Salient. Newspaper of Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Vol 41 No. 3. March 13 1978
Electric Folks — The Book of Invasions Horslips DJM
The Book of Invasions Horslips DJM
Like the Rats, Horslips are comprised of five Irishmen, but the similarity stops there. Whereas the Rats are Ireland's Stones, Horslips are Horslips. They are totally divorced from most 'folk' groups in the U.K. and Eire today. They're no Chieftains, Bothy Band, Planxty, Span, Gryphon, Pentangle or Fairport. If anything, their nearest relatives could be said to be Jethro Tull, for in essence Horslips are a rock band.
With a flexibility that could earn them criticism from the purists, Horslips collate various pieces of trad (if not old) song and dance and mould them succinctly into the overall rock strata.
(Gee, they're into geology too eh? Rock strata indded!)*
The Book of Invasions is very much like The Tain (1974), so much so that one could consider Invasions as a mere extension of the concept (that being conveying by music Old Irish history and lore).
In total, Invasions is comprised of three movements, entitled Geantrai, Goltrai, and Suantrai; that is, the joyous strain, the lamenting strain and the sleep strain respectively.
(all these strains on the rock strata are liable to cause an earthquake)*
Side one is occupied by the Geantrai. Opening with "Daybreak", Horslips demonstrate that they have an able and equally talented guitarist in John Fean. Flowing into "March Into Trouble" and "Trouble (With A Capital T)", the earlier references to Tull become more easily understandable. Strains of "Thick As A Brick" and "Stand Up" are faint, but present all the same. Jim Lockhart's flute does sound like that of Ian Anderson on one of his better days. Strangely, the same could be said of The Tain
"The Power And The Glory" again highlights Fean's talents, with some nipping riffs and tasteful lead runs being prevalent.
"The Rocks Remain" also demonstrates the simplistic attitude of Horslips' lyrics. No olde pronounciations here, no "Fionnghuala" gobbledegook (those of Gaelic decent, my sincere apologies); just plain English sung in unpretentiously clear Irish diction. For example: "Change will come to everyone, never question why/ sticks and stones will break your bones and words will make you cry."
Now don't get the impression that Horslips are always That simple. They're just trying to communicate a story, not bedazzle the listener with their university learnt Gael.
On "Dusk/The Sword Of Light/ Dusk", there is a reprise of "Daylight", not to mention a pinch of "Toss The Feathers" interspersed throughout the musical accompaniment to the lyric. All the while Eamon Carr drums as if he was competing with Dave Mattacks, whilst Fean and bassist Barry Devlin combine to produce an impulsive rock tempo. Suddenly the track fades into a final reprise of "Daylight", Lockhart on whistle having (almost) the final say.
As with The Tain, side two is of lesser stature than side one (not because it's Bad, but rather because side one is so good). Goltrai concerns itself with some (un)fortunate damsel being forced to marry some old geezer by the name of Fionn mac Cumhaill. For a piece of music that is supposed to be a lamentation, both the above and "King of Morning, Queen of Day" are speedily paced. Not unusual as the backdrop for the latterly named tune is the jig "Kilfenora".
The final movement "Suantrai" deals with the defeat of the Tuatha c. 3500 B.C. A County Mayo slow air, "Slan Cois Maigh' introduces this piece of music. Through "Drive The Cold Winter Away", the piece peaks with "Ride To Hell", paced likewise. Unexpectedly, the chord structure changes before a fade-out on acoustic guitar.
More ambitious than The Tain yet not totally unrelated in context, Invasions is a fine album that will be highly appreciated by folk-music followers who regard Liege And Lief and Please To See The King, for example, as the ultimate in electric folk. Check—out the "choice" record shops around town for a copy . . . you won't be disappointed.