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Jethro Tull - A Passion Play  CD (album) cover

A PASSION PLAY

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.01 | 1001 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "A Passion Play" picks up where "Thick As A Brick" left off. Their earlier album-length opus followed the life of one man, from birth to death. Their next ("Passion") follows the afterlife of one man, from heaven to hell. I don't know why this isn't more obvious to people, but some have apparently taken up the scent of the red herring in the title, concluding that "A Passion Play" has to do with the last moments of Christ. It does insofar as Christian theology holds that Christ's death vouchsafed our afterlife, but the operative architecture here is rather Dante ALIGHIERI's Divine Comedy than the titular medieval morality plays. And so many have gone looking for something that wasn't there, this despite "The Story of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles", which cautions against looking for something that can't (and doesn't need to) be found. That's pretty much the theme in a nutshell, allowing for the usual human error on my part. (And, of course, if you've struck upon a theme you like better, by all means keep it!) Musically, "A Passion Play" is more complex than "Thick", downright diabolical in spots. The big difference here is the increased role of the saxophone, which supplants the flute and gives the arrangements a tempestuous twist that suggests GENTLE GIANT at this stage (unfortunately, Ian lost interest in sax after delivering "War Child"). Structurally, "A Passion Play" is less cohesive than its predecessor; "Thick" featured half a dozen or so themes played out several times throughout the course of the album, whereas Passion re-uses only a handful of themes and seems to consist of at least a dozen distinctive sections. By album's end, TULL resorts to piecemeal composition, stringing miniature songs together without even the pretense of a sound structural bridge between them.

In kindness, it could be that TULL was simply too creative to stay confined to a handful of musical themes, a point that "War Child"'s bulging bag of booty would seem to support. Some would rank "A Passion Play" with TULL's most magical creations (and far be it from me to debunk anyone's source of magic), but it's not a playmate I pull from the shelves too often, knowing it will only walk my mind in a circle.

daveconn | 4/5 |

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