Eire Apparent – Complete 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.
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 Away, Someone 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.
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 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).
- 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:
- The Price Of Love
- Highway 61 Revisited
Live in Vienna, January 1969:
- The Price Of Love
- Highway 61 Revisited
- Rock ‘N’ Roll Band
BBC Top Gear:
- Yes, I Need Someone
The Dave Miller Set:
- Mr. Guy Fawkes
- Someone Is Sure To
- Let Me Stay
- Mr. Guy Fawkes
Green Beat: The Forgotten Era of Irish Rock (Daragh O’Halloran, 2006)