Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tearjerkers - 1979 - Love Affair 7'' (UK)

Tearjerkers - 1979 - Love Affair 7'' (UK)
The Tearjerkers were a superb powerpop band formed in Portadown in October 1978 by local boys Paul Maxwell AKA Paul West (ex Speed and Midnite Cruiser) (vocals), Brian Rawson (guitar), Nigel Hamilton (ex Cobra) (drums) and from Belfast Paul 'Groover' McIlwaine (ex Detonators) (guitar) and Howard Ingram (ex Detonators) (bass). They proved to be an excellent powerpop band with several songwriters producing strong material. Howard Ingram & Paul McIlwaine wrote together while Nigel Hamilton provided the music for Paul Maxwell's lyrics, though various permutations of those arrangements also operated.

They began gigging a few months later, their live debut being at the Rockin' Chair in Derry on 23 February 1979. They played the usual N.IRL haunts of the time including the legendary Belfast punk venue The Harp Bar in March. This proved to be an eventful gig as there was some trouble from certain members of the crowd and the band was pelted with bottles and cans. Two members suffered minor injuries, though some of these may have been the result of retaliating against their attackers (better say allegedly here, just in case!). The reason for this unpleasantness remains unclear. The authors of It Makes You Want To Spit! speculate that it may have been due to rivalry or jealousy or because The Tearjerkers were not 'punk' enough for The Harp. In any case the band never played there again.

They recorded a demo tape which was given to Terri Hooley and he offered them a deal with his Good Vibrationslabel. A recording session for the debut took place on March 8th at Keystone Studios in Dublin during which several (four?) tracks were recorded. Two of these ("Love Affair" and "Bus Stop") were selected for the single which was released in July. Two more tracks ("Chit Chat" and "Don't Blame Me", possibly recorded on a second visit to Keystone) were earmarked for a second Good Vibrations single but this would be cancelled when the band signed to Phonogram. A piece in Hot Press in 1979 quotes the band as saying that one of these tracks was planned for a projected Good Vibrations compilation called "It Takes All Sorts" but like many Good Vibes projects it never came to pass.

In April the band set out on the two week "Good Vibes Spring Irish Tour" with The Outcasts and Rudi. The tour was organised by Nigel Hamilton and included a couple of gigs south of the border. That same month the A-side "Love Affair" was performed on Good Evening Ulster broadcast on UTV on the 5th, making the Tearjerkers the first Good Vibes band to appear on TV.

In June the band recorded a Downtown Radio (BBC Northern Ireland) session for the Monday night rock show Have You Heard. Four of the seven(?) tracks recorded were also broadcast by John Peel on his show on 23 November: "Dressing Up", "Heart On The Line", "Murder Mystery" and "Comic Book Heroes". Plans to perform one of these tracks on RTE were hampered by the BBC rules governing the use of such tapes. The performance was filmed for RTE's Our Times show and was scheduled for inclusion in the show broadcast on Monday October 8th, but I'm unsure if it actually happened. I was 15 and glued to this show presented by Dave Heffernan every week, and I don't recall The Tearjerkers performance.

In September the band signed a 5 year contract with Phonogram Records in the UK (Mercury worldwide). They choose Phonogram's Back Door imprint, home of new wave outfits The Donkeys, Dalek I Love You and Agony Column). This ended plans for a second Good Vibrations single.

The recording session for the planned Phonogram debut took place at Downtown Studios in November. "Murder Mystery" and "Heart On The Line" were re-recorded (they'd already recorded both at the same location back in June) and the single was released on January 18th 1980. It was released in the UK, where it peaked at #74 in the charts, France, Sweden and the Benelux.

March 1980 was a busy month for the band. They played some dates in the UK and continued to recorded. On the 15th they recorded their second Peel session which included a new recording of "Comic Book Heroes" plus "Is It Art?", "Jenny Jenny" and "I'm Sorry". The following day on Sunday 16th they played the opening night of the Sense of Ireland festival at the Venue in London, with the Rudi and Ruefrex (and not the Moondogs as the poster advertised). The festival ran for 4 nights and also included bands like DC Nien, the Virgin Prunes and U2. There's an apocryphal story that Bono once asked Nigel Hamilton to join U2 as they were unsure about Larry; this may be true but it appears to have been a tactic used regularly by the rest of U2 to get Larry to commit seriously to the band as other drummers were asked the same question.

March also saw the recording session for the second Phonogram single. Three tracks were recorded at Parkgate Studios "Comic Book Heroes", "Can't You See" and "Fingers" for a maxi-single scheduled for release on May 30th. This would be cancelled though some tracks would emerge on vinyl in May on a US only compilation of Back Door artists (and The Who!).

Thin Lizzy invited the Tearjerkers to support them on their 10 date Irish tour during April 2-13. At least three gigs were recorded (I suspect all were in fact recorded). Recordings from two shows yielded the "Everybody Wants To Shag..." bootleg tape (later on CD) while a third show recorded in Sligo on April 6th was issued as the "Good Evening Sligo" CDR. There's another live tape in circulation which was recorded at the Barrel & Basket in Omagh but I haven't heard it.

In retrospect the cancelled single so soon in their relationship with Phonogram was an ominous sign. Communication with the label was obviously not as good as it should have been. Plans for an LP provisionally titled "Grey" were still on course with the release date moved from August to later in the year (or early 1981). It would include some of the recordings already completed, including the cancelled "Comic Book Heroes" single, plus newly recorded tracks. The band contined to work on new material and to record at Downtown Studios in Belfast with Stephen 'Rasta's' Nelson at the controls.

By May Nigel Hamilton had left the band over musical differences (and perhaps the lack of communication with Phonogram). Johnny Lee (of Blue Steam) and Greg Lindsay would fill in for him off and on over the coming months. Lee played on a short UK tour in the autumn. Lindsay was a more permanent replacement.

In June "Where's Julie" and "Lip Gloss Factor" were recorded at DTR with Greg Lindsay on drums (both tracks would emerge two years later on a single credited to Paul West -- see discography below).

In July the band played several dates in the UK, including a gig at Dingwalls on the 15th, which was recorded. Further sessions on July 20-24th at Radio Luxembourg Studio yielded the tracks "I'm Sorry", "True Love Stories" and "Jenny Jenny". These were considered as a replacement single for the cancelled "Comic Book Heroes" with a new release date of September 1980, to coincide with an autumn tour, but it never came to pass.

By September the band has split in two. Maxwell, McIlwaine & occasional drummer Greg Lindsay form Etc Etc with Stephen Mallaghan. Ingram & Rawson with the help of John Lee (switched to guitar) and new singer Dave Huntley (ex P45) continue as The Tearjerkers for a short period, including the autumn tour of the UK, originally intended to concide with the now cancelled "True Love Stories" maxi-single. They also record a final session for DTR ("Teenage Love Song", "Holiday Romances" and "Hong Kong Maiden") and almost complete the "Grey" LP but they split and the Tearjerkers are no more.

Ingram joined Maxwell and McIlwaine in ETC ETC who existed up until 1982 approx. Ingram founded the Blue Rhythm Audio label (see links below) which released two June 1980 Tearjerkers tracks under the name Paul West in 1982. The same year Nigel Hamilton (now on guitar) revived the band with guitarist Brian Rawson and a female singer, Janine Mullawley, and re-recorded two Tearjerksers tracks for a single on the Vixen label, "Comic Book Heroes" and "Fool". They also recorded a four song session for Dave Fanning's Rock SHow on RTE Radio 1. Rawson later emigrated to the USA. Nigel Hamilton recorded as a solo artist and as Radio City.

In recent times, various Tearjerkers recordings have emerged. Nigel Hamilton appears to be the source of various live tapes and a bootleg singles compilation judging by the catalogue numbers (NHM = Nigel Hamilton Music?) but I should stress this is speculation on my part!

Maxwell, Ingram, McIlwaine and Lindsay continue to play and record together and are instrumental in attempts to issue the long lost Tearjerkers LP (simultaneously resisting the temptation to alter the original recordings in any way, eh lads?) now re-titled "Comic Book Heroes". It's been imminent since 2005 but yet to see the light of day.

At present The Tearjerkers recordings are now scattered across various dodgy/bootleg CDRs of varying quality (see discography). It's a shame that such a great band have yet to have their original studio recordings issued on CD.
source Irish Rock (link)

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