Eire Apparent

Sunrise

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For an album that never had a hit to drive it, by a group that isn't too well remembered on its own terms, Eire Apparent's Sunrise is amazingly well known, at least as an artifact among Jimi Hendrix fans, owing to the fact that the guitarist produced it (and played on parts of it). But one wonders how many people have ever actually listened to the album -- as it turns out, it's a pleasing, tuneful, and occasionally bold psychedelic pop/rock excursion, similar in many ways to the Yardbirds' Little Games album, except that Eire Apparent were apparently far more comfortable with psychedelic pop stylings here than Keith Relf, Jimmy Page, et al., were on that Yardbirds record. The mix of lyrical acoustic and electric guitar sounds, some tasteful light orchestrations (strings and horns), and trippy lyrical conceits all works extremely well; this is a surprising psychedelic pop release, gently trippy most of the way through with a few searing contributions by Hendrix. Almost as important are the hints one gets of Ernie Graham's subsequent songwriting range in embryonic form on numbers such as "Rock & Roll Band" and "Magic Carpet" -- his work is rootsier and mostly more accessible than that of Mick Cox, the other major songwriter in the group (though he does make a pleasing contribution with "Let Me Stay"). Between their best songs, the group's overall musical facility, and Hendrix's contributions, the whole album ends up extremely strong and consistent, and well worth hearing on its own terms, even if it wasn't breaking any new ground musically. The record should have done better than it did, but its release by Buddah (which had virtually no presence in England) limited its overseas impact -- and, in any case, the group had lost most of its British audience by then. Also, American radio probably didn't know where to place it, since it straddled both the pop and psychedelic categories (and in very bold terms), along with elements of roots rock. And it missed an opportunity as well -- the original LP release was missing the single B-side "Rock & Roll Band," which covered a lot of the same territory that the Hollies were to parlay into a Top Ten hit a couple of years later with "Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)." Juxtapose that with numbers like "The Clown" -- which plunged into psychedelic/metal in a pop framework that distantly echoes both Hendrix's music and that of the Yardbirds of "Happenings Ten Years' Time Ago" -- and one can see the range this group had. It's all admirable music, but was apparently too tough to sell easily without a hit single to pull people in. And it's all still worth hearing, even four decades on. [The 1991 Repertoire Records CD included "Rock & Roll Band" as a bonus track.]

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