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


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.03 | 1129 ratings

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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.

Peter | 5/5 |


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