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Jethro Tull - Stormwatch CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.46 | 747 ratings

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3 stars Review Nš 293

Jethro Tull is after Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd, and with Gentle Giant, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Camel and Rush, one of the ten best bands of the 70's and one of the bands that most influenced the progressive rock movement. Beyond that, it's the best progressive folk-rock band that has created, in my humble opinion, one of the four best progressive rock albums ever. The album is 'Thick As A Brick', and the other three are 'Selling England By The Pound' of Genesis, 'Close To The Edge' of Yes and 'Which You Were Here' of Pink Floyd.

'Stormwatch' is the twelfth studio album of Jethro Tull and was released in 1979. 'Stormwatch' makes with 'Songs From The Wood' and 'Heavy Horses' part of a Jethro Tull's trilogy of progressive folk-rock albums. They represent the fulfillment of an ideal, to bring to rock songs subjects, until then untouched, such as, ecological and regional themes. However, change was in the air. While 'Stormwatch' has many similarities with 'Songs From The Wood' and 'Heavy Horses', the music had begun to travel in other directions. The sound was heavier and the lyrics were much darker as they explored a number of environmental themes. 'Stormwatch' touches the problems relating to the environment and deals with the deterioration of it, the 'Global Cooling', predicting an apocalyptic future where mankind doesn't cease its drive for economic development and don't pay much attention to nature. Today, given all the worry about 'Global Warming', if this wasn't a very serious and dramatic subject, I would be amused by the concern for a new ice age.

'Stormwatch' would be the final album for Jethro Tull's longest lasting and arguably with the best group of musicians. It would serve as the final hurrah for drummer Barriemore Barlow, keyboardist John Evan, arranger/keyboardist David Palmer, and bassist John Glascock. Only band's leader Ian Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre would be around for the next album. As I said before, this was the last album for Glascock too. Unfortunately, he would die of a heart condition and would only play on three of the ten tracks of this one. Anderson would play the bass parts on the rest of the album.

'Stormwatch' has ten tracks. All tracks were written and composed by Ian Anderson, except the last track 'Elegy' which was written and composed by David Palmer. The first track 'North Sea Oil' is a good song to open the album. It's a typical and solid Jethro Tull's rocker song built around guitar and flute sounds. The second track 'Orion' is another good song by the group in the same vein of the previous one. However, it's a song more dark and aggressive but it has also good acoustic moments and is very well orchestrated. The third track 'Home' is a very nice and warm song built around acoustic guitar and orchestra. It's a song with a catchy and nice melody but I can't see anything more special on it. The fourth track 'Dark Ages' is the lengthiest song on the album and is also one of the lengthiest Jethro Tull's studio tracks and it's a good rocking song too. This is also one of the epic songs of the album and it's their heaviest song. The fifth track 'Warm Sporran' is a nice folkie instrumental song with a simple but good chorus. It's a very simple song, which reminds me the military marches. But it's still very nice to hear. The sixth track 'Something's On The Move' is another rock song. It represents the returning of the band to their classic style songs that delights the traditional Jethro Tull's fans. The seventh track 'Old Ghosts' is another good and a very pleasant song with simple acoustic guitars and nice vocals. This is another very good track with another David Palmer's superior orchestration. The eighth track 'Dun Ringill' is the smallest song on the album. This is a wonderful little acoustic piece of music. It swings with the undulations of windblown wild grasses. Despite be a short track, this is a good example that can show how good Anderson is when he picks up his acoustic guitar and add to it his great vocal work. The ninth track 'Flying Dutchman' is the second lengthiest song on the album and is also the second epic of the album. It's an interesting track with some good musical changes creating a very special atmosphere. This is a nice and much elaborated track. The tenth and last track 'Elegy' is a shorter instrumental track but is the most beautiful song on the album too. It's a classical piece of music fantastically interpreted by Martin Barry with his guitars. It's a great tribute in the memoriam of John Glascock. This track is, without any doubt, the most beautiful, nice and perfect end this album could ever have.

Conclusion: 'Stormwatch' is for Jethro Tull, the end of an era. It marks the end of their prog folk trilogy, the end of the 70's and the end of a historical line up. After that, and as I wrote before, only Anderson and Barre remain in the group. But unfortunately, it isn't a masterpiece. Despite 'Stormwatch' be, in my humble opinion, a very uniform and cohesive album, lacks to it some originality and brightness to be a truly masterpiece or even an excellent album. However, it's a good album and it's also probably one the last greatest studio album released by them. 'Stormwatch' is perhaps the last essential Jethro Tull's album, a cohesive curtain call for the band's trademark prog- folk style. But it's also, perhaps, the black sheep of their catalogue overshadowed by 1977's 'Songs From The Wood' and 1978's 'Heavy Horses'.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |


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