New sounds from an old favorite: the story of Into Paradise and Dave Long

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

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2 comments

  1. ah yes, the memories. I had come across IP slightly earlier in their Backwards Into Paradise incarnation (7″ + track on Comet compilation; if I can trust my memory). Admittedly I didn`t pay overly attention. was aware they had morphed into IP. Then came “Blue Light” (I think it got `single of the week` in Melody Maker or the NME too) … and the swooning began … “Winter”, “red Light” & “The Circus Came to Town” being the favourites on the debut album. Memories of many gigs in the New Inn in Clanbrassil Street (long gone for road widening & doomed for that purpose at the time, ie a dive, but great for seeing bands in intimate settings). Recall another gig in mcGonigles (was that 4-Play?), where Rachel walked off stage after an apparrent row … must get “Water Has Memory” … thanks!

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  2. Yes, Blue Light EP was single of the week in NME, May or June 1989. Dave Fanning played I Want You a lot during the summer. New Inn was cool for gigs. Last Into Paradise gig I saw was in McGonagles around March 1992 or so. I bought the four albums on vinyl at the time; trying to get CD copies for the car – Under The Water and For No One are proving extremely difficult to find. That bastardised US album is everywhere though 🙂 I like it – cool to have the Change EP tunes on CD.

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