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Jethro Tull - Crest Of A Knave CD (album) cover

CREST OF A KNAVE

Jethro Tull

Prog Folk


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Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 1987's CREST OF A KNAVE is a solid "comeback" effort that is not quite up to the lofty standards of earlier fare, but it still won't disappoint Tull fans. Regrettably, by this juncture, Ian Anderson's voice is just not what it used to be, but his flute is as compelling as ever, and Martin Barre shines as usual on the axe.

Opener "Steel Monkey," and closer "Raising Steam" are throwaway cold and mechanical numbers that awaken best-forgotten memories of UNDER WRAPS, but "Farm on the Freeway," "Dogs in the Midwinter," "Budapest" and the hard-hitting "Mountain Men" ably redeem the session.

A worthy addition to your Tull collection - just don't expect the consistent brilliance of the classic 70s albums. Its somewhat harder edges led KNAVE to garner an award for "heavy metal album of the year," if you can believe that! HA!

Report this review (#16759)
Posted Monday, December 22, 2003 | Review Permalink
maani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Founding Moderator
4 stars Forget the critics (with full respect to Peter Rideout): Crest of a Knave is one of the most underappreciated gems in prog-rock, and one of the two best "comeback" albums of the 80s (the other is Octave by The Moody Blues). True, Steel Monkey and Raising Steam are simply very good rockers. But the rest of the album is among Anderson's most thoughtful, creative work in years. Farm on the Freeway, Jump Start, She Said She Was a Dancer, and especially Budapest are compositionally superb, the overall musicianship is first-class, and the production is top-notch if not flawless. This one deserves your attention.
Report this review (#16760)
Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

After the catastrophic UW albums and its ill-advised and un-welcomed 80's experimentations, Tull came back with an acceptable (all things being relative here); but definitely nothing to scream "genius" about. Indeed after a "tentative" trilogy (A, TB&TB and UW), the mad flauter decided to play it safe and make it a sort of apology to older fans (not that there were legions new fans to alienate, anyway) and in the process managed to find a way to the heart of a new generation of fan that hadn't heard their older cousin's album collection. But the least we can say is that Anderson decided to play it safe, and he certainly didn't over-reach himself or over-stretch his songwriting talents with this "minimum syndical" album. Behind a suggestive artwork (not really confirming its promise in the musical content), the album is a fairly conventional one, in spite of its obviously commercial compromisitions.

Besides the ZZTop-esque (Eliminator-era) Steel Monkey opener (which cheapens the album) and the closing Raising Steam as well, the album has a few good tracks, like the slow-starting Farm On The Freeway (acceptable, despite the easy formula) and the then-usually-long Budapest (somewhat worthy of Minstrel's Gallery, but really nothing more), and Jump Start. Midwinter, Mountain Men (despite a cool flute passage), and the bonus track Part Of The Machine (the chinese/bamboo flute is a little twee, methinks) are standard Tull tracks; but none of these manage to raise the waters above lukewarm temperatures. There is however definitely more good stuff/tracks on Knave than in their previous three (four if you count the catastrophic solo album) with Ian being an intelligent man and realizing the error of his ways in the early decade, but also taking minimal risks in the process. Unlike many, I don't see the Dire Straits sonics on the present album. Absolute bores or clunkers include Dancer, Waking Edge and the two ZZ Top outtakes

Sure, Crest is quite an improvement on their last three atrocious albums (A, TB&TB, UW), and comes close or equals Stormwatch, which is probably the album it resembles the most, IMHO(minus the string arrangements). In conclusion, COAK is somewhat of a return to business after a long lay-off but remains nothing to write home about. Crest doesn't bring anything new under the sun... At best, with a better (70's) production, this would've been elbowing Minstrel, WC, SW and maybe even APP, Woods and Horses. I know of a few kids who started on Tull on this one and think highly of it, but as I made them discover the early stuff, they came partly to their senses but this was more than a generation gap: I had vinyl record and they were stealing CD's so this comfort of listening and use issues came also in their appreciation of this one. Well, at least this knave doesn't f**k up.

Report this review (#16761)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After the "Under wraps" album, Tull continued without Peter John Vettese, and Anderson himself managed to play all the programmed keyboards & drums here, producing surprisingly good keyboards parts, still having the nervous and very rhythmic mood Vetteese used to produce. Nevertheless, the keyboards here no longer take most of the room; Barre's electric guitars still flirt with the metal boundary, and he even sounds like Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), as reveals his new bluesy style here! The least we can say is that it works, especially with the omnipresent excellent mellow flute played by Anderson. Even sometimes, it makes me think about ZZ Top of the 80's (Legs)!! I would add that Tull here added many subtle, delicate and mellow parts. There are also many excellent acoustic guitar parts. Anderson's vocals sounds a bit like the Dire Straits' singer, and this gives a serious character to the record. All the tracks are excellent! Jethro Tull never stopped creating new sounds and they have great albums from the 60's to the 90's!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Report this review (#16767)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my opinion the strongest Tull release of the 80's and standout tracks include Steel Monkey, Farm on the Freeway, Jump Start, Budapest, and Raising Steam. The band has some extremely strong jam moments on this album just listen to the extended jams in both Jump Start and Farm to see what I mean. Marin Barre sounds as though he has been listening to some Dire Straits as he incorporates it in his sound a touch, and overall he is in very find form delivering Tull back to their heavier sound of their classic periods.
Report this review (#16768)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
maurizio.font
3 stars I only had problems with Martin Barre's guitar (and Ian Anderson's singing, to be honest) being too much on the footsteps of Mark Knopfler... I furtherly regret that 'Budapest' (best track here, of course) has been cut from the original 20-mins version. But Tulls are Tulls, and I'd be glad if only all these obscene bands nowadays would produce such songs. Sometimes, music is like wine - you have to wait a number of years to taste it.
Report this review (#16769)
Posted Monday, May 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
simon.esslemo
3 stars This album is very much like listening to a dier staits do folk album, I am a fan of Jethro Tull but really think the band went in the wrong direction on this one. If you like dier staits all well and good but for Tull's fan who were hoping for a new and interesting direction well it never achieved that for me personally...there are better albums...may they rock on!(but not with dier staits! Byron
Report this review (#16771)
Posted Sunday, August 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Surely this is a Dire Straits offshoot album?I don't think I have ever heard an album as closely linked with Mark Knopfler and his band of merry men. Crest of a Knave is very mediocre and I have to be honest I lose interest very early on, only ' Budapest' truly demanding a relisten. I have to say I have no more knowledge of JT after this album. I was fortunate to see them live in Johannesburg in 1995 and one thing was for sure they still held their own up on the big stage.
Report this review (#16772)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Crest of a knave is not my favourite Jethro Tull album, but this album provide something new, where folk prog as Jethro Tull main characteristic combine with rock sound in 80s. Below my impression to this album;

Steel monkey. Opening Crest of A Knave. A monotonous beat, a non typical Jethro Tull sound.

Farm from the freeway. Song begin with beautiful flute song, follow by medium beat of drum then enter Ian's vocal followed by great guitar playing. A typical jethro tull sound appear.

Jumpstart. Accoustic guitar together with Ian's vocal on early song shown how harmonize Ian's vocal and Martin's guitar sound. Hard beat domination occurred in the middle of this song, and ended by speed of guitar.

Said she was a dancer. A ballad and easy listening song. I really like this song. Slow beat, simple guitar riff. Unfortunately no flute sound. If this song decorated with flute sound, believe this ballad song more beatufull and powerfull.

Dogs in the mid of winter, like Steel monkey. You will bore hearing a non typical jethro tull like those songs.

Budapest. Longest song from this album with complex composition and great harmonization. All instrument plays perfectly and players shows how great they are. Power of Crest of A Knave shown on this song.

Mountain Men. Keyboard begin, flute fill in, vocal singing, drum, bass beating and finally closed by magical flute sound. A dynamic song.

The walking edge. Open by light keyboard sound, guitar play slowest and mysterious flute sound appear. A nudge the feeling opening. Another beautifull and power full of ballad song beside Said She Was a Dancer. Raising Steam. Rough guitar rhytm and hard beat of drum dominated this song. Let's headbanging friends.

Conclussion, Crest of A Knave, shows Jetro Tull effort to decorate their main characteristic folk frog with 80s rock sound. Maybe for Grammy Commitee this was great album, so awarded Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, but for me and other Jethro Tull freak, Crest of A Knave was not great album, but they've persistent deserves ****. torro- karawang-indonesia.

Report this review (#16774)
Posted Sunday, February 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I think this is a poor and unispired hardrock album by this band from the end of the 80's wrapped in a pretty covers. Only slightly interesting moments here are the longer tracks "Budapest" and "Mountain Men", but even these tunes didn't save this ablum from being returned to the second hand record dealer. Only for die-hard fans of the band or those who like commercial 80's hardrock.
Report this review (#16775)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Of the more "modern" releases of Tull, this one has to be the best. Just the right mix of the older folk flavor and newer electrics. Is it a masterpiece like many of their earlier albums? No. But if we judge it for what it is and its quality, then it is hard to deny this last real 'album' of quality material. No album since this one has lived up to its promise (not counting collections and live CDs).
Report this review (#35236)
Posted Saturday, June 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Crest Of A Knave" won JETHRO TULL a Grammy and as it turned out it was voted the best metal album! It just goes to show that the people voting for these awards do not seem to have a clue. Its obvious that they had not heard some of the earlier albums by this band that were much more deserving of an award, "Thick As A Brick" comes to mind immediately because it was so innovative and groundbreaking. With all of that said, "Crest Of A Knave" is a fine rock album, minus the progressive elements however. I agree with Ian Anderson, its one of my favorites as well. For its pure, straight ahead rock approach, you cannot ask for more. Martin Barre proves once again why has been one of the preeminent string benders of the last 40 years.

"Farm on the Freeway," not looked upon as a classic JT track, most certainly is in my book and "Budapest" is an incredible tune that still stands tall today and is one of the highlights of their live performances. "Steel Monkey" is quite the rocker to start the set. It is the band's own personal tribute to that little old band from Texas, you know the dudes with the long beards?

I am spoiled and accustomed to enjoying a plethora of bonus tracks on nearly every release of this remastered series, this one offers only one, "Part of the Machine," which is excellent. The remastering is superb per usual and I immediately pulled my old copy out of my CD rack and threw it in a box once I heard this. It was a very intelligent decision to get Anderson involved with this process and to offer his perception of each album's sessions. It makes each release so special to all of us hardcore JT fans. Another one well done-I would expect nothing less.

© Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-http://www.muzikreviews.com

June 30, 2005

Rating-9/10

Report this review (#38395)
Posted Sunday, July 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well this time I like to remind you of this underrated and sometimes easy-listening album, because even a folk prog band such as J.T. (so famous all over the world for quite a time), had to adjust itself to the commercial exigencies of the early eighties, by keeping up with the times!!The opening track was a diverse song, in comparison to their complex music standard inside their "magical" and anyway successful albums (except on the complex and much more controversial work entitled "A Passion Play" ); but since the first notes concerning the second song -" Farm On The Freeway" - you could find their typical sound, by means of a pleasant flute, followed by an interesting vocal intro by Anderson and above all the stunning guitar playing...well "Said she was a dancer", charged with the easy- listening sound, was nothing more than a simple ballad, a bit criticized by the critics;instead "Dogs in the mid of winter" was treated in the same manner as the opener of the album, but it was an unremarkable note at the end. In fact after a few minutes of normal rock music, you could listen to a real prog folk gem like "Budapest", much more complex than their previous songs and characterized by a delicious harmonization performed by some of the most skillful British musicians all together !!Certainly "Mountain Men" and the other last two tracks were not equal to "Budapest", but however you could find interesting features within...I don't know whether such features are still enough nowadays to make it consider well worth checking out, but this album could be a pleasant rediscovery of their catchy stuff of the eighties, quite valuable anyway!
Report this review (#39674)
Posted Sunday, July 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Bob Greece
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I am a big fan of Jethro Tull and this is my favourite Jethro Tull album. It would be nice to give it 5 stars but I honestly can't because it's not a masterpiece of progressive music as it's not really very progressive. However, this album is interesting for a number of reasons.

First, they won a Grammy award for this album as the hard rock/heavy metal album of the year (famously beating Metallica). There was much hilarity about this at the time but in fact the award is well deserved. If you want to hear Tull at their hard rocking best then you can't go wrong with this album.

Second, the album is not without it's progressive moment. There is the 10 minute track Budapest which involves a nice interplay between Ian Anderson's flute and the guest violinist Ric Sanders (of Fairport Convention). This track remains a favourite at concerts. On the latest release of Aqualung, there is an interview with Ian Anderson from 1999. In that interview he says that the complexity of Budapest is much better than anything available on Aqualung and something that he would not have been capable of at the time of Aqualung.

Third, in the recent re-release, Ian Anderson dedicates this album to guitarist Martin Barre. This is one of Martin's best albums, where he is allowed to show what he can really do.

So if you want pure progressive rock, this album is probably not for you. But if you're looking for intelligent well-played hard rock then you'll love this.

Report this review (#42557)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In September 1987, three years after the release of the innovative yet controversial "Under Wraps", a new album that would put Jethro Tull back in the spotlight again, saw the light: "Crest Of A Knave". The title played on the phrase "crest of a wave" and was thought of when the artwork of the cover was ready. He explains: "I was very, very selfish about making this one. I really just didn't want anybody else to have any creative input on it all, other than playing the final parts in the studio. The last few albums involved the other guys quite a lot, in the arranging and in writing bits of music, and I felt this time that I wanted to get away from having input from other people - not because I thought I could do it better, but just because I wanted to be very selfish about it and take total charge".

What did Ian intend with "his selfishness"? Probably Ian realised that the next album would be a "go or no go" for Jethro Tull. If he would not be able to stop the process of alienation between the band and its fan-base - that started after the big split in 1979 and increased through the keyboard dominated albums that followed, in spite of their ingenuity - there would be no future for Jethro Tull at all. He had to embark on a new course that would make it possible to write innovative music on one hand, while on the other hand the music would by the fans be recognisable as the "Tull music" they loved.

Surprisingly, Crest Of A Knave became a Grammy hard-rock winner, overtaking Metallica! (.And Justice For All). It had an immediate impact, hitting the charts in the UK, Germany and the USA. For the first time since 1979 Jethro Tull once again had a gold album!

Violinist Rick Sanders guested on the Album. Gerry Conway made his last appearance with Tull on this album playing drums on four tracks, while Doane Perry drummed on two tracks (the rest was up to Ian). Nor Doane, Gerry or Ric were credited on the album cover though. Peter-John Vettese left the band before the tour, replaced by Don Airey, who within a year was followed up by Martin Allcock, another Fairport Convention member! (the other was the bass player Dave Pegg). Crest Of A Knave is frequently regarded to be the album in which JT exit from their 80's experimentation, returning to the folkish basis of the 70s. I don't think so!!! Not completely! Here in fact we have other examples of their controversial ideas that flowed forcefully in Under Wraps. Malevolents would say there are in Crest other "slags" or "scorias" from the previous one. Not only in music and arrangements, but also in lyric's themes! Only on Rock Island (1989) you can hear a complete exit from the 80s period. For example: Dogs In Midwinter and Mountain Men feature Ian on that "awful" electronic drum, that's not a good thing (I told you, Ian, no drums for you, no more, please!). Said She Was The Dancer insist in division between west and east of Europe: two people from different sides of the Iron Curtain ("eastern steel - western gold") meet and make their own image out of the other by way of wishful thinking: "Well maybe you're dancer, and maybe I'm the King of Old Siam" (".... best to let the illusion roll" and ".... but if your dream is good, why not share it when the nights are cold?"). Budapest is about that splendid Hungarian big capital beyond the iron curtain. This is, anyway, the masterpiece here (outclasses all the other songs), great acoustic passages, as their tradition, great work from Barre on electric guitar, remarkable violin by Ric Sanders. Steel Monkey is a powerful hard rock song, also a video was made and someone think it's a sort of tribute to the Texas' band ZZ Top. Good ones: Farm On The Freeway, Jump Start, Raising Steem. Note that the tracks Dogs In The Midwinter and The Waking Edge were not included in the original vinyl-version of the album but did actually on the CD.

Good 2005 remastered edition with only one bonus track: Part Of The Machine (what a bonus!!!! This is one of the greatest JT songs ever! Findable, before, only in the 1988's compilation for the 20th anniversary of the band. I recommend this one and I hope it'll be possible to include it as a mp3 on progarchives.)

Historic album, not a masterpiece yet, but excellent. Sure!

Report this review (#45970)
Posted Thursday, September 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Hate to be hard on Ian given all he's done for the genre and seeing that the best concert I ever saw was the 'Broadsword And The Beast' tour, I have to say that this particular album bores me to tears. Oh, it starts out decently with the semi-hit 'Steel Monkey', a catchy number with jiggery keyboards and "Farm on the Freeway' which has a nice jam in the middle, but from then on it's a chore. I've always enjoyed Ian's lyrics, some of the best in Rock, hands down. This album has some good ones lyrically, especially, 'Said She was a Dancer' which puts me right the middle of his story, "How Moscow, what's your story?..." and one of Mr. Anderson's favorite compositions, 'Budapest'. But musically, everything seems rather flat in the drumming and keyboard areas, especially the last three tracks. Plus, I don't know if I'm the only one that's noticed, but Ian's voice at times sounds like Mark Knoepler of Dire Straits, especially during the slower tracks. Anyway, I do believe that this album starts the downward trend of my beloved Tull and should only be bought if you must need all the albums. So with a sad heart I give it a measly 2.5 rounded to 3. Okay, I'm going for a tissue....
Report this review (#70009)
Posted Monday, February 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is definitely not a good album to start with Jethro Tull even though all characteristics of Tull sounds are offered here. For me personally, this album sounds like the solo project of Ian Anderson or in musical vein it's similar with "A" project which initially would be a solo album by Anderson. The difference this album with previous albums of Tull is probably on the use of keyboard / synthesizer which is now very obvious in this album. Take the opening track "Steel Monkey" which starts off with a kind of industrial music with the punch of electronic equipment (keyboard). It's not something special with respect to traditional or typical Tull's music but it's not a bad track.

The second track "Farm On The Freeway" is truly my favorite especially with the ambient opening of soft keyboard, guitar, flute and soft vocal line that brings the music into more dynamic venture resembling the origins of Tull's musical characteristics. "I was a rich man before yesterday ." is my favorite lyrical part which remarks the music moving up into a more dynamic style with blues influence. It's definitely an excellent track especially with great interlude showing a combination of guitar riffs and flute solo. Quality-wise this track is at par excellent with the band's legendary track such as "Locomotive Breath", "Aqualung", "Cross-Eyed Marry" etc.

"Jump Start" shows the band's typical music with acoustic guitar accompanying voice line with flute-work. "Said She Was A Dancer" is a sweet ballad. "Dogs In The Midwinter" blends flute work with electronic, industrial music. "Budapest" is another killer with the same quality as second track "Farm On The Freeway". It starts off with soft flute-work and soft keyboard in ambient style followed with the acoustic guitar work and voice line. Very good intro. The music is compromising traditional Tull's music with more electronic stuffs with obvious keyboard and electric guitar touch in bluesy style. I especially like the acoustic guitar fills combined with flute sounds. Terrific!

Other tracks "Mountain Men", "The Waking Edge" and "Raising Steam" are well crafted compositions. "Mountain Men" has a strong melody and one of my favorites. "The Waking Edge" has an Eastern nuance with the combination of acoustic guitar and flute. "Raising Steam" starts off with guitar riffs combined with electronic music with keyboard and electronic drums (sounds like it).

Overall, it's a good album even though not essential Tull albums. But you can hear all basic characteristics of Tull sounds: aggressive vocal line punctuated with flute shots and acoustic guitar fills. If you are new to JT you should not start with this album but try "Aqualung", "A Passion Play", "Thick As A Brick", "Stand Up" or "Heavy Horses". Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75824)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The Tull won the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance with this effort, ahead of Metallica ! (this is well known of course).

What is less known though, is that their manager advised them not to go to the ceremony. The band even placed an add in a British music paper saying : "The flute is a heavy, metal instrument" ! (the phenomenal Ian's sense of humour is almost instantly recognizable).

Based on this, it is no wonder that this album is a solid rock one (flirting with hard rock at many times), but by no means it has anything in conjunction with heavy metal. Since I have always preferred their hard rock side than their folk one, I can only be pleased with "Crest".

"Steel Monkey" has some electro pop sounds ("Under Wraps" is not yet totally forgotten) but is rocking alright. "Farm on the Freeway" is a great song : starts quite slow and then builds up like a Dire Straits tune. Cool. The middle section is really great : wild fluting and great backing band. A highlight of this album and really a very good Tull song. Quite variated. "Jump Start" is also a good song. Switching from a bluesy mood to a hard-rocking one. Not unpleasant. "Said She Was a Dancer" starts again like a Dire Straits one. It's a mellow rock ballad. Not really great I must say. "Dogs in the Midwinter" has a good rythm (still those electro sounds at times) and fluting (but this is a general remark for this album in particular). It is a bit monotonous though and somewhat heavy. Then "Budapest" of course. This one starts a bit as "Baker Street Muse" : acoustic, slow tempo. A quiet Ian on vocals. Some guitar work reminds me of a band I already have mentioned twice in this review. The rythm increases and the melody starts to be really catchy. Short instrumental breaks features some great keys and nice acoustic guitar (gypsy style, of course this is "Budapest" right ?

Although it is simpler in its structure than "Baker" (it has less variations and sounds more like a standard song), I would consider it as another Tull epic (the last one being precisely "Baker" from "Minstrel" in ... 1975).

After the flute intro for "Mountain Me" the song really sounds like "High Hopes" from the Floyd. Except that "Mountain Me" was written seven years BEFORE. The similarity is incredible during the first part of the vocals. I found it rather strange that nobody has remarked this so far. It starts then to rock nicely (nothing heavy you know). This is another good song here. Rythm changes : from a slow acoustic to an intrepid electric tone. Martin performs really well here (as he is used to be I should say). A very good song.

This is a pleasant album that I can spin from start to finish without being bored (skipping the last two songs though). Not a masterpiece but still deserving three stars (even 7 out of ten).

Report this review (#108747)
Posted Wednesday, January 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars (That's a 2.5)

So it's finally happened. Our greatest fear has been realized. Jethro Tull has bubbled down to Ian, Martin, Dave and a drum machine. Yep. With a wave and a cry of "Follow me boys, I know what I'm doing," Marty and Dave followed the Minstrel as he asked random people on the street, "Can you play mandolin? No, but you play synths? EVEN BETTER! How would you like to be an unofficial honorary member of Jethro Tull for the rest of the afternoon?" And thus begins the long strange trip of Crest of a Knave, and therefore, the heavy met-Tull period.

It would seem natural to compare this with A, the OTHER entry into new Tuller territory. I rate them both the same, but trust me, A is the superior product. And it hurts to say that. This baby gets by on pure style points alone; A is much better played, and contains far catchier, intelligent melodies.

Case in point: the first number, "Steel Monkey," is really quite bad. When a Tull album opens with those cheeezy keyboards, you know it can't be good. What, are they supposed to be menacing? And then Ian steps in on vocals, and it's even worse; yes friends, this is the introduction of the "new Ian voice!" Don't even start with the Barre solo. Didn't this man once play "Aqualung?"

"Farm on the Freeway" is not good, but at least it's not insulting. I think it's supposed to be eerie again, but I can't be sure. At least it's plodding instead of irritating. Now, "Jump Start" is strangely good. I can't quite figure out how it slipped in. Less emphasis on the Casios, and more on violent flute and guitar riffage. Ian and Martin are somehow able to squeeze the best soloing on the album into that one.

Okay, we've heard the first side of this record, the, uh, "rockers" I guess. Let's call 'em "radio metal!" You know, metal songs that aren't really lofty, and they just use squeaky clean guitar tones, so you might even hear 'em played on your local hard rock station. But now we come in with the ballads!

"She Said She Was a Dancer" is actually kind of amusing. I'm not sure that was the point, but that's how I hear it. I mean, come on, the lyrics? "Well maybe I'm the king of ole Siam?" Gotta be for humor. The vocals are some of the best on the album I guess, and the guitar behind is practically good. The song almost jerks a tear. Almost.

Now, there is one number that's highly underrated on this a here thingy: "Dogs in the Midwinter." That little introduction with the flute 'n organ? Charming. Same thing with the rest of this folksy pop rocker. Easily the best song on the album. I even don't mind the Barre-tar as it fades.

Now, up to this point, it's been hit or miss. But don't worry, Ian has decided to get more consistent. From now on, ALL the numbers will suck! "Budapest" is often hailed as the best of the bunch. Oh. Holy crap. Maybe they're right, maybe Tullers are mindless slaves to the flute who will buy anything...NO! This thing is awful. It's another ballad, but unlike "Dancer," there is no sense of fun, and it's way long, with no real melody. And the attempts to prog it up? Useless. Is that really a violin in the background? If you hadn't mentioned that, I never would have known, I figured it was just another synth. This Ric Sanders guy lacks the proto-metallic buzz of Daryl Way or the sheer virtuosity of Eddie Jobson. Pathetic Ian. Didn't you pen "Thick as a Brick?" Maybe it honestly was that kid...

Okay, what's next? "Mountain Men?" Right, now that we've butchered the marathon ballad, let's go with a marathon rocker! Okay, in truth, I actually hear a little potential in this number. Mostly from an atmospheric point of view though, and it's still way too long. And the synths really start to grate here, were they even in tune? Can synths be OUT of tune? Plus, that drum machine is really starting to get irritating...oh, wait, my bad. That's, uh, that's Doane Perry. Sorry.

We fizzle out with the next two. If there's anything good about country-ish ballad "The Waking Edge," it's that Ian's vocals take on a Keith Richards-esque quality. Which is honestly nothing to be proud of. Rocker "Raising Steam" is strangely like "Steel Monkey" in its ability to piss me off. It's a little more guitar heavy, for all it's worth, but it's WAY dopier. "I may not be coming back." Ugh. Please don't, at least not until you've had a chance to write some better material.

The strange thing about Crest is that you can actually tell whether a number will be worth it by listening to the introduction of each song. "Steel Monkey?" Bad keyboards, crappy song. "Waking Edge?" Boring introduction, dull song. "Jump Start?" Cool flute 'n guitar, tricky riff and solos. "Dogs in the Midwinter?" Folksy flute 'n organ, charming song. Go figure.

There is really so much against this album. You can pretty much neatly divide it into "dorky radio metal," and "ballads that are about Ian trying to have sex with foreign chicks," with the occasional "addition to the next 'Best of Tull' collection." Yeah. Pretty sweet, ain't it?

Alright, so there are a couple of redeeming factors to the album. Oddly enough, I can't mark the thing down on too many counts of barely passable melodies and irritating production coupled with pretentiousness. I mean, most of the rockers are just trying have a good ole family farm sellin', monkey stealin' good time! Or something like that. I mean, they even have some good old fashioned pee in the bushes photos in the liner notes (ala Who's Next). Just try not to take the first side seriously, then skip "Budapuss," "The Wanking Edge" and "Dazed-and Steamed," and you should be fine.

There! I didn't even mention the 1987 Grammys OR Mark Knopfler.

(There is but a single bonus track on the remaster of Crest, which I guess says a lot about the lack of group creativity at the moment, since usually Ian can't shut up long enough to allow less than sixty songs a second out. Anyway, "Part of the Machine" is a little roots rockier in form and feel than anything on the album. But it's not that good. Of course, it's not that bad either. Think "Mountain Men," only less irritating and shorter, and a nicer introduction. Okay, wait, it's actually pretty long. But the soloing is energetic, so...it's okay, but hardly anything to write home to Jethro about. No raise in rating.)

Report this review (#127147)
Posted Saturday, June 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Drum machines? Check. Veteran 1960s rockers imitating popular 1980s bands which sported bandanas? Check. Heavy metal? No way!!!

CREST OF A KNAVE is easily the best Jethro Tull album of the eighties, and I've always enjoyed it more than HEAVY HORSES or STORMWATCH (if that sounds like sufficient recommendation). True, at certain moments the music sags. What's the purpose, for example, of recycling one of the main themes of THICK AS A BRICK in 'Mountain Men'? But the comparative sparsity of the band's sound (the liner notes defiantly proclaim: 'Jethro Tull are Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, David Pegg') allows the lead guitar to open up and (almost) dominate proceedings in a way it hadn't done since MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY. As opposed to BROADSWORD AND THE BEAST, where his solos only irritate, Martin Barre now sounds subtle, rough (when required) and inspired throughout. Best of all, Ian Anderson has come up with a range of memorable melodies, e.g. 'Jump Start', 'Farm on the Freeway', 'Budapest' - and never mind that he tries to sing like Mark Knopfler much of the time. Of course, the instrumental variations in the extended middle section of 'Budapest' can't hold a candle to similar passages created when Barriemore Barlow, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and John Evans were in the band, but they sound charming all the same. And to my delight, on 'The Waking Edge' Anderson even tries one of the things he does best: singing about heartbreak and desolation.

Report this review (#132179)
Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars A FINE RETURN TO FORM!

After the disappointing UNDER WRAPS and the side project of A CLASSIC CASE, 3 years went by without a new JETHRO TULL release. IAN ANDERSON retired in his scottish estate and converted into some kind of gentleman farmer.More importantly,it was the necessary time he needed to rest his voice and hopefully get it back later.

It was now 1987 and CREST OF A KNAVE was released with a nice medieval art cover design! Was it a ''back to the roots'' album with a madrigal at King Henry's court? Not really as CREST OF A KNAVE is in some kind a very hard rocking album, finally giving MARTIN BARRE the opportunity to shine since the great BROADSWORD. I won't say it's a return to the source because there is still some typically 80s sound here and there like a drum machine on the fast opener , the hard rockerSTEEL MONKEY.

But the old TULL can be heard with all the nice fluting, time changes and heavy riffs like on the great FARM ON THE FREEWAY . Another difference from the past is also the way the voice of IAN ANDERSON has evolved; Yes, it got better since tha abysmal days of UNDERWRAPS- just listen to JUMP START; sounds like a STAND UP time song. But the delivery of his vocals is somewhat also more introspective than before sounding like MARK KNOPFLER from DIRE STRaITS. I don't now if this band had some influence on IAN ANDERSON as they were big back then, but it sounds quite similar on tracks such as FARM ON THE FREEWAY, SHE SAID SHE WAS A DANCER or even BUDAPEST.

Anyway, all these new additions to the JT sound mix well with the old one. CREST OF A KNAVE can be seen like a logical evolution of JETHRO TULL.....getting forward without forgetting the bases like they did so badly with UNDER WRAPS. This is JETHRO TULL, a good JETHRO TULL, a group that evolved nicely with this album. AQUALUNG part 2 doesn't exist; there is only one AQUALUNG, so just appreciate this album as a very good JT new album.

There are no weak tracks, even STEEL MONKEY is very catchy, could have used real drums of course, but there are..2 real drummers for the other tracks. IAN ANDERSON always considered the 10mns BUDAPEST as his number one all time masterpiece, not that i agree but that's a very nice suite well arranged with a great build up and nice melody. I told you, an excellent JETHRO TULL addition.

There is only one bonus track but one of the best song ever recorded;PART OF THE MACHINE that was only released in 1988 on the 20 years anniversary 5 LPs-3 CDs excellent boxset. Everybody knows also that CREST OF A KNAVE won the best ''Heavy metal'' Grammy award and finally put an end to the reign of long time HM king Metallica; at least, it helped JETHRO TULL as this album did well on the 2 sides of the atlantic.

I can't think of a good JETHRO TULL collection without CREST OF A KNAVE; Just enjoy the MOUNTAIN MEN!

4 STARS.

Report this review (#135343)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the artificial and profoundly disappointing 'Under Wraps', this was surely a breath of fresh air despite the use of sequencers and a few times that sound as if Ian Anderson partnered with Mark Knopfler. It's like the band was saying "We can do a hot modern-sounding record too, and still maintain our prog past". And that they did.

The clipped hiss of a drum program and a sequenced piano cuts through and leads 'Steel Monkey', a well-deserved homage to the men who build the urban world. Heart-tugging 'Farm on the Freeway' is a highlight with crisp flautings from Ian and concise, metallic riffs by Marty. The song sardonically but sympathetically addresses the assault upon rural Britain, and it cooks, the boys pulling out some old classic Tull-isms and passages that evoke the Aqualung days, Anderson at his sensitive best and in fine voice. Folkie 'Jump Start' adds more contrast between Barre's electric ice, Dave Pegg's bass and Ian's baritone timber. Plus a red-hot flute break. Wonderfully sweet and funny 'She Said She Was a Dancer' is Anderson's memories of strange encounters in the night. The very cool 'Dogs in Midwinter' follows, one of the best Tull cuts of the 80s and gracefully dances along with neat melodies, pyrotechnic chirps from Barre's attentive guitar, Ian's playful flute, a gorgeous bit. Distant sentiment and flirtatious fantasies in the 10 minute 'Budapest', one of Anderson's favorite Tull songs, lightly arranged with classical passages and some very sweet flute/guitar lines. 'Mountan Men', the complement to 'Steel Monkey', maintains the groups allegiance to the natural world and is another excellent later period Tull track, and 'The Waking Edge' could be the Dire Straits if you close your eyes. Rocker 'Raising Steam' opens up a can of ZZ Top and bonus track 'Part of the Machine' is not to be missed, possibly the most classic sounding Tull piece here.

Not prog rock as normally understood and perhaps unrecognizable to old Jethro Tull followers, 'Crest of a Knave' was a successful and healthy foray into the brave new world that was the mid 1980s and as a collection of great sounding if straight-forward songs, it is a winner in this veteran's book.

Report this review (#151782)
Posted Monday, November 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars No doubt a good Jethro Tull album. More diverse than the previous 3 albums, but sometime to much remaind me of Dire Straits or Pink Floyd, specially on voice on some tracks. Anyway the album has a typicall 80's sound with drum program and keys sound like they are from new wave current. Some fine tracks are to me Said She Was A Dancer and Budapest. An album that was consider in that years a well return to form after the crapy Under wraps. Well is a return to form but not to '70's Tull music more like to Broad sword. A modern Tull album both in sound and manner of compositions. 3 stars, among the good albums of this legendary band.
Report this review (#156087)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Return to the form? What form?

What's going on?

A mainstream rock album here. Not bad, but far from good. It's somewhat appealing to me - Ian's voice and Martin's guitar remind of DIRE STRAITS and that's not bad - I like that band. Cheesy keyboards are all over the place but that's not the problem neither.

I quite liked this album a few years ago (and I would rate it with three stars at that time), but after repeated listenings, I'm not so sure, and Broadsword And The Beast and Crest Of A Knave swapped their places.

The problem is, between good moments there's just nothing. Farm On A Freeway is this album's magnum opus, but it's just not on a level good enough for an average Tull fan. Budapest is empty. I mean, lot's of little tricks, acoustic parts, but each little pattern played on acoustic guitar or whatever is just dull. Unimaginative chunks of blues scales. Boring. Dogs In Midwinter is a album's highlight, regardless of song's unimaginative chorus. Said She Was A Dancer is a pleasant, again Knopfler-esque tune, with atrocious lyrics I'm a Pepsi-cola but you won't take me out of can etc. The rest of the songs are not very memorable, they had flashes of melody here and there.

It's not very good, it's certainly non-essential, but it MIGHT appeal to the larger audience because of that AOR approach, Dire Straits style and overall calming mood. It deserves two and a half stars.

Report this review (#157871)
Posted Sunday, January 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Everybody knows the amusing story of how this record - in spite of its actual musical content, as well as its medieval-sounding title and elegant artwork - ended up winning a Grammy Award as best Heavy Metal album, beating none other than the mighty Metallica in the process. "Crest of a Knave", released three years after Jethro Tull's commonly acknowledged lowest point, the dismal "Under Wraps", is in many ways a return to form for the band - if one doesn't mind the occasional presence of drum machines, the only true link with the previous album. Anyway, on most tracks there is a real drummer performing, American-born Doane Perry, who ended up joining the band permanently.

Martin Barre's guitar is probably the main reason for the ridiculous 'heavy metal' tag - Barre's playing has always leaned towards the harder end of the spectrum, and "Crest of a Knave" is no exception. On the other hand, as the previous reviews have pointed out, some of the slower, more melodic tracks show the influence of a band that was very popular at the time of the album's release - namely, Dire Straits. For a lover of the Newcastle band as I am, there could be much worse influences than that... However, it is true that, with only a few exceptions, this is not a very proggy album, and could therefore sound like a disappointment to some fans of the band's earlier output.

Since my fellow reviewers have already provided enough input, I'll spare my readers an unnecessary track-by-track analysis. I'll limit myself to pointing out those songs which, in my opinion, are the highlights of the album. My own personal favourite is the poignant "Farm on the Freeway", which boasts some typically terse, and at the same time meaningful lyrics by Anderson. In only three stanzas, he outlines a story all too common in the American heartland - a man having to give up his home in order for yet another major road to be built: "And what do I want with a million dollars and a pickup truck?/ When I left my farm under the freeway..." Those simple two lines at the end of the song have the power to bring tears to my eyes. Anderson's vocals (which by that time had already begun to show signs of wear and tear) are somber and understated, enhancing the overall mood of sadness and loss. The instrumental middle section sees a fine example of the interplay between Barre's sharp, metallic guitar and Anderson's melancholy flute.

"Budapest", certainly the most celebrated composition on "Crest...", and a frequent feature of Jethro Tull's live set, is a 10-minute mini-suite about an encounter with a mysterious woman with legs that 'went on forever' in the titular Hungarian capital. Introduced by some romantically wistful piano, it develops into an interesting song with plenty of time changes and instrumental breaks. "Dogs in The Midwinter" is a more energetic, upbeat number, with an almost dance-like rhythm; while the laid-back "She Said She Was a Dancer", as suggested earlier, takes us right into Dire Straits territory - Ian Anderson even sounds a bit like Mark Knopfler here.

Though I enjoy this album quite a lot (certainly much more than its follow-up, "Rock Island"), I cannot really bring myself to give it more than 3.5 stars. As good as most of the music is (and the only bonus track, "Part of the Machine", is a strong addition, sounding a lot like 'classic' Tull), I would hesitate to call "Crest of a Knave" in any way essential. However, it makes for a very pleasant listen, and "Farm on the Freeway" and "Budapest" alone make it worth the purchase.

Report this review (#162972)
Posted Saturday, March 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's a good thing someone jump started these boys.

Jethro Tull's 1987 return to form is likely one of the most controversial albums to date. While other albums past other bands' primes have been more widely discussed it seems that the progressive community is split into two groups when it comes to this very album: Those who think that the album is a wonderful return and those who think the album is a pile of rubbish to be burned with Under Wraps. While the album certainly is different than Tull's classic work, there's no doubt that this is good stuff and worthy of multiple spins.

Another comment thrown the way of this album is the comparison to Dire Straits. While it's very obvious here that Ian ANDERSON's voice and BARRE's style of guitar have somewhat drifted towards and gravitated around Mark Knopler, there's still that Tull charm to the music. Mixing the old with the new, this album actually comes off as quite fresh, and being a big Straits fan anyways, this album was even better. Those who don't like Dire Straits may take offense to what Anderson was trying to accomplish here, but it's hard to deny that in the midst of the 80s, this album certainly helped the band survive.

Then the album takes more criticism over winning ''Best Metal/Hard Rock Performance'' for the year, beating Metallica (to the boos and taunts of the crowd) for the award. This is a fairly confusing ordeal, since even Ian Anderson himself has admitted to being confused by the nomination and stated that it was more of an award for a group that had never won an award before.

The album does start, however, just as it's award would suggest. Steel Monkey is a hard rocking, mechanical monster that utilizes the Tull's heavier side. Great for the rock fans, proggers may be put off a bit by this. Fear not! The next group of songs easily makes up for those who were turned off by the opener. This is, however, where the Dire Straits comparisons kick in. Farm On The Freeway is a great slow song with some quick, heavy guitar parts mixed in just to soothe the apatite of the heavier rocking people. A great mix regardless, this is one of the standouts of the album. Jump Start is another quick, high-paced song that's quite good. Said She Was A Dancer is a good slow track with a fairly funny story behind it. Dogs In The Midwinter follows closely, again, behind the faster songs on the album.

From here on in, however, the album is pure gold... and it was good before! Budapest is an excellent epic that ANDERSON describes as ''One of the band's best songs''. Really, this song is a throwback to the 70s while keeping some of the new style introduced on the album. Mountain Men starts off like late generation Pink Floyd and kicks into gear a couple minutes in. This is likely the next best song standing next to Budapest. Meanwhile, Raising Steam ends the album as it began... heavily.

Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, this album really is something else. 4 stars, excellent addition to any prog collection. Don't expect classic era Tull, but do expect some great music that really takes five or ten listens to really ''get''. Once the album is ''got'' however, it's likely to stay in your cd player for a good long time. Recommended to Tull fans, fans who want to hear where the ''hard-rock'' side of Tull comes from, Dire Straits fans (of course) and anyone who has little faith in 80s music. Great album, great return to form.

Report this review (#162973)
Posted Saturday, March 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Good , But not essential , Quoted from progarchieves , is the best way to describe this album , as it is simply , a good release of 1987 . Containing songs , in fact a good ones , if this work wasn't for Tull in the dark years of prog rock during the 80's , i believe all ratings & reviews would be surely different in this regard . Still ,, IN GENERAL , it's a good album , 3.5 for Budapest , 4 for Steel Monkey , Raising Steam . All tracks satisfies prog folk rock fans , and i personnaly like all the album , it's a kind of back to roots work in the wrong timing , and hopefully one day you 'll feel the same about it , cause it's a must in tull's collection . TracksToni
Report this review (#172987)
Posted Wednesday, June 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars For a look at the classic Jethro Tull, check out any of their 70's albums. If you're a pretty strident Tull fan, CREST OF A KNAVE isn't a bad investment, but it isn't great either. I'm sure most fans that heard this wondered where the classic Jethro Tull sound went; we get songs that sound like Dire Straits castoffs. Don't let the appeal of a ten minute epic fool you; it doesn't compare to earlier Tull works despite ''Budapest'' being one of the better cuts from the album. CREST OF A KNAVE mostly takes a straight rock kind of sound with only the epic, ''Farm on the Freeway'' and ''Mountain Men'' attaining any classic value. The ballads (''She Said She Was a Dancer'' and ''The Waking Edge'') and the techno hit ''Steel Monkey'' are rough to sit through knowing the classics of Tull that I do. Worth the investigation only after you've exhausted enough of the 70's Jethro Tull works and still crave for more.
Report this review (#177695)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Crest Of A Knave is a somewhat uneven Jethro Tull album. The programmed drums and keyboard patterns on Steel Monkey make for an awful start. The following couple of tracks are quite strong on the other hand. Lyrically some songs here are similar to the theme of the Heavy Horses album; countryside romanticism, old time nostalgia, scepticism of technology and progress etc. Musically, however, this is not really similar to Heavy Horses.

She Said She Was A Dancer is a balled with somewhat cheesy lyrics. Dogs In The Midwinter is more typical of the 70's Jethro Tull; it would have fitted on Songs From The Wood.

Budapest is the longest track, but I would say that it is very far behind any of the bands 70's epic songs. There isn't really that much happening in the song during its ten plus minutes.

Mountain Men has real potential, but it is too long for its own good. The Waking Edge is one of the best songs here together with Dogs In The Midwinter and Farm On The Freeway. As many have mentioned there is a Dire Straits sound to several songs here. Personally, I don't mind that too much.

This album is good, but not quite deserving of four stars, I think. But it is not far behind.

Report this review (#194645)
Posted Monday, December 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Crest of a Knave" is a very good album, comprising enough moments of musical greatness as to make the whole listening experience a full-range realization of the sort of creative recovery that Jethro Tull achieved after the gradually less satisfying two studio efforts that preceded it. This album isn't alien to modern sounds with noticeable accents on digital procedures (synthesizers, you know), but it mostly delivers a solid and well crafted return-to-form in terms of folk and rock elements, those elements that played such a relevant role in the band's continuous apex during the 70s. Another thing that catches quite rapidly the listener's attention is the assimilation of Dire Straits-related moods in Barre's guitar playing and Anderson's singing style (already in a decreasing phase, but still then handling the vocal duties in a genuinely dignified fashion). The Dire Straits factor has already been mentioned by a zillion reviewers and commentators before me, but no review on this album would be complete without bringing it out. The opener 'Steel Monkey' mixes industrial techno foundations with impetuous hard rocking guitars: almost like waving a last farewell to the sonic mechanics of "Under Wraps" (and Anderson's first solo album "Walk into Light") while opening back the doors to good old fashioned rock. This catchy opener was actually the first single, but it barely can be perceived as a proper signal of the band's predominant moods. 'Farm on the Freeway' and 'Jump Start' are, and as such they must be appreciated as manifestos of what this "reformulated" JT aims at for the latter half of the 80s: a lighter version of the stylish folk-rock that the band went on refining in the late 70s all the way until the "Stormwatch" album. The reflective disappointment of 'Farm' and the joyful cynicism of 'Jump Start' work well as neighbor songs, with the former focusing on majestic moods and the latter going for more frantic ambiences. 'She said She Was a Dancer' is the ultimate expression of the Dire Straits-factor in this period of the band. So, now let's go for 'Budapest', oh, the lovely 'Budapest': this 10+ piece is one of the most ambitious Anderson explorations on his lyrical side, staging a perfect portrait of melancholy and romanticism with its various motifs and atmospheres. Everything works great throughout the developments of melodies and the linkages that make the whole; it's just lovely, the last true grandiose gem written by Anderson. 'Mountain Men' recaptures the stylish framework of 'Farm on the Freeway' albeit with a more extroverted twist after the introductory theme. Another example of the successful return to form that I referred to earlier in this review. 'Raising Steam', on the other hand, closes down the original tracklist with patent similarities to 'Steel Monkey' - so, this album ends on a modern note. But there are three bonus racks in the most recent re-edition of "Crest of a Knave': my fave one off those has to be 'Part of the Machine', deeply Celtic and pastoral as something that might as well have been part of "Stormwatch" or "Heavy Horses". Why wasn't it included in the original album? - if so, the return to form would have felt more complete. anyway. So, all in all, everybody is aware of the conceptual fiasco that occurred when, in 1988, the Grammy people decided to give Jethro Tull the award for the best hard rock/heavy metal album of 1978 for this "Crest of a Knave". On the other hand, this mistake was an act of justice in disguise considering not only the magnificent greatness that JT gave of the world of rock from day one, but also considering the efficient way in which Ian Anderson and co. could cope with the anti-art-rock airs prevalent in the 80s music business and release some more of good prog rock in a consistent way. A least, more consistently than Yes with their "Big Generator" project. anyway. Just like an island in the mainstream ocean of AOR, heavy metal and R'n'B, "Crest of a Knave" shines brightly among the waves that crush eagerly against its rocks.
Report this review (#212726)
Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars From all albums Jethro Tull made, this is the hardest to judge for me. It is a rather mellow album, giving the impression Ian slipped away in a mid-life crisis and nostalgia and decided to make more "hit" like songs, like Steel Monkey, the opener of the album. And this is not the only "easy listening", which culminates in She Said She Was A Dancer. Although not a bad song, this is food for Sky Radio not for high demanding prog ears. Nevertheless, Crest Of A Knave also contains one of my personal Tull favourites: Budapest. Complex rythm, very well sung, all in all a very surprising song. Another reviewer also mentioned the underrated song Dogs In The Midwinter. I couldn't agree more: recommended for all! In the end, I have to admit that this album is only nice for Tull fans, with one exception: the song Budapest is essential for all prog lovers.
Report this review (#230924)
Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars This was something of a comeback album for Jethro Tull. The band had retired after 1984's Under Wraps, due to Ian Anderson's throat problems. Three years is not so long a time to be without such a fine band.

Anderson's voice is obviously an issue. He strains to hit higher notes, and even on the lower sections, he has a different timbre than on previous albums. And while he makes an effort to capture the sound of his previous albums, he seems to understand his new limitations, and tones down much of the music. Nonetheless, this is a very good album, although not as good as some the band will record in the next few years.

Farm On The Freeway and Budapest are the standouts on the album, while two of the harder rock tunes, Steel Monkey and Raising Steam are hampered by an annoying electronic drum track.

A nice restart for Anderson & company.

Report this review (#272534)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Jethro Tull's post-seventies output has been a bit of a mixed bag, sometimes good, though rarely exceptional and occasionally bad as in Under Wraps. Crest Of A Knave is one of the better of the bunch with most of the tracks being at least good and it does feature two Tull classics. The biggest downside is the occasional use of drum machine and a slightly sterile production, in part down to the use of eighties synths.

The pick of the bunch is Farm On The Freeway, a track of light and shade against more upbeat moments which could sit comfortably with much of their seventies output. It features a pleasing instrumental section adding a bit more complexity to the proceedings than most of the album and I'd go as far as to say it's their finest moment since the Heavy Horses album. The other key track is Budapest, a ten minute mini epic. It's a fairly simple piece with an infectious melody with subtle dynamics and not surprising with a track of its length, containing a strong instrumental section.

The rest of the album consists of straightforward rockers in a Dire Straits vein like Steel Monkey, Jump Start and Raising Steam and more mellow moments like Said She Was A Dancer and The Waking Edge. Mountain Men is one of the better songs adding a bit more diversity to the proceedings than the likes of Steel Monkey.

While there's no danger of Crest Of A Knave competing with the likes of Thick As A Brick, Songs From The Wood or even Benefit for that matter, it is a fairly consistent album and the pick of anything this side of Broadsword And The Beast.

Report this review (#274556)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars The "Heavy Metal" category winner of a Grammy. ???? Well, fortunately most rockers know better than the Grammy voters. This is an okay album, but I think it may be the lost DIre Straights album. Ian's voice has seen better days by this release, and the songs and music have a real Dire Straights feel to them. Not a bad thing, but it takes the Tull feeling away for me. Good songs: Steel Monkey, Farm on the Freeway, and Budapest. The rest of the disc is very average for me. Mountain Men starts great but just peters out and never really goes where it could have. Much of the material seems like filler, which, unfortunately, seems to be the norm for the next few Tull releases. It's not Heavy Horses, but at least it's not Catfish Rising! 3 stars. Average Tull that feels like an Ian Anerson solo release.
Report this review (#279490)
Posted Monday, April 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Anderson does a Knopfler! Actually, I like Dire Straits, at least their earlier stuff, and it is very true that Ian does sound remarkably similar to Mark on the vocals on many parts of this album, but, in truth, any similarity was almost certainly owing to the difficulties he had been having with his vocal chords, requiring surgery. His voice had, literally, changed as a result.

This is actually a solid Tull release from the 1980's, and, especially on Farm On The Freeway, you can hear similarities and a progression from the superb Broadsword And The Beast. It's a thoughtful track devoted to a pet passion of running new society and technology through a farmer's land, with which no amount of compensation can possibly assuage the feeling of despair and defeat. The flute playing is magnificent, and Martin Barre sounds extremely good.

My favorite Tull period has always been the folkier one, and there is sufficient on here to satisfy my preference. Jump Start could almost be a track from Heavy Horses, such is the rich texture of the sound created. It's another very strong track, with a rocking guitar solo at the end, only slightly marred by some strange vocal whoo's and effects.

The opener, Steel Monkey, is enjoyable enough, and was a single release reaching the giddy heights of number 84 in the UK charts, without being remotely essential.

The absolute dead ringer for Dire Straits is the short track Said She Was A Dancer, which I am bound to say sounds as if it were a cover from the debut album or Communique. Having said that, Knopfler didn't do irony as well as Anderson. Even the Barre sensitive solo is pure Knopfler, so they were obviously engaging in a spot of cross acting/dressing for this one! And we thought that type of thing had stopped with Hunting Girl!

Dogs In The Midwinter is a pleasant enough track, with some excellent flute and guitar work mainly backing some extremely stereotypical 1980's keyboards.

The lengthy epic on the album is Budapest, which clocks in at just over ten minutes. This excellent track, one of the clear highlights of their later career, has a blissfully melodic blues feel to it, and I really do think that Barre on this thoroughly enjoys revisiting his roots, because he has rarely sounded as good. The keyboards by Anderson, thankfully, take a back seat on this, and he does what he does best - telling an amusing and interesting story and interjecting with Barre on flute to keep the listener's interest throughout. This is, quite simply, Tull at their melodic and thoughtful best. A gem of a track and the standout on the album.

The remainder of the album is solid enough fare, without being exceptional. The pace picks up on Mountain Men, which is rather spoiled by Anderson clearly struggling with his vocal range and the fact that it drags on a little bit too long. The Waking Edge features some terrific interplay between Barre and Anderson, before a simple, but melodic piano introduces the main, understated, vocal. Raising Steam ends the album as it began, with a simple rocker.

Tull won the Grammy award for "Best Heavy Metal" for this album, which does rather make you wonder whether the judges had all taken a few days loaded with copious amounts of booze and drugs in order to reach their decision. What this is, in reality, is a solid release, that, in retrospect, puts a lie to the myth that prog giants could not release anything decent in this decade.

It's not an essential album by any means, but this is a very good album, and one that longstanding Tull fans will get pleasure out of. Three stars, but 3.5 in reality.

Report this review (#346454)
Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars One can't help but feel a bit sorry for Jethro Tull in the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time case of "Crest of a Knave." After the indiscriminate MTV virus that gutted prog had infected and adversely affected the three albums they'd released since the 80s decade began and the tour to support 84's "Under Wraps" record had strained Ian Anderson's voice so much that it required surgery to repair they finally put out a disc in late '87 worthy of their legacy. Yet it goes on to become famous not for its content but for earning a Grammy award that metalheads the world over felt they stole from Metallica. As if they had anything to do with it! I wouldn't be surprised if Ian's reaction was something along the lines of "I struggled through rehab to get my voice back for this crappy notoriety?" The fact is, "Crest of a Knave" is one of their better efforts overall and easily the best they'd done since the delightful "Heavy Horses" came out in '78.

During their 3-year hiatus the group had dwindled to trio status with Anderson taking over synthesizer duties, original member Martin Barre still wielding various guitars and Dave Pegg on bass. Since real drums had become optional studio hardware for Jethro Tull since the 70s ended they didn't even feel the need to have a full-time stickman on the staff. While I'm no fan of drum machines I can understand why they were such an attraction in that era. Yes, they lacked soul but they also didn't talk back or show up late, they played exactly what you programmed them to play and they infallibly kept the tempo perfect. Plus, everybody was experimenting with them in those days to some extent or another so I look at them more as a sign of the times than as a deliberate cop-out. The album opener, "Steel Monkey," is anchored by fake drums but they don't detract from what turns out to be quite an impressive song. The tune benefits from an intriguing chord progression and Barre's guitar work has a lot of pizzazz and bite. "Farm on the Freeway" is next and a flesh & blood drummer, Doane Perry, does the honors of guiding the track. His subtle groove lays the groundwork for this entertaining number that grows stronger while gaining momentum. The song incorporates the classic Tull style and blends it with modern instrumentation while the lyrics about urban sprawl are poignant. "They forgot they told us what this old land was for/grow two tons the acre, boy, between the stones/this was no Southfork, it was no Ponderosa/but it was the place that I called home," Ian muses wistfully. "Jump Start" is a bluesy, acoustic guitar-driven tune that would've been more effective had they maintained its initial low profile instead of over-rocking it up unnecessarily.

"She Said She Was a Dancer" is a mellower cut that reminds me very much of one of my favorite bands of that era, Dire Straits, especially in Anderson's vocal approach. I don't find that aroma to be a detriment but I have no doubt that his preference for the lower register in his singing was a direct, unavoidable consequence of his throat problems. The tune itself is interesting but not all that engaging. Things get proggier with "Dogs in the Midwinter." It has an involved arrangement that's a throwback to their earlier days when their folk influences made for highly inventive prog rock, were prominently showcased and allowed them to take the music world by storm. The ten-minute epic "Budapest" follows and it's the apex of the album. It begins with them creating a haunting aura that beguiles and captivates in an inviting way. Once again there's a palpable Mark Knopfler spirit detected in both Ian's voice and in Martin's guitar technique but it doesn't come off as cheap mimicry. I thoroughly enjoy how the number steadily evolves and builds in complexity and how the superb acoustic guitar work adds a classy excitement to the proceedings. The sly words manage to be witty without becoming crass when describing a young woman's alluring charms. "Yes, and her legs went on forever/like staring up at infinity/through a wisp of cotton panty/along a skin of satin sea," he croons lustfully. This tune is a prime example of prog folk done properly.

"Mountain Men" follows and its relaxed opening leads to a heavier rock motif reminiscent of their Aqualung phase (one I didn't particularly care for) but, thankfully, not as brittle and edgy in tone. There's nothing wrong with their performance on this cut but there's little I find to latch onto that's memorable or above average. The song's mysterious ending is the highlight of the track. "The Waking Edge" is a step up in that I could readily relate to its melancholy atmosphere and bittersweet flavor. It's a somewhat droll ballad but it has a certain charm that draws me in. Or maybe it's just that I'm a hopeless sucker for heartbreaking lines like "Well, you know, I felt her in my dream last night/strange how the sheets are warm beside me/now, how do I catch the waking edge?/as it slips to the far and wide of me." Anyone who's experienced that incurable inner ache can commiserate with his pain. The closer is "Rising Steam," a restrained rocker that prominently features Barre's gritty electric guitar but eventually shows all the earmarks of being filler material included more out of necessity than artistic expression.

By garnering the first-ever Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance or Instrumental trophy at the Grammys, a ceremony the band didn't even bother to attend, they made indelible music history with "Crest of a Knave." Obviously the sheltered elite that made up the lion's share of the voting bloc were clueless as to what the category was created for because Jethro Tull has only skirted the outer boundaries of hard rock and has never ventured into metallic territories. But that fact, as always, didn't stop the academy members from making utter fools of themselves. However, if you're a fan of Anderson & Co. but have avoided this infamous album due to its cruel fate and undeserved reputation I suggest you give it a fair listen before judging it. I think you'll like what you hear. 3.3 stars.

Report this review (#627000)
Posted Sunday, February 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Crest of a Knave presents a challenge to all Tull fans and progheads: is about a refreshed band playing new music and in the same time not playing the progressive music in the 70' sense (or in the way the neo-progressive bands were up to).

The sound of Crest of a Knave is essencially a contrast between the acoustic melodies of Ian Anderson and the crushing guitar of Martin Barre (perhaps with more control of the music as in any other moment of Jethro Tull history). No doubt this is a classic Tull album. The lyrics treat every aspect of what Ian usually do: economic crisis, women, war... the flute is abundant, the guitar is wonderfull (as Martin never "solo" he composes melodies that marries the song) and even a guess violin.

"Crest of a Knave" is a good reminder that the bands from the 70's could do something of quality in the 80's. 4 stars, why not?

Report this review (#897365)
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is currently the most recent Jethro Tull album I own, and besides Broadsword it is the only one from the band's 80s period, which from what I have read and heard was nowhere near as great as their late 60s-70s work. Still, this is a very satisfying and interesting album because of its much different feel. The songs are much more guitar-centered and have a harsher hard rock feel than stuff like TAAB with an obvious classical and folk influence. Even Ian Anderson's voice is much more rock-like and even more American sounding (as a result of surgery that dramatically lowered his range and vocal style. He manages brilliantly anyway, and I love his voice on this album as much as I love his voice on any earlier Tull album). Still, there are elements of the old Tull sound that I and many others love, and musically there are some great moments. "Budapest" especially is very interesting and lets Ian and Martin both get some really great solo time. On songs like "Farm on the Freeway" (one of my personal favorites from this album) and "Raising Steam" (the odd but kind of fun closing song), Martin Barre's guitar is extra important, and is pretty much entirely responsible for giving the album the hard rock feel. Thankfully it works, because he's a phenomenal guitarist.

There are some weird, weird moments on the album, which I find weird because they sound so... ordinary. I personally like the Jethro Tull that gets a little weird, has unique lyrics and that great, folky sound. But on this album, I find myself listening to songs like "She Said She Was A Dancer", "The Waking Edge", and "Raising Steam" and being struck by just how commercial and kind of sterile they sound. Not to say there's no life to them; all the songs are engaging, but the feeling is different than the Tull I love. Even "Budapest", which is probably the album's best song, is plagued with weak lyrics and some boring instrumental sections. That is why Crest of a Knave is a solid, even brilliant album compared to many other hard rock/prog albums out there, yet cannot truly affect me as much as an albums like TAAB or Minstrel in the Gallery did and still do affect me. In short, Crest of a Knave is great but might take a few listens for someone unfamiliar with this new sound to appreciate it.

Report this review (#922956)
Posted Sunday, March 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars At least most of the tracks on this album had guest drummers and thus didn't rely solely on electronic percussion. "Steel Monkey" not a bad track at all but was Anderson attempting to emulate Dire Straits? "Farm on the Freeway" - I like this track however the Dire Straits emulation makes me wonder who this is. I'm suprised Knopfler didn't have Anderson arrested for trying to be him. "Jump Start" - strange track to me but enjoyable - rock n roll meets Ian Anderson meets Dire Straits. "Said She was a Dancer" - very mellow. "Dogs in the Midwinter" - Nothing special here at all. "Budapest" - Excellent intro to the track, to my mind one of the best efforts on the album. Reminds me of "Telegraph Road". I really like this track - the monolith of the album. "Mountain Men" - another very good track. "The Waking Edge" - A dramatic entrance. Very good softer track. "Raising Steam" -a balls out rocker. "Part of the Machine" (bonus track) - Nothing wrong here.

Ian Anderson had recently had an operation on his vocal chords and he can be forgiven for not being the voice that Tull fans know and love. The similarities of this effort to Dire Straits are numerous but then this would have made a hell of a good Dire Straits album. This is still a long way from the original Tull sound however it is not an unappealing sound at all. I really do enjoy this album and my rating is three and a half stars rounded up to four.

Report this review (#942823)
Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Baeting Metallica (well, Metallica doesn't mean that much for me), this was the "best hard rock/ heavy metal album of the year". But never the best Jethro Tull or prog album of anything. This is NOT progressive music. Maybe a great effort after the two previous failures. By the way, the band was resumed into Ian, Barre, Pegg and the friendly drum machine. Is not a bad or great album and they are not in the peak of their creativity, but they knew how to did a great work upon the obtained ideas. Well elaborated tracks. Between 2 and 3 stars... I can't compare this one with War Child or Minstrel in The Gallery (3/5) but this is of course better than Under Wraps. Okay, okay... 3 stars.
Report this review (#991848)
Posted Thursday, July 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars I still stand by my statement that every Jethro Tull album has at least one essential track on it. Some more than others, it's true, but I can name at least one essential track on every one of their albums. Crest of a Knave is no exception, in fact, it has 5 essential tracks and 5 others that are still great. That is better than most of the Tull albums released around this time. To me, this is the perfect "entry level" JT album as it has a good representation of the bands music and it is easily likable. So what if it's not one of their essential albums, it is still one that I enjoy every time I listen to it.

The rock is a bit more straightforward on the faster songs. There are even a few acoustic-driven tracks (namely the Dire Straits influenced "Said She Was a Dancer" and the 10+ minute "Budapest", 2 of the best JT tracks ever). "Farm on the Freeway" and "Mountain Men" are both prog based mid to fast tempo songs. From there you have some more hard-rock centered songs, but they are not as washed out as the rock songs on "Catfish Rising" in my opinion, I think they are great quality hard rock songs. There are a few weaker ones like "Dogs in the Midwinter" which has too much synthesizer on it that cheapens and dates the album and "Part of the Machine" which sounds so much like "Farm on the Freeway" that you'd think it was a copy, but if you get the original vinyl, these songs aren't even on the track listing, which I think the album flows much better without these tracks anyway.

This is a decent JT release and if you are debating which one to get to best represent the late 80s/early 90s releases for JT, then this is the one you should get. For my money, it's the best representative for that period of time with enough great music to leave a great impression on you and also proves that JT still had some great songs in their heads. Not a masterpiece as a whole, but it has some masterpieces on it, so it's still an excellent addition to your collection. 4 stars.

Report this review (#1321242)
Posted Sunday, December 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars I guess this is where I hand in my prog member's card. And metal member's card given that this album beat out Metallica for a Metal/Hard Rock Grammy. And my Dire Straits card...well, you get the idea. A lot of strange press has been generated around this album for some valid reasons. And for many that are not so valid.

The authentic knock against Crest of a Knave is that some of the songs do sound a bit like Dire Straits, at least musically. Anderson has had to resort to a type of sing-speech ala Mark Knopfler due to a deteriorating voice problem. Ian doesn't sound like a third generation copy of Bob Dylan to me, only just subdued. And I agree that She Said She Was A Dancer is the most Dire Straits like song never recorded by Mr. Knopfler's band. But the other songs on this album show Anderson in a relaxed vocal state. He found a medium in which his over stretched voice could work in. And work it does.

While Anderson and Barre have stated for decades that the miserable Under Wraps album from 1984 was the album that they made for themselves, that sounds like an absolute falsehood to me. Who could have more fun then in branching out and having a license to be who or what you're not? Especially when making rock music. Barre gets his screaming Knopfler tones put to the fore along with a heavy dash of ZZ Top thrown in on Steel Monkey, Raising Steam and the heavier sections of Part of The Machine. Anderson writes and, more to the point, is able to sing some of his best lyrics on the moving Farm On The Freeway and the extremely clever Jumpstart.

This album has had many past PA reviews, so I don't want to trod on an overused path, but what simply sells Crest of a Knave for me is that even with the obvious outside influences that permeate this album, all of the songs, save the afore mentioned She Said She Was A Dancer, sound completely organic and unforced to me. And better than that, they are so seamlessly mixed with past Tull influences from stellar albums like Songs From The Wood and Strormcock that Anderson, Barre, bassist Dave Pegg, and occasional drummers Doane Perry and Gerry Conway (a few songs do have drum programming that actually do almost sound like real drums) seem to have performed some kind of rock alchemy. And that is a true rarity. There are a couple of more classic sounding tracks such as Mountain Men, that would not be out of place on Stormwatch and the Celtic tinged bonus track found on the 2005 CD remaster Part Of The Machine, which summons up visions of Songs From The Wood era JT and is a beautiful song in it's own right. I can see why it's deep nod to Celtic prog folk would not seem to fit this album, but it's initial exclusion is still puzzling.

I have to say truthfully that I fell of the Tull wagon after the Under Wraps album and only listened to Crest of a Knave after hearing Anderson passionately defend the album in an interview. He stated clearly that he could not have written songs such as Farm On The Freeway, or the proggy and classically tinged bluesy mini epic Budapest earlier in his career. Even by a just a couple of years.

That may all seem true to Anderson, but true or not, it did get my attention enough to give this album an objective listen, and I loved what I heard. 4 stars for the absolute best JT album of eighties. Metal/Hard Rock or not. (Ok, it's not, but it is very good!)

Report this review (#1446992)
Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2015 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I picked up Crest of a Knave with very low expectations. After all, it's an '80's album by a prog band, so mediocre is about the best one can hope for. And mediocre pretty much sums up this "hard rockin'" release by Tull. It has enough energy and guitar work to be interesting, but too much bland songwriting and originality to be exciting.

The album opens laughably bad... like, probably one of the worst songs the band has ever recorded. "Steel Monkey" sounds like a song taken from the soundtrack to Lethal Weapon 2. It's just awful, but imagining Danny Glover in a chase scene grunting "I'm too old for this" while Ian Anderson sings this song's absurd lyrics almost makes it campy.

"Farm on the Freeway" is instant redemption though. This is a smooth, classy, melodic song with a great instrumental mid-section. As bad as "Steel Monkey" is, "Farm on the Freeway" is good. "Mountain Men" stands out as another solid Tull-style rocker, with good guitar work by Barre. His performance is really the only highlight in Crest of a Knave, as one unmemorable song drifts by after another. The extended track "Budapest" is a slow-tempo lament over a call girl that Anderson (and probably the whole band, from the lyrics) banged during their tours. Again, with the exception of the acoustic guitar work, it has mediocrity all over it; it tricks us into thinking it's intelligent and thoughtful but it really just sounds like the band doesn't know what to do with this song, as it meanders around from synth passage to flute solo aimlessly. By the end of it I had a hard time wondering what if anything happened during those 10 minutes.

Anderson gets a lot of respect for coming back after throat surgery but his changed voice does make the group sound A LOT like Dire Straights. This isn't really a criticism, just a side note. While listening I was waiting to hear about how to get my money for nothing and my chicks for free, but instead he sticks to waxing nostalgic and sentimental. Unfortunately his vocals don't leave an impact.

There are other songs on the album, but I forget everything about them except for the fact that they're forgettable. To sum up, Crest of a Knave is more fuel to the fire that consumed proggers in the '80's. Some of them transitioned very well, like Rush, while others didn't quite know how to age gracefully. In this case, Tull retains their identity, but just sounds tired and unambitious. At least they stuck to their rockin' guns though.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#1482421)
Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2015 | Review Permalink
2 stars I've just realized most of my reviews pretty much agree with consensual opinions. In my view, post-Stormwatch albums are generally a bit weaker (in rare cases substantially). Even the lowest rated records have enjoyable moments though, which ultimately proves that Jethro Tull is a band of professionals. Heavy synthesizer use gives mixed results, aping Dire Straits is a lazy attempt to stay relevant, progressive rock is pretty much gone on 80s records. This is common knowledge now. Nevertheless I differ on one issue: it's hard to name "Crest of a Knave" a return to form, other than edging "Under Wraps" fiasco.

"Steel Monkey" introduces very subpar synths - almost annoying, really - in a hard rock formula of ZZ Top breed, I guess. Not sure about this comparison because I always avoided mindless, weary hard rocking of 1980s - you either do it convincingly ("Perfect Strangers" is a rare example) or switch to heavy/thrash metal. I hate that pseudomasculine riffing and fake bravado. "Farm on the Freeway" starts more gently, but I quickly realize we're dealing with another 80s guitar ballad-blabber without rhyme or reason. I can hardly sit through to the end - it's not an embarrassing song, but very dull and cheesy. Minus one point for senile guitar tone, it sounds like a Les Paul connected to a brown amplifier with tad of chorus and tons of boredom. Ceterum censeo - Mark Knopfler is a fraud among electric guitar "greats".

"Jump Start" is more organic and for that reason alone it ranks higher than aforementioned songs. Sure, it's still a bunch of safe ideas and too obvious guitar licks, but at least the acoustic part makes the job done. Please take notice of flute solo - maybe the best on the album. But then we have "She Said She Was a Dancer" - cringeworthy ballad featuring the cheapest keyboard sound possible. Do you remember how Zappa mocked romantic serenades of yesteryear on "Joe's Garage"? This time Jethro does it in the chorus, but takes it seriously. Now I know why this song eludes my mind when I think of "Crest of a Knave" - I always skipped it and advise you the same.

And now for some good stuff. "Dogs in the Midwinter" is both pretty and memorable, thanks to catchy intro, attractive flute melody and nice chorus - even if it's full of 'everlasting' drums and hairspray. Hard to call it 'progressive', but 'charming' is a fitting description. The song fades out with another unremarkable guitar solo - good call with cutting it short.

"Budapest" is the centrepiece and ranks above average as well. Disclaimer: I'm not interested in Ian's sexual adventures on tour AT ALL, so I just refuse to pay attention to the vocals. Let's focus on guitar arrangements instead: the acoustic licks and violin ornamentation work fantastically, and the sombre, low-key nature of the song reminds me of "Minstrel" days. Not that it's strong enough to make it then - studio outtakes from 1975 generally rank higher for me, but if you like that nocturnal atmosphere of Old Europe, "Budapest" will please you. Especially the extended instrumental part in the middle - I think it could save "Crest of a Knave" from 1 star rating singlehandedly.

"Mountain Men" is deeply entrenched in late 80s spirit, but this time musical themes behind it make up for that. Proud and steady lead guitar work echoes Iron Maiden slightly, Ian's voice is convincing despite its limitations. The middle section is my favorite 'daddy rock' part of the album. Organ/keyboard sounds are also more pleasing than usual - you can safely call it a winner.

"The Waking Edge" could use a crafty keyobardist though, it's just too simple and predictable. Fortunately Martin Barre comes forward with a pretty little solo and saves this ballad from mediocrity. The album concludes with "Raising Steam", basically copying cheesy formulas of "Steel Monkey". No thanks!

I don't recognize "Crest of a Knave's" superiority over "Rock Island", really. Sure, we have a run of decent songs between "Dogs..." and "Mountain Men", but they aren't necessarily better (or more numerous) than its successor highlights. Speaking of highlights, I really enjoy "European Legacy" or "Tundra" as well, but it doesn't prevent "Under Wraps" from getting one star rating. Applying the same logic here, "Crest of a Knave" deserves two stars (maybe 2.5, like "Rock Island") only because its lowlights are tedious, not outright embarrassing (save for "She Said She Was a Dancer").

Even if we counted "Part of the Machine" as a core part of the LP, "Crest..." remains an average recording marred with late 80s esthetics and trends. I give it a spin from time to time and enjoy half of its content, but same can be said about any other JT album. I recommend you giving it a chance if you're Jethro junkie - maybe you're more forgiving of ZZ Top/Dire Straits brand of rock.

Report this review (#2083979)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars It is difficult to find any kind of similarity between the Crest Of A Knave with any of the glorious works prior to the 80s. When you listen Said She Was A Dancer or The Waking Edge, for example, you don´t know if you are listen songs by Jethro Tull or Dire Straits, and said this without any contempt by the more than respectable group of Mark Knopfler, and up to that point we also find some similarity to the texan rockers ZZ Top in the most popular and promoted Steel Monkey or Raising Steam. An album more twinned with classic hard rock, which inexplicably won the Grammy for the best heavy metal album (ż?) of the year.

It is not a bad album, but it has almost nothing to do with the progressive, except for the brilliant Budapest, which in its 10-minute duration, Anderson and his band make a spectacular display of musicality by the most authentic Jethro Tull, and one of my favorites from his song catalog. I wish the rest of the album had taken that path. Budapest is the progressive oasis in the middle of the desert.

Report this review (#2408518)
Posted Sunday, May 31, 2020 | Review Permalink

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