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Jethro Tull - Heavy Horses CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.04 | 1194 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The second of the strongest folk influenced albums that Tull did, after the classic Songs From The Wood. This album always puts me in mind of a classic television programme from the 1970's (the name of which is irritatingly forgotten as I write this) that dealt with all matters rural, presented by a man whose love for the rural way of life in England knew no boundaries.

That is precisely what this album is all about. It is a paeon to a way of life fast becoming a relic in a modernising society, and makes it very clear that Anderson, for one, wholly regrets its passing. No more the days of heavy horses working the land, to be replaced by tractors and modern factory farming methods. For anyone who cares about the intensive farming tragedy of modern times, the title track is essential, but that is also countered by the sheer love that Anderson has for these magnificent creatures, evidenced by the lyrics, which list many breeds, and the album cover itself. This track is, essentially, a love story, and damn well told it is too. Special mention to Darryl Way for his orchestral arrangements and David Palmer for fantastic violins.

It is impossible to think of any weak track on this album. Some became huge live favourites, including the rip roaring No Lullably, One Brown Mouse, and the title track itself.

As with most Tull albums, there are significant mood shifts here. No Lullaby is perhaps the closest the album comes to the blues roots of the band. Heavy Horses features perhaps the finest riff that Martin Barre ever came up with for the band, whilst Moths is such a beautiful and delicate ballad. I don't think I have ever heard Anderson sing so beautifully as he does on this track, and this story of the short life story of the moth is interspersed by some quite exquisite flute, acoustic guitar, and orchestral arrangements.

The mood can be very uplifting. "Smile your little smile, take some tea with me a little while" from One Brown Mouse. "Do you wonder if I really care for you?". I could reproduce all of the lyrics, but, hopefully, you will see the playful, and loving, way in which Anderson creates his story and its characters. This also features some of the finest keyboard arrangements ever constructed by the band. Likewise Weathercock. "Good morning, Weathercock, how did you fare last night?" cries Anderson, exemplifying the important relationship between the farmer and the elements, but not one that relies upon the modern forecast, but rather the rustic sense of the farmer in touch with the land he works.. I find this a great way to close the (vinyl) release.

This is a band at the top of its game, and, were it not for the fact that I regard SFTW as being the quintessential prog folk album, it would qualify for the full award on this site. As it is, I award it 4 stars, but with a strong 4.5 in reality, and would heartily recommend it to all people who wish to expand both their knowledge of Tull and the prog folk genre itself.

A better story told than many a concept album, methinks.

lazland | 4/5 |


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