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The Morrigan

Prog Folk

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The Morrigan Rides Out album cover
3.69 | 15 ratings | 3 reviews | 8% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Morrigan Rides Out
2. Night Comes Closer
3. The Rakes of Kildare / Bedtime Stories
4. The Black Nag
5. Girls Will You Take Him / Four Times Over
6. The Well Below the Valley *
7. Busketts Folly
8. Corpus Christi
9. Tom O'Bedlam / Allemande

* Not on LP

Line-up / Musicians

- Cathy Alexander / vocals, keyboards, recorder, harpsichord, EWI
- Melanie Byfield / vocals, keyboards, tambourine
- Cliff Eastabrook / vocals, bass guitar, tambourine
- Colin Masson / vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, treble recorder
- Archie / drums, bells, bodhrán , African drum, triangle, electric percussion, vocals

- Cath Watkins / fiddle (3)
- Gary Miles / vocals (5)

Releases information

LP self-released (1990, UK)

CD English Garden ‎- ENG1020CD (1997, UK) With a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE MORRIGAN Rides Out ratings distribution

(15 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(62%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE MORRIGAN Rides Out reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars The Morrigan rides high!

Five years after their debut album, The Morrigan returned with this album in 1990. The sound of the band had evolved considerably in the meantime and this album was a major step forward for the band. The Celtic and British Folk influences are still here to the same degree, but this is a radically more energetic, rocking, eclectic and progressive effort than the debut was. Steeleye Span and similar classic British Folk Rock bands are still the primary influences, but there is a much broader set of influences this time. This is Prog Folk as opposed to just Folk Rock. Still, this album manages to hold together really well and better so than subsequent albums by the band. Their eclecticism never goes out of hand and they seem to have a clear picture of where they wanted to go with this album. While the first album was rather anonymous and not very original (but still a good album of its kind), here the band seem to have found their own little niche and as such they could perhaps be seen as the predecessors of many more recent female-led bands that mixes Celtic Folk with progressive Rock.

One of the major changes compared to the debut is the addition of two additional band members, a drummer and another vocalist/keyboardist. While the debut album didn't have drums at all, the addition of a drummer to the line-up helps a lot to make the sound of the band much rockier. But it is not just traditional Rock drums, but also a plethora of more "exotic" percussion instruments. Another change is the stronger presence of various keyboards and Collin Masson's electric guitars. This brings with it a certain Camel resemblance. The mix between electric and acoustic and between traditional and modern elements is very successful and appealing. The presence of harpsichord, flutes and (what sounds like) accordion make for a full and interesting wall of sound. But the most important factor is the nature and quality of the material. The compositions are much more elaborate, much stronger melodically and thus more memorable and the nature of the music is a lot more energetic, lush and loud. It is hard to pick out specific songs as all of them are very good!

There are several people providing vocals to this album, but the fact that this album does not alternate between female and male lead vocals on different songs but mainly sticks with female lead vocals throughout makes it a lot more coherent and consistent than the other albums by the band. It is unclear to me who sings lead on what as all five members are credited for providing vocals as well as two guests also credited for vocals, but Cathy Alexander is presumably the lead vocalist and the others adding background and harmony vocals.

Rides Out was a major improvement over the previous Spirit Of The Soup and a major statement in its own right. This album is for me The Morrigan's best effort and an excellent one that deserves many repeated listens. It is really a shame that this band remains so overlooked.

Highly recommended!

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Rides Out' - The Morrigan (6/10)

With the debut 'Spirit Of The Soup', British folk rock group The Morrigan proved that they were indeed full of potential, but still had a very scattered and somewhat aimless approach to what they did. As is expecting of all sophomores, The Morrigan has polished up their work somewhat. Instead of the haphazard collection of musical ideas presented in 'Spirit Of The Soup', The Morrigan's second record 'Rides Out' is more fucused, and allows the band to show themselves in a more professional light. Unfortunately, somewhere over the process of tightening up the reins, they have lost some of the magic that was so evident in parts of the debut.

The most evident change in the band's sound is the addition of many more rock influences than was ever heard on The Morrigan's first record. The Celtic folk here still runs strong and defines almost everything The Morrigan does, but it is now commonplace to hear the band play some riffs that wouldn't sound out of place on the typical rock album. The need for more energy in the music was always something I felt ground against the debut, but the heavier guitar riffs here often do not really feel as if they mesh too well with the beautiful Celtic instrumentation.

The showcase of many songs is the brilliant and appropriate voice of Cathy Alexander, but the instrumentation is often strong in parts. Bassist Cliff Eastabrook has some great parts in the Celtic reggae crossover 'Night Comes Closer'. Colin Masson's generally fantastic guitar skills are not represented here too well, but there is some beautiful acoustic guitar work that pops up every so often. While the album's sense of cohesion and energy have been both kicked up a notch, it does feel as if The Morrigan has lost something in the course of developing. There were a few brilliant tracks on 'Spirit' that make me wish the same sort of standout tracks were here as well. In part, it may be because The Morrigan does the mellow thing better than they do energetic rock, but the overall impression is that there is not quite as much of an improvement here as I may have wished. 'Rides Out' has still been quite a pleasant experience from these Celtic prog rockers, in any case.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars Ever since FAIRPORT CONVENTION timidly dipped their toes into Celtic folk rock oceans in 1968, bands have expounded upon, indeed shattered the template many times over, and deftly carved progressive veins into their rock. Without pretensions to exhaustiveness on my part, STEELEYE SPAN and HORSLIPS broke more ground in the 1970s, MOVING HEARTS and RUNRIG in the 1980s, and the MORRIGAN in the 1990s. The feminine voice is no gimmick here. While Cathy Alexander's do hit the mark, this would be just as good with a male lead singer, arguably unlike MOSTLY AUTUMN and KARNATAKA, who were never full time Celts anyway.

This is electrified high energy music that blasts out jigs, reels, ballads and rock songs in a decidedly organic manner. Lead guitar and a host of plugged in keyboards lean appealingly against the varied traditional instrumentation and melodies and aggressively squeeze out their essence like that juicer you never thought you would need again.

While all but a few of the more objective interpretations are appealing, I especially enjoy hearing well known tunes put to hitherto unanticipated lyrics and beats. Among these are the reggae splashed "Night Comes Closer"; the vocal harmony stunner "The Well Below the Valley", which I never thought I would want to hear again in any form; and "Tom O'Bedlam", the creepy centuries old tale of an insane asylum. But the unfamiliar ones have become fast friends - "Girls will you Take Him/Four Time Over" and "Corpus Christi" solidify the choral and arranging skills of the band, the latter particularly in the bass and percussion department.

Rare are the bands with one foot entirely in the past and the other boldly in the future, but this is where the MORRIGAN stands comfortably and more than a little edgily.

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