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January 20, 2021 / rockroots

Turner & Kirwan of Wexford – Bootleg

Got to say this again – by all means share my vinyl rips on other platforms, but please be sound and don’t take all of the credit for yourselves. A lot of time and effort goes into digitising these rare records, not to mention spending the GDP of a small nation in collecting them over the years. A site link or even a namecheck would be appreciated.

Anyway, as detailed elsewhere on the site, Pierce Turner and Larry Kirwan – from Wexford – first played together as Aftermath, releasing a single in early 1971. ‘We Have No More Babies Left’ was written in response to the Bhola disaster, in which the deadliest cyclone in recorded history killed half a million people in present-day Bangladesh. The plaintive church-organ-driven song demands that God justify allowing such cruelty to happen. It also mentions an astoundingly long-lived Irish institution: “We’ll bring you a film of this catastrophe while you watch the Late Late Show in bed.” Melancholy ‘B’ side ‘Neck And Neck’ is a little ramshackle compared to later re-recordings. Moving to New York and emphasising their Irish credentials as Turner & Kirwan of Wexford, the duo’s next single (on the Thimble label in 1973) featured ‘Neck And Neck’ on the ‘A’ side, this time with the lush, McCartney-esque production it deserved. The altogether too brief flipside ‘When Starlings Fly’ is simple but gently charming.

However, the main focus of this post is the obscure ‘bootleg’ which forms the missing link between those singles and the excellent 1977 official debut album. The Irish Rock Discography reports that Bootleg was a limited-run private pressing which was sold at gigs and was probably also sent as a demo to record labels in search of a deal. The production code ‘TKLPS (‘Turner & Kirwan LPs’?) 1984‘ is a red herring, given it was apparently released in 1974. Despite being limited in numbers, there seem to be variations in the packaging – white labels vs green labels, some with publicity photos and typed biography inserts and others (such as this one, unfortunately) without. The sleeve was plain white with home-made paper labels glued on. Presumably, the contents were more consistent. What’s on offer? Well, the second version of ‘Neck and Neck’ (as far as I can tell) gets another outing. You also get alternative/demo takes of Absolutely… tracks ‘Warts and All’ and ‘Absolutely And Completely’, and an apparently live rendition of ‘Traveling People’ which is a revelation as to how their more complex material might have translated to the stage. There’s a jaunty but inessential run through an old Manfred Mann (well, Bob Dylan) classic, and the otherwise unreleased soft rock ballads ‘Float on the River’ and ‘Dusty Mansions’. ‘Menapia Man’ is the highlight though – a fragile and haunting reflection on days gone by. If you’re looking for more of the band’s 1977 album here you may be disappointed, but this was never really intended to be a standalone album. Yet for completists, this illustrates another step in the evolution of these two important Irish musicians, from orchestral pop to prog rock and on towards the new wave.

The Singles (192kbps):

  • Aftermath – We Have No More Babies Left
  • Aftermath – Neck And Neck (In The Race Of Life)
  • Neck And Neck
  • When Starlings Fly

Bootleg (192 kbps):

  1. Warts And All
  2. Absolutely And Completely
  3. Neck And Neck
  4. Float On The River
  5. If You Gotta Go (Go Now)
  6. Traveling People (live)
  7. Dusty Mansions
  8. Menapia Man (live)

See Also:

Irish Rock Discography: Turner & Kirwan of Wexford

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