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Horslips Dancehall Sweethearts album cover
3.76 | 34 ratings | 8 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Nighttown Boy (5:07)
2. The Blind Can't Lead the Blind (5:20)
3. Stars (5:02)
4. We Bring the Summer With Us (2:31)
5. Sunburst (4:39)
6. Mad Pat (6:17)
7. Blindman (3:32)
8. King of the Fairies (3:30)
9. Lonely Hearts (5:33)
10. The Best Years of My Life (1:48)

Total Time: 39:33

Bonus tracks on 2009 reissue:
11. Mad Pat / Blindman (Recorded at Quartier Latin, Berlin 1976) (10:19)
12. King of the Fairies (Recorded at Sigma Sound, Philadelphia, 1978) (4:15)
13. Lonely Hearts (Recorded at My Father's Place, Long Island, NY 1974) (5:27)

Line-up / Musicians

- Charles O'Connor / fiddle, mandolin, concertina, vocals
- John Fean / guitar, banjo, vocals
- Jim Lockhart / keyboards, concert flute, whistle, vocals
- Barry Devlin / bass, vocals
- Eamon Carr / drums, percussion, bodhrán

- Ray Russell / brass arrangements

Releases information

Artwork: Ian Finlay (photo)

LP Oats ‎- MOO 7 (1974, Ireland)

CD Outlet ‎- MOOCD 007 (1989, Ireland)
CD Edsel Records ‎- EDCD 663 (2000, UK) Remastered by Peter Mew, new cover art
CD Horslips Records ‎- MOOCCD007 (2009, Ireland) Remastered, with 3 bonus Live tracks

Thanks to kenethlevine for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy HORSLIPS Dancehall Sweethearts Music

HORSLIPS Dancehall Sweethearts ratings distribution

(34 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

HORSLIPS Dancehall Sweethearts reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Tony Fisher
4 stars The third album from the greatest band ever to emerge from Ireland (or just about anywhere else for that matter) is a much more loosely conceptual collection than its predecessor, being based on the ramblings of blind Irish harper O'Carolan. There's much more of a rock feel than before and some of the traditional folk element is gone, but the recording quality is superb - the instruments stand out clearly and with excellent dynamics. Nighttown Boy kicks off with a punchy guitar riff, saxophones and some excellent fiddle work. The Blind Can't Lead the Blind has some complex backing vocals and We Bring the Summer With Us is a novel style for the band as it is essentially a huge synth and organ piece a la Wakeman. On side 2, Mad Pat and Blindman are excellent songs but King of the Fairies is a masterpiece - you just have to get up and jig. Charles O'Connors fiddle, Jim Lockharts's keyboards and Johnny Fean's guitar swop solos; Fean is one of the all time greats. But the crowning glory is the poignant The Best Years of Our Lives, a lament for a musician long dead which could be almost autobiographical. The album cover shows them looking utterly worn out after incessant touring and the lines "they took me how they found me and the whisky nearly drowned me" suggests that they too may have had a hard time! Eamonn Carr provides the lyrics and, since he was originally a poet, they are always classy. The only thing that stops it getting 5 stars is that it isn't quite as good as its predecessor, the Tain. But it's still damn good and would get 4 and a half if it were possible.
Review by obiter
5 stars thugamar fein an samhradh linn has a haunting melody which has never left me. To hear it in We Bring the summer with us was moving.

there is a stangre raw beauty to this album which transcends The Tain and stands in stark contrast to the polished feel of the seminal Bookk of Celtic Invasions.

As I've said before this is neither Planxty nor the Bothy Band but the Horslips filled an enormous void in irish music. this was 1974 there may have been mayhem on the streets in the north but: Thin Lizzy had already brought out Vagabonds and Nightlife; Rory Gallagher was touring; the nadir of politically sentimal folk would not been reached for a good few years (Moving Hearts).

Dancehall Sweethearts was an irish answer to Jethro Tull. Steeped in folk but breaking away from the shackles of traditional and introducing a 70s rock feel.

An essential for any folky prog types.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars With "Dancehall Sweethearts", Horslips toned down the celtic element...the tracks were still virtually all if not all traditional in origin, but dressed up for the late 20th century to such an extent that for most of the disk they could pass for any quality band of that era from any corner of the Anglophone world.

This "dumbing down" worked wonders about half the time, such as in "Stars", "We Bring the Summer with Us", and especially the bluesy prog of "Mad Pat", which sounds eerily like early Genesis in its quieter moments. Then of course there is the fairly recognizable corker "King of the fairies", oft covered but rarely with this much panache and amplification, and the brief lovely ballad "The Best Years of my Life". OK, so they can't completely de-celtify any more than they can be de-mystified. One's DNA doesn't lie, and Horslips are an honest bunch. However, the less said about the clumsiness of some of the other material, particularly the opening 2 numbers, the better.

A discussion of the best material from this band rarely includes this uneven third album and, while it won't be the sweetheart of your collection, it has enough highlights to be worth an occasional tick on your dance card.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Leaving the Celtic a touch in the dust, but still picking up where they left off.

Horslips is a fascinating band, whether they're writing grand concept albums that piece together multiple songs to create a cycle that any prog fan will find to be on the same level as skill as the progressive megalodons, or they'll be creating a more modest concept that works around ''full-songs'' that are just as easy to enjoy. While this is definitely something that not every band can pull off, Horslips does it with such grace that you just never mind what they're doing, so long as they're doing it with those smooth Celtic melodies, their endless pools of inspiration or their somewhat quirky sense of humor.

Dancehall Sweethearts is a potentially dangerous album to follow up the deadly serious The Tain with, and is one that hard core proggers may put off buying thanks to the cover art alone. Fear not, for this is easily one of the band's best albums. It follows a loose concept, and it has plenty of songs on it to enforce the Celtic rule, and while that may not be as prominent this time around, it's still around to a high degree. It can be quickly said that all of the best songs on the albums are the ones that feel the Celtic love, but the others are quite good too - it just so happens that the best songs on this album are the best among all of Horslips catalog, so the others can get quite overshadowed. Still, the disc works on the whole - and was actually probably the best thing they could have followed up their sophomore with (even though something like The Book Of Invasions is closer in kin) since it shows another side of the band's songwriting prowess that would be heavily used on later albums, albeit less successfully.

Take three parts rock and one part pure folk and you get what amount to the most impressive of opuses in the album's best songs. The opening tune is a perfect example of things to come with its ringing riff and catchy development. Nighttown Boys may not hit you over the head with its more subtle elements right off the bat, but you'll likely be hearing them the second or third time around, and when you do you'll understand what makes this band such a good fit for our inclusive little club. Another standout on the first side is the stunning Sunburst which makes the best use of the grandiose side of things with its horns and female backups creating a much larger Horslips than we're used to, but it makes for a nice break, Horslips never being the kind of chaps to bore you with one thing for too long.

The second half is home to some very amazing tunes. First on the dock is Mad Pat, a progressive epic contained in the short span of 6-minutes that manages to bring to life everything the band does well. Perfect melodies, catchy segments that manage to stay successfully ''un-poppy'' while still being accessible and impressive instrumental sections that any pretentious prog master would be proud of. The instrumental The King Of Fairies is another quite impressive moment, despite its criminally short length of around 3-minutes, and llike instrumentals done by the band before it (The Silver Spear for instance), it's brought to life by as many Celtic instruments that you can possibly think of, while still diluting the folk side of things with a good dose of rock adrenaline shot right into the arm.

While this review may have fixated on a few songs over the rest there's no doubt that even after repeated listens you'll do the same. The rest of the songs on the album are also impressive and well worth the listen in their own rights, it's just that the shining moments of the disc shine so brightly that they are just very hard to best. Overall the disc is going to get a 4 out of 5 - while it may not be a masterpiece it certainly comes close. This album is recommended to anyone who has the chance to get it, and to all appreciators of the band or simple Celtic rock - seek out this album! You won't be disappointed.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars The king of the fairies

Following after the excellent conceptual album The Tain, Dancehall Sweethearts is almost necessarily a bit less interesting. However, there is much to enjoy here too. The present album may not be held together by a concept, but it is a fairly coherent album with mostly good moments some of which are even as strong as the previous album. There is a slight change of musical direction towards the "commercial" which can be noticed on a few of the songs. The difference in the music is, however, not at all as apparent as the difference between the cover art pictures - from a dark picture of a hand in armour ready for war (The Tain) to a rather sleazy picture of the members of the band (Dancehall Sweethearts). Indeed, even the album title itself is badly chosen; Dancehall Sweethearts!? I don't know who's who in the band, but the man to the very left in the cover picture looks very much like Graham Chapman of the Monty Python group!

But don't be fooled into thinking that this change is that radical, this is still for the most part very much Prog Folk with a very Irish sound. There are still clearly many progressive aspects to Horslips' sound and approach even some which were not there before, like a stronger presence of different keyboard instruments. The latter are most obvious on the short instrumental We Bring The Summer With Us, which is a great little interlude. There are also some brass instruments that might be an acquired taste, but for the most part they fit in.

The Rock 'N' Roll opener Nighttown Boy is a bit of a disappointment and it initially scarred me away somewhat from this album. But one should really hold out and listen further into the album to find the better songs which I did. Despite Lonely Hearts, which is back to the straightforward Rock 'N' Roll style of Nighttown Boy, the second half of the album is by far the better half and more interesting one with very strong numbers such as Mad Pat and King Of The Fairies. But also the first half has its highlights.

Overall, I think that Horslips is an underrated group and Dancehall Sweethearts is, despite some lesser moments, one of their best albums. I would, however, strongly recommend starting with The Tain and Book Of Invasions which are the band's finest efforts. But for those who like those albums, the present album is a very worthy addition.

Recommended, but not the best place to start

Latest members reviews

4 stars Why did I took it so long to review a Horslips album? Its the band I was praying to hear when all I did was celtic reserches and that kind of stuff. Begning with Dancehall Sweethearts is something interesting: its their more "pop" album, full of catchy refrains and riffs. But its right there I be ... (read more)

Report this review (#926461) | Posted by GKR | Friday, March 8, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The band members exhibit maximum sleaze on the cover of this album, so all you ladies beware of these uptown boys! Overall, the album is good. There is no unifying theme, so each track stands as its own. Popular appeal seems to have been a consideration, especially concerning the song Stars ... (read more)

Report this review (#281130) | Posted by Progosopher | Sunday, May 9, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 partiall ... (read more)

Report this review (#34098) | Posted by Dearg_Doom | Sunday, February 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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