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Horslips - The Tain CD (album) cover

THE TAIN

Horslips

 

Prog Folk

4.16 | 57 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Any who doubt that Horslips played a significant role in the development of celtic rock needs to hear "The Tain". While English alchemists had existed for more than half a decade, and over in Breton there were also a few earlier innovators, Horslips succeeded in igniting traditional Irish music with the hard rock and progressive rock of its time. The integration of contemporary sounds with jigs and reels was utterly convincing, because neither style and genre overshadowed the other. Whereas many such efforts forcefully attempt to drive the message home, "The Tain" achieves the desired result in a remarkably understated yet uninhibited fashion.

This is an album that is meant to be heard as a unit, as brief instrumental flourishes are skillfully integrated with songs of varied pedigree. "Charolais", "You Can't Fool the Beast", the evergreen classic "Dearg Doom" and "More than You Can Chew" (featuring a killer lead riff), and "Time to Kill" all blend sensibilities across centuries. The production is appropriately muddy, almost like it was recorded in one take in the original settings. Whether this was intended or simply a lucky break provided by the average 1974 production techniques, I cannot be sure. Lead and acoustic guitars, organs, fiddles, lively percussion and unison vocals take hold and cast their spell as one.

Worthwhile comparisons to JETHRO TULL notwithstanding, and remembering that this would include Tull efforts not yet conceived, "The Tain" is a singular classic that put Horslips on the map, and paved the way for MOVING HEARTS, RUNRIG, POGUES and so many more. That may not be the creme of progressive company, but as prog folk goes, the story and album are legendary.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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