Saturday, December 30, 2006

Loudest Whisper "Maiden of Sorrow" 1975

Irish folk rockers best known for their 'Children of Lir' concept album. This live recording from 1975 continues in a similar vein and is a stage of another folk tale set to music complete with choirs etc. complex muisc for lovers of a rootsy electric folk rock sound with male and female vocals. Simialr to Fairport, The Trees, Steeleye Span, Mellow Candle etc. (Freak Emporium)

The History:
The Loudest Whisper story begins in rural Fermoy, Co. Cork, in the early 60s, when a group of teenagers encountered the music of the Beatles, and decided to form a beat group, the Wizards. The band's initial line-up comprised Brian O'Reilly and Michael Clancey on guitars, John Aherne on bass and Jimmy Cotter on drums, with all four members sharing vocals.

O'Reilly recalls that initially the band was "banging on chairs and playing acoustic guitars", since electric guitars and amplifiers weren't available in Fermoy before 1968. In­deed, musical purists frowned upon all guitars, as Brian notes: "In traditional sessions in those days, they didn't like guitar­ists joining in - that crept in slowly".

The folk dimension that would later characterise Loudest Whisper's work was absent from the Wizards' music, which consisted mainly of Beatles, Hollies and Spen­cer Davis covers. Later, the band discovered Cream, Hendrix and the blues, and their music took a heavier turn. Sometime around 1969 or 1970, they changed their name to Loudest Whisper.

By this time, the band had also undergone some line-up changes. Jimmy Cotter had left for Dublin "which for us, might as well have been a foreign country," notes Brian, and a fan of the band, Brendan "Bunny" Nelgian, was brought in as his replacement, despite never having played drums before. Later, Brian's brother Paud joined as a guitarist, quickly switching to drums, at which point Neligan became the band's lead vocalist.

Rehearsals began in the summer and The Children Of Lir premiered in Fermoy on 7th January 1973. Ron Kavanagh, a singer and guitarist who had also joined the band, took the lead role due to his fine voice and acting ability, whilst the band played themselves, and around 50 other performers were involved. The size of the orchestra, which included five guitarists, was as much for practical as artistic reasons - no stage microphone available, so the band needed to make as much noise as possible.

1974 proved to be a year of intense activity. Fuelled by the reaction to The Of Children Lir, O'Reilly had written another musical, Perseus, inspired by the Greek legend, and this was staged with an outstand­ing vocalist named Geraldine Dorgan playing the lead role. Simultaneously, the band embarked on a recorded adaptation of The Children Of Lir at Polydor's request (despite the show not having been a Loudest Whisper project per se), and prepared to release “William B" as their debut single.

With Tir na N'og's Leo O'Kelly as producer, sessions for The Children Of Lir went famously despite Kavanagh leaving the band ( for a prolific solo career) midway through. Vocals were shared by Neligan, Kavanagh, Kelly and Geraldine Dorgan, and the sound was fleshed out by a string and a children's choir.

The finished recording was a masterpiece of the progressive folk genre; melodic, mystical and dynamic by turns. Singling out highpoints is difficult, but "Mannanan 2" shows just what a gritty edge the band possessed in those days, and "Wedding Song" displays Dorgan's wonderfully rich voice to excellent effect, despite an obvious nod to "California Dreaming" in both the chord progressions and vocal arrangement.

Neligan left the band shortly after the LP's release, and Brian O'Reilly took over the bulk of the lead vocals. Geraldine Dorgan also joined as vocalist and electric guitarist, despite the reservations of some band members about having a female colleague. She also featured heavily in O'Reilly's third and final 70s musical, The Maiden Of Sorrow, staged in 1975.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lizardson,

brilliant, brilliant !
A beautiful album - thanks for posting! Have a nice New Year at the other side of the globe !


31 December, 2006 00:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lizardson! Thanks very much for this- I didn't have it and cannot wait to listen to it. Have a fantastic and creative New Year!

31 December, 2006 06:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the band is still going ! The Children of Lir has been remastered. They even have a website,

27 August, 2009 21:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, there is a website and the band is still gigging !

26 October, 2010 23:33  

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