Horslips - The Tain (1974)

On request, another fine early Horslips release. Irish progressive folk at its best.

«The most ambitious and successful of their early albums, Horslips' most progressive creation, and maybe the most successful rock concept album ever done. The Tain is rock put into the service of epic storytelling (or is it the other way around?), based on the Irish saga Tain Bo Cuailgne ("The Cattle Raid of Cooley"), part of the Ulster Cycle of Heroic Tales. It tells of war and carnage brought about over the possession of a white bull, inspired by events estimated to have taken place around 500 B.C. This is a long way from Chuck Berry or Little Richard, but it does rock hard, and unlike a lot of progressive rock, The Tain displays considerable tension and momentum. Some listeners will detect modest similarities to Jethro Tull's work (especially on "Charolais"), but there's a lot less meandering here than there is on any Tull album, the flute playing is better, and the material moves forward in a fairly nimble fashion. It would be easy to praise John Fean's guitar, but Jim Lockhart's flute is just as impressive, Charles O'Connor's violin playing is gorgeous, and Eamonn Carr's drumming is dazzling. And the vocals are quite good too, sweet but earthy and honest, and not self-consciously profound — these boys had ambition, but they weren't full of themselves or too given to pretensions.» (AMG)

Horslips, early 70s

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Radu said...


newelectricmuse said...

Probably Horslips' best album, along with the more polished "The Book of Invasions", which is also based on Irish legend. "The Tain" contains "Dearg Doom" which has one of the best riffs in the whole of rock music (no kidding!); "More Than You Can Chew" also has a great riff, but this time it's played on the uillean pipes!

Incidentally, why are the covers of this set of CD reissues so poor? I know they wanted to distinguish them from a previous semi-legal and poor quality reissue, but why put the album art in a small corner of the cover?

Anyway, rant over - this is a good place to start if you want to discover the mighty Horslips.