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December 13, 2011 / rockroots

The Real McCoy – This Is The Real McCoy


Dublin beat group The Creatures split in September 1967. At the end of 1968 lead singer and rhythm guitarist Liam McKenna turned up playing bass with new pop group The Real McCoy. The rest of the line-up consisted of Mike O’Brien on vocals, Eddie Campbell on lead guitar, Kevin McAlea on organ, Dave Pennefather on drums, Dave Coady on trumpet and Keith Donald on saxophone. Pennefather had previously played in The Inmates/The Kult (with Paul Brady and Jackie McAuley). This 1970 album, with it’s eye-catching photos of the boys larking about in their swimming togs, was actually a compilation gathering all the ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides of their five singles up to that point. Their music walked the fine line between beat and showband, ranging from schmaltzy ballads (‘Many The Memories’) to breezy pop (‘Guitarzan’) to – occasionally – inventive pop-psych. The latter is the reason for their inclusion here. Debut single, ‘I Get So Excited’, originally by The Equals, got the band off to a good start with a very catchy upbeat song layered with enough phasing to make even The Small Faces jealous. Production and arrangement was courtesy of Bill Somerville-Large and Peter Bardon at the Eamonn Andrews Studios in Henry Street. Second single, ‘Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)’, was even better. Originally recorded by the Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, it benefited from some very skilled production work, and backing vocals provided by teenagers Maxi, Dick & Twink – one of their earliest recordings before launching their own career as a girl-group and as long-established solo artists/entertainers.

Later singles featured a more straight-forward pop approach, such as on ‘Round The Gum Tree’ and ‘Guitarzan’, while ‘B’-sides offered other members of the group a share of the limelight. On ‘I Will’ and ‘Anytime You Need Me’, for example, nostalgic Creatures fans could hear Liam McKenna sing lead once again, Dave Coady sang ballad material, and Campbell’s lead guitar, McAlea’s keyboards and the brass section each got a chance to shine on some of these tracks. The appeal of these songs led to top-ten hits in the Irish charts (‘Quick Joey Small‘ reached #1) and pin-up status for Mike O’Brien. Two later singles were issued by the band which weren’t included on this album. American producer, agent and songwriter Neil Levenson, who had played a pivotal role in the career of The Creatures, had expressed interest in the group even before their first release, and ultimately wrote their final single, ‘I’ll Give You Things’, released in late 1970 with a ‘B’-side written by Kevin McAlea. This was also issued through CBS in the UK in early 1971, but by the end of that year the original band had unfortunately splintered. McKenna and McAlea joined a late line-up of The Gentry (where McKenna was briefly reunited with ex-Creature Brian Harris), while O’Brien, along with McKenna’s short-term replacement Gerry Anderson, formed a super-group featuring Billy Brown (of The Freshmen), Ray Elliott (ex-Them) and Tiger Taylor (ex-Eire Apparent).

Campbell, Pennefather and Donald formed the core of a new line-up backing showband singer Tina Reynolds. As ‘Tina & The Real McCoy‘ they scored a few more chart hits and recorded another album. A road accident in the summer of 1973 abruptly ended this second incarnation, as both Tina and Donald were seriously injured and couldn’t perform for some time. At the end of that year, Mike O’Brien reformed The Real McCoy with a completely new line-up and toured until 1975 but did not record. Liam McKenna spent a decade playing bass and guitar with The Memories before vanishing; Kevin McAlea went on to a very successful career in the UK as a member of Bees Make Honey and as a session musician with Kate Bush, Clannad, Barclay James Harvest and others (and also wrote the English lyrics to Nena’s German hit ’99 Red Balloons’); Gerry Anderson became a very well-known television and radio personality in Northern Ireland; Dave Pennefather became General Manager of MCA Ireland from 1984 and was Managing Director of Universal Ireland from 1999 to 2008.


This Is The Real McCoy (192 kbps):

01  Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)

02  I Will

03  Round The Gum Tree

04  She’s Different, She’s Beautiful

05  Somebody’s Taken Maria Away

06  I Get So Excited

07  Happiness Is Love

08  Anytime You Need Me

09  Guitarzan

10  Many The Memories

Bonus tracks:

13  I’ll Give You Things

14  Baby Go Home


See also:

Irish Rock Discography: The Real McCoy

Irish Showband & Beat Group Archive: The Real McCoy

Irish The Real McCoy




Leave a Comment
  1. Jo McKenzie / Jul 5 2015 00:34

    Kevin McAlea toured with Kate Bush in 1979 and the 2014 Hammersmith Apollo series of 22 concerts. In 2015 he is touring with David Gilmour/Pink Floyd.

    • Kevin McAlea / Jun 23 2016 02:10

      Yes that was an exciting time. It was great to be with players like Keith Donald, Liam McKenna and Eddie Campbell. I have been touring with David Gilmour/ Pink Floyd but I look back with great fondness to those heady days of 68/69 making our first record in Eammon Andrews studio in Dublin. Still remember how Ed slid his guitar strings along a mic stand for the tape phasing.

      • Michael Gilmore / Sep 27 2016 18:55

        Thank you Kevin for remembering my uncle Eddie Campbell.such a great talented gentleman taken from this world at such a young age. If anyone else has any stories about Eddie I would love to hear them. We are also trying to contact his widow sherry Campbell who lives in Toronto x

  2. Noelle Corcoran / Jan 27 2017 22:42

    Great memories of the Real McCoy (and The Creatures with Liam McKenna – ‘Turn Out The Light, Babe’). I knew Mike O’Brien for awhile – would love to know where they are now – are they still playing somewhere?


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