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July 30, 2018 / rockroots

Billy Brown – One More River To Cross

Billy Brown - One More River To Cross a

The Freshmen have been mentioned in one of the earliest posts on this site, and front-man Billy Brown has also featured from the time his career crossed-over with that of Them multi-instrumentalist Ray Elliott. To recap, The Freshmen were one of the more successful Irish pop groups/showbands of the 1960s, their Beach Boys-influenced summery sound reportedly even overshadowing the Beach Boys themselves when they appeared on the same bill. In 1970 they stretched their creative muscles with a concept album about ‘Peace On Earth’ which, unfortunately, failed to find a mass audience.

Soon, Brown left the group and in October 1971 the singer / keyboardist / saxophonist was reported to be assembling a new band featuring Ray Elliott, Tiger Taylor (guitar, ex-Eire Apparent), Jimmy Greeley (drums, ex-Orange Machine) and Billy Boyd (bass, ex-The Gentry). Ultimately, super-group Brown & O’Brien was unveiled in November 1971, featuring Brown, Elliott and Taylor alongside Mike O’Brien (vocals, ex-The Real McCoy), Eddie Creighton (guitar, ex-The Chessmen), Gerry Anderson (bass, ex-The Chessmen, ex-The Real McCoy and future BBC presenter), Paddy Freeney (drums, ex-The Others) and Pat McCarthy (trombone, ex-Dreams).

The single ‘One More River To Cross’ followed soon afterwards in early 1972 from Hit Records. Intriguingly, the label credits ‘Billy Brown of Brown & O’Brien’, acknowledging both that this is a solo effort but that the new band still exists. This could simply be down to complications from the band-members’ previous publishing and management deals, though it’s also apparent that neither side of the single is a full rock group arrangement. The Neil Sedaka/Howard Greenfield ‘A’ side is a pop ballad featuring violin, piano and a vocal chorus, the Billy Brown original ‘B’ side ‘Yesterday Song’ is a simple piano ballad.

In March 1972, Brown said the band was planning an entire album tentatively titled ‘Questions’, with songs to be composed by Brown with various local lyric writers. Freeney was replaced by drummer Pat Nash (ex-Granny’s Intentions, ex-Woods Band) in July 1972 and the entire band emigrated to Canada to try their fortune. However, by 1973 both Brown and O’Brien had returned to their former bands back in Ireland and their super-group ground to a halt. Elliott and Nash both moved on to The Newcomers – another Irish band based in Canada. Billy Brown struggled through the 1970s with The Freshmen, never quite reliving their 1960s heyday, notwithstanding their surprise punk pastiche hit single ‘You’ve Never Heard Anything Like It’. After the final break-up of the band, he continued writing and producing behind the scenes until his untimely death in 1999.

Billy Brown – One More River To Cross (192kbps, but very scratchy):

  • One More River To Cross
  • Yesterday Song



Leave a Comment
  1. Daniel / Oct 26 2019 12:17

    Hi, congratulations for your page and sharing such a fantastic music. i’m looking for some The Bacherlor’s late 60’s early 70’s records. I would appreciate your help if you have some of these and you canpost them. Thank you and keep up the good work.

  2. rockroots / Oct 28 2019 00:15

    Hi Daniel – thanks for that. I don’t have these LPs in my collection but will keep an eye out for them as they sometimes turn up. – RR

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