Welcome to the latest edition of ‘Golden Vault’, where we delve into the annals of music to bring you a classic album. You’ll know some like the back of your hand and nothing of others. We hope to get you reacquainted with old friends and create new favourites. The album to be taken out of the Golden Vault for reappraisal this week is an Irish classic ‘Horsedrawn Wishes’ by Rollerskate Skinny.
It’s been great to see Ken Griffin back making great music again recently with August Wells. This prompted and indeed necessitated another spin of his magnum opus ‘Horsedrawn Wishes’ from his previous band Rollerskate Skinny.
Every now and again, when brilliant new music comes into GoldenPlec there is the thought of where it ranks amongst this year’s best music and if it’s in the top bracket there, how does it further compare to great Irish albums like Whipping Boy’s ‘Heartworm’ or Rollerskate Skinny’s ‘Horsedrawn Wishes’.
Some albums date over time, but that can’t be said of ‘Horsedrawn Wishes’ as it was an album not of its time. Released during a period when Brit Pop was on the wane, Rollerskate Skinny’s ‘Horsedrawn Wishes’ was a dodecahedron in a musical landscape of neat round pigeon holes. It was never going to fit, but because of this for those that discovered its labyrinthine charm it stuck like flypaper.
Listening to the psychedelic lunacy of lead single Speed To My Side on Dave Fanning’s radio show with its myriad of mind bending guitar hooks and babbling voices made an instant impression. Initially thoughts veered from “what the hell was that” to “I have to hear that again”. The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev are famed for their idiosyncrasies but ‘Horsedrawn Wishes’ far exceeded anything they had achieved at that point.
As an album, it’s a juxtaposition of meandering songs bursting with imagination where walls of guitar are heaped on top of walls of guitar, yet never without a focal point to be too obtuse. One Thousand Couples screeches and hurtles, Man Under Glass bristles with jagged guitars before its timid floaty chorus alters its tone.
Bits of strange whistles, bells, muffled drums, faintly heard almost alien backing vocals at times slowed down or sped up over Angela Starling, Ribbon Fat and Swing Boat Yawning made it into the melting pot. Nothing was too far out there, like, sure chuck a kids squeaking toy on at the end of Speed To My Side. It’s epic, fantastical and whimsical. It all makes sense when put together.
This was an album that was on heavy rotation for a very long time. Exams were passed and failed, jobs drifted by, holidays pixelated in memory, babies born. As we grew old, this Dorian Grey of an album stays the same.
You won’t find ‘Horsedrawn Wishes’ on Spotify or other streaming media and that may disappoint some people. But for those that own this album it further increases its allure that only those fortunate enough to discover’ Horsedrawn Wishes’ back in the ‘90s can delight in its wild unyielding aural delights.
A lost classic to all but those that own and treasure it. God bless YouTube.