Tuesday, March 29, 2011
THE ROCK REMAINS
Every Saint Paddy's day, I break out my Irish CD's. Most of these CD's are ot the Irish you might think of, although I have a few by the Chieftains, and one with Van Morrison and the Chieftains that is quite nice. But mof these are Irish rock bands, and this year I played The Book Of Invasions by Horslips for the first time in a long time.
Horslips - you probably never heard of them, right? Well they are an Irish band that has a sound reminiscnet of Songs From The Wood era Jethro Tull, and this album was a nice progressive/concept piece inspired by Irish mythology, particularly the story of Tuatha De Danann's conquest of ancient pre-Christian Ireland.
But I'd never heard of them either once. In the spring of 1980, I started my first semester at college in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Since I didn't know anyone else, I hung out with a friend of my cousin Joe, Steve H, who was a disc jockey the the college radio station. It was a cool place to hang out (a lotta records!), and while Steve and I weren't really friends in high school, the shared love of music gave us a common ground.
I was a commuter student, so I would hang out for long periods of time between classes, and it soon was obvious that I knew a lot about music. Pretty soon I started being asked to fill in while people ran to the rest room or downstairs for a coke. Soon after that, I was asked to fill in when people didn't show up.
Now believe it or not, the upperclassmen (and women) suspected I was somewhat obsessed by the music of a certain Todd character from Upper Darby.
It soon became obvious that while I knew a lot about music and had (even then) a pretty comprehensive record collection, I was not the least bit interested in what the listeners wanted to hear and was not destined to challenge Howard Stern for radio supremacy. In fact, when a show slot opened up, I really was not interested, partyl because of work reasons, but mainly becuase I didn't like the idea of a playlist and I never knew what to say between songs.
During this semester, I came across this Horslips album, and I would play tracks from it when I filled in (the only way to listen to their records-borrowing was prohibited). I got to liking it a lot.
A presentation of Horslips at their best, this concept album blends progressive rock elements with ancient Celtic musical styles to conjure up the mist and mire of the bogs and forests of an Ireland long forgotten.
Released in 1977, the album is named for the Lebor Gabála Érenn, a book of Irish mythology known as The Book of Invasions in English. In my opinion, it is the best attempt at a fusion of traditional Irish music with rock music.
Every track is wonderful and distinct but all combine into an album length suite piece of music with vivid lyrics recounting tales of love, unity, power and glory.
It still holds up in 2011, almost thirty five years later. And it's back in print, remastered by the band, so you can hop on over to Amazor or CD Universe and get yer mitts on a copy.
Click here to check out a sound clip.