Bluehorses

TrackAlbum
Blackleg MinerCrackling Leather Skin And Bone
Screaming CryingCrackling Leather Skin And Bone
Dragons Milk And CoalDragons Milk And Coal
Witch In WedlockDragons Milk And Coal
Bedlam Boys (Mad Tom’'s Song)Live In London
Calling Number 5Ten Leagues Beyond
The Wild Worlds End
O’'Vivaldi’'s Irish Italian Theme BarTen Leagues Beyond
The Wild Worlds End
Bigger Gun Than YewTen Leagues Beyond
The Wild Worlds End
Ostara / Morrison’'s JigSkyclad EP
The Raggle Taggle GypsioThirteen Fires

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Contributor: Ian Ashleigh

Bluehorses, with its evocative description ‘Prog Folk’, was another band I discovered while browsing the website Prog Archives. The band was formed in 1994 at the Welsh College of Music and Drama by singer and multi-instrumentalist Liz Prendergast, violinist Emily Grainger and drummer Nic Waulker who were augmented by electric guitar, bass and occasionally keyboards. Prendergast and Waulker were the only consistent members throughout the band’s life to 2007.

Described variously as a ‘Celtic rock band’, ‘Goth Folk band’ and ‘Prog Folk, they blended a mixture of heavy rock and electric folk. They built critical acclaim for their live performances and were described as “one of the roots scene’s most exciting live acts”. Over a 10 year period the band released several EPs, four studio albums and a DVD of their set at the Saul Festival, all released on their own ‘Native Spirit’ label. There is at least one unofficial live album – from which I have selected a track.

The selections are arranged chronologically although Bedlam Boys selected from Live In London was subsequently recorded on Ten Leagues Beyond The Wild Worlds End as Mad Tom’s Song.

Crackling Leather Skin And Bone from 1997, albeit remastered in 1999, opens the collection and I selected an exuberant version of the traditional Blackleg Miner and a take on the woes of a band on the road, Screaming Crying. I think it’s fair to say that Bluehorses didn’t take themselves totally seriously further exemplified by Big White Telephone that closes the first CD.

The title of the next album, Dragons Milk And Coal, was inspired by Liz Prendergast’s grandfather and to get the full feel of the song, you need to listen through the tune to the lyric – or follow it from the CD insert! Witch In Wedlock was written by Prendergast and her friend Deb Kenny, and I can do no better than quote from Nic Waulker on the CD sleeve notes: ‘Lizzy’s friend Deb Kenny wrote some lyrics and tentatively showed them to her – result, a bizarre fantasy of female domination. I dunno – let them out of the kitchen to polish your cymbals once too often and this is the thanks you get.’

Live In London is an unofficial bootleg released in 2010 hence the track being incorrectly called Bedlam Boys and not Mad Tom’s Song, but it’s a good example of the band playing live. From the track listing I believe it was recorded between Dragons Milk And Coal from 1999 and Ten Leagues Beyond The Wild Worlds End (2001). I had difficulty restricting the selection to three tracks from Ten Leagues Beyond although Mad Tom’s Song, an adaptation of the story of Tom O‘Bedlam, opens the album. The saxophone on Calling Number 5 is played by Hawkwind’s Nik Turner and this is just a great rock song. O’Vivaldi’s Irish Italian Theme Bar is just a bit of fun that I couldn’t leave out. Bigger Gun Than Yew with its unashamed pun is a dig at the political one-upmanship of the time.

Ostara/Morrison’s Jig from the EP Skyclad demonstrates the band’s ability to tie their own tune to the tradition.

The final album was Thirteen Fires in 2007 and I know it’s a cliché but who cannot resist a heavy metal version of The Raggle Taggle Gypsio.

There are 63 songs in total and eventually 19 tracks on the shortlist from which I selected the final 10. The concept of a prog-metal-celtic-folk band will not sit comfortably with some but there are some great songs and tunes that didn’t make the 10 and I hope you have fun tracking them down.

TopperPost #143

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