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Jethro Tull - Stormwatch CD (album) cover

STORMWATCH

Jethro Tull

Prog Folk


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walksa@geog.u
2 stars A mixed bag, but on the whole, an album that simply does not come together. There are very good songs (Dark Ages, Dun Ringill and Flying Dutchman), some borderline (Something on the Move), but the rest is pretty drab, with too much reliance on the late 1970s commercial radio rock sound. I simply can't listen to this album all the way through, it is too painful.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#16652)
Posted Wednesday, February 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Well this album will signal the end of an era (as well as the turn of the decade), but to call this album a cornerstone would be a compliment it does not deserve. If I talk of the end of an era, it is because for diverse reasons this album will be the last under the Tull banner for four of six members. But somehow, this line-up was clearly nearing a "passage ŕ vide" and after two good (but not excellent albums: ASFTW and HH), this came to be a small letdown. Retrospectively, this album has not lived-up as well as its two predecessor, but comparatively to its successors (more on those at the end of the review), it is a fine album. Yes, John Glascock had health problems causing his departure (and ultimately his death a few months later), forcing the Mad Flauter Anderson to pick up and play the bass. This meaning he (Anderson, on his own admission) started getting on Barlow's nerves, more or less causing him to quit and as a domino theory Evan and Palmer soon followed.

The album starts strongly enough on the North Sea Oil (the album although not wholly conceptual is strongly thematic, focussing on the energy crisis), but right from the second track Orion announces the weaknesses from the album: big riffy guitars and all too present string arrangements (courtesy of Palmer), and (dare I say it?) a clear lack of ideas or inspiration. Most of the first side follows suit, and when the tracks are slow, they are almost insufferably syrupy (all things in due context, of course since we speak of Tull) as in Home or the later Elegy. The disillusionment continues on the lengthy Dark Ages, which has a few things for itself to get your excitement going, but ultimately does not live to its own promise. Barre's riffs are heavy but not very effective of particularly inventive, while Anderson's bass playing is surprisingly good. The folky instrumental Warm Sporran with its semi-baroque feel and its bagpipes in the background is another interesting point, but no more.

The second side starts with On The Move and its crunching, crushing, crashy, trashy guitars, while Old Ghosts (one of the better known tracks on the album) is off to a good start, but after the first instrumental break, the song starts stagnating and again unneeded strings appear although here they are particularly successful. Maybe the highlight of the album. Dun Ringhill has moments and might be the track where Tull put in the most effort

The other "epic" of the album Flying Dutchman is a rather slow starting affair, with a banjo crescendo, and a few interesting evolutions, but overall, there is not enough enthusiasm present to arise yours: close, but no cigar, something is missing (I never figured what outside those needless strings which could've easily been replaced by a good synth), but do not let it spoil the track for you. The closing Elegy is definitely a bit of a filler with its overly present strings and syrupy melody >> irksome even if in some ways, this is beautiful.

As usual the remastered version comes with four real bonus tracks (meaning no alternate takes or live version of tracks already available on the album) all of them well in the line of the album, sort of prolonging it for further enjoyment (problem is that the prolongation of an average album can only be ..average. Stitch In Time and Crossword are based on hard guitar riffs, while Kelpie is slightly more folky and King Henry has a definite medieval touch, but none of them really stand out, but all are worthy of the album.

Still a classic Tull album, maybe their last (only 98's Roots To Branches will be better, IMHO) but also sadly the end of the second classic Tull era. With only Anderson and Barre remaining, the next line-ups will only pale in comparison, never managing stability and it will unfortunately be plainly apparent in studio albums. From the next album onwards, Tull will search for itself in a sound-modernization effort, which will simply never work, badly at times (A), sometimes being catastrophic (Under Wraps).

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#16648)
Posted Thursday, February 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars great continuation of Heavy Horses, Flying Dutchman still touches me very deep, it's one of the greatest song ever, but on the album is many good songs like North Sea Oil, Orion, Dun Ringill and another fantastic ballad Home, buy this CD and ejoy it...

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Send comments to l-s-d (BETA) | Report this review (#16650)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Stormwatch is the last Tull album before the new keyboards technology incorporation, present on the "A" record. Compared to the previous Heavy horses album, the electric guitar here REALLY becomes more distorted and aggressive, and many parts flirt with the metal boundary. This will become Martin Barre's trademark on the next albums. There are many moving orchestral arrangements by David Palmer: they are very symphonic. Anderson uses some echo effects on his voice. The combination of orchestral arrangements with a quasi-metal guitar is very unique and special. I must say the keyboards are not extremely elaborated, but when they are present, they are quite interesting, especially the piano & portative organ. There are many excellent flute parts. This record contains many acoustic instruments, like mandolin, classical & acoustic guitar. The bass is quite well played and is quite bottom. Drums are excellent and very varied. It is important to mention that, for the first time, there is something sounding modern on their album. This Tull album is definitely underrated, and it is among their best albums!

Rating: 4.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#16651)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
jbscott@msn.c
4 stars Lyrically insightful...musically aggressive..."re-mastered" version (2004) is sonically outstanding...the album could use one "catchy" song, though***...but a solid effort by a well-seasoned machine. A "swan song" in retrospect...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR TULL FANS...BUT NON-FANS SHOULDN'T START HERE.

(*** Actually, the "bonus tracks" included in the 2004 re-issue fit the bill...)

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#16654)
Posted Friday, April 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I purchased "Stormwatch" years ago, at a time when every new TULL album to me was pregnant with possibilities. It quickly got under my skin, snippets of these songs wafting through my waking hours like the scent of a new lover recalled. Sadly, I'm sure many didn't share my happy discovery, so I'll temper my enthusiasm by adding that some may find in "Stormwatch" a barely perceptible waning in TULL's formidable force. IAN ANDERSON's voice had grown rougher in recent years even as his lyrical imagery improved, compensation for a slight stiffness in one instrument requiring that the surrounding players share more of the burden. This is cleverly concealed by shifting the balance to instrumental sections and utilizing a half-spoken delivery in spots. This would seem to be a concept album, as a pervading chill runs through the music. In fact, I've always fancied "Songs From The Wood", "Heavy Horses" and "Stormwatch" as a seasonal trio covering summer, fall and winter respectively. Unlike "Heavy Horses", which took the folk-rock experiment to its logical conclusion, "Stormwatch" is a heavier, harsher record. Tracks like "Dark Ages" and "Something's On The Move" push TULL deeper into hard rock territory, a land visited earlier in songs like "No Lullaby" and "Pibroch (Cap In Hand)".

Where "Heavy Horses" was a dry-sounding effort, "Stormwatch" is saturated in sound, sharing more of an affinity with "Songs From The Wood". And while patches of "Stormwatch" are brilliant -- the opening trio, the mystical incantation of "Dun Ringill" -- there are parts that noticeably sag. Still, as a final act from this talented troupe of players, missing this is to miss part of music's great mythology. ANDERSON signalled a new beginning for the band with "A", retaining only the essential Mr. MARTIN BARRE. Sadly, bassist JOHN GLASCOCK passed away during the recording of this album, stamping an added sense of finality on "Stormwatch". Though I know most of it by memory, I still return to "Stormwatch" often, to revisit "Home" or canvas imaginary skies for "Orion", to cavort tongue in cheek alongside "North Sea Oil" or treat myself to the salving sadness of David Palmer's "Elegy", and of course to once again give this lineup of TULL the warm applause they warrant.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#16653)
Posted Saturday, May 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Stormwatch for me lacked any serious direction. It did not continue where Heavy Horses signed off. It is not a poor album at all but ' bland' is what I think when listening to it.JT had plenty of peaks in their illustrious career but this one was a bit of a valley.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#16662)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Environmentally friendly

A slightly harder edged Jethro Tull album, with more guitar orientated tracks than we are used to. Anderson's flute, while regularly used of course, is not as dominant as on other Tull albums.

A number of the tracks are orchestrated, with the lengthy "Dark ages" in particular benefiting from the rounder sound. Martin Barre's lead guitar is also allowed to appear more upfront from time to time, but it's still very much a Tull album.

With Anderson's highly distinctive vocals and style of delivery, the strength of the song-writing tends to be what distinguishes a good Tull album from a great one. For me, the song-writing here falls into the good category, and thus so does the album.

The loose concept of man's relationship with his planet does not really come across that clearly, despite the presence of celebrity British weatherman Frances Wilson on "Dun Ringill".

There are a couple of slightly slower, more ballad like tracks, but this is in essence just another JT album. Fans will enjoy it, others may feel they've heard it all before.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#16663)
Posted Sunday, October 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
apelletier@pm
3 stars I purchased Stormwatch shortly after its release. I have not listened to it for years. I thought it a good listen. North Sea Oil was cool, relevant. I recall Warm Sporran to be one of my favorite Tull instrumentals. Its moaning whistle to me represented something upbeat, hopeful. Recently, while listening to "Johnny Seoighi" Track 12 Celtic Christmas II (Windham Hill) I could not help but recall Warm Sporran even though the mood of the whistles may be hopeful in one and hopeless in the other. Thirty years ago I saw Tull as my favorite rock'n' roll band. Now, at age 45, I am more curious about the Celtic influence in Jethro Tull's music. I think Stormwatch subtly presents something more Celtic than has been discussed.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#16664)
Posted Saturday, December 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
hungrytiger20
3 stars By Abraham Seto

I have a bootleg copy of the Stormwatch tour and must say that Stormwatch sounds much better live. Stormwatch was the first concert I saw of JT and many fans were disappointed that too much Stormwatch was played. However they did like King Henry's Madrigal, one of the few tunes not written by Ian Anderson. Everyone in the concert seemed to love it but this Madrigal only appears in the recently released digitally remastered version of Stormwatch. Possibly one of Anderson's blunders which led to the breakup of the band when it was at its best. I however feel that the audience was a bit harsh and expected to hear the oldies at the time while sadly going to the restroom during performances of excellent tunes like Orion, and Dunringhill. The Madison Square Garden audience got a kick when they saw Martin Barre running around the stage with a stuffed seagull at the end of Dunringhill though.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#16665)
Posted Monday, December 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A late but real great album by Jethro Tull; it´s a real shame that´so underrated. It features superb playing (the last chance to listen to the merits of Mrs. John Evan and Barriemore Barlow), great tunes and catchy melodies. The art cover is also great, being improved by the magnificent 2004 remastered version of the album. We´re also gifted with some bonus tracks, all of them of medium quality.

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Send comments to elpprogster (BETA) | Report this review (#16666)
Posted Friday, December 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Stormwatch" is yet another underrated JETHRO TULL album. This also signaled the end of an era. It would be the last album for the most effective JT lineup. John Glasock, their beloved bass player, passed away in the middle of this recording after open heart surgery, hence he played on only three tracks, some of the best ones at that, "Flying Dutchman," "Orion" (my favorite), and "Elegy." Ian ANDERSON finished the bass parts for the rest of the album.

The artwork is strikingly beautiful on this album. Ian's cover concept was brilliant, and brought to life splendidly by artist David Jackson. ANDERSON truly was the key man in this band; he brought together an album from top to bottom and made it happen in a magical way. Martin Barre was typically outstanding, this entire band was special, and it is too bad it had to end; then again, JETHRO TULL would not have evolved into what it is today if the history books were written differently. The two mainstays, ANDERSON and Barre, are managing to keep it all alive to this day thank god.

This is a very strong effort from JT and beautifully remastered for optimal sound by the label. Four bonus tracks make this reissue that much more interesting and desirable. It is difficult not to be biased when you love a band so much; however, it is easy to review such consistently great music.

Rating: 4.5/5

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#16668)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Being absolutely honest I must say that 1979 was not the best year for Progressive Rock; the former big bands were taking giant steps towards mainstream, flirting without embarrassment with easy POP and trying to be a lucrative alternative to Disco and Punk that had taken the musical scenario by assault.

But even in the worst storm there's a rock or a lighthouse that can guide the musical ship to the safety of the harbor, and this rock was Jethro Tull.

Many people say they had changed, of course they did, change is the motor of progress, but they managed to recreate themselves without taking a suicidal leap into plain and boring pop.

While Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses were heavily influenced by folk creating a pleasant bucolic atmosphere where the sweet sound of the flute was basic for the melodic sound; Stormwatch is heavier and more oriented towards Rock and Roll. Even when the classical flute doesn't disappear is more aggressive and less frequent, heavy guitar riffs by Martin Barre take the lead, of course with the well known and powerful vocals of Ian Anderson.

The time changes and so the lyrics, somehow the first track "North Sea Oil" shows the band worries for the environment with some of Ian's usual sarcastic style. The music gently flows in a rhythmic and constant way, with a couple of expected changes but no big surprises. The clear vocals, aggressive flute and guitar riffs make of this song one of my favorites from Stormwatch

"Orion" is totally different, mainly vocal but dark and aggressive in some moments, acoustic in others, the problem is that seems they never developed the idea completely, because when the song seems to be reaching a climatic peak, they suddenly change and return to the acoustic mood, not a convincing track.

"Home" sounds at the beginning like a step back towards a more folk oriented sound, but as the seconds pass is evident that we're before something different a new form of folksy power ballad, a bit softer than the usual but with an incredibly beautiful melody enhanced by the strings conducted by David Palmer.

"Dark Ages" is one of the few songs that keep the classical structure of a progressive track, first because of it's length (9:13) could be considered a short epic. The song starts soft but at the same time creating expectation because it's obvious by the powerful guitar riffs and incomplete piano chords that something is going to explode in any moment.

At a first moment that doesn't happens a passage based in Ian's vocals and Barriemore Barlow makes the listener think the song will never reach the climax, but when less expected a guitar section shows the path for the development of the song, all the band plays a fast passage interrupted by a complex vocal section only to return to the frantic moments.

The lyrics show the social awareness of Ian, again in a sarcastic but acid way. A great track, among the best of the album.

"Warm Sporran" is a different kind of song, good chorus perfect keyboards, guitar and drumming, somehow a marching or military hymn, simple but excellent lets the listener hoping the song was a bit longer.

"Something's On The Movie" is a rock oriented track, fast almost frantic but softened by Ian's vocals, a perfect contradiction created by the band using Ian's semi country voice in a clear hard rock atmosphere, provided in this case not only by the aggressive guitar but also by a harder and fast flute.

An uncommon Tull song followed by another strange track "Old Ghost" a supposedly frightening song that flows gently producing a nostalgic feeling instead of fear. Don't know if the band pretended this, but the effect enhanced by a small orchestra mainly of strings is very pleasant.

If I had to choose my favorite tracks from the album "Dun Ringill" would be one of my selections, despite the short length that leaves me unsatisfied, this little song shows in 2:45 minutes everything that Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson are capable to do when they leave away the electric for the acoustic guitar adding Ian's excellent vocals.

"The Flying Dutchman" is another longer track (7:45), my first impression was produced by only two notes of the piano that reminded me of the intro from Locomotive Breath, but it's obvious after a couple of seconds that we're before a very different track, the mandolin and flute create the atmosphere of a story narrated by an old sailor while drinking a couple of beers in a harbor's bar. Some good changes add a special mood to the track with heavier (but short) electric guitar passages, a beautiful and very well elaborated track.

The album ends with "Elegy", another short but extremely beautiful instrumental based in a spectacular classic guitar interpretation by Martin Barre with a few and short electric passages, this track gives the perfect final to an album obscure as a stormy sky but at the same time soft and even sweet.

IMO there's no Jethro Tull album that should receive less than three stars because of their amazing regularity and even when Stormwatch is not in the level of Thick as a Brick, well deserves 4 strong stars being one of the best balanced and sober albums I ever heard, no big hits or evident masterpieces (more than one is close to that status), but neither a single filler or bad track, except maybe for the slightly weaker Orion.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#16669)
Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album was one of two albums of Jethro Tull that were hard to find in CD format. The other album was "A". Luckily I have got these two albums lately (sometime last year). There are some stand out tracks: Dark Ages, Flying Dutchman and Elegy. I first knew Elegy really well when I got the London Symphony Orchestra version (playing Jethro Tull tunes). Elegy is a ballad song with killing melody. The remastered CD has bonus tracks and excellent sleeve notes. Even though this is not the band's best album but it's worth collecting. Progressively yours, GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#16672)
Posted Thursday, May 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This was Jethro Tull's least appealing album when it came out, although that would change during the 80's. Lyrically, Ian Anderson discusses various economic concerns of the late 70s. Some of these are relevant today, more are not. Musically, the album is much weaker than anything Tull had done before. "North Sea Oil" is a decent start, however the 5/4 rhythm which is so similar to the one in Living in the Past, suggests that Jethro Tull were short on ideas. The two instrumental songs are probably the strongest. Although it doesn't offer any overly memorable melodies, "Warm Sporran" is the only place on Stormwatch that brings in a cheerful melody or two. In that sense Stormwatch is similar to A Passion Play, mostly brooding, dark and mysterious. "Elegy", the other instrumental, does boast a memorable melody. It was written by David Palmer for his deceased father and it may well be one the most melancholic piece by Jethro Tull. The rest of the album is considerably weaker than this gem however. "Dark Ages" is powerful, but unnecessarily long. Half the length would equal a classic. "Home" on the other hand suffers from a very forced feel, and is too similar to "Heavy Horses" from the previous album.

On a happier note, 4 bonus tracks were added to the new cd remaster. All of them sound more lively than anything on the original, and it is a mystery to me why they were left off. They brought up the grade by 0.5 star.

Recommended for fans

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Send comments to hugo (BETA) | Report this review (#40203)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is really a good album representing a brilliant idea for the development of trilogy witch includes the previous two albums Songs from The Wood and Heavy Horses. An industrial revolution breaks through the arcaic and rural age! But in the same vein, the same folk/prog/rock (a little bit harder). There's no more illusions, no escaping from the reality! In a such way are songs like Dark Ages, Dun Ringill, The Flying Dutchman. The only doubt is for Elegy and Home. Hey, beautiful instrumental/classical pieces, but its melancoly show the sad and near end of the highest JT line-up. With the new 2004, you have some magnificient pieces which were not included in the original album. King Henry's Madrigal, A Stitch In Time, Kelpie and Crossword are good reasons for a four star rating!

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#40872)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
doc_jam@hotma
4 stars An album best played on a cold winter's night, when you may find yourself in a dark but also somewhat hopeful mood. Listening to the whole album together in one sitting can potentially be a a lot to take in at once. There are some tracks (Home, Dun Ringill, Elegy) which in my opinion are among the best in the Jethro Tull catalogue. The more I listened the more I enjoyed it. Definately worth giving a second chance if at first you dismissed it as rubish!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#46949)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Stormwatch can be considered the third album in the trilogy begun by "Songs from the Wood". Trilogies usually follow one of two paths: they get stronger or weaker. This trilogy ("Heavy Horses" being the middle album) followed the weaker path. This does not mean that it is a bad album - just that the folk accented theme begun by SftW was running out of steam. By the bye - on the song Orion - no one has mentioned that this is the only other JT song (of which I am aware - feel free to correct) to use the rhythm pattern from the song Aqualung. Not one of Tull's best, but it grows with repeated listenings.

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Send comments to The Gent (BETA) | Report this review (#46963)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
4 stars Having only rated Passion Play with 2* I feel I owe this long-time (semi)favourite band a more grateful review too. My favourite albums are Minstrel in the Gallery and Thick as a Brick, but Stormwatch is less reviewed plus it seems to divide opinions: "directionless", some say. For me the band's best era surely includes this one (but ends with it). At this time the line-up was under changes - the re-issue tells how for example Ian Anderson had to play bass on most tracks. But I don't hear any problems. There are clearly less folk elements than on 2 preceding albums but the sound is still as good: crisp, clever, bold, lively, and here and there even the best that Tull has ever produced. Ian's flute doesn't let you down, and David Palmer has done gorgeous orchestral arrangement in 'Elegy'.

There are great compositions and mediocre ones. I don't have any close relationship with three or four songs but those that I enjoy make it into my all-time favourites: 'Old Ghosts' is a symphonic uptempo song with delicious embroidery of flute, piano and acoustic guitar. 'Dun Ringill' is a wonderful little song that makes you shiver "as the white sea snaps". 'Home' is a passionate and majestic one, 'Elegy' a very beautiful classical-style instrumental.

My dearest Tull song is without a hesitation 'Flying Dutchman'. It has a powerful sense of drama, I can't help but float up and down with its waves. Stormwatch is an enjoyable four-star album, even if a bit uneven. I have always liked the cover too (better on the backside, including a polar bear), it fits the music well. The bonus tracks on the re-issue are worth hearing.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#57276)
Posted Monday, November 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Very solid album and very underrated. This is like the heavy version of Heavy horses and it has several very good songs. I love North sea oil and Dun ringill. But the remaster has 4 bonus tracks which among the best few songs on the whole cd. This remastered cd is classic material and among Tulls best 5 or 6 releases

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Send comments to Dr Bogenbroom (BETA) | Report this review (#70386)
Posted Friday, February 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 'Stormwatch' released in 1979 is the last of a trilogy started with 'Songs from the Wood' and 'Heavy Horses' and dealing with nature in a wider sens.While 'Songs From the Wood' and 'Heavy Horses' were more nostalgique with Ian Anderson as the Gentlemen farmer of yonder days, 'Stormwatch' looks with an perspicious eye into the future, especially the destruction of nature. Unfortunately 'Stormwatch' is also a record of goodbye. Bassplayer John Glascock died soon after and David Palmer who was responsible for the brillant orchestral arrangements was going to leave as did the whole band but Martin Barre. And it was incidentally the last Tull record I bought on vynyl and the last I listened too for some time.

Now what is on the menu: 'North Sea Oil' opens the record, a typical solid JT rocker build around a guitar riff with the flute in counterpoint, a good start! 'Orion ' continues in the same direction, build around a guitar riff , but this time alternating with a slow pastoral orchestral passage,a beauiful track.' Home'is a nice and warm ballad accompagnied by acoustic guitar and orchestra.

Unfortunately the good series stops here, 'Dark Ages' is a pompous long track alternating heavy blues rock, a short piano motive answered by Anderson's treated vocals, some orchestra and some organ, way too long and no dynamics, the track does not take off at all and spoils the pleasure of the first 3 tracks.

Good news again with the instrumental 'Warm Sporran' :a funky bass line,a nice melody alternating between mandolin and flute, the JT I love, brillant Folk-Prog-Pop and you even get a nice outro with drum rolls and bagpipes.

'Something's On The Move' is the twin brother of 'Aqualung an up-tempo rocker build around a hard rock riff, hats off to Martin Barre.

'Dun Ringill' is my favourite track on this record, a syncopated guitar arpeggio introduces an athmospheric piece with great dynamics, excellently supported by Anderson's treated slurring vocals. Gives me the shivers everytime I hear it.

...and just when my hope rises again another track bites the dust, the' Flying Dutchman' should have stayed in the harbour. Like 'Dark Ages' another lengthy track, that does not take off, even so there is some nice flute/mandolin interplay.

The record closes with 'Elegy' a classical inspired instrumental like 'Bourrée', but less interesting with a suggary melody that sticks in the ear like glue, to hear once in a bluemoon.

'Stormwatch' was to be the last good JT record for some time.

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Send comments to Alucard (BETA) | Report this review (#76230)
Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars To me this is a very good album. Still in Tull style, and very fresh. Some tracks are outstanding to me, if not for many of you, Dark ages, Elegy, and the rest are super. I find it very enjoyble in evrey way. One of the good Tull albums. Maybe is not a masterpiece like Thick as a brick but, close enough. All the Tull albums from the "70 are must for every one who listen good prog music. This is my opinion, try to listen over and over, and maybe you will change your opinion regard to this one. 4 stars

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#79645)
Posted Sunday, May 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my favourite Jethro Tull album. It was my first album from them, I first heard it when i was 15 or 16 and the melodies are engraved in my forever. There isn't a weak point on the album. And now, with the remastered edition, it sounds even better and louder! It has many colours, from politically conscious enviro-folk-rock through medieval/organ-filled epic with heavy metal breaks and nostalgic ballad to a beautiful, almost melodramatic ending. I am very sad that the finest Songs From The Wood-Heavy Horses-Stormwatch row had to come to an ending with the departure of several good musicians and the introduction of cheesy synthetizers. Dun Ringill and Orion still give me the chills even now, after many years. North Sea Oil and Something's On the Move still get me to play my "air-drums". Elegy still depresses me and cheers me up at the same time. As the track Home says - this is a record for me to get home now and then... Eleven stars out of ten.

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Send comments to nandika (BETA) | Report this review (#83575)
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
rghaubner@aol
5 stars After reading several of the reveiws offered here on Stormwatch, I am quite suprised at the lack of fan enthusiasm about the album. I first heard it upon its release when I was 18, still an encourageable age. I was, and still am though only in hobby, a musicain of sorts--drums, guitar, vocalist. I have always paid close attention to rhythym sections which is why most prog bands captured my attention, ie: Yes, ELP, Giant, UK, and of course Tull. One of the reasons I could identify with Stormwatch is I find the drumming to be impecably percise, tastefull, and though busy throughout much of the album, not overdone. Barry was one of my favorite drummers to listen to and see in concert. Then, there is the Stormwatch tour. When I saw it in 79 at MSG in NYC, UK opened. I will never forget the impact that Bozzio, Wetton & Jobson had on me beginning that night, particularly Bozzio (makes sense, I'm a drummer). Yes, UK was more powerful, melodic, and exciting that night than their headliner. But Ian came out swinging on the vine and gave us a good show none the less. Bottom line, you can't call your Tull collection complete without Storm. It IS the end of an era, as pointed out in other commentaries here. Moreover, it is music that still only Ian and Tull could create, and with the disco, the punk and new wave movement around that time, Storm was a beacon in the fog for us Proggers! Eric Haubner

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#84070)
Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to stonebeard (BETA) | Report this review (#84847)
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This record was released in 1979, it was the end of the seventies and just around the corner were the eighties and a big musical change was about to happen.This wasn't just the end of a decade, for JETHRO TULL it would mean 3 members leaving the band and one passing away, all after the release of this record. So the title of this record seems quite appropriate doesn't it ?

Ian Anderson says "The songs were to be a mixture of moody and dark pieces reflecting the troubled state of the economy.The oil price escalation, energy crisis and other depressing world events influenced my writing and thinking". So this album is certainly darker and harder than the two previous releases, more guitar, more anger and frustration I would say.

The first three songs are good and quite enjoyable, but the next song "Dark Ages" is one of my favourites. Featuring a lot of time changes and jagged melodies, there are great drums and guitar throughout, and orchestral strings (here and throughout this record). Another favourite of mine is "Dun Ringill" as well as "Elegy" a beautiful restained instrumental featuring flute, guitar and strings.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#97286)
Posted Sunday, November 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chus
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

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Send comments to Chus (BETA) | Report this review (#98397)
Posted Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Due to severe health problems (he will unfortunately die during the live supporting tour) of John Glascock, Ian plays the bass in most (seven) of the tracks. The influence of the world's environment (oil price escalation, energy crisis) will deeply influenced Ian when he wrote the album.

I quite liked "Heavy Horses" and the more electrical / hard sound of the band. "North Sea Oil" is in the same vein and I had hoped that the whole album would be of that caliber. But it is not the case : "Orion" and "Home" are ballads with an overwhelming orchestration : poor for the former. A catchy and nice melody for the latter.

The next track "Dark Ages", is one of the longest studio track from the Tull (over nine minutes) and is a good rocking Tull song : strong backing band (with Barlow at his best on drums), and good flute. The music is quite scary (a bit ŕ la Van Der Graaf) hence its title. Great rocking song and good guitar break during the second part.

"Warm Sporran" on the contrary is a weak instrumental track (with vocal - you have to listen to it to understand what I mean) : no melody, no feeling. This is the weakest track of the album.

It seems that on this album the good and the bad are almost running along.

"Something's on the Move" is again a good classic Tull song : hard-rock oriented, it wakes you up and makes you enjoy this album again. Strong track. In "Old Ghosts", orchestration is again tooooooooo invading. What's really the use of having orchestral arrangements in such a track? I made already this comment while reviewing "War Child and "Too Old". I never understood why Ian was so keen on this. Otherwise, the song as such is another pleasant moment of the album. It is not the case with "Dun Ringill" a dull accoustic track (hopefully very short) absolutely unnecessary.

The other long number of the album is "Flying Dutchman" (almost eight minutes) : it is one of the very few (if not the only one) elaborate number : rythm and melody changes : from folk to hard-rock with good background piano and (for once) a discrete orchestration and good fluting. If they had developped it a bit more, it could have been an epic (like "Baker Street Muse" for instance). The best song of the album IMO.

The original release closes with "Elegy" : a very relaxing instrumental ballad. It sounds more as an Antony Phillips or Steve Hackett one but it is a nice and tranquil moment to close this album in a peaceful way. Great guitar work. Thanks, Martin.

The unrealeased bonus tracks of the remastered version are welcome (since it is cheap) and not bad at all (except "King Henry's Madrigal" a medieval influenced intrumental).

"A Stitch In Time" could have fit instead of "Warm Sporran". It is really a strong number. Great fluting, powerful band, catchy melody. It is a mystery for me that it did not make the album. "Crossword" is again a good song as well as "Kelpie". Really.Typical of those studio sessions : (hard)-rock oriented. I understand that this style could hurt some of the earlier Tull fans (although that I am one of these, since 1971). Tull has always sounded hard on stage : listen to the "Isle Of Whight" concert to get a confirmation fot this.

"Stormwatch" is a good album. Too few great tracks to make it a masterpiece of course. I would say seven out of ten. As I did with "Songs From The Woods" for the time being I will rounded it down to three stars (but I might change my mind and upgrade one or both of them).

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#108263)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars (In the wee hours I'll meet a 3.5)

Ah, good ole Stromwatch. Some folks swear by it, calling it the swan song of the old Tull vanguard. Others, well, I won't use their exact phraseology, but suffice to say that they find the record a chilly end of the decade. I myself, well, I'd like to think I'm somewhere in the middle. I used to be more towards the latter, but I've crawled up towards the former.

Some of the ire geared Stormwatch-towards seems to be the nature of the album. It's not as folksy as either of the earlier albums (some believe that the "folk trilogy" is, in fact, a "folk duo;" I see it lasting a few more years actually). It's more straight out rock this time around. Well...yeah, but it's Tull rock, coming off a two year folk high. Which means that it's hard rock with a decidedly Celtic flavor. In fact, if there's such a thing as a "concentrated Tull-style" record, this just might be it.

Some (fewer this one) have questioned the album's "proginess." That's just silly; the record is damn near Pink Floydian (although this album isn't quite as good as art rock's other last hurrah, The Wall), surely their artsiest work since Warchild (not counting Too Old, but that's another review). It's structured immaculately: hard rocker, soft rocker, ballad, mini-epic, instrumental, rinse and repeat. And it's conceptual; it's about THE END OF THE FRIGGIN' WORLD! Or something like that.

But more prominently, there is the "lack of energy" problem, and that I'm not going to disagree with. What halts the album's energy flow (and therefore the coveted four star rating) is the fact that the band was falling apart, what with Barrie being mad (this was his last album either way), Glascock being dead (that can't help), and David Palmer being David Palmer (AHHHH!!!!). Martin was, and always seems to be, impossible to get rid of. But Ian's gonna give it his best shot. Uh, the album I mean, not the dissolution of Martin's contract.

So we open with "North Sea Oil," the most political of the END OF THE FRIGGIN' WOLRD flavored tunes. It's essentially a quick, flute driven rocker, with a great Barre/Anderson sfx laden duel of an instrumental bridge. Excellent, catchy, lively intro. If only everything else were so good...

Well, things stay good for a little while at least. "Orion" is a slower rocker about the stars and waiters. It reminds all right thinking people of "Aqualung," and I, being a right thinking person, can see why. It's got the same shifting acoustic guitar, electric parts, but they change more frequently throughout the song, and no awesome solo. "Home" is a sweet little ballad with great David Palmer orchestration. But it's an electric (not power, mind you) ballad. Yeah. Figure that one out.

Anyway, all these are nice, but kinda short. So you're thinking to yourself, "Where's the meat off this album? Gorg hungry, Gorg want MEAT!" If Gorg is like any other right thinking person, Gorg would assume that the meat of the album will be found on the longer numbers, say, "Dark Ages." Well, "Gorg" would be wrong. Oh so wrong. "Dark Ages" tries to go for the sprawling, apocalyptic majesty of "Heavy Horses." Instead, it gets the "this is an okay tune, but why's it so damn long?" vibe of "No Lullaby."

Yep, "Dark Ages" runs, and falls on its face. You want to know what it sounds like? Uh...kind of like "North Sea Oil," only longer, and without the endearing instrumental bridge. Also, Ian starts really showing off on the bass (remember? Glascock's out for over half the album). He's actually...not bad. I mean, within and throughout, he's not bad.

So, how do you balance out the overblown "Dark Ages?" Why, with the goofy lil' instrumental "Warm Sporran." Figure out the title, trust me, it helps. It's a Scottish ditty, complete with martial drumming, bagpipes, and humming. Yep.

Side two kicks off with the dopey rocker "Something's On the Move," which picks up the FRIGGIN' END OF THE WORLD vibe again. Suffice to say that it's the head banging-est thing on the album; you know, roaring guitar and echo chamber lyrics. God I'm making this seem like a weird album. "Old Ghosts" is a softer, damn near charming song with haunting vocal delivery and flute.

Anyway, the next song is probably my favorite. At least, it's the chilliest and most haunting, and that's what the album should be about, right? "Dun Ringill" is a simple, short acoustic number. Very Celtic that. The guitar is soft yet relentless, Ian's voice is strong yet restrained, and a little sad. A true classic.

"Flying Dutchman," despite the cool title, is the worst thing on the album. Er, in my humble opinion. It's another long piece, and much like "Dark Ages," it's too long for its own good. Of course, "Dark Ages" would have been okay if it had shorter (the fast midsection perhaps, without the boggy intro and outro); no such hope for "Dutchman." It's trying to be "Pibroch" for whatever reason. It's not nearly as irritating, but it's just as boring, and the folksy midsection cannot save it.

Oddly enough, the ending of "Dutchman," the fading flute and all, serves as the perfect intro to "Elegy." The final song is another instrumental, but it's sad 'n stuff. It's a very pretty piece of atmosphere. It's also a Palmer creation, and it shows; I find the studio version to be a bit overdone what with the strings and all, and Martin's guitar doesn't quite fit somehow. But the acoustic part is beautiful (Glascock's last recording, I reckon).

The live version off Watchers of the Storm (which is a bootleg, so I won't be able to talk about it anywhere else, so indulge me (assuming you're still reading)), now that's beautiful through and through. It's strained and pained, largely because the band seemed to be in a bad mood that night, but that only helps the song. But I digress. "Elegy" is not as bad as I originally thought, and it serves as a nice ending to the record and the 70's (aw, Ian gave that slot to someone else. How thoughtful).

So the problems with Stormwatch have already been mapped out. The atmosphere is a bit chilly, but that appears to be directly influenced by the lads themselves rather than some conceptual step or misstep. But that wouldn't matter so much if everything didn't sound kind of...samey. Of course, if you'd remove the two mini-epics (and maybe "Something's On the Move," but it's got kind of cool chorus), you'd have a four star album easy. But under its own strength? Brr...

(Regardless of what I think of Stormwatch, the remaster has a far more consistent number of songs tacked on. "A Stitch in Time" is kind a kind of throwaway folk rocker, but it has an interesting solo from Martin (keyword interesting, but in a good way). "Crossword" is a downbeat rocker that's pretty good, also with a great solo from Mr. Barre. The last two songs, however, are pretty great for the diehard Tuller. "Kelpie" is a very Celtic jig with a highly entertaining flute solo that was later put to great use in live shows. "King Henry's Madrigal" is an instrumental medieval rocker that's credited to King Henry himself (I think Gryphon also covered it too). It's essentially the same, highly catchy, tune o'er and o'er again, but the lads really outdo themselves with the instrumentation. None of these tunes are quite as chilly the Stormwatch material, nor would they fit conceptually. But do they raise the rating? Yeah, sure, why not. A solid 4 for the remaster.)

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Send comments to The Whistler (BETA) | Report this review (#114121)
Posted Saturday, March 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A very underrated album. This is a heavier album like Benefit in the vein of the folk albums Heavy horses and Songs from the wood. The original album may not be quite as strong as Heavy horses, but the remaster is probably better though with it's 4 strong bonus tracks. North sea oil and Dun Ringill are also a couple of all time favorite Tull songs of mine.

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Send comments to raindance2007 (BETA) | Report this review (#115221)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A tragic death of a band member certainly took it toll; and it's obvious when you're listening to this album. But not because Ian wrote so good songs that will awake emotions in you. No. Simply because ideas stuck somewhere in a cold swamp on the North, surrounded by howling winds. The irony here is the main theme of the album; energy crisis. It's much better represented with the weakness of the material then with the actual artistic representation; it's simply weak. I mean, really weak, "Heavy Horses" wasn't an album to write home about, but at least it was focused, which "Stormwatch" certainly isn't.

This album is a good example for fans - who are often forgetting to approach to the songwriter as to a human being then to compare eras, periods, line-ups or particular sounds of decades. Instead of bold, coherent statement ( if you are a TULL fan you know what I'm talking about) we have just a whisper of idea here, a flash of nice interpretation there, and that's about it.

Don't get me wrong - considering the circumstances, this album doesn't lack dignity, but unfortunately lacks everything else, and it's Tull's ultimate step into a boredom. If you want simple, catchy verses that you can hum along, forget it. "Dark Ages", maybe? "Orion"? They're simply not on the same level with...anything. If you're looking for a something musically more complex, demanding, go search somewhere else. Even in the 80's: "A" is actually much more daring, although it's also lacking focus, at least there are moments to scratch your head about. That's exactly that line of connection - that relation "Stormwatch" - "A" I was talking about in the previous paragraph; human being lacking inspiration, rather than "wrong" sounds in a "wrong" decade. "Stormwatch" contained a classic line-up, mind you; fortunately for us; they disbanded and band changed the path drastically, because obviously there wasn't that certain something.

So, there's no point to moan about it, because band moved, changed and continued to evolve. Sometimes results will be much worse, but as we all know, Anderson will still be able to offers us occasional pleasant surprises in the years to come. That chapter can be closed, with underlined "Dun Ringill" for it's beauty and "Elegy" in memoriam for John Glascock.

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Send comments to clarke2001 (BETA) | Report this review (#125423)
Posted Monday, June 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars On the whole, this is awfully dispiriting, generic Jethro Tull, with unmemorable melodies that are indifferently performed. The only exceptions are "Dun Ringill", an acoustic ballad with at least a shade of life, and "Dark Ages", a forgettable song with an exciting middle section: our final opportunity to hear Martin Barre and the great Barriemore Barlow working out together!

Three of the bonus tracks on the 2004 remaster are superior to anything on the original album. Both "A Stitch in Time" and "Kelpie" are first-rate folk prog, and "King Henry's Madrigal" sounds more like a jig: it's a jaunty instrumental, superbly arranged and played with flair by the entire band.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#129783)
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars I consider this one to be the most boring JT album, although it has its highs there's an overall lack of inspiration in it. (I think it should be hard to do so much great material during a decade as JT did)... I think even Ian Anderson though the same when he decided to turn to such obvious different path when he started working in next project "A". In general good lyrics but it's just the music that fails... I can't really keep my attention to this one all the way. Anyway I must say I enjoy first too tracks, Something's On The Move is also interesting (I find it rather similar -the music and structure- to Crossfire). Instrumental tracks are both enjoyable, in fact Elegy is my favourite track in the album. I'd put it 2 over 5 stars..but considering what Ian's team were able to do in previous albums I won't be generous.

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Send comments to ditairo (BETA) | Report this review (#130952)
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars A GREAT WAY TO END THE 70S!

It seems STORMWATCH is a story of apples and oranges for TULL lovers; for some, this is the beginning of the end and others- like myself- consider this album as a highlight of their collection. I mentioned in another JT review that as a JT aficionado, i tend to appreciate more some of their ''controversial'' works than the ''classic'' ones.

STORMWATCH is one of them.I am very fond of this album, found the songwriting top notch, the whole record highly enjoyable even the medieval folkloric WARM PORRAN. That tells you something. This would be the last album for 4 out of the 6 members of JETHRO TULL. The bassist JOHN GLASCOCK already seriously ill would die of heart problem complications, leaving IAN ANDERSON playing the bass himself on 7 out of the 10 tracks. That would not make BARRIEMORE BARLOW happy to have ''bossy'' IAN next to him trying to keep the rythm section tight. They would be also the farewell album for JOHN EVAN and DAVID PALMER who will be left out for the next album 'A 'for dubious reasons. No, IAN ANDERSON is not part of those 4 guys!!

This is a very lively and diverse recording full of energy with some straight hard rockers such as OLD GHOSTS, NORTH SEA OIL or SOMETHING ON THE MOVE with an omnipresent MARTIN BARRE having fun all the way. The traditional J.TULL acoustic folk can be heard with the sublime DUN RIGGILL.However, there is nothing'' country'' or from the woods on STORMWATCH like on the 2 precedent studio releases.

Also you have nice melodious songs with fine PALMER arrangements like ORION or HOME .IAN ANDERSON has abandoned his ''earthy'' rough voice that i couldn't stand on HEAVY HORSES to come back with a more ''classic'' sound, even it is not as powerful as in the past. Some TULL fans decry the intrusive classical orchestrations from PALMER on some songs here as too much sugarcoating, i just found them adding a very nice touch of sophistication overall.

STORMWATCH is definitely the album where PALMER put a lot of his input; he even has a solo writing credit!!! for the track ELEGY, a classical chamber piece of pure beauty. Some wrote it was kind of syrupy. Maybe i like my syrup as long as it comes with a beautiful theme, gorgeous lush arrangements with the addition of MARTIN BARRE placing the nice sounding notes where they should be.

To complete this album, we have some kind of 2 long ''epics'' DARK AGES and FLYING DUTCHMAN -around 9mn each- carrying all the elements that make JETHRO TULL great: good guitar riffs, nice acoustic passages, outstanding flute playing, a nice melody, a medieval touch, clever PALMER arrangements; Give me the intro of FLYING DUTCHMAN everyday and i am a happy man!

The 4 bonus tracks are as always a nice plus, especially the delicious medieval KING HENRY'S MADRIGAL!

STORMWATCH has it all: hard rock, acoustic folk, medieval songs, a classical tune and 2 typical JT epics with great songwriting to crown the whole thing. One of my 3 favorite JETHRO TULL albums;A must-have! i would give 4.5 stars so......

4 STARS!

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Send comments to febus (BETA) | Report this review (#134832)
Posted Saturday, August 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is truly a very diverse and well-composed album. You certainly get the feeling that Tull's golden age is coming to an end with tracks more lamentful and, at that, less strictly folklorish than what you might find on HH and definitely SFTW. Harsh, cranking guitar tunes are to be found here, redolent of Pibroch, No Lullaby, and Minstrel (title track): reference particularly Dark Ages and Something's on the Move-- whose actual being put to good use foreshadows what you can hear on BATB. To counteract the intentionally rougher feel of parts of the album, we have tracks like Home and Elegy, which, in themselves, are somewhat mournful, yet, as opposed to directly foreshadowing the storm on the rise, more so (and beautifully) solemnly glorify the good ol' days. The opener (North Sea Oil) and Old Ghosts imbue similar feelings as would be found in HH, while Flying Dutchman harkens back to, again, No Lullaby-- a longer track with a repeating epic sort of theme, with, although one of my favorites, a lot of repeated less epic stuff. Which brings up the question: should long tracks like Dutchman and Dark Ages be truncated to any extent? I venture that there are some repeated elements in each that should either be taken out or reconstructed (as with No Lullaby as well)-- the intro/outro to Dark Ages might do itself good getting clipped shorter, or at least made to be as brilliant as the similarly structuredly themed Heavy Horses track! Overall, a solid album with few noticeable flaws... well balanced-- I didn't mention the bouncing base of the fun-- yet not overly lilting-- Warm Sporran. Not as essential as the top tier of Tull albums-- but a good listen.

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Send comments to MoreBarlow (BETA) | Report this review (#155159)
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The end of an era.

As Ian Anderson recounts, Stormwatch was an accurate title to the album. Inner band tensions and poor health would make this album the last of this line up. Due to the poor health of bassist John Glascock, Ian Anderson had to take over on bass, leaving his flute somewhat to the side. It's still there, but not nearly as much as normal. While this album is fairly severely underrated it's still only good at best, with the exception of a few really great tracks. Obviously there's some kind of chemistry between how the band is feeling and how the music turns out. Everything happening around Tull is very obvious here, the result is a dark, brooding album that's quite heavy.

The album opens with the cool riff and flute of NORTH SEA OIL. This fast paced track is definately one of the high points on the album, and deals with a lot of environmental issues happening around the time the album was written. This tracks opens the album very nicely and leaves room for good things to come. Unfortunately that's not exactly what happens. While cool, ORION definately doesn't live up to, well, itself. The song starts quite promisingly but really fails to go anywhere. It has some interesting concepts and melodies, but it's definately not Tull's best. HOME is much the same, however it is a bit better and more moody. The sombre tone of this song works both for and against itself being that it's fairly out of place with so much heavy material surrounding it. WARM SPORRAN is a good little instrumental that closes side A, a little bit of hummed vocals in there give it a nice feeling. SOMETHING'S ON THE MOVE is another one of the album's highlights, being very quick and melodic, this one bordering on metal. The bridge and chorus especially in this one being very catchy and almost evoking the need to dance... but in a good way (that's very uncommon in prog)! OLD GHOSTS is another slow one that fits better on the album thanks to it's almost creepy atmosphere with a little bit more flute featured in this one. DUN RINGILL is a quick song that almost seems like a bit of filler but really sets up for the song tat comes after it (which'll come later in the review). ELEGY closes the album with another nice instrumental that's very soothing and, with the ability of hindsight, scary due to bassist John Glascock's death during the following tour. A nice an beautiful song none the less.

With a mixed bag of slightly above and slightly bellow average tracks, is there any huge standouts? Yes.

As expected, the longer tracks on this album are the two standouts. DARK AGES is a great, chilling song that feeds off a kind of structure and sound harking back to an album such as Minstrel.... Bouncing between slow prog and heavy metal this is a song that's quite bizarre for Tull but incredibly good none the least. However, even this track is nothing compared to the sublime FLYING DUTCHMAN. Intro-ed by some soft piano and flute this chilling song quickly becomes Tull after the shock of an electric guitar and Anderson's token vocals. The track softly winds around mixing piano and vocals (with some absolutely beautiful melodies) until the guitar picks up again at the beat of a drum and off we run. Coming into the chorus it's impossible not to get a haunting chill down your back every time Anderson sings ...and be there when the Dutchman comes.... Absolutely stunning. The song proceeds to continue this picking up speed around the middle until it eventually ends and you have to stare off into space for a minute after realizing what the heck you were just hit by. Brilliant, Tull at their best.

So, with a bunch of good tracks, a couple meh and a couple of amazing tracks this album gets 3.5 stars. Great. Maybe not quite up to par of what the band did for most of the 70s -- and a very unfortunate, tragic end to this line up, but an underestimated album none the least. Recommended for fans of Minstrel... and anyone who likes their Tull heavy. Who knows, it might also be a good gateway album for metal-heads to get more into traditional prog.

Unfortunately... now it's the 80s...

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#159789)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Really good follow up to Heavy Horses despite all the difficulty surrounding the band, and reminds us not only how prolific and accomplished Ian Anderson is, but the impact Jethro Tull's music has had on everything from folk rock and pop to minstrel metal and symphonic cheese. It doesn't chart much new territory, the songs resembling classic Anderson shanties more than something thematic, leaner than previous work and though not outstanding like Horses, it's one of those albums that catches you off-guard with the quality of the material. Thanks, Ian, for being there in hard times and good.

'North Sea Oil' finds the band in top form with a tune that could've been on any of their preceding three records, tasty mutes from Marty as always, a beautiful flute that shows no signs of waning and an ecology-minded lyric from Anderson. Metallic anthem 'Orion' is a fitting tribute to the North skies and the gods that tend them, followed by slightly sad and entirely sentimental 'Home'. Very prog centerpiece 'Dark Ages' starts as a death knell and becomes a dramatic send-up with military regalia, heavy metal and marching drums... classic Tull at every turn, a great cut not to be missed by fans, and 'Warm Sporran' is a strange foray into fusion with mixed results. 'Somethings on the Move' is straight riff-rock with plenty of cool flauting, reasonably solid. And 'Old Ghosts' is vintage Tull, a cut that reminisces with delicate orchestration, piano, and Anderson's sensitive vocals. Good stuff. 'Dun Rungill' is a distant echo from the past, 'Flying Dutchman' ain't bad with its neat Medieval jig in the middle, and David Palmer's gorgeous heart-tugging instrumental 'Elegy' to end.

As with all Tull remasters, the bonus tracks are an absolute kick, always good and an insight into the whole of the material the band was working on during a certain period, such as spirited 'A Stitch in Time', herky-jerky 'Crossword', great Celtic rocker 'Kelpie' and lost treasure 'King Henry's Madrigal', full of Greensleeves prancing and giddy ribaldry. Frankly half these tracks should have made it onto the final cut and Stormwatch is a tragically passed over horn of plenty.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#161995)
Posted Sunday, February 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This was one of the first '70 progrecords I had. I've always liked it, but till know I didn't really had enough knowlegde to place this one in it's time. I own all the important Jetro Tull albums and this one is still very special to me.

The album starts of with North sea oil. A good song with some great instrumental parts you will like after the first time you've heard it. Orion has the real progvibe, some of the changes of themes sound a bit strange here, but it suids the song.

Dark ages is an epos. A lot of themes are used her giving us the prog we expect from this band. It start's of as dark as the title. Just a piano with a few notes filled up by changing instruments. In this song we also find very nice rock themes with flute solo's. Great composition!

Somethings on the move and Old ghost are both nice songs, not very surpising. They do earn their place on the record. The Flying Dutchman is still one of my favourite songs ever! So melodic, so dramatic! It really gives me a warm feeling. It's a highlight in their career. Also listen to the flute solo's on this track. Elegy is a classical music inspired piece with spanish guitars and other akoustic instruments. It's a good finishing touch for this album.

I think this album is underrated. OK, it does not sound like Thick as Brick. It's not that progressive. But for time being, 1979, this was is pearl in prog. They did manage to remain inventive though the age of prog was over. For that, in combination with the album being good, this album deserves four stars!

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#173004)
Posted Wednesday, June 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
5 stars A forgotten masterpiece from the dark ages of progressive Rock

I'm probably in a minority here, but for me Stormwatch is the best Jethro Tull album since the otherworldly Thick As A Brick that was released some seven years earlier and a masterpiece album in its own right. Given how restrictive I am with handing out five star ratings, I feel that I have some explaining to do on this account. Admittedly, I used to rate this with "only" four stars, but after many listens over a long period of time I now must raise this to the highest available rating; this album blows me away!

As most Jethro Tull fans would agree Songs From The Wood was a return to form for the band and that album is usually considered to be the first of a trio of interconnected albums that continued with Heavy Horses and then with the present album. Like many others I think that this is one of the best and most consistent periods in Jehtro Tull history, but unlike many I think that Stormwatch was the culmination of this excellent era in the band's long career. I strongly disagree with those who claim that Stormwatch offered just "more of the same" as I think that the material on this album is very different in nature from that of the previous two, even if there are some similarities too. I can understand that in 1979 people were perhaps growing tired of the sound of Jethro Tull due to the sheer amount of albums they had put out since the late 60's and also due to changing musical trends, but an album should be judged on its own merits and not only in relation to its "surroundings".

One thing that ought to strike any listener immediately is that Stormwatch is a much darker album both in sound and subject matter compared to most other Jethro Tull albums. There are no more whimsical "kitchen prose and garden rhymes" here, but quite serious social and political commentary. Also, the sound of Stormwatch is much more hard edged and Martin Barre is on fire on this album with his guitar sound being quite "metallic" (which I love!). The sound here is very full and rich due to the strong presence of string arrangements in addition to the usual guitar/bass/drums/flute/keyboards/vocal attack. We also get some mandolin on some songs, which I simply love! I think that Jethro Tull achieved the perfect balance here between (Celtic) Folk Rock, Hard Rock (even close to Metal occasionally) and Symphonic Rock with plenty of progressive aspects, features and structures. You might even say that while this album is almost as folky as the previous two, it is also the heaviest and most symphonic of the band's many albums; it's Prog Folk, Heavy Prog and Symphonic Prog all at the same time!

The most important part of any music is for me the quality of the actual material and Stormwatch offers some really strong compositions that are up to par with those on Aqualung and Heavy Horses. North Sea Oil and Orion have strong and memorable melodies that grab a hold of you from the start. Apart from being darker in their lyrical content and quite heavy and hard edged, these two are quite typical high quality Jethro Tull songs. Home, on the other hand, is a very symphonic and somewhat bombastic ballad that is very uncharacteristic of Jethro Tull. It contributes to making this album more varied and diverse than many other Jethro Tull albums. The diversity is indeed one of Stormwatch's strongest features.

Dark Ages is the longest track of the album with its marching rhythm and interesting tempo changes throughout. It takes a couple of listens to understand this number, but it sure grew on me a lot. Warm Sporran is another track that is very uncharacteristic for the band. It is an instrumental with male choirs, marching drums, flute and bagpipes (or something that sounds a bit like bagpipes). It sounds like something that could have been on a Mike Oldfield album! - a great interlude that further adds to the diversity of this album and lets you catch your breath a bit before the rest of the songs.

Something's On The Move is the grittiest of the songs here and is a hard rocker in typical Jethro Tull-style with organ, flute and Hard Rock guitar play, as such it is the least great of the songs on the album, but it is still great! Old Ghosts and Flying Dutchman are both slower and more symphonic songs with strings, piano, flute and strong vocals. The latter have a very folky flute and mandolin instrumental break. These songs also might require several listens before you get them, but that is typical of really great progressive music!

Dun Ringill is another of my favourite songs from this underrated album. It is a short acoustic song with a captivating atmosphere. I first heard it on the Slipstream video which comes as a bonus DVD disc with the A album and I liked it instantly. The album ends with another instrumental in Elegy. Its melody reminds of Home and thus ties the album together perfectly. The style of the piece reminds a bit of the band Focus.

Stormwatch has become a personal favourite of mine and I now think it's one of the very best Tull albums of all time. I should admit right away that I have a special thing for its dark and hard edged sound and also its diversity due in part to the inclusion of a couple of instrumentals. I can understand that someone would prefer the more cheerful and whimsical Songs From The Wood or the more strongly Folk-oriented Heavy Horses, but for me Stormwatch is even more appealing. Though I consider this album very underrated, you should not be led to think that I rate it very highly just to compensate for other's lower ratings - I never do that! In my opinion, this album deserves the highest rating on its own merits and it will grow on you if you give it some further chances. It sure did on me, anyway! It is hard for me to find anything to complain about here!

Very highly recommended!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#177294)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The final act in the famous folk trilogy is not as much of a letdown as so many people seem to think.

The folk aspect of the music has kind of meandered to the back seat again for this album, however. The consistency and wholesale energy of Songs from the Wood is not quite here in its form. However, when compared to most of Tull's catalog, Stormwatch is an average-to-strong release. There really isn't any new ground being tread here at all, though, and so if you're looking for progression or creativity, this might not be the wisest choice. No ground is being broken here at all, and plenty see the band as merely rehashing old ideas by this point. While this does hold some truth, the music here does not need to be instantly dismissed. This is probably the final truly important Jethro Tull release, in my opinion, and as such it does need to be looked at some.

While it is true that most of the tracks are mildly uninspiring and unremarkable, a few stand far above the rest. Most important is the nine minute Dark Ages, featuring some wonderful guitar work and great double bass action. The vocal lines are some of the best since Songs from the Wood. Parts of this song border on metal, at least as close to metal as a progressive folk act dare creep. Something's on the Move and Flying Dutchman are also both undervalued tracks. A lot of energy and high-caliber flute work drive most of the songs, making even the least original songs fun no matter how cliched or rehashed they might seem by this point.

Is it essential? No, not really. But if Songs from the Wood interests you much, you will most likely enjoy Stormwatch as well. Certainly a good addition to any Tull fan's collection, though not terribly necessary.

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Send comments to LiquidEternity (BETA) | Report this review (#184371)
Posted Thursday, October 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The end of an era.

The liner notes says that for four of the band members, this would be their last release with Tull. They had been working with the band for various lengths of time. John Glascock died an untimely death. Barriemore Barlow, John Evan, and David Palmer moved on for other reasons. It also marked the end of a stylistic era for the band, which had been through a few already. The next one, A, would be a stylistic dead end for JT, and the beginning of the continuation of Anderson-Barre as the core of Jethro Tull. Some fans despised it, but I enjoyed it as I did this one.

But, back to this release: North Sea Oil is partly a song about events happing relevant to England at the time. Almost ahead of it's time as oil is still pretty much an issue for everyone everywhere to this day. Oi eh he eh ell! Song hint at the more rock direction they'd take after A. Orion, ode to a star, celestial or earthly or both? Nice strings. Home is nice mellow piece all about warm feelings of guess what? Dark Ages is another JT criticism of organized religion, maybe more applicable to England, but not entirely. Warm Sporran has been a long favorite instrumental Tull piece for me. I just looked up what the hell a sporran is on the internet for the first time. It's a the purse worn with a kilt (Scottish). Learn something new every day. Hey, this song tastes like Scotch.

Side Two of what was the original LP starts off with Something's On The Move, this one's pretty much in the style that would follow after A and also a very LP song "I'm a needle on a spiral in a groove". Old Ghosts hearkens back to the more prog-folk style, not quite as memorable as some of the other tracks on here, still quite nice. Dun Ringill however is better remembered, they could have called it Stormwatch as it starts off with pre recorded voices about storms coming and then it goes into what is basically Ian Anderson singing and playing acoustic guitar, minimal affects applied to the vocals, seagulls wrap up the song. Flying Duchman is another sea themed song. It's a fitting send off to Mr. Glascock, who participated in it, as well as a fitting send off to the heavier folk period for Jethro Tull. The original LP wrapped up with Elegy. A very pretty instrumental that I had on an assortment of pretty prog instrumentals, which I used to play in a used bookstore that I worked at back then. It brings back many memories. Stop here for a while if you want to savor the original album experience.

But wait, there's more. And for those of you fortunate enough to get the remaster release, you have a few quality bonus tracks recorded in the same era. I've known all of these from the 20th Anniversary box set for a while. A Stitch In Time didn't fit too well in this album, but still has the same flavor of the older Tull era, maybe even too much so to fit in. Crossword is another misfit, but again very prog, Kelpie, as well. King Henry's Madrigal doesn't rock so much, but has a more traditional sound, another excellent instrumental.

The original album cover art is reproduced on the 2004 release and looks good if you have a magnifying glass. For us older folks we have to squint really hard. Fortunately the booklet has slightly larger versions of the lyrics and liner notes, plus a couple of pages of notes from Ian regarding this album written in 2003.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#205544)
Posted Thursday, March 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The famous and fabulous 1970s. That was one wild and colorful era, boys and girls, and I have the polaroids to prove it. Take it from a guy who spent his prime years riding on the fun bus from one end of it to the other. But like all crazy, rambunctious blowout bashes, every rave up has to wind down at some point and that's when the hangover sets in. Like death and taxes. Progressive rock music as an entity partied as hardily as any of its peers and had to deal with the inevitable morning-after, potty-hugging waves of nausea accordingly. No one in the genre seemed to be immune and, as "Stormwatch" would indicate, Jethro Tull trudged out of the decade with an achy whimper rather than a breast- beating roar, as did most of the prog giants of those heady times. The confused Yes served us the rotten "Tormato," the constipated ELP squeezed out the obscene "Love Beach" and the shedding Genesis coughed up the unsightly "And Then There Were Three" hairball. In each case it was as if the slings and arrows they were suffering from the attacking punk rockers and numb-skulled new-wavers made them so self-conscious and insecure about their craft that their formerly-limitless creativity had frozen up as solidly as Nordic ice sculptures. By '79 the once-festive prog carnival had packed up and skipped town, leaving the fairgrounds a mess; littered as far as the eye could see with disgusting glow-in-the-dark condoms, discarded Zig-Zag dispensers and moldy granola crumbs. The dream was gone. The child had grown.

Having said all that, "Stormwatch" is the most listenable of those aforementioned misguided albums and contains a handful of quality songs, indeed. I found the album that preceded it, "Heavy Horses," to be very much a stronger, more consistent effort as if they poured all the shiniest marbles they had left into that LP and when they convened to put this one together all they had were the B-team also-rans and their muse was nowhere to be found, having run off with the dancin' Bee Gees. But one constant remained. Ian Anderson has always had a way with words so lyric-wise you'll discover some impressively literate and poetic lines to make up for the unevenness found in the music.

"North Sea Oil" starts things off with a bit of a nostalgic touch that reminds me of their "Benefit" album's muted aroma as the bass guitar and flute stand out in the foreground of the mix. There's no mistaking who this is from the get-go as it contains all the usual Jethro Tull-isms that made them famous and the 5/4 time signature keeps the tune from being plain Jane commercial fare. Ian makes several ambiguous statements about evil corporations pumping crude from beneath the ocean floor but he doesn't offer much in the way of suggesting a fuel alternative for him and his bandmates to burn while flying around the world on their tours. I think he's just hacked off about them drilling so close to home. Hi ho. Their ode to the overhead nighttime canopy, "Orion," is next and its plodding-as-a-Clydesdale rock beat is less than attractive but the quieter acoustic guitar- led section is much more palatable and engaging. The airy strings are an asset, but the number's bipolar arrangement makes it seem as if two totally unrelated ideas were spliced together to meet a deadline and it falls flat as day-old Pepsi. I do find the words relevant to the times, though. "Prime years fly fading with each young heart's beat," Anderson sings wistfully.

"Home" is a deliberate plunge into the sea of sentimentality that could have become a sappy mush-fest but Ian's earnest, believable vocal delivery saves it from that fate. Martin Barre's tasteful harmony guitar lines and the sweet, full strings are a plus, too. Many of us know all too well how good it feels to return to one's own bed after being on the road forever and Anderson expresses the joy of the first glimpse of his hometown perfectly. "Down steep and narrow lanes I see/the chimneys smoking above the golden fields/I know what the robin feels/in his summer jamboree," he croons. At 9:07 in length, "Dark Ages" is the album's most expansive entry and also the most consternating. Their unusual "scenes from a modern opera" approach tests your patience while waiting for some kind of groove to emerge and it comes off depressingly overwrought as if they're trying too hard to be theatrical. The song's 2nd movement has a better flow to it but there's still a lingering, disjointed atmosphere that doesn't dissipate. The complex instrumental segment is the best part of this extended cut but there's not enough of it and overall I find myself feeling indifferent and uninvolved despite the clever political observation by Ian to "come and see bureaucracy make its final heave/and let the new disorder through/while senses take their leave." Some things never change.

"Warm Sporran" (i.e. a toasty nut pouch) is a happy-go-lucky slice of music-only folk rock where a catchy flute melody carries the tune effortlessly along. Here Anderson's spirited fills show off his undeniable skill and dexterity on the instrument and the marching rhythm track would fit comfortably in a movie scene involving ancient tribesmen gleefully returning to camp from a successful Mastodon hunt. Hi ho. Speaking of cavemen, the popular indisputable fact-based looming world-wide calamity of the moment in the late seventies was the sure-to-come neo ice age. Frowning, freaked-out scientists near and far were urging mankind to start sharpening up their spears and fire-making techniques in anticipation of said deep freeze. Buying into this panic, the band presents us with the scary "Something's On The Move" and in this case those somethings were southbound glaciers. (Environmentalists tend to run hot and cold on this issue, apparently. Stay tuned.) Anywho, this straight-ahead rocker suffers greatly from drummer Barriemore Barlow's hyperactive, overly-busy bass drum kicking and the amateurish arrangement they came up with. In other words, it reeks of filler material. Yet the topical lyrics are, um, cool. "With chill mists swirling like petticoats in motion/sighted on horizons for ten thousand years/the lady of the ice sounds a deathly distant rumble/to Titanic-breaking children lost in melting crystal tears" he warns.

The spooky "Old Ghosts" follows that dire weather forecast. The tune's shimmering string score effect and Ian's ever-flittering flute are entertaining but as a musical composition the track is pedestrian and instantly forgettable. I do like his opening line of "hair stands high on the cat's back like a ridge of threatening hills," though. "Dun Ringill" follows and it's one of the true highlights of the proceedings. It's sparingly populated with simple acoustic guitars and vocals but it's intriguing, nonetheless. Sometimes less is more. Anderson slyly sings "slip the night from a shaved pack/make a marked card play" as he confirms the power of his inimitable voice.

The album's second mini-epic is the nearly 8-minute long "Flying Dutchman" and it begins with a surprise in that John Evan's elegant piano is brought up to the front of the mix for a change. The song's slow, dramatic pacing is right up their alley and Ian intones ominous lines like "death grinning like a scarecrow" with relish. They toss in a brief upbeat interlude before returning to the original motif but, alas, the whole thing leaves me yawning, apathetic and yearning for the brilliant inventiveness that so enveloped their earlier triumphs like "Thick as a Brick." I guess that train don't stop here anymore. The heartwarming finale comes in the form of keyboard man David Palmer's "Elegy," a very pretty piece of musical poetry that befits its title. The total involvement of the group keeps it from being too saccharine or, God forbid, damned to spend eternity in muzak-land. All sarcasm aside, it really is a beautiful tune.

In the up and down career of Jethro Tull I'd say this one belongs somewhere in the middle of the herd. I have to give them props for staying the course and not trying to kowtow to the fickle tastes of John Q. Public at a time when the self-mutilating punks were calling them dinosaurs and the new wavers' were ignoring them altogether. They were still making their own special brand of progressive folk/rock but I get the feeling that their stretch limo had run out of gas and they were going to have to get out and walk the rest of the way to get out of the 70s. Still, any fan of this honorable band will find enough to like about "Stormwatch" to make it worth their while. 2.8 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#241043)
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Stormwatch" works simultaneously as the closure for an era and the culmination of a specific musical development: the golden era of Jethro Tull had to end someday (and that included the core line-up that had made it happen for almost 10 years in a row) and this album was the appointed testament; also, the writing style and usual arrangements link this album to the previous studio efforts "Songs From the Wood" and "Heavy Horses". Regarding the latter point, it is clearly a sing of the times that this particular album suffers the comparison with the aforementioned master opuses, and you can tell that the exhaustion is there underneath the traces of remaining creativity and continuing energy. "Stormwatch" stands somewhere between the symphonic architecture of "Wood" and the straightforward folkloric spirit of "Horses", which is theoretically great, but indeed, the material shows hints of reiteration ? 'Dark Ages' is almost a statement of reminders from 'Pibroch' and 'No Lullaby', while 'North Sea Oil' aims at becoming the sequel of 'And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps' and 'Flying Dutchman' sounds like a compromise between a poor man's 'Heavy Horses' and some acoustic ballad that may have been left out of the "Minstrel in the Gallery" sessions. I regret that these sentences may potentially sound harsher than they actually mean to be, since I really enjoy the agile moods of 'North Sea Oil', and let alone, love the varied majesty of 'Dark Ages' as well as the sophisticated romanticism of 'Flying Dutchman'. My essential complaint is that I, as a JT follower, feel a bit uncomfortable with the notion of Anderson & co. holding on to ideas and frameworks that are beginning to feel more formulaic than archetypical. All in all, however, these tracks are great in themselves. One can also tell that this album's overall mood is more somber and melancholic than the other two referenced albums. For instance, the contemplative solitude exuded by that lovely acoustic ballad entitled 'Dun Ringill' is followed by the airs of mystery and weird spirituality conveyed by 'Flying Dutchman', and finally, the Palmer-penned epilogue 'Elegy' culminates this sense of mourning in a most beautiful fashion. The sequence of these last three tracks seem to magically portray the sense of loss of ancient cosmovisions in the face of industrial progress and urban developments, the defeat of natural purity in the hands of modern industry's artificiality. (By the way, did I explain that this is the album's basic concept? No? Well, there you have it.) You can also sense that melancholy vividly in the sequence of 'Orion' and 'Home' that precede the progressive explosion of 'Dark Ages': those songs are beautiful, moving. No bad song in this album, it's only that the album's integral conception fails to be 100% refreshing. 'Something's On The Move' opens up the album's latter half with full rocking splendor, and following is 'Old Ghosts', which is more candid and folk-based: concerning the latter, I've always felt intrigued by the combination of eerie string arrangements and playful mandolin interventions, solidly displayed on an alternation of 7/8 and 4/4 tempos. So, 3.99 stars go for this symbolic album in JT's history: great but not totally great, still very good at revealing the basic qualities of JT's eclectic musical vision. And of course, way better than the albums released in the very latest 70s by other fellow progressive bands.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#241178)
Posted Thursday, September 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Watcher of the Storms, watcher of all ....

After the second part of the folk the trilogy, Heavy Horses, somewhat failed to bring any enjoyment to myself, I really wasn't planning on getting Stormwatch, much less with it's low rating. However as a fan of the band, I got it eventually, but at first I didn't like it all but for the same reasons I didn't like Heavy Horses.

Stormwatch overall presented a dark and slow paced songs lacking fresh compositions and memorable melodies, while Heavy Horses mainly had some really great ideas but that I found that weren't developed well at all. The only songs I could get any enjoyment from at that time were the happy refreshing melodies from the folky instrumental, Warm Sporran, the heavy riff from Something's on the Move which reminded me of the heaviness of Minstrel in the Gallery, though the former definitely didn't feature such a high level of perfomance as the latter, and lastly the folk rock opener, North Sea Oil, with some pretty good flute and guitar.

After several of months of hiatus, not having listened to this album for a long time, when I played it again, almost everything that was on here clicked. If I hadn't listened to this again I would have regretted of missing such lovely hidden gems like Dark Ages and Flying Dutchman, both highlights from Stormwatch, the former being a dark, though subtle, beast which evokes some of Tull's heaviest moments and still achieving to sound original, Martin Barre obviously being the stand-out. Flying Dutchman on the other hand is a greatly done transformer, with John's exquisite piano rising opening this gem, from then onwards after each minute either a new instrument or a change of pace is experienced, all this making a fantastic result, something Tull has never done before within the 7 minute mark.

The remaining songs from the album are a variety of either gentle acoustic tunes very ballad-esque or the repetitve form of songs that this line-up of Jethro Tull are used to deliver. Either case, they're not the strong point of Stormwatch.

In the end Stormwatch is no less than a average type of a Tull album, having it's usual down's but the up's being always refreshing and always overshadows the flaws from the rest. Then again, this stage of J-Tull is not their classic Prog Folk/Eclectic Prog neither Blues/Folk stage, but that demonstrates that they were never a band of ''one'' genre specifically, they were always developing and going through new grounds, but in each case always sounding like them(Under Wraps being a exception). That being said, this album deserves no less than 3 stars and it being owned by every dedicated Jethro Tull fan.

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Send comments to The Quiet One (BETA) | Report this review (#244029)
Posted Saturday, October 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't know if this is a 'prog' masterpiece, but it's certainly one of my favorites. From the opening Flute / guitar lick on "North Sea Oil", we are instantly placed into a Tull record, with this fantastic interplay carrying on throughout the song. "Orion" is a darker piece with bleak lyrics and gorgeous verses, followed by the ballad, "Home" and leading into one of Tull's last epics, "Dark Ages", a piece with multiple tempi and crunching guitar work from Martin Barre.

This record was recorded at a time of tragedy for the band (the bass player, John Glasscock, was dying of a heart condition) and it shows throughout the album, particularly on the epic, "Flying Dutchman". With this piece, Ian Andeson tells the sad tale of the man doomed to sail the seas forever, complete with an almost "Man-Erg" - esque (in mood only, the similarities end there) piano intro by John Evans and a well placed and surprisingly fitting folky section that brings a glimmer of hope the the dark piece, before taking the listener back to the verses and an epic ending, "So come all you lovers of the good life, Look around you, can you see? Staring ghostly in the mirror --- it's the Dutchman you will be ... floating slowly out to sea, in a misty misery."

All in all, a very sad, moody, and beautiful record. I suggest buying the remaster for the improved sound and bonus tracks: Tull were always a band to have songs left off the album that were as good, if not better, than some that made it! "Kelpie" springs to mind with one of my personal favorite flute solos in the middle. It's one thing to have the space to stretch out an improv, but it's quite a bit harder to get the "juice" of the improv in a short burst, which is what both Ian and Martin achieve perfectly in this piece. If you love Tull, I suggest you get this one. I never understood why it receives such poor ratings.

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Send comments to Zombywoof (BETA) | Report this review (#270914)
Posted Tuesday, March 09, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars This album always seemed to me like Jethro Tull was just going through the motions when recording it. Of course, Jethro Tull going through the motions is still better than many other bands' best efforts. If this were the only Tull album you owned, or one of a very few, it might sound new or fresh, but if you were a Tull aficionado, you would hear very little that they had not done before.

As usual, Anderson's lyrics are great. And there are a couple of standout songs. Something's On The Move is a fine upbeat rocker, and Dun Ringill with it's eerie vocal effects, makes it somewhat different from other Tull songs. On the other hand, I don't know what prompted Anderson to include a rare piece from another composer, keyboardisy/orchestrator David Palmer. His light classical Elegy is more appropriate for a supermarket or elevator than on a rock album.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#274423)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Sleepwalker
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The third album out of a series of three folky albums. Stormwatch is bit of a letdown, musically not being all too strong. This is somewhat understandable though, as bassist John Glascock was suffering from problems with his heart, which would unfortunately lead to his death not much later. The result is disappointing, with ony few moments that truly convince me of Jethro Tull's strength.

There really is just few music on here that's on the level of previous releases. Someone should always be careful when saying this, but I really find many of the music on Stormwatch to sound uninspired and therefore simply dull. Songs such as "Orion", which completely fails at being the melodic rocker it tries to be; "Home", which is in the vein of the previous song, yet softer; and the folky but ultimately dull "Warm Sporran", just make the album an inconsistent thing. "Dark Ages" is the longest track on the album, opening in a somewhat promising way, as if it's building up to the epic climax that's to come. Unfortunately, the piece never reaches such a climax, and instead it fails to really go anywhere. Yet again, the music doesn't sound all too ambitious here, with dull and dissapointing riffs and the tendency to drag. Fortunately, the album knows some good moments as well, such as the up-tempo album opener "North Sea Oil"; the heavy "Something's On The Move"; the melodic "Old Ghosts"; and "Flying Dutchman", a somwhat epic piece that I consider to be the highlight of the album. Also, Martin Barre's distinctive guitar playing in general is very enjoyable, even on the weaker tracks. This also goes for the bass playing, which Ian Anderson plays on most of the album.

Stormwatch seems an album lacking energy and ambition, which is somewhat understandable looking at the situation the band was in. Still, I take the music on the album for what it is, and the majority of it just fails to be what I suppose it tries to be. Therefore, Stormwatch gets merely two stars by me.

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Send comments to The Sleepwalker (BETA) | Report this review (#281104)
Posted Sunday, May 09, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just like War Child, I sincerely do not understand why the average rating is so low. Because, yes, 3,42 seems to me too low for such a great album. This album easily deserve a 4, and i'm tempted to give it half a star more.

This is still high quality music, high quality Jethro Tull with rich composition and always proggy is I like.

Actually I listen to War Child and Stormwatch more often than the "two greats" Songs from the woods and Heavy Horses. Maybe because I find in these two first more different instruments and timbres. Very recommend, very enjoyable.

Some might want to highlights the fact that it illustrates the end of an era but in absolutely no case i hear in this album some kind of band on a down slope. This is a statement that may be valid only after considering the more recent output.

4,5 stars really.

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Send comments to d.o.k (BETA) | Report this review (#296650)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This was another interesting release from the Tull. This time a conceptual album. It's quite dark in some ways because the theme is 'The end of the world' The planet's resources are running low and the new 'dark ages' are coming.

"Stormwatch" isn't quite in the same vein as the previous two albums but the songs are all mostly quite tuneful, catchy and accessible. "North Sea Oil" is a good start to the album and "Orion" shows the start of some symphonic arrangements which appear a lot throughout. Like the previous album there are two epic tunes: "Dark Ages" and "Flying Dutchman", the latter being the best. I also really like "Warm Sporran", which is an instrumental celtic charmer. Other favourites include "Something's On The Move", "Old Ghosts" and "Dun Ringill"

Overall, it's a really nice record. It's not as good as some of the band's previous releases but not at all among the worst. This is good to play on lazy Sunday afternoons.

3.5 stars

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Send comments to Frankie Flowers (BETA) | Report this review (#316473)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Everybody seems to prefer the first one of the so called "folk trilogy", namely "Songs from the wood". Not bad an album indeed. Personally I loved "Heavy Horses" far better. Quite a lot of people seem to find that "Stormwatch" is a bit of a let down... I don't agree.

"North Sea Oil" is a great opener with a clear message. "Orion" and "Home" are a bit weaker tracks but still not bad at all. "Dark Ages" is Tull in form. "Warm Sporran" is one of the finest instrumental tracks ever (I still have a soft spot for bagpipes from my folky days long gone).

Side 2 is truly great. "Something's on the move" starts off well, "Old Ghosts" is a very fine song indeed. "Dun Ringill" is one of my all time best loved Tull acoustics... I was happy enough to hear it live in the early 80s. "Flying Dutchman" is another phenomenal track. Whenever I play the LP (yes, LP... as from the dark ages) and this track starts I get that feeling of... Well, not being able to find the words.. still...

"Elegy" could have been a "Focus" by Focus... A bittersweet tune with Martin playing the guitar in a grand way...

I could easily give this one a five stars... let's say a four and a half!

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Send comments to Lieven Van Paemel (BETA) | Report this review (#397601)
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Stormwatch ? 1979 (3/5) 10 ? Best Song: Home? When I first listened to Stormwatch, I had a tiny twist in my stomach warning me. I probably should've listened to it, but I was feeling sick, and thought maybe if I try hard enough I can really dig what Ian is trying to say with this one. Turns out that he wasn't saying anything special (some tripe about the destruction of the environment, which means Ian Anderson's talking about the weather ? his first true step into middle age). Lyrics aside, my greatest fear was the turn the music was taking, which consisted of a papier-mâché mish-mash of Yes-style hard rock and random smatterings of indiscernible folk elements. While all this is true and more, the blow that struck me hardest was how the band had seemed to have forgotten what a melody is and how important it is to the music. It would've been enough to write Stormwatch off like that, then continue on with my day, listening to King Crimson or something, but there was something about 'Orion' that made me want to listen to it again. True enough, when I pressed my ears for it, I heard a faint, subtle tune stuck beneath the hard mush. Which brings me to this ? boy does this album feed your ears terribly. It's possibly the worst measured album of their career. It's not an album to listen to while intending to release frustrations. It ain't even pretty like Heavy Horses was. It's hit or miss. 'Home' is neatly cute, but 'Dark Ages' is a real slip, sir. Haven't they done better jams in their sleep? Nine minutes? Balderdash! If you're hard up for Tull AND you've reached the sad point of having exhausted Too Old to Rock and Roll, then maybe this is for you. And ya know what? It's STILL better than Blackmore's Night (usually).

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#441657)
Posted Monday, May 02, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I guess this is the 3rd part of the Jethro Tull "trilogy" of SONGS FROM THE WOOD, HEAVY HORSES, and STORMWATCH, which solidified Tull and Ian Anderson as the kings of "folk- prog" in the 70's. STORMWATCH, however, is by far the weakest link in the trilogy. The energy and emotion and inspiration of the latter 2 albums seems to be missing in much of this release. Good songs are here: "North Sea Oil", "Orion", "Dark Ages", "Somethings On the Move", and "Elegy" but the rest fails to hold my interest. The bonus tracks on the new CD are interesting but not essential Tull. So, not a bad album (here comes UNDER WRAPS...) but not a masterpiece. 3 stars. Good but not essential.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#443068)
Posted Thursday, May 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Freezing cold.

Not that musically interesting, too. Lyrically focused on the energy crisis, 'Stormwatch' is a depressing, post-apocalyptic vision of the near future. As such, it stands alone fine, but musically leaves a lot to be desired. While, interestingly, the best-produced album of Jethro Tull's 'folk-rock' trilogy, it's also the least interesting. Like all post-'Passion Play' albums (except 'Songs from the Wood'), it has such highlights that stand out like beacons in the sea of mediocrity (the mediocre material, similarly to albums like 'War Child' and 'Too Old...' I can still appreciate structurally and lyrically, but the casual listener will find it quite tedious), the mentioned being 'Dark Ages' and 'Dun Ringill' (still not as great as other Tull acoustic classics, but close enough). The whole album leaves a bit of a bitter taste, so I recommend it only to fans, since they will certainly find something they like (if not most) on this 'epitaph' album of Tull's 70s lineup. 1980 will mark the dissolution of this group and the start of a different band.

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Send comments to Ludjak (BETA) | Report this review (#549030)
Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars A step down from the preceding studio albums (Songs From the Wood and Heavy Horses), Stormwatch's recording sessions were set against the grim reality of John Glascock's ailing health. (Sadly, John died some months after the sessions were completed - though he does appear on three tracks, including album closer Elegy.) The souring of relations within the band as a consequence of the strain on all parties is well-documented, so the recordings capture a lineup on the verge of disintegration - and it seems that the music has suffered as a consequence. The band - and Anderson in particular - sound discouraged to an extent they hadn't since War Child or Too Old to Rock and Roll, and the usual Tull tricks seem to lack their sparkle this time around.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#562305)
Posted Friday, November 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Jethro Tull turned to a more serious approach with this album, indeed this is Anderson at his most melancholy and brooding at times. There was good reason as the bassist John Glasgock was suffering congenital heart problems and this was his last album before his tragic death. Other members of the band were departing so it was a genuine changing of the guard. The songs were reflecting the troubled economy with the oil crisis being at the forefront of the lyrics. I prefer this darker Tull than the whimsy of "Too Old to Rock N Roll (Too Young To Die)" or "Songs From the Wood". However it is reasonable to understand why many reviewers see it as a letdown, whereas others hail it as a masterpiece. I sit somewhere in the middle as the musicianship is well up to standard especially Martin Barre's driving guitars which are heavier on "Stormwatch".

Anderson is terrific on the flute with tracks such as 'Orion' and 'Flying Dutchman'. His vocals are seriously conveyed which is a nice change. The melodies are catchy and grow on you, particularly on the upbeat 'Kelpie' bonus track. The bonus tracks are actually all very good, some were released as singles, such as 'Stitch in Time' or B sides such as the medieval inspired instrumental 'King Henry's Madrigal'.

The packaging of the album is effective with snow bears, binoculars and album covers of the Eps and singles. All in all this is a fine album that definitely marks the end of the 70s decade. The golden era was well and truly over and now Jethro Tull were about to encounter the 80s as they verged off into new rocky territory.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#645478)
Posted Sunday, March 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've never understood how album is so under-rated. I think the problem is that there is no humor at all in this recording. It sounds exactly like the cover art looks. It's ominous and dark. It makes it feel like a concept album, though I wouldn't go that far.

It's interesting (to me) that, after reading various reviews for Stormwatch, here and elsewhere on the web, that there is such inconsistency on what is deemed good and what is deemed bad. Most of the time, you get an overwhelming sense of what the strong tracks are and what the weak tracks are. Every single track on this album is listed as someone's favorite and as someone's least favorite.

My favorites are (in order): The Flying Dutchman, Old Ghosts, Orion, Home, Dark Ages My least favorite tracks (not bad, just not great): Warm Sporran and Elegy.

The Flying Dutchman is a masterpiece. The string sections are gorgeous and the piano parts fit perfectly. One of the most original pieces of music in all of the Tull catalog.

Old Ghosts is also very original. Very symphonic. This might be the only time I can remember Ian's flute having an echo effect applied to it for a spacey ethereal feel.

Every member of Tull's best lineup is present and doing a top-notch job. Ian's lyrics, flute playing, acoustic guitar and vocals are as great here as anything else Tull has done. Palmer's strings are outstanding and Evan's piano fits the mood perfectly. Honestly, this might be the best showcase in the entire Tull catalog for the talents of Barrie Barlow and Martin Barre. Barlow's performance here cannot be understated. Ok, the bassist died and Ian took over. I've still never thought that the bass sounded bad in any part of this album. All in all, this is a superb showcase of creativity and musicianship.

This is the last great Tull album. It amazes me that some of the albums that came after this get anywhere near the ratings this does. There is some decent later stuff and I've heard it all, but nothing post-Stormwatch comes close to this quality. If this album were released today, Tull fans around the world would have a collective brain hemmorage. In particular, the void created by the dismissal of Barrie Barlow would never again be filled. This is the album that made me realize that he's one of the great drummers in rock history

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Send comments to Sabicas75 (BETA) | Report this review (#751547)
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars An album that I really enjoy and one that Tull purists kind of became a bit anti about. "Northsea Oil" - A track about oil, nuclear energy and the looming energy crises. This is harder rock edged than previous albums were losing the medievil kind of folk rock that Tull were exeptionally good at writing. "Orion" - again a harder rock edge intersperced with light folksy passages. Very emotive in parts. "Home" - a soft track which is simple yet very pretty. "Dark Ages" - not about the dark ages of the past but the dark ages to come. Strong track that crosses into hard rock / metal territory in parts. "Warm Sporran" - essentially an instrumental track with strong rock folk fusion parts. "Something's on the Move" - a hard rock edge once again through this track. "Old Ghosts" - I find that a lot of the cleverness in Anderson's lyrics have been diluted with this album although there are gems here and there throughout the lyrics. "Dun Ringill" - A real life place, the ruins of a fort. Back to older Tull folk territory. "Flying Dutchman" - I love this track with the piano threads throughout. A very emotive track . The lyrics are once again up to Anderson's good previous standard. Reference to Vietnamese refugees within the music as an example. "Elegy" - the beautiful David Palmer instumental track closes off the original album. "A Stitch in Time" (bonus track) - good standard rock track. "Crossword" (bonus track) - another standard rock track interesting for among other things the bass use. "Kelpie" (bonus track) - A Scottish folklore magical creature that can transform itself into a beautiful woman that lures men to their doom. A river horse. "KIng Henry's Madrigal" (bonus track) - pleasant enough little instrumental.

A solid four star album for me.

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Send comments to sukmytoe (BETA) | Report this review (#942750)
Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars The last and worst Jethro Tull album from the 70s. Stormwatch is uncatchy, and that's the reason I really do not care about it. The only song that held my interest was Orion, and it saves the album from my cruel 1/5 rating. Sorry, but the rest of the songs are filler to my ears. And of course, I have tried this album enough to say that's my definitive opinion about it. But I like Kelpie and King Henry's Madrigal (tracks included as bonus in the later cd release). The lenghty tracks are not highlights. I really dislike when the lenghty tracks aren't so relevant. Just filling minutes of the album. A shameful downfall after two prog folk gems.

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Send comments to VOTOMS (BETA) | Report this review (#991531)
Posted Wednesday, July 03, 2013 | Review Permalink

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