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Horslips: Tall Tales - The Official Biography Hardcover – 4 Nov 2013

4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The O'Brien Press (4 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847175864
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847175861
  • Product Dimensions: 28.2 x 22.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 385,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


a winner 

(RTE Guide)

beautifully produced

(Ireland AM)

the definitive coffee table music book

(Ireland AM)

go out and buy this book

(Ireland AM)


(Sunday World)

Superb recollections … a stream of information, anecdotes, and surprises

(Irish Times)

the book is a repository of previously unpublished memorabilia and of high-quality design … expertly laid out

(Irish Times)

a thing of beauty

(RTE Guide)

From the Back Cover

One of Ireland’s greatest and most important bands, Horslips tell their story in their own words – the tours, the songs, the recording sessions, the heartbreaking split and the triumphant comeback.

Featuring a wealth of rare photographs and memorabilia from the personal collections of the band members and their fans.

‘“Dearg Doom” still stands up as one of the great rock songs of all time.’ The Edge

‘We just heard The Táin and went “Wow!”’ Bono

‘Horslips did an awful lot to keep the industry alive.’ Philip Lynott

‘People I know have gone on to do things that they thought weren’t possible until they heard Horslips.’ Phil Chevron



Front Flap:

One of the greatest and most important bands ever to come out of Ireland, Horslips pioneered a whole new genre of music – Celtic Rock, a fusion of traditional tunes and electric rock’n’roll.

From 1970 to 1980, Horslips released twelve genre-defining albums and gigged relentlessly throughout Ireland, the UK, Europe and North America. They took the dancehalls of Ireland by storm in the 1970s, creating a new live rock music circuit and infusing the country’s youth with a new sense of cultural pride, paving the way for bands like U2.

Following ‘The longest tea break in rock’n’roll’, Horslips reunited in 2004, delighting their diehard fans with triumphant arena and festival appearances, and epic performances with symphony orchestras.

Now, in their own words, Horslips tell their incredible story – how they won the country over town by town; how the songs were composed, arranged and recorded; how they managed their business affairs, controlling every aspect of their creations; their devastation at the break-up of the band, and joy at being given a new opportunity to rock their audiences.

Illustrated by a wealth of rare images and memorabilia – including album art, handwritten lyrics, set lists, session notes, concert posters and tickets – this is the definitive history of a truly legendary band.


Back Flap:

A devoted Horslips fan since his early teens, Mark Cunningham first interviewed the band in 1995, for Hot Press magazine. Later, he created the souvenir brochures for the band’s reunion tours, and produced videos for their general promotion.

Mark’s early career was focused on work as a bass guitarist, composer and producer. He produced the first official BBC Children In Need charity single, and played a supporting role with several well-known artists.

Moving into music journalism in the early ’nineties, Mark contributed to a wide range of magazines, as well as writing two bestselling reference books – Good Vibrations: A History Of Record Production and Live & Kicking: The Rock Concert Industry In The Nineties.

In 1998, Mark co-founded TPi (Total Production International) – a monthly magazine for the live industry – and its associated annual TPi Awards event.

Since leaving TPi in 2011, he has worked in a marketing role for leading live sound company Clair Global, as well as advising on numerous entertainment production initiatives worldwide.

Mark lives in Southend-on-Sea, in the southeast of England.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
From the minute she opened the front cover of this sumptuous book, a collage of gig tickets ranging from 1972 to 1980 and from Dublin to London to Palm Beach transported this reader straight back to the days of her youth and the glory days of Celtic rockers Horslips. Uber-fanboy Mark Cunningham has produced the definitive and indeed official biography "Tall Tales" and the love and passion he has for their music shines out from every glossy page. This reverent and irreverent book charts the lives of five fine moustachioed men from their childhoods through their early career choices (apprentice missionary, male model - the usual stuff), to the velvet and satin clad decade of the 1970s when they captured the hearts of two continents right up to their highly anticipated return in the twenty first century - neatly chronicled with another array of tickets on the inside back cover. Beautifully written and gloriously packed with photographs, this book could not come more highly recommended. By this fan, anyway.
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Format: Hardcover
Far from being a tall tale, this is an excellent and erudite publication which will delight Horslips fans everywhere, and indeed anyone with an interest in Irish music more generally.

In just over 280 pages, Mark Cunningham does a quite wonderful job of telling us the Horslips story from its beginning in the early 1970s to the present day. Part musical odyssey, part social history, and always compelling, the book takes us inside the music itself, the life and times of the band, and places both within the context of Irish society as it has evolved over the past 40 years. Many books of this nature amount to little more than endless lists of facts, figures and statistics, complete with trainspotterish details of recording dates and catalogue numbers. Not so here. Like all top class writers, Mr Cunningham lets the story tell itself whenever possible, and is content to let his hand rest lightly on the tiller when appropriate. But don't be fooled into thinking that this lets the book descend into empty sycophancy and hero worship. The author is an incisive and objective commentator and brings a constructively critical perspective to bear on his subject throughout.

For those of us who have been fans from the beginning, this book is long overdue. It has also been worth every second of the wait. Reading it you will be reminded of the life changing impact this band has had on us all. It will also take you back to days and times you had long forgotten. But, best of all, it will help you understand what exactly it was about Horslips, individually, collectively, musically and culturally, that spoke so clearly and influentially to us all. As the late Philip Chevron once said so eloquently 'People I know have gone on to do things they thought were'nt possible until they heard Horslips' Never a truer word sir!

If you buy even one book this year, make it this!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For many teenagers of Irish decent, growing up in British cities such as Birmingham in the 1970s, as I did, was a fair distance away culturally, environmentally, economically and socially, from that experienced by our parents ( in my case both were from the west coast of Ireland). We remember the ceilidh records they played in the house when we were kids, as their way of connecting with their past in a new urban setting; the shindigs, the smoke-filled rooms where adults partook of something they called 'having the craic'; and it is surprising just how much we subliminally absorbed of all that, without really knowing it on an emotional level.

It is this explanation anyway, that I offer for the exhilarating experience I had when seeing Horslips play for the first time at Barbarellas club in Birmingham around 1977. Their music connected with me on an emotional level in a way that was utterly authentic, aligned, contemporaneous, exciting ( I had gotten into rock music as most teenagers had) and, moreover, uniquely special because if its Irishness. Celtic Rock was its name, and it lived up to it.

This was their "Book of Invasions" tour, which I still think was the band at its finest, although I saw them several times in the following years up until their split in 1980. I was also fortunate to see them play at the 02 in Dublin in 2009, at the height of their come-back period, and I can say without any hesitation it was the finest gig I have ever had the pleasure of being at.

So it goes without saying, then, that I am a wee bit precious about this band, as they have been so much a part of my youth and subsequent middle youth too! Or, to put it another way, from where I am coming from, anyone writing a book about this band had better make it a good one.
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Format: Hardcover
(I am giving this 5 stars plus)

I read this over a Long Weekend and loved every Short Story and Tall Tale along with the stories of Ghosts of the past and the epic accounts of Trouble.

Mark Cunningham's massive book is long overdue and is a mighty tome of facts and anecdotes about our favourite band that take us from their conception (almost literally) - in Dublin - to the present day. But although it is a superb account of the band (John Fean, Barry Devlin, Jim Lockhart, Eamon Carr and Charles O'Connor) - it is far, far more than that. It also unlocks memories of the past (the 70s and 80s) for the legions of fans who may be familiar with some, most or all of the chapters - although few but Mark Cunningham know just as much and can tell it all coherently. He really was paying attention - and the detail of research is staggering.

Me? I was there for most of it but as someone once said 'If you can remember the 60s you weren't there.' And to me my memories of the 70s and 80s were a bit like that too. Heck, my memories of last year are a bit hazy ... How I wish we'd had camera phones, digi cameras and Facebook then to record all our wonderful memories.

Despite the many surprises contained in the book of tall tales we really didn't know - the greatest question of all is 'Why in the Dearg Doom did it take so long ....!?'

Horslips ... Horslips ... Horslips ...!
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