Jimi Hendrix is best known for his solo work, which goes without saying, however what he is less known for are his contributions as a guitarist and producer outside of The Experience, which were as varied as they were many. Curtis Knight, Lonnie Youngblood, Soft Machine, Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys, Love, Lightnin’ Rod, and even Timothy Leary are among those whom he offered his services to. Another group he recorded with and produced was Eire Apparent, a relatively unknown rock band from Ireland managed by Chas Chandler and Michael Jeffrey, which explains Hendrix’s participation from the outset, no doubt as an attempt to sharpen the band’s sound and attract attention from the record buying public.
Made up of Ernie Graham (lead vocals, guitar), Mick Cox (lead guitar), Chris Stewart (bass) and Dave Lutton (drums) the group’s first and only album, Sunrise, was predominately recorded during October 1968 at TTG Studios Los Angeles and found its way into the shops early the following year. A mix of rock, progressive pop, and easy listening psychedelia (if there was such a thing in the late ‘60s), the LP as a whole makes for a surprisingly robust and satisfying listen.
We open with “Yes I Need Someone”, a track on which Hendrix’s distinct guitar style can be heard throughout, lifting the song a few more layers into the upper atmosphere. “Got to Get Away” is an agreeable artifact of late 1960’s pop, while “The Clown” sees the band dive head first into psychedelic terrain, in a Yardbirds meets Electric Ladyland sort of way. “Mr. Guy Fawkes” is a concept piece and the longest track, on which the band, including Jimi, jam out, before it concludes as it began. The Apparent reveal their musical acumen on the catchy “Someone Is Sure To (Want You)”, the trippy “Morning Glory”, along with the LSD inspired “Magic Carpet”, throughout which Hendrix contributes some subtle magic of his own. On the orchestral “Captive in the Sun”, Jimi plays a bluesy wah wah solo during the song’s interlude, and in the process manages to transform the tune into something far more interesting that it otherwise might have been.
“Let Me Stay” is pretty much your standard pop-rock ditty of the era, although “1026”, with its “La, la la” chorus and atmospheric guitar (mixed way too far back) may not really go anywhere, but is pleasurable all the same.
The 1991 re-release by Repertoire Records includes the excellent “Rock and Roll Band”, a non album single that somehow failed to break into the charts, despite some amazing guitar by Hendrix, who throws in a riff reminiscent of early Marc Bolin.
The extent to which one enjoys this album I guess depends on how many puffs of those funny cigarettes you’ve just had. Sunrise is not a perfect record by any stretch of the imagination, though it does have merit. Unfortunately for the group, and despite Hendrix’s involvement, Sunrise never achieved the level of success sought by its creators. Eire Apparent continued to tour extensively across America before finally calling it quits in 1970. Apparently a follow up was being recorded but no audio evidence of this has ever emerged – yet no matter, because Hendrix’s association alone will guarantee its place in the musical universe.