Chips' roots date back to the mid-60s Belfast band The Dominoes who played laid back pop and soul. The Dominoes became The Group when pianist Dick Pentland left to join Heart 'n Soul. Both bands then merged in 1969 to become Chips. Chips performed harmony pop covers (Beach Boys, Mamas and Papas, the Fifth Dimension, etc). They reputedly recorded a single for Emerald Records, but I have no more information about this, and I am not sure it exists.
Paul Lyttle (ex Carpetbaggers) joined Chips in 1970 and became the driving force in the band. The debut single "Today I Killed A Man" was banned by RTE because of the political situation in Northern Ireland at the time. The A-side was included on the "What Is Truth" compilation LP released by Polydor the same year. The band released a poor followup single on M And M Records.
In January 1972, after just two singles, Paul Lyttle and Linda Martin left to form Lyttle People.
A new Chips lineup was assembled by manager Roger Armstrong.
This band adopted a more rock-oriented sound which went down well
with contemporary audiences in Dublin.
The only vinyl record of this period is a single released during the summer.
"Open Your Eyes" / "Earth" is excellent and is well worth tracking down.
It was self-released by the band through Release Records and was picked up
by RCA in the UK a month later.
The heavier, almost proggy style was at odds with the material they'd recorded earlier,
and must've been the source of confusion for some.
This band included Reno Smith, former drummer with Truth (the post Them band), who joined Chips as replacement for Robin Lavery in June 1973. Then Frank Boylan (ex Creatures, Mellow Candle, Gary Moore Band, etc) joined on bass in October 1973. Other new members included singer Nicola Kerr, later to find fame with The New Seekers, and possibly Stuart Bingham, who later (re)formed his band Sunshine. They played a free Open Air Concert at the Phoenix Park with Horslips in July 1973 and headlined Liberty Hall on 12th September. Recording sessions for what would have been the bands debut LP were planned for September at Rockfiled Studios with John Anthony producing but these never came to pass. If anyone has any recordings from this period please get in touch!
Meanwhile, Lyttle People disbanded in November 1973 and Paul Lyttle and Linda Martin rejoined Chips circa 1974 while Nicola Kerr was out but then in again in 1974. Founding member Robin Irvine, who'd played bass with the band since 1969, left in 1974 to join Jody Pollard and Ken Wilson in Bananas who moved to NYC in 1975 with another ex Chips member Robin Lavery (drums). Bananas split in 1976. Irvine's replacement was bassist Sean Magee, ex Sunshine.
Chips recorded a number of good pop singles for Decca during 1974-75. They had a measure of success in France and elsewhere across Europe with a single called "King Kong" released under the name Lily and Chips in 1974. "Twice A Week" (1975) features a good arrangement of Steeley Dan's "Reelin In The Years" on the B-side and is worth tracking down. The A-side was a minor hit -- did they perform it on Top Of The Pops? Adrian Mullen entered "My World" in the National Song Contest (which selected the Eurovision entry) in 1974. Chips own recording was subsequently released as a single by Polydor. The 1974 contest was actually won by a Paul Lyttle song "Cross Your Heart" which Chips never recorded. As with all National Song Contest finalists that year, it was performed by Tina (see The Real McCoy).
Nicola Kerr left to become Catriona Walsh's co-singer in Dublin group Stacc in 1975. Kerr and Walsh would later join the New Seekers in 1979. Sunshine provided a replacement again in the form of singer Irene McIlroy, and again in 1978 when Sean Magee was replaced by Trevor England.
Chips contined to record and tour into the early 1980s. They supported the Bay City Rollers on their UK tour of 1976. They entered the National Song Contest again inm 1977 with "Goodbye Goodbye". Their debut LP finally came out in 1978, comprised entirely of previously released singles. Chips appeared on TV many times over the years and even had their own BBC Northern Ireland TV series Chips & Friends, one episode of which included a guest appearance by MacMurrough (in among all the Glen Curtins and Fran O'Tooles and other mid-70s mediocrities). They did Opportunity Knocks (ITV) and entered the National Song Contest three years in a row (1976-78) as performers (Paul Lyttle may also have entered as a songwriter). The last of these, 1978's "Happy Days", does not appear on vinyl. This speaks volumes for where their ambitions lay. There was also an hour long live performance from 1981 which was broadcast by RTE TV in its "Best of the Bands" series. Chips last release was in 1982. The split in 1986. Linda Martin launched a successful solo career, including two Eurovision song contests.
Disambiguation: No relation to the early 80s German disco outfit on RCA Records.
The liner notes read: "Chips were an Irish showband based in Sligo. They were formed by members of three Belfast bands, The Dominoes, Heart &l and The Group. As with many showbands, their repertoire ranged from chart pop to prog rock and all points in between. Chips were one of Northern Ireland's top acts and continued well into the 80s with many different line-ups. Earth was their third single."
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