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Jethro Tull - Minstrel In The Gallery CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.03 | 1155 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Jethro Tull to me has always had a sort of medieval folk influence and "Minstrel in the Gallery" takes this idea to the extreme. Now if you've listened to any music actually written in the middle Ages then you will realize that Jethro Tull has very little in common with such music. Firstly the compositions are far too long and music played in noble men's courts are rarely over three minutes, the instrumentation if completely wrong as Jethro Tull use to Sackbuts, Krumhorns or anything like that. It may seem I'm contradicting my self here but they aren't really all that similar to medieval folk music.

Music in the middle ages were basically split into two categories sacred music, or alternately church music. Sacred music was almost completely vocal and most of it was Gregorian chant, but that's another story. One interesting fact it that the church considered the organ to be an evil music for quite a long period in the Middle Ages. The other type of music was basically played by traveling minstrels and troubadours who would play in courts to entertain nobles or at festivals and such. This music was at the other extreme, almost completely instrumental and played on such instruments as pipes, lutes, sackbuts (early horn) and many other keyboard and woodwind instruments. Most music was written so it could be played by several different instruments and all musicians could play multiple instruments.

"Minstrel in the Gallery" is almost poking fun at all this old style of music. The song starts off with an announcer speaking to the lord presenting the minstrels. Then incomes Ian Anderson on an acoustic guitar which sounds a bit like a lute. After a short intro something very unexpected happens, a heavy guitar solo breaks out and ruins the whole feel of the court and minstrels playing quite folky tunes. The new feel brought into the music is one of a quirky representation of minstrels and the King's reaction. Needless to say "Minstrel in the Gallery" is one of the best Jethro Tull songs in the way it changes from an acoustic song into an electric one.

"Minstrel in the Gallery" is followed by "Cold Wind To Valhalla" which travels along the same as "Minstrel in the Gallery" except the transition from soft to loud isn't as sudden. It still has a theatrical feel and a small supporting orchestra of strings which without wouldn't give the song the same fell. Another very enjoyable song with a simple, yet effective charm to it. The next song is "Black Satin Dancer" which again has quite a mellow opening but the same thing happens. It has more mood changes than it's predecessors but it is still able to retain the same feel, there is along crescendo and guitar solo which starts around two minutes into the song. Next on the list is a three minute mellow ballad played on acoustic guitars, and the string backing group. There really isn't much to say about this song other than it is a good change from the hectic songs before it.

The next song is another quite yet satisfying acoustic song which has it's highlights and a repeating theme of white ducks. The string arrangement comes into use here again, but isn't as noticeable. "Baker St. Muse" is the band a song which, along with the two 'Thick as a Brick' parts are the band's best extended song. Though "Baker St. Muse" is all up not as loud or as fulfilling as 'Thick As a Brick' it has a great quirky, joking theme. "Baker St. Muse" sums up this album and it's ideas and there is a concept to it but it is kind of hard to follow. The best part of "Baker St. Muse" is around the twelfth minute where the final verse section begins and a very catchy section begins. There is a great line where Ian Anderson sings "Someday I'll be a minstrel in the Gallery" this one line sums up the whole album for me. There's no point talking about the last song.

1.Minstrel In The Gallery (5/5) 2. Cold Wind To Valhalla (5/5) 3. Black Satin Dancer (4/5) 4. Requiem (3/5) 5. One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All (4/5) 6. Baker St. Muse (5/5) 7. Grace (3/5) Total = 29 divided by 7 (number of songs) =4.14 = 4 stars Excellent addition to any prog music collection

However much I like this album a few of the songs just aren't five star material and "Requiem" and "One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All", aren't bad but aren't all that good. I remaster of "Minstrel in the Gallery" is very good and it comes with five bonus tracks which include alternative versions of "Cold Wind To Valhalla" and "Minstrel in the Gallery. " I'd recommend "Minstrel in the Gallery" to all Jethro Tull fans and it is essential to any prog folk fan.

Australian | 4/5 |


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