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Jethro Tull - The Broadsword And The Beast CD (album) cover

THE BROADSWORD AND THE BEAST

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.26 | 438 ratings

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stefro
Prog Reviewer
3 stars After the success of 1981's 'Conan The Barbarian' - the film that launched a certain Austrian strongman to superstardom - the 1980's would see Hollywood enjoy a brief sword & sorcery phase, producing a number of titles that included the likes of 'Dragonslayer', 'Legend' and 'Ladyhawke' to name but a few. Wizards, trolls, unicorns and pixies were all the rage, and this fad is reflected in the title and concept of Jethro Tull's 14th studio album, 1982's 'The Broadsword & The Beast'. A highly-successful release, this album would prove to be one of Jethro Tull's better sellers(especially, for some reason, in Germany) blending the acoustic folk style of their late-seventies material with a slick, contemporary rock sound which finds synthesizers and drum machines added to the mix, much like on 1980's previous studio release 'A'. As a result, 'The Broadsword & The Beast' does sound rather dated, arguably even more so than the group's earlier material thanks to the atypically 1980's production sheen. Occasionally, the slick 1980's coating does jar rather awkwardly with the more folk- orientated moments, yet for the most this is by no means a poor album. Opening track 'Beastie' starts proceedings in energetic fashion, featuring a crisp and catchy melodic chorus and Anderson's vocals in a gruffer-than-usual style, whilst the moody, synthesized introduction of 'Clasp' brings to mind the likes of The Alan Parsons Project and mid-eighties era Tangerine Dream before Anderson's compressed flute and acoustic guitars burst into life. It's an odd mixture of the old and the new, the blend continuing on the mid-paced 'Fallen On Hard Times', one of the album's five singles, and the mournful and folksy 'Slow Marching Band' which briefly reaches back to 'Songs From The Wood'. The ill-advised hard-rock balladry of 'Broadsword' proves one the album's lesser lights, the ugly mixture of synthesized guitar solo's and rasping flutes clashing badly, yet for the most 'The Broadsword & The Beast' manages to navigate its awkward AOR folk-rock course without too many more awkward moments. Its all a very far cry from 'Aqualung' and 'Thick As A Brick', and whilst it's hardly essential Jethro Tull it is arguably one of the group's best post-seventies album's. Latter efforts such as 'Crest Of A Knave' and ' Rock Island' would, as an example, veer much more towards the hard rock style glimpsed here, with the law of diminishing returns unfortunately applying to both. Some call 'The Broadsword & The Beast' the last great Tull album, and whilst that description is somewhat misleading - this is by no means a great album - it is partially true. A decent effort then, but definitely one of the group's lesser albums. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
stefro | 3/5 |

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