Deke O'Brien has a long history dating back most notably to Bluesville (1964-65), the first Irish band to enter the US charts, and Bees Make Honey (1971-74), whose "Music Every Night" LP (EMI, 1973) was an early pubrock landmark. During the second half of the decade he fronted Nightbus, played with Stepaside, and co-founded Scoff Records.
Deke formed the first version of Nightbus in March 1975. They toured round the country, appeared on TV a number of times, and released a couple of singles on Mulligan Records. The first A-side "Face Down in the Meadow" (1975) is pure country rock complete with pedal steel guitar, reminiscent of The Eagles. The B-side is more of the same with country piano. The second single, from 1976, is in a similar vein. Those looking for pre-punk Dr Feelgood style pub rock will be disappointed.
Nightbus began working on an album at Rockfield Studios in Wales in the autumn of 1975 but things turned sour and the band split in early 1976. The Rockfield tapes were reworked, vocals and guitar parts erased (including all Lucienne O'Kelly vocals) and new parts recorded. The "Nightbus" LP that finally came out in mid 1976 was credited to Deke O'Brien as a solo release. The lineup listed above is taken from the credits for the LP. It includes members of the original Nightbus as well as sessions musicians and guests including Mick Molloy (Alpine Seven, Bluesville, Bees Make Honey).
The "Nightbus" LP is even more laid back than the preceeding singles. It was greeted with some disappointment in the press at the time. Nowadays it's usually described as pub rock, but Dr.Feelgood it aint! It's very mellow, with a very laid back West Coast country rock feel, reminiscent of the later, unreleased (at the time) recordings of Bees Make Honey.
Deke assembled a new Nightbus lineup for the Falling Asunder Rock Review tour that took place over
two weeks of July 1976.
The lineup included
Greg Boland (Supply Demand & Curve,
and Jimmy Faulkner (Jangle Dangle,
Jimi Slevin Band,
Pumpkinhead, The Business) on guitars,
Eamonn Doyle (Lookalikes, C'est Clave) on bass,
Dave McHale (Stagalee) on keyboards and
Sean O'Reilly on drums.
The Falling Asunder Rock Review was an important pre-punk tour of Ireland which took
place over two weeks in July 1976, culminating in the National Stadium in Dublin. The co-headliners were Nightbus,
the Boomtown Rats and Cheap Thrills.
Deke joined Stepaside in 1977. Stepaside had been active since 1972 but had gone off the boil. Deke joining was seen as revitalising the band. Several members of Stepaside (Brendan Bonass, Bobby Kelly, and Robbie Brennan) had played on the Nightbus LP. Deke stayed with Stepaside for over a year (1977-78), appearing on their first single, before leaving at the end of 1978.
Deke later fronted Sneeker (1980) and The Sharks (1981-82).
Deke O' Brien did a lot of production work during the late 1970s and early 1980s for several Irish labels including Mulligan Records and Scoff Records, which he co-founded in 1978-79 with Johnny Lappin. Scoff went on to become the premier Irish indie label of the 1980s.
All in all a very important figure in Irish rock history who deserves a better bio.
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