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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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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars I first saw JT live when this album had just come out, so it has a particular meaning for me. At the time it was hailed as a return to form for the band after the patchy (though pleasant) "A", and in many ways this is actually true. Some of the songs featured in "The Broadsword and the Beast" can stand proudly among the band's classics, so much that they are still very often included in their live setlists. Then, in the history of Tull's wildly floating lineups, the one assembled here by mastermind Ian Anderson (one of the finest songwriters in rock music, let's not forget about that) is without a doubt one of the strongest, with a rock-solid rythm section provided by Fairport Convention bassist Dave Pegg and drummer Gerry Conway. Young keyboardist Peter-John Vettese injects a dose of modernity in the proceedings with his use of various synthetisers - though, of course, he is no match for his predecessor on the "A" album, the incomparable Eddie Jobson. Anderson's only constant sidekick for over thirty years, the criminally underrated Martin Barre, provides his usual blend of elegance and fiery, bordering-on-the-metallic electric guitar licks.

The record is split into two parts, "Beast" and "Broadsword". Personally, I have a certain preference for the first side, which contains some of the album's standout tracks - namely the driving "The Clasp", with its haunting flute riff, and opener "Beastie", with its majestic intro and powerful chorus. "Fallen on Hard Times" is another strong, bluesy number, remarkable for its thought-provoking, socially-aware lyrics; while "Flying Colours" is a quieter, more meditative song. "Slow Marching Band" is, in my opinion, the weakest track on the album - a rather nondescript, forgettable affair.

On the "Broadsword" side, the track of the same title might very well be a Viking war hymn, complementing the intriguing, rune-enhanced cover artwork perfectly. Anderson's vocal performance is unusually powerful here, supported by the brooding, dirge-like rythm and majestic sweep of the keyboards. The folky "Pussy Willow" is probably the catchiest song on the album, though I prefer the instrumental version. Then comes the most controversial track of all, the electronic tour de force "Watching You Watching Me", where the synths work in unison with the vocals to imitate the noise of a running train - probably hated by most fans at the time, but interesting in its own peculiar way (I've never been one against experimentation, as long as it is reasonably successful). After the classic JT rocker "Seal Driver", the album closes in style with traditional concert closer "Cheerio", a short yet strongly evocative piece, where the keyboards sound eerily like bagpipes.

The remastered edition of "The Broadsword and the Beast" comes with what is technically another CD's worth of bonus tracks - no less than eight, previously only available on some JT rarities collections. For the most part, these songs are in no way inferior to the ones on the original CD - from the folky number "Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow" to the romantic "Jack-a-Lynn", to the haunting "Too Many Too" and out-and-out rockers "Overhang" and "I'm Your Gun".

Even if this album may not stand on the same level of the band's Seventies masterpieces, it is nevertheless a more than worthwile effort, with the presence of those bonus tracks definitely enhancing its appeal for all lovers of JT's work and of great rock music in general.

Raff | 4/5 |


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