‘Record’ (Noun) A thing constituting a piece of evidence about the past, especially an account kept in writing or some other permanent form.
As many groups of friends have been doing during the COVID lockdown, our friend Barry Woodley organised regular online get-togethers every Friday night. These also included two other long-time friends and collaborators – Ronan McHugh (our live sound engineer who also worked on all our records) and Dave McMorrow (who managed The Coletranes). We are connected as a group in many ways over the years since childhood but obviously, the topic would inevitably lead to memories of the band. There is a lot to remember about those very special years in our lives – the many various recording sessions, the house we lived in together and the epic parties, the countless gigs, the mind blowing rehearsals, all the constant traveling up and down the country and around the world, the near misses and the successes, a fair few fights – but all of us agreed that a predominant memory of being involved in the band is that it was hilarious. We were part of a seriously funny group of individuals all brought together in the tightest of spaces – emotionally, financially and physically – and we had such a laugh.
Being in a band is a very special feeling. The feeling you get when you and your friends sense that you’ve created a great new song out of thin air. Walking out of rehearsals on cloud nine. The feeling of coming together, trying to be masters of your own destiny through music and collaboration. The great characters that make up the band’s crew – sound and lighting engineers, backline techs, van drivers etc. The fans, of course, and the family, friends and partners that live through it with you. The other great people from other bands, venues, promoters, the media, record labels and all parts of the music world that you meet on the journey. Despite the many frustrations, arguments and the heartbreak when the thing you love, your band, breaks up, it was all such an incredible experience that we still cherish.
Over the last few weeks, we all talked about how much Revelino still means to us – we are proud of the records we released, how they represent a brilliant time in our lives and how they still sound fantastic. Making this website has created its own new memories of laughter and friendship. Looking through the old footage, photos and most importantly listening to the music has been wonderful and emotional.
The band would like to acknowledge and extend sincerest thanks to our great friend Barry Woodley who suggested this archive and, together with Rory McDonald, worked so diligently and tirelessly to put it all together and to broadcast our catalogue into the digital world and, fortuitously, inspired the release of our debut album on vinyl for the first time.
Thanks. This is Revelino on record.
Brendan Tallon, Bren Berry, Ciaran Tallon, Shane Rafferty & Alan ‘Monty’ Montgomery
REVELINO – BIOGRAPHY
To tell the story of Revelino you need to first give a nod to The Coletranes which featured Brendan Tallon (Vocals & Guitar), Bren Berry (Guitar & Vocals), Ian O’Donoghue (Bass & Vocals) and Shane ‘Budgie’ Rafferty (Drums & Rizla). The band from Ballinteer, Dublin, had built a growing fanbase performing regular sold out nights in venues like Walters in Dun Laoghaire and the legendary Baggot Inn. They peaked in 1992 with a no 5 single I Wake Up (on Mother records off-shoot Son Records) and an Irish tour climaxing in a sold-out show at the iconic McGonagles. Things were looking golden but then the wheels started to come off when the plug was pulled at the 11th hour on a substantial international publishing deal and then an American record deal they signed basically came to nothing. This led to a lost year of waiting around while the band were living together in a house in the Dublin suburbs, surviving on that wonderful Irish arts grant, The Dole. The parties there were notorious and a side project called Radio Berlin killed some time but frustration built and led to the band re-imagining itself. Ian O’Donoghue sadly left and was replaced by Alan ‘Monty’ Montgomery (ex-The Dixons) on bass guitar and Brendan Tallon’s younger brother, Ciaran, completed the new line-up on guitar. Football talk over copious late-night pints in a boozer in Dublin city gave birth to the drunken idea of calling the new band Revelino. Frustrated at the music industry, they decided that the best way to get a record out was to go the independent route and to do everything themselves, so Bren Berry did a Kenny Dalglish and became player-manager. In 1993, they made a very conscious decision to stay out of the limelight and instead spent a year playing covers gigs to earn enough money to fund their debut album. Those covers gigs also really helped the band chemistry and there were many great nights in The Blue Light, The Coach House and The Wildebeest on Johnson’s Court.
They intended to self-release the album but then they met two like-minded brothers, Shane O’Neill (from the epic Blue in Heaven) and his brother Brian who were setting up a new independent record label called Dirt Records and were lining up releases with some great acts the band were big fans of, including Sack, The Idiots, Tension, The Blue Angels, Jimmy Eadie’s Amusement & Supernaut featuring Shane O’Neill & Dave Long. The O’Neill’s father Seamus O’Neill also had a long history in the record business in Ireland with Mulligan Records & Gael Linn.
Revelino‘s eponymous debut was the first release on the label on Oct 6th 1994 with the immortal catalogue number Dirty 1! The band celebrated with a sold-out debut show in The Baggot Inn and the album received rave reviews. The lead single Happiness is Mine had an immediate impact on radio and became a regular feature on the wonderful No Disco music TV show on RTE. Hot Press critics voted it 3rd best single of the year, it featured in Dave Fanning’s Fab 50 and years later in 2004 the album was voted no 47 in the 100 Greatest Irish albums list.
In January 1995 they received 9 top five places in the Hot Press Readers Poll including No 1 best New Act. Then in April they released Don’t Lead Me Down which went on to feature in two film soundtracks – British gangster movie Hardmen and Irish cult comedy crime classic, I Went Down written by Conor McPherson, directed by Paddy Breathnach and featuring a great Irish cast including Brendan Gleeson and Peter McDonald. I Went Down also featured the song Hello from the debut album. Touring highlights of that year included a sold-out Tivoli show, festival spots including Feile and a support slot with Neil Young on his Mirrorball tour.
1996 kicked off with the band working on a new album, the release of a new in-between-albums single I Know What You Want and an epic Heineken Rollercoaster Tour of Ireland co-headlining with the incendiary Whipping Boy. While working on the follow-up album, the band signed an international licensing deal with French / UK label Musidisc and the debut album was released internationally in March 1996 to great reviews. They toured the UK and France and appeared live on French cultural TV chat show Nulle Part Ailleurs, introduced by football legend Michel Platini! They secured two spots at The Phoenix Festival that summer and, more impressively, the band also reached the final of the celebrity 5-a-side football tournament at the festival, hammering Massive Attack (and Banksy?) 4-1 and Dodgy 3-0 along the way. They were pipped for the trophy by the Guardian newspaper team featuring Mick Talbot from Style Council and a bunch of professional ringers including players from Chelsea and two of the Stein brothers!
The second album Broadcaster was recorded at The Music Warehouse studio built by Dirt Records and produced by Ciaran Byrne and Ronan McHugh. It was mixed by Pat Collier who had worked with The Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream and The Wonder Stuff. The album release was preceded by the first single Step On High in August 1996 which the late great John Peel highlighted as one of favourite singles of the year. It also featured on the soundtrack for the film Blowdry (directed by Paddy Breathnach and starring Alan Rickman and Natasha Richardson). Years later in 2005 on the first anniversary of Peel’s death, NME wrote a feature about Peel’s box of favourite 120 singles in which Revelino’s Step On High was the only Irish single included other than The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks! The following month Channel 4 broadcasted the documentary Peel’s Record Box, which is really worth checking out online. Broadcaster was released in Oct 1996 with the New York Times describing it as “Beautiful, harmony-laden confections with buzzing guitars.” The band celebrated the release with a sold-out show at Whelan’s and then closed out the year with another Irish tour and their biggest headline show to date at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre.
1997 began with the release of the second single from the album, Radio Speaks, which was described as “The Byrd’s with Balls!” The video for the song was shot by Robbie Ryan who has gone on to an incredible career including working with Ken Loach and shooting the award-winning film The Favourite. Following a show together in The Savoy in Limerick, the brilliant A House invited the band to be their special guests for their emotional final show in The Olympia in Feb 1997. UK and European dates followed and in May 1997 the band recorded a GLR radio session with Gary Crowley.
Following a series of shows in the US that summer, the band returned to Ireland disillusioned and cracks started to set in. Drummer Shane Rafferty sadly decided to leave the band and a bunch of other great drummers sat in over the remaining years including Ian Melady, Norman Hunt, Steve Hogan, Andy Brocklebank and Tim McGrath who played drums and percussion for Revelino’s final album, To The End.
The band started work during what proved to be a long drawn out process during which Monty also decided to call it a day. The three remaining members – Brendan Tallon, Ciaran Tallon & Bren Berry – decided to sign off with one more album and the final press release written by Leagues O’Toole captured the mood as they intended… “To The End is written and performed in sadness and tenderness. The orchestration, lovingly painted, spins a yearning subtext… The pace, down-beat but driven, facilitates the mood… but there is another dimension to To The End, a delirious affinity for analogue mavericks, space-age soundtrackers and vintage oddities. An album rich in memories and pictures.”
The album was released in May 2001 and was marked by the band’s final headline show in The Shelter. Good friend Karl McDermott from The Receipts had contributed backing vocals on the album and stood in on bass & BVs for live shows. Around that time Donovan was playing Vicar St and the band gave him a copy of the record and he responded with a wonderful note… “the sounds are mysterious and so mid euro atmosphere through the landscape you create – like Cohen the words are theatrical mini movies of the mind.” They played a few final gigs supporting Bob Dylan in Kilkenny that summer and then with Television and Echo & The Bunnymen at Vicar Street later that year. Both bands were big influences and the Bunnymen’s Ocean Rain was a big reference point for the European sound of To The End that Donavan had referred to – it was a great moment for the band when Ian McCullough praised them after the show saying “Great gig lads, very European sound!” And that was it. Revelino – To The End.