If this snow-blessed season needed an enlivening charge, for many it came in the video for The Rubber Bandits Horse Outside, the dead cert Irish Christmas number one. This Limerick bred rebuke to the recently slayed Celtic Tiger is by a duo who are one part Insane Clown Posse, a bit Farrelly Brothers, a pinch a Fadder Ted and several scoops of Flannish O’Brien surrealism.
The video very cleverly telegraphs - through character, performances and great edits - a wild n’ ferally-cheerful community. At the centre, the song makes its stab for pop glory by resorting to the horse, a recurring pop signifier of wild otherness.
The Rubber Bandits’ steed, waiting outside the wedding, offers more wild thrills and spills than the todgers swinging the keys to their Clarksons inside. Horse pitches one phallic symbol against another - the car and the horse.
Pop’s car fetishisation was marvellously introduced to me under the covers one night in my early teens, by John Peel after a high throttling blast of Rocket 88, a ‘was this the first rock n’ roll record ever made?’ contestant. The Ike Turner And The Rhythm Kings driven ode to a particularly snazzy vehicle came to a halt and Peel mourned with deadpan relish…
“Jackie Brentson and Rocket 88. I always wish I had a Rocket 88. I had to do with a slightly curved 5 and half inches.”
But that’s another story...
The supermarket-bag masked Rubber B (one of these guys supposedly has an Arts Degree...IN Mask Making!) suggests the pleasures to be had on the ride with his Michael Jackson derived ‘dont matter how much plastic I have on my face Im still the coolest in the room’, dance moves. NO Irish man has moved his groin with such rapacity and eagerness since George Best slayed defences, or indulged in post match lady training.
Who needs a car when you can get yourself Centaured?
This horse is a practical response to the inequities of the state car tax “I don’t pay no tax, Fuck NCT!”, a recall to the land and myth in an Eco challenged era ("he jumps like Tir Na Og") and who else but the chap that owns it would know that “he looks like Billie Piper after half an ounce of coke”?
Wildmen ride horses, seemingly.
Rubber Bandits take every fence along the way and clear it with style, the video is full of asides and insides. It may launch them to a Simon Pegg and producer Spaced-type Hollywood fame down the road.
But for now they have delivered a sure sign that in pop the horse stays on its quasi mythical mystic course. For those around the half century line the Pop horse first appeared in the blissfully feminine, aqua /equine thrill of Jackky’s White Horses. This still rapturous conflation of Bacharach horned, samba sensual shuffling, was 60s TV Theme music suggesting the bond to the magic horse that was beloved of teenage girls at the riding school.
And much else besides, the feel and the words a heady transportation into joys untold life might offer. Then those Americans raised in England called America unleashed their mystery ride in a desert on Horse With No Name, a song and performance redolent of Rock’s Ole Crazy Horse himself, Neil Young.
Neil’s kept a big stable in his time -from saddlin' Up His Palomino just after his bellwether Bob Dylan hymned a New Pony, to the longstanding band commemorated in his Jim Jarmusch directed, The Year of The Horse. And weren’t there some horse sense amongst the nonsense in the loopy Johnny Depp movie he sound tracked, Deadman?
NO Irish man has moved his groin with such rapacity and eagerness since George Best slayed defences, or indulged in post match lady training.
On a Horse
Waylon Jennings was forever calling everyone ‘Hoss’ and Willie Nelson rode a horse called music.
And there was nothing, nothing but a blistering thrill of adolescent phrenomenes, cathartic sexuality and abandonment on Patti Smith’s unstoppable entree to the Centurial Cause in Horses
Doing it like a dude? Nah, doing it like a lady
And of course leather Lothario and Miner of Pop’s Sexual Psychology Jim Morrison roamed the Horse Latitudes till his horse was taken to the water in Paris hotel. Marianne Faithfull inspired the Gram Parsons era Keef n Mick classic Wild Horses with her first words in hospital when she came out of a OD induce coma telling MJ (the “super annuated Sex Accountant” to be, copyright Suzanne Moore) that wild horses wouldn’t drag her away (Though a long period on a horse called heroin, might).
Astral Weeks, that end of an era Irish album classic is full of horses in the Eysian Celtic 60s Spring before ‘The Fall’ of The Troubles. The Horse ridden by Slim Slow Slider is the white horse, symbolic of death and transformation. A horse for the border warrior. There’s horse drawn carriage elsewhere on the album symbolic of precious cargo within.
Horses are all through later Van Morrison, from the Tupelo Honey cover, to the WB Yeats Horseman invocation on No Guru to the memory of Jimmy McBride's horse, a rural relic tethered in the rapidly changing Belfast 60s cityscape, on Sense Of Wonder.
Rory rode the horse, too, out on the western plain. Singing Yah Yah Yippee singing Yah Yah Yippee Aye eh.
Rory and Van were maybe of the last generation of rockers who could sing of the horse with real understanding and investment of self.
They loved the ole cowboy ballads like Ghost Riders in The Sky; it was in the blood n sprit
The Clash used cowboy imagery but did they ever allude to horses in song?
I don’t think so.
And U2 went through an awful long period wearing cowboy hats.
Did they ever take to the horse though?
Only after the Bunnymen brought out the Dancing Horses.
But then where the Scouser stallions led, the Dublin nags often followed.
Whose gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?
Not Bono, obviously.
I mean, an Ass? On a Horse?
Don't be ridiculous, thats a job for the Rubber Bandits.
A band that got Ireland back up off it knees and into the saddle, again.
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