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


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.03 | 1178 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Jethro Tull had one peculiar career behind them by the time they released their eighth album, "Minstrel in the Gallery". They debuted as a blues rock band, swiftly changed direction for the second album, swerved again for the third, and then established their sound for the seventies with their infamous fourth album, "Aqualung". Then they went off and did two albums of one double-sided song each. They successfully blended acoustic folk music with heavy rock and added a third element of classical influence which shone through in flute, piano, and strings.

"Minstrel" sees the Tull sticking to that combination and still managing to work out new wonders. According to Wikipedia, Ian Anderson was experiencing some tough personal times around the writing and recording sessions and he felt the band was not focused. In spite of this, the album shows all members in top form, particularly Martin Barre's rock guitar holds a place in the spotlight at times.

The album opens with the title track and begins as a folk song about some imaginary minstrel and the effect his music has on various intriguing characters. But the song soon changes into a heavy instrumental segment that could be called proto-progressive metal. The rhythm section just hammers and pounds away as Barre works his guitar like he's refining iron ore. A steady beat sets in and the song rocks away to the end.

The next two tracks follow a similar course, offering acoustic beginnings with guitar, flute, and strings, and then morph into some hard rockers.

Here, however, our journey switches terrain and from "Requiem" through "One White Duck / 0 -10=Nothing at all" to the beginning of "Baker Street Muse" we are treated to some beautiful acoustic guitar sometimes complemented by strings and flute. "Baker Street Muse" is given 16 minutes to travel through a folksy beginning, followed by a prog rock part, more hard rock, more of Barre's prog metal guitar playing, acoustic guitar with chimes, melancholic music, and a return to the rock theme. All the while, Anderson sings lyrics from his quirky and often humorous view of people. After the song has concluded, we can hear Anderson walking to the studio door only to find it locked where upon he cries, "I can't get out!"

"Grace" is a short final track that might slip right past you if you stop to check the train schedule or open the Facebook app. Then come the bonus tracks. Two additional songs, "Summerday Sands" and "March the Mad Scientist" sound like typical Jethro Tull pieces but have a different feel from the rest of the album. "Pan Dance" is really different as it is a string orchestra and simple percussion performing along with Anderson's flute. I rather like this classical effort with an un-English style.

I really like how this album maintains the seventies Jethro Tull sound while still offering new concoctions of music. And though it might have soon been time for the band to pursue a new direction ("Heavy Horses"), they proved that they could really make this triad of rock, folk, and classical work cohesively.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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