Adapted from a post over at the old blog.

It was Friend of Rachel Worth through a posting at the now defunct Cathedrals of Sound the other week who led me to dig out a long-forgotten mini-LP from 1992.

It’s best that the story of this artist and his records be told in his own words taken from what was a myspace site:-

“Dublin musician Ken Sweeney recorded two albums, three singles and an EP under the band name Brian between 1989 and 1999.

It all started when a good friend came across a demo of Ken’s song A Million Miles and persuaded him it should be recorded as a single. Taking the example of The Smiths, the blandest name imaginable, Ken joined forces with pal Niall Austin to release the single under the band name Brian.

Moving to London in 1989 just before the record came out, Ken was amazed to hear his non-existent band’s single had been voted number 4 single of the year in Hotpress Magazine’s Critics End Of Year Polls 1989. A second single followed You Don’t Want A Boyfriend (1991) which again did well in Hotpress Polls and led to a deal with London Irish label Setanta Records.

Locations around his home in Ealing, West London like The Western Avenue motorway and Hoover Factory inspired more songs from Ken with these demos released by Setanta Records in 1992 under the title Understand. By which time Niall Austin had left London and exited the band.

UK reviews and press coverage followed. But Ken lost confidence when follow up EP The Planes, his favourite Brian record, died a death. Very miserable in London, he eventually left in 1995 and returned to Ireland where he rediscovered his muse.

Renewing his association with Setanta Records, after about 50 years of studio, producer and publishing disagreements he released his second album Bring Trouble in 1999 with BBC Radio One Single Of The Week, Turn Your Lights On, which became a hit on Irish radio and was nominated Irish Single Of The Year in 1999’s Irish Music Awards alongside acts like U2.

But it wasn’t to be, as generally people preferred Ken’s music to be sad and he decided against further recordings.

Said Ken “When I used to shop for records down at The Tape & Record Exchange in Notting Hill Gate London, it always struck me there are too many bloody albums out there. Don’t add to it unless you’ve got something you really believe in. I’ve been lucky to have a few songs like that go through my hands but not for a long time and I suppose even with some of my favourite artists, you realise they’ve reached a stage where they’re past making their best work. In my case that happened pretty quick.”

I didn’t realise that Understand was a collection of demos for they are quite lovely tunes that evoke memories of some of the slow stuff by The Smiths, mixed with the love-struck lyrics often associated with Paddy McAloon. Oh and a few years later when I heard Ballboy, it reminded me a lot of Brian.

And as much as I’m tempted to shove the whole LP up here for your pleasure, I’ll make do with the two opening singles and the title track:-

mp3 : Brian – Understand
mp3 : Brian – A Million Miles
mp3 : Brian – You Don’t Want A Boyfriend

It was Jacques the Kipper who first brought Brian to my attention all those years ago…..but are there any other fans out there?

4 thoughts on “THE LIFE OF BRIAN

  1. I really love bring trouble which I bought on the strength of a review in Q. Hadn’t heard these until your original post. Such a shame he called it a day. I am one who preferred the sad music

  2. I think our good friend Brian of Linear Track Lives fame may take exception to his moniker being described as “the blandest name imagineable”!

  3. Thanks for the defense, CC. A big fan of the name and the music. This is the second instance of seeing the talented Ken Sweeney mentioned in recent times. There is this band out of Dublin called Goodly Thousands with two singles. Their label sent me some info when the second single came out, and the description ended with “for fans of The Hit Parade, early Primal Scream, Brian, The June Brides, Hurrah!” Wow! How could I resist. I bought both releases. There is some Brian in there, I can assure you. Nice pick today, JC.

  4. Really liked the album but “Boyfriend” I always felt was in a league of it’s own. So beautifully bleak and enticing. All the rain here really does make us Irish melancholy souls. Great to think about it again, must go and stick it on. Cheers!!!

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