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Lyres A Promise Is A Promise Lyres A Promise Is A Promise Lyres A Promise Is A Promise Live Lyres A Promise Is A Promise
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Jeff Conolly ruminates on the various pressures he and the group were being faced with, while striving to keep the inspiration flowing, providing fresh or interesting material to expand their repertoire: “Distorsions D Bass kept telling me I ‘should get into freakbeat’ music,” and just all this record collector type stuff that normally happens year-in-year-out.” To any folks reading this who may be unaware, Jeff Conolly is a fervent record enthusiast and sometime scholar, so the above statement isn’t altogether too surprising, especially seeing as many of the 60s punk and psychedelic-style compilations that were being rapidly turned out would contain songs by a number of those groups that were of a so-called ‘freakbeat’ nature.

Like others competing for our precious disposable income, Lyres also had to maintain their strong profile on the international circuit, so creating good forward momentum and maintaining group stability were important factors to be seriously considered. Anyone following the career of Lyres for any length of time throughout that mid-to-late 80s period would therefore doubtless be interested in the ongoing personnel shuffles that were taking place around this time. “What really happened,” Conolly explains, “is that we had to totally re-group the line-up with each LP because people instantly discovered that it was nearly impossible to go professional and maintain a living and do the kind of not-sell-out music we did at the same time. Our special Murphy drummer would leave and then re-join many, many times, and then we started getting robbed on tour a lot, and many nice things were lost to us... After the tour van got busted into in Amsterdam in May 1987 we had to get a new guitar guy to go along with our new rhythm section. At this point there was very little “connection” with the original concept or sound of the 1979 group which had been founded on being aspiring amateur musicians.”

Although one or two of USA’s then modern garage-type bands were beginning to make some inroads beyond a cult-only success, particularly overseas, it was nearly always accepted as a given that playing this type of unfashionable music could only ever result in rather limited dividends, commercially speaking. But successful or otherwise, Lyres can be seen as purveyors of a rich stream of powerful music, distilled from an amalgam of influences, injected with unusual verve and vitality, and presented in a wholly authentic, provocatively different way from all other groups. Of the many startling ‘Conolloid’ creations, self-penned, or imaginatively reinvestigated, one wonders often how Lyres came up with such radical reinterpretations of songs such as Dave Dee and Co’s life-affirming piano ballad ‘Here’s A Heart’. “I started buying original UK freakbeat records beginning in the early 1980s when they were still relatively affordable,” states Conolly. “I liked that weirdo USA Fontana Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich LP that had a ton of their hits on it, and I finally realized that their recording of ‘Here’s A Heart’ had the special charming majick. On one of our trips to Paris I crashed with Carolyn and Stiv [Bators – ex of US punks The Dead Boys] and we discovered that we were both nuts about ‘Here’s A Heart’. I had bought myself a nice and reasonable DDDBM&T EP souvenir that afternoon at USA Records and we played it at Carolyn’s and me and Stiv sang with it a lot. We kinda agreed to record it in one way or another, and later in January 1988 Stiv was in NYC and he came down to sing it with me live for the album #3.”

With any kind of success, whether musical or otherwise, there also comes with it a certain degree of pressure, and so it was no different for Conolly and Lyres. “All of a sudden I had to figure out a “new” kind of Lyres sound and matching style/material to go with it,” says Conolly. “And I had to do it real fast, so I started coming up with junk that was sort of like the very expensive but cool records I had been acquiring and sort of investigating, these freakbeaty records, which accounts for our trying to sort of figure out John’s Children in 1987 and 1988.”

Lenny Helsing

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