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Jethro Tull - Stormwatch CD (album) cover

STORMWATCH

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.46 | 494 ratings

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stonebeard
3 stars Jethro Tull were one of the most consistent bands of the 70s if you ask me. Except for a few minor missteps (Warchild, Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die), their musical output during this era was astounding. With the passage of every year, a new collection of specially themed material was laid before the public, each setting the scenery for whatever just so happened to be irritating or inspiring Ian Anderson at the time. 1979's Stormwatch brings an end to a decade of musical ambition and experimentation with Jethro Tull treading a similar musical path--a high-quality path mind you--and bringing yet another topical discussion to the table: the energy crisis, dealing specifically with the West's dependence on oil. It's quite a topic, but suitable for a folk/rock album? Well, while it may seem more fit for cable news debate, Anderson deals with the topic with finess and a side of humor that he carries into every project with Tull.

But to call this a concept album is a mistake, as only a few songs deal directly with the subject of energy. "North Sea Oil" is the obvious choice here, and a what a rousing opener it is! "Dark Ages" has an epic feel and length, especially considering Tull had been staying clear of longer songs ever since Minstrel in the Gallery. "Dark Ages," while interesting at times, deserves a bit of a cut in the middle, and would work better as a 6- or 7-minute song. "Orion" and "Something's On the Move" are two shorter songs that are somewhat average rockers that are just entertaining enough to continue the pace of Stormwatch so we can move on to the better sections. As far as hard rock tracks go, "Flying Dutchman" is the best to be found on Stormwatch, as it accomplishes what Dark Ages tried to but with a touch of grace and restraint while still maintaining a hard edge.

As I find typical among other late-70s Jethro Tull album, the shorter, folkier songs are where the true gold lies, and Sormwatch just goes to prove this suggestion further. "Home" is an excellently orchestrated ode to one's comfort zone, and it pulls on the heartstrings like only one other track on Stormwatch. "Elegy" closes out this work on one of the highlights of the band's career: a simple, flute-driven piece whose beautiful melody just beckons to be remembered. Were it longer, it might drive up the rating for Stormwatch quite a bit. All the remaining songs are of good quality, but do not stand out as these do.

Stormwatch may be a somewhat lesser album of the past few in Tull's repertoire, but it still pleases me to say that Tull can write a beautiful melody with more ease than most anybody out there. For fans, Stormwatch is essential, for everybody else, try Thick as a Brick or Songs from the Wood before picking up this album.

stonebeard | 3/5 |

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