24 May 2020

The Pattersons - I Can Fly/ An Cailin Deas

Pretty, bewitching and wonderful popsike from unlikely Irish folk source

Label: CBS
Year of Release: 1970

It's probably surprising to nobody, but songs about flying were everywhere during the generally accepted(*) 1967-1970 peak of popsike, from George Harrison's attempt for The Beatles, to Windmill's "I Can Fly", to the Portebello Explosion's "We Can Fly", and on the list goes... as we well know, when reaching for the rhyming dictionary "fly" is very close to "high" indeed, and that was a sensation groups were keen to communicate at that time.

This single from Irish folkies The Pattersons has no relation to Windmill's single, though, and is actually a genuinely beautiful, intricate creation, brimming over with subtle wah-wah guitars, saxophones, strings and close harmonies across a blissful three minutes. Lyrically, it's disappointing and doesn't stray far from fairly standard Hallmark greetings card waffle about "peace on earth" and tranquility, but the song itself weaves its spell magnificently, sounding more like the work of the Mamas and the Papas at their finest. It's sumptuous, readers, and I'm really shocked its sat under the radar for so long - weren't we supposed to have picked this particular barrel dry long ago?

The Pattersons were a family group (initially Billy, Christine, Dorothy and Ronnie, until Christine bailed in 1969) from Letterkenny in County Donegal, who were big news in Ireland at that time having their own TV series in 1969, and even appeared on the "Morecambe and Wise" show in the UK. While their records sold well in Ireland, with their first single "I Don't Want To Be A Memory" climbing to number two in the Eire charts, their efforts are less commonly chanced upon in the UK - their label CBS released most of them there, but the British public weren't keen purchasers of most of their output.

Declining fortunes in general seem to have caused the remaining trio to quit the music business in 1975, eight singles and five LPs later. Their 1970 LP "I Can Fly" - from which this single logically stems - mostly consists of cover versions, but has been worming its way into the ears of more appreciative listeners lately, with its warmth and innocence clearly appealing to people in an era that otherwise has precious little of it. There's very little popsike on offer there, to be honest, marking the title track out as a bit of an anomaly in their catalogue, and the B-side "An Cailin Deas" should give you a firm idea of the long player's direction. 

(* Footnote - 1967-70 seems to be the accepted peak of popsike according to compilation curators, anyway. I don't make the rules up. Hell, I didn't even retrospectively invent the genre popsike to begin with). 


nlgbbbblth said...

Great tune!
Is the album version the same as the 45?
I see it the odd time in charity shops, boot fairs.

23 Daves said...

If a YouTube rip is anything to by, then yes. You could probably buy yourself the LP for less than the usual cost of the single, tbh.