It is difficult to thoroughly appreciate this album on initial listening, due to a rather flat production which masks its charms, although it does have value beyond its reputation as a curio. Horses are perhaps best known, in so far as this can be said of an album so obscure, as a footnote in the history of the Grateful Dead. Bassist David Torbert would later play with New Riders of the Purple Sage, and together with guitarist Matt Kelly and drummer Chris Herold, form the nucleus of Kingfish, Bob Weir’s mid-Seventies solo vehicle. Certainly the album portends the Kingfish sound, despite the musicians acting, to all intents and purposes, as session men for the John Carter-Tim Gilbert songwriting team, who’d previously found success penning ‘Incense and Peppermints’ for the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Anybody anticipating a reprise of such pysch-pop, however, will be disappointed. Horses very definitely represent the first fumblings of Californian hippies towards country rock, having much in common with Buffalo Springfield and early Gene Clark. Whilst the album lacks the strong harmony vocals which truly distinguished those acts, there is some fine material struggling against the stale mastering. The more overt rockers ‘Asia Minor,’ ‘Overnight Bag,’ and ‘Run Rabbit Run’ were strong enough to enjoy regular outings with Kingfish, whilst the opening track, ‘Freight Train’ is as good a train song as you’re likely to hear, featuring some beautiful, melodic bass from Torbert. However, the real standouts are introspective tracks such as ‘Birdie In a Cage,’ and particularly, ‘Nothing At All,’ which would comfortably fit on many of the more celebrated works of the era. If this album doesn’t quite deserve the status of lost classic, it is nonetheless an important and eminently listenable artefact.