Horslips – The Book Of Invasions (A Celtic Symphony) (1976)

FrontCover1Horslips are an Irish Celtic rock band that compose, arrange and perform songs frequently inspired by traditional Irish airs, jigs and reels. The group are regarded as ‘founding fathers of Celtic rock’ for their fusion of traditional Irish music with rock music and went on to inspire many local and international acts. They formed in 1970 and ‘retired’ in 1980 for an extended period. The name originated from a spoonerism on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse which became “The Four Poxmen of The Horslypse”.

Although Horslips had limited commercial success when the band was playing in the 70s, there was a revival of interest in their music in the late 1990s and they came to be regarded as one of the defining bands of the Celtic rock genre. There have since been small scale reunions including appearances on The Late Late Show and RTÉ’s Other Voices. The band reformed for two Irish shows in the Odyssey Arena in Belfast and the 3Arena in Dublin at the end of 2009, and have continued to play shows since then.


The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony is the sixth album by the Irish Celtic rock band Horslips. It was a concept album based on an adaptation of Irish legends built into a complex story. It is named for the Lebor Gabála Érenn, a book of Irish mythology known as The Book of Invasions in English. Released in 1976, it is usually considered their best work.[citation needed] It was their only UK top-40 album, peaking at #39. “Trouble (With a Capital T)” and “The Power and the Glory” were released as singles.

The 30th anniversary of this album was celebrated at a small gathering in Dublin organised by Horslips fans and was attended by some band members. (wikipedia)


The Book of Invasions is a twelfth century chronicle of the various pre-Christian colonisations of Ireland.
The race who occupied the country before our Gaelic ancestors were the Tuatha De Danann
-the Peoples of the Goddess Danann.
While their origins are unclear we do know that the Tuatha were a mystical race,
handsome and learned, elegantly dressed, expert in every art and science and supreme masters of wizardry.

In the Mythological Cycle their place is among the traditions of Immortals. In fact the Tuatha were so magnificent their existence embarrassed scholars who, when transcribing the legends centuries later did not know whether to regard them as men, demons or fallen angels.

Bravest of all peoples their leaders were wizards first and warriors second whose victories were gained more by superior
knowledge and magic than by warfare. The Agatha De Danann occupied the country and lived in relative peace from 3303 Age of the World until the coming of the Milesian warriors in 3500 Age of the World.

After their defeat at the Battle of Tailteann the Tuatha simply vanished from these islands. Tradition and popular belief has it that the Tuatha, through their esoteric powers, became the Sluagh Sidhe (Thc Fairy Host) and, taking their secrets and mysterious arts with them, entered an occult realm where they remain till this day. (taken from the original liner notes)

Horslips02Centering around the three strains of old Irish song; Geantrai, Goltrai and Suantrai, Horslips take on the task of recording a concept album around them. Each is given its own movement. Its a very ambitious work, with riffs and melodies that reappear at various points in each movement and incorporating elements from actual Celtic songs. For authenticity’s sake, they throw in mandolins, fiddles, flutes and an instrument called the concertina, which I’d never heard of prior to buying this record. Turns out its a basically an accordion. Its quite a feat, but not without its share of missteps.

That opening riff will stick in your mind well after hearing the album. Its fantastic, and makes a comeback a couple other times throughout side one. This thematic feel is in full effect throughout the LP, but there’s one thing I find rather detrimental to the overall experience; the vocal tracks, which at times can be downright silly.

After such an amazing and dramatic start to the album, the listener is met with “Trouble (With a Capital T).” Just by looking at that song title I expected it to be a goofy number long before the needle ever hit the vinyl. When the vocalist sings the song title, I find it hard to take the man seriously. Then there’s “The Power and the Glory.” Excellent instrumental work, ensuing silliness in the lyrics department: “see them bumping and grinding bareback on the wheels of the world,” and that chorus: “We’ve got the power and the glory, we’re gonna take it from here.” The man has a fine voice, but the delivery is very unconvincing. Which is a shame because that organ riff has this great medieval tone and the guitars truly are loaded with power and glory.

On side two, things get even cheesier with “The Warm Sweet Breath of Love” and “King of Morning, Queen of Day” which are two very corny love songs. Probably the weakest tracks on the LP. Between these two songs, my favorite instrumental passage makes its appearance, another awesome display of melodic guitar work. These guys are truly talented musicians. After “King of Morning, Queen of Day” another great instrumental appears, this moody atmospheric piece where the guitar, fiddle and electric piano coalesce to create the most beautiful moment on the entire album. Thankfully, the vocal number it leads into, “Sideways to the Sun” isn’t half bad.


This is truly a strange record. I can’t recall any other concept LP that has such an odd juxtaposition between serious, accomplished music and the goofy. You know that goofy is not what the band was after, that their intentions were anything but. Still, this gives the album a certain charm that few others possess, which is commendable. (FjordCity)

Their best fusion of rock and celtic music. Many Horslips albums are unbalanced either too much rock or too much Celtic Music. However this one is the best in terms of balance. A concept album of sorts , it really doesn’t have standout tracks, the whole album just stands out as a cohesive piece of music mixing wonderful Celtic music with energetic rock. Fantastic! (by hawkfanatic)

The album is divided into three movements: “Geantraí” (tracks 1–8), “Goltraí” (tracks 9–11) and “Suantraí” (tracks 12–14).


Eamon Carr (drums, percussion)
Barry Devlin (bass, vocals)
John Fean (guitar, vocals)
Jim Lockhart (keyboards, flute, whistles)
Charles O’Connor (fiddle, mandolin, concertina, vocals)



01. Daybreak 2.31
02. March Into Trouble 0.51
03. Trouble (With a Capital T) 3.24
04. The Power And The Glory 3.57
05. The Rocks Remain 2.49
06. Dusk 0.38
07. Sword Of Light 4.56
08. Dark 1.38

09. Warm Sweet Breath Of Love 3.26
10. Fantasia (My Lagan Love) 2.55
11. King Of Morning, Queen Of Day 4.33

12. Sideways To The Sun 4.46
13. Drive The Cold Winter Away 0.36
14. Ride To Hell 4.08




1 thought on “Horslips – The Book Of Invasions (A Celtic Symphony) (1976)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.