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Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Get ready for the ride of your life through Irish folk-rock styles. The opening track of the group's debut album, with its pipes, button accordion, and percussion, could pass for any Chieftains record, but then the electricity kicks in on "Hall of Mirrors," and the rest is melodic rock, not so much folk-rock as folkish rock, recalling early Genesis. John Fean sounds like he's playing folk melodies even as he plays runs on his electric guitar on "The Clergy's Lamentation," and the group follows this with an anthem-like piece of Gaelic rock ("An Bratach Ban") with a dance-like instrumental break. "Bim Istigh Ag Ol" is probably the best track on the album, and "Hall of Mirrors" and "Furniture" remained in their stage act for years, the latter, with its superb middle section — favorably recalling Steve Howe's playing with Yes on their early albums — transformed into a 15-minute epic. And just when you think you've got them pegged as a progressive folk-rock outfit, they deliver the exquisitely languid, almost impressionistic "The Shamrock Shore" and the playful "Dance for Yer Daddy," which sounds like the Chieftains with vocals until Fean's electric guitar kicks in. And Fean's playing on "The Musical Priest," by itself, is worth the price of the album. [Wounded Bird's 2008 reissue included one bonus track.]

Biography

Formed: 1970

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

At one point in the mid-'70s, Horslips seemed poised to become Ireland's answer to Steeleye Span. But they also had a shot at being the next Jethro Tull (only a better hard rock outfit), or maybe Genesis, or even Yes in their folkier moments. Those events never quite happened, but Horslips released half-a-dozen...
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Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part (Bonus Track Version), Horslips
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