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

MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.97 | 785 ratings

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Draith
4 stars There are two albums that I've been listening to for the past few months with string sections of bands that scarcely use such (well, to my knowledge), this album and Fear of a Blank Planet. I thought both were, as the ratings say, excellent to any prog collection, and definitely worth one's hard-earned salary. Unlike Fear of a Blank Planet, however, this one is quite underrated to a puzzling degree. I'd almost actually expect this one to be above Songs from the Wood. Really, the strings just add that much. It has some similarities to Aqualung, though the style of the compositions are a bit more mature, though perhaps less appealing to an extent, more the sort of album that grows on you.

Minstrel in the Gallery was was given to me from a friend on my eighteenth birthday, along with Return to Forever (the album), and I was quite impressed by both, and this one particularly took a lot of listening to familiarize myself with and enjoy. I only had previously known Jethro Tull from the album Thick as a Brick which blew me away from the first listen, and this one took time to nudge into my mind. It is, first and foremost, a very acoustic album, and I think Ian Anderson intended that. Yet it also definitely has it's heavier moments, especially in the first song, the album title track. Most of the songs start off quite unconventionally, which talking or counting or something of the sort. Progressiveness is, for the most part, quite high; many of the songs have very interesting structures, to say the least, and Ian's flute is almost as prominent as his acoustic playing. I'd almost go far enough to say there's something for almost everyone on this album, cool sounding heavy guitar, flute improvisation, delightful lyrics, soft acoustic folk moments, classical elements with the strings and occasional piano, and the epic sixteen and a half minute Baker St. Muse. Very much is done in very little time with the music, and the contrast in dynamics and mood flow very nicely.

And, of course, Ian Anderson's vocals are fabulous and nearly flawless. Some seemed to view this album as uninspired, but the guy's singing sounds the most inspired of almost any album I have. While I definitely could be wrong, I think he thoroughly enjoyed producing the album, to the extent that he might have thought he broke away from the audience too much, hence why he didn't think the album would have much response.

This is a classic Jethro Tull album, in the league of Thick as a Brick and Agualung. I can't imagine a Tull fan going long without this for long, and it has definitely inspired me to become more familiar with the band's discography. One day I'll be a Minstrel in the Gallery, indeed.

Draith | 4/5 |

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