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

MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.98 | 788 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Graceful

After the dual flop that was the fantastically controversial A Passion Play and the ripely mediocre WarChild this album saw the Tull boys retreat further back into their less ''experimental'' form. Indeed, while the cover looks reminiscent of their Aqualung days, the music sounds somehow familiar as well. Maybe it's the bringing forward of the flute once more and maybe it's just the lessening of the keyboards in the overall sound, but somehow this is a regressive step forward for the band.

The views of this album are very much scattered. It's often called Tull's heaviest and most ''Metal'' album. And while that's clear in some very heavy passages in some songs the feel is often harshly offset by a very folky feel coming from what causes other people to call the album Tull's most acoustic outing. Certainly one of these parties must be wrong in some way? Not really, but it's heard to group the band into any one category, as is this album. Definitely, this is one of Tull's heaviest albums at times, but at others it's also Tull's most delicate... and yes, it is very much acoustic in sound and feel. The album's title track is really the song on the album which defines this. It's also the opening track, which is nice as it introduces you to the sound at hand. Indeed, a lot of the music sounds like minstrels playing to a gallery, as evident by the almost inaudible spoken intro. A soft intro leads into a very heavy section in which the flutes proceed to add life as they so often do.

From there on out on out the material is more or less divided into the two camps, the heavy and the soft. Cold Wind To Valhalla is a chilling and heavy song that makes great use of the guitar while Black Satin Dancer takes another page from the heavy book. It really is the longest track on the album that takes the cake though. Baker St. Muse is Tull's last ''epic'' and certainly a fine moment in their career. Using all the unique elements of the album they're able to create something fairly difficult to describe -- Electric and acoustic guitars mix with the flute to tell the tale. This may not sound much different from the rest of the band's body of work, but it's the extreme contrast between the light and slow moments and the dark and heavy moments that really jars the audience and gets a reaction.

The other songs on the album are the softer tracks which are all very calming and unique, but not necessarily standouts so much as the other tracks on the album. However, thanks to their somehow blissful tone they add to the album quite well as opposed to taking away from it.

Not Tull's best album by any stretch of the imagination this is still an excellent work by them which any progger would be proud to display in their collection. It's the heavy moments that make the album here, but be prepared for a nice amount of contrast and quick jumps from fast and heavy to slow and soft. 4 stars! Recommended for Tull fans, and anyone who likes a little fluting with their guitar.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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