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Jethro Tull - Minstrel In The Gallery CD (album) cover

MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.97 | 790 ratings

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clarke2001
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cold and dark album. Cold almost as "Stormwatch", and possibly the darkest so far. This is another example of Ian's excellent composing skills and intelligent lyrics, but that examples are not omnipresent. There's nothing wrong this album, it's simply weaker than Anderson's standards.

The opening song "Minstrel In The Gallery" contains lovely medieval part (with not so lovely lyrics) and amplified, monstrous part where Mr. Barre pulls the rawest and driest distortions out of his Gibson. Compact energy of guitar and drums is mind-blowing. Unfortunately, the very moment that Ian grabs the microphone, half of the energy is gone. Vocals and - oh my God - organ are just hard rock cliches here.

"Cold Wind To Valhalla" is another...cold song, but this touch of frost is beautiful and works fine. Very interesting crescendo, with the semi-electric section in the middle of the song with the drums that will many listeners find a bit too furious and inappropriate for the song, but I like them, as well as the counter-effect produced by them.

"Black Satin Dancer" is just a bit weaker than "Cold Wind To Valhalla" but it's still providing enjoyable moments to a listener; lovely accelerando of Ian's flute and guitar solo as a tour de force in the middle of the song are making the song more charming, despite the impression of agony hidden somewhere between sung words and flute notes.

"Requiem" is the song whose title is perfectly describing the song's overall atmosphere in general. Perhaps a little bit too solemn.

"One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All" is my second favourite track from the album. It is Ian's acoustic piece at it's best. Even if one might not find this song "the best" or even "very good", it's undoubtedly the essence of "Tullness".

Despite the occasional weaker moments, so far everything was fine. But with "Baker St. Muse" things went wrong. This sixteen minutes long songs does not offering me more than two minutes of pleasant listening. It's handcrafted well, Ian's lyrics are not bad (but not the peak neither), but this song is just hollow. For me, the only memorable melody inside it is the part "I have no house in Coventry/I have no motor car", it's in "Crash Barrier Waltzer" I think. The rest of the song is producing, more or less, the same effect as an electric stroke on dead frog's body: a spasm certainly, but no emotion (except for that gray afternoon emptiness). But I have to be honest and admit that the intro and the ending of the song are very good, the ending is the most impressive one that I had a chance hearing on an album. That won't save the "Baker St. Muse" though, because ending is got nothing to do with the music itself.

Speaking of endings, the real ending of the album, "Grace", is probably the shortest song that TULL ever did, and it's my favourite song from this album, too. It's gorgeous miniature with cuddling string orchestras and it's haiku lyrical aesthetic. In my opinion, it was utterly wrong decision to put this song onto the end of the record-no, wrong. That is not the worst thing. That's just an illusion because this beautiful miniature is following dull, almost-sidelong track, and it completely sunks while your brain is still struggling to catch some air after nothingness of the unlucky epic.

So, at the end of the day, this album contains one or two almost-brilliant songs, an astonishing miniature, a few good ideas here and there and the big black hole somewhere in the middle of the record, spreading like a cancer towards the edges of a vinyl.

clarke2001 | 3/5 |

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