5 July 2021
If you don’t wish to read through the notes below, you can go straight to playlist H on YouTube here.
Stephen Ferris joins Aidan Crossey to help create another of our collaborative playlists of Irish traditional music.
Well … in this case a slight departure from the norm. Stephen is a devoted Horslips fan and posts regularly on Twitter as “Thiefdom of Horslips” (https://twitter.com/THorslips). For those who aren’t in the know, Horslips (whose name allegedly derives from a joke spoonerism – The Four Poxmen Of The Horslypse) enjoyed a heyday in the early to mid 1970s. They fused Irish traditional music with various rock genres to create a genre of music which was quite unique at the time but has since influenced many others to experiment with such fusions. If you haven’t come across Horslips, reserve judgment, pin back your ears and immerse yourself in this playlist as I weave a few selections around Stephen’s which (hopefully) complement his choices.
H is for HORSLIPS. Stephen says: Play any version of O’Neill’s Cavalry to people in Ireland and if they know it they’ll most likely say it’s Dearg Doom. Before Horslips the tune was recorded by Seán Ó Riada& Ceoltoiri Chualann at the performance of Ó Riada sa Gaiety in 1969. The tune, however, can be traced a few hundred years before that. This Old Grey Whistle Test video clip famously shows Charles O’Connor on Mandolin with his hand sprayed sliver. Horslips – Dearg Doom (O’Neill’s Cavalry March)
H is for HUNGRY GRASS. Aidan says: Hungry Grass are a London-based trad outfit with a rock’n’roll, hell-for-leather, take-no-prisoners attitude. Currently comprising Peter Coughlan (vocals and guitar), Johnny Gaughan (guitar/bass), Christian Vaughan-Spruce (accordion/keyboards) and Mark Conyard (fiddle/banjo), at the time this set was recorded the band also featured the very talented Kane O’Rourke on fiddle. Kane has subsequently moved to Ireland but makes an occasional guest appearance when he’s back in his hometown. Hungry Grass – Kelly, The Boy From Killane/Spike Island Lasses/Bunker Hill
H is for HORSLIPS. Stephen says: This song is from the 1977 Horslips album Aliens about the Irish kids arriving in America. Morrison’s Jig, especially on Mandolin and Guitar, immerses you in a chase from beginning to end, and that suits the lyrics.This video is from the touring return of Horslips in 2009 when circa 20 thousand people saw them in one weekend as they played the Odyssey Belfast and then the O2. Horslips – Sure The Boy Was Green
H is for HENRY JOY. Aidan says: This is a very different type of fusion. Whereas Horslips melded rock’n’roll and trad, this selection brings together the understated singing of Len Graham with the pomp and majesty of The Irish Philharmonic Orchestra. Taken from an album called “Who Fears To Speak”, released in 1998 to mark the 200th anniversary of the 1798 uprising, the project featured a slew of songs remembering that campaign with full orchestral backing. On paper it shouldn’t work and I approached the album with some trepidation. But after several listens it grew on me… Len Graham and The Irish Philharmonic Orchestra – Henry Joy
H is for HORSLIPS. Stephen says: This was Horslips’ first single – released in 1972. This performance in the Ulster Hall in Belfast in 2014 was the last formal public gig that included the “Part 2” touring line-up (with Charles O’Connor). Watch out as Charles O’Connor, Johnny Fean and Jim Lockhart take it in turns to lead the arrangement. Horslips – Johnny’s Wedding, Live in Belfast, 2014
H is for HOME-MADE. Aidan says: During the early 2000’s I ran a website called “Pay The Reckoning”, one of whose primary focuses was to review albums of Irish Traditional Music. Occasionally a CD which didn’t quite fit that bill would drop through my letterbox. One such CD – in 2002 – was Richard Gilpin’s own label, self-produced “Beautiful Mistake”. I suppose you might describe most of the album it as soulful, country-influenced singer-songwriter rock. The opening track “Tears In The End” has lodged itself in my memory forever. “She was knockin’ back the vodka like there was no tomorrow/People say she’ll bring you nothing but sorrow/But for her you know I’d beg, steal or borrow/And she’ll bring me nothing but tears in the end.” Anyway, halfway through the CD, this track suddenly appeared. An electric reworking of yet another 1798 song (I know, I know…). I was floored. Still am, every time I hear it. It’s not trad, but… Richard Gilpin – General Munro
H is for HORSLIPS. Stephen says: Long before punk rock was invented Horslips punked out this version of Bim Istigh Ag Ol (Comb Your Hair And Curl It). It was originally on their 1972 Album “Happy To Meet Sorry to Part”. Aidan says: Long before, Stephen? C’mon! Blue Cheer, The Stooges, MC5, The Velvets? (Sorry – the oul’ punk in me goes back a long way… ha ha.) Horslips – Bim Istigh Ag Ol, National Stadium, Dublin, 1973
H is for HAPPY DAYS. Aidan says: When I first started living in Camden Town in North London, I spent many nights listening to whatever bands were on the line-up at The Dublin Castle, a “sweatbox” gig venue a few hundred yards from my house. It was there I first heard Ron Kavana’s band of the time, Alias Ron Kavana. Ron and co took influences from everywhere – soul, rock, folk, trad, country – and worked them into a style of music that was uniquely their own. This track in three sections is one of their all-time classics, containing one of their signature songs “Irish Ways”. (And beware – at over 12 minutes long, it’s a bit of a marathon.) Alias Ron Kavana – Air/Irish Ways/Five Jigs
H is for HORSLIPS. Stephen says: What’s not to love about this bright and beautiful arrangement? Horslips – Ace And Deuce (from the album Happy To Meet, 1972)
H is for HORSLIPS. Aidan says: I couldn’t leave this playlist without adding one of my own favourite Horslips tracks – The High Reel – which comprises an electric set featuring The High Reel, The Sligo Maid and The Reconciliation. Horslips – The High Reel
H is for HORSLIPS. A bonus selection from Stephen and the least “trad-influenced” of his picks for this playlist. Horslips – Mad Pat
Listen to the full “H” playlist here.
All playlists on my channel here.
Return to the “A to Z” home page here.