Dublin’s Into Paradise remain one of my favorite groups of all time. They released four incredible albums and a number of killer EPs from 1989-1994 — mainly on Keith Cullen’s famed London imprint Setanta — before calling it quits. The band had a postpunk vibe that brought to mind legends such as Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, and the Sound. The late Adrian Borland, who fronted the latter, even produced some of Into Paradise’s records. I discovered the group in 1989 when I bought their Blue Light EP and debut full-length Under The Water on a visit to England. I’m not sure where I read about them, but obviously something in the description lead me to buy the records without hearing a note. I’m certainly glad I did! I was immediately transfixed by the epic, moody sounds, and the singer Dave Long’s breathtaking vocals. A favorite song from this early period is the stunning ballad “I Want You.”
Soon after these records came out, Setanta was able to get a licencing deal with Chrysalis and a bastardized version of the debut album, simply called Into Paradise, which combined songs from Under The Water and another EP Change was released in America. Below is a fanzine review I wrote about Under The Water.
Next up was the major label effort, which should have been huge. It was a harder and heavier record with postpunk killers like the intense Magazine-like “Burns My Skin.” At this time I struck up a correspondence with Keith Cullen and he even sent me the 12″ of “Burns My Skin” which featured a cover of “Shot By Both Sides” as a B-side as well as the debut EP by another Dublin group I came to love, Power of Dreams. Into Paradise did not become the next U2 and their last two albums, Down All The Days (1992) and For No One (1993) were released on Setanta to critical acclaim in Ireland, but without the commercial success that was so richly deserved.
Into Paradise even make a cameo in my forthcoming Whipping Boy-inspired novel, when the protagonist sees what turns out to be one of their last gigs at the Rock Garden. The scene was inspired by this recording of their last ever gig, recently posted on the excellent Fanning Sessions blog.
Some twenty years later and Dave Long is back with a tremendous self-released solo album called Water Has Memory. The man hasn’t lost a beat. Songs like the windswept ballads “London is Fog” and “Music Goes” and the edgy “Saturday Night” bring it all back home again. I hope to visit Dublin next year and would love to buy him a pint or two — that’s the least I can do to thank him for all the wonderful music.
Ben Vendetta is the author of the music-centric novels Wivenhoe Park (2013) and Heartworm (forthcoming Spring 2015). Wivenhoe Park is available on Kindle and paperback via Amazon. Signed paperbacks can be purchased from Elephant Stone Records.