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

TOO OLD TO ROCK 'N' ROLL: TOO YOUNG TO DIE!

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.05 | 495 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Firstly conceived by Ian Anderson as a rock-opera set in the mould of a Broadway musical, "Too Old To Rock'n'Roll, Too Young To Die" ended up eventually as yet another Jethro Tull rock stravaganza with a visual extension amply based on theatrics and humor. In the end, after the sort of ultra-dynamic show that the band engaged in from the "Thick As a Brick" days onward, it was business as usual for the JT boys. The thing that becomes more evident from listening to this album is that the band (now incorporating bassist John Glascock as new member) has consciously moved a tad away from the featured art-rock standards that had shaped their albums after 1970, and now the dominant song structures and arrangements become more akin to grandiose pop-rock and mainstream hard rock than to anything related to the sophisticated realms of progressive rock. As much as it is partially valid for many JT fans to look down upon this album because of that, the ultimate fact remains that the material is well accomplished, properly embellished with string and brass arrangements according to the album's original concept, and what's more important, it showcases one more time the individual talents of each musician. One uncommon thing is the subdued role assumed by John Evan, restricting himself to grand and electric pianos - his arsenal doesn't include any input on organ or synthesizer (or accordion or whatever); what's more, his interventions are recurrently melded into the orchestral washes when not relatively buried under Barre's guitar riffs and solos. All things considered, the "TOTRNR" album is not a departure from the essential JT sound but a momentary refurbishment that has to be understood and perceived with a certain knowledge of Anderson's artistic goal for that particular moment. Now, let's go to the tracklist itself. 'Whizz Kid' sets the starting point for the album with its catchy rocking drive, preceded by a brief prelude that anticipates a min motif from the title track. A convenient tempo shift into a solemn section brings an inspired variation before the last chorus. 'Crazed Institution' follows a similar mood of rocking catchiness and effective drive, although with a major presence of orchestral ornaments and a bit less energy. 'Salamander' sounds like a younger sister of the acoustic fractions of 'Cold Wind To Valhalla'; this is not the only "Minstrel in teh Gallery" connection, since the other acoustic ballad 'Bad Eyed and Loveless' bears a similar feel to that lovely ballad entitled 'Requiem', only with a more pronounced cynicism. 'Taxi Grab' and 'Big Dipper' are more related to the sort of partially constrained hard rock pieces that we find in albums such as "Benefit" and "Aqualung", although here they sound more polished due to the album?s overall framework. 'From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser' manages to reveal that vulnerable side of Mr. Anderson quite candidly, providing some crepuscular moods in perfect accord with the decadent characters portrayed in the lyrics: I wonder if Anderson and David Palmer couldn't come up with more powerful arrangements for this track, but the idea of introducing a melancholic sax solo in the interlude fits nicely. My own personal imagination of more powerful arrangements comes from how much I enjoy the album's closer 'The Chequered Flag (Dead or Alive)', one of the most beautiful ballads ever penned by Ian Anderson - its epic Broadway style wrapping is tastefully accomplished, something that some may regard as corny but I consider just moving. My other two favorite tracks from this album are the namesake song and 'Pied Piper'. 'Too Old To Rock?n?Roll, Too Young To Die' is simply a stunning song: Barre's licks are memorable, Palmer's arrangements are solidly elegant and the overall feel is seamlessly coherent. 'Pied Piper' is the most "typically Tullish" song in the album, with a well-ordained combination of acoustic folk-rock and Celtic colors: after all, this album was made between the "Minstrel" and the "Wood" albums, so one song or two had to reflect the band's era, right? Those who have the CD version with bonus tracks are in for a treat: these two bonuses are greater than most of the originally listed songs. 'A Small Cigar' is a touching acoustic ballad in which Evan's featured piano eventually manages to solidify the overall ambience. 'Strip Cartoon' is related to 'Pied Piper', and while not being as brilliant, it sure would have significantly influenced in the album's general quality had it been included in the vinyl edition. Well, none of these tracks was, but still "TOTRNR, TYTD" remains a very good album by JT, not a letdown, not a mediocre opus, just a very good rock album by a band that usually transcends the boundaries of what is expected from rock (and folk and blues, etc...).
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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