Magic Band – I Am A Cannibal / The Last Time
The Magic Band (not Captain Beefheart’s backing group) were formed in 1974 in Galway. Trumpet player Johnny Carroll, drummer Mickey Belton and road manager Jimmy O’Neill had most recently been members of successful country band Murphy & The Swallows, before which Carroll and O’Neill were with chart-topping Roscommon showband The Premier Aces. Other founder members of the new pop group (known initially as Magic & The Swallows) included guitarist Gerry Gallagher and singer Kevin ‘Magic’ Walsh, who wore a specially-designed suit lit up with twinkling lights and used a very early wireless microphone so he could jump out of unexpected places. The group scored numerous hit singles and toured all over the country until 1979, when Walsh quit.
Teenage vocalist Cornelius Ward took over as Magic frontman for a handful of further singles, the last of which was I Am A Cannibal in 1981. If you overlook the casual racism of the cover image and spoken intro (even by 1981 standards), the ‘A’ side is a pretty decent and annoyingly catchy reggae-pop tune with some nice musicianship. Just to prove how skilled and adaptable these guys were, compare it to the country/showband ballad on the ‘B’ side. As competition from discos squashed the Irish rural live music scene, The Magic Band soon broke up. Con Ward recorded a song with The Kim Newport Band (featuring ex-Magic Band member Gerry Gallagher) for the National Song Contest in late 1981, and later became a Garda. Mickey Belton currently plays with the (unrelated) Black Magic Big Band in Galway, while Johnny Carroll tours to this day as a solo artist billed as ‘The Man with the Golden Trumpet’, and has released a number of albums.
- I Am A Cannibal
- The Last Time