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Jethro Tull - War Child CD (album) cover

WAR CHILD

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.27 | 541 ratings

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Atavachron
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Jethro Tull's 1974 offering clearly started as a major project and when you factor in top-notch bonus tracks like the grand 'Warchild Waltz', funeral Bach-isms of 'Quartet', brilliantly catchy 'Paradise Steakhouse' and highly prog 'Saturation', it becomes evident this was intended as a concept album complete with all the trimmings. Even Ian Anderson comments that Warchild began as a natural extension of the previous year's epic A Passion Play. But that didn't happen-- the connective tissue and orchestration that held the material together was trimmed, the songs shortened and the themes disassembled. And that's a shame, because it might have been one of their crowning achievements, an ingenious fusing of the theater of Passion Play with the purity of Aqualung. We still got a great record in 1974, it was Jethro Tull after all. And this remaster sounds marvelous, finally balanced, the muddiness of the original replaced by a clean mix with each instrument given its due, John Evan's keys quite distinct and Martin Barre's subtle details audible. What we get is not only a shining prog rock record, but one of the first successful attempts at progressive heavy metal.

Any remnants of a "concept" lay in images of life on the high seas; a parable for the band on the road and the ups and downs of being a successful musician. The title cut is an uneasy contrast between bitterness and hope, 'Queen and Country' is a sailor's life and 'Ladies' is the band's ode to groupies in every port. More visions of mermaids and plenty of great prog in 'Back Door Angels', and hard-rocker 'Sealion' tears it up with the Charge! of Barre's riff against Anderson's dark humor, at last sounding as it was supposed to with each layer coming through as intended. 'Skating Away' is Anderson's songwriting at its best, 'Bungle in the Jungle' was fun radio fare, Ian's cutting response to the music press with 'Only Solitaire' and 'Two Ringers' suggests Cat Stevens' influence on his style.

With its sheen restored and an attempt to fill in some important missing pieces, Warchild is easily one of the best releases of the classic progressive era and this gorgeous reissue comes highly recommended.

Atavachron | 4/5 |

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