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Horslips - Dancehall Sweethearts CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.78 | 27 ratings

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4 stars Album number three from Ireland's greatest band is 'Dancehall Sweethearts'. The songs on the album are loosely based on the life of itinirent, blind harper Turlough O' Carolan , who collected and wrote many of ireland's most popular indigenous melodies. The album title and sleeve were partially in jest as the record company at the time was somewhat less than enthusiastic about promoting an album based on the life of a blind harper and also the horslips' previous two albums had very dark album artwork.

The songs on this album are no joke however. adding a little bit more rock edge and taking out a little of the traditional irish influence that fuelled the band's earlier albums, 'Dancehall Sweethearts' is still a truly excellent album. The production is up to a very high standard and opening track 'Night-Town Boy' is a cracking introduction to the album. The mix is excellent with the central guitar riff blending well with keyboards,mandolin and the unusual inclusion of saxophones. This song is a statement of intent for the album and contrasts wonderfully with what follows it. 'The Blind Can't Lead The Blind' is of a much slower pace in the same vein to some extend with 'Furniture' from the bands debut album 'Happy To Meet,Sorry To Part'. Both of the opening two songs feature excellent fiddle work from Charles O' Connor who shows his versatility in the contrasting moods of the two solos.

Other highlights of this album include 'Stars' which features excellent keyboard work from Jim Lockhart with his part in the chorus in the song sounding somewhat similar to Ray Manzarek's work in The Doors' "Hyacynth House", a compliment. The Concept of Turlough O Carolan's life is continued in the sublime "Blindman" which has a potent vocal performance from Charles O' Connor. Similar compliments must be paid also to "Mad Pat" which is magnificent. The prog content is kept high on tracks such as "We Bring The Summewr With Us' ; surely the most progressive treatment of Irish music ever with Jim Lockhart's keyboards making Wakeman-esque noises and Charles O' Connor joining in on concertina also.

Throughout Johnny Fean's guitar work is immense and as always superb. Fean is, in my opinion, the single most underrated guitarist to ever come out of Ireland. My claim is backed up by sterling guitar solos all across the album and Fean impresses greatly on the band's drastic reinterpretation of the standard 'King Of The Fairies' which features a simply scorching guitar solo which is wonderfully punctuated. fean also shows his versatility by supplying this track with tenor banjo also.

Eamonn Carr plays drums the way they should be played as always and is masterfully accompanied in the rhythm section by Barry Devlin whose round,solid basslines provide the foundation for Fean and O' Connor's excellent solo exploits. this rhythm section is as capable as any ever and in many, many cases are better. Carr supplies the lyrics, which proves that he is much more than your average drummer and Devlin equally raises his stock by lending his vocals to several tracks on the album.

The only issues that i have with this album is that it is certainly not a step forward in the way the 'The Tain' was from 'Happy To Meet,Sorry To part". The Trad. infuence has been diluted significantly on this album despite the fact that many of the melodies from the album's songs were sourced from old traditional tunes. Whilst certainly a step below 'The Tain', 'Dancehall Sweethearts" is an essential purchase for all fans of the Horslips and is a must have for all fans of Celtic rock. Horslips' third album serves as a powerful reminder of the mighty and great force the band were at the height of their powers.

Dearg_Doom | 4/5 |


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