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Jethro Tull - Minstrel in the Gallery CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.05 | 1415 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Good, but a bit over-laden.

Although by the title one might expect a light medieval folk-infused album, in fact this album has a heavier and harder edge, and quite a bit of complexity, at multiple levels. For Ian Anderson, progressive meant a host of things at once, not only difficult and original composition, but multiple instrumentation, and also multi-layered lyrical meanings and humour. On this album, Anderson lays it (multi-layered complexity) on thick. While welcome from the perspective of advancing new ideas in the field of music, it does come across as a bit over-laden, especially compared to Tull's lighter and more accessible previous album 'War Child', but also their magnum opus 'Thick as a Brick' (which already was infused with multi-layered complexity and humour). But while Brick was elevated by the complexity, Minstrel is weighted down by it. And this issue pervades not only the lyrics and composition, but even the recording sound quality. In terms of composition, these pieces sometimes do not feel like they naturally move from section to section, but in places seem forced. The lyrics are often dense, with both serious and humorous meanings simultaneously. And in terms of sound quality, Anderson here (and in subsequent albums) often multi-tracks his own voice in unison. He also multi-tracks other instruments. While producing some interesting sonic effects, the result is one in which there is sometimes too much going on to make it easy to process. Saying this, I really like complexity, and while this album is mixed in the ways it channels complexity, there is enough good music here to keep this within the 4 star realm. The highlight of the album is "Baker Street Muse", the long epic that takes up side 2 of the vinyl album. While this is very much over-laden, the intelligence and musicality are clearly evident. The title track, and "Cold Wind from Valhalla" are also quite good. On balance, I give this album 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which places it at the low end of 4 PA stars.

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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