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Horslips - Roll Back CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.57 | 11 ratings

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4 stars Putting Horslips' "roots rock" album back into perspective after ten years time.

When Horslips announced their reformation and issuing of a "new" album in 2004, it shocked and delighted many that were caught off guard. Unfortunately, the reworking's of past classic songs into near acoustic treatments was not so welcomed at the time, especially among fans of the Irish group's prog fans.

However, with only one true progressive concept album under their belts (The Tain from 1972), this album has been viewed in a very skewed light. The band was always a roots/folk band at heart and the reshaping of the songs found on Roll Back was not the group's version of jumping on the unplugged band wagon that was left over from the nineties, as was the case with the Strawbs and Fairport Convention, who also had financial interests in their acoustic touring line ups. It was simply cheaper to tour without a drummer and keyboard player's instruments.

Roll Back gave Horslips the ability to play these tracks in the original way that the songs were demoed or envisioned by their creators and the results are stunning. The newer versions of both The Man Who Built America (redone in waltz time!) and Flirting In The Shadows are now the definitive versions of these songs to me as is the wonderfully evergreen Faster Then The Hound. Guitarist Johnny Fean's voice has developed a wonderful deeper timbre which really nails all his vocals as well as the fact that fiddle/guitar/mandolin player Charles O' Conner's voice hasn't changed at all in thirty years and is still as expressive and mysterious as ever.

Bassist Barry Devlin's voice has not fared as well and has picked up a more gravelly tone that works well for the more world weary songs such as Furniture and Guests Of The Nation.

Musically, this is still a world class group and three songs are great solo guitar instrumentals incredibly performed by O'Conner on acoustic slide guitar (Huish The Cat and My Love Is In America) while Jonny Fean resurrects the old piper practice tune Ace And Deuce.

So, is the Roll Back album a Prog Folk essential? Perhaps not. Then is it a Folk Rock essential? Definitely. 4 stars and get your Irish up.

SteveG | 4/5 |


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