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February 8, 2014 / rockroots

Eire Apparent – Complete Rarities Collection

Rarities Collection

The story of Eire Apparent is very complicated and frequently misrepresented. The fact that the group were associated with two particularly famous guitarists – Jimi Hendrix and Henry McCullough – obscures the contribution of band members like Mick Cox to the group’s album Sunrise. Presented here is a collection of non-album tracks recorded by (or associated with) Eire Apparent, starting with a pair of tracks recorded by their Belfast beat group precursor. Then consisting of George O’Hara (vocals/lead guitar), Davy Lutton (drums), Ernie Graham (vocals/rhythm guitar), Eric Wrixon (keyboards) and Mike Niblett (bass), The People contributed two songs to the compilation album Ireland’s Greatest Sounds: Five Top Groups From Belfast’s Maritime Club (Ember Records LP, February 1966): I’m With You was cover of a 1963 single by The Big Three, Well… All Right was a 1958 Buddy Holly B-side. Both tracks were also included on a 1997 CD Belfast Beat: Maritime Blues (Big Beat).

Major changes during the next two years saw O’Hara, Niblett and Wrixon leave, replaced by Chris Stewart (bass) and Henry McCullough (guitar), and the band move to Blackpool, then Dublin, then London, where they were signed by managers Mike Jeffery and Chas Chandler. Chandler had been bass player with The Animals, but left performing and teamed up with former Animals manager Jeffery; together they managed Eric Burden’s relaunched new Animals, Soft Machine and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Jeffery’s wife came up with the name ‘Eire Apparent‘, a terrible pun to capitalise on their exotic Hibernian origins, and from then their career was bound up with that of Hendrix. The group were sent to Spain to write enough songs to fill an album, but months later they had come up with just one original track. In November 1967 they embarked on a UK package tour with the Hendrix Experience, The Move, The Pink Floyd, The Nice, Amen Corner and The Outer Limits (and Lemmy as one of the roadies) – a fantastic line-up but one that reduced each band to playing for only about 20 minutes. Track Records, Hendrix’s label, agreed to release a single in January 1968 to test the waters for a potential album. To the group’s annoyance, Chandler asked them to record Follow Me, written by three members of pop group The Flowerpot Men, with their own song Here I Go Again consigned to the B-side. They didn’t like the commercial single, and in any case it didn’t chart and Track lost interest. This single was in fact the only release featuring McCullough and is now extremely rare. Here I Go Again can be found on We Can Fly: Psychedelic Obscurities Volume 4 (Past & Present CD, 2004) and Follow Me can be found on Track Records: Backtrack Volume 1 (Track LP, 1970). Both tracks were included on a CD reissue of Sunrise in 2010, but Follow Me in particular suffered from a poor transfer, so this collection uses a new transfer from the Backtrack LP.


The story of Eire Apparent and The Stellas (click to enlarge)

Next, Eire Apparent were sent on a series of extended tours of North America, first with The Animals, later with Soft Machine and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, from the beginning of February for most of the year. With hindsight, the strategy of sacrificing their momentum in the UK for a crack at the American market would prove to be a mistake; both Hendrix and The Animals were already established before their lengthy absences. During this time, McCullough was busted for possession of marijuana and the band and management decided to replace him and carry on. English guitarist Mick Cox had been posted to Northern Ireland during his military service and ended up joining local group The Alleykatz in 1964 (who had also featured on the Maritime Club album) and a solo Van Morrison in 1967. Mick was summoned at short notice to replace McCullough and within weeks, according to author Daragh O’Halloran, he was “straight into the studio recording, because I was a songwriter and they didn’t have any other songwriter apart from Ernie”. The timing of this changeover is probably the most hazily reported part of the story. Many sources suggest September 1968, but O’Halloran points out that McCullough made his stage debut with his next band (Sweeney’s Men) back in Dublin on 17 May, and supporting this are the files of Hendrix’s recording sessions which show that Eire Apparent were recording a new single in New York’s Record Plant studio with Cox and Hendrix in May (right after Hendrix recorded multiple versions of Voodoo Chile, and before Eire Apparent briefly flew out to a festival in Zurich on 30 May). The band that had struggled for three months to write one song might have left very little evidence of their music behind had Cox not joined them when he did. The new single paired Cox’s Let Me Stay with the group collaboration Yes I Need Someone, drenched with feedback and backwards guitar courtesy of producer Hendrix and surely the highlight of their time together. Intriguingly, the Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland Sessions – May 1968 MP3 download collection (ATM, 2009), from which these two mono tracks are taken, says that when the rest of the album was recorded and mixed in stereo later on, the engineers simply added fake stereo echo effects to the mono US single (released on Buddah Records in October 1968), rather than remixing the tapes in true stereo. Make your own mind up on that.

The rest of the Sunrise album was recorded at TTG and Sunset-Highland Studios, Los Angeles, on 30 October 1968, with Hendrix again producing. Cox contributed Mr. Guy Fawkes, Morning Glory and Captive In The Sun. Ernie Graham wrote Got To Get AwaySomeone Is Sure To (Want You) and Magic Carpet. Chris Stewart wrote (and sang?) The Clown (also featuring backing vocals from Soft Machine’s Robert Wyatt and The Experience’s Noel Redding). Jimi Hendrix played guitar on all tracks with the possible exception of Got To Get Away and 1026 – a Graham/Stewart collaboration produced by engineer Jack Hunt (and possibly also featuring the singing of Redding and Wyatt). Other credits were flute by Mick Cox, orchestral arrangements by Animals guitarist Vic Briggs and engineering by Eddie Kramer, Jack Hunt, Garry Kellgren and Tony Bongiovi (cousin of Jon Bon Jovi, fact fans). The breakdown of song-writing credits may go some way to explaining the criticism that Sunrise is an inconsistent album mixing too many styles to be considered a classic, but it is far more than just a Hendrix related curiosity. Cox left in November 1968, very shortly after the album was recorded. It was released on Buddah Records in the US around January 1969, but not in the UK until the following May, a major flaw in the US-centred action plan for the group.

live bilzen

The new lead guitarist was David ‘Tiger’ Taylor, a veteran of countless Northern Irish groups (including an early version of The People), and very quickly the band recorded a new Taylor/Graham composition, Rock ‘N’ Roll Band. Once again Jimi Hendrix added guitar, though this was recorded at Polydor Studios, London, on 5 January 1969, and produced by Carlos Olms. It was paired with Yes I Need Someone for a March single release, and bumped Let Me Stay from the eventual UK album. Eire Apparent then set out on a European tour supporting The Jimi Hendrix Experience in January 1969. At least two of the concerts on this tour were recorded by audience members – fans of Hendrix rather than Eire Apparent, it has to be assumed, but it leaves us a valuable record of the band’s live shows which consisted mainly of covers and lengthy jams. The set from the Liederhalle, Stuttgart, on 19 January 1969 consists of The Price of Love (originally by The Everly Brothers, soon to be recorded by Status Quo), Highway 61 Revisited (Bob Dylan), Blues (improvisation) and Gloria (Them). The above-mentioned 2010 Sunrise CD included these tracks, but with Fritz Rau’s band introduction and other chatter edited out. The full set, with a better quality transfer, appeared on both a separate bootleg (though crediting McCullough rather than Taylor) and as part of another bootleg paired with Hendrix’s set, from which this version is taken. The performance at the Konzerthaus, Vienna, on 22 January, consisting of The Price Of Love, Highway 61 Revisited, Rock ‘N’ Roll Band and Gloria, has also appeared on bootlegs, but in initial releases the tape speed gradually increased making the end of their set comically fast. This collection uses a later version with speed correction by an anonymous boffin.

On 20 April 1969 Eire Apparent recorded a BBC Radio Top Gear session for John Peel, playing Yes I Need Someone, Highway 61 Revisited and Gloria. A 2008 unauthorised Pretty Things CD, The Forgotten Beebs (Tendolar), included Gloria and Yes I Need Someone from this session, in the belief that future Pretty Things guitarist Peter Tolson played on these tracks rather than Taylor. Listings from Peel’s archives suggest that Taylor actually played on them, but either way this CD allowed us to hear the obscure recordings for the first time. For some reason these two tracks were pressed onto the CD at a ludicrously loud volume, completely distorting the sound and making them almost unlistenable. This Rarities collection has tried to correct that to some extent, but frankly there’s only so much that can be done with them, and this new edit of Yes I Need Someone still suffers from some distortion; hopefully the source tapes are in better condition and include the third song from the session. It was reported in May 1969 that the band were recording tracks for a second album, to be produced by Robert Wyatt, but no trace of any such recordings is known to exist. As mentioned, at some point in 1969 Peter Tolson replaced Tiger Taylor, and there are also suggestions that guitarist Steve Jolly (formerly of Sam Apple Pie) later joined too, but even the break up of the band can’t be pinpointed exactly beyond it being sometime in 1970. By then Mike Jeffery had bought out Chas Chandler from Hendrix’s management. Jeffery has been accused of everything from fleecing his acts of their money (probably true) to murdering Hendrix for his life insurance policy (probably false), and died in a plane crash in 1973 leaving a fortune in hidden bank accounts. Chandler was free to concentrate on Eire Apparent, but struggled to rebuild a fan base in the UK and devoted himself instead to his newest project, Slade.

The Skyrockets / Gene & The Gents (click to enlarge)

The Skyrockets / Gene & The Gents (click to enlarge)

The last tracks in this collection come from covers of Eire Apparent songs (technically, at least). Australian psych band The Dave Miller Set had a hit single in July 1969 when they covered two Sunrise album cuts, Mr. Guy Fawkes and Someone Is Sure To. In August 1969 British group Magnet released the single Let Me Stay / Mr. Guy Fawkes. In fact Magnet was the new band (1969-71) formed by Mick Cox, who had written both of these songs, although he re-recorded them in a slower and more orchestral style. Magnet’s Mr. Guy Fawkes can be found on We Can Fly: Psychedelic Obscurities Volume 4. Cox toured with Arrival (1971-72) and Kokomo (1974), The Mick Cox Band (featuring Chris Stewart) recorded an album in 1973, and he played on a number of Van Morrison albums from 1980 onwards before passing away in 2008. Ernie Graham recorded a solo album backed by Brinsley Schwartz in 1971, the second Help Yourself album in 1972, two pub-rock albums by Clancy (1974, 1975) and a Phil Lynott-penned solo single, before taking up work on the railways and dying of alcoholism 2001 – all of his albums have been reissued on CD. Chris Stewart played in bands led by Terry Reid and Ronnie Lane, on two albums by Spooky Tooth (1973-1974), the aforementioned Mick Cox Band album (1973), three by Frankie Miller (1975–78), one by Eric Burdon (1980) and countless other sessions up to the early 1980s. Davy Lutton played with Heavy Jelly (1970), Ellis (two albums 1972–73), T. Rex (numerous albums 1974–77), Wreckless Eric (1978) and Chris Spedding (1978), and apparently now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Henry McCullough played with Sweeney’s Men (1968), The Grease Band (with and without Joe Cocker, 1968-71), Spooky Tooth (1970), Paul McCartney & Wings (1972-73), Frankie Miller (1975, with Chris Stewart) and released many solo albums. Tiger Taylor recorded an album with Anno Domini (1970-71) and later joined pop group The Freshmen. Peter Tolson played with The Pretty Things (1971-76) and Metropolis (1976-77). Steve Jolly joined Freedom (1971-72).


The Complete Eire Apparent Rarities (192 kbps):

The People:

  • I’m With You
  • Well… All Right


  • Follow Me
  • Here I Go Again
  • Let Me Stay (mono single mix)
  • Yes I Need Someone (mono single mix)

Live in Stuttgart, January 1969:

  • Intro
  • The Price Of Love
  • Highway 61 Revisited
  • Blues
  • Gloria

Live in Vienna, January 1969:

  • Intro
  • The Price Of Love
  • Highway 61 Revisited
  • Rock ‘N’ Roll Band
  • Gloria

BBC Top Gear:

  • Gloria
  • Yes, I Need Someone

The Dave Miller Set:

  • Mr. Guy Fawkes
  • Someone Is Sure To


  • Let Me Stay
  • Mr. Guy Fawkes


See also:

Green Beat: The Forgotten Era of Irish Rock (Daragh O’Halloran, 2006)

Irish Rock Discography: Eire Apparent

Irish Showbands & Beat Groups Archive: Eire Apparent

Wikipedia: Eire Apparent

Rock On Vinyl: Jimi Hendrix & Eire Apparent


October 31, 2013 / rockroots

Even More Updates

Progress is slow, but there is more to come. In the meantime there’s a few things that are worth mentioning here.

Firstly, the illness and untimely death recently of Phil Chevron received considerable coverage in the press and especially in social media. This was as it should be, and somewhat undermines this site’s regular gripe that Irish musicians only get praised if they’re famous abroad. Notwithstanding The Pogues‘ success in Britain and elsewhere, Phil could not really be considered internationally famous in his own right, yet he was respected enough at home to warrant a ‘testimonial’ tribute concert shortly before his death, with an excellent array of musicians paying homage. Phil was instrumental in putting out The Radiators From Space‘s 2012 album Sound City Beat which, as noted here before, was itself a tribute to the Irish rock music Phil was inspired by in his youth.

On a sadly similar note, a fund-raising concert was held in March 2013 in support of Henry McCullough. Henry, of course, has a stellar CV, having played guitar with Eire Apparent, Sweeney’s Men, The Grease Band (with and without Joe Cocker) and Paul McCartney & Wings, among others (and you can also hear him murmuring about being “really drunk” during a sound collage on Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon). In recent years Henry has been a regular feature of the live blues clubs of Dublin and elsewhere, but he unfortunately suffered a massive heart attack in November of last year and required some fairly intensive treatment. It’s unclear at the moment whether he is likely to return to performing, but it is worth sending positive thoughts his way and wishing him better health in the future.

Sad to report that the Sink Full Of Dishes blog appears to have disappeared. The owner of that excellent site provided some invaluable advice, support and encouragement during the planning stages of this blog, for all of which a belated public ‘Thank You’ is in order. The link from this site remains, purely out of a stubborn refusal to acknowledge its passing, but should the author of that site relaunch under another name it will be most welcome.

On to some better news, Derek Dean – lead singer of The Freshmen – has got in touch to say that the band’s 1970 concept album Peace On Earth (the subject of the very first post on this site) is due to get a limited CD release this Christmas. This is great news as this is a very overlooked album that is very hard to track down copies of, as many readers will know. Any further developments on this will be added.

Finally, it was wonderful to hear recently from Heather Muir. Heather was the partner of Ray Elliott, a fantastic musician who was the subject of a pretty detailed post here early last year. She has been very supportive of the article, and very generous in filling in the gaps and adding her personal memories of Raymond. This has all been a very rewarding experience. A new section has been added to the page to reflect this, and more may follow.


October 3, 2013 / rockroots

The Irish Bahá’ís – Peace Will Shine



The Bahá’í faith claims to be the youngest of the world’s independent religions. In essence, in 1844 a Persian merchant named Siyyid Ali-Muhammad proclaimed himself the ‘Báb’ – the gateway to the Mahdi, the Twelfth Imam of Shi’a Islam who is considered to have been in hiding for a thousand years. He later declared that he himself was the Mahdi, inevitably leading to persecution from the Shah’s authorities and execution by firing squad in 1850. The Báb had prophesied that ‘Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest’ would follow, and in due course one of his disciples, Mírzá Husayn ‘Alí Núrí, known as Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), came to be recognised as this Messenger of God, the most recent in a line that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. In moving away from their origins in Shi’a theology and embracing aspects of all monotheistic religions, Bahá’ís emphasise that there is only one God and that all major religions have the same spiritual source; that all humans have been created equal and that diversity of race and culture are worthy of appreciation and acceptance; and that the human purpose is to learn to know and love God through such methods as prayer, reflection, and being of service to humanity. The religion gradually spread from its Persian and Ottoman roots and gained a footing in Europe and America. Currently there are five to seven million Bahá’ís worldwide, although in its Iranian heartland it currently suffers intense repression.

A visit to the website of the Bahá’í movement in Ireland reveals that it  was a former Church of Ireland clergyman in the late 1940′s who first established a permanent presence here, with an influx of new followers in the early 1970s. The ’70s was also the era when the Hare Krishna, Buddhist and various Born-Again Christian faiths first gained a small but durable foothold in Ireland, and also when, in a wider context, a huge number of post-hippie young people across the Western hemisphere looked to religion – rather than sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll – for spiritual enlightenment. It’s this demographic of the community that is most evident on the 1978 LP Peace Will Shine, credited simply to The Irish Bahá’ís. The album is a collection of acoustic folk-rock songs with close-harmony vocals, reminding me of no-one more than Crosby, Stills & Nash and – with occasional flutes and whistles – not far removed from Trader Horne. The lyrics, aside from those specifically about figures from Bahá’í history, are filled with the aspirations for world harmony and tolerance that are very admirable parts of their faith, but which also align very strongly with the kind of music championed by the Woodstock generation. The record also invites inevitable comparisons to evangelical Christian rock, and to my ears it comes close to those faithful of a different hue, Ya Ho Wa 13.

Music is “by the Irish Bahá’ís”, although more particularly the track ‘Healing Prayer’ was set to music by John Ford Coley, and much of the lyrics are taken from Bahá’í texts. The liner notes tell us that it was recorded in a three-day session at Middle 8 Studio, but neither the musicians nor the lead singers are identified. The producer, however, is named as Jack Costelloe. The Irish Rock Discography suggests that Jack Costello and Guido DeVito from late ’60s Limerick rockers Granny’s Intentions may have been involved, but this isn’t evident from listening to the music. The LP was released on the (apparently one-off) Hyacinth Records label (B134/1) and has become highly collectable due more to its scarcity than to high regard for the contents. That said, it’s a decent record and well worth hearing if the above musical references or the Bahá’í faith pique your interest. This is another case where I’m reposting contents from elsewhere on the web – in this case from Epeli’s site the linked below – which will explain why track 11 is missing and can’t be added for the time being


The Irish Bahá’ís – Peace Will Shine (192 kbps):

  1. Alláh’u’ Ábha
  2. Right On Brother
  3. Healing Prayer
  4. Waves Of One Sea
  5. The Báb
  6. Blessed Is The Spot
  7. Hidden Word
  8. Lonely Faces
  9. Tara
  10. Work Together
  11. A Question Of Life
  12. Peace Will Shine


See Also:

Epeli’s archive of Bahá’í-inspired music unavailable elsewhere

Irish Rock Discography: The Irish Bahá’ís

Somewhere There Is Music: The Irish Bahá’ís – Peace Will Shine

Official website of the Bahá’ís of Ireland


July 9, 2013 / rockroots

The Freemen – The Flight From Mountjoy

freemen the flight from mountjoy

For most Irish people it’s probably difficult, in 2013, to listen to a song with a chorus proclaiming “Glory, Glory to the Provos” without a sense of unease, but 1973 was a very different world in many ways. The Northern Irish civil rights movement had led to a confrontation between the local Unionist government and factions of the republican movement who saw their role as defenders of an oppressed minority, and the polarising effect of this was to stir the patriotic sentiments of very many nationalist Irish people. The gruesome and traumatic events of 1974 would serve to undermine the heroic image of the competing Northern armed groups to a large extent but before all that there was one particular attention-grabbing stunt staged on 31 October 1973 which captured the imagination of the nationalist community.

In September Seamus Twomey, Chief of Staff of the Provisional (‘Provo’) faction of the IRA had been jailed by the Irish Republic’s government in Mountjoy Prison, where he joined senior republicans J.B. O’Hagan and Kevin Mallon. Plans immediately went into action to break all three men out and a man with an American accent hired a helicopter at Dublin Airport, ostensibly for an aerial photo shoot in County Laois. The helicopter and pilot were hijacked and forced to land in the exercise yard of the prison where Twomey, Mallon and O’Hagan boarded the helicopter and escaped to safe houses. The daring escape made headlines around the world and was hugely embarrassing for the government. Mallon was recaptured in December 1973 (he escaped again in August 1974), O’Hagan was recaptured in early 1975, and Twomey in December 1977, but the audacious nature of the escape prompted republican folk group The Wolfe Tones to release a single called ‘The Helicopter Song’ which managed to top the Irish charts in spite of a government ban.

Meanwhile, lesser-known folk band The Freemen issued their own vinyl tribute to the episode, titled ‘The Flight From Mountjoy’. As can be guessed from the chorus, the song is unequivocal in its support for the Provisionals, and the Beal Feirste label (Belfast, as geailge) seems to have released just four singles, three of them by The Freemen, and all militantly republican. That this song was not a hit when The Wolfe Tones’ was can only be put down to bad luck or lack of promotion considering the content and style of both were much the same. The song was written by McGinley/Freeman and both sides were produced by The Freemen.

The ‘B’-side was ‘The Ballad of Billy Reid‘, a cover of a fairly well-known republican song written by Brian Lyons (and also recorded by The Wolfe Tones, among others). Billy Reid was another member of the Provisional IRA, and is believed to have shot dead the first on-duty British soldier to be killed in Ireland since the 1920s, in Belfast on 6 February 1971, and in so doing provoked an all-out war between the Provos and previously (officially) neutral British army. A few months later, in May 1971, an army patrol was ambushed in Belfast and Billy Reid was killed in the subsequent shoot-out. Lyons’ ballad emphasises the view that Reid was an heroic victim, thus earning a place on the list of martyrs to the republican cause.

The enigmatic Freemen left behind a number of singles that will be offensive to some, patriotic to others, but they offer us a glimpse of one of the more bloody and divisive periods in Ireland’s turbulent history.


The Freemen (192 kbps):

  1. The Flight From Mountjoy
  2. The Ballad Of Billy Reid


See Also:

Beal Feirste label discography


May 17, 2013 / rockroots

Sheeba – The Singles

sheeba don't know how 1


This post coincides with the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest weekend, and might hopefully serve as an inspiration to whatever bland balladeer has been chosen to represent Ireland this year or in future years.

In March 1978 Sheeba took part in the Irish National Song Contest to select that years Irish Eurovision entry, with It’s Amazing What Love Can Do. They finished 6th out of 8, behind such luminaries as winner Colm C.T. Wilkinson, Chips and Reform. But the group, or rather the group members, were far from unknown. Frances Campbell had appeared as a teenaged solo singer on Opportunity Knocks, and Marion Fossett was a member of the very well-established Fossett’s Circus family. But it was Irene ‘Maxi’ McCoubrey (“Mac-C”, you see) who was a household name, having already been with late-’60s pop girl group Maxi, Dick & Twink and – following their acrimonious split during a Canadian tour – with country-pop group Danny Doyle & Music Box (Doyle himself finished in last place in the 1978 run-off). Maxi had in fact represented Ireland already in the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest, but ruffled some feathers when she threatened not to perform because of problems with the live rehearsals. RTÉ even took the precaution of flying Tina Reynolds to Luxembourg as a possible replacement, but it’s not clear if this had any impact on Sheeba’s chances in 1978.

Undeterred, Sheeba launched their recording career in 1980 with the Roberto Danova produced single Woman Without Love / Like A Falling Star. They soon followed this with Ain’t That Enough / Baby Come Back, produced by future Riverdancer Bill Whelan. There was a definite disco feel to these first singles, but Baby Come Back is credited to Grant, which would appear to suggest a cover of Eddie Grant & The Equals 1967 hit single – it’s not, and this may be a label error, but it’s a pretty catchy song. In 1981 the girls tried out again for the Eurovision, this time securing the Irish nomination and representing the country in Dublin with Horoscopes, in which they got unreasonably angry about astrology (“Don’t let the planets take control of your lives, believe in the truth and not celestial lies…”), and finished in 5th place. They embraced the exposure of the European contest with inter-galactic disco outfits and earned a following internationally. Horoscopes was inevitably released as a single, backed by the ballad You Came Through Love With Me, produced by Freshmen frontman Billy Brown (note, however, that the single version almost doubles in volume during the course of the song for some reason – this is one of the few occasions where I’ve done substantial digital altering on an original recording, as it’s quite jarring).

sheeba horoscopes 2


Sheeba decided to try again for the Eurovision nomination the following year with the somewhat corny Go Raibh Maith Agat (Thank You Very Much), but finished a disappointing 7th, ahead only of Chips. 1982 also saw the release of two more exceptionally europop singles: the Brown-produced The Next Night (“Well I wasn’t very good tonight… you were really in the mood tonight… I can’t forgive myself” – not the most empowering of lyrics) / I Like My Love Like This;  and Coming To You / Don’t Know How (in which the girls adopt a country twang to sing about “the thangs you do”). They were heavily promoted through their extravagant and risque outfits and were arguably the first Irish group to use their sexuality in such an explicit way. The group were also regular performers on the ITV series Name That Tune.

According to Maxi the trio were working on an album in Mayo at the time of the horrific accident that abruptly interrupted their career in 1982. Driving to Castlebar on a rainy afternoon, their car hit that of a woman on a school run, killing the mother and one of her children. Campbell suffered a collapsed lung, Fossett a facial injury, and Maxi had a fractured skull and lost her short-term memory. With Maxi unable to remember song lyrics and her hair shaved off to facilitate over 100 stitches, and after the trauma of the fatal crash, the group’s confidence was crushed. Although Maxi’s memory returned and they flew to Japan for a short tour in 1983, they soon decided to stop touring altogether. Nevertheless, they entered the Irish National Song Contest one last time in 1984 with the ballad My Love And You, finishing 4th behind Linda Martin. That was the end of Sheeba, but Marion Fossett turned up two more times as an unsuccessful solo entrant: in 1985 with Only A Fantasy, and in 1996 with This Time. Fossett returned to the family business and remains the ringmisteress and public face of Fossett’s Circus today. Frances Campbell joined BBC Radio Foyle in Derry where she hosted an afternoon show for six years before retiring to raise her family. In November 2012 she returned to the music scene with her solo album Beautiful Age. Maxi also became a radio broadcaster and presented RTÉ’s breakfast show up until 2010. She has also presented TV and was a special representative for UNICEF Ireland, highlighting the problems of AIDS-ravaged sub-Saharan Africa.


Sheeba – The Singles (192 kbps):

  1. Woman Without Love
  2. Like A Falling Star
  3. Ain’t That Enough
  4. Baby Come Back
  5. Horoscopes (live INSC)
  6. Horoscopes (live ESC)
  7. Horoscopes
  8. You Came Through Love With Me
  9. Go Raibh Maith Agat (Thank You) (live INSC)
  10. The Next Night
  11. I Like My Love Like This
  12. Coming To You
  13. Don’t Know How
  14. My Love And You (live INSC)
  15. Marion Fossett – Only A Fantasy (live INSC)
  16. Marion Fossett – This Time (live INSC)


See Also:

Wikipedia: Sheeba

Irish Sheeba

Fústar: Sheeba

Kieran Murray: Sheeba

Frances Campbell official website


April 25, 2013 / rockroots

Starband / The Crack

G - Mamacita cover a

G - Mamacita cover b

Though these two pop groups probably deserve separate posts, we’ll deal with them together for now as they have a complex interlinking history. The story really begins with the infamous Miami Showband Massacre of July 1975. The Miami was by that point a very well established and popular group despite the fact that they had shed all of their original members over the years, with firstly The Sands and later frontman Dickie Rock departing for greener pastures. But in fact, the young new band members had revitalised the group by the time of the devastating incident in County Down. Stopped by a UVF roadblock, their tour van was being fitted with a bomb for transport into the Republic when it exploded prematurely. The panicked gunmen opened fire on the hapless musicians and killed three of the six members. With remarkable resilience, the three survivors – Des ‘Lee’ McAlea (saxophone/vocals), Ray Millar (drums) and Stephen Travers (bass) – rebuilt the band and were touring again before the end of the year, but Travers and Millar soon dropped out and The Miami carried on even after Lee quit in 1978.

Free of the baggage that came with their former group, Lee, Millar and Travers reunited later the same year and recruited former Chips keyboard player and mainstay Adrian Mullen, one-time Mushroom guitarist Aonghus McAnally, and little-known singer Dee ‘Julie’ McMahon to launch themselves as Starband featuring Des Lee and Julie for their debut single Kiss Me, Kiss Your Baby. Managed by Louis Walsh, they were slightly renamed as Des Lee, Julie & Starband for a series of bouncy bubblegum pop singles, mostly on the Spider label. It is surprising perhaps that Starband never seemed to gun for Eurovision glory like Chips or Maxi, as their music would have been a perfect fit. The uncharacteristically risque picture sleeve above (which perhaps would have better suited The Crack!) also housed a single on luscious yellow vinyl. A second ‘Julie’ – Liz Allen – temporarily replaced Dee McMahon from late 1979. Soon after, Travers and McAnally split to form their own group, and Lee also departed for a time. Starband ploughed on but even the return of Lee and McMahon could not revive the chart prospects of the group. Des Lee and Liz Allen formed a new band which emigrated to South Africa in about 1982.

Des Lee, Julie and Starband – The Singles:

  1. Kiss Me, Kiss Your Baby / If I Had You Back Again (Release Records RL 942; 1978)
  2. Kiss Me, Kiss Your Baby / Don’t Hurt Me Anymore (Release Records RL 942, 1978)
  3. Hold On To Love (Release Records, 1979?)
  4. If You Wanna Make Love / Still In Love With You (Spider Records WEB001, 1979)
  5. Mamacita / Summer Lady [Still In Love With You] (Spider Records WEB010, 1979)
  6. Don’t Hurt Me Anymore / Don’t Hurt Me Anymore (instrumental) (Spider Records WEB023, 1980)
  7. The Hucklebuck / Rest Your Love On Me (Spider Records WEB031, 1980)
  8. Johnny, Oh Johnny / Baby Come Back (Release Records, 1981?)

Crackers, who sadly didn’t take the country by storm.

Meanwhile, Stephen Travers and Aonghus McAnally had formed Crackers, with Tommy Lundy (guitar/vocals), Ronan O’Callaghan (keyboards) and Pat Waller (drums). Based on the above evidence, Crackers were a hyperactive pop outfit, but after this first 1980 single McAnally and Waller departed (McAnally to release a solo single and become a TV presenter). With Lundy stepping forward as frontman, and with new drummer Barry Patterson, the band changed their name to The Crack.


crack go away cover

As mentioned elsewhere, Crack was also the name used for a 1980 Irish novelty single about Paul McCartney’s Japanese drug bust, but the groups were not connected. Coincidentally, Lundy’s singing voice bore a strong resemblance to that of McCartney, and the new Travers/Lundy songwriting partnership (only these two were pictured on record sleeves) crafted soft rock & pop tunes not unlike Wings’ output. A 1981 single on their own ‘Cracked Records’ label was followed by two more and an LP on CBS. That album – the amusingly titled Dawn of The Crack – was released early in 1982 and featured Travers’ former Starband colleagues Adrian Mullen and Dee McMahon, and Jim Barry of The Memories, as guest backing vocalists. Drummer Martin McElroy soon replaced Patterson, but nothing more was heard from the group despite their undeniable songwriting talent. Tommy Lundy passed away in 2003. Stephen Travers led a successful campaign to have a memorial erected for his three murdered band-mates, and in 2008 events came full-circle as Des Lee, Ray Millar and Stephen Travers once again reformed The Miami.

The Crack – The Singles:

  1. When The Time Comes
  2. Kickin’ At The Kickham
  3. Go Away
  4. Listen


See Also:

Irish Starband

Irish Rock Discography: The Crack


February 17, 2013 / rockroots

Bogey Boys – Friday Night



Navan guitar player Jimmy Smyth had, like a slightly earlier generation of Irish rock musicians, learned his trade on the showband circuit. His father Jimmy had played with The Arcadians, while he had been with The Big Valley in the early 1970s. His sister Gloria had an Irish number 1 hit with country ballad One Day At A Time in 1977. Taking a heavier route, Smyth formed The Bogey Boys around 1978 with Donald ‘Doish’ Nagle (bass) and Paul Moran (drums). Smyth’s guitar playing took center stage in high energy blues and R’n’B material, much like the New Wave/Pub Rock movement making headlines in Britain at the time. Aptly, they gained further recognition supporting Rory Gallagher in 1978 and released their first single, Friday Night, in 1979, followed shortly after by their debut LP of the same name. The album blends Rock ‘n’ Roll with harder rock (as on tracks like  Hard Times) and sits easily alongside Reform’s album and ’80s acts like Mama’s Boys.

The Bogey Boys rip through Dr. Feelgood’s She Does It Right at the Cork Opera House in 1980. U2 were the support act.

A Peter Green-influenced second album quickly followed in 1980, titled Jimmy Did It!, and a number of singles reached the charts in 1980 and 1981, but despite a devoted fan base and good press publicity, the band never quite hit the big time in the way they probably deserved. Line-up changes also broke their momentum with the departure of both Nagle (to Phil Lynott’s post-Lizzy group Grand Slam) and Moran. Jimmy’s brother Tony Smyth took over the drums, while a succession of bass players included Davy Watson, Neil Whiffen and Iggy Ward. The band went to the USA in 1982 and spent a year gigging and trying to secure an American record deal, but broke up in 1983. Jimmy stayed for some time in L.A. while Tony joined The No Name Band back in Navan. At the end of 1985 the Smyth brothers reunited for one more Bogey Boys Irish tour and again for a gig in 2005. They also gigged with Watson and with Francis Geraghty of The No Name Band as Deep 6, who released an album called Undercover. In 2012 The Bogey Boys reformed with Smyth, Smyth and Nagle, and set about making up for lost time with a whirlwind of gigs in Ireland and London.


Bogey Boys – Friday Night (192 kbps):

  1. Friday Night
  2. Heartbreaker
  3. Success Story
  4. Gunslinger
  5. It Could Happen To You
  6. I’m Alright Jack
  7. Rock n’ Roll Romance
  8. Hard Times
  9. In My Own Time
  10. Closing Time


See Also:

Irish Rock Discography: Bogey Boys



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