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Jethro Tull - Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young To Die! CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.11 | 853 ratings

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3 stars "Too Old... Too Young" is famous for silly title, unconvincing story - albeit presented in a playful comic strip - and being sandwiched between two masterful albums. Although I largely agree with its critics, I'd argue it's well worth a listen, or even a closer look.

The album kicks off nicely with "Quizz Kid": groovy riffs, dope drums and youthful, witty vocals of Ian fit very well with violin arpeggios, orchestra hits and unexpected mellow bridge at 2:20. The promise is made! Guys carry the momentum forward with tasty "Crazed Institution". The piece builds as nicely as anything found on "War Child" or "A Passion Play" - notice the rhythm section, it's so crisp you'll start tapping your foot subconsciously! These two pieces set the stage perfectly and I'm craving for more.

"Salamander" features vintage acoustic guitars racing gleefully in a manner similar to "Cold Wind in Valhalla", although vocal lines are a bit bleak. Most of the song is instrumental and as soon as the flute enters, joyful atmosphere comes back. Unfortunately there is a string of less exciting tunes ahead, so buckle up.

"Taxi Grab" draws heavily from country music due to harmonica deployment and omnipresent guitar slides. The track isn't bad per se, but I tend to get bored somewhere in the middle, despite neat instrumental passage at two minute mark. "From a Deadbeat to an Old Greaser" is even more American in its core - a downtempo hymn of dusty wastelands, beautifully accentuated with moody, but brief saxophone solo. I think it would make a much better song with a tempo change in the second half - without one it falls a little short. "Bad-Eyed and Loveless" goes further south - minimalist and undercooked, it never serves anything else than storytelling (it's a concept album after all). "Big Dipper" ups the ante again - a lively, funny little song, slightly better than "Taxi Grab", but still underperforming. For me it always serves as a "wake up call" before the good stuff comes.

The title track, "Too Old to Rock'n'Roll: Too Young to Die!" quickly became fan favorite and you can easily see why. Melodies are superb, pianos sound just lovely, and the chorus is as charismatic as they come. One minute in and we already recognize the greatness - with these arrangements and brave vocal lines, this number could go on forever and always feel refreshing. I especially like the last part when the band goes a little crazy and cranks up tempo significantly - that's where female vocals appear and orchestra brings everything together. Great piece, definitely the best on the LP.

"Pied Piper" evokes atmosphere of troubadours, Olde English taverns and highway robberies (as if they ever occured simultaneously). Violin pizzicatos and precise rhythm section only reinforce this joyful mood. Simple but effective. If you're waiting for a proper summation, "The Chequered Flag (Dead or Alive)" brings back the lush arrangements of title track, but in a more reflective manner. With tender, almost romantic Ian's vocals and pretty (but obvious) melody, the song is soothing, almost oneiric - and granting us a sense of fulfillment.

To put things in perspective, "Too Old..." is a surprisingly good rock album for 1976, the year of punk rock arrival. It's held back a little by its concept - I suspect the clumsier pieces in the middle would be more interesting if not for demands of the story, closely following the monomyth formula. Once the hero struggles and goes down to nether world, the music becomes more iffy and desperately needs some air, only resurfacing during "Big Dipper". Other than these couple of mishaps, the music is solid, not far from "War Child" standards, and the title track almost reaches legendary levels. I can safely recommend this LP to all Jethro Tull practitioners as a decent, even if unremarkable effort.

thief | 3/5 |


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