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Jethro Tull - The Broadsword And The Beast CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.27 | 603 ratings

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3 stars It was 1982 and much had changed in popular music, for both the player and the public, and if anyone was acutely aware of this it was Ian Anderson. As he puts it; "The new tools of the trade which had emerged at the beginning of the '80s were there to be tried and tested - just as we had tried the world's first production synthesizer back in 1972 on the 'Thick as a Brick' album - the fiddly little buttons, gobbledygook instruction manuals, and the strange new world of floppy discs, bits, bytes and sample rates had to be navigated".

Yet balancing the cyberspace polish of this album is the organic and folksy acoustic aspect so important to this band's sound, and it turned out to be a very nice blend. Occasional flashes of high school and hair metal are spotted but I give them a pass on that, it's Tull after all. And it certainly out-progs most of their subsequent releases. Stripped-down and flashy power-rocker 'Beastie' is fun in a Van Halen kind of way, mildly catchy if unremarkable. But the mist and mandolins come out for 'Clasp', a fine number with a spritely flute and some old-style Tull modulations. The world gets a stern but sympathetic talking to from Anderson in 'Hard Times' with a Cat Stevens-style lyric, 'Flying Colors' addresses issues closer to home, and 'Slow Marching Band' pays tribute to a fallen love.

Getting a touch more serious and solemn is 'Broadsword' as a warrior prepares to protect the shores of home, followed by frilly fantasy 'Pussy Willow'. The almost Gary Numanesque 'Watching Me Watching You' is fresh and wonderful, juiced with sequencers, robotics, bizarre urban daydreams and Ian's unexpected flutters, and the record ends with two sailor's tunes, 'Seal Driver' and 'Cheerio'. Typically good bonus tracks include 'Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow' [later to appear re-recorded on their Christmas Album], first-rate acoustic Gaels of 'Mayhem Maybe', catchy and rather prog 'Overhang', and political commentary in 'I am Your Gun'.

An album that took me awhile to accept with its Dungeons&Dragons cover and unashamed jump onto the cold, Energizer Bunny bandwagon that was the 80s. But in retrospect, Broadsword is a perfectly fine record that has something for everyone.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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