Horse - s/t. 1970 England


Horse were a legendary hard rock band from England, with a growly charismatic lead singer, and a ripping guitarist who was one of the first to play in a metal riffing style. They purposely eschewed the blues, to try for something more aggressive and different. Turns out a nasty head cold had much to do with the vocal performance, due to RCA forcing a time schedule to get the album out by 1969. Being the corporate sloths they were, they didn't release it until the summer of 1970, to no fanfare, and the album was quickly forgotten, with RCA later questioning their value and dropping them from their stable (did I really just say that?). Which lead to their demise. Might have helped had they put a little support behind it, and ensuring the best performance possible. So into the ledgers of history Horse went. In some ways, one can hear a proto Judas Priest, especially when Halford was in lower register mode. At times the album can be a bit ordinary and trend sideways, but there's nothing that goes south. Despite all the imagery and groundbreaking references, this is not an album that will necessarily surprise historians.

Personal collection
CD: 2016 Rise Above (as For Twisted Minds Only)

The only official reissue is entitled For Twisted Minds Only (the band refers to themselves in the liner notes as (in effect) off-center, and they played often with Comus, which is telling in of itself). There's copious bonus tracks which demonstrate a complete different sound for Horse. Here they possess a psychedelic sound, and one can hear a definitive Doors influence - very unusual sound for a British band at that time.

Not a mindblowing album per se, but overall an essential purchase if interested in pursuing the roots of hard rock and heavy metal.

3 comments:

  1. Most of them were on the underground folk/psych band Saturnalia, before (I think one or two tracks from the album were re-recordings of Saturnalia's songs).

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    Replies
    1. I was thinking that too, but if I recall right, the liner notes state that Saturnalia came after Horse - and these were prior to Horse. But I have never heard the Saturnalia album to be fair. Thanks Spyros for the comments!

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    2. You're right. Saturnalia came soon after. Did some research and the info I had was erroneous. There always have been a general confusion about the Saturnalia album, some say it is had been recorded in 1969, while others in 1973. But Horse seem to have disbanded somewhere in 1972, so the 1973 date seems the correct one for "Magical Love".

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