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Jethro Tull - Stormwatch CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.48 | 789 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Heavier, darker and more serious. Probably Glascock's death has taken it's toll on the inspiration for the songwritting.

It's a great album, but marks the swan-song for this line-up, and as swan-songs go, the aftertaste of this album is that of inconclusion and nostalgia. Yet this album has a very temperate climate with a blend of subtle and heavy sections. Ian Anderson filled the bass playing duties after their unfortunate loss of Glascock, and he did a minimalist yet very effective effort providing nice bass lines in 7 of the 10 tracks.

It starts promising: "North Sea Oil" is a sequel to "...And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps", except the theme here is more industrial than pastoral (despite the folksy format), and it is presented in 5/4 instead of 3/4 of the latter. But then seriousness and melancholy follows the ironic first track: "Orion" blends the electric parts of the chorus with a more acoustic passage in the verses and nice string ensemble with arrangements yet again provided by David Palmer; however, the general tone of this song as well as the following ones is sort of preachy and universalist, as opposed to the traditionalism of the previous 2 albums. "Home" is again enhanced by the orchestra, yet it has simplistic guitar works and melancholic vocals. "Dark Ages" is the heaviest song on the album, and the "epic" of side A; with the eerie, gloomy intro of swirling organs playing tritones and seconds; then proceeds with verses, chorus and bombastic bridge with guitar feeds by Martin Barre. "Warm Sporran" is the grooviest track and the instrumental of side A, and even includes some bagpipe effects in the coda; a funky folkish song. "Something's On The Move" starts off side B as a rocker, to continue the lighter mood of "Warm Sporran"; but then we have another ironic folksy track called "Old Ghosts" with haunting concept yet light pastoral soundscape, with a tango rhythm and echoing flutes. "Dun Ringill" is another pastoral ditty with a more evident haunting theme and interesting guitar work. "Flying Dutchman" is the "epic" of side B which starts with a piano intro a la "Locomotive Breath", however it goes on as a melancholic ballad until we enter the folksy bridge with excelent interplay between flute and mandolin, but then we return to segment B and the climax. "Elegy" is certainly an instrumental elegy which ironically enough has John Glascock on bass (probably the last song recorded with him before he succumbed due to his heart condition); the most melancholic track made by Jethro Tull until that point, highlighted by David Palmer's arrangements and beautiful melody, even though as a closer is rather disappointing due to the melancholic aftertaste it leaves, as opposed to the moving yet enthusiastic closers of the last 2 albums (as a closer, I insist. The song itself is one of the most beautiful tracks by JT).

In the wholesome, there are no fillers here; not even "Orion" which is the candidate, because the chorus is powerful enough to forgive it. But I still have trouble giving it 5 stars, because the inspiration and general atmosphere of the band seemed to go downhill (and with good reason nonetheless). But it's still the most underrated album of the trilogy, and while others were already settling for the new wave (Yes, ELP, Genesis), Jethro Tull remained faithful to their prog folk style and they couldn't had done a better album at the time.

4 stars... Amazing addition to the catalog

Chus | 4/5 |


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