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

MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.98 | 791 ratings

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fuxi
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Many people will tell you this is their favourite Tull album, and it's certainly one of my favourites as well. Because there's so much acoustic guitar on it, the album may remind you of the 'modern folk music' of John Martyn or Roy Harper. And because Ian Anderson is not (yet) preaching a somewhat self-conscious 'return to the countryside', MINSTREL sounds far less bucolic than SONGS FROM THE WOOD or HEAVY HORSES. The longest track here, 'Baker Street Muse', was obviously inspired by living in central London. Some of its phrases (especially in the 'Crash-barrier Waltzer' section) suggest that, like Peter Gabriel, Ian Anderson had been reading 'The Waste Land'. But where Gabriel (in 'The Cinema Show') uses T.S. Eliot for comic relief, Anderson tries to come up with lyrics and melodies that are just as melancholic as 'The Waste Land' itself. I am afraid our Ian is not as brilliant a lyricist as Bob Dylan or Randy Newman; he tends to sound too smug and self- satisfied. But his voice never sounded more powerful than on MINSTREL, his acoustic guitar-playing is superb, and most of his melodies are wonderfully inspired (only the title track is disappointing in that respect). Take the Bachian 'Requiem' and, yes, 'Crash-barrier Waltzer': if such pieces don't move you, you've got a heart of stone. As for 'One White Duck'... I bought MINSTREL as soon as it came out, and to this day I haven't got a clue what the track is about, but I sure love the way Anderson sings: 'Something must be wrong with me and my braiiin'. At suitable moments I even apply those lines to myself.

Now don't get me wrong, MINSTREL is not quite 'Jethro Tull unplugged'. There are a few hard-rocking bits, and two of the tracks included, 'Cold Wind to Valhalla' and 'Black Satin Dancer', contain a highly sophisticated middle section which is performed by the entire band. These (largely) instrumental outbursts must be among the most exciting Anderson, Barre, Evan, Hammond-Hammond and Barlow ever entrusted to vinyl. I would recommend MINSTREL to any prog lover for the sake of such sections alone!

fuxi | 5/5 |

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