Number 6: ‘The Tain’ by Horslips
In the 1970s Irish bands were stepping out of the shadows of the Showband era. I discovered my Irish roots, musically speaking, and grew fond of traditional Irish music. But I also had broader musical tastes, from Led Zeppelin to Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, etc.
And then along came Horslips who bridged trad and rock, a fusion that came to be defined as Celtic Rock. Their first album was called ‘Happy to Meet Sorry to Part’ and I happily bought it. It came in an unusual – for the time -ocatagonal-shaped sleeve.
‘The Tain’ was their first concept album, a blast of songs centered around the legend of ‘The Cattle Raid of Cooley’. It featured the gorgeous ‘Dearg Doom’ which probably appalled traditionalists but delighted us youngsters who were looking for something different.
It was 1973 and Horslips were one of the first to tune into our needs. ‘Dearg Doom’ was a big hit when released as a single, not surprising because it had a terrific guitar intro, but I also loved ‘Faster than the Hound’ and ‘Silver Spear’.
There were 14 tracks in all, although some were fewer than two minutes long. The point was this was a dramatic departure for Irish bands, and Horslips became huge.
i bought several of their albums, but I also did something I had never done up to then – I went to their concerts. Yes indeed, and I did so twice, on my own. They may both have been in the Savoy in Cork. One certainly was, and I have to say the band didn’t disappoint.
The records are gone now, but some years ago a newspaper ran a free CDs promotion and one of the freebies was by Horslips. Needless to say it ended up on my car CD player and was played to death. I haven’t seen it in a while so excuse me while I go hunt it down and give it a spin for old time sake.