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Jethro Tull - Crest of a Knave CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.23 | 608 ratings

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Andrea Cortese
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In September 1987, three years after the release of the innovative yet controversial "Under Wraps", a new album that would put Jethro Tull back in the spotlight again, saw the light: "Crest Of A Knave". The title played on the phrase "crest of a wave" and was thought of when the artwork of the cover was ready. He explains: "I was very, very selfish about making this one. I really just didn't want anybody else to have any creative input on it all, other than playing the final parts in the studio. The last few albums involved the other guys quite a lot, in the arranging and in writing bits of music, and I felt this time that I wanted to get away from having input from other people - not because I thought I could do it better, but just because I wanted to be very selfish about it and take total charge".

What did Ian intend with "his selfishness"? Probably Ian realised that the next album would be a "go or no go" for Jethro Tull. If he would not be able to stop the process of alienation between the band and its fan-base - that started after the big split in 1979 and increased through the keyboard dominated albums that followed, in spite of their ingenuity - there would be no future for Jethro Tull at all. He had to embark on a new course that would make it possible to write innovative music on one hand, while on the other hand the music would by the fans be recognisable as the "Tull music" they loved.

Surprisingly, Crest Of A Knave became a Grammy hard-rock winner, overtaking Metallica! (.And Justice For All). It had an immediate impact, hitting the charts in the UK, Germany and the USA. For the first time since 1979 Jethro Tull once again had a gold album!

Violinist Rick Sanders guested on the Album. Gerry Conway made his last appearance with Tull on this album playing drums on four tracks, while Doane Perry drummed on two tracks (the rest was up to Ian). Nor Doane, Gerry or Ric were credited on the album cover though. Peter-John Vettese left the band before the tour, replaced by Don Airey, who within a year was followed up by Martin Allcock, another Fairport Convention member! (the other was the bass player Dave Pegg). Crest Of A Knave is frequently regarded to be the album in which JT exit from their 80's experimentation, returning to the folkish basis of the 70s. I don't think so!!! Not completely! Here in fact we have other examples of their controversial ideas that flowed forcefully in Under Wraps. Malevolents would say there are in Crest other "slags" or "scorias" from the previous one. Not only in music and arrangements, but also in lyric's themes! Only on Rock Island (1989) you can hear a complete exit from the 80s period. For example: Dogs In Midwinter and Mountain Men feature Ian on that "awful" electronic drum, that's not a good thing (I told you, Ian, no drums for you, no more, please!). Said She Was The Dancer insist in division between west and east of Europe: two people from different sides of the Iron Curtain ("eastern steel - western gold") meet and make their own image out of the other by way of wishful thinking: "Well maybe you're dancer, and maybe I'm the King of Old Siam" (".... best to let the illusion roll" and ".... but if your dream is good, why not share it when the nights are cold?"). Budapest is about that splendid Hungarian big capital beyond the iron curtain. This is, anyway, the masterpiece here (outclasses all the other songs), great acoustic passages, as their tradition, great work from Barre on electric guitar, remarkable violin by Ric Sanders. Steel Monkey is a powerful hard rock song, also a video was made and someone think it's a sort of tribute to the Texas' band ZZ Top. Good ones: Farm On The Freeway, Jump Start, Raising Steem. Note that the tracks Dogs In The Midwinter and The Waking Edge were not included in the original vinyl-version of the album but did actually on the CD.

Good 2005 remastered edition with only one bonus track: Part Of The Machine (what a bonus!!!! This is one of the greatest JT songs ever! Findable, before, only in the 1988's compilation for the 20th anniversary of the band. I recommend this one and I hope it'll be possible to include it as a mp3 on progarchives.)

Historic album, not a masterpiece yet, but excellent. Sure!

Andrea Cortese | 3/5 |


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