Urge – What’s Wrong? What’s Right? / Feelin’ Free
The Urge formed in Dublin around 1970 with Joe ‘Jodi’ O’Keefe on bass and lead vocals, Andy Dillon on lead guitar, Larry Jordan on drums and John Leahy on rhythm guitar. They were managed throughout their existence by Jodi’s brother, Shay O’Keefe. Like others from that era such as Adolf J. Rag, Crossroads and Elmer Fudd, they left behind a reputation as a thrilling live group but, unlike those bands, they also left behind one brief snapshot of their music on record. Photos show an impressively hip band channelling the look of the MC5. The two original songs that made up their only single would also fit that template, blending a cacophonous proto-punk clatter with heavy metallic riffs. By late 1970, reduced to a three-piece after the departure of John Leahy, they recorded What’s Wrong? What’s Right? / Feelin’ Free for the Polydor label at Trend Studios in Dublin, with Jackie Hayden producing. Both tracks were credited to “Keif-Dillon-Jordan”, while the group’s name was starkly proclaimed “Urge” both on the standard issue Irish single and on the disappointingly bland German picture sleeve release.
In early 1971 the band were invited to promote the single on the RTE music show Like Now, but they refused to mime and RTE would not let them play live. They walked off the show and onto the front pages of the newspapers as a result. Thereafter, the original band unfortunately fell apart. Drummer Larry Jordan left and was replaced by Blue O’Brien, formerly with power trio Crossroads (alongside guitarist Jimi Slevin). Andy Dillon emigrated to Australia, at which point Bernard Tormey from Ranelagh became lead guitarist, with Tormey’s former Wormwood bandmate Don Harris succeeding O’Brien on drums. The new line-up added Noel Cullen on bass and Carl Geraghty on sax/flute, with O’Keefe switching from bass to rhythm guitar/lead vocals. Geraghty also arranged a full horn section for some of their live dates, which featured a mix of blues rock originals with rock and soul/blues covers.
Carl Geraghty left the band around 1972 and they carried on as a four-piece for a further year before Don Harris departed to join Jimi Slevin in Peggy’s Leg. Blue O’Brien returned to the band for a short time until Tormey emigrated to England in 1973, at which point The Urge broke up. Bernard Tormey became Bernie Tormé, guitarist in a series of successful punk and metal bands including Gillan, Electric Gypsies and Torme. Sadly, Jodi O’Keefe and the other original members of The Urge seem to have disappeared into musical obscurity, leaving behind just this one great single and a lot of untapped potential.
What’s Wrong? What’s Right?