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Jethro Tull - Heavy Horses CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.04 | 1233 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars JETHRO TULL was always the band I should have loved, and, though many individual songs enchanted me over the years, I could never stomach Ian Anderson's vocals for very long, but at the same time an instrumental Tull album would have sounded like...what? In 1977, they released "Songs from the Wood", around the same time I was getting into British Isles folk rock, beginning with STRAWBS, waving at FAIRPORT CONVENTION, and camping out with STEELEYE SPAN. I would soon deduce that, while TULL did an admirable job reproducing that olde Englishe sound, those other bands really lived and breathed it, and they sang a whole lot better too. So TULL continued to inhabit that netherworld, where I should have gaily romped but kept stumbling mid-skip.

I was vaguely aware that "Heavy Horses" was a less wholeheartedly Celtic follow up to "Songs from the Wood", but, with its 40th anniversary fast approaching, and with my not having committed to my quota of 1 new Tull album a decade, I decided to give it a full airing. More muscular, modern, and committed than its predecessor, its songs are at least as appealing, and, apart from in the dreadful "No Lullaby", in full service of a loose thematic concept executed as though it were a lost gospel. Even Anderson's voice seems mixed just right, again apart from "No Lullaby" and the mediocre bonus cuts, which were wisely left off the original. I think one of them is supposed to be a variation on "Hard Times"; do yourself a favor and seek out a version by anybody else, like DE DANAAN for instance.

The rest is uniformly brilliant, and it's nigh impossible to pick out a few highlights, but the vivacious "Moths", the more bluesy "Journeyman", and the intensely melodic "Rover", form quite a sturdy spine, with a plethora of flutes, bass, guitars, The opener refers to the "Mouse Police" as being the country cats, with tails at half mast, and affirm Anderson's love of and respect for the smallest feline. You can also see where bands like the MORRIGAN were taking notes. The title track is a gorgeous epic that begins simply with a traditionally inspired melody sensitively delivered by Anderson, and develops unpredictably from there, owing no small debt to CURVED AIR's Darryl Way on fiddle. Anderson's love of the English countryside and a way of life slowly atrophying is symbolized by the heavy horses being replaced by unfeeling machinery just as surely and grotesquely as HG Wells Martian machines. Yet this is not the cynic of the dreary "Minstrel in the Gallery", but the idealist who pays homage to what he sees and hopes to freeze in time. Mission accomplished.

As the adage goes, better late than never. Please to make your equine acquaintance.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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