Famous Shamus – Big Tom Will Make Me A Star
Circumstances have conspired to make me think it’s a good idea to revive this blog’s lifeless cadaver. And much as Dr. Frankenstein had his harnessed bolt of lightning, so Rock Roots will be reanimated by the awesome power of novelty singles. It occurs to me that the Irish record-making industry of the 1960s to the early 1980s was a lot more progressive than it is given credit for. Any band that could scrape together a few quid could book a session in a recording studio, knock out a couple of well-rehearsed tracks, take them to the local mattress salesman/record label owner and get some copies pressed up for sale. In this respect perhaps Ireland was much more akin to early Jamaican ska or to the garage rock explosion in the US during the ’60s. Sadly, most of the music has proved less memorable, but this aesthetic of independent local records, coupled with a peculiar Irish sense of humour, sometimes throws up some pretty odd discs that would likely leave anyone from outside Ireland feeling bemused and baffled.
Take, for example, Big Tom Will Make Me A Star by Famous Shamus. To people of a certain vintage Big Tom McBride will be familiar as one of the leading lights of the ‘Country & Irish’ scene, being both a chart regular and a hugely popular live draw since the mid-1960s, backed by The Mainliners (presumably not a drug reference). Famous Shamus’ single was released around 1978 and told the story of an encounter with the singing legend and his gift of a sure-fire hit song titled ‘Torn Between Two Tractors’. Despite an uncanny imitation of Tom’s Monaghan accent, and despite further assuring us that “Susan McCann is your only man”, the single was only a minor hit and Shamus sadly never became very famous. In truth, this was another stunt by serial prankster Shay Healy (whose biggest musical prank probably was writing Eurovision winner What’s Another Year). According to the Irish Rock Discography, Healy’s character featured in kids TV series Hullabaloo and toured Ireland as a duo with Aonghus MacAnally (who was billed as ‘Amazing Aonghus’). There’ll be more on Healy in future posts. ‘B’-side Stay Loose is a pleasant enough pop tune.
- Big Tom Will Make Me A Star
- Stay Loose