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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 Reviewer
3 stars Anderson does a Knopfler! Actually, I like Dire Straits, at least their earlier stuff, and it is very true that Ian does sound remarkably similar to Mark on the vocals on many parts of this album, but, in truth, any similarity was almost certainly owing to the difficulties he had been having with his vocal chords, requiring surgery. His voice had, literally, changed as a result.

This is actually a solid Tull release from the 1980's, and, especially on Farm On The Freeway, you can hear similarities and a progression from the superb Broadsword And The Beast. It's a thoughtful track devoted to a pet passion of running new society and technology through a farmer's land, with which no amount of compensation can possibly assuage the feeling of despair and defeat. The flute playing is magnificent, and Martin Barre sounds extremely good.

My favorite Tull period has always been the folkier one, and there is sufficient on here to satisfy my preference. Jump Start could almost be a track from Heavy Horses, such is the rich texture of the sound created. It's another very strong track, with a rocking guitar solo at the end, only slightly marred by some strange vocal whoo's and effects.

The opener, Steel Monkey, is enjoyable enough, and was a single release reaching the giddy heights of number 84 in the UK charts, without being remotely essential.

The absolute dead ringer for Dire Straits is the short track Said She Was A Dancer, which I am bound to say sounds as if it were a cover from the debut album or Communique. Having said that, Knopfler didn't do irony as well as Anderson. Even the Barre sensitive solo is pure Knopfler, so they were obviously engaging in a spot of cross acting/dressing for this one! And we thought that type of thing had stopped with Hunting Girl!

Dogs In The Midwinter is a pleasant enough track, with some excellent flute and guitar work mainly backing some extremely stereotypical 1980's keyboards.

The lengthy epic on the album is Budapest, which clocks in at just over ten minutes. This excellent track, one of the clear highlights of their later career, has a blissfully melodic blues feel to it, and I really do think that Barre on this thoroughly enjoys revisiting his roots, because he has rarely sounded as good. The keyboards by Anderson, thankfully, take a back seat on this, and he does what he does best - telling an amusing and interesting story and interjecting with Barre on flute to keep the listener's interest throughout. This is, quite simply, Tull at their melodic and thoughtful best. A gem of a track and the standout on the album.

The remainder of the album is solid enough fare, without being exceptional. The pace picks up on Mountain Men, which is rather spoiled by Anderson clearly struggling with his vocal range and the fact that it drags on a little bit too long. The Waking Edge features some terrific interplay between Barre and Anderson, before a simple, but melodic piano introduces the main, understated, vocal. Raising Steam ends the album as it began, with a simple rocker.

Tull won the Grammy award for "Best Heavy Metal" for this album, which does rather make you wonder whether the judges had all taken a few days loaded with copious amounts of booze and drugs in order to reach their decision. What this is, in reality, is a solid release, that, in retrospect, puts a lie to the myth that prog giants could not release anything decent in this decade.

It's not an essential album by any means, but this is a very good album, and one that longstanding Tull fans will get pleasure out of. Three stars, but 3.5 in reality.

lazland | 3/5 |


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