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The Dreams

From: Dublin

Active: 1968 - 1970; 1971




A showband built in June 1968 around singer John Farrell who'd already made a splash with his previous band The Movement with two great singles ("Head for the Sun" and a fabulous freakbeat reading of "Tell Her"). Musicians from various beat groups (Shay O'Donoghue & Joey Geoghegan from The Debonaires; Jim Hudson & Dougie McIlwaine from The Kingbees) were brought together to back Farrell. It was not unusual at the time to pinch the most talented musicians from the beat scene for the more lucrative showbands, and this band was obviously intended to turn Farrell into a star. Indeed they were billed on occasion as John Farrell & The Dreams. But nowadays the band is best remembered for including ex Them guitarist Eric Bell (ex Shades of Blue, later in Thin Lizzy, Noel Redding Band, Brush Shiels Band, Mainsqueeze), who is pictured far left in the picture sleeve photo below. Eric appears on the first four singles and the best of LP, all of which have become collectors items.

The debut A-side is a decent slice of 60s pop written by Alan Blakey & Len Hawkes of the Tremeloes who also produced the single. The B-side by keyboard player Shay O'Donoghue is reputedly the first Irish recording to feature feedback. The psychedelic edge on the lead guitar makes it a must for pop-sike collectors. The single was a hit in Ireland, reaching #14 in the charts in September 1968. It was licensed for release in the UK and Germany by United Artists, the latter release gaining a picture sleeve.

The second single was another O'Donoghue (& Maginnis) composition which had already been a big hit for Dickie Rockie & The Miami Showband two years earlier in 1967, and as such is one of the few showband singles to stand up to scrutiny today. The B-side is an Equals cover written by Eddie Grant. It peaked at #15 in the Irish charts. There was also a UK release on CBS. This single features some great fuzz guitar.

The third single came out 2 months later in April 1969. The B-side was another Tremeloes composition and unusually feaures Eric Bell on banjo. The fourth single was their biggest hit, the soft-beat "The Casatschok", released in June 1969, which reached #5 in the Irish charts.

Despite this success, Eric Bell left the band for more progressive work with Thin Lizzy and Damien McKerr (probably) took his place in late 1969. A fifth single was released followed by the debut LP. This "Best Of Dreams" album collects all five singles and adds two covers: "All I Have To Do Is Dream" and "Respect", the latter featuring Eric Bell on lead vocals. Eric is not pictured on the cover. This album has become very hard to find (if you have one for sale, please get in touch).

"Back By Public Demand"; advert for The Dreams reappearance in Galway on 18 September 1971

By the time their debut LP came out, the band had in fact decided to call it a day and had renamed themselves Freedom, releasing a single in 1970. However, this isn't the end of the Dreams story. A sixth Dreams single emerged in 1971. This was the work of Jim Hand, who assembled a completely new lineup which included future in-demand session player Barry Scully on bass. A manager treating a band name as a brand and assembling musicians at will is not unique to the showband scene, of course, but it does little to help their reputation nowadays. This lineup released just one single.


I'd previously listed Aiden Magennis (or Maginnis) as a member but this was an error. He had been in The Debonaires with Shay O'Donoghue and Joey Geoghegan and he wrote several songs with Shay O'Donoghue including "Baby I'm Your Man", but he was never a member of The Dreams.

I also listed Eric Murray (of Hot Air Machine) as Eric Bell's replacement. It was in fact Damien McKerr. This does not rule out the possibility that Eric Murray was a member at some point!

There is some confusion over the lineup history. In contemporary photos of the band there are sometimes 7 and sometimes 8 people pictured.


• I Will See You There (Blakey/Hawkes) / A Boy Needs A Girl (O'Donoghue)
7" - Dolphin Records - DOS 12 - IRL - September 1968 - no PS
7" - United Artists - UP 2249 - UK - 13 September 1968 - no PS
7" - United Artists - 67 136 - Germany - 1968 - PS
both tracks appear on The Best Of The Dreams LP





• Baby I'm Your Man (O'Donoghue/Maginnis) / Softly Softly (Eddie Grant)
7" - Dolphin Records - DOS 25 - IRL - February 1969 - no PS
7" - CBS Records - 4247 - UK - 1969 - no PS
both tracks appear on The Best Of The Dreams LP


• Sweeter Than Sugar / Dance in the Light of the Sun (Blakey/Hawkes)
7" - Dolphin Records - DOS 33 - 4/1969 - no PS
both tracks appear on The Best Of The Dreams LP

• The Casatschok / Don't You Ask Me (O'Donoghue)
7" - Dolphin Records - DOS 40 - IRL 6/1969 - no PS
7" - Dolphin Records - 4432 - UK 6/1969 - no PS - distributed by CBS
both tracks appear on The Best Of The Dreams LP
reached #5 in the Irish charts in July 1969


• Don't Throw Your Love Away / All Alone Am I
7" - Dolphin Records - DOS 57 - IRL 1970 - no PS
7" - Master Records - MAS 132 - Australia 1970?
both tracks appear on The Best Of The Dreams LP


• Best Of The Dreams
LP - Dolphin Records - DOLB 7002 - IRL 1970


• Julie (Where Has Your Love Gone) / Let The Earth Be Free
7" - Dolphin Records - DOS 80 - IRL 1971
Both tracks by Shay O'Donoghue

Compilation appearances:

• various artists - Rubble Vol. 16: Glass Orchid Aftermath
LP - Bam Caruso - KIRI 096 - 1991
• various artists - Rubble Vol.9
CD - Bam Caruso - CD RUB 9 - 1992

• various artists - Fairytales Can Come True #1
LP/CD - Psychic Circle - 7006 - 2007

See also: Eric Bell, John Farrell & the Groundhogs, Freedom, The Kingbees, The Movement

Help!: We need your help to complete this entry. If you can tell us more about this band then please do! We welcome any corrections, missing details, connections to other bands, where are they now, etc. We also need photos, scans, copies of releases or live or demo recordings, and any other memorabilia gathering dust in the attic. If you can help, then please get in touch.

thanks to TP McLoughlin

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