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Jethro Tull - Stormwatch CD (album) cover

STORMWATCH

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.45 | 487 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The end of an era.

As Ian Anderson recounts, Stormwatch was an accurate title to the album. Inner band tensions and poor health would make this album the last of this line up. Due to the poor health of bassist John Glascock, Ian Anderson had to take over on bass, leaving his flute somewhat to the side. It's still there, but not nearly as much as normal. While this album is fairly severely underrated it's still only good at best, with the exception of a few really great tracks. Obviously there's some kind of chemistry between how the band is feeling and how the music turns out. Everything happening around Tull is very obvious here, the result is a dark, brooding album that's quite heavy.

The album opens with the cool riff and flute of NORTH SEA OIL. This fast paced track is definately one of the high points on the album, and deals with a lot of environmental issues happening around the time the album was written. This tracks opens the album very nicely and leaves room for good things to come. Unfortunately that's not exactly what happens. While cool, ORION definately doesn't live up to, well, itself. The song starts quite promisingly but really fails to go anywhere. It has some interesting concepts and melodies, but it's definately not Tull's best. HOME is much the same, however it is a bit better and more moody. The sombre tone of this song works both for and against itself being that it's fairly out of place with so much heavy material surrounding it. WARM SPORRAN is a good little instrumental that closes side A, a little bit of hummed vocals in there give it a nice feeling. SOMETHING'S ON THE MOVE is another one of the album's highlights, being very quick and melodic, this one bordering on metal. The bridge and chorus especially in this one being very catchy and almost evoking the need to dance... but in a good way (that's very uncommon in prog)! OLD GHOSTS is another slow one that fits better on the album thanks to it's almost creepy atmosphere with a little bit more flute featured in this one. DUN RINGILL is a quick song that almost seems like a bit of filler but really sets up for the song tat comes after it (which'll come later in the review). ELEGY closes the album with another nice instrumental that's very soothing and, with the ability of hindsight, scary due to bassist John Glascock's death during the following tour. A nice an beautiful song none the less.

With a mixed bag of slightly above and slightly bellow average tracks, is there any huge standouts? Yes.

As expected, the longer tracks on this album are the two standouts. DARK AGES is a great, chilling song that feeds off a kind of structure and sound harking back to an album such as Minstrel.... Bouncing between slow prog and heavy metal this is a song that's quite bizarre for Tull but incredibly good none the least. However, even this track is nothing compared to the sublime FLYING DUTCHMAN. Intro-ed by some soft piano and flute this chilling song quickly becomes Tull after the shock of an electric guitar and Anderson's token vocals. The track softly winds around mixing piano and vocals (with some absolutely beautiful melodies) until the guitar picks up again at the beat of a drum and off we run. Coming into the chorus it's impossible not to get a haunting chill down your back every time Anderson sings ...and be there when the Dutchman comes.... Absolutely stunning. The song proceeds to continue this picking up speed around the middle until it eventually ends and you have to stare off into space for a minute after realizing what the heck you were just hit by. Brilliant, Tull at their best.

So, with a bunch of good tracks, a couple meh and a couple of amazing tracks this album gets 3.5 stars. Great. Maybe not quite up to par of what the band did for most of the 70s -- and a very unfortunate, tragic end to this line up, but an underestimated album none the least. Recommended for fans of Minstrel... and anyone who likes their Tull heavy. Who knows, it might also be a good gateway album for metal-heads to get more into traditional prog.

Unfortunately... now it's the 80s...

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |

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