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Tain (Expanded Edition)
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Jim Lockhart (vocals, whistling, flute, Uilleann pipe, keyboards); John Fean (vocals, guitar, banjo); Charles O'Connor's Resolution Suite (vocals, mandolin, fiddle, concertina); Barry Devlin (vocals); Eamonn Carr (drums, bodhran, percussion).
  • Audio Remasterers: Paul Whittaker; Peter Mew.
  • Recording information: Escape Studios (1974); Long Island, NY (1974); Manor Studios (1974).
  • Photographer: Iain Finlay.
  • The most ambitious and successful of their early albums, Horslips' most progressive creation, and maybe the most successful rock concept album ever done, The Tain is rock put into the service of epic storytelling (or is it the other way around?). Based on the Irish saga Tain Bo Cuailgne (The Cattle Raid of Cooley), part of the Ulster Cycle of heroic tales, it tells of war and carnage brought about over the possession of a white bull, inspired by events estimated to have taken place around 500 B.C. This is a long way from Chuck Berry or Little Richard, but it does rock hard, and unlike a lot of progressive rock, The Tain displays considerable tension and momentum. Some listeners will detect modest similarities to Jethro Tull's work (especially on "Charolais"), but there's a lot less meandering here than there is on Tull albums, the flute playing is better, and the material moves forward in a fairly nimble fashion. It would be easy to praise John Fean's guitar, but Jim Lockhart's flute is just as impressive, Charles O'Connor's violin playing is gorgeous, and Eamonn Carr's drumming is dazzling. And the vocals are quite good too, sweet but earthy and honest, and not self-consciously profound -- these boys had ambition, but they weren't full of themselves or too given to pretensions. ~ Bruce Eder
Professional Reviews
Record Collector (magazine) (p.98) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Flute and pipes give a balance to the sparser guitar work on a selection of songs, some of which are underpinned by older Irish music."
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