THE BOOK OF INVASIONS

"Never mind where we came from, we've left our history books behind"


Part of the Annotated Lyrics Horslips Pages on comebackhorslips.com
Compiled by Lee Templeton, San Francisco

Album and CD information, General Notes on Album, Album Artwork, Tribute Performance in Omagh, External Site Reviews and Resources

Album and CD Information

Oats: MOO12/Edsel Records: EDCD 6677

Produced by Alan O'Duffy and Horslips
Engineered by Alan O'Duffy
Assistant Engineer Robbie McGrath
Recorded and mixed at Miracle Studios

Musicians

  1. Jim Lockhart--Keyboards, flute, whistles
  2. Charles O'Connor--Fiddle, mandolin, concertina, vocals
  3. Barry Devlin--Bass, vocals
  4. Johnny Fean--Guitar, vocals
  5. Eamon Carr--drums, bodhran, percussion

Photography: Ian Finlay, Sleeve design: Charles O'Connor, Original artwork: Eric G. Bannister, CD Artwork: Chris Ellis

Tracks

  1. Daybreak
  2. March into Trouble
  3. Trouble (with a Capital T)
  4. The Power and the Glory
  5. The Rocks Remain
  6. Dusk
  7. Sword of Light
  8. Dark
  9. Warm Sweet Breath of Love
  10. Fantasia (My Lagan Love)
  11. King of Morning, Queen of Day
  12. Sideways to the Sun
  13. Drive the Cold Winter Away
  14. Ride to Hell

The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony

First Movement: Geantrai
Daybreak, March into Trouble, Trouble (with a Capital T), The Power and the Glory, The Rocks Remain, Dusk, Sword of Light, Dark

Second Movement: Goltrai
Warm Sweet Breath of Love, Fantasia (My Lagan Love), King of Morning, Queen of Day

Third Movement: Suantral
Sideways to the Sun, Drive the Cold Winter Away, Ride to Hell


General Notes on the Album

The Book of Invasions (Leabhar Gabhala Eireann)

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 (The Fairy Host) and, taking their secrets and mysterious arts with them, entered an occult realm where they remain till this day.

A Celtic Symphony

In the old Ireland there were three principal categories of song, called geantrai, goltrai and suantraióthe joyous strain, the lamenting strain and the sleep strain. When Lug was proving himself expert in every art before the Tuatha hierarchy his musical contribution was an immaculate performance of the three strains.Later, after the Second Battle of Moytura, Lug and The Dagda (The Good God) pursue the Formorians who have stolen The Mighty One's harp.When the instrument is located the Dagda bids it come to him. As it flies to his hands it kills those enemies standing in its path.

Then he plays the three strains and when the opposing host are sleeping, from the magic of the suantrai, he departs safely, taking his harp with him.

Notes on The Book of Invasions, Edsel Records


Alan O'Duffy was back on board and after a breathing space during which a double live and an acoustic album were laid down, the band was raring to go on another big theme. This time a trilogy, no less, of which Book of Invasions was to be the first leg, detailing the arrival of the Tuatha De Danaan in Ireland. The second and third would chart the migration of the nineteenth century and attempt a present day overview...Tempting fate or what?

Notes on Horslips, The Best of..., Edsel Records


Item! I've had so many requests for info on the Celtic Symphony that I disguised myself as Mae West and bluffed my way into the studio control room for one particular dusk till dawn session. My offers to sing harmony vocals a-la Aretha Franklin fell on deaf ears --- but I was only too pleased to listen to the most amazing sounds Iíve ever heard in years. My oh my, what sounds!!!

Producer Alan O'Duffy, Mister Health pined for California sunshine but grew chirpier with every recorded note.

Now what is the new album all about??? It seems----and this is the big suprise----that the proper title for the L.P's "The Book of Invasions...A Celtic Symphony. It's three movements deal with a chunk of Mythology/History pieced together from writings of "The Book of Invasions". There really is such a book---- and it deals with the various peoples who occupied Ireland long, long ago before the Gaels arrived. Now one such group of Invaders were the Tuatha De Danann and I'm told they were"something else". No one knows exactly where they came from but it seems they were a mysterious lot---given to magic and music and endowed with occult powers. Using "The Book of Invasions" as a reference, the band tell us the story of the Tuatha. The first movement is subtitled "When God walked the Earth" 2nd----"The pursuit of Diarmaid and Grainne. 3rd is called "The Living End"

What can it all mean? I'm as anxious as you to grab a copy of the album and put my feet up and get listening. Word has it that Charles O'Connor has another masterpiece cover to his credit! What tracks did I hear in the studio? Only 3: "The Warm Sweet Breath of Love" which was a fair bit different to the version I heard on stage recently.

There was a song called "King and Queen" (I think) which I had never heard before. And it's lovely! The other track I heard was one which you probably had have heard if you've seen the band live in the last six months---- "Sword of Light"---- I got blisters on my size 5 shoes from tapping them so much.

"Samantha"Funky Fun Club (Horslips Fan Club Newsletter), October 1976


The band's first release on DJM in late 1976, The Book Of Invasions was recorded at Dublin's Lombard Sound Studios (now Westland) throughout most of that year. Hailed universally as Horslips' masterpiece, the album recounted the 12th century chronicle of the mystical Tuatha De Danann's colonisation of pre-Christian Ireland.

"Our initial idea for The Book Of Invasions came about when Eamon began researching the old Irish legend of the Tuatha De Danann and in 1975 he began writing some lyrics based around the story. We literally threw ourselves into the project," says Fean.

"Around the period that we recorded Drive The Cold Winter Away, I suggested to Barry that The Book Of Invasions would be a good theme for our next album," recalls Carr. "We had toured ourselves into the ground and we agreed to knuckle down and focus a bit more, rather than writing songs in the van. The thing was, The Táin was the big saga of Irish mythology but The Book Of Invasions was about the genesis of the Irish race. We ran shy of it for a while, thinking, 'We couldn't do that, it's outrageous'. But that feeling gave way to, 'Aw, fuck it, let's try it'. The device of the three movements - Geantrai, Goltrai and Suantrai - was perfect for us; a symphony waiting to be written."

"The Book Of Invasions benefited from a much longer gestation period than the previous albums because we weren't being pressured by a major label to get it finished," comments Lockhart. "We were able to relax a bit and enjoy some artistic freedom to let our musical ideas mature. The actual germ of The Book Of Invasions came together during a Canadian tour that we undertook within that 18 months between deals. It was the crystallisation of a few ideas that had been building up and we jotted down the outline of the albumís three movements on a train journey from Halifax to Montreal."

Mark Cunningham"The Shamrock Chronicles," Hot Press, 1995

Album Artwork

The mandela image on the cover is reprised on both Aliens and The Man Who Built America as one of the unifying elements of the trilogy.

Promotional photography from the Book of Invasions era highlight the use of the mandela in stage settings as well.
Book of Invasions Promotional Photograph 1 of 3
Book of Invasions Promotional Photograph 2 of 3
Book of Invasions Promotional Photograph 3 of 3

Tribute Performance in Omagh
A group of Omagh students plan to roll back the years by introducing the sounds of 70s supergroup Horslips to a new generation.

The A-Level students from the Christian Brothers Grammar School are to perform the band's Book of Invasions album in its entirety during a Horslips tribute night in the school later this month.

A total of nine students are involved in the project. And throughout the past six months the musicians have been polishing off the numbers � as well as sourcing out 70s style clothing to make the performance as authentic as possible.

The students involved are John Kelly (vocals), Conor McAloon (lead guitar), Ryan O'Sullivan (rhythm guitar), Danny McCormick (bass), Damien Maguire (drums), Michael Rafferty (keyboards), [Patrick Bogues] (fiddle), Michael Kielty (flute), and Niall Moore (trumpet). (See related story on Niall Moore on Daybreak)

John McCusker, Students in Horslips Tribute Show, Ulster Herald, Tuesday 14th April 2005


A few months back, Jim sent Michael and Ryan photocopies of sheet music he had prepared a number of years ago. It proved to be a tremendous help in breaking down the layers of studio recorded tracks.

Jim said, "You have to applaud these kids who are taking on such an ambitious piece of work.

"It's one thing to go on as an ordinary rock'n'roll band and do a bunch of 12-bar blues numbers and pop hits that everybody knows that they're going to be able to knock together handy enough. But to take on something as complex as the Book of Invasions is really heavy duty. I'm in awe, frankly, and I really take my hat off to them."

John McCusker, Prepared for Horslips 'Invasion', Ulster Herald, Thursday, 28th April 2005


See also Horslypse.com for continuing history of the tribute band and upcoming gigs.
External Site Reviews and Resources

Fean also contributes some of the best rhythm guitar licks on any album. Sword of Light is another classic in the broad style of Dearg Doom and there are no fillers or low spots. The Rocks Remain is a beautiful song, Trouble with a Capital T and The Power and the Glory are powerful anthemic songs and the whole second side is simply magical. This is Celtic Rock at its best. It isn't really true prog rock: it's too traditional and actually far, far better than all but the very best in the prog rock field. It is also one of only 3 concept albums which really work, along with their own The Tain and Camel's wonderful Snow Goose. If you haven't got this album, you really are missing out - big time. It really deserves 6 stars. (Full review at link.)

Tony Fisher, Progarchives.com Review, March 21, 2005


Horslips not only uses organ, drums, bass and guitar to fantastic use they also incorporate fiddles, concertinas, accordions, mandolin, tin whistles, and uilleann pipes into the music yet never once lose the progressive rock feel. Astounding. While Thick As A Brick is arguably progressive folk/rock's best album for consistency of melody over the course of it's whole length, Book Of Invasions by Horslips is possibly the best for progressive Celtic rock. All the songs flow together into each other and while being hard, soft, slow or fast, they never fail to be memorable. One of my personal favorite albums of all time. (Full review at link.)

Obiter, Progarchives.com Review, May 1, 2007


The Book of Invasions is Horslips' masterpiece, a concept album that is musically varied and cohesive from beginning to end. From the clarion call that opens "Daybreak" to the gently plucked notes that follow the stormy "Ride to Hell", this is celtic rock at its best. It could rightly claim to have influenced the next generation of rooted British Isles bands with attitude, like the Pogues, the Men they Couldn't Hang, Runrig, and Oysterband. While more rock folk than prog folk, this does not matter where a work of quality is concerned. (Full review at link)

Ken Levine, Progarchives.com Review, September 3, 2007


[T]his album gains force from its accrued impact, rather than its individual tracks. Like "Táin," "Book" is meant to work as a unified single piece of music, as the subtitle defines it. Songs are chapters in a book, verses of a poem.

Instrumental and sung passages alternate in the three movements of the album from Geantrai--cheerier songs-- to Goltrai-- laments--to Suantrai-- songs of sleep or dreams. These unify as in storytelling various "branches" of the tale and classify them in ancient Irish categories of narrative craft and intent. It's a "Celtic symphony," therefore, in the ebbs and crests of the musical representation and the lyrical explanation of the energetic clashes and couplings the Book of Invasions (Leabhar Gabhala) relates-- the tribes who landed in pre-Christian Ireland successively to fight over its land and its wealth. (Full review at link)

John L. Murphy, Amazon.com Review, July 22, 2006



First Posted: February 22, 2005
Last Revised: March 6, 2008