40 years ago, trailblazers The Radiators from Space put Dublin on the punk rock map with their debut album TV Tube Heart. Here's an era-defining special edition with stacks of extra tracks

Special editions of significant albums have been a thing for pretty much as long as CDs have been prevalent on the high street, so that's over 30 years now.

The cynical may see it as just another way of getting people to buy something that they already have - say an original vinyl album, or a bog standard CD copy of an album - by wrapping the old thing up in some elaborate packaging and adding some new (ie: originally discarded) or 'unearthed' songs.

But they also open the door to new listeners as well as being a misty-eyed must-buy for the long ago converted.

One of the biggest operations of this kind occurred during the summer with the arrival of the various special 50th anniversary editions of The Beatles' 1967 album Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

If that record is pretty much the soundtrack to the Summer of Love, then TV Tube Heart performs precisely the same function for a decade later and in an Irish context, when punk rock was something new, full of energetic music and some rather angry young people.

The Radiators were pretty much the only punk band in Dublin back then. Sure, a few others followed their lead, but while London was burning to the Sex Pistols, Clash et al, Dublin was a pretty solitary place for teenagers looking for something new and exciting before and during the summer of '77.

But what Dublin lacked in quantity was redeemed by quality: the Rads were ours, and they were brilliant. Sure, a little rough around the edges, but that's the way it was back then, and all the better for it.

TV Tube Heart is basically the studio version of the Rads' live set from 1977, ranging from the sublime pop of Enemies and Prison Bars to the media assault of Sunday World and Press Gang, the theatrical Electric Shares ('I'm gonna pull that switch - fry that son of a bitch'), to the version of their debut single, Television Screen, a radical reworking that signalled the band's future intent.

Add in some cracking bonus recordings that include live versions and covers such as Psychotic Reaction and Try and Stop Me, and what you've got here is a hefty 33 tracks, and pretty much the definitive collection of recordings by one of Ireland's greatest bands just as they'd burst out of their creative cocoon.

If you weren't in Moran's Hotel back in 1977, this is an aural snapshot of what it was like the year punk exploded and The Radiators from Space helped change some people's lives forever, mine included. Music was that important back then.

Enjoy the history lesson, and then get yourself a copy of Ghostown, the Rads' second album and the finest Irish rock record ever made.

John Byrne

What Dublin lacked in quantity was redeemed by quality: the Rads were ours, and they were brilliant