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MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY

Jethro Tull

Prog Folk


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Jethro Tull Minstrel In The Gallery album cover
3.98 | 792 ratings | 82 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Minstrel In The Gallery (8:13)
2. Cold Wind To Valhalla (4:21)
3. Black Satin Dancer (6:53)
4. Requiem (3:45)
5. One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All (4:39)
6. Baker St. Muse (16:42)
7. Grace (0:37)

Total Time: 45:10

Bonus tracks on remaster (2002):
8. Summerday Sands (3:44)
9. March Of The Mad Scientist (1:40)
10. Pan Dance (3:22)
11. Minstrel In The Gallery (live) (2:11)
12. Cold Wind In Valhalla (live) (1:30)

Lyrics

Search JETHRO TULL Minstrel In The Gallery lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Ian Anderson / flute, electric guitar, vocals
- Martin Barre / electric guitar
- Barriemore Barlow / drums, percussion
- Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond / bass, string bass
- John Evan / piano, organ

Guest musician:
- David Palmer orchestral arrangement and conducting, members of the London Philomusica

Releases information

LP Chrysalis 1082 (1975)
CD Chrysalis (2002 remaster)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Tsevir Leirbag for the last updates
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JETHRO TULL Minstrel In The Gallery ratings distribution


3.98
(792 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
37%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
45%
Good, but non-essential (15%)
15%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

JETHRO TULL Minstrel In The Gallery reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!

Although still a good album, one realizes that the TAABrick and Aqualung days are over and things will never be the same. The sound is much colder and is definitely squarer (as opposed to the roundness of Brick or Stand Up) here than in the previous album. Part of this feeling comes from the very dry electric guitar sound. If one can draw a comparison to Aqualung (these two albums share many similarities, IMHO), there is a definite lack of enthusiasm in MIG, as if after having broken up Tull after A Passion Play, then reforming the group, but seeing his major project go down the drain (all that was left is the War Child skeleton), our Mad Flauter had problems raising his inspiration on this one. A broken spring?

Of course, the main suite Baker Street Muse is a full blown prog suite, but somehow, it does not have the real lunacy of Brick or the strangeitude of APP, and one of the main critic I will say is that the string arrangements are too overpowering (the whole album throughout), a bit mechanical and they are relied upon too much not to leave an impression of emptiness.

Past the charming intro, Cold Wind To Walhalla is the type of track that Tull will heavily rewrite in the late-80's and early-90's era! Requiem and Black Satin Dancer clearly would've not made the cut on Aqualung and can be seen as fillers. Some of the reviewers claim this album to be very folky, but I beg to differ: while there are some acoustic statements making slight reference to medieval folk, if this album has a strong acoustic feature, this is not enough to make it folk. And those damn string arrangements are just too present.

The re-mastering job has not really been able to take away this cold and dry sound I mentioned above, but the five bonus tracks area real joy. If Sands and Scientist tracks are much in line with the album (they could be an integral part of it), Pan Dance is a gorgeous (if a little too easy) exercise on flute and the two live tracks are only the acoustic intro.

However far from me the idea that this is an inferior album; it's just that the music on here appeals less to me. But do invest in the remaster rather than the (no doubt) cheaper original CD issue, the bonus tracks being worth it.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#16482) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 05, 2004

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY, from 1975, is Jethro Tull's eighth album, and the product of a band at the height of its powers. All of the classic Tull elements are here: Ian Anderson's witty and occasionally risqué (if not downright salacious) lyrics, unique vocals, flute and sparkling acoustic guitar; Martin Barre's cutting, razor-edged electric guitar; the accomplished rhythm section of Barlow and Hammond on drums and bass, and the superb John Evans on piano and organ. Add to these essential components the lush orchestrations of David Palmer, imparting a finishing sheen of sophistication to the whole affair, and you've got the makings of another winner for Ian and the boys.

All of this still would not automatically secure a "five-star" rating, however, if the songwriting were not "up to snuff." Anderson had yet to compose a bad album at this point in his career (though 76's disappointing TOO OLD TO ROCK 'N' ROLL looms just ahead), and here he turns in a stellar effort. The opening title song ably blends the band's "folky" and hard-rocking manifestations within the space of a catchy eight-minute "mini epic." "Cold Wind to Valhalla" really rocks (appropriately, for its subject matter), and "Black Satin Dancer" is gentle at the outset, but heavy on the finish, and all that one could want in a solid Tull song. "Requiem" once more gives us Anderson in his acoustic "troubadour" mode, as does the droll "One White Duck." Palmer's ever subtle, never invasive, but always masterful strings are particularly vital and effective in these softer settings, and truly lovely. The album's closer (but for the very brief "framing" track "Grace"), however, is the real highlight of this set: "Baker St. Muse," with its multiple themes and directions, is the genuine article -- another of Anderson's excellent lengthy (almost seventeen minutes) "suites" that perhaps surpasses its very good predecessor "A Passion Play," and even approaches the lofty heights of "Thick as a Brick."

There are Tull discs that I listen to more often than "MINSTREL" (namely THICK AS A BRICK, AQUALUNG, SONGS FROM THE WOOD, and HEAVY HORSES), but this relative latecomer to my collection has really grown on me over the last few years. MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY has earned a fond place of honour in this Jethro Tull fan's heart, and deserves the same in yours.

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Send comments to Peter (BETA) | Report this review (#16485) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The most diverse work, among all the "JETHRO TULL albums", a perfect balance between classic rock and progressive rock, by means also of a tasteful use of classical instrumentation. It's difficult to choose a particular song; and for this reason it's better you check it out, without doubts. Make your choice!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#16489) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 03, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The period "War Child" - "Minstrel In The Gallery" - Too old to rock'n roll is a less wanted period for me. Acoustic guitar is, here again, very omnipresent. Compared to "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play", this record is less complex with less drums and keyboards, despite you have many bits where instruments are loaded. This record is overall less progressive, having more floating string arrangements in the background.

Among my least favorite.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#16490) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars My favorite album of all time. Oh... and I listen to it backwards (side two first, side one second). It's a habit I picked up years ago, seizing on the inverted back cover as an invitation to experiment, the story smelling sweeter that way. (It also allows "Minstrel" to end with the logical "Requiem", and my madness for order demands that it does.) In such a topsy-turvy state, "Minstrel" becomes the story of a struggling minstrel who sets out from the comfortable life ("One White Duck") to wallow in the darkest alleys of inspiration ("Baker St. Muse"), his genius in full flower even as his faith in mankind shrinks. By twisting the two halves, "Grace" now serves as a sort of "Lola", the minstrel's entrée into the public discourse of would-be benefactors. "Minstrel In The Gallery" then marks the introduction for the band (no misconstruing that), "Cold Wind Valhalla" represents their ascent to stardom, "Black Satin Dancer" an example of the minstrel feeding the same dark appetites in the gilded setting of the courts (alley or palace, the vices are the same). "Requiem" is the sobering conclusion to so much excess, though I've never speculated on who the deceased might be in relation to the minstrel. And that, in a nutshell, is what idle minds do to perfectly good albums. Of course, most people (I would think) listen to this in the order that TULL arranged them, and glean from Minstrel a loose concept album that casts Ian and company as minstrels in a modern-day gallery of wine, women, and "newspaper warriors". Really, the music is so unerringly brilliant, the lyrics so evocative and incisive, that there is no wrong way to hear this album. Critics usually cite the overt Elizabethan touches (often before rambling on about some imagined Atlantis, but then I'm really a terrible critic), which is more of a visual judgment than anything. "Minstrel In The Gallery" evokes the world of Shakespeare in its literate lyrics, Elizabethan imagery, and the mixture of rustic folk music and refined classical airs into their rock. The precedent in TULL's work would be "Queen And Country", though Minstrel's folk fancies likely stemmed from a shared appreciation for the music of Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention.

Whatever the impetus, TULL has never mastered their muse so well. The arrangements are a bouquet of sound to be savored through the years, evergreen and unerring in their aim, depicted with flourishes from each member (a table thump here, a delicious touch of strings or biting guitar part there) that arrive like old friends at an appointed hour. Again, individual beauty is a subjective beast, and my appreciation for this music might be your befuddling (nonsensical as a noun, I know). So in every sense (of our own senses), the best album in the world is whatever you think it is. And never let anyone (myself included) judge in your stead.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#16484) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 30, 2004

Review by Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I always loved the thumping bass lines to the title track of the JETHRO TULL classic rocker "Minstrel In The Gallery". Now it sounds like the entire band is playing right on top of me thanks to the remastering process that all of this superb classic rock has gone through. As Ian ANDERSON explains with his insightful liner notes, the five-part "Baker Street Muse" is an amalgamation of delicate strings with a hard rocking foundation. No doubt none of this is easy to pull off on a primarily acoustic album with the concern of maintaining your rock-oriented audience. Somehow, these creative chaps were able to do it with their typical style and class and keep everyone happy. The amazing bass player Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond went out with bang on this album, exiting never to return nor pick up a bass again, instead he would go back to picking up the paintbrush.

The band continued their momentum and put out yet another stunning album, riding the wake of the runaway success "Warchild", and still creating some waves on the merits of their present achievement. By making a surprise right turn musically and giving their audience an acoustically based album with an Elizabethan flair, the faithful were caught off guard, but pleased. Their core audience was accustomed to rocking out and changing direction was risqué for a band that had built their following on solid consistency. This would prove that they knew exactly what they were doing though as it was a success regardless of the risk involved. They were the progenitors of prog-rock and the anointed court jester himself, Ian ANDERSON, spun his web and cast his spell with some mystical and medieval satirical lyrics tainted with cynicism, fantastic flute playing, and his own unique vocal style. How do you polarize the pumpkin eaters? Who else could come up with lyrics like that? Better yet, what does it all mean? That was the beauty and mystery of their music and it still is.

I loved hearing this album basking in the glory of this pristine sound. There is one thing that really pissed me off though, why include bonus tracks with just snippets of live songs? On "Minstrel In The Gallery" and "Cold Wind To Vahalla," you just start getting into it and it fades out. I just do not get it; why bother? It ended this experience on a negative note but just the same, there was too much to like about this CD and it is still well worth getting.

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#16506) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This review applies to Digitally Re-mastered with Bonus Track version, 2002. This is the third version that I have in my collection. The first one was a cassette version distributed by Perina Aquarius dated back mid seventies. I remember vividly that I numbered this collection with 82 in my rock collection. I knew the cassette roughly 3 weeks before purchase date - displayed at local shop at Jl. Bogowonto, Madiun - as I had to save my pocket monies from my mom in order to get it for my collection. You can imagine how happy I was, being able to finally purchase the cassette three weeks later. Once I got it from the shop I run my bicycle like crazy for going home and played it at my Phillips cassette player. The second version was CD format that I purchased in November 1996. And last year I purchased the re-mastered version which has better booklet with brownies nuance. All lyrics are printed plus original vinyl inner bag - reprinted with CD size. Very beautiful booklet.

This album is one of the finest works by Jethro Tull where the band composed the music with the support of orchestra, arranged by David Palmer. My chief reason of having this album at first time was due to my satisfaction with War Child, Aqualung and Thick As A Brick. When I played it at the first time I was amazed with the beautiful composition of title track Minstrel In The Gallery which combined acoustic guitar work and hard rock music but not in a straight forward structure. It's a very energetic track. The album sounded more accessible for my ears compared to Thick As A Brick.

But what truly amazed me was the epic "Baker Street Muse" at 6th track which comprises four parts. For me, this track is like the answer to Genesis' Supper's Ready, or Yes' Gates of Delirium or even the band's previous epic Thick AS A Brick! It blew me away at first play and it's still my favorite until now. Not that this epic has many catchy and killing melodies, but the overall structure is truly brilliant. It combines an acoustic guitar virtuosity through some passages that form a coherent flow of music. It's also a very emotional in mood as it has varieties of style with pure vocal and acoustic guitar as well as with drums and other instruments. The music brings us to many emotive stages. I especially love the intro where the acoustic guitar enters in a very clean sound with great sonic quality (remember: this was recorded in 1975!). The lyrics starts calmly but with very strong accentuation: "Windy bus-stop. Click. Shop - window. Heel." Oh my GOD . the melody is so nice! "Shady gentleman. Fly-button. Feel.". and so on. The first lyrical verse end up beautifully with "Symphony match-seller ." (what a great singing ian!) .. continued with "You can call me on another line". Uuhhh .. It's so nice and so uplifting, mood-wise. I don't really care what the lyrics is talking about, but the combination with the music has made me stunned ... I admire you, Mr. Ian Anderson! Top notch! The orchestra is also excellent. When the music enters the chorus with "Didn't make her - with my Baker Street Ruse" and the full music (with drums) follow in dynamic way. Uh man . I cannot bear it anymore. This part has made me truly stunned and totally paralyzed listening to the great musical harmony of the music. OK OK, I'd better stop it, it's gonna be too long if I write all what I feel about this wonderfully crafted track!

The other tracks are also excellent; there is no such thing as mediocre track in this album. The above two tracks are really stand-out that's why I need to elaborate in further detail. If you love acoustic guitar and piano composition with orchestra, you will definitely love this album. Are you familiar with Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die? Or Scarborough Fair rearranged and performed by the Dutch classic rock band: Brainbox? Crosby, Still Nash and Young? The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel? Well, sorry .. I'm not saying that all that I mention are in close proximity, musically, with Minstrel in The Gallery album. But, if you love that acoustic-based songs, that's a good start for liking this album! The only difference is the structure - it's a bit complex. Overall rating is 4 ½ out of 5 stars. Notes on bonus track: I'm really disappointed with the last two tracks Minstrel In The Gallery (Live) and Cold Wind To Valhalla (Live) where both of them were intentionally faded-out. Very disappointing. But the original album is really excellent. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' .!

Progressively yours,

GW

"Symphony word-player, I'll be your headline. If you catch me another time." - "Baker Street Muse" Jethro Tull.

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Posted Saturday, June 18, 2005

Review by NetsNJFan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Jethro Tull is an interesting band, stylistically. The Cover to MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY shows a medieval minstrel playing to a hodgepodge of characters. This diversity is a centerpiece of Jethro Tull's music. They have a knack for mixing hard rock, English folk, and Elizabethan themes into a cohesive, entertaining musical whole. They are also one of the few guitar-driven prog-rock bands out there. This is not to say that the keyboards, Palmer's string arrangements, and of course flute do not contribute to the overall sound. Unlike in Genesis or Camel, where flute plays a muted role, the flute is considered a lead instrument by Jethro Tull. Combine this with Anderson's humorous and witty poetry, and you have an excellent progressive band. These characteristics are all displayed masterfully on the 1975 Tull LP, MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY. By now, Jethro Tull was severely out of critical favor after their ultra-progressive PASSION PLAY and the uneven WARCHILD. On MINSTREL..., Tull returns to all the musical motifs that made THICK AS A BRICK a masterpiece. MINSTREL manages to be one of Jethro Tull's prettiest and hardest rocking work, a very surprising feat when woven together. The title track, Minstrel in the Gallery begins as a very folksy-mediaeval piece, full of acoustic guitars and delicate singing. This then changes into heave electric, rock, with screaming guitar work by Barre. The contrast is amazing on this song, and shows how talented Ian Anderson was at composition. While many artists are torn between musical influences, Jethro Tull simply mixes them freely, ensuring an ever interesting experience. One should check up on the very self descriptive lyrics to this song, as it shows how Anderson was feeling, after reaching world popularity. Cold Wind to Valhalla focuses on the legendary Norse Heaven, 'Valhalla'. It is a very good straight rock song, with enough Tull flourish to keep it progressive. The vocals are also a standout on this track. Black Satin Dancer, with its heavy string arrangements, is a little top-heavy and doesn't quite deserve a seven-minute duration, but nonetheless is somewhat enjoyable. The next too songs represent Tull at their prettiest. This is before their folk craze, so these songs are acoustic, but are more classical (read: elizabethan) sounding. Both Requiem and One White Duck... are very good, light pieces. The guitar on these pieces is especially good. The masterpiece of the album remains the epic Baker Street Muse. This seven-teen minute suite directly recalls Thick as a Brick, but is much lighter and more playful (with much more coherent lyrics). It features the trademark blending of acoustic and electric sounds, and is simply and amazing track. This song also features Anderson's best lyrics in years. While the epic PASSION PLAY was dark, dense and overbearing, Baker Street Muse, manages to pack tons of great music into the long package without suffocating the listener. The album closes with the gorgeous Grace, a little 30 second acoustic coda to the album. This album represents Tull's most medieval/elizabethan work, and is highly recommended. Prospective fans should still start with the mainstream AQUALUNG of THICK AS A BRICK first. This album is definitely for the Tull faithful.

I am torn between a 4 and 5 star rating. This is an amazing work, easily a Tull Masterpiece, but not a masterpiece of prog (It's not on the level of Thick as a Brick), so I'll go with the 4. That does not mean it is not great though.

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Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars And what could I say now about Minstrel In The Gallery? I love progressive sound with the predominance of the acoustic guitars. The best, in my opinion are Jethro Tull and Strawbs. This time there aren't excuses: traditional (for prog) long songs and an impressive short one (Grace, 37 seconds). The title track is the simphony between electric and acoustic instruments. In that way also the mythic Cold Wind To Valhalla. The highest point is surely Baker St. Muse: with it it seems Jethro Tull going back to the 1972-73 period, when long suites dominated prog's scenario. Minstrel would be a good start for the few (I wish) who don't know this great band!

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Posted Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The Muse returns

After the nadir of "A Passion play", and the rather disappointing "War child", Jethro Tull enjoyed a considerable return to form with "Minstrel in the gallery". Leaning heavily at times on the elements which made "Thick as a brick" such a classic, the album has a generally softer, more acoustic feel.

The opening (title) track, is an 8 minute mini-TAAB, with a rhythm guitar intro leading to louder lead guitar, with trill flute playing a dominant supporting role. While the sound is great, the melody falls a bit short in places. There are times when Anderson is singing, not just here but on other Tull tracks too, where it sounds as if he is making up the vocal refrain on the hoof.

The following four tracks are all acoustic based, softer pieces, although "Black satin dancer" does mutate around the four minute mark into a rather strange section with unnecessarily silly vocals. The best of this bunch is the strangely titled "One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All", which has an overtly folk feel to it. The sad refrain is complemented by the best melody on the album.

The feature track is "Baker St Muse", which runs to almost 17 minutes. The track is mainly light and acoustic, with sympathetic orchestration. While the piece is pleasant enough, the length does smack of being due to padding, rather than because the band needed the full 17 minutes to develop the track.

In all, a pleasant, reasonably progressive album from Tull, which has moments of real beauty and inspiration.

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Posted Thursday, August 25, 2005

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3 1/3 stars

After the somewhat disappointing War Child/Living With The pass, and the flawed 'Passion Play', Jethro Tull aimed to compose a balanced album having both epics and short tracks, while doing so with good songwriting efforts. The songs are good, but the epic is even weaker than Passion Play.

1. Minstrel In The Gallery is easily the strongest song of the album, and one of the band's best pieces they have ever composed. It combines all the elements of Jethro Tull together to create a brilliant song. 8.5/10

2. Cold Wind To Valhalla : A rock song with great electric guitars and flute playing. 7/10

3. Black Satin Dancer : An overlong track in which has its best moments in the ultra- virtuosic and mesmerizing musical explosion at minute 2-3. IT should have ended there, but it instead continued with weaker passage. 6.5/10

4. Requiem : An acoustic guitar driven folk song that is very pretty. It has a symphonic finale. 7.5/10

5. One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All : Another acoustic folk song. This one has a faster pace. 6/10

6. Baker St. Muse : Mediocre Epic. I can never remember its melodies after I finish listening to the album, because nothing seems to resemble a melody!! There's a nice riff or musical moment here and there, and the music sounds pretty, but it doesn't save the overlong epic. 4/10

7. Grace : A short acoustic finale.

My Rating : C+

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Posted Sunday, September 04, 2005

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A good album, among JT best albums. To some fans this is a "cold" one, but you must remember Minstrel is the middle of 2 albums that is far more worse than this one. To me is one of the best albums from the '70 no doubt, at the same level with Songs, Heavy, Stormwatch. Listen to The beautiful title track (the best from here) and you realise this is a good one. Cold wind to Valhalla, another piece that you must listen carfully, Baker St. Muse the third good one in every way. All in all Ian and Co. did a very enjoyble work, i can listen every time i need good music not some boul[&*!#]. 4 stars for sure.

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Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Following in the steps of both "Aqualung", "War Child", "Minstrel In The Gallery" took JETHRO TULL in a slightly different direction mixing in a more acoustic progressive vein perhaps than the earlier and fantastic but more rock based recordings. In fact Minstrel for me ranks on the same stage as both " Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play" which are also some of my favourite TULL albums. Of course side 2 contains the epic side long "Baker St Muse" which is a fantastic track and really got JETHRO TULL on the prog map. Musically I suppose this is also a fairly acoustic album with a good bits of orchestration on it as well. This album also contains one of Jethro Tull most beautiful songs ever recorded "Requiem" which plays as a courtyard ode and musically sounds a lot like the early soft BEE GEES. Absolutely a great album !

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Posted Friday, August 04, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted Friday, August 25, 2006

Review by Raff
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Though not an unadulterated masterpiece like "Aqualung" or the mighty "Thick As a Brick", "Minstrel in the Gallery" can easily be included among Jethro Tull's best-ever releases - a mature, accomplished, musically sophisticated album that shows the band at the top of their game, just before their creative energies took a momentary turn for the worse with its weak follow-up, "Too Old To R'n'R, Too Young to Die".

Possibly JT's most acoustically-inclined album, MitG sees Ian Anderson's highly expressive, idiosyncratic vocals pushed to the fore to the best effect, while being further enriched by David Palmer's sweeping, elegant orchestral arrangements. Though obviously present, the folk component is not as evident as in "Songs from the Wood" and "Heavy Horses". Here, the strong acoustic nature of most of the songs gives a sense of intimacy and deep personal involvement, more than the slightly ridiculous, hey-nonny-nonny feel that many have come to associate (rather wrongly, in my humble opinion) with the band's output. This distinctive aspect is compounded by Anderson's witty, articulate lyrics, which he delivers with his usual aplomb.

The title-track, definitely one of Jethro Tull's classics, opens the album in style, with an initial acoustic section that stops almost abruptly to introduce Martin Barre's searing electric guitar and the flawless, intricate drumming of one of the most underrated skin-bashers of all, the great Barriemore Barlow. JT's signature blending of folky strains and all-out hard rock is carried out almost to perfection both here and in the following track (possibly my favourite), "Cold Wind to Walhalla", which can boast of the presence of a small string section adding further interest and texture to the song . Mellow, sensual ballad "Black Satin Dancer" shifts moods and time signatures in a very effective way, proving once again that romantic does not automatically have to mean sappy.

A trio of wistful, acoustic songs. "Requiem", "One White Duck" and "O10-Nothing At All", introduces what is the album's real tour de force, the 16-minute-plus, four-part suite "Baker Street Muse". Quirky and understated in true JT style, this is a successful blend of irony, sadness and intelligent composition, miles away from the bombastic self-indulgence of too many of their contemporaries (and also of JT themselves when they got a bit too carried away with "A Passion Play"). The album proper ends with a very short acoustic song called "Grace", though the excellent remastered edition includes three additional studio tracks (of which the lovely instrumental "Pan Dance" is the best by far) and live versions of both the title-track and "Cold Wind to Walhalla" (the latter abruptly cut off, which is a pity).

Unlike, for instance, "Aqualung", MitG is not an extremely easy album to get into, due especially to the prevalence of the acoustic component that may at first cause the songs to sound a bit too samey. However, the patient listener will be rewarded by discovering the diverse facets of this album, which is as stylish and well-crafted as its beautiful, quintessentially English cover. Four solid stars, perhaps something more as well, for a really excellent effort from one of prog's defining bands.

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Posted Tuesday, August 29, 2006

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

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

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Posted Sunday, November 12, 2006

Review by oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Following the awful «War child», « Ministrel in the Gallery » confirms that Jethro tull is over. Some niece acoustic parts with sophisticated arrangments, but too gentle and not very inspired, blended with binary hardrock parts. The bonus from the remastered Cd release are a little better than the album itself, but it's not enough to save the whole.

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Posted Sunday, November 19, 2006

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Many have said this is JETHRO TULL's most acoustic album, which is probably true, but I find this a record of polar opposites. From extremely hard hitting passages, with scorching guitars, to mellow sections with flute and piano leading the way. From a 37 second song to a 16:42 song, that was really the last epic they would create.This would be Jeffery Hammond-Hammond's last record with the band playing bass, he would actually give up music for his love of painting, talk about going out on top.

The title track is such a great song, with Ian's vocals and flute, to Martin's amazing guitar solos after 2 1/2 minutes, and the terrific organ and drum work as well. "Cold Wind To Valhala" opens with a lively guitar melody that gives way to a mellow section of flute and strings. There is a full symphonic sound as the drums kick in.

"Black Satin Dancer" is a favourite, especially the instrumental sections. I love the guitar melodies as the drums pound away. "Requiem" is another standout track with acoustic guitar, violins and a vocal melody that sounds great. This is a beautiful song. "One White Duck..." features a strumming guitar and vocals. "Baker St.Muse" is the epic that features some beautiful guitar and piano. The lyrics are witty too. "Grace" is less then a minute of acoustic guitar, strings and vocals.

Overall one of TULL's best albums, and a must have for anyone who's into Prog.

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Posted Thursday, December 07, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars When you see the cover, you say : hey ! This look like "Aqualung" ! But will the inside be on par with the outside ? Three years also separates "Minstrel" from "Thick As A Brick".

Could the Tull come anywhere near these masterpieces ?

The title of the album and the cover refer more to a traditional folkish collection of songs than anything else. The Tull completely mistified everybody : the critics (which they truely hate at this moment of their career) as well as their fans.

COMPLETELY WRONG OF COURSE !

The title track is a kaleidoscope of the Tull's fabulous music : folk and heavy, great to superb vocals, complex song composition. One of my all time Tull fave. This is prog at its best : rythm changes, intense intrumental moments (although we are flirting with hard rock here) and powerful vocal parts. Do we need more hints about the rest of the album ?

"Cold Wind to Valhalla" is another very good Tull moment. Rather folky and fluty during its first section, the song explodes into a typical hard rock Tull song. Kind of magic (no Queen reference here). Great. It seems that the Tull try and follows the start of "Aqualung". Two great songs of the same vein to open the album.

"Black Satin Dancer" is another fabulous piece of Tull music. Tull at his best : it start slowly, with background violins and piano, switch to a standard quite song and turns into some great melodious moments. Great fluting and instrumental section in the middle part. The rocking side of the Tull hits again. Not the commercial one (this song won't make any "Best Of") although it is a great Tull song. The last part is just GORGEOUS : full of melody and enthusiasm. Fantastic.

Just for our piece of mind, two transition / folky tracks like "Requiem" and "One White Duck-0=Nothing at All" will bring us to the next highlight (this being the fourth one on this album so far).

"Baker Street Muse" ! Another Tull masterpiece IMO. It is my preferred song of this album. Lots of people will compare this one with "Thick...". So! What's the problem ? Comparing two masterpieces of prog rock is not an easy task. So, let's just listen to this fabulous song. It includes most of our Tull love : fantastic instrumentals, folk moments, hard rock rendition, fabulous vocals, strong backing band. It is a very accessible track : beautiful melodies, melancholical vocals : how beautiful are these moments; just another Baker Street casualty ... Romeo and Juliet are close...(listen to the lyrics). Such an emotion just in half the track. Then, the flute is going on and extends the joy (my joy at least). Baker St. Mue is one of my definite all time favorite Tull song (and "tout court" one of my all time music favorite). It is though a very much less known track than TIAB. They had the good idea at this time of their career to stick it to an almost seventeen minutes song. This is just great : not a single weak second (really). They could have brought it to a whole side of an album easily but they made probably the best choice in keeping as such.

The little nice "Grace" which lasts for ... fifty seconds closes the album. I will never understand why such (portion of a ) track should sit on an album (but there are countless examples for this : Genesis, Floyd will do it as well). I guess it is one of those mysteries only the band could reveal.

The remastered version comes with several bonuses (as usual). For the very first time (so far) none will add more interest to the original release. Three studio tracks with little flavour (one understands why they did not make the album cut) and two "live" tracks which should have been avoided by all means. What' s the use of putting a two minutes shortcut of "Minstrel" live ? Same question for 90 seconds of "Cold Wind to Valhalla" : what a pity !

To the question I asked myself in the beginning of this review the answer is yes. The Tull is on par here with "Aqualung" (IMO). If you are new to the Tull, Minstrel is probably not the worse album to start with. This is one of my (many) beloved Tull album. Five stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#108073) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, January 19, 2007

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cold and dark album. Cold almost as "Stormwatch", and possibly the darkest so far. This is another example of Ian's excellent composing skills and intelligent lyrics, but that examples are not omnipresent. There's nothing wrong this album, it's simply weaker than Anderson's standards.

The opening song "Minstrel In The Gallery" contains lovely medieval part (with not so lovely lyrics) and amplified, monstrous part where Mr. Barre pulls the rawest and driest distortions out of his Gibson. Compact energy of guitar and drums is mind-blowing. Unfortunately, the very moment that Ian grabs the microphone, half of the energy is gone. Vocals and - oh my God - organ are just hard rock cliches here.

"Cold Wind To Valhalla" is another...cold song, but this touch of frost is beautiful and works fine. Very interesting crescendo, with the semi-electric section in the middle of the song with the drums that will many listeners find a bit too furious and inappropriate for the song, but I like them, as well as the counter-effect produced by them.

"Black Satin Dancer" is just a bit weaker than "Cold Wind To Valhalla" but it's still providing enjoyable moments to a listener; lovely accelerando of Ian's flute and guitar solo as a tour de force in the middle of the song are making the song more charming, despite the impression of agony hidden somewhere between sung words and flute notes.

"Requiem" is the song whose title is perfectly describing the song's overall atmosphere in general. Perhaps a little bit too solemn.

"One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All" is my second favourite track from the album. It is Ian's acoustic piece at it's best. Even if one might not find this song "the best" or even "very good", it's undoubtedly the essence of "Tullness".

Despite the occasional weaker moments, so far everything was fine. But with "Baker St. Muse" things went wrong. This sixteen minutes long songs does not offering me more than two minutes of pleasant listening. It's handcrafted well, Ian's lyrics are not bad (but not the peak neither), but this song is just hollow. For me, the only memorable melody inside it is the part "I have no house in Coventry/I have no motor car", it's in "Crash Barrier Waltzer" I think. The rest of the song is producing, more or less, the same effect as an electric stroke on dead frog's body: a spasm certainly, but no emotion (except for that gray afternoon emptiness). But I have to be honest and admit that the intro and the ending of the song are very good, the ending is the most impressive one that I had a chance hearing on an album. That won't save the "Baker St. Muse" though, because ending is got nothing to do with the music itself.

Speaking of endings, the real ending of the album, "Grace", is probably the shortest song that TULL ever did, and it's my favourite song from this album, too. It's gorgeous miniature with cuddling string orchestras and it's haiku lyrical aesthetic. In my opinion, it was utterly wrong decision to put this song onto the end of the record-no, wrong. That is not the worst thing. That's just an illusion because this beautiful miniature is following dull, almost-sidelong track, and it completely sunks while your brain is still struggling to catch some air after nothingness of the unlucky epic.

So, at the end of the day, this album contains one or two almost-brilliant songs, an astonishing miniature, a few good ideas here and there and the big black hole somewhere in the middle of the record, spreading like a cancer towards the edges of a vinyl.

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Send comments to clarke2001 (BETA) | Report this review (#112878) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Content Development & Krautrock Team
1 stars The pinnacle of Jethro Tull's crappy pop folk production! This album is a "bastardization" of authentic folk music. It only features cheesy pop ballads for Christmas days. The snobbish accent of Ian Anderson has never been so painful. The self title track is a conventional, almost puritan "Christian" folk ballad. Same remark for "Cold Wind Valhalla" with its very cheap atmosphere. "Black Satin Dancer" is a symphonic, pseudo neo classical song: one more time it's too naive and gentle. No surprise with the rest of the album. For a better appreciation of prog folk tapestries of sound I advise listeners to go on the medieval, pagan inflected and acid folk side of Teutonic bands: notably Parzival and Ougenweide. This band really need to re-learn the basics before serving the mass with common mediocrity. Musically speaking the band died after his original bluesy folk fusion (this was / stand up)

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Posted Saturday, March 24, 2007

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I bought this album when it came out in 1975 even though I hadn't kept up with the group since "Aqualung." I must have read a favorable review or something and, since nothing else in the record racks caught my eye that week, thought I'd give it a whirl. I was surprisingly underwhelmed by it. Every few years I'd come across it in my LP collection. Not being able to recall what any of the songs sounded like I'd slap it on the turntable and listen to it with fresh ears. I always hoped that this would be the time that I'd "get it" and discover a masterpiece spinning right under my nose but to no avail. I made many, many attempts to like this album but I never did. I guess I never will.

"Minstrel in the Gallery" starts out great. It's done in the merry style they do best and things are moving along splendidly until the full band comes in with an unnecessary hard rock edge, trying to be "heavy." It ruins the tune for me totally. After a long musical interlude in the middle Ian Anderson's vocal reappears and the song gets better for a while but I can't help but wonder why John Evan's filling organ is buried in the mix. It could have made a huge difference because the tune desperately needs some backbone. "Cold Wind to Valhalla" is another example of them starting a song with excellent acoustic instrumentation and then repeating the same mistake by crashing the casual party with a needlessly raucous version of the tune. Add to that the inexcusable looseness between Martin Barre's guitar, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond's bass and Barriemore Barlow's drums (it sounds like they only rehearsed the track a few times before recording it) and you have a clumsy mess on your hands. "Black Satin Dancer" follows and you're treated to some tasteful string orchestration but the band sounds like they're hopelessly hunting for the elusive groove throughout. They segue into a contrived instrumental segment that seems complicated just for the sake of complication and that never works. Next is "Requiem," a decent ballad that features the string section performing a pretty score behind Ian's vocal. The problem here is that the melody is all over the place, making it nearly impossible to recall once the tune is over.

"One White Duck/ 0 (10) = Nothing at All" may have a confusing title but it's the highlight of the record. When Jethro Tull performs a song that is as firmly rooted in progressive folk as this one is (and they don't try to turn it into a rocker halfway through) they demonstrate why they are so highly regarded. Even the lyrics make sense, as Anderson seems to be venting his frustrations with his wife. "Something must be wrong with me and my brain/if I'm so patently unrewarding/but my dreams are for dreaming and best left that way/and my zero to your power of ten equals nothing at all." (Okay, it's not exactly "My God" quality but it beats the words to the first four songs by a mile.) "Baker Street Muse" is an almost 17-minute long epic and parts of it fly while other parts of it struggle along. It starts off well with piano and strings and this time when the group joins in they are a tight unit and things seem promising. "Pig- me and the Whore" is the 2nd chapter and the transition back down to an acoustic feel is smoothly done. "Crash-Barrier Waltzer" is a fine showcase for Ian's skilled vocals, some spirited acoustic guitar playing and more excellent contributions from the orchestra. "Mother England Reverie" is an extension of that inertia for a few minutes but then the band runs off the road as they begin to attempt tying the different themes together. They go from hard to soft and back again but it is rough in places where it shouldn't be and there's just not enough excitement generated to seal the deal in the end. "Grace" is really nothing more than a 37-second afterthought that finishes the album.

Other than the song I quoted lyrics from, the words Anderson wrote for this record are so "train of thought" personal that I have a hard time understanding what most of the tunes are about. In fact, since Ian penned all the songs and produced the whole project it may have worked a lot better if he'd brought in other musicians and made it a solo effort entirely. Of course we'll never know how that may (or may not) have worked, but as a Jethro Tull album it fails to impress me no matter how many times I listen, even with the best of intentions. 2.3 stars.

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Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Review by The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 1975 was not a pleasant year for the progressive genre. Crimso disbanded, Genesis was balding, and there were, in fact, shirtless album covers on the way. So, what did Tull do in these unstable times? Release the greatest album ever created. Ever.

Okay, not necessarily true. In fact, there was a time when I hated every song on this album (loved the cover though). But times change, don't they? New songs become old friends. It has since become MY album. Ian was going through a messy divorce, see? He was sort of dating that seal lady from the last album. So, drawing inspiration from Aqualung, he created a set of loud/soft songs and called them Minstrel in the Gallery.

And what an opening number that "Minstrel" is. I could write the whole damn review about it (and probably will). The short version is simply that "Minstrel in the Gallery" is the song we've been waiting for since 1972 (and untopped till '78). It's a dark tune, which combines the best of both acoustic medieval Tull and hard rock Tull (which could also be a short review of the album), and it's quite possibly my favorite Tull tune ever.

Long version: although "Minstrel" arguably the hardest song in Tuller history (at least, before the heavy met-tull period), the song opens with the hushed speech of a herald or something to his lord and (ahem) lady. What follows is a decent little acoustic shuffle that is actually quite impressive considering that it's not really medieval instrumentation, just some acoustic guitars. Then we're slammed with elaborations on the main theme courtesy of Mr. Barre. It's essentially just two minutes of him showing off, but this was back when had off to show. Then we slide flawlessly into the final movement, and this is where the meat is.

The build in the intro is perfect. After that, the rest of the band falls away, and it's just Martin, Barrie and Ian's voice. Now, I know Martin's just beating his guitar into the ground, but it's fantastic. Then everyone starts up again, John Evan seemingly slamming his organ at random moments. And Jeffrey, holy crap Jeffrey, is the bass player supreme. I know he lacks the flashy technique of your Squires and Lees, but just listen to the tireless basslines under the third movement; except you can't really call them basslines, because it's an actual, independent melody that, if played by a guitar, would be totally accepted as a solo or something. It's real baroque music my friend, with everyone playing a part. Evan Ian gets some manic flute riffage in at the end of the song. The lyrics are also great; initially it seems to be sneering commentary from Ian the cynic, but in the end, it's also self commentary. Aww. My only complaint is that the flute is mixed a little low, but if you aren't blasting a song with a name like "Minstrel in the Gallery," then you must be missing something. In case you couldn't guess, it's my favorite song on the album.

Alright. Sorry. Damn that's a big paragraph. But it had to be written! Okay, a "Cold Wind to Valhalla" has a similar soft/loud arrangement, but it's not nearly as dry, since David Palmer brings the string arrangements pop back in. Oh well. The strings under the intro are the loveliest thing he's done this side of Stormwatch. The rest of the song isn't bad either (it's a good ole Viking number), Barrie's drumming is great, Ian's vocals are theatrical, Martin's soloing is neat, and John slams the organ some more.

"Black Satin Dancer" is a little over the top perhaps, but at its core, it's a beautiful song. It's another loud/soft arrangement, although more frequently interspersed. It's a strained, pained waltz, speeding up and slowing down at will; and it has possibly the best guitar solo on the album. Really heartfelt that. Martin uses more echo here, and on the whole album, than anywhere else in the Tull catalogue (I think everyone does). "Requiem," a shorter, acoustical song, is just a tad on the throwaway side. I mean, it's gorgeous sure, but it's just sort of atmosphere (plus the strings are a little too much). "One White Duck/Nothing At All" is a bit better. The tune is more fleshed out than "Requiem," even if the instrumentation isn't. And it's a little longer. But what do I care? It's a more solid piece.

The next number is where it sort of falls apart. "Baker Street Muse" is a bit of a side long epic, probably set up to be the set piece of the album. However, "Supper's Ready" it is not. It starts with a fairly clever back-and-forth introductory movement, but it all heads south from there. The repetitive "Pig-me and the Whore" recalls some of the more repetitive parts of Passion Play, but at least it's headbangin'. "Crash-Barrier Waltzer," however, recalls some of the more repetitive, dull parts of Passion Play.

And the "No Time for Time Magazine" bit is the only thing on the album that actually pisses me off. It's just dull as dirt. We pick up a little bit with "Mother England Reverie," with a cool reference to the title tune. Finally, we close with a reprise of the intro, and a fairly clever ending with Ian leaving the studio. The whole piece is well played, and lyrics are pretty damn good, and there's not much offensive about it (barring "No Time"). But I can get well played, well lyriced Tull tunes elsewhere, in places that don't frequently bore me.

After all that, we close with the acoustic "Grace," and what a closer. It's about forty seconds long, but it's beautiful. And funny, the greatest lyrics on the album. Definitely one of my favorite album closers of all time, right up there with "Pigs on a Wing," "Vivaldi With Cannon" and "Aisle of Plenty."

Honestly though, if you want, you can consider this a 3.5, I won't hold a gun to your back. I mean, it's not like it gives us anything particularly new, the ground we're covering here has already been trod upon by Aqualung, Thick and Passion Play. In fact, it's often compared to Aqualung in both style and mood, and Aqualung is a far superior album (plenty more diverse too). Still, I feel there's enough in favor of the album to warrant a four.

For one thing, in the middle of concept albums growing more and more over the top, I like the respite that Minstrel provides us. It's the first album to break that chain since Aqualung, and is really more down to its level. Some people would have liked it to keep up the theme of minstrels performing for a lord, but I like the little, "Baker Street Muse, take one..." spoken intros. It gives the record an unpolished feel that fits the cold, dry mood perfectly.

And, while some people consider this to be the most concentrated Tull-style album in Jethro Ian history, I find it to be one of the most unique (something like Stormwatch seems much more "style-concentrated" to me). I mean, obviously Minstrel borrows a lot from Aqualung, but there are several things about it that are never repeated. For one thing, Ian drops the world view and takes a totally introverted approach, something that wouldn't really be repeated until his solo work, and even then, the attitude was totally different. In fact, the sound is totally isolated (other than the echoey guitar) from the records around it, possibly because they were trying to create an old fashioned "dry" album smack dab in the middle of a bunch of lush prog (Passion Play, Warchild, and they were just gonna do Too Old in a year anyway). It's like the band was trying to craft a very progressive masterpiece using just their instruments; no spacey keyboards, no sound effects. No accordions (which I'll miss) or saxes (which I won't bring up). And when they stick to those guns, it works.

And, the flow is really amazing. I don't know who pointed this out to me (I think it was someone on Amazon.com of all places), but "Black Satin Dancer" to "Grace" can be heard as a single piece, tell a single story, just without the overblown sound effects and goofy instrumentation (usually); the "Minstrel in the Gallery suite," if you will (that was me). Yep. Even "Baker Street" renders itself to this. I mean, you can listen to each song individually, but I sort of miss the surrounding bits and pieces when I do.

This is one of those rare cases of a progressive epic holding actual, real world resonance with the listener. Ian screwed up with his wife. Boom. We've all been there (maybe not with a wife, of course); I have. And remember Aqualung? His father was dying? This is the last time that we'll see this on an album; just Ian and Jeffrey sitting in the studio, playing acoustics (this album and, oddly enough, "Under Wraps #2," proved to me the power of the acoustic guitar as a progressive instrument).

But for me, you can't forget the opener and the closer, arguably the greatest in Tull's history. The mood is great, the flow is great, but you can't beat "Minstrel" and "Grace." Also, this is the last album by the "classic Tull" lineup. Jeffrey left, which means that his lyrical bass, moody input and humorous personality will forever be missed. David Palmer started to move in closer until he became a second keyboardist, a move about which I've always wondered. So dig this final album, the first in a long line of lasts, while you can.

(Now, I know what you're thinking! With five whole bonus tracks, surely the rating will be raised by sheer numbers! Uh, no. Along with the hard rockers and acoustic musings of Aqualung, Minstrel shares the curse of "no good bonus tracks." Not a one. The first three are studio outtakes. "Summerday Sands" is an inoffensive orchestral bloozy rocker, with the emphasis on "orchestral" rather than "rocker," tracing its roots back to the Stand Up material. But it's nothin' special. "March the Mad Scientist" is slightly better. It's the only thing that could have worked on the album; it's short, it's cold, it's acoustic, it's utterly stripped down. It's also my favorite track. "Pan Dance" is a bit of cute flute fluff that's amusing the first listen, but it very quickly becomes dull. I was hoping for something a little more along the lines of "King Henry's Madrigal." Oh well, surely the live tracks are good, how could we mess those up? Well, they ain't none of them complete! That sucks. What sucks more is that it's not John Glascock (I don't think) who's singing in the background, so it must be Jeffrey, which means that Ian has classic Tull material that he's not releasing! HEY! GIVE US OUR LIVE JEFFREY (oh, and, uh, everyone else too)! Oh well. I'm not going to lower the remaster rating, but aside from "March," there's not a lot of incentive to listen after "Grace.")

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Send comments to The Whistler (BETA) | Report this review (#120166) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, April 30, 2007

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars MINSTREL IAN ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

This is 1975. JETHRO TULL is one of the biggest names at the time. Concerts are sold out, LPs sales garnish the bank accounts of our 5 musicians plenty ,especially the one from the man who has all the writing credits. Even if WARCHILD was not a masterpiece, even if the rock journalists liked to put the band down back then, JETHRO TULL was on top of the -rock-world.

MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY is considered generally as one of the main achievements of IAN and friends...and rightly so.All the elements that make JETHRO TULL are here: a lot of nice acoustic guitar and flute, heavy BARRE guitar breaks, lush classical string arrangements...and of course the strong and distinct voice of its leader.

Often considered as an acoustic or folk album, there is more than that to describe MINSTREL. You will definitely find 2 distinct sides of JT music on this album:

-the hard rocking side with the first 3 tracks of the album. The title track, even starting falsely as an acoustic ballad,transforms itself into one of the most violent songs JETHRO TULL would record. A lot of energetic guitar breaks from MARTIN who is given freedom of expression by master IAN, and believe me, our guitarist is taking advantage of it. No way of stopping him.He fully unleash mean riffs after each other like a possessed demon.

COLD WIND TO VALHALLA follows the same pattern starting as gentle scottish country ballad in the typical JT vein until MARTIN BARRE and the rythm section of BARLOW and HAMMOND-HAMMOND appear again to make this song a nice rocker. BARRE add some tastefully licks and sound like he is having some really good time with his -almost steel sounding-guitar .Great vocal performance from IAN ANDERSON as well

BLACK SATIN DANCER is my favorite track of the album. Great melody, great string arrangements in the back and of course the king is once again MARTIN BARRE performing one of his most magnificent solo ever before throwing again some breaking riffs like a hungry man. I just i love the groove of this song.

-the acoustic side of the band with the rest of the album: REQUIEM is one of those typical ANDERSONERIES with only IAN, his acoustic guitar and the lush violin arrangements from DAVID PALMER who was quite omnipresent at this time .A very pleasnt smooth song. No BARRE guitar to break the song as surely, he has been given the day off by IAN.

ONE WHITE DUCK/NOTHING AT ALL comes after in the same spirit than its predecessor. Another great melody only with acoustic guitar and the string quartet. Once again ,the rest of the band is not going to get a paycheck with this song as they are missing in action or maybe they were at the beach as the album was recorded in MONACO.

Then follows the ''epic'' of the album: the 16 mns BAKER ST MUSE; That's quite an interesting piece of music with some very good parts, but also some other parts are dragging the song a little bit. MARTIN BARRE and the rest of the band are back and bring some energy well needed to keep the song interesting throughout the 16 mns.BAKER is a pleasant song to listen to, complete with all the TULL caracteristics that make the band great- nice acoustic parts, a nice rocking side, some medieval influence, this old Britain feel- but i think it would have sounded better with a shortened version as there is a feeling of sameness at the end, at least for me. The album ends with another short acoustic/string number GRACE.

The bonus tracks are OK, but not great enough to add another star! MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY would have been a total masterpiece if not for the over-extended BAKER ST MUSE. Would have this song been shortened and the missing space replaced by another great track, i'd give 5 stars.So.......wil be.

4 STARS

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Send comments to febus (BETA) | Report this review (#134704) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 24, 2007

Review by Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album sounded pretty good when I first heard it. The clips sounded good, so I bought the album, and the album sounded as good as the clips had me expecting. It was clearly no Thick as a Brick or A Passion Play (both in terms of style/structure and quality), but it was a solid shift for the band, and possibly a better album than the much-loved Aqualung. While on the first couple listens I was convinced, I found myself rarely wanting to give the album a spin as the months progressed. First off, why would I want to when I had those two juggernauts next to it? It hardly competed in the beginning, and now it started to become clear that this album isn't that great by itself. As time went on, the album seemed less and less good. I could barely sit through the first two songs, which I would say are the best tracks on the album, and I definitely couldn't get through the entire "Baker St. Muse," a near-17 minutes of unremarkable music. I could pin this to my change in musical taste, which I prefer to call the "maturation of my taste," but for whatever the reason, this album lost it's appeal almost completely over the three years that I owned it. It's not devoid of goodness; the goodness is just scattered about the album among an equal number of not-so-goodness. There really aren't any bad parts, but there are so many parts that go by unnoticed it's almost worse than having a couple bad parts.

I feel like my review is too focused on the negatives. Here are some positives: The opening two numbers, "Minstrel in the Gallery" and "Cold Wind to Valhalla," have some catchy melodies and good riffing and what not. They are good songs that certainly deserve to be on a compilation of the band's best songs. Actually, these two songs may have been what tricked me into buying the whole album. The epic has some good spots, but hardly enough to justify the length. They probably did it to let the fans still salivating over the 40-minute epics of years past down easily, as they would never write such long songs again. I bet a more serious Tull fan than myself can find more to like about this album, but for me this is a decent album that isn't quite worth my time anymore. It's most likely worth a shot for you, the reader, though.

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Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Graceful

After the dual flop that was the fantastically controversial A Passion Play and the ripely mediocre WarChild this album saw the Tull boys retreat further back into their less ''experimental'' form. Indeed, while the cover looks reminiscent of their Aqualung days, the music sounds somehow familiar as well. Maybe it's the bringing forward of the flute once more and maybe it's just the lessening of the keyboards in the overall sound, but somehow this is a regressive step forward for the band.

The views of this album are very much scattered. It's often called Tull's heaviest and most ''Metal'' album. And while that's clear in some very heavy passages in some songs the feel is often harshly offset by a very folky feel coming from what causes other people to call the album Tull's most acoustic outing. Certainly one of these parties must be wrong in some way? Not really, but it's heard to group the band into any one category, as is this album. Definitely, this is one of Tull's heaviest albums at times, but at others it's also Tull's most delicate... and yes, it is very much acoustic in sound and feel. The album's title track is really the song on the album which defines this. It's also the opening track, which is nice as it introduces you to the sound at hand. Indeed, a lot of the music sounds like minstrels playing to a gallery, as evident by the almost inaudible spoken intro. A soft intro leads into a very heavy section in which the flutes proceed to add life as they so often do.

From there on out on out the material is more or less divided into the two camps, the heavy and the soft. Cold Wind To Valhalla is a chilling and heavy song that makes great use of the guitar while Black Satin Dancer takes another page from the heavy book. It really is the longest track on the album that takes the cake though. Baker St. Muse is Tull's last ''epic'' and certainly a fine moment in their career. Using all the unique elements of the album they're able to create something fairly difficult to describe -- Electric and acoustic guitars mix with the flute to tell the tale. This may not sound much different from the rest of the band's body of work, but it's the extreme contrast between the light and slow moments and the dark and heavy moments that really jars the audience and gets a reaction.

The other songs on the album are the softer tracks which are all very calming and unique, but not necessarily standouts so much as the other tracks on the album. However, thanks to their somehow blissful tone they add to the album quite well as opposed to taking away from it.

Not Tull's best album by any stretch of the imagination this is still an excellent work by them which any progger would be proud to display in their collection. It's the heavy moments that make the album here, but be prepared for a nice amount of contrast and quick jumps from fast and heavy to slow and soft. 4 stars! Recommended for Tull fans, and anyone who likes a little fluting with their guitar.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#168709) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008

Review by TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Review 47, Minstrel In The Gallery, Jethro Tull, 1975

StarStarStarStar

This is one of the more interesting Tull albums from the point of view of a progressive rock fan. Not only is there a twenty minute suite (epic!!!111) with a string quartet behind it, but there's also a range of the various material that Tull seem to have attacked in their time. However, it doesn't really fully satisfy me. It has dramatically grown on me (with quite a lot of listens. I suppose if I'd shelved it earlier I wouldn't like it as much as I do now), but even now I don't particularly care for large parts of the album. Still, this is a daring effort, the string quartet is incorporated very well on Baker Street Muse, and there is enough great material to satisfy the discerning prog-fan.

Minstrel In The Gallery itself, for all the people fawning over it, hasn't really caught onto me. Sure, the basic elements of Tull are there, including cunning acoustic strumming, medieval noises, Martin Barre's hard-rocking guitar, Ian Anderson's occasional flautistry and sarcastic and semi-nonsensical lyrics. The sound is extremely stripped away, leaving really only Anderson and Barre respectively dominating sections of the piece with some general crashing from Barlowe in the background and a couple of hums from Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond. There is no real depth to the piece, and I just find that an awkward listen. Not to say there aren't some very impressive moments both on acoustics and electrics (with complimentary drums), but there are substantial sections of the eight minute track where I'm more bored than excited by the vaguely roaring guitar-work.

Cold Wind To Valhalla is rather different, again opening with a rather nice acoustic guitar and an appropriately Nordic feel, which is surprisingly well-complimented by the cello (I think; my ear for stringed instruments could be better). Again we have glimpses of a Tull whose enthusiasm for making noise seems a little disproportionate to their range of ideas, but overall we get a good dose of atmosphere, some really great moments from Anderson's vocals especially as well as surprisingly gritty and potent guitar-work. Some very nice dissonant violins over the top, and it is overall an extremely enjoyable piece.

Black Satin Dancer is the first indication of the album really picking up. Just about everything possible was included on the song, whether that's the quartet, piano, flute, or a rather more dominant rhythm section, with whatever percussion Barriemore Barlowe could find thrown I all around the song. Anderson's lyrics are enchanting, medieval and excellently sung. Martin Barre's dissonance and moody guitar heroics are very well-complimented by a throbbing Hammond bass-line. The classic flute parts are originally used on this one, and Ian Anderson's 'fwubbah, flubbah' shouting is no less than hilarious. We do get glimpses of darker organ, and John Evan seems rather more comfortable contributing to this one. The final reprise manages a slowed version of parts of the song with a phenomenal fun factor Great song, extremely catchy, and air xylophone abounds.

Requiem is another enjoyable piece, with the acoustic and the violin quartet being most prominent. I do rather like the string arrangement, and overall sound is very good. Ian Anderson's sad vocal and final twists on the acoustic guitar give the piece a rather darker feel.

One White Duck/ O^10 = Nothing At All is another acoustic-strings piece (with a plucked violin, if I hear correctly). The opening half, One White Duck, is a beautiful piece with emotional and bitterness oozing from every sound and excellent lyrical material. The more sarcastic 0^10 is a more acquired piece, with only a punchy and rather aggressive acoustic and vocal. Both of these features are excellent, but the final verse of the lyrics is truly an extreme example of cryptic, deliberately obtuse lyrics. Even I don't really care for them.

Baker Street Muse is the album's highlight, I think, even if the flow doesn't always quite work. A combination of the clever lyrics, the acoustics and the string quartet is the connecting factor for the piece. The first section, Baker Street Muse, features both the more awkward rocking Tull of this album (with a really wallowing main riff made up for by decent solos, especially flute) and the clever acoustic and quartet that really could have handled the piece without the band's help. The reliance on vocals and acoustics really does give it a one-man's-journey feel that is entirely welcome.

A jumpy acoustic so typical of Anderson leads onto Pig-Me And The Whore, packed full of innuendo, great guitar-work from Martin Barre and even a much-missed swelling organ. Following about a minute of this, an instrumental section features, spotlighting Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond's bass and a xylophone or similar percussive creature.

Crash Barrier Waltzer is a more lamentful and narrative piece, with an excellent combination of chord and note acoustic guitar, as well as the album's best use of the strings. We get a beautiful and thoughtful instrumental mainly created by the flute and acoustics.

Mother England Reverie is where everything really comes together, with the band and the quartet contributing in equal measure. The piano and acoustics really seem to merge with the strings on the initial part, and the transition to a full on rock section is more than welcome, managing to hammer through ideas with more than just noise. A rather awkward choice of transition moves to a repeat of the earlier 'Indian restaurants that curry my brain' section, to a vicious organ hum. We have some sophisticated working-out of earlier themes before the conclusion which must feature Martin Barre's finest guitar solo, as well as an acoustic-and-orchestra inclusive take on the standard thunderous blues ending.

Grace is an acoustic end to the album, lasting for maybe 20 seconds, but providing a nice cohesive, and either resigned or positive end to the album proper, depending on how you want to look at it.

Onto the bonus goodies: Summerday Sands is a Tullish acoustic single, which isn't bad, with a few grand moments, but a not-particularly-impressive chorus. Still, the acoustics are quite nice, and the song's not so bad as to ruin the album. March The Mad Scientist is a much more impressive piece, with a seriously excellent set of acoustics and bass, including a slight development of the theme of Only Solitaire. Everything is rather well-handled. Great piece. Pan Dance has the feel of a more basic Tull instrumental, with a clear flute that you wouldn't really expect from Ian Anderson. I do love it, but it's pretty indescribable.

The live version of Minstrel In The Gallery is much more concise and likable with none of the electric wallowing I have issues with and some excellent harmonies and playing from Barlowe. I suppose it won't satisfy those who like the stripped-back guitar sound, but it works for me. Cold Wind To Valhalla feels a lot more lively, with a better flute sound, at least. Unfortunately, the length is reduced so much as to be more a preview of the live version rather than a proper track. It doesn't work too badly as a conclusion, however, and the bonuses are a nice set, I think.

Ah, strings are a quintet with four violins and a cello. Apologies for laziness, but my energy levels aren't high enough to go back and fix everything. Anyway, I'm going to say that the album as a whole has some extremely interesting moments, but doesn't really satisfy me consistently enough. I have understated my love for the lyrical content of Baker Street Muse, because I feel that lyrics are something that a person should create their own opinion and understanding of. You could do a lot worse, and Baker Street Muse is a must-have for any fan of the more unusual side of Tull.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: Baker Street Muse

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Send comments to TGM: Orb (BETA) | Report this review (#172400) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars A great return to form!

After the two relatively weaker albums A Passion Play and War Child, Minstrel In The Gallery was a powerful return to form and thus at the time of its release the best Jethro Tull album since Thick As A Brick. As such, this album proved once and for all that the brilliant combo of Aqualung and Thick As A Brick had not been a fluke and that Jethro Tull was still a force to be reckoned with; they could still deliver works of the highest caliber.

Not only in terms of the high quality of the material but also stylistically was Minstrel In The Gallery more similar to Aqualung and Thick As A Brick than to A Passion Play and War Child. The saxophone was no more, for example. But, in its folky nature, Minstrel In The Gallery also pointed clearly towards what the band would go on to do in the future on albums like Songs From The Wood, Heavy Horses and Stormwatch.

Minstrel In The Gallery remains one of Jethro Tull's better albums and is of course highly recommended!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#177290) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008

Review by LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is rather highly rated, but I feel it is rather weak and uninspired compared to comparably ranked discs from this band.

Minstrel in the Gallery is considered basically the first proper album since Thick as a Brick, with the two in between being discounted for various reasons. However, I find it to be less interesting and compositionally weaker on the whole than its predecessor, Warchild. Part of the problem lies with the band trying too hard again to be progressive, the same flaw that struck down A Passion Play. Instead, we get some great songs and some songs that sound like they were put through a blender by a polar bear. The album comes across as uneven and kind of trite. The folk elements are less present again than they were in Thick as a Brick and much less so than they will be in Songs from the Wood. Rather, we get a kind of progressive hard rock at points. The flute is often quieter than it should be, as well.

The title track has some fascinating instrumentation, but the transitions are frequently painful and sometimes laughable. It almost feels like the ideas in this song should be stretched into 16 minutes and not the spread-thin pieces of Baker St. Muse. The vocal melodies in Minstrel are quite catchy, and several of the instrumental portions rank up there with Tull's all time greatest, but the track is held back by some equally bad ideas spread out in there, too, and a general sense of unpolished roughness that doesn't fit very well. Cold Wind to Valhalla is a wilder, more energetic track with a lot of great singing and band interplay. The rest of the songs till the rather long Baker St. Muse are mostly unremarkable. That track, then, has some wonderful pieces composed by the band, but it also runs a lot longer than seems warranted. The short mini-track Grace then wraps up the album.

In all, there are some really fantastic moments here, but the presence of some rather weak moments drag this album back down to mediocrity. For fans of Tull, even casual fans, but nothing particularly special on the whole.

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Send comments to LiquidEternity (BETA) | Report this review (#184368) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, October 02, 2008

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Even with the lack of flute, this is still an example of Jethro Tull at their best. I got this album as a Christmas gift, and even though I knew a couple of tracks, I did not expect to be incarcerated by such a grand set of songs. Each one brings me to a mellow state, all while demonstrating Jethro Tull's abilities as musicians. The greatest asset to this album is Ian Anderson's voice and the vocal melodies he sings. Certainly some of the songs are straightforward folk songs, with simple acoustic guitar and basic melodies, but they are still only an asset to this remarkable record. Also, if one can nab a copy with the bonus tracks, one should do so.

"Minstrel in the Gallery" One of my favorite Jethro Tull songs, I delight in the spoken word before the actual piece suggesting a present audience (which manifests itself in the drunk-sounding singing-along also). This song contains one of the most amazing vocal melodies ever written, not to mention the usual charming lyrics. The electric guitar work is stupendous, with crunchy chords and ragged runs. The instrumental section, laden with electric guitar and cowbell and bass as it is, would be at home in the heavy progressive rock subgenre. I also appreciate how Anderson sings the same lyrics over different melodies. It's an amazing track, and I'm glad to be one of the "smiling faces" looked down upon.

"Cold Wind to Valhalla" One of the few tracks to feature flute, the second one has powerful guitar and drumming, not to mention the constant on this album- amazing vocal melodies and insightful lyrics. The bass also stands out more so than on other tracks.

"Black Satin Dancer" With powerful piano, prominent strings, and yet another excellent vocal melody, the listener is in for a treat. Martin Barre delivers a potent guitar solo, before the music flutters away to the same chords and Anderson on his most present flute performance on the album. The respite of the piano and Anderson's voice at the end is a brief one, but the orchestra takes advantage of an opportunity to shine.

"Requiem" Acoustic guitar and Anderson's peaceful voice, accompanied by a subtle bass and string section, make up a wonderful portion of the album. Anderson's voice somehow has a strong tremolo applied to some of his words, which only adds to the atmosphere. Despite it's brevity, this is one of my favorite tracks on the album. This is as lovely as it gets.

"One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All" Another folksy number, full of vocal tremolo, greets the listener here. This is really a two-part track though: The first half is a more subdued song, with yet another magnificent melody, but the second half is harder, even though the acoustic guitar is still the dominant instrument. And, as usual, the vocal melody is nothing less than outstanding, and the words make for excellent poetry.

"Baker St. Muse" Opening with an expletive-laden "first take," the epic of the album features some smooth guitar playing before Anderson starts singing over the piano and orchestra. And, as is the case, the vocal melody carries the track all the way through. This song has one of the most interesting arrangements ever, and I am always blown away by how the different parts are put together. Martin Barre's electric guitar playing is absolutely phenomenal on this one. As is usual, the acoustic guitar plays a major role on this song. This is simply one of those compositions that belongs on the same echelon as the touted and (sometimes despised, as in the case of the latter) "Thick as a Brick" or "A Passion Play."

"Grace" Very similar to previous acoustic-driven pieces, this has Anderson employing that heavy tremolo on his voice. This song lasts less than thirty-four seconds, despite the track time.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#204404) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Fizzles out after a great start. ''Minstrel in the Gallery'' and ''Cold Wind to Valhalla'' are great folk-rock/hard rock tracks with the former having one of Barre's most killer riffs at the halfway point. Both are high points of the Jethro Tull canon.

Unfortunately, things start to slip. ''Black Satin Dancer'' has an orchestral problem, meaning that the orchestra practically constipates the song quite a bit. It's not bad, especially when Martin Barre is given room to go nuts. Following this are two tracks I question the merits of. ''Requiem'' and ''One White Duck'' are just Ian and his guitar, and I find them rather irritating. It's not like on AQUALUNG where the acoustic dabbles were short, sweet and tolerable; here, both last too long while nothing essential happens.

''Baker St. Muse'' is the album's opportune moment to gain momentum. However, the themes seem scatterbrained without much direction. It suffers the same problem as A PASSION PLAY in that there are simply too many ideas running rampant with only the ''A Nice Little Tune'' segment being of any interest to me.

MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY a hard rock and folk rock cross that sounds interesting at the beginning, but stumbles at the finish. If you want this album, get the CD remaster that contains the ''Pan Dance'' track, a superb, mystic flute-led instrumental that could easily fit on a HEAVY HORSES type of album.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#208998) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 27, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
2 stars Minstrel In The Gallery is one of the fan favourites but it has always escaped me why. Right from the first time I heard it I was amazed at the lack of passion in this music. Was this the same band that had created poignant masterpieces such as Taab or Stand Up?

Of course, Jethro Tull is a very diverse band so it is no surprise that fans tend to pick completely different favourites, depending on the aspects that please them the most in Tull's sound. For me this album lacks enough compelling song writing to make it stand out above average Tull music. Another criticism I have is that they tried too much to return to the success formula that was called Aqualung. Both the 'harsh' sound and the acoustic versus 'hard' rocking nature of the songs are a clear nod to territories they had visited before.

And the backwards looking recipe did not inspire them to great song writing. The opener Minstrel In The Gallery is exemplary. It seems to be in search for a memorable tune for its entire 8 minutes but it doesn't happen. The song has some raw power yes, but it lacks the inspiration to charm me. It's also saddening to hear how old and drained this band sounds. Well , they were 8 albums into their career already.

Cold Wind to Valhalla and the charming One White Duck are the only songs that have any lasting effect on me. Actually this would be the only two tracks that I have occasionally been returning to over the years. Baker Street Muse is ambitious and has a few nice sections, such as the softer middle part, but generally I would have to repeat the same criticisms that I have summed up for the title track. It's slightly better but never does this sparkle with the creativity and enthusiasm that kept Taab and Passion Play going for more then 40 minutes.

This sits somewhere between 2 and 3 stars, decidedly better then War Child or Heavy Horses.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#253571) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 30, 2009

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
2 stars If IAN ANDERSON is a deft writer of lyrics and flute and acoustic guitar player, these qualities have always been offset by a voice that grates after at best half an album, an unredeemable cynical edge to his themes, his dictatorship over the band, and a blend of folk and hard rock that misses more than it hits. As a prog folky, I felt like "Minstrel in the Gallery" would finally be "Tull" does "Amazing Blondel", but Anderson lacks the warmth and devotion to the folk idiom that would be required. While this clearly works for the massed prog fans who like to feel they have a folk side, his success depends on that side rarely surfacing in any authentic way. So this 1975 offering is really an exercise in flat and rote verbose Elizabethan hard rock more than anything.

Most of the track lengths are generous, and certainly some development does occur, but even the pleasing structure of "Black Satin Dancer" cannot hide the cacophony that comprises its bulk. The title cut is even worse, as there seems no transition between introductory acoustic phrasings and the raunchy majority of the exercise. For that reason, "One White Duck" is by far the most effective piece, as it includes two folkier tracks, the first mellow and intensely melodic, the second more expressive and classically Tull, but remaining focused primarily on harmonics. It manages to convey the general album theme of the unfulfilled minstrel better than anything else here. "Baker St Muse" has some fine moments in the middle but suffers along with most of its ilk from lack of cohesion and melodic strength, and a tendency to resort to a surfeit of wailing guitars and flutes to cover the dearth of inspiration..

JETHRO TULL's eclectic mix of prog, hard rock, classical and folk suffers from a lack of emotion and genuine minstrelsy on this 1975 release, which is maybe Anderson's point after all, as it is more of a piece in a rogues' gallery than an intrinsically valuable work of art.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#258975) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 02, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars After the somewhat pop styled War Child, Tull came back with the much more prog Minstel In The Gallery. And mostly, this is a worthy album.

The title track, in a much longer form than is was usually played live, is a great prog piece. It's outlandish, bombastic, and has lots of unexpected twists and turns. And it's the best song on the album. Cold Wind To Valhalla takes a bit to rev up, but once it gets going, it has a good solid prog feel.

I must admit, I never really got One White Duck, despite it apparently being one of Anderson's favorites, being played on countless tours. It seems to be inferior to many of his other folky tunes. Listenable, but forgattable.

And Baker St. Muse. I know it's a favorite of many here, and it does have it's moments. But it's only moments. The song starts out a bit mundane, gets very good, then let's down quite a bit, and then repeats the good part. Why is this a favorite?

3.5 stars, rounded up. And so ends Tull's proggiest period.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#273539) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For all intents and purposes I am amazed when looking back at the discography that War Child happend before Minstrel. I mean Minstrel is a superb conceptual piece and WC a bit of a mishmash albeit quality mishmash. JT produced Minstrel in 1975, the highpoint of prog creativity speaking and it demonstrates it too, really quality stuff but the song writing is just one tiny hamper short of a picnic. The title song is awesome and an eight minute classic, as is " Black Satin Dancer" but after that the album trembles a wee bit. Anderson as usual in complete control like salmon fishing on a remote loch, but the final result strays a bit. The long drawn out " Baker St' Muse" is sadly just that a tad overbaked but otherwise an excellent rare classic. Overall the album is very good. Three and a half stars.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#290569) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 16, 2010

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Easily my favorite Tull album after "Thick as a Brick" and "Aqualung", Minstrel in the Gallery sits nicely between the two in terms of proggish composision and classic rock grooves; the energy, feel, variety, and dynamic amongst the group on this one is outstanding.

The title track opens things up with a acoustic intro, then gives way to seriously rockin' guitar and organ-led jams, with complex playing and great vocals by Anderson. I was exceptionally surprised and pleased when I first heard this track-- it has great rock energy played with the distinctive Tull style.

"Cold Wind to Valhalla" keep the energy going with an upbeat tempo, the inclusion of strings, and ambitious song writing. This one has lots of twists and turns to keep things interesting and heavy-- especially for Tull. I was impressed with the rhythm section on this, who crank out a fast and razor sharp foundation throughout. "Black Satin Dancer" complements "Valhalla" nicely, varying the tempo a bit but keeping up the powerful mood and style-- great guitar solo by Barre; in fact, the guitar playing throughout this album is stellar. The next two tracks are beautiful acoustic pieces with string accompaniment, showing a folksy side to this otherwise rock-oriented album with a nice change to balladry.

The closer is an extended track with lots of variety, again showing off an exceptional level of song writing ambiton-- which the band pulls off wonderfully. This album feels very much like a group effort and less like an Ian Anderson solo album, which is what I find some Tull albums to turn in. Minstrel in the Gallery is the complete Jethro Tull package-- filled with great variety, playing, and unique feel which makes this band one of a kind. If you're new to Tull and enjoyed their other key albums-- this is the next place to go!

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#303034) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, October 09, 2010

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars "Minstrel in the Gallery" is another one of the classic Jethro Tull albums that will divide reviewers as it is quite a bombastic little treasure, and not everyone is into Anderson's egotistic flights into fantasy. It is one of the first albums I heard from Tull and always enchanted me with it's humour and unique presence. On the title track there are inspirational guitars by the great Martin Barre.

"Cold Wind to Valhalla" brings the flute into play but this instrument is surprisingly left off most of the other tracks although it is Anderson's signature instrument. The bassline is wonderful on this too by Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond.

"Black Satin Dancer" is piano driven, with an excellent lead guitar solo. The flute makes another appearance and there is a full blown orchestra to enjoy.

"Requiem" is a trademark acoustic arrangement, Anderson loved to put at least one acoustic treasure on an album. Anderson's vocals are gentle and it is a peaceful atmosphere generated here.

"One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All" is a real curio that merges from light release prog to tense rock with soaring guitars.

"Baker St. Muse" is the epic of the album beginning with an 'outtake' and then Anderson launches into it headlong as the orchestra draws out a sweet melody. Barre once again has a chance to shine on guitar and he is given full reign as he literally explodes with an unrelenting force.

The bonus tracks are as good as bonus tracks can be, pleasant to hear but forgettable.

Thus an excellent album draws to a conclusion and it is definitely one of Tull's best though not to the standard of TAAB, Benefit or Aqualung. 4 shining stars.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#321774) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars The absolute greatest Jethro Tull album, a graceful and mellow little album.

No one track is greater than the other. I listen to this as if it is a concept album, has to be from start to finish (Well, I do that with pretty much all albums but this one just plain HAS to be listened to like that).

The title track is one of the greatest songs Tull has ever released, it starts off as an easy going folk song but the mood quickly switches to hard rock and the guitar playing by Barre is amazing during the shift. Anderson's singing is at it's most emotional and I suppose that's because he just suffered a breakup.

Cold Wind To Valhalla is a nice track that really grows on you after awhile. It is in the same vein as the opener and yet it's something completely different, just great stuff.

Black Satin Dancer is a very emotional love song that the band pulls off with perfection. Everything is done perfectly whether it's the guitar, flute or voice. Just perfect.

Requiem is a soft folk song who's purpose is to sort of even out the material. It's a great track and really feels good to the ears.

One White Duck/010=Nothing At All is another purely folk song that is a great anticipation builder for the upcoming epic. It is much in the same vein as Requiem and the lyrics on this are just fantastic.

Baker St. Muse, the epic. A great track too, one of the best Tull has ever pulled off. It's not too drawn out like their album long pieces and keeps the listener's attention whether it be through the lyrics or the instrumentation, it's all great. The many shifts from hard rock to folk really make this song (and album) great.

Grace is one of my favorite album closers ever. It does it's job perfectly, ends the album with a sort of tired feeling that somehow sums up the album even though it's only like 50 seconds long. Great closer.

It's the best Jethro Tull in my opinion, I'm not sure why people have such a hard time with it. Just take one good listen so you can really hear the music, I gurantee if you don't like it, it's better than you think.

"May I buy you again... tomorrow?"

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Send comments to The Truth (BETA) | Report this review (#332883) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After the stumble of War Child, Jethro Tull brushed themselves down and produced this one, which I consider to be something of a return to form. Bringing back the acoustic side of their sound which had been played down on War Child, adding an orchestra to some tracks (to little benefit, to be honest, but at least they don't do any harm), taking on a mildly medieval tone and tossing in a nicely structured epic (Baker Street Muse) for good measure, Tull go a long way towards reassuring the listener that, contrary to what those disappointed in War Child might have said about them, they were still capable of producing a decent album that wasn't a 40 minute suite. Of course, Too Old to Rock and Roll still awaited - and wasn't that a controversial one! - but here at least the band were riding high, and had good reason to.,

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Posted Monday, October 03, 2011

Latest members reviews

3 stars I don't hate this album, but this one isn't catchy as their previous works. Well, the first track is awesome. This is a way better than the previous one, War Child. I think this is still overrated. I don't know why a masterpiece album like A is underrated by the difference sounding (unfort ... (read more)

Report this review (#987187) | Posted by VOTOMS | Thursday, June 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This has to be one of Jethro Tull's finest moments. While the band often was able to evoke a very wonderful old English sound and feeling with their earlier music, Minstrel in the Gallery is a true triumph in this respect. Every song has the "prog-folk" feeling that was explored later in their t ... (read more)

Report this review (#950805) | Posted by Mr. Soot Gremlin | Saturday, April 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars That's better. I love the opener "Minstrel in the Gallery" and it rates up there with the very best of Tull numbers. It opens as an acoustic guitar driven bit of folk music where I love how the acoustic guitar punctuates the music into an electric rock masterpiece. This track goes into my dese ... (read more)

Report this review (#942598) | Posted by sukmytoe | Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another gem of a singular band. I can not find irrelevant parts. There are three perfect songs as Minstrel in the Gallery, Black Satin Dancer and Especially Baker St. Muse, a suite very different from his earlier and with a different theme, but well made. Regarding the rest, stand One With Duck ... (read more)

Report this review (#922556) | Posted by sinslice | Sunday, March 03, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Why five stars to "Minstrel"? 4,5 would fit better, perhaps. One way or another, it counts 5 up there. The album have as starter what everyone would expect of Jethro Tull looking in retrospective: the band (Barre, Hammond, Evan and Barlow - suberbs) going wild behind nice and structured melodies; ... (read more)

Report this review (#897363) | Posted by GKR | Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Jethro Tull had delivered many good records already before Minstrel in The Gallery. After a small dip with Warchild this is a record showing JT was getting bach in business again: great folkrock, hardrock with a technical aproach. The titletrack is without doubt the best track of the record. ... (read more)

Report this review (#623401) | Posted by the philosopher | Tuesday, January 31, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Following the finely written, but inconsistent 'War Child', 'Minstrel In The gallery' suffers from similar problems as its predecessor, but ends up being a much more consistent work. The production is also better, although quite unusual for Jethro Tull with its cold and dry sound (more like a ... (read more)

Report this review (#505347) | Posted by Ludjak | Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Minstrel in the Gallery is one of the most underrated albums of all time. Even Ian Anderson doesn't seem to enjoy it quite a lot. Yet, it is a beautiful and even combination of progressive rock, folk rock, acoustic and electric music. Wonderfully played and produced, of course, like Thick as a Bri ... (read more)

Report this review (#477659) | Posted by bfmuller | Wednesday, July 06, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I can't get out! Introduction I can easy say that Minstrel is the last ''classic'' from them, at least is the last album that can be compared with the sound of JT's masterpieces (even if it's not at their level), in this album Ian is at his best with the lyrics (I've spent quite a day to u ... (read more)

Report this review (#458793) | Posted by Erik Nymas | Friday, June 10, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Minstrel In The Gallery is great album. It is musically varied and took quite a few listens to grow on me. It was more than worth it. This was a spectacular change in sound by the band. There are some hard rock moments as well as acoustic verses. Martin Barre's guitar has a bit more edge than on ... (read more)

Report this review (#383548) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Thursday, January 20, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Minstrel in the Gallery is a really nice progressive album. There's full of medieval-like melodies and riffs and there's great rocking stuff too. It's really progressive and I guess there's no tracks in it and don't like. It sure isn't comparable to Thick as A Brick and A Passion Play but it is stil ... (read more)

Report this review (#301549) | Posted by The_Jester | Saturday, October 02, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ah! So you are at last digging deep into the Jethro Tull library!? Splendid! Then I shall start now! Minstrel In the Gallery is an album that is regarded among the people that have it, but it doesn't have the controversy or just strait popularity of THICK AS A BRICK or A PASSION PLAY. Thou ... (read more)

Report this review (#297152) | Posted by idoownu | Thursday, September 02, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Try as I might, I could not quite get into "Minstrel in the Gallery". It's a fair album for me, but nothing compared to "TAAB" or "A Passion Play", at that. It requires a number of listens to appreciate the few great moments present. The lyrics somewhat lack the "power" that was featured on th ... (read more)

Report this review (#290265) | Posted by Lark the Starless | Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I am a huge fan of (the second half) of War Child. I think that Minstrel In The Gallery also suffers from a similar condition to its predecessor. It is not consistent. Not to the same degree though. Its best efforts are not as good and its worst does not scrape the sea floor so deeply. I don't th ... (read more)

Report this review (#276657) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Tuesday, April 06, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This review is based on the regular CD without the bonus tracks included. I would consider this a more "folky" Tull than their previos album. Minstrel in the Gallery has always been one of my favorite Tull albums along with aqualung and Songs From the Wood. There is not a weak spot on the albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#271216) | Posted by mohaveman | Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One white duck on your wall. Minstrel in the gallery was the last Tull album i got into, and believe me, it took some serious listening to understand this album. This is to me, the most rewarding of the "less" popular Tull albums. There's a clear resemblence to Aqualung here, and if it wouldn't ... (read more)

Report this review (#253317) | Posted by paragraph7 | Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Jethro Tull's 1975 album, "Minstrel In The Gallery", is one of the most progressive records of the group, along with "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play". Ian's voice is perfect as always, creating a medieval atmosphere. His flute is a little less used here and, instead, we have very good passage ... (read more)

Report this review (#244817) | Posted by Augusto | Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The only deficiency in this album is its verbosity. Aside from 'Cold Wind to Valhalla', 'Requiem' and 'One White Duck', the music seems to meander on just a little bit too long. This is even the case with the two hallmarks of the album: the title track and 'Baker Street Muse. If only Ian had p ... (read more)

Report this review (#221711) | Posted by mr.cub | Thursday, June 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another classic release from Jethro Tull. Here you will find a solid mix between so many styles. From hard rock, to progressive rock, to folk and folk rock. Ian's flute and vocals pepper this album and add so many fanciful melodies to the work. Minstrel in the Gallery is a showcase of how t ... (read more)

Report this review (#211380) | Posted by Alitare | Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Grandiose , full of art , 1975 was a wrong timing for this superb album , it came after many masterpieces for JT , but it was also a must for that period . I've learned a lesson from dealing with giants bands like JT , i simply don't have to compare between their works , and i deal with ... (read more)

Report this review (#176363) | Posted by trackstoni | Tuesday, July 08, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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