This is the Radiators’ fourth studio album and it’s quite different from the band’s others, as it contains no self-composed titles.
Described as a tribute to the Irish beat groups of the 1960s, this 54-minute, 18-track album spans the earliest days of Irish rock music, from 1964 to 1971, and contains cover versions of songs written by Rory Gallagher, Phil Lynott, Ian Whitcomb and Van Morrison, as well as recordings by lesser-known Irish groups such as Granny’s Intentions, Andwella’s Dream, Skid Row, the Hootenannys, Peter Adler & the Next In Line, Eire Apparent, the Creatures, the Movement, Orange Machine, Blue Aces, King Bees, Sugar Shack, the Editions and Horslips.
The album reveals the rich and varied musical colours employed by the musicians from these groups who helped prime the canvas for a later generation of Irish rock’s international superstars. Ironically, most of these pioneering groups met with limited success themselves: they arrived on the scene when the sounds of the showbands and ballad groups were providing the soundtrack to a decade of seismic change in Ireland. As with everywhere else, Dublin underwent profound changes in culture, history and demographics in the 1960s. Its thriving Club scene can now be seen as a crucible for later developments which saw Dublin become a pivotal world city in terms of contemporary music. Henry McCullough, who played the Woodstock Festival with Joe Cocker & the Grease Band, remembers playing the clubs in Dublin as the most exciting time in his life.
The Radiators had a wealth of raw material to work with so, with only two notable exceptions, they chose songs that had originated with or had been written by the band in question. The exceptions are Slim Harpo’s ‘I’m A King Bee’ (Ditch Cassidy & the King Bees) and ‘Morning Dew’ (Sugar Shack), both of which were originally recorded in such distinctive renditions that the Rads have covered not so much the song as the performance.
The Radiators have recorded their own versions of these below-the-radar beat classics, rather than try to recreate the exact sound of the originals. The music ranges from beat group melodic to twangsville guitar to psych pop and folk rock all brought into the 20th Century by Radiators founding members Phil Chevron, Pete Holidai and Steve Averill.
The album has cameo appearances from Eamon Carr, Terry Woods, Conor Brady and Henry McCullough. I think that this is a terrific album, initial reaction has been very strong. You’re sure to encounter “Sound City Beat” on the radio or in print very soon.
By Ted Carroll (adapted from notes by Philip Chevron)