Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Archivist: Horslips - The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony

During the 1970s, my main source of musical inspiration was the Alan Freeman Saturday Show. This used to be broadcast on a Saturday afternoon and was my essential listening of the week. I very rarely listened to the show with friends as I wanted to drink in the music alone. I heard many an exotic sound that has stayed with me since and they may well turn up in future Archivist features. But I remember vividly hearing a piece of music that would highlight a band who I had never heard of before and would stay with me to this day.

The nearest I had got to folk music was a compilation of the best of British folk of the time. Included were bands like Fairport Convention & Pentangle and solo artists like Bert Jansch. So, very little knowledge. However, Fluff played a track which was folk based, (I had definitely heard the tune before) but was a rock song. The tune I had heard was this. This is Kate Bush's version of My Lagan Love.

Kate Bush - My Lagan Love

I didn't manage to catch who the band was on this first hearing but I did catch the title of the album. The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony. Now this caught my imagination straight away. Celtic Symphony. Wow! I was seduced immediately. The track that Fluff played was this.
Horslips - The Warm Sweet Breath Of Love

It may be the Irish ancestry coming out but it just entranced me from the first few notes. Now Alan Freeman, like John Peel, was a bit of a rebel music wise and sometimes he just played what he wanted. So, I wrote to Alan at the BBC address asking him to please play another track from the album. So, to my surprise, the following week he read my letter and played this next track. In those days, we would get the cassette recorder and put a microphone in it, put his next to the radio speaker and record the songs from the shows. Oh, how I wish I had recorded him mentioning my letter. He read another about a year later but I wouldn't make my one and only radio appearance until 1983! But in 1976, he played this second track from the album, this totally killed me and I went out and bought it on the first day of it's release.
Horslips - Sideways To The Sun

The title of the album comes from the fact that the songs are based on famous Irish Traditional songs intertwined with the original rock songs by the band.
T H E   B O O K   O F   I N V A S I O N S(Leabhar Gabhala Eireann)
The Book of Invasions is a twelfth century chronicle of the various pre-Christian  colonisations of Ireland.
The race who occupied the country before our Gaelic ancestors were the Tuatha De Danann
-the Peoples of the Goddess Danann.
While their origins are unclear we do know that the Tuatha were a mystical race,
handsome and learned, elegantly dressed, expert in every art and science and supreme masters of wizardry.
All the songs were linked to this theme. It is regarded as Horslips best album. The band are often called the best band ever to come out of Ireland. A great accolade seeing as they've also produced Thin Lizzy & U2. They never matched it's success and scope. They did have a crack at America with the album, The Man Who Made America, which saw them turn into a standard rock band with celtic instrumentation but to me they lost their Beauty. You decide.
Horslips - The Man Who Built America
Here is the album in full, if you want to hear it. But I recommend the CD, with headphones on, of course.



1 comment:

  1. I remember them well from a Whistle Test.
    Listening now...