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Jethro Tull - Crest Of A Knave CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.23 | 587 ratings

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4 stars After the artificial and profoundly disappointing 'Under Wraps', this was surely a breath of fresh air despite the use of sequencers and a few times that sound as if Ian Anderson partnered with Mark Knopfler. It's like the band was saying "We can do a hot modern-sounding record too, and still maintain our prog past". And that they did.

The clipped hiss of a drum program and a sequenced piano cuts through and leads 'Steel Monkey', a well-deserved homage to the men who build the urban world. Heart-tugging 'Farm on the Freeway' is a highlight with crisp flautings from Ian and concise, metallic riffs by Marty. The song sardonically but sympathetically addresses the assault upon rural Britain, and it cooks, the boys pulling out some old classic Tull-isms and passages that evoke the Aqualung days, Anderson at his sensitive best and in fine voice. Folkie 'Jump Start' adds more contrast between Barre's electric ice, Dave Pegg's bass and Ian's baritone timber. Plus a red-hot flute break. Wonderfully sweet and funny 'She Said She Was a Dancer' is Anderson's memories of strange encounters in the night. The very cool 'Dogs in Midwinter' follows, one of the best Tull cuts of the 80s and gracefully dances along with neat melodies, pyrotechnic chirps from Barre's attentive guitar, Ian's playful flute, a gorgeous bit. Distant sentiment and flirtatious fantasies in the 10 minute 'Budapest', one of Anderson's favorite Tull songs, lightly arranged with classical passages and some very sweet flute/guitar lines. 'Mountan Men', the complement to 'Steel Monkey', maintains the groups allegiance to the natural world and is another excellent later period Tull track, and 'The Waking Edge' could be the Dire Straits if you close your eyes. Rocker 'Raising Steam' opens up a can of ZZ Top and bonus track 'Part of the Machine' is not to be missed, possibly the most classic sounding Tull piece here.

Not prog rock as normally understood and perhaps unrecognizable to old Jethro Tull followers, 'Crest of a Knave' was a successful and healthy foray into the brave new world that was the mid 1980s and as a collection of great sounding if straight-forward songs, it is a winner in this veteran's book.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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