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  • Lyres Lyres (cd)-1 Lyres Lyres (cd)-2 Lyres Lyres (cd)-3
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A sticker on this LP’s shockingly pink jacket proclaimed this new product to be “Lyres Lyres” All new for ‘87 Lyres Vol II ‘She Pays The Rent’. Yeah, wow, well... we were certainly more than ready! Upon examining the rear cover we find that the group’s personnel had shifted slightly, with Paul Murphy no longer in the drum seat, his place now taken by John Bernardo, also known as John Smith, formerly of the Mick Divvens-fronted group from Columbus, Ohio, Boys From Nowhere, named (plurally) after the DMZ song. While a previous EP version of ‘She Pays The Rent’ had a fairly moderate pace, the LP reading couldn’t have been any more different, moving at a snail’s pace and somewhat dramatic to boot. This version could well be Jeff “Monoman” Conolly at his most James Brown/Otis Redding soulful best, shredding his larynx as he bares his soul. The element of theatre continues throughout the LP, which contains one of their most, let’s say, atypical offerings, the Oscar-worthy ‘The Only Thing’. In keeping with some of the sentiments expressed in ‘She Pays The Rent’ and their cover of The Nightcrawlers’ heart-breaking ‘If You Want My Love’, this is also an emotionally charged choker. It’s fair to say too that some of the greatest achievements in Lyres cover version territory present themselves on “Lyres Lyres”. Specifically, I’m speaking of their glorious interpretation of two Dutch beat gems from the writing duo of Ronnie Splinter and Wally Tax – lead guitarist and lead singer, respectively, of The Outsiders. ‘Teach Me To Forget You’ is sad beyond belief, a tale of lost love; originally the B-side of that group’s ‘67 chart smash ‘Summer Is Here’. ‘I Love Her Still, I Always Will’ too, another B-side beauty, came from an early Outsiders single. Lyres, in their wisdom, do not diminish any of the qualities contained in the original and create an astonishing and truly haunting rendition. “Back From The Grave” stars The Alarm Clocks and The Jesters Of Newport also get ‘Lyred’ as their stone cold killers ‘No Reason To Complain’ and ‘Stormy’, respectively, are brought kicking and screaming from the darkened void into the dazzling daylight of the modern world. It’s a similar situation regarding ‘You’ll Never Do It, Baby’, already a long-held favourite in the hands of The Pretty Things, the British-based Cops ‘N’ Robbers original version, and also Berlin’s finest stompmeisters, The Boots. But it’s not like there was any lack of high-end original Lyres cuts around to make the grade either, far from it. In fact, for this particular fan, “Lyres Lyres” houses one of their most enduring creations, the juggernaut garage pop sensation ‘You Won’t Be Sad Anymore’. Its heart-skipping primary refrain and veritable rabbit’s warren of words seem to tumble over themselves in an effort to get out and be heard, and it’s hard to think of a more positive, musically more perfect Lyres rock’n’roll love song. Another significant factor of the “Lyres Lyres” record is that it produced a kind of polarisation in some quarters, between some fan factions who wanted them to stay as they had been before, raw and basic with not quite yet still an air of slavish 60-style garage affectations, and just the minimal acquiescence towards a half-way modern sound. Others, meanwhile, welcomed the new approach. “Jeff and I did not want to make another “On Fyre”,” says producer Rick Harte. “I thought we had made our point with that record. We wanted a more progressive interpretation which resulted in more production, effects, etc. The ‘outside the box’ choice of material is a testament to Jeff’s knowledge of the genre and his genius. There was a huge, obsessive effort put into making all of the Lyres records.” Indeed, “Lyres Lyres” is an album that can stand up to repeated plays year on year and always offers something new to the listener. Lenny Helsing

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