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Fabulous Flip Sides In Memoriam – Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan

On January 15, we were shocked and saddened by the loss of Dolores O’Riordan, who had just been on our Goldmine Podcast, going through the group’s new album, “Something Else,” a mix of old and new songs with an orchestra.

By Warren Kurtz

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L'Olympia on May 4, 2017 in Paris, France. Photo by David Wolff – Getty Images

In 1968, Richard Harris put Limerick, Ireland on the global pop music map with the Top 10 single “MacArthur Park.” A quarter-century later, in late 1993, a quartet from Limerick brought the city a return to the Top 10 with “Linger.” Dolores O’Riordan’s Irish accent was heard in her vocals on this song, which she co-wrote with the group’s guitarist Noel Hogan. His brother Mike Hogan played bass and Fergal Lawler played drums. All four members co-wrote their next single “Dreams” from their debut album, “Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?”

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1994 and 2017 – Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan, Dolores O’Riordan and Fergal Lawler

The group’s 1994 album, “No Need to Argue,” included the song “Ridiculous Thoughts,” one of ten songs from their first four albums which were rerecorded by the group with the Irish Chamber Orchestra for their 2017 album, “Something Else.” For the new album cover photo, Dolores O’Riordan told Goldmine they decided to “go back to the sofa” where they assumed their original positions from decades ago.

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The Cranberries

Flip side: Ode to My Family

Top 100 debut: February 18, 1995 – Peak position: 39

A side: Zombie

Top 100 debut: October 1, 1994 – Peak position: 22

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In the ‘90s there were limited pop vinyl single releases from record companies. In the Cranberries’ case, they received this treatment twice. From the album “No Need to Argue,” the anger filled anti-war song “Zombie” was released in this format. Dolores O’Riordan’s vocals on the new version on the “Something Else” album were toned down, where the lyrics seem more prominent as she sang about Ireland’s military struggles, “It’s the same old scene, since nineteen-sixteen.” In addition to “Zombie” making the U.S. Top 40 in late 1994, in early 1995 it’s flip side “Ode to My Family” also reached the Top 40. Dolores O’Riordan sang lovingly of her parents, including the line, “We were raised to see life as fun and take it if we can.”

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The Cranberries

Flip side: Free to Decide – Peak position: 48

A side: When You’re Gone – Peak position: 22

Top 100 debut: November 23, 1996 for both sides

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The Cranberries’ third album, “To the Faithful Departed,” included the second double-sided U.S. charting vinyl single. The ¾ time, doo-wop sound of “When You’re Gone” brought the A side of the single to the Top 40 in January of 1997. It’s flip side, “Free to Decide,” charted separately in the middle of the Top 100 with Dolores O’Riordan declaring “I live as I choose.”

The group’s fourth album, “Bury the Hatchet,” did very well on the U.S. album chart, reaching number thirteen, but did not bring any singles to the U.S. Top 100. The song “Just My Imagination” is a bit reminiscent of Madness’ “Our House” and the up-tempo “Animal Instinct” is equally catchy. New versions of these songs are included near the end of the new “Something Else” album.

Since the ‘90s, Dolores O’Riordan expanded her musical range to other projects. In September of 2003, she visited Milan and recorded the song “Pure Love” with Italian singer-songwriter Zucchero. On the chorus, she hit high notes in her cracking vocal style while Zucchero growled on the low notes, simultaneously capturing their vocal trademarks. The song appeared on the 2004 collection “Zu & Co.” in Europe and the 2005 collection “Zucchero & Co.” in America.

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Dolores O’Riordan and Zucchero - Getty Images

In 2014, Dolores O’Riordan embarked on another project, an electronic trio named D.A.R.K., with her boyfriend Ole Koretsky and the Smiths’ bassist Andy Rourke. On their 2016 ten song album, “Science Agrees,” the track “High Fashion” and the album’s finale “Loosen the Noose” are the ones most in line with the Cranberries’ style.

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Andy Rourke wrote via Twitter, “I am heartbroken by the unexpected passing of Dolores. I’ve enjoyed the years spent together and was privileged to call her a close friend. It was a bonus to work with her and witness her breathtaking and unique talent, I will miss her terribly. My condolences to her family and loved ones.”

In addition to the ten aforementioned Cranberries songs, there are three new songs on 2017’s “Something Else.” “The Glory” is a beautiful winter song with Dolores O’Riordan singing, “I see the glory in your eyes.” This is one of two new songs she co-wrote with “Noel Hogan,” along with the haunting “Rupture,” where she declared, “You put a whole in my heart.” On the album’s closing number, which she wrote alone, she asked, “In another dimension, will you wait for me?” and then promised, “I will wait for you.”

From January 15th through the 23rd, the day of the funeral, Irish radio stations were filled with musical tributes every day, along with sharing stories of people who met Dolores O’Riordan briefly or knew her well. Listeners heard that she was humble and didn’t want any preferential treatment. She was cited as a strong local female role model, writing lyrics that meant something real. The funeral was held at St. Ailbe’s Church in Limerick, where she grew up playing keyboards and singing in the choir. The memorial service opened with a recording of “Ave Maria,” from a 2007 performance of Dolores O’Riordan with Luciano Pavarotti.

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Dolores O’Riordan and Luciano Pavarotti - 2007

The service ended with a recording of the Cranberries’ song “When You’re Gone.”

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Photo by David Wolff – Getty Images

Hear Goldmine’s final interview with Dolores O’Riordan in the second half of this podcast: Goldmine Podcast: Author Ray Padgett and Dolores O'Riordan

Warren Kurtz is a Contributing Editor at Goldmine, known for “Fabulous Flip Sides” along with interviews, CD, DVD and book reviews. “Warren’s Fabulous Flip Sides” can be heard most Saturday mornings, in the 9 a.m. hour, Eastern time, on WVCR radio as part of “Moments to Remember.”