I was sad to hear of the death, at such an early age, of Dolores O’Riordan this week. The reports in the Guardian suggested that she had had quite a troubled life. But, in their heyday, the Cranberries, for whom she was the lead singer, made some wonderful records.
I wrote a short piece about the Cranberries in my music book, “I Was There – A Musical Journey” in my chapter on celtic soul. This is what I said at the time:
Another band who had a good spell in the early-to-mid-nineties was The Cranberries. In fact, they sold shed loads of records: first with their 1993 debut, “Everybody Else is doing it, so Why Can’t We?” and then the follow up in 1994, “No Need to Argue”. They had an epic rock sound with catchy choruses and a bit of Irish passion – their singer Dolores O’Riordan sang with a distinctively Irish accent. “Linger” and “Dreams” off the first album were memorable singles, and the second featured the impassioned “Zombie”. Aimed at the supporters of violence in Ireland, it was knocked by the critics as naive and oversimplified; but O’Riordan sang with a genuine rage and angst which I found impressive. It was easy to write The Cranberries off as U2-lite, but there was a real depth and passion to their music, as well as a light touch to their melodies which made them deservedly big for a few years in the nineties. Listen to some of the indie bands with big choruses, made for the stadium, in recent years, like Snow Patrol and Travis, even Coldplay, and you might agree that The Cranberries got to the same place a little earlier.
I still love those three tracks, and listening to “Dreams” this morning, by chance, on my iPod, I thought Alvvays must have been influenced by their sound.
Zombie was mocked at the time it came out, but I always liked it.
And “Linger” completed the trio.
So rest in peace, Dolores. You made some music that really moved people, me included.