75 Essential Albums – Day #55 – Horslips

Here goes with day 55 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

Horslips – The Tain

Horslips are an Irish Celtic Rock band and were the first rock band from Ireland to make it big outside of their native country.  The band are often known as the founding fathers of Celtic Rock, overall their sound is a fusion of Irish Folk music with progressive Rock.

Their wonderful blend of Tull-ish progressive rock combined with traditional Irish folk music sounds just as refreshing today as it must have done back in the 70’s.  I came late to their music, Whilst I had heard them when they were in their prime I had never seen them live until they played Fairport’s Cropredy Convention.  I was totally blown away, they are right at the top of the list of favourite bands that I have seen at that festival.

“The Táin” was a concept-album based on the ancient Irish legend of the same name and it was the bands second studio album. It is a great introduction to the band, the sense of Irishness is apparent from the first bars of the opener “Setanta”.  The mix of jigs and reels with rock music is obvious, the arrangements are full of violin, flute, mandolin and even some uilleann-pipes, at times it reminds me of Thin Lizzy’s  ‘Black Rose’ album though hors lips style is very much their own.  The sound is unmistakably Irish though.   “Charolais” and “You Can’t Fool the Beast” are two excellent and melodic songs tied together by the two-part “The March” and this was again a piece based on an old traditional theme. “Dearg Doom” is a heavier tune that became one of the best-known songs from the record and is by a distance my favourite track on the album.

Side 2 of the album opens in a quite vein with “Cu Chulainn’s Lament” and the laid back mood is continued in “Faster Than the Hound”. The pace increases again with the instrumental “The Silver Spear” which will shake the listener out of their reverie.  The uilleann-pipes take a leading role in the cheerful “More Than You Can Chew” and “The Morrigan’s Dream” is a very inventive prog-version of a traditional jig.   “The Táin” is easily one of Horslips’ finest moments and I would highly recommend the album to anyone not familiar with the Horslip’s music.  It will be of interest to anyone with even a passing interest in prog rock, folk rock or traditional celtic music.  It is a fine piece of work and  feels fresh even 40 years after it release.  If you consider buying it you should probably seek out the more recent remastered CD version.

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