The Liberty Belles were formed in 1969, out of the Francis Street Parish Club in Dublin. The area is known as The Liberties – hence the name of the girls’ singing group. Originally a dozen members, the numbers had swelled to 30 singers and a total membership of over 60 by the time that this album was released. Their mentor was local priest Father Foley who enlisted the support of Tom Gregory (guitar), Shay O’Donoghue (piano and organ) and Frank McCarthy. The LP was recorded in the Eamonn Andrews Studios in Dublin and released by Dolphin Records in 1971; Dolphin Discs being the name of a long-running record shop located in Talbot Street.
The album has been compared to The Langley Schools Music Project which is not too far off the mark. Given the era there is the inevitable Hair connection. Two tracks from the hit musical are featured – a serene Good Morning Starshine and a groovy Aquarius.
Hurry Home and Snowbird (made famous by Anne Murray) are plaintively performed with a maturity that belies the girls’ tender years – their ages ranged between 11 and 15. A haunting version of Brahms Lullaby concludes a most entertaining first half.
There’s a spiritual vibe on side two with righteous versions of Oh Happy Day and Amazing Grace. After competent takes of the catchy Scarlet Ribbons and harmonious Yellow Bird, the LP finishes on an apt note – the togetherness anthem of positivity known as United We Stand.
However my favourite track on this charming LP is their version of the Cuban classic Guantanamera. I love hearing the spoken word section being delivered in a Dublin accent.
01 Good Morning Starshine
02 Hurry Home
05 I Made So Many Friends
06 The Lullaby
07 Oh Happy Day
08 Scarlet Ribbons
10 Amazing Grace
11 Yellow Bird
12 United We Stand