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Jethro Tull - Minstrel In The Gallery CD (album) cover

MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.03 | 1074 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 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 MitG, 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), maybe 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 (valid for the whole album throughout), a bit mechanical and they are relied upon too much not to leave an impression of emptiness. I guess the MitG title track tries to sound like Aqualung's t/t, with those huge guitars... and fails miserably and, even worse, lasts forever. The little tidbits and effects in between the tracks are a fail for me: Tull will never be Floyd.

Past its 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 Minstrelclearly would've not made the cut on Aqualung and can be seen as fillers. Black Satin Dancer and Nothing At All two of the better tracks on the album. 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 are disputable. If Summerday 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, but it has little to do with the album. As for the two live version, they're just as irrelevant as if they were alternate takes.

However far from me the idea that this is an inferior album; it's just that the music on here appeals less to me. Minstrel is also one of the worst offenders of those albums where string arrangements are abused. A good point of MitG, is that it's not a concept album (at least not obvious to me); after Aqualung, Brick, APP, WC and before TOTRnR, it's rather refreshing an easier album to comprehend album. 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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Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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