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December 19, 2014 / rockroots

Tina & The Real McCoy – I Don’t Know How To Love Him

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The Irish Rock Discography justifiably calls this “a ghastly front cover” (are those Tina’s own hands or someone else’s threatening to strangle her?), but the description of the content as “bland country-tinged covers done showband style” might arguably be a bit harsh. As mentioned elsewhere, Dublin-based group The Real McCoy formed in 1968 and had a string of quirky, vaguely psychedelic pop hits such as ‘I Get So Excited’‘Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)’ and ‘Guitarzan’, but by 1971 the band had begun to fracture. Core members Dave Pennefather (drums), Eddie Campbell (lead guitar) and Keith Donald (saxophone), who had all previously been with The Greenbeats, regrouped at the end of that year with a new line-up backing singer Tina Reynolds, formerly of the showbands Tina & The Mexicans and Jim Farley & The Tophatters. With Tommy Walsh (organ), John L. Sullivan (saxophone) and Johnny Brown (bass), they became Tina & The Real McCoy and scored an immediate Irish number one with the ballad ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’, taken from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s recent rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar and driven by Tina’s strong but pure vocals.

The hit was included on this LP which followed in 1972. Among the more schmaltzy songs on offer were the poppy gospel number Put Your Hand In The Hand’ (as recorded by Canadian singer Anne Murray and by Canadian band Ocean), the Sonny & Cher song ‘All I Ever Need Is You’ (also recorded by Kenny Rogers & Dottie West) and Mort Shuman and Kenny Lynch’s ‘Over My Head’ (originally a B-side by Cilla Black). Things improved a bit with a punchy take on Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Keep The Customer Satisfied’, and with ‘Did You Ever’ – a vaguely suggestive recent minor country hit for Charlie Louvin & Melba Montgomery. There is a creditable version of The Carpenters’ ‘For All We Know’, although ‘Superstar’ suffers from an overly lounge-music arrangement. The Band’s ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ is smoothed out with orchestration but the female vocals give it a new twist, while the jaunty tone of ‘The Banks Of The Ohio’ disguises some pretty dark lyrics in this nineteenth-century murder ballad. The best track on the album is probably ‘Tell Me What’s The Matter’, seemingly an original written by producer John D’Ardis, which could have ranked alongside the better Eurovision entries of the day. The production overall is great, though the quality of the source record used for this post isn’t great.

There were a few more singles and an EP which included tracks not available on this album. A road accident near Portloaise in the summer of 1973 brought an abrupt end to the band, as both Tina and Keith Donald were hospitalised for some time and they never reconvened. Tina had entered the National Song Contest in 1972, finishing third, and had been flown out to the April 1973 Eurovision Song Contest in Luxembourg as a possible replacement for Maxi, who was threatening not to perform because of problems with the live rehearsals. In 1974, after her recovery, Tina finally represented Ireland at the Eurovision with ‘Cross Your Heart’ (written by Chips member Paul Lyttle), but came in seventh behind ABBA’s breakthrough performance. Enjoying a solo Irish hit (a German-language version was also released), Tina soon joined the long-established Nevada Showband and scored further hits during the rest of the decade, but also suffered another serious road crash before eventually retiring from touring in 1978. Eddie Campbell was one of the many Irish ex-pats who found it easier to earn a living as a musician in Canada, joining Dublin Corporation in 1973 (and becoming close friends with fellow-exile Ray Elliott), but died there at a very young age. Band leader Dave Pennefather became General Manager of MCA Ireland from 1984 and was Managing Director of Universal Ireland from 1999 to 2008.

Tina & The Real McCoy – I Don’t Know How To Love Him (192 kbps):

  1. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
  2. Tell Me What’s The Matter
  3. Over My Head
  4. All I Ever Need Is You
  5. Did You Ever
  6. I Don’t Know How To Love Him
  7. The Banks Of The Ohio
  8. For All We Know
  9. Put Your Hand In The Hand
  10. Superstar
  11. Keep The Customer Satisfied

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See also:

Irish Rock Discography: The Real McCoy

Irish Showband & Beat Group Archive: The Real McCoy

Irish Showbands.com: The Real McCoy

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