyl single taken from ‘Teenage’ (1996). Produced in Dublin by 60′s survivor, raconteur and LA punk svengali Kim Fowley, it’s a certified Irish Radio Drivetime Classic.
I met Kim in 1990 in Los Angeles and he told me ‘In A Groovy Kind Of Way’ was a hit record. I told him it had already been recorded and he told me to come back with another one. In 1996 I rang Madeleine, my agent in Dublin, and Kim picked up the phone. He asked me if I had written the song yet. I went round with ‘Between A Man And A Woman’ and he asked me if I had a B-side which he’d make better than the A-side. This is it. For me the song is blurred black and white, just like the photo of me in my pram my mother gave me that spring. Just like the video we shot in Belfast for the song.

Looking For James Joyce’s Grave
A true story starting off in Dun Laoghaire and ending up in Zürich, this is one of Andy’s best known live songs. This is a rare demo recording from 1991. The released version of this song is on the album ‘Out There’ which was released by Warners and is now impossible to get except through the www homepage.
The journey happened in 1990 during the ‘Himself’ tour. I have been back to the grave several times since and the statue always has an effect on me. The song is all about the looking, not really the getting there. I got sent the quotation from ‘Chamber Music’ on the back of an envelope, the song was written on the classified ads page of the ‘Belfast Telegraph’, walking up University Street in the rain. After writing it in 1992 I moved first to Dun Laoghaire and then to Switzerland. Maybe sometimes life does imitate art, though I promise both moves came totally out of the blue.

Street Scenes From My Heart
The first track on ‘Destination Beautiful’, Andy’s 1994 album released in Ireland by Warners and everywhere else by Cooking Vinyl, legendary UK independent label run by roots svengali Martin Goldschmidt.
If my heart is a city then these must be the street scenes. I thought I’d get back home after the wanderings of ‘Out There’. However, it took a few verses of this song to start my journey back. In 1992 I had finally made it to Moscow. The first verse happened in the Old Arbat where a concert violinist was busking in his dinner suit, the second takes place in Spain as we drove through Zamora. Bradbury Place is very near my home and Lavery’s is a bar where it’s not a problem to misspend your youth. A lot of the images on this album are from poems which can now be found in ‘The Music of What Happens’. I wrote a lot of poems around this time and the time of ‘Out There’. And this is the baby album.

You And Your Blue Skies
Late-night mellow vibes from this ‘Kiss The Big Stone’ album track originally released in 1988 on London Records.
We were about to mix this song very late at night and all I can remember is the guys taking the guitars out of the mix except for Arty’s high strung acoustic, Rod playing the vibes, and me doing this vocal real gently. I always hear the moment after the first harmonica solo when the song’s emotion takes over and surprises me. The Belle of Belfast City. You can smell the smoke.

In A Groovy Kind Of Way
Released on ‘Himself’ in 1990, this is the Cooking Vinyl single version from 1991.
Recording the song more simply known as ‘Groovy’ started in Letterkenny, County Donegal and ended up (not far away) in County Antrim about five minutes later with a whole lot more tracks to play with. The whole of ‘Himself’ has a studio atmosphere that you can’t plan, it’s just there. Someday I’ll write down how this album was made., but for now let us draw a veil over proceedings as The Jazz Lovelies waft us towards grooviness with their sexy sax riffing and throwaway tambourine.

Vision Of You
This was the second single taken from Andy’s first album ‘Rave On Andy White’ in 1986.
More smoke. Started the words for this in Edinburgh on a portable typewriter. The lanterns were on Hiroshima Day. The rooftop, the doorway and the basement were the stations of this particular cross.

Between A Man And A Woman
Also from Teenage’, released as a single by Cooking Vinyl in 1997, the computer-jock at one Irish radio station played this once an hour for months, driving even strong-willed radio listeners insane.
This is the song that I originally brought Kim Fowley as an A-side (see above). The ‘Street’ is Sesame Street and there are a lot of Wynona Rider film titles hidden in the lyrics. I’ve played this song all over the place but the strangest has to be WOMAD Singapore with an African rhythm section, Sardinian guitarists, Scots violin players and assorted Hungarians and Brazilians. But then it is about what happens between a man and a woman (or a man and a man or a woman and a woman or a woman and a man).

The Pale Moonlight
From ‘Himself’ Andy’s lucky third album from 1990.
I remember on one of my first solo tours of Europe sitting on the top of a snowy mountain somewhere in Switzerland and somebody handing me a radio walkman with this song playing. Watching the people riding the ski lift listening to that 12 string guitar and thinking about an Irish field late at night, a face looking up at the pale moonlight. Years later I bought a painting from a friend because it looks like the picture I have in my head of the song. Today little Sebastian came home from kindergarten with a painting he calls ‘The Pale Moonlight’. Everyone’s got one somewhere, I guess.

Reality Row
The first single from ‘Rave On Andy White’, released in 1986.
The borderline town is or was Clones, County Monaghan, one New Year’s Eve. The band really did sound like this. It was one of these evenings when everything falls either into place or out of sight completely. They keep happening, but none so vividly as this.

Something New
Previously unreleased version of this song, recorded in Melbourne, May 1997.
In Australia I found a whole new world, a new welcome and a new place I really felt at home. Romantic and fresh. Unlike anywhere else I’d ever been. A lot was to do with meeting people I must have known and been friends with in some other life. So the green and the gold is Australian, though it could be Irish too. Both work in all ways. This song is like a follow up to the teenage drama of the previous album. Musically I dig the whole outro, everyone’s playing is sublime.

Whole Thing #2
Another brand-new recording, this time of a ‘Teenage’ album track.
In Australia on my next visit I met Stuart Crichton, the brother of Davy my violin player (who is on both these new songs). He was blown away by ‘Whole Thing’ and I was feeling like I wanted a different treatment of it than the album version. I felt that Diana wasn’t protected enough, just like we don’t protect those we should look after the most. That’s some of what this new version means to me. We recorded it in London on a scorching hot day, me on my way to moving to continental Europe for the first time. Leaving island life behind. The original was written in Peter Gabriel’s studio with him on piano and Tim and I sending down ideas, melody lines and scribbled lyrics. I’d got every album of his since ‘Trespass’ so this was rather an experience. Karl Wallinger was on guitar and Geoffrey Oryema singing the beautiful “Each night in bed…” line.

Come Down To The Sea
This was released as the final track of Andy’s second album ‘Kiss The Big Stone’ on the CD version of the album only.
One of the spurs to my second album was when my sister handed me a Brecht poem which started with these lines. The times were dark, believe me. The up tempo version which starts the album rocks, but this contempletative one has always been one of my favourites. It’s just Rod and me playing live. Like we did at school and like we will do again. The whole of this compilation is mainly me and Rod and Mudd the engineer in Randalstown.

I hope you’re into the compilation selection. If you have the individual albums already, have a look at the out-takes, B-sides and cover versions CD Rare. Until then – dig it!