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


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.23 | 587 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
2 stars I picked up Crest of a Knave with very low expectations. After all, it's an '80's album by a prog band, so mediocre is about the best one can hope for. And mediocre pretty much sums up this "hard rockin'" release by Tull. It has enough energy and guitar work to be interesting, but too much bland songwriting and originality to be exciting.

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

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

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

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

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

Prog Leviathan | 2/5 |


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