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Jethro Tull - Heavy Horses CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.04 | 1195 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Jethro Tull have released so many albums over the years that it is easy to take it for granted that some albums become overrated or even maligned by music reviewers. "Heavy Horses" is one such album, receiving some scathing reviews and being critiqued as focussing too much on a pastoral woodland atmosphere, treated like a crop that has failed. I had heard the album years ago and let it rest not having made my mind up what to make of this approach. Tull moved into mainstream pop sounds in the 80s with oddball tracks such as 'Lap of Luxury' or 'Steel Monkey' so at least 1978's "Heavy Horses" has a progressive feel and some killer tracks such as the title track.

There are many great moments on the album although overall it does not meet a consistent standard of excellence. 'Heavy Horses' is undoubtedly the showstopper with enough melodic hooks that saw it gain some success on the music charts. It opens with a classic riff that is well known. It moves into a verse sung with feeling; "Iron-clad feather-feet pounding the dust, An October's day, towards evening, Sweat embossed veins standing proud to the plough, Salt on a deep chest seasoning, Last of the line at an honest day's toil, Turning the deep sod under, Flint at the fetlock, chasing the bone, Flies at the nostrils plunder." The mid section builds into a canter and encapsulates a joyous spirit augmented by exuberant violin.

'One Brown Mouse' is another highlight worth attention, along with the other rodent track '...And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps', a title reminding me of a Frank Zappa song. On the opening track the flute warbles and twitters from the outset, and Anderson's vocals are often multi layered to good effect. He incorporates an acoustic touch and there are some glorious Hammond organ flourishes. I am not a fan of the ending mantra though. 'One Brown Mouse' has acoustic vibrations and beautiful woodwind along with a nice melody. The lyrics are sweet natured; "Puff warm breath on your tiny hands, You wish you were a man, who every day can turn another page, Behind your glass you sit and look at my ever-open book, One brown mouse sitting in a cage."

Not everything works as some songs feel mediocre and are all but forgotten outside of the Tull fanatic fanbase. However Martin Barre's awesome guitar work is always a delight and he shines here with extended lead breaks on 'No Lullaby' and 'Heavy Horses'. The violin appearances are welcome too, but there is not enough excitement and it meanders along in some songs such as 'Weathercock'.

'Acres Wild' is acoustics and flute pastoral nuances with some banjo and Daryl Way's violin thrown in creating folk atmospheres. The album has its fair share of complex mini epics such as 'No Lullaby' with odd time signatures and some song within a song sections. John Glascock and Barriemore Barlow have a field day and the band certainly adopt a progressive approach.

'Moths' moves into lighter territory, medieval guitars, floating flute and raspy Anderson vox, but it goes on too long and is lyrically uninspiring. 'Journeyman' has a few Barre riffs over a cool funky bassline. The sig is very off kilter and the flute twitters elegantly as an embellishment to Anderson's storytelling vocals. 'Rover' has some nice acoustic and flute interplay. Anderson's vocals are again multi tracked and raspy so it kind of grates on the nerves.

The album is inconsistent but houses some gems so is worth a listen though I have heard way better from this legendary band.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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