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Jethro Tull - Heavy Horses CD (album) cover

HEAVY HORSES

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.04 | 1194 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 292

Jethro Tull is a British progressive rock band formed in 1963 in Blackpool with an extensive career. The band's image is the front man Ian Anderson, who is the brain and the eccentric figure of the group. One day, he confessed that he ever was a great guitar player and suspected that he would never be. So, if he would never be a great guitarist, then he thought if he learned to play an instrument that almost nobody else was playing in rock, he could be a great performer. So, he learned to play flute searching to be a great flute player. The most original thing about Jethro Tull is that the band's leader plays flute, among other instruments, and the music is somehow dominated by this musical instrument.

"Heavy Horses" is the eleventh studio album of Jethro Tull and was released in 1978. Although the folk music influence is evident on a great number of Jethro Tull's albums, "Heavy Horses", "Songs From The Wood" and "Stormwatch" is considered a trilogy of prog folk-rock albums. "Heavy Horses" is one of their last albums that bring the mix of acoustic, Celtic and rock styles. The album also abandons much of the folk lyrical message of their previous work "Songs From The Wood", for a more realistic and direct message in the perspective of changing the World, so typical in the 70's.

The band's line up remained intact. Flutist/songwriter/vocalist Ian Anderson, guitarist Martin Barrie, drummer Barriemore Barlow, keyboardist John Evan, keyboardist/arranger David Palmer, and bassist John Glascock had been together for a number of years and the musicianship was tight and excellent throughout. But, unfortunately, this would be also John Glascock's last full album with the group as his health had begun to deteriorate and that would shortly cost him his own life. However, his playing on this album is fantastic and would allow him to go out in a great style.

"Heavy Horses" has nine tracks. All tracks were written and composed by Ian Anderson. The first track "?And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps" opens the album with a great style. It's a short song but is at the same time very complex. This is clearly a progressive rock song. However, I don't like the end of the song because, for me, is a little bit irritating. The second track "Acres Wild" is a spectacular folkie song in the vein and at the same level of the songs on "Songs From The Wood". It gives us the medieval atmosphere of the old Albion. This is a fantastic track. The third track "No Lullaby" is another great piece of music. It's a very complex and progressive track. With this song Jethro Tull leaves the folk and return to heavy rock, showing that they're a multifaceted group. The fourth track "Moths" is another song in the line of "Songs From the Wood". It's a very beautiful folk ballad also with medieval features, a fantastic acoustic guitar and a nice flute work. This is another great track. The fifth track "Journeyman" is a good song, but isn't at the same level of the other songs and is, in my humble opinion, the weakest song on the whole album. The sixth track "Rover" is another great Jethro Tull's song. Here we have all band's members in a very high style. This is another folk rock song with great individual performing. It has also very good string arrangements, courtesy of Mr. Palmer. The seventh track "One Brown Mouse" is probably the best known song of the album and is also a song usually performed live by the group. Personally, I have no problem with this song and contrary to several opinions expressed here, I love this track very much and it's also one my favourite songs from them. Luckily I'm not alone. I invite you now to listening to a fantastic version of this song by Echolyn, released by Magna Carta and included in the tribute album to Jethro Tull, "To Cry You A Song ? A Collection Of Tull Tales", already reviewed by me on Progarchives. The eighth track "Heavy Horses" is the title track. This is the lengthiest song on the album and is also one of its highest points. It's probably the best track on the album. It's very well orchestrated and has also a superb choral work. This is a fantastic progressive song with a perfect mix between the rock and folk styles. The ninth and last track "Weathercock" is a classic song and has clearly some medieval influences. It's a simple and nice song who closes very well this great album in a great style, which reminds me the end of their previous album "Songs From The Wood". This is the song which tells us goodnight in the pastoral atmosphere of the countryside and represents the perfect moment to complete and close the final scene.

Conclusion: As many of we know, Jethro Tull would make a number of very different stops during their musical career but perhaps none are as satisfying as their folk/rock prog period. "Heavy Horses" is a fine example of that style as it's earthy, rustic, and above all enjoyable, even almost four decades after its release. It remains, even today, as Jethro Tull at their finest. "Heavy Horses" is also probably the last great album made by this superb band. However, I'm not going to rate it as a masterpiece because I think it hasn't the same brilliance and cohesion of "Songs From The Wood". Still, I think it remains very close of that. Whether are you or not a Jethro Tull's fan, you must have a copy of "Heavy Horses" and I'm sure that you will not regret of that purchase. So, buy it, sit down, relax and enjoy it such as it really deserves.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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