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Jethro Tull - A Passion Play  CD (album) cover

A PASSION PLAY

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.01 | 1013 ratings

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clarke2001
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hah. The most progressive Jethro Tull's album (so far), but not necessary the best one. Everyone will agree this is an attempt to be thicker and brickier than a "Thick As A Brick". Well, of course, the band failed to overtake the artistic value and success of the previous album, but this one is not bad actually.

This is another concept album, (with "The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" mockery thrown in), and it doesn't works perfectly. Well, "Thick As A Brick" wasn't working perfectly neither, but I still think it's a masterpiece. The problem with this album is in the fact that it's much less homogeneous then it's predecessor, while sharing the same amount of complexity and diversity. However, I'm doing the same thing as most of the reviewers are: I'm comparing it to "Thick As A Brick", which is maybe unavoidable, but it's certainly not very fair: there's plenty of other Tull albums from the same era to conclude what status "A Passion Play" deserves.

If we look at it as a isolated entity, this is a very good album, with excellent cover, witty Anderson's lyrics and superb musicianship. Anyway, this is the first (and the last, I think) appearance of soprano and sopranino saxophones on Tull record, played by Mr. Anderson himself. Album contains boldly used Moog synthesizers; keyboards are all over the place, most of the time emphasising Ian's vocal perfectly ("My touch, freezing"). Hammond is ridiculously overdriven more than on any other Tull album. "A Passion Play" also contains some time signatures that could be described as a pure madness, plus my favourite rhythm-guitar section of all times (theme that has been repeated in variations through all the record, and the last one just before the grand finale); unique and frenetic combination of ehm...regular guitar chords and guitar harmonics. I never heard something similar before or after.

I would not comment the theatre play related to "A Passion Play" and I won't compare the album to the "Chateau D'Isaster Tapes"; I'm not very familiar with the happening at the time, and it's not very relevant to the music itself, really. Just an small remark about "The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles": it contains some excellent music, and nice touch of humour somewhat similar to Bonzo Dog Band, perhaps a bit more pretentious. It's rather pointless inclusion in the middle of the record, but it's fun, and it's high-quality work. The video spot is great too.

Anyway, if there is any chance to avoid comparisons with other, more or less similar Tull's album, and if we try to criticise this one from the sheer musical point of view, than we have an excellent, epic-long jazzy symphonic record with touches of folk, of course with omnipresent "tullness" all over the place. So how can I say that "A Passion Play" is not good?

clarke2001 | 4/5 |

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