Saturday, March 17, 2012

Horslips: Speed the Plough

Well since I’m 1/32 Irish via my McAnulty ancestry and 1/32 Scots-Irish through my Jamison forebears, I am claiming my right to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today. What better way to celebrate this auspicious day than to wear the green and play one of the most underrated bands from the Emerald Isle: Horslips.

I credit two individuals for sparking my interest in this band that is little known in the US. In 1979, Joyce Burley McCracken, a fellow graduate assistant in the speech department at Marshall University, gave me some promo copies of albums that her brother, who had worked in a WEA (Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) warehouse, had given to her. Among those four of five albums, three stand out in my memory Casey Kelly’s “For Sale” on Elektra, Greenslade’s debut album on Warner Brothers, and Horslips’ “Happy to Meet – Sorry to Part” on ATCO.

A few months later Dave Alley on West Virginia Public Radio turned me onto the rockier side of Horslips with cuts from their legendary LP, “The Book of Invasions.” This particular LP was the first of a trilogy of concept albums that told the history of the Irish people over the centuries. This first album which discussed the various invasions of Eire was followed by an album dealing with the potato famine immigrants called “Aliens.” The third album was from the perspective of the Irish in the US and was titled “The Man Who Built America.” I have all three and have featured cuts from the first two.

Today’s tribute to the Irish people comes from the second of this rock trilogy, “Aliens.” The album produced several singles; however, in America only “Sure the Boy was Green” was the only 45 release. We featured this about a year ago. In Ireland, the instrumental “Exiles” was released as a single with “Speed the Plough” as its “B” side. In the UK, however, “Speed the Plough” was the pick release. It is that song with its iconic guitar riffs and leads that I am featuring today as our “Bubbling Under” hit. By the way, “Aliens” was the band’s bestselling album in the US. It charted in 1977 at #98.

Live Version of Speed the Plough and Sure the Boy was Green

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