- 30 Nov 23
No mere boxset, more an Aladdin's Cave... - 9/10
How best to define Eamon Carr, Barry Devlin, Johnny Fean, Jim Lockhart and Charles O'Connor, collectively known as Horslips? Pulitzer winner Paul Muldoon, describing attending one of their legendary Queen's University gigs in 1976, may very well capture it best: "One by one they came on stage, each with a following spot. Just as we expected... gods."
Buried deep within the cavernous, immense and frankly mind-blowing 50th anniversary box set, More Than You Can Chew, from this most iconic and trailblazing of bands, are live tracks recorded from mixing desks at ballroom concerts in Hospital, Co. Limerick and Charlestown, Co. Mayo, on the band's final Irish tour in 1980.
These aren't random selections, but rather soundboard recordings of songs not performed at the Ulster Hall, their last ever show on 8 October 1980, which is included in its entirety across two CDs new to this boxset. That final concert of original-era Horslips was just four days short of the 10th anniversary of Kieron 'Spud' Murphy unwittingly naming the band over a Chinese lunch, at Kum Tong restaurant, Grafton Street on 12 October 1970.
Over one thousand gigs and a dozen albums later, Horslips multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Charles O'Connor, thrashed his treasured fiddle on the Ulster Hall stage - a subliminal way of saying, 'Right, that's your lot, we're done'. In so doing, he drew a line under an audacious decade.
Thankfully, there was a resurrection. Horslips found themselves performing in Derry in 2004, which led to a reunion album, with the band finally calling it a day in late 2019.
Horslips were always a band of firsts - the first to use a big time multitrack studio in Ireland (The Rolling Stones' Mobile Studio, complete with Helios console and 16-track machine); Drive The Cold Winter Away was an unplugged record, before unplugged records were a thing; a promotional drive in the US for The Man Who Built America (a hugely influential record on the young Paul Hewson) included a billboard on the Sunset Strip; they were Windmill Lane's first signed rock music clients; and - it deserves repeating - they effectively invented Celtic rock.
And Horslips continue to over-deliver. More Than You Can Chew includes - draw a deep breath - 33 discs; 506 audio tracks (half of them unreleased); 59 video tracks, restored and remastered; two books; a folder of '70s fanclub facsimiles, and loads more. It's monumental. Literally.
More Than You Can Chew is the group's final love letter to their fans, a marvellous, all-encompassing account of 50 years of music. If you are a Horslips fan, buy it - believe me, it is worth every cent.
More Than You Can Chew- 50th Anniversary Deluxe Boxset is out now.