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Jethro Tull - Heavy Horses CD (album) cover

HEAVY HORSES

Jethro Tull

Prog Folk


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4 stars This album marked the end of the men-from-the-woods period of JT. Like the cover indicated JT were completely countryside and no more city. This changed again after this record, but to me, it is the best JT period of all. Recommended songs here: "Moths" and "Rover".
Report this review (#16598)
Posted Sunday, December 14, 2003 | Review Permalink
4 stars With better tunes than the previous three Tull albums, and fewer duds too (though I find Acres Wild close to one), this one is quite enjoyable. The title track is particularly good on all levels, up there as one of the great Tull anthems. The recording quality is not as good though (too much high-frequency hissing and 'ssss' noises on the vocals). Nonetheless a great Tull album.
Report this review (#16599)
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Often compared to SFTW's as its little brother, Heavy Horses has much to differ as well. Though the pastoral album cover may hint at the countryside, the London-based new studio with all the new technologies of the times

The opening Mouse Police (cats in barns), the album starts rather fast, brilliantly with a very fiendish ending (though studio trickery may harm this pie-ce with repeated listens). The following Acres Wild (self explanatory Scott celebration) and the almost 8-min No Lullaby (fear of pastoral spirits) are both high-calibre, but fail to send you through the roof in joy. The short sarcastic in style Moths and he self-explanatory Journeyman closes the A-side in average fashion.

Opening the flipside, Brown Mouse (them again ;-) is proving a little arduous, while the delightful Rover (one of the highlights of the album) provides a little breathing space. The slow-developing but lengthy title track is the other highpoint of the album, followed by the very acoustic Weathercock. A little sour note is that the middle of the album may appear a little weaker when listened in the Cd format.

As for the two bonus tracks, both are of the usual quality of all the Tull remasters. Both Hard Times and Broadford Bazaar (especially the beautiful later) are tracks that fit the album's soundscapes as if they were never bonus tracks. But again, it's not as if this mighty album needed not such a help to remain essential and very representative of mid-70's Tull works. Although not as strong as SFTW, but still is a quite fine and definitive Tull statement.

Report this review (#16605)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars this album is actually more 'wood flavoured' than the previous one, you can feel this specific mood thru the beery vocal lines in song like Rover (my favorite one on this album, and one of the best songs ever), you can feel it thru the Martin Barre's progressive guitar in the title song and drums part in No Lullaby, one of my favorite Tull album...
Report this review (#16589)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Following the same direction of Songs from the wood, this one tells true stories about living in the country, "Heavy Horses" I think is one of the finest tunes Tull have ever made and also a favorite. Maybe you miss some of of the magic you hear on Songs from the wood, but it's yet another excellent album by them. Another good tracks are: ...And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps, No Lullaby, Acres Wild, Rover and One Brown Mouse
Report this review (#16590)
Posted Saturday, February 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Heavy Horses" and "Songs From The Wood" are the 2 TULL album which sound the most alike. So "Heavy Horse" is a prog folk rock album. But there are less percussions here, and instruments are more conventional, despite the presence of violin on couples of tracks. I find ANDERSON's vocals a bit more in the background here, but still excellent. The keyboards are in the background too and I find them a bit shy. Martin Barre seems to use a bit more his electric guitar, but the mandolin and acoustic guitar are still omnipresent. The electric bass is very well played and is rather complex. I prefer slightly "Songs From The Wood".
Report this review (#16591)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars An autumnal record, resplendent as the mosaic of leaves that met me in the woods this morning. Though it seldom gets its due, "Heavy Horses" is arguably the most musically complex of the TULL albums, the fruition of their progressive folk/rock fancies. Similar in scope to "Songs From The Wood", we've entered the dark part of the forest here, the sweet decay of dying leaves thick around us. While tinged with melancholy, "Heavy Horses" is ultimately a resilient effort, celebrating life in the midst of death. We're immediately put on guard with the opening ".And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps", invoking the image of the weathercock and the heavy weather ahead. The two themes -- nature and inhospitable weather -- bridge their last album and their next, Stormwatch, which has always suggested a trilogy to my mind. The songs that follow are as ambitious as anything in their catalog, all hands on deck tending to their musical ministrations, suggesting a unique mixture of independence and teamwork. In a more modern setting, the players could be seen as individual gears that mesh and separate at intervals, all the while driving the music as a great engine. The unconventional rhythms and seemingly disjointed sounds might be initially daunting, but it soon yields to bedazzlement after a few sittings. "Acres Wild", "Journeyman" and "Rover" adopt an irregular gait at first, but this technique allows the listener to pick apart different rhythms and weave them together into a cohesive fabric.

Few TULL albums reward introspection and attention as well as "Heavy Horses" ("Thick As A Brick" and "Minstrel In The Gallery" come to mind). There is a softer side to this record, from the beautiful and bittersweet "Moths" to the warm "One Brown Mouse". At the other end of the spectrum, "No Lullaby" is nearly terrifying in effect, a feat TULL would repeat on Stormwatch's "Dark Ages". The album closes with one of my personal favorites, "Weathercock", which closes this collection of stories much as "Fire At Midnight", on an intimate and optimistic note. Anyone enrapt by the Elizabethan exploits of "Minstrel" and "Songs" would do well to hitch their fortunes to "Heavy Horses". It's one of my favorite albums from JETHRO TULL, which in the parlance of these parts is high praise indeed.

Report this review (#16600)
Posted Friday, April 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the defining abums for my tast in music. It's an album where every song is something to remember. It have a great span in text and melodies, but still manage to sew the different tracks together to a seamless hole. Few songs manage to greate as powerfull mental images as the lyric's in titlesong 'Heavy Horses'. This album is a journey like very few other. The only other album from Jethro Tull that are par with this is 'Live Bursting Out'.

Kjetil Nesheim

Report this review (#16608)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
whatisthenork
5 stars This album is just fantastic. I had really been "into" the early Tull sounds of Benefit and Stand Up, but as time progresses (and I got some more money!) I started listening to Tull's music as they matured. I think that it is safe to say that HEAVY HORSES is Jethro Tull's last MASTERPIECE of new, original material. This is not to say albums like Stormwatch, Bursting Out, A, or Broadsword are rubbish, just that Heavy Horses stands above them. This album takes off from where Songs From the Wood left off, and expands on those themes in ways that are reminiscent of Thick As A Brick and the lighter sides of Stand Up, War Child, and Aqualung. The sound is crisp, refined, and amazing. My favorite tracks include: And the Mouse Police Never Sleep (by far the best on the album in my opinion), Acres Wild, One Brown Mouse, and the title track. Every song on this album is incredible; their best work since Thick As A Brick.
Report this review (#16610)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Although prog bands were dying in droves with the onset of punk and greedy record moguls JT released a gem with Heavy Horses. For me there was no sign of their music waning in terms of quality and some of the songs on Heavy Horses are some of their best ever. From the riveting ' ..and the mouse police never sleeps'. The tightly woven melodies of ' Acres wild', the persistant pulsing of ' Journeyman' to the classic title track ' Heavy horses'. Why can't bands nowadays sing about real stuff like this. Well few could lyrically and musically. Heavy Horses is excellent and a very complete offering.
Report this review (#16612)
Posted Wednesday, August 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
penguindf12
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Heavy Horses" is the second in the "seasonal" Jethro Tull trilogy, but the first of the trilogy I bought. It has a somewhat autumnal feel...I need to wait 'till October and take a walk with this album to see if it is as autumnal as the others claim...

"...and the Mouse Police Never Sleeps" is the first track. It has a guarded, shifty feel to it but was a little lower than my expectations when I first read the title. To tell the truth, I thought this album would be a true "concept" album with linked songs and a developing story. Maybe "Stormwatch" will better suit my expectations...

"Acres Wild" is a great song, one of my favorites on the album. Only drawback is the lyric "I'll make love to you" and my immature friends will, of course, make a joke of this and ignore the excellent instrumentation. Oh well. I'm sure I would bug my friends if a lyric like this showed up on one of their albums (which it does, and I do bug them. heh heh heh...).

"No Lullaby" is an okay song, but a little too long. I'd rather Anderson develop the "mouse police" song instead of this one. I think this song is about a small child and the terrors of the night...or something.

Next up is "Moths," one of my favorite classic guitar tunes of TULL. It is, I think, comparing moths to humans. It is a hopeful romantic-type song, a TULL classic. "Journeyman" is a hard rock-type song, pretty ho-hum. "Rover" is a great song, and "One Brown Mouse" is okay...

Now then, the title track. Very good, my favorite on the CD. It is about how the "heavy horses" used in plowing fields have been replaced by tractors now; but Anderson warns that soon when the oil has disappeared, we will once again long for the strength of the horses when we hit a depression. "Weathercock" is one of my favorite songs as well. It foreshadows the coming winter in "Stormwatch."

If you like JETHRO TULL, this album is okay, but lacking. It is pretty folksy compared to other prog rock albums, which is by no means a drawback, but Anderson seems to have lost a lot of his prog mentality. Before you buy this you should try out "Thick as a Brick" or "Aqualung" first.

Report this review (#16613)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Jethro Tull album I listen to the most. And when it goes on the turntable it remains there for aquite a while. It evokes a number of themes of images of a rural life. You can almost smell this album. This reviewer lives the city life right now but even just kooking at the cover reminds him of his younger days growing up in the countryside and working in the stables with horses as summer jobs. The Mouse police ( the cats) were on 24 hour alert and this is beautifully reflected and conveyed on the opening track. You should have seen these stable cats stalk their prey.I don't want to go through the album track by track but No Lullaby is one of my Tull Favourites. I don't know if this is the best Tull starting point. If you have never had a taste of a country life you might not be able to appreciate the intentions of this record. Get in to some earlier Jethro Tull before giving this one a test drive. But without question, one of the best Jethro Tull records and once you have familiarized yourself with the inner workings of leader Ian Anderson's mind pick this one up.
Report this review (#16614)
Posted Sunday, December 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A small movement towards the modern compared to "Songs from the Wood", yet retaining the earthy, archaic JT roots. If you're a fan of the classic Tull elements, you'll find plenty to satisfy you: Anderson's inimitable voice and flute, ringing acoustics, tastefully savage electrics, pithy keys and tumbling, unexpectedly adventurous percussion. Glascock's bass seems more integral than usual, turning almost Squire-like for such songs as "Journeyman". In retrospect, this was the actual "crest", the culmination of everything before and more satisfying than anything after.

Occasionally, there's some similarities with the preceding release which are almost too close for comfort; "No Lullaby", while excellent, reminds me strongly of "Pibroch", and "Weathercock" echoes "Songs from the Wood" and "Pass the Cup". This is a darker album, however...while "Jack in the Green" was an ode to nature's resilience, "Heavy Horses" laments increasing industrialization, "No Lullaby" warns of worldly dangers, and "Moths" reflects on mortality. It's not all bad news, however; Anderson still finds ample room to honor simple joys and simpler times ("One Brown Mouse", "Weathercock"), and as a song of passion "Acres High" is more devoted than "Hunting Girl", if less bawdily archaic.

The music is more driving and less lush than "Songs", hearkening back (and forward) to more stripped-down mixes- but only relatively, as there is still more than enough texture in which to lose oneself. The band sounds more focused and disciplined than ever before, every note and rhythm precisely placed. Anderson's voice is also in perfect form, although not quite as prominent in the mix as in earlier releases.

It is difficult to rank Jethro Tull albums; many become favorites for different reasons. "Heavy Horses", however, is one of the clear contenders for their greatest achievement. While I prefer other releases slightly, no single one is as consistently excellent or as perfectly realized as this gem.

Report this review (#16615)
Posted Friday, December 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 1978's HEAVY HORSES, as many fans will agree, was the last truly great album from Ian Anderson and company, and remains one that I play more often than many other Tull efforts. Track for track, like the massive equines of its title, HEAVY HORSES stands head and shoulders above its lesser brethren that followed. To further extend the metaphor, some of the later entries may well run faster, but they just can't match the pull and staying power of this very strong -- but often gentle -- and beautiful beast of noble lineage.

Each of the nine songs is quite enjoyable (those who enjoy the folkier strains of SONGS FROM THE WOOD should be particularly pleased), but some are especially great. The rollicking "Acres Wild" with its lusty lyrics, catchy rhythms, ringing mandolins, and joyous drums, is a genuine toe-tapping treat.

"Moths" is a lovely showcase for Anderson's considerable lyrical powers and sprightly strumming acoustic, with David Palmer's "spot-on" strings lifting the listener to lofty heights on "powdered (or is it rosined?) wings."

"Rover" is another standout, with great vocals and trademark flute from Anderson, and more superb orchestral accents from Palmer.

"One Brown Mouse" is simply one of my all-time favorite Anderson compositions -- a truly beautiful, uplifting, sparkling little gem of a song: "Smile your little smile -- take some tea with me a while. Brush away that black cloud from your shoulder.... Behind your glass you sit and look, at my ever-open book -- one brown mouse sitting in a cage." Yes, this quaint tribute to friendship and simple pleasures can often make this sentimental old soul a bit misty-eyed....

Finally, the title track has it all. Within its near nine-minute length, we get diverse, engaging musical sections, fine Martin Barre lead, tight bass and drums from Barriemore Barlow and Martin Glascock (who really shine on the entire disc) and more exquisite, gilt-edged Palmer orchestrations. The thought-provoking, powerfully poetic lyrics look to the return of the old ways, in an inevitable post-petroleum future: "Bring me a wheel of oaken wood, a rein of polished leather / A heavy horse and a tumbling sky, brewing heavy weather."

Very highly recommended! If you're a Jethro Tull fan, you should own a copy of HEAVY HORSES -- you certainly won't regret the purchase!

Report this review (#16616)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars JETHRO TULL continued on the same path as "Songs From The Wood" with yet another solid release titled Heavy Horses in 1978. On this remastered version with two bonus tracks ("Living In These Hard Times" and "Broadford Bazaar") the songs get a new life and spark that was not present before. As Ian ANDERSON mentions in his liner notes, "In 2003 we hear at last on CD the sparkling detail of the original master tapes." It makes you wish all recorded music was like this right from the start and the technology was available to keep the original sound intact regardless of the transfer process. Oh well, we can dream.

Ian ANDERSON continued with strong and affecting vocals telling tales of living in the countryside. He sings with dry wit and honesty like an old-fashioned back woods Englishman would, yet in a way that only he could spin an account.

Although the Celtic/Medieval/Folk ambiance remained strong, I found this album had more straight-ahead rock influences than its predecessor. A lot of the acoustic guitar layers and strings that were used before are removed and replaced by the unparalleled guitar licks of Martin Barre and ANDERSON's excellent mandolin, flute and acoustic guitar playing. The outstanding production qualities have become richer and clearer from beginning to end on this album, thus there were neither disappointments nor flaws apparent anywhere. This is another classic JETHRO TULL album very worthy of the remaster treatment. I wait impatiently for the next set of remasters!

Report this review (#16618)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars First time I listened progressive rock music was Jethro Tull and Heavy Horses was the album. I've listened this album in 1979 when I was 12 years old. I was tread on when Heavy Horses turning. I wonder .... Rock music with flute sound ? My mumble at that time. Reality, Jethro Tull's album were decorated with flute. Flute makes Jethro Tull Music full of magic formula. Heavy Horses album is my progressive rock favourite album and Heavy Horses too as my favourite progressive rock song. Power of Ian Anderson's vocal with magic formula of flute, harmonizing and skillfull of other player with dauntles orchestral arrangements of David Palmer.

Listening this album in the early of 2005, remind me to the past, remind me to the sweet memory when I with my 2 brothers and my parent united. For the memory remind, I put **** to this album. torro-karawang-indonesia.

Report this review (#16619)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Four and a half, actually. This album is a very atmosferic one. If you are listening to Wind and Wuthering, you might want to hear this one right afterwards. I look at it as the flipside of Wind And Wuthering. The latter is refined and classically-oriented, and the former is gritty and has a strong Celtic flavor. This is the direction that JT took in the latter part of the 70's and early 80's - you might call is "Celtic Prog". You can almost feel the cold wind, the rustling of leaves underfoot, the distant muffled thunder of horses hoofs... makes you want to go out to the country and walk in the woods. Only Jethro Tull can do that to you!
Report this review (#16621)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Heavy horses is one of the most exciting albums I discovered in my musical life. I'm will not repeat what other people said about the great arrangements, structures, melodies of these songs. I've noticed, however, that fans are divided on Andreson's voice (too rough, low) on this album: I personnaly enjoy it very much.

My favourite songs (so far...) are: Heavy horses, Acres Wild, Journeyman, Rover and One brown mouse.

Even if I bought this album recently, I got the feeling that I'll never be tired of it.

Report this review (#38794)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs. Having recently rediscovered the weird and wonderful world of A Passion Play, I browsed through Tull's back catalogue to see if there was anything that I had been missing in the past thirty years. I plumped for this one - mainly because I liked the cover. Oops. Bad mistake. Now I remember why I stopped buying Tull records in the mid Seventies. Gone is the wry humour and the joyous bouncy bass guitar of Thick As A Brick. Gone is the gung-ho creativity and poetry of A Passion Play. The line "Fallen like angels from a far better place" now seems strangely prophetic. Heavy Horses tries so hard to be folk rock that it ends up being neither folk NOR rock. The lyrics are twee and contrived, fixated with all things rustic and rural. The bass is leaden, the lead guitar predictable (though the drums are as good as they ever were). Even the vocals, once so powerful and resonant, are annoyingly nasal and distant, like a thin pastiche of a much earlier Jethro Tull. Best track by far on the remastered CD is Broadford Bazaar, a song that wasn't even on the original vinyl album. No, if it's prog rock you want, forget this one. Me, I'll put my feet up and give A Passion Play another spin - for old times sake, of course.
Report this review (#38833)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars ".Bring me a wheel of oaken wood, a rein of polished leather, a heavy horse and a tumbling sky, brewing heavy weather.".

The album - released in 1978 - continued the themes explored on the previous album with the same mixture of folk/prog-influenced acoustic pieces and heavy rock. Traditional rock sounds of electric guitar are more prominent. With Heavy Horses Jethro Tull offer also a more contemporary and pragmatic set of lyrics. Many of the songs are about animals and the lyrics continue much of the rustic tradition of its predecessor. The album is a bit darker however, with more references to modern civilization but lacks the lightness and humour the previous album.The general tenor of the album is the reality of the country-side living, rather than its myth.

.And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps speaks about the feral behaviour of the farm's cats: they think only of "mouse-and-apple-pie"! Acres Wild is the description of the wilderness of the north of Scotland; No Lullaby is a strong hard/rock/folk/prog song which had the honour to open, the same year, the live double album Bursting Out. Moths romanticizes the life of the "Moths" - creatures of the dark that die flying to the flame-light. One Brown Mouse, following the words of Ian in Bursting Out, is inspired by a poem of Robert Burns: 'Ode To A Mouse'. Heavy Horses is a 9 mns long and about the working horses of great Britain, who find themselves no needed with the advent of mechanized farm machinery.

The 2003 remastered edition contains two extra tracks: the good Living In These Hard Times (did not appear in the 'Heavy Horses' album, probably because the content of the song just didn't fit precisely in its concept) and the acoustic pearl Broadford Bazaar. What a soft and deep voice from Ian!

Still great contribution by all the Tull members, with the help of Darryl Way, ex-Curved Air violinist. Essential!

Report this review (#45342)
Posted Saturday, September 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
derby_artists
2 stars I have long believed that all good rock singer/songwriters should retire when they hit thirty, and Heavy Horses confirms that Ian Anderson is no exception to this theory. The band just don't seem to be enjoying themselves on this record.

The album has one or two decent moments on it, but there is really no comparison to the Tull output of the early seventies, when the band was in it's prime. It starts off well enough with "Mouse Police" but progresses with a series of unremarkable folk-rock songs punctuated only by the token heavy track "No Lullaby". The title track itself plods gainfully along like the cumbersome beasts it champions, repeating itself over and over until you find yourself feeling thankful when it eventually starts to fade. Oh, and there are some screeching violin noises on it that put me in mind of Stefan Grappelli on a bad day. Not much progressive rock to speak of here then. Give it a miss.

Report this review (#46682)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Album announced in 1978 "Heavy Horses". I think the fine work of a progressive rock album it is personally light and with power.It is a work that feels the ability of Jethro Tull. Especially, thrilling opening tune "...And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps" is splendid. Excellent addition to any prog music collection.
Report this review (#47747)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great music in this disc. Not the best from Jethro Tull, but masterworks like Aqualung and others are difficult to surpass. I really like "Rover", "Heavy Horses" and "Acres Wild". I think Jethro Tull is not much known in Spain, but surely time will make justice with this supergroup.

Félix A Jethro Tull fan from Spain

Report this review (#56014)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars To start with the unexpected: To me, this is Tull's seminal album - by lengths!

It's hard to beat "Thick ...", "Living in the Past" or "Aqualung", agreed, and why should an album that for some followers marks the beginning of a long and unrewarding decline of Anderson's combo, be rated above these standout records of the 70s?>p> First, it is an album without any fillers. Even the weakest track on it ("Rover" imo) hasits charms. And there is a handfull of songs I regard as true gems in their stunning simplicity and naive beauty. Just take proud "Weathercock" or gentle "One Brown Mouse", for instance. >p> Second, this is an album whose mood can't honestly be compared toany other rock record. Rock, being modern, urban and juvenile, can't fit Heavy Horses into anyof its pigeonholes. This is a rural, antithetic, backward record inits best sense - by a band that has,admittedly, always been more Staffordshire than SoHo.

Tull's music is absolutely dated nowadays. It belongs to an era that haspassed at least twenty-five years ago. That's why I had hardly been listening to my Tull collection for, say, ten or fifteen years. When, some months ago, I decided to dust the old vinyls off (to be precise: after I had bought remastered copies of "HH", "War Child", "Thick as a Brick" and "Benefit"), most off the albums I really played overand over again in my teens didn't catch me anymore. Much of it was too predictable, over-used and, well, dated. Strangely enough, the most dated of all releases - "HH" - is the one that left the deepest impression . This album is serious. It's well crafted, its songs are economically written, conceived and lovinglyarrranged, and - to come up with the most important aspect of my rating it a five star - its title track belongs to the most remarkable songs in rock history and would justify the five stars alone.

That song, with its late November mood, stunning pastoral beauty and friendly power is a Heavy Horse in itself. Definitely in the top ten of the best rock tunes ever recorded - possibly topping the bill.

What a shame that, after such a masterpiece, decline had to lurk and take over fast with albums like horrible "Stormwatch", superfluous "A" or questionable "Under Wraps" marking the transition from Tull to Dull.

Luckily, one "HH" alone makes you forget a hundred "Stormwatches"....

Report this review (#56961)
Posted Friday, November 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Jethro Tull was ubiquitous to 1970s AOR radio and the album Aqualung got as much play as the classic Dark Side of the Moon. There are many fans who swear by the earlier blues oriented recordings. My first Jethro Tull album was Songs from the Wood so I am partial to this period of Ian Anderson's writing. Heavy Horses is the follow up and captures the rustic pagan spirit of its predecessor. While Songs from the Wood is one of my favorite albums, I will admit that it does not have the cohesion of Heavy Horses. Yes, Songs from the Wood features some great tracks including the title track, The Whistler and my favorite, Hunting Girl. But overall it is a mixed bag that does not seem to flow smoothly. Heavy Horses is much more uniform from song to song while offering some great tracks, No Lullaby and The Rover in particular. The lyric writing is still somewhat satirical but now more romantic and descriptive. Anderson tells less a story then paints a picture on the title track and Journey Men. This album is a nostalgic look back to an earlier time when man was in touch with and relied on his relationship with nature. Though it got no substantial airplay, it features the classic Tull line up at their best and some of Ian Anderson's best writing.
Report this review (#65243)
Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my favorite Tull album; Also the period. of mid seventies thru 78 was probably the most interesting period in prog music. Why? You had other music styles shifting in (new wave, punk &new fusion bands) and the old "safe" feeling had to be set aside. For Genesis it was the Trick Of The Tail and W & W album, for Little Feat is was the Last Record Album, for Yes "Going For The One". All albums one foot in the old and the other in the new... A sort of double treat progressive. For Jethro Tull it is this one. Great catchy interesting songs and the mix of "old" and new hooks in their music. If you have to get back in time to start listening to bands you never heard, I suggests you start with these cross over albums. I can really recommend this album.
Report this review (#74334)
Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Tull is really back on track!

Yeah, when this album was released I smiled and laughed at loud because I was so happy that finally Tull is back with another masterpiece album "Heavy Horses". No epic, no long track but . this is a great album at par excellent with the band classics like "Aqualung", "Thick As Brick" and even "A Passion Play" even though the music is different with all the classic albums. Welcome back, my friend, with classic Jethro Tull music!

With the same line-up as its predecessor "Songs From The Wood" this time Tull reduces the heavy use of organ / synthesizer and make the combined acoustic guitar and flute works more obvious, plus powerful choirs. The opening track ".. And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps" proves the stunning combination of acoustic guitar, flute and choral line. Powerful opening. Next is one of my favorites: "Acres Wild"! Its combination of guitar and flute in fast tempo and energetic style have made this track is attractive to my ears. Orchestral arrangement by David Palmer makes this track very solid. "No Lullaby" is a true rocker with great electric guitar solo and tight structure. It reminds me to the classic "Aqualung" album. This track I used to play as "wake-up call" in the morning because it has powerful drum strokes which cast great energy and elevate my spirit in the morning. The melody is also very strong.

"Moths" demonstrates stunning acoustic guitar work, "Journey Man" leans the music flow with the use of tight bass lines by Glasscock and flute shots. Martin Barre plays great electric guitar work here. "Rover" is another excellent track with tight structure and catchy melody. "One Brown Mouse" has become live favorite. The album title track "Heavy Horses" is very memorable for me because this was the first track that I heard the first time I listened to this album. It has powerful composition and solid structure and melody. One must listen to this track if wanting to learn great music of Tull. "Weathercock" is really great and one of my Tull favorite tracks.

For those of you who are new to the music of Jethro Tull, you can start with this album which will give you a full picture of the Tull's sound. It's a great album to start, really. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75704)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the first Jethro Tull album I ever listened to and I think this is defenitely on masterpiece. The first side of the LP, which ends up with ''Journeyman'', dosen't deserves much more than 4 stars but the second side is unbelivable. It's too great! There's Anderson's voice in ''Rover'' which is particulary good and the flute in ''Weathercock'', WOW!!! I think it's even better that the flute in ''Thick As A Brick''.

This is a must have for any Prog Folk fan, really.

Report this review (#76765)
Posted Sunday, April 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of my favourite albums of all times.The ecclectic mixture between folk,classic and rock music is a great example of Tull´s work in the later seventies. 'Rover','Moths','One brown mouse','Weathercock' and the title track are some of the best Tull songs ever.The arrangements that Palmer makes in this album are very important too with Barre on guitar. I would like to say that John Glascock is the best Tull bassist ever and one of the best in prog history.Barrie and Evan very well too.
Report this review (#83134)
Posted Saturday, July 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is - inexplicably - one of the most overlooked and sometimes even reviled albums in the almighty Jethro Tull's catalogue. Together with the equally great "Songs From The Wood" (1977) and the slightly less accomplished "Stormwatch" (1979), "Heavy Horses" forms part of the so-called folk-prog Tull trilogy. These three albums - but particularly this one - all convey an almost sophisticated and whimsical air of English charm, unlike the slightly vulgar and base "Too Old To Rock and Roll, Too Young To Die" (1976).

"Heavy Horses" features some of Ian Anderson's most evocative and alluring lyrics. The subject matter, if it can be summed up so succinctly, is that of the rustic English countryside and all its charm. With topics ranging from weathervanes to field-mice, Anderson conjures up images of enchanting beauty with a poetic simplicity rarely achieved by other prog wordsmiths.

Here is my track-by-track review of the album:

And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps (03:12) - The sound of a snorting horse ushers in the crystal-clear acoustic guitar, drums and John Glascock's perky bass, while Anderson uses his best gruff voice to narrate the age-old saga of the cat and mouse. It has a tricky meter and unconventional rhythm I can best describe by quoting the lyrics "swishing through the rye-grass". The only (relative) low-point of the song comes right at the end, when Anderson does a sort of acapella vocal section that is a bit too long, slightly irritating and harsh on the ears. It ends with a raspy cough a la Black Sabbath's "Sweat Leaf". (9/10)

Acres Wild (03:25) - another upbeat number resembling a sort of prog-rock Irish jig (what an image!). Martin Barre's guitar weaves a tapestry of the finest texture amid the melodic violin backing whilst Anderson contributes some randy vocals. To some degree, it actually resembles Dexys Midnight Runners' "Come On Eileen"! (9/10)

No Lullaby (07:55) - After the overtly folk sound of the previous two tracks, this is much more in a hard rock vein with some complex riffs and a particularly frenetic performance by the rhythm section (Glascock on bass and Barriemore Barlow on drums). It hearkens back to the sound of "Minstrel In The Gallery" (1975) and even "Benefit" (1970), i.e. "classic" Tull, yet to me the arrangement feels slightly sloppy and disjointed. What it lacks in this department, however, it makes up for in instrumental prowess. (8/10)

Moths (03:28) - My absolute favourite track on the album. Simple but richly melodic music, lush orchestration by David Palmer and wistful lyrics sung with sincerity by Anderson. I actually have this song's lyrics up on my wall next to my computer. It's amazing how he can turn something as trivial as moths drawn to a flame into something so profound. (10/10)

Journeyman (03:58) - This is Glascock's moment of glory (or at least his bass guitar's!). What a cool bass tone he has achieved on this album! The only other thing I can compare it to, is Chris Squire of Yes's mighty sound (and those in the know will realize the significance of this statement). The jaunty bass-line absolutely owns the song! It is punctuated intermittently by Barre's distorted guitar howling like a vexed tiger and Anderson's trusty trilling flute. (10/10)

Rover (04:17) - an upbeat track with a veritable plethora of activity in the instrumental department, a great flowing melody and Anderson in top form with his vocals. Most entertaining is the use of marimba, which adds another dimension to the drumming. (9/10)

One Brown Mouse (03:23) - probably the least satisfying track on the album, but only relatively speaking. Great lyrics, as always, sung so harmoniously that it positively aches. They really should have created the Nobel Prize for Melody on the strength of this album (oh how I love hyperbolic speech.) (8/10)

Heavy Horses (08:55) - Another triumph for Anderson in the lyric department. Allow me to quote:

Iron-clad feather-feet pounding the dust An October's day towards evening. Sweat-embossed veins standing proud to the plow Salt on a deep chest seasoning. Last of the line at an honest day's toil Turning the deep sod under Flint at the fetlock chasing the bone Flies at the nostrils plunder The Suffolk, the Clydesdale, the Percheron vie With the Shire on his feathers floating. Hauling soft timber into the dusk To bed on a warm straw coating.

Man this guy must love horses to describe them with such flair! The piano is very prominent in this song, adding a sense of gravitas to the already elegiac lyrics. At the 04:00 mark, the tempo increases for an instrumental section embossed with another wonderful David Palmer orchestration with heavy emphasis on the strings. (10/10)

Weathercock (04:07) - a stately closer with a marching beat and great fluting by Anderson. Perhaps a tad too long and stagnant, but nothing to really ruin the ending of a great album.

Newcomers to Tull could absolutely start here, if they take note that not all of Tull's albums sound like this. Four years later, for instance, on "Broadsword and The Beast", they plowed a very different furrow (pun absolutely intended). But to showcase their musical proficiency, inspired lyrics and innate gift for melody, this album should do the trick.

Thank you for your time. FIVE STARS.

Report this review (#87315)
Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chus
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Their most underrated masterpiece, this title track...

Some claim it to be Thick As A Brick (I gave it 5 stars too), others to be A Passion Play. I say: HEAVY HORSES. It can give you in about 8 or 9 minutes what Thick or Passion do in 45: fast and slow tempos, intensity, multiparts and an additional classical touch enhanced with string arrangements. About the overall album, it's just your average JT prog-folk album. about 5 of the 9 songs here talk about animals in the country side (6 if you include Journeyman), and there's a couple of great bonus tracks that I thought could had fit in the LP in it's full length of about 51 or 52 minutes (Foxtrot is 52 minutes long).

The album starts with a faster pace than "Songs From The Wood": "... And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps" welcomes you to the country side, with even spanish folk influences (it reminds me of Carmen in some parts). A great opener with a catchy and somewhat freaky finale (ends with a cough, that'll give you an idea of how Ian strained his good ol' vocal cords).

Then we get to the danceable "Acres Wild", with a very disco beat. It introduces the first string arrangements of the album since the "Too Old To Rock 'N Roll..." record.

"No Lullaby" works as a more blues-rocker sequel to "Pibroch", with some guitar harmonies at the C segment (I think) that work nicely.

"Moths" is one of Ian's Balladeerings, and is certainly an emotional songs with beautiful string arrangements by Mr. Palmer.

"Journeyman" is very forgettable though, but not a bad song at all; just not up to the rest of the album. It's another western folk ditty which just happens to have an irresistable bass riff.

"Rover" is also very western, but with very effective marimbas and string arrangements.

"One Brown Mouse" reminds me of lots of the "Too Old To Rock 'N Roll.." songs, with more folkish arrangements. It's another pleasant ditty in the vein of Jack-in-the-Green.

Well, at this point the masterpiece of the album sets off: amazing from intro to outro, lush strings, emotional singing, the amazing bridge with horse pace and what a chorus!!!, this is an example of strange yet beautiful.

"Weathercock" is the sequel to "Fire at Midnight", but with more emotional arrangements and great rocking ending... there's no better way to end an album of this caliber.

Of course the bonus tracks are charming as well: "Living In These Hard Times" was included on the "20 Years Of Jethro Tull" CD kit, while "Broadford Bazaar" featured on "Nightcap". The former has a very christmasy feel in the same approach as "Ring Out, Solstice Bells".

4.5 stars rounded to 5. Tull's utter masterpiece.

Report this review (#97479)
Posted Monday, November 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars As you might have noticed, I am quite a Tull fan. I was not really sure what to expect with this one : folk or hard oriented ?

The opener "And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps" tells you at a glance that we will be confrontated to a solid rock album. This short opener is just great : it is complex (even VDGG could have made this one). Rather unusual keyboard sounds, excellent but short fluting. The last fifteen seconds are quite awful, unfortunately.

"Acres Wild" has a medieval architecture combined with a strong, hard tendancy. This is the good side of this album (as far as I am concerned) : Tull is hard rocking anytime they can while on "Songs From The Wood" they were rather folking (but not only).

"No Lullaby" is just another great piece of music. It reminds me seriously of "Tea For One" from Led Zep (Presence, 1976). Have a try and listen to both tracks one after the other and you will be amazed. This song is complex, lenghty with lots of rythm changes. It is one of the highlight here and one of my fave.

Although "Moths" is rather folk, I like it quite a lot : the melody, the accoustic guitar, the flute play ... even the orchestra in the background (which has never been a favourite of mine - being with the Tull, Camel, Purple, Yes etc.). A great song.

"Journeyman" is a good rock tune. Not great but neither a filler. Just an average, transition track for better things to come.

"Rover" is another wonderful piece of Tull music. The whole band is peaking at a high and supports Ian in a great manner (marimba, bass, drumming) : a very pleasant Tull moment as we all like, I guess.

Another of the very few folk song (I do not complain) is "One Brown Mouse". Average (as you might have expected).

"Heavy Horses" is the second highlight. The longest track of the album delivers several atmospheres : great and strong intro, pastoral and folky just after it, then melodious and passionate. At this stage, one knows that he is listening to another Tull great song. The chorus is really superb. It gets harder here and there with violin à la Kansas during the second part. This is "my" Tull, man.

"Weathercock" is less inpired although it has good fluting in the second part as well as some medieval influence (it could have been featured on "Songs From The Wood"). So far no weak tracks (only three average ones). Oooops, it is already the last one !

Two bonus tracks which will not really improve the quality of the original; but hey : this is a very good effort. There are so many good to very good songs here that I can only rate it four stars.

Report this review (#109165)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars What happens if you take the folkish good nature of Songs From the Wood, the hard rock and calm acoustics of Aqualung, and the dry art of Minstrel in the Gallery, toss ‘em all in a blender and hit “puree?” Well, you get a heaping pile of plastic dust, that’s what! Not to mention the fact that you’ve just nuked about forty dollars worth of music there...honestly, why do I even bother?

Of course, if you did all that in a figurative sense, like you were supposed to, well, you’d probably get an interesting mess. But it would sound an awful lot like Heavy Horses.

Heavy Horses is a funny sort of album (heh, heh, Heavy Horses). Initially, I didn’t like it. Certainly not the title tune (too slow! Too boring!). I compared it to Songs, most obviously, which I considered to be God’s greatest invention since the seed drill. Later on though, I realized that it was good, and Horses and Songs entered into Mortal Kombat deep in my brain over which one was better. And, oddly enough, Horses won out.

We start out with the gentle sound of cats purring. This very quickly (in a “blink and you’ll miss it” sort of way, only audio-ically, of course) turns into a mighty, organ based rocker. This is “The Mouse Police Never Sleeps,” which is just about the most perfect song ever written. I’m kidding of course, but I love it. It’s insane, it’s hilarious, and the coda with the repeating “the mouse police never sleepsthemouse police never sleeps” chant is great. Although it does piss off the occasional listener...

Anyway, “Acres Wild” is a jolly jig with a great backing of bass and drums, not to mention fun flautistry and mandolin banging (sounds like a community arts class). The lengthy rocker “No Lullaby” kind of lets me down though; the tune itself is decent enough (I especially love at the end where it speeds up), but it’s just too damn long.

However, “Moths” earns everything back. It’s the best shot at effortless beauty that Jethro Ian has handed us since “Cheap Day Return,” easily, complete with a haunting acoustic guitar line, and equally haunting vocal delivery.

“Journeyman” is just a good old bloozy number, with buzzy fiddle, crunchy guitar and an amazing bassline. “Rover” is a folk rocker, but unlike the stuff from Songs From the Wood, the emphasis is more on the folk than the rock, so it comes off as lighter. Not that that’s a bad thing; the song is really good. I don't see why everyone thinks it's about escaped convicts though; I think it's about misplaced love.

“One Brown Mouse” is not my favorite track, but not for the reason you might be thinking. Some people don’t like it because it’s based on a nursery rhyme, so it’s not the most serious of numbers. I have nothing wrong with the lyrics, I’m just not one hundred percent crazy about the arrangement (it comes off much better live).

Anyway, all this has been good, don’t get me wrong. But “Heavy Horses,” the majestic miniature epic of a title track, is the best thing on the whole album. And I didn’t even like it to start with, so it must be good! The introduction is amazing: it’s this painful, heavy guitar line courtesy of Mr. Barre, that fades into soft piano and Ian singing about the decline of the heavy horse...don’t pay too close attention to the lyrics, it’s the angry, post-apocalyptic melody that lurks underneath it that counts, and when it rears it’s head, you’ll now. And post-apocalyptic it is, as the tune speeds up and becomes a spooky, folksy, jig...of doom! Yep. The horses come back, and they’re pissed. Or something. Still not sure.

Anyway, “Heavy Horses” eventually fades into “Weathercock,” a medieval styled rocker about, well, uh, birds forged from iron that predict weather. Or so we speculate. “Medieval styled rocker” is the best description, as the instrumentation includes the trusty flute ‘n mandolin, as well as extensive portative pipe organ and electric guitar soloing.

So, what makes Heavy Horses so damn great? I don’t know. Maybe it’s guest violinist Darryl Way of Curved Air fame, whose buzzy fiddle is welcome on “Acres Wild” and “Heavy Horses” (and...JOURNEYMAN perhaps? Hmm?!? Thought you’d slip that past me).

Maybe it’s that the band really, I mean REALLY gels here. The songs flow (even “No Lullaby”) perfectly from start to finish, and flow into each other just as well. Martin is perfectly balanced between the heavy and light traits of folk and rock. He even plays some cool, real watery guitar ("Acres Wild," "Moths"), which we haven't heard since...I dunno, Benefit? Johnny Glascock never played better (“Acres,” “Journeyman”). Barrie and John Evan play like their lives depend on it, and David Palmer’s personal additions are never intrusive (“Weathercock”). And Ian. The flute and guitar are great, as always, but his voice is amazing. He sings like he’s a kid again (no offense, of minstralic one), with a youthful, energetic, yet knowing and dark tone.

In fact, maybe it is the tone that sets the album; it’s darker than Songs ever was (which is where the Minstrel in the Gallery connection comes in for me). Only something like “Acres Wild” or “Rover” could have really fit on Songs weight-wise, and both of those are kind of dark anyway, lyrics-wise at least (coincidentally, the only song on Songs worthy of Horses is "The Whistler"). Even “Moths,” beautiful as it is, is really cold and sad; it’s about suicide, get it?!? Moths? Flame? Aw, forget it...

But maybe what makes Horses so great is that sad fact that it’s is the last great Tull record. It’s the last true classic Tull record anyway, the last time this lineup would play as a unit. And you can feel the stony chill in the rising introduction to “Heavy Horses,” as if they all knew that this was the last time. Sniff. Kicks the crap outta “Aqualung” even.

Yeah, what the hell. I’ll go out on the proverbial limb here; it would be too easy to declare an Aqualung or a Thick as a Brick to be the greatest of Tull albums. I hand that honor off to Heavy Horses; you see, THIS was the album Ian had to make. We've always known he was a folkie, proggy though he may be, and Songs was just training. THIS is the serious record, perhaps the first truly serious record Ian's ever made. Even with "Mouse Police." It’s not quite Thick as a Brick, but hey, what is? Get it. Get it now. Why haven't you gotten it yet?

(Oh yeah, the Horses remaster comes with two bonus tracks. The first one, “Living in These Hard Times” is okay, but kind of dopey. The title suggests something along the lines of what would become Broadsword’s “Fallen on Hard Times,” but it’s more like the Stormwatch outtake “A Stitch in Time.” Oh well, it’s not as good as either of them anyway. But the second track, “Broadford Bazaar,” is a gorgeous folk melody. It’s just Ian overdubbing his ghostly lyrics over pounding acoustic guitar and lifting flute lines (as usual). As only he can, of course. That’s probably a really bad description, but trust me, it’s a nice song. Not nice enough to raise the overall album rating, but still nice.)

Report this review (#113661)
Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars

I'm listening this mixed bag with a mixed emotions. It's just not that appealing to this long-time die-hard Tull fan.

What's wrong? Well, half of the album. Moths, Journeyman, Rover, Weathercock and Acres Wild. Forgettable, dull, only a shade of what Tull used to be (or will be again in years to come). Like sitting tied in a chair in the middle of the white room, while someone is talking to you, but you can't hear anything, just see the motions of the person's mouth...like a fish..open, close, open, close, struggle for the oxygen.

Occasional flashes of melody will travel from the loudspeaker through the air of the white room and enter your ear to stimulate few of your brain cells...but not nearly enough to produce a chain reaction known as "pleasure", somewhere deep behind the corpus callosum...to sum it up, two catchy melodies, one chorus, and one nice drum work is all that I can squeeze from the above mentioned songs...and unforgettable awful lyrics of "Acres Wild". Ian?!?

Four songs are balancing this record and preventing it from the disaster. The opening song, nice idea for a story, nice music, nice ending out of the song - a bit of experimentation with human voice and stereo field. "No Lullaby", 5/5 stars song, most progressive (and the least folksy) effort here. Live version from "Bursting Out" is much more memorable, though. I will forgive some stupid keyboard sounds utilised here because of complexity of the song. Plus, it sounds almost as a heavy metal epic.

"One Brown Mouse" is a gorgeous folk ballad. And it's quite pointless to describe any gorgeous folk ballads, so check it out, preferably a performance from "Bursting Out". Again.

"Heavy Horses" is another good prog folk tune, but far from the best in the band's book.

That's it. Two and a half stars. If you want to have highlights of the album in your collection, go get "Live: Bursting Out", and everything else is forgettable and only for completionists. Except maybe the "Mouse Police", but it's an acquired taste. You're buying this album at your own risk.

Report this review (#115374)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars With this album and 1977's 'Songs From the Wood,' JETHRO TULL remove the progressive vibe from their music and come up with an album of standard folk-rock with a Celtic feel. This already distances me from the record: I found TULL at their most powerful when they tried to reach as far as they could. This, by contrast, feels regressive to me. A bit like THE WATERBOYS' transformation from 'Big Music' to 'Raggle Taggle band'. Both periods are worthy; I simply prefer my music big.

Yes, TULL are still mad. The end to the first track proves that. But their madness is micro-madness here. Rather than following a young man as he battles with life ('TAAB') or with death and the afterlife ('APP'), here we are encouraged to get cosy with the horses, the moths and the mice. Nice. Some might even say prescient, in these days of Kyoto protocols and carbon miles. But neither musically nor lyrically engaging. I miss the potpourri of tunes that marked out TAAB and APP: there was some hope in 'Minstrel in the Gallery' that they might return on subsequent albums, but thery are largely absent here.

Yes, this album is relaxing, and it makes me reflect on rural life. But it doesn't frighten me like 'Aqualung' did. It doesn't send me to the heights like 'Thick as a Brick.' And it doesn't make me scratch my head like 'A Passion Play.' Most of all, it is the music of a man who has been bitten by the critics and didn't like the toothmarks. He's found his measure and, sadly, it's small compared to the glorious eccentricity of the early 70s.

Report this review (#118928)
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is - inexplicably - one of the most overlooked and sometimes even reviled albums in the almighty Jethro Tull's catalogue. To me is a damn good one, in style of what they left on Songs but more folkish than the album from '77. Still very fresh, still a classic of Tull, and still one of the best Tull albums, no doubt. The ecclectic mixture between folk,classic and rock music is a great example of Tull´s work in the later seventies. 'Rover','Moths','One brown mouse','Weathercock' and the title track are some of the best Tull songs, and i can't understand why some of the reviewers rate this one enough low just to underappreciate the album, after all is their choice. To me is a 4 star album, among the best of the late '70, and why not a good candidate to became one of the best albums ever.
Report this review (#125381)
Posted Monday, June 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I've got mixed feelings about this album. It's utterly dominated by Ian Anderson's vocals, but his voice sounds so rough and gravelly some of the tracks seem little more than a tuneless sludge. "Acres Wild" would be a lovely folk song if it were sung, for example, by Maddy Prior, but the present performance merely grates. "No Lullaby" is even more horrific; it should have been dubbed "No melody". The album's main subjects are equally irritating. In his liner notes Anderson compares HEAVY HORSES to SONGS FROM THE WOOD and smugly remarks: 'The general tenor of the album is the reality, rather than the myth, of country living'. I beg your pardon? Songs about the "Mouse Police", about dragons and beasties are about REALITY? And what's the point of that interminable and dreadfully sentimental ode to traditional Shire Horses? When I see those sleeve pictures of Ian with two of them horsies, and he's all dressed up like an English country gent, I feel this is no more than rock star posturing. Ian has swapped his minstrel suit for tweed. All this has little or nothing to do with 1970s rural England - if you want to know the bitter reality of THAT, read Ted Hughes' MOORTOWN DIARY.

On the other hand, some of the songs on this album (e.g. "Moths", "One Brown Mouse") are so charming that even Ian's voice can't ruin them. He's also right to praise 'the sparkling detail of the original master tapes'. Although instrumental solos are few, all the band's members are perfectly attuned to each other, and you get a lot of aural pleasure just listening to the different guitars, the bass, the violin and the keyboards. "Rover" has delightful parts for pipe organ. The two bonus tracks aren't bad at all. I find myself wavering between two and three stars.

Report this review (#129167)
Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
2 stars SONGS FROM THE BARN!

I always had mixed feelings about HEAVY HORSES! It has never been a favorite JT album of mine, being one of those i listen to the least. Only UNDER WRAPS is getting less love than this one onm y turntable. Even if the life in the British countryside is still the main theme of this album ,it doesn't follow exactly the same pattern than its predecessor SONGS FROM THE WOOD.

For once, the lyrics are not as joyful as on SFTW as they try to deal with the problems facing the countryside in a ever changing modern world. This is not about medieval fairy tales or -drinking Guiness in a pub- songs. So the mood of HEAVY HORSES is quite dark, somber than usual in a JT album.

Another matter that doesn't make this album as enjoyable as usual is the drastic change of IAN ANDERSON vocal capabilities. Already, we could detect on SFTW the slow evolution of his voice in a more ''earthy'' tone.I don't know if ANDERSON was smoking tobacco back then but he sounds like a guy with a cigarette not too far from him. The voice sounds harsh, kind of rough. It might suit the athmosphere of the album, but it's definitely an aquired taste now compared to the way he sang earlier from TIME WAS to TOTRNR.

HEAVY HORSES is somewhat a little bit more rocking than SFTW, but the hard rock side of JT with the usual MARTIN BARRE guitar breaks has disappeared , tha ''heaviest'' one being the 8mn long title track which happen to be my favorite track of the album. It has all the traditional the JT features we love, such as good sounding guitar, nice PALMER arrangements in the back, a good melody with nice acoustic works from ANDERSON, well the most ''proggish'' (or what's left) song of the album.

The rest is divided with the usual folky tracks such as MOTHS or WEATHERCOOK. There is nothing wrong with them, they're decent songs, but they don't stay in my head after they are over. JETHRO TULL has released plenty of similar songs in the past, only more memorable.The same goes for ONE BROWN HOUSE. AND THE MOUSE POLICE NEVER SLEEPS is nice gentle rocker, but IAN's rough voice drowns this song completely.The rest of the album is not very interesting with NO LULLABY a melody-less song that quite drags a bit or JOURNEYYMAN and ROVER that have definitely nothing special to remember.

2 bonus tracks have been added and as in every JETHRO TULL remastered edition, they are good especially BROADFORD BAZAAR.

Last thing, i never understood why IAN ANDERSON would release later SOLO albums as he is JETHRO TULL. HEAVY HORSES could have been one of them as it sounds definitely as the frontman toy than a group effort. Even in the booklet, you see IAN everywhere from the cover to the his 5 pics inside. You have to wait for the back cover to see the remaining members surrounding of course the master sitting behind the desk. Also there are no credits whatsoever giving the names from the poor 5 other musicians

2 STARS!

Report this review (#134811)
Posted Saturday, August 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For the vast portion of the 1970s, Jethro Tull did not release a bad album. On the contrary, each one was a jewel, a prog rock triumph and among the most perfect examples of what progressive rock could be. Many acts emphasized classical music, folk, hard rock and blues, but few mastered the ideal blend-- Tull did, and for 1978's Heavy Horses they even had the good grace to make it digestible. For these reasons and many others, Ian Anderson and his wisemen were everyone's band, young and old alike, progster or popper, there is indeed something for all of us in their albums. This record has them at the peak of that fairytale period, and it is among the best in their catalog.

An homage to our feline friends for 'Mouse Police' with beautiful organ tones from John Evan (or is it David Palmer's portative organ?) and Baroque lines from Ian's fife. The ribald 'Acres Wild' is the British countryside with a bit of a jig, 'No Lullaby' starts as tender reassurance from parent to child but becomes a thrilling toss from the nest into the dark night, and 'Moths' is a deeper contemplation of the natural world and man's spiritual connection to it. Sweet Celtic atmosphere and trademark Tull harmonics keep coming on 'Journeyman', the fantastic rocker 'Rover' sparks alive with Ian's acoustic strings, stuttering flutes and Martin Barre's pristine self-harmonies, and the dear 'One Brown Mouse'. The brilliant title track is an extraordinarily moving tribute to animals and 'Weathercock' is wistful rumination.

An absolutely marvelous album without a weak moment to be heard... indispensable.

Report this review (#147425)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Heavy Horses follow in the footsteps of the previous album. However Ian Anderson's singing is coarser, and on the whole the album is less refined. Instead of beautiful elaborate arrangements we have here rather ugly elaborate arragments. Highly recommended!
Report this review (#152179)
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars I find it kind of surprising that I never noticed that the biggest difference in Jethro Tull’s sound in the eighties wasn’t necessarily their penchant for making music that was more heavy rock than progressive folk. They were guilty of that for sure, but that’s not the biggest change. As I listen to those albums now, nearly twenty years later I can hear how much the band suffered from the loss of both John Evans and David Palmer in 1980. Not that Evans was any kind of Rick Wakeman, but he brought a folksy sense of intimacy to the organ passages on this and earlier albums. That is sadly missing on any studio work that came out after 1980. And Palmer’s arrangements are much more vibrant than Anderson’s would be in the eighties, not to mention more progressive. Possibly I didn’t notice back then because 1) the band had dropped off a lot of people’s radars, including mine; and 2) so much was going to sh!t in progressive music back then that this was only a ripple in the pond.

So the dominant sounds on this (and pretty much every other Tull album) are Ian Anderson’s voice and his flute, followed Martin Barre’s very tight guitar work. So that remains unchanged from album to album. So does Anderson’s writing for the most part, particularly after about 1974. The themes here are still more about mythical figures and general life concepts rather than personal idioms such as those he would turn almost exclusively to after ‘A’. But beyond the words the music isn’t all that ambitious, and except for a few tracks there isn’t anything musically here we haven’t heard before.

“Moths” is one of those exceptions, and mostly thanks to Palmer’s arrangement. The synthesized strings and their interaction with Anderson’s flute flows quite well, and adds so much to what that track would have sounded like with only Anderson to contribute to it. Kind of like what “Journey Man” sounds like – much closer to the blander and less energetic tracks on “Rock Island” and “Catfish Rising”.

The other stellar example of how Evans and Palmer (and guest violinist Darryl Way) added important dynamics to the band is the title track. By 1978 I had largely lost interest in Tull, although there was a brief resurgence with ‘The Broadsword & the Beast’ thanks to the studio wizardry and MTV promotion. But ‘Heavy Horses’ was still a song that caught my attention simply because this return to form for the band was so distinctive and so unexpected. This is the best ‘Aqualung’ outtake ever! Not really, but you know what I mean. Anderson’s vocals are bard-like and mysterious instead of dull and plodding like they became somewhere around 1981, and the entire band contributes musically instead of simply backing up la flute d’ Ian. The whole thing works marvelously, and even today this is the one track that holds up without disclaimer out of all the band’s work between 1976 and 1989. And “Weathercock” makes for a great postlude too.

This certainly isn’t my favorite Tull album, but to be fair their most immortal work came out when I was still pre-pubescent, so I discovered those albums after-the-fact. ‘Heavy Horses’ and ‘Stormwatch’ were the first Jethro Tull albums I discovered when they were still new. For that reason they hold a little nostalgic value and I’ll admit they get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to rating them. So four stars for this one, and recommended to anyone who hasn’t actually listened to it before, which probably isn’t very many people.

peace

Report this review (#165211)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A few years ago I would have probably given this album a rating of 5. However, today, a 4 will have to do. It seems over the years I've lost some interest in this album, but I am not exactly sure why. Compared to many of JT's other albums, it's a pure gem. However, I feel that today I have begun to chart the waters of experimental rock to new esoteric boundaries, and thus, this album bores me just slightly. Nevertheless, fans of Songs of the Wood will certainly find something enjoyable here, even if it was created in the same mold.
Report this review (#170769)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An elegant regalement with a pastoral feel

It seems that Ian Anderson (known better in some circles as Mr. Jethro Tull) has a real knack for writing lyrics and music when it comes to two things specifically: satire which sometimes involves the sleazy, and elegant English flavored poetry. Two things that one would hardly think could meet with any sense of success. And yet here on Jethro Tull's 11th studio album they seem to have captured both beautifully. That aggressive ''telling off'' of society remains while perfectly capturing the folk essence of the countryside. It can be argued, but this is likely Tull's best album alongside their masterpiece Thick As A Brick.

In terms of sound this one familiar. Where Tull usually changes their style dramatically between albums this one tends to stick closer to the previous offering, the Spring flavored Songs From The Wood. While this one tend to have more of an Autumn flavor to it thanks to it's deeper and darker content and writing it feels like the band benefited from holding on to a style for more than one album. Here they took everything they did right with Songs... and refined it. Sharpened it. Made it perfect. The song writing is tight, the lyrics are beautiful and the melodies are strong. Often noted as Tull's most typically 'folk' album the tag is not without reason. Indeed, thanks to the strength of the flutes in relation to the songs and the more pastoral melodies of songs like the magnificent Acres Wild this one does get a very folk feel to it. Of course, not without the Tull heaviness and punch.

Here the songs are shorter, but unlike many Tull albums there's no short tracks that can be described as 'intro/outro' (or filler). Each song stands it's own ground solidly without a weak moment in sight. The tracks segue wonderfully from one to the next and the two longer songs move along without a hitch. One of the more notable things about this album as well is the harsh contrast between the (sometimes) light sounding music and the low grumble that Anderson has attached to his voice here. Likely the only time we'll hear it from the man, but on songs like the quirky and quick opener ...And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps Anderson's voice is truly menacing with his low growl.

The songs range from fast to slow as they often do. This album sees the more fast tracks sitting at the beginning and end with the slower (more mid paced, actually) tracks sitting in the middle with a few exceptions to pick up the pace and keep attention. The two longer songs also exist to keep a perfect balance with No Lullaby bringing things from the fast and light to the slower and darker. Heavy Horses, however, has to be one of the most beautiful songs ever put to tape by the band. The opening line brings forth such imagery it's stunning: ''Iron clad feathered feet pounding the dust...''. Anderson's delivery is absolutely wonderful and as the song picks up to a more frantic pace it still manages to stay coherent and utterly pretty throughout the fray.

This is a must have album for every prog fan. It epitomizes what Tull does best and it does it so very well. Recommended for those looking to check out the band beyond their Aqualung and Thick As A Brick days as well as any fan who doesn't already have it for some reason. Tull (and indeed, prog folk) at it's best.

Report this review (#171942)
Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Really excellent release by Jethro Tull , it's a must in the discography of the band ,,, this album of 1978 maintain the tull's genre of music in perfect way , one brown mouse & weathercook are amazing , i've been listening to these stuff since the 70's . Nice album containing beautiful songs deserves a 4.5 stars indeed ..................... Tracks Toni
Report this review (#176362)
Posted Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Armed with the best set of songs since Aqualung, Ian Anderson and co made this near-masterpiece of an album called Heavy Horses, possibly the best Tull album since Thick As A Brick. Compared to the previous album, Songs From the Wood, Heavy Horses sounds much more mature and "genuine" for lack of a better word. I cannot enough emphasise how much I prefer Heavy Horses over Songs From The Wood, which I found too jolly and whimsical, and even slightly silly in places.

On this album they found a very good balance between acoustic and electric instruments. We find here, of course, the expected guitars, organs, piano, bass, drums and flutes. But this time we also find lots of mandolin, some violin, some orchestral arrangements and other keyboard instruments, helping to make this a perfect mix of Folk, symphonic rock and hard rock. Compared to the follow-up Stormwatch, the balance is in favour of the Folk rather than the other two. Heavy Horses is very original and I would say its one of the best folk rock albums of all time.

This is an excellent addition to any prog collection! Highly recommended!

Report this review (#177293)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This was another important album buy this great british band. The precedor Songs From the Wood was full of whimisical imagery and lyrics, when heavy Horses, while still working in the folk rock format, had a much darker concept, with songs dealing with the harsh side of country living. Anyway, it was a very fine bunch of songs released in a time no one seemed to be interested in this kind of music except the fans. And Ian Anderson & co didn´t let them down.

While most of the prog bands were stuck between a rock and a hard place, Jethro Tull simply stuck with their guns, releasing one good album after the other not seeming to bother if it was fashionable or not. And maybe that´s the reason they kept their audience´s respect. Certainly heavy Horses didn´t have the impact of importance of such milestones like Thick As A Brick not the novelty of an Aqualung, but it was a good folk rock album in a time very few bands were doing it good. And good they did. Songs like No Lullaby, Rover and the title Track are great exemples of how inspired anderson was. The band was also doing great. Curved Air´s Daryl Way did also a fine job adding violins on the Title track.

Although I still favor Songs From The Wood around this time, I was relieved when I heard this album and found such good music inside. Again I feel there are no fillers, and the two extra songs my remastered version came with are worth having them. The production is fine (be aware that I´m talking about the remastered one!). 3,5 stars.

Report this review (#188144)
Posted Thursday, November 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wow!I bought this album yesterday since it was low priced.I can say now I made a good decision since I had many difficulties getting into Jethro Tull.To be frank,I found this band too folky in the beginning.Nowadays it is one of the main reasons why I very much like Jethro Tull.When I played it I never felt bored for there are so many outstanding tracks:And the mouse police never sleeps made me feel like having a ride in the countryside,so nice,so hippie.I enjoyed a lot Martin Barre's playing throughout the record.He of course doesn't overwhelm other instrumentists but he plays in such a subtle way.Acres Wild and the title track are very good too.Thick as a brick is my JT favourite but this one is worthwhile and I will always keep good remembrance of this excellent concert I saw last year in Crozon:Ian Anderson was great,Martin Barre too.For me another quality of this album is the fact that I'm eager to listen to other prog folk records!
Report this review (#190060)
Posted Friday, November 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my favourite Tull Album, and yeah, I own and love Thick as a Brick.

I guess that should tell you all you need to know about how I feel on this one. I know it's not quite as progressive as some of their others, but it is still progressive. No Lullaby and Heavy Horses are both tracks too long for radio, full of dynamic shifts in tone and pace. And all of the other tracks are intricately arranged and performed. I dare say this album should hold the interest of any proghead.

The sound on this album, I think, is really a showcase for what Tull does best. I'm very much a fan of the Folk/Rock/Prog balance this album achieves. It's completely natural and unforced. It never seems like an arbitrary collision of influences, and the result is breahtaking. This is a natural progression of the sound of Songs From The Wood, but, oh man, SO much more potent and effective. There's nothing else I've ever heard that sounds like this album.

And Ian Anderson has always had a knack for beautiful vocal melodies, but on this album he must have really been feeling the inspiration. The vocal melodies on almost every song will get stuck in your head after you spin the album once. Go ahead, just try to get the melody from 'Moths' out of your head... good luck!

The album isn't content to be a one-trick pony either. The tracks display an excellent amount of diversity. I mean just look at Acres Wild, compared with say, Journeyman. One is a terrific upbeat folk sing-a-long with fun interplay between violin and mandolin. The other a laid back rock assault, driven by an imposing funked out bass line!

I'm beginning to ramble, but suffice to say: there is no filler on this disc, it's all gold. Best disc in the Tull ouvre, if you can handle shorter song lengths (you can! give it a try).

Report this review (#199253)
Posted Thursday, January 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Bring me a wheel of oaken wood. A rein of polished leather" This was on the front cover of the CD I bought and fortunatelly I did it before remastered serie hit the stores pushing this 'original' pressing out. I still think Stormwatch and A sound pretty lame it their original versions but Heavy Horses surprisingly sound excellent. It wasn't typical 'Chrysalis' serie with black back cover though. So on it we have picture of the band, all members in exclusive suits and David Palmer waering football shoes to that. Funny thing indeed. It's beautiful album showing Ian Anderson in different shape. Maybe not as rude as on Aqualung but his voice is deeper and marked by time (and probably beer;)). First song on this release isn't so great actually. It's hypnotic and interesting but not great. But it keeps us in woods the way or the other. Acres Wild is much better. "I'd make love to you, in all good places..."...such vital folk tune with some violins in the background. No Lullaby is one of two longer pieces on the album. The pace of this song is done the bluesy way but the fast drumming and bass pounding later in section is close to what hard rock was at the time. Excellent song. Moths is mellow tune with memorable verses. Ian plays on words and he does it with fragile passion. Journeyman due to the bass line is a bit hypnotic but in chorus turns to typical Jethro track. Still very good. Probably here analogue says A side is over. So the second part of this album starts with Rover, my favorite song on Heavy Horses. It's folk rock tune with amazing acoustic guitar parts. "I chase your every footstep and I follow every whim...". In the end of this song we can also hear delicate electric guitar lead which proves that Ian Anderson was not only excellent songwriter but also arranger. One Brown Mouse isn't so good but not really bad. I mean it's a little rock tune with more electric guitar here and there. Epic 9 minutes long title track starts with harmonized guitar part. Later in that amazing song we can hear violin passages like in some country and western music. I think it was major change if compare it to previous album. British folk meets American folk. Despite that Heavy Horses is strong rock track with hard rockish guitar solo. Very strong moment of the album. And finally Weathercock ending the release. Rather light and without chills. Heavy Horses having its weaker moments it's still excellent release. I'm really enjoying it having good memories about it and recommed it to every 70's rock fan.
Report this review (#212086)
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Heavy Horses" is the logical continuation of the solid prog-folk approach delivered in the "Songs From the Wood" album, and what a lovely follow-up it is. The previous release had been an absolute triumph of Jethro Tull's ever-present folkish side refurbished and manifested at its maximum potential of sophistication, in no small degree due to the tasteful synth layers and orchestrations provided by John Evan and the new 6th member David (now Dee) Palmer. What "Heavy Horses" brings as a source of refreshment for this new pinnacle era of Jethro Tull is the use of more natural orchestral arrangements (real strings), as well as a special guest called Darryl Way (yes, the virtuoso violinist from Curved Air). Evan restricts himself to organ and piano, and the synth input is not as abundant. Maybe the occasional portative pipe organ handled by Palmer has more presence than the synths, but again, the keyboard efforts are properly stated in the mix. All in all, the items that are more recurrently featured in the mix (besides Anderson's flute) are the interplaying acoustic/electric guitars and the drums: this album indeed comprises some of the best Barlow work ever, and I'm talking about a musician who always knew how to use his percussive mastery for good effect. As in the "Wood" album (and many other songs from the previous Tull catalogue), the consistent topic of the tracklist focuses on rural things, but now the predominant mood is not one of celebration of the reality and fantasy in the village men's lives: "Heavy Horses" is an overall look at the pros and cons of the life (lovely life, after all) in a farm amidst our modern urban-centered times. '... And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps' is a catchy tune about cats watching for mice in their role of countrymen's best friends; its playful mood is properly perpetuated in the romancing 'Acres Wild' and the candid 'Moths'. Caught between these colorful songs is the grayish 'No Lullaby', full of intense rocking sounds and patently prog-oriented shifts. This song signifies a particular apex for Barre and Barlow as performers. 'Journeyman' ends the album's first half with a featured rhythm section that emulates the driving dynamics of a vehicle with funky-friendly swings that oddly feed the song?s basic blues-rock feel. 'Rover' brings back the album's most candid side with well-ordained flourishes that echo the explicit splendor of "Songs From the Wood", in this way opening the album's second half in a very exciting way. 'One Brown Mouse' is less ornamented but still displays a similar colorfulness - the rural mood works beautifully. But the source of superior beauty comes with the penultimate track, the namesake one, which IMHO is one of the finest Anderson moments as a writer and a poet. This mini-epic that almost totals a 9 minute span celebrates the ancient power of farm horses while calibrating the negative side brought by tractors and other industrial artifacts. The soft piano-vocal passages, the orchestrations exquisite beyond words, the melodic development of the moving guitar leads and Way's majestic violin inputs, the fluid sequences between various moods and time signatures, all of them gather together in a perfectly logical framework that capitalizes the song's beautiful melodic lines. Epic and magical, with a lovely mixture of melancholy and naivety in the lyrics that make sense with the musical material - 'Heavy Horses' is a Top 5 song in JT's history. The album's closer 'Weathercock' brings back a moment of final optimism to complete the tracklist on a pertinently candid note. This album is a must in any rock collection (prog and not prog), and definitely, a wonderful masterpiece from a band whose heyday was still running on by the late 70s.
Report this review (#216730)
Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Whenever I picture Jethro Tull, the music of both this album and its predecessor, SONGS FROM THE WOOD, come to mind (moreso than THICK AS A BRICK). To put it in simple terms, there are plenty of dense folk textures interspersed with a hard rock feel.

Most people will point to AQUALUNG and THICK AS A BRICK as the best Jethro Tull albums. While I do admit that both albums are terrific in their own respects, this album and SONG FROM THE WOOD always seem to be better in my mind as neither receive the hype that the more popular Tull albums do. This gives a much better luster to some of Jethro Tull's lesser known tracks like ''Journeyman'' and ''Rover''.

I know I'm making a ton of comparisons between SONGS FROM THE WOOD and HEAVY HORSES, but I believe both albums are constructed similarly with HEAVY HORSES being slightly weaker. The longer songs, while strong and peppy, take too long to get going. Their beginnings are slow and in the case of the title track, too pretty. That can be somewhat of a problem with the album, its prettiness can put off many a listener. There are plenty of goofy, syrupy folk stuff with ''One Brown Mouse'' taking the cake.

However, there are plenty of gems to find here from the bouncy ''Acres Wild'', the scurrying, frantic ''...and the Mouse Police Never Sleeps'', the pumping bass of ''Journeyman'' and ''Rover'' in general. Most traditional progsters will find albums like THICK AS A BRICK more suitable to their tastes, and I have no problem with that. I just choose to be slightly nonconformist and prefer to stick with the folksier albums. Now stop looking at me like that!

Report this review (#234928)
Posted Monday, August 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars After a few years of lukewarm albums, Songs Fom the Woods was a surprising creative peak for Tull, full of new ideas and enthusiasm for the material. One could have hoped that Heavy Horses would continue the new found creative vein for at least one other album but that was not what happened. Heavy Horse is another half-hearted Tull release with too few decent songs and a sterile performance, devoid of any emotion or excitement.

With the Mouse Police Never Sleeps, it doesn't start too bad though. It's an original little song with a biting vocal on top of some interesting percussive work. Just two songs further down, there's even a new Tull classic in the presence of No Lullaby. Not my favourite song by a long stretch but still, quite close to the stuff on Aqualung. One Brown Mouse is a nice little ditty that would have fit well on Living in the Past. But that's all folks. I can't conjure up any kind of enthusiasm at all for the remainder of the dead material on this badly dated album. Considering this is from '78, a year when the music scene in England burst with creativity and new ideas, the contrast with this muffled affair couldn't have been bigger. And things would only go further downhill from here onwards.

It's appalling how old and tired this band sounds. Not even 10 years into their career, Tull has become a dinosaur, stretching his old neck one last time to look in the sky at the meteorite that would make him and his kind extinct. Amen.

Report this review (#237777)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars My relationship with Jethro Tull has been a rocky one ever since my friend Tommy Cline brought us together in 1970. While their scruffy but charming debut made for a good first impression, it was their brilliant "Stand Up" album that made me fall head over heels. My infatuation held fast and unshakable through their uneven "Benefit" but when they brazenly flirted with the unwashed masses on "Aqualung" I felt cruelly betrayed and stopped seeing them altogether. The nerve! I began to hold a childish but serious grudge and, just for spite, placed them in the same mental category as The Monkees. However, absence makes the heart grow fonder so in '75 after reading a positive review for "Minstrel in the Gallery" I purchased a copy to see if we could blow on the ashes of our affair and reignite the old flame. Unfortunately, the LP did nothing for me no matter how hard I tried to like it and I wrote them off forever. It was just not going to work between us. Or so I thought.

After discovering to my shocked delight that there are literally millions of proggers the world over some years back my dormant adoration for the genre was revived and I decided that it was high time to stop living in the past when it came to JT and make a new start, this time as "just friends." Discovering the majesty and near-perfection of "Thick as a Brick" was a revelation and delving into the eccentricities of the grossly misunderstood "Passion Play" was an enlightening adventure. In other words, I'm back on the Tull bandwagon. My bruised psyche and tender ego had caused me to miss out on a lot of music from Ian Anderson & Company and catching up will take a while but it should be fun. I realize that some of their material will be sub-standard but I've promised myself not to take it as a personal affront this go 'round. We all make mistakes (both artists and fans) and time heals even the most superficial of wounds.

I didn't expect much from "Heavy Horses" at all. That's what makes the surprise so special. It's everything I loved about them back in the day. The band charges right out of the gate with the extremely energetic "And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps" and they maintain a lofty standard of quality through the last note of the album. The opening song's admittedly busy but tight-as-new-shoes ¾ tempo and the wonderful synchronicity steadfastly upheld between the acoustic instrumentation throughout is dizzyingly mesmerizing. Drummer Barriemore Barlow could've taken the safe road here but he inventively opts to apply an unorthodox beat pattern that's a better fit for the novelty of the rhythm. There's a poetic life-as-viewed-from-a-rural-perspective lyrical theme running through most of the tracks and this one is no exception as Ian makes an observation that, while to humans the purring family feline may seem serene and docile, to rodents in general the terrible Tabby is a ruthless carnivore with a "license to mutilate." (I, myself, have been witness to such horrors. It can be quite ghastly.) Speaking of odes to nature's way, "Acres Wild" is next and it's far from being a letdown. The group's smooth but spirited attack and their tasteful blend of classic and modern instruments is yet another manifestation of what Jethro Tull does so very well when they're on their game.

I must admit that hearing Martin Barre's boisterous guitar slammin' headlong into the intro of "No Lullaby" for the first time filled me with apprehension in fear that they were about to descend into "Locomotive Breath" land (a place I don't care for). However, instead of taking the boringly predictable route they wisely open it up and let Barlow and bassist John Glascock set an unexpectedly ominous mood for this nearly 8-minute composition. There's lots of changes to be encountered along the way and the band tosses in some not- so-easy-to-pull-off kicks and accents to keep things lively. The number evolves constantly, never stagnating, and Anderson's flute flitters about like a ravenous hummingbird on a nectar binge. I appreciate the candor that Ian employs as he tells children stark truths about the dangerous world they're about to grow up in. "Keep your eyes open and prick up your ears/rehearse your loudest cry/there's folk out there who would do you harm/so I'll sing you no lullaby" he croons. Barre's deft mandolin work distinguishes "Moths" and I can never get enough of that instrument's uplifting tone. It's one of my all-time favorite things to hear. This tune about waltzing with the specter of death flows effortlessly and the orchestral strings dancing in the background are superb. "Life's too long (as the lemming said)," Anderson sings in a voice slightly reminiscent of Cat Stevens'.

"Journeyman" belies the group's bluesy roots but, like in their earliest incarnations, they never play it straight, choosing to throw a few quirks in the mix. It's a rueful commentary about the dull, robot-like participants of the monotonous urban rat race that could've turned into a tiresome dirge but for the splendidly solid performance turned in by the band and the addition of a string section that serves to enrich rather than clutter up the proceedings. A peppy introduction draws you helplessly into "Rover" where a gorgeous 12-string acoustic guitar fills the space with class. Written about a free-to-wander country canine ("I'm simple in my sadness/resourceful in remorse"), this is precisely the same brand of progressive folk/rock stylings that enraptured my senses four long decades ago. The same can be said for the following cut, "One Brown Mouse," a very melodic ditty where once again their delicate casserole of instruments creates an enchanted atmosphere unique to this collection of talented artists. Ian's imaginative lyrics about a simple caged pet are cleverly literate and wholly entertaining.

The album's 9-minute long namesake starts with a heavy hand but they tactfully go for taste over power and pretension early on and Anderson's stacked vocals are dreamily intoxicating. The production and arrangement are top-notch as they allow the song to take its own intricate, complex course but the resulting music never comes off as contrived or forced. The words are a bit of a lament about feeling old, outdated and left behind by modern technology as he compares himself and his mates to a herd of retired work horses "standing like tanks on the brow of the hill/up into the cold wind facing/in stiff battle harness, chained to the world/against the low sun rising." Fine, fine imagery there. They finish with "Weathercock," a tune right in step with the rest of the album that has mandolins, 12-string acoustic guitars, organ (supplied by the ever-present but easily overlooked John Evan) and flute layered over an aggressive bass and drum rhythm track. To describe it in any detail would involve repeating many of the same complimentary accolades I've written above so I'll just recommend that you sit back and enjoy the greatness of Jethro Tull here. There'll never be another of their kind.

Over the years this group has somehow become the butt of occasional jokes on TV and in the movies. If you're one who has come to judge them by that unfairness I beg you to consider that the bad rap comes mainly from the non-prog world and isn't based on fact. Yes, they are responsible for some questionable, passé offerings like "Bungle in the Jungle," but it would be a shame to identify their body of work on that silly piece of fluff as much as the travesty of basing one's image of The Doors solely on their dismal "Love Her Madly." This album represents well the Jethro Tull legacy and you'd do yourself a favor to acquire it and give it repeated listens. Is it a masterpiece? Probably not, but I just don't feel right in giving it any less than 4.4 stars (the upper tip of my 4 star rating). It's no "Thick as a Brick" or "Stand Up" but damned if I can find anything wrong with it. There's not a skipper in the bunch.

Report this review (#238813)
Posted Saturday, September 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Jethro Tull - Heavy Horses (1978)

How does a band stay faithfull to it's progressive fans while adapting to the new age of music, the seventies were at its end. Well, this, boys and girls, is the perfect example. A song based album with lot's of progressive songwriting and still acceptable for a lot of people. My girlfriend adores this! I'm thankfull for this, for my girlfriend doesn't like a lot of my progressive music so much that she asks me to put it on. The recording is done very intelligent and modern (a bit too clean one could say), but this doesn't bother at all.

The word: songs. It doesn't make me feel warm at all. But as the first song 'The Mouse police' is very convincing the record got my attention. All other songs are great too with some great vocals and atmospheres on Acres Wild: 'I'll make love to you", sings Ian. Intellegent composition skills on No Lullaby and Heavy Horses and most of the other songs have their moments.

I don't have to say a lot about this album. A collection of perfect songs in a way it challenges Thick as a Brick for best Tull record. I like everything of this album and I think it's the best adoptation of a progressive rock band of the second part of the seventies. This is just essential listening! Four stars, but it's hard to explain why.

Report this review (#241871)
Posted Monday, September 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I always thought horses were fairly heavy creatures.

Perhaps these particular horses have steel in their hearts. Hm, a steel heart horse with the boisterous drive to pursue his desires, but blinded to deep and outside reflection. This is a magnificent metaphor for one of Jethro Tull's more folk oriented albums, Heavy Horses.

Equal parts Minstrel in the Gallery and Songs from the wood, Heavy Horses stands as the end of a peak for the band. This album contains the grit and fire of Minstrel, while not retaining any of its blundering length. It holds Songs' mystification, yet with more relish and soul.

The songs punch fairly hard, while the flutes, mandolins, keyboards, and traditional elements flourish stunningly. And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps starts off with a bang. And, as one of their prettiest albums, the track introduces some enchanting musical scenery.

Acres Wild is ferocious, by comparison. the twirling melodies are riveting. Each movement isn't allotted all the time it needs for full completion, yet the melodies never extend their stay. The evolving tracks are so beautifully catchy. The lyrics, I think, take a smaller step back, but still contend to that proper English mystique. Rover contains such a brilliant overall theme and melody, further hammering this as a purely gracious album.

If I may criticize, however, the album does get a little too repetitive in the steadfast folk rock swagger it repeatedly presents, leading the shorter middle songs to blend together into an inseparable mesh. This might be a positive, but with the relatively average album length, it does stick out.

The title track has a great striding guitar riff accompanied by multiple swaying instruments in and out of each other. It seems like most of Jethro Tull's title tracks have had quite a punch. This is definitely a highlight, and Anderson's very convincing vocal delivery is surprising. These songs are passionate. The album closes with Weathercock, which is a gorgeous with the light accentuation.

One of Jethro Tull's better albums, and definitely one of the most gorgeous. It suffers from a bit of repetition, and the lyrics are admittedly more simplistic, but it has many memorable melodies. A lot of fun, yes fun, can be had with Heavy Horses, and is an altogether uplifting experience.

Best song - Heavy Horses, Rover, Weathercock, or Acres Wild

Report this review (#253091)
Posted Friday, November 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A true masterpiece of an album, from a true legend of a band. Here they continue their winning ways as evidenced on Songs From The Wood. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Once again Mr. Anderson presents us with a very strong dose of heavenly folk melodies, mixed with an admittedly reduced but still very noticeable dose of prog.

In songwriting terms, I think these are Tull's best songs since Thick As A Brick, and that is not something that I say lightly. Each track is its own individual highlight, for me there is not a moment of filler anywhere. The tracks also have a special way of sounding immediately accesible, but manage to reward countless re-listens with their depth as well.

This may not be one of Tull's most famous, but it is definitely their most underrated.

Report this review (#260874)
Posted Thursday, January 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars The loose lyrical concept is one of Jethro Tulll's best: It is an ode and elegy of rural living. Unfortunately the music, unlike the soil of a good farmer's field, yields a scanty harvest in terms of ideas or flow. One may expect decent progressive folk music, but the nasty vocals do this album a disservice. The title track, however, is a masterwork.

"...And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps" Giddy acoustic guitar and huffs of flute make up this up-tempo folksy tune. It serves as a promising number, although the vocal section at the end is maddening.

"Acres Wild" Mandolin and bass dance a jig in this Celtic-inspired song. Ian Anderson's voice doesn't compliment it, but it stands as an okay piece.

"No Lullaby" Martin Barre gets to have some fun on electric guitar in the beginning, but soon turns the playground over to John Glascock and Barriemore Barlow. The subsequent bit is rather placid for a rocker, featuring Anderson's gritty vocals but very light dashes flute. The more urgent section that follows doesn't sound honest- it sounds like the band is trying too hard to be progressive (so much so that nothing really flows together). Something I didn't notice until recently is that the riff that would be used in the 1995 song "Roots to Branches" is snuck in.

"Moths" This could have made for an excellent acoustic soft song in the vein of the masterpieces found on Minstrel in the Gallery, but Anderson has to sing as though his vocal cords had been ravaged by the titular creature.

"Journeyman" Starting with a funky bass groove, this has a decent vocal performance that doesn't quite match the rest of the music, but has some guitar stabbings from Barre ripping through the sound now and again. This just does nothing for me.

"Rover" I enjoy the instrumentation on this song, but once again, the vocals just mar it.

"One Brown Mouse" The second song to feature the word "mouse" in the title, this track is a decent bit of folk rock with fanciful instrumentation and graceful acoustic guitar. The vocals this time are easier on the ears- overall, a fair tune, but as is the case with this album, nothing remarkable.

"Heavy Horses" This is a Jethro Tull masterpiece, and despite my misgivings about much of the rest of the album, this makes the record worth having, as it serves as a magnificent centerpiece that boasts not only masterful music, but ties the lyrical theme together with a nostalgic bow.

"Weathercock" The final piece has more lovely acoustic guitar (with a heavy beat and some electric guitar playing rhythm in the backdrop), but it's highlight is Anderson's flute solo.

Report this review (#269229)
Posted Monday, March 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars like many here, when I first bought this album, I didn't quite get it. I was looking for an album as heavy as the previous, Songs From The Wood. This one, on the surface, seemed much lighter. It took quite a few listens to fully appreciate the subtle complexity of the album. And it is now one of my favorite Tull albums.

While every track on the album is good, there are a few standouts. And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps seems to be a departure from the usual Tull style, with it's whirlwind themes, makes an excellent opening track. No Lullaby and the title track are both great examples of Tull's prog leanings, while also showing their folk rock roots at the same time.

Sure, it's not as great as Aqualung or Thick As A Brick, but how many albums are?

Report this review (#272739)
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Heavy Horses, Jethro Tull, 1978

Tull's second devoted folk album escapes my hatred for all things gratuitously vaguely woodsy. Aside from a mixed but improved set of lyrics relating Ian's pastoral images to actual human life, Ian's voice has grown a bit huskier and the music, while still full of nice melodies, does actually tend to go somewhere. Drummer Barriemore Barlowe outdoes himself here, and the band are completely tight wherever the music has direction.

With less of the tedious repetition and a little more in the way of hooks, the actual quality of the band becomes a little more obvious again. Psychotic opener And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps has the rather underrated Barriemore Barlowe at his finest and a slightly experimental flute sound, while Acres Wild sees John Glascock's bass interwoven into a neat mandolin part. Daryl Way's violin makes the slightly mad jig part and adds an extra flavour to the finely constructed verses.

No Lullaby is the first (and by far the worst) of the album's speed bumps. While it's nice to see Barlowe in a soloing capacity briefly at the start, Anderson's lyrics (and rather grating vocals) seem to have slipped back to an idea without any particular content and for an eight minute song, it appears to have little ot no sense of direction and more of the Songs-From-The-Wood moodless reprises. Good start, good end, not much in the overlong middle.

Moths has one of Palmer's lush orchestrations coming to the fore around a smooth flute part; Anderson's rather cracked vocals work unreasonably well, perhaps it's the calibre of the lyrics or the inexplicably uncluttered feel of the actually quite dense background.

Clear break, followed by Journeyman, the first piece where John Evans and Martin Barre really stand out, with a murky, watery organ and some snarling guitar leads in between a fairly typical little Tull riff... the side two opener has a detail in the orchestration and pulsing rhythm section that rewards repeated listens. Rover has one of Tull's best multi-part riffs, and bursts deliciously out of the opening percussion/bass thing. Anderson's a bit hit and miss on this one... flute great, lyrics have a couple of nice moments but don't really seem to mean much, vocals rather too harsh, though the chorus melody is pleasant. Vocals aside, this could well be one of Tull's finest numbers.

One Brown Mouse has the album's best lyrics and a neat acoustic (the final flourish is delicious)/vocal combination in its favour. The legato-ish organ part in the background is also rather nice. On the minus side, we have some stereotypical Tull instrumental bits (of the sort I really rather disliked on Songs From The Wood) that don't really go anywhere or connect back to the verses.

Heavy Horses is the second extended track (this time, a pleasant nine minutes) and benefits vastly from such basic tricks as contrast, variation and spacing. Aside from some rare piano accompaniment by John Evans, the piece is finely arranged with more of Daryl Way's wonderful folk violin. If I've little sympathy for the beasts in question, Anderson's vocal and lyrics have a fairly winning affection in them (erk, 'slipping and sliding free'... folksiness does not excuse directionless writing). I'd quite happily cut out one or two of the verses and choruses, nice though they are, and most of Martin Barre's limp solo at around 6.00; oddly enough, it constitutes one of Tull's better later longer songs, but I still think its basic content far exceeds the final performance.

Weathercock is a basically satisfying conclusion to the album, with a very fine organ performance and some masterfully brought out folk rhythms. Anderson's rhetorical lyrics, while generally deserving the answer 'no' (I'm a bit of a cynic with regards to yon aulde authenticke folksiness), work for it and his flute part is solid.

Final analysis: mixed bag, where the two long songs drag the whole thing down. Bonus tracks none too shabby, rather less sympathy for Living In These Hard Times than the very fine Broadford Bazaar (whatever that wind instrument is, it's gorgeous). Recommended to any Tull fan and a damn sight more substantial than Songs From The Wood.

Rating: 3 stars, 11/15 Favourite Track: Broadford Bazaar if we count the bonus tracks, otherwise Moths or Acres Wild

Report this review (#275572)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Bloomin' amazing! I can't say anything else - one of the greats of all time...

But don't compare it with Songs form the Wood!!! Listen to it in its own right...

I don't know how, but I somehow missed out on this first time around - I guess it was being very young with no money. I had "Songs from the Wood" and totally loved it (one of my all time favourites) - I had heard the HH album briefly borrowed from a friend on a knock-off tape - but not owning the music yourself always spoiled it for me and I thought it sounded disappointing after SFTW - everyone saying that it was in the same folky vein (which was quite right of course) - maybe I wasn't in the right mood and so I let it go.

However, having seen JT live recently (finally after all these years!!) - despite Anderson's voice having gone to pot (will we ever stop talking about this, poor guy?), it inspired me to go back in time and acquire Heavy Horses....

I was blown away - I totally loved it and still do - this has become one of my favourites. And I think it was because I was lucky because of what happened to me here - because I listened outside the wake of SFTW.

You will love it if you are a fan of very folky twiddly acoustic guitar, mandolin and flute etc.. and beautiful melodies (because some of the melodies here are some of the best Anderson ever wrote).

However, it also has a very strong rhythm section - the drumming is highly skillful with unexpectant twists and turns, and above all the bass playing is wonderful throughout with lovely lines expertly played. There's a story here which brings about great sadness, as this was the last album that John Glascock played all through (I know he briefly appeared in Stormwatch before losing his life), and Barrie Barlow was soon to follow out of the band (as I understand it eventually too sad to carry on). The band never truly recovered - although there has been some great music since, none of the albums has truly attained the height of Heavy Horses - for me the last of JT's total masterpieces. Knowing this sad tale brings the music to the fore - brings you out in sad nostalgic goose-pimples - and helps you to love it out of great respect for this truly wonderful and sadly lost bass player (and his drummer friend). Yet the music is full of bounce and joy - without foreknowledge of the sadness to come.

I don't want to go through the tracks individually because that can be a bit of a bore, but they are all superb - all 5 stars except perhaps No Lullaby and Moths which I would give 4 stars (still excellent of course!).

They are all full of extremely cleverly written, twiddly, folky (with some rockiness here and there) stuff with fabulous melodies - amazingly well sung by Anderson (note my comment earlier).

The ultimate best two tracks for me are Acres Wild (amazing!), but best of all is One Brown Mouse in which Anderson sings for me one of the best melodies he has ever written - a truly beautiful song and he sings it brilliantly.

Long live the Tull !

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED MASTERPIECE - especially if you love folk and strong rhythm - but remember - listen to it as an album in its own right and DON'T compare with SFTW - and read the sad sad tale about John Glascock - then acquire it and let the album take you on the ride of a lifetime. I'm going to take my dog for a walk now and listen to it right now - I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Report this review (#275925)
Posted Friday, April 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars If I were submitting this review anywhere but ProgArchives.com, I'd give it 5 stars, no questions asked. The only reason the rating is lowered to 4 is because this is a site dealing especially with progressive rock. I might say The Abyss is my favorite movie, but would I give it 5 stars on a site that reviews Westerns? And indeed, Heavy Horses is not only my favorite Tull album, it's easily among my very favorite period.

The album displays in uncanny warmth we haven't seen from Ian Anderson in a long, long time, maybe not ever. Parts of Thick as a Brick match the whimsy here (like the "with their jock straps pinching, they slouch to attention" part) but Heavy Horses is, both in music and mood, quite lightweight.

But lightweight does NOT mean insubstantial. The melodies are as strong as at any point in Tull's career. Each and every one of these songs is distinctive and hummable, except for maybe Journeyman, but that one's hardly bad. The title track offers one of Tull's most intense moments, when the light acoustic backdrop transforms into a thundering stampede of heavy horses (a real animal, actually). Moths is gorgeous, Weathercock has some of my favorite lyrics despite their meaninglessness - there does come a time where the way words sound together is cool enough, and lines like "Do you simply reflect changes, in the patterns of the sky / or is it true to say the weather heeds, the twinkle in your eye?" are enough to do it for me.

The lyrics are not so hateful and spiteful, but the barbs are not totally removed, either. One of my favorite Tull lines appears in the bonus track, Living In These Hard Times: "The times are hard and the credits are lean, and they toss and they turn in sleep / and the line they take is the line they make, but it's not the line they keep". Seems even more relevant now, with times being hard once again everywhere. And I can't help but crack up when, on Broadford Bazaar, Ian says "Where once stood oil rigs so phallic, there's only swear words in Gaelic, to say at the Broadford Bazaar".

A great, great album, a masterpiece, and one that's every bit as good as background music as it is deserving of an active, attentive listen. Again, the only reason I give it a 4 instead of a 5 is because it's not as "progressive" as some of their other stuff, at least on most people's definition of "progressive". But these are certainly not simple, three-chord, verse-chorus-verse-chorus offerings. There is a lot to like here. A 5-star album, only appearing as 4 because of the context.

Report this review (#291416)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I had to laugh at the title to febus' review of this album. "Songs from the barn" Haha. Well he's right, this is the folkiest album i've heard from Tull. The focus is on Anderson's vocals which seem a little rough at times. Cool to hear Darryl Way (CURVED AIR) on violin for two tracks.

"And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps" is all very intricate as Ian sings over top. I like the ending with intense vocals. "Acres Wild" again is very intricate as the vocals join in. Way is on violin here. Catchy tune. "No Lullaby" has some good guitar to open surprisingly. Drums take over followed by vocals. More guitar later then it picks up. Good tune thanks to the guitar of Barre. "Moths" has Anderson again sounding like he has a cold. Mostly acoustic with some orchestration. Not a fan. "Journeyman" sounds better with the prominant bass and intricate sounds. Vocals and flute help out as usual. Guitar comes and goes.

"Rover" sounds great to start.Vocals before a minute. I really like how these sounds mesh together. The intricate sounds are the appeal of this album for me. "One Brown Mouse" is an acoustic track for the most part. Flute and orchestration before 2 minutes then back to the original sound. "Heavy Horses" settles a minute in as vocals and piano take over. It gets much fuller from here although there are contrasts still. More orchestrations which I don't like. The violin from Way though is good. "Weathercock" opens with acoustic guitar and flute as vocals join in. Flute solo 2 minutes in. Electric guitar after 3 minutes.

A low 3 stars for me.

Report this review (#293962)
Posted Monday, August 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dazzled.

To be more specific, it tool me about six listens of this, 3 months of music theory and some help from an old friend to see the beauty that was lying in my face. Nor Reason get too specific, but it nearly changed the way I looked at composition. Makes me want to delve into the rest of of the JT albums and see what I must have overlooked, not being a giant fan of some of their other works, just a huge one. So I'll say 5 stars, on the basis that if anyone else made the exact same noises that's what it would be. So that's how it is.

Report this review (#306157)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The second of the strongest folk influenced albums that Tull did, after the classic Songs From The Wood. This album always puts me in mind of a classic television programme from the 1970's (the name of which is irritatingly forgotten as I write this) that dealt with all matters rural, presented by a man whose love for the rural way of life in England knew no boundaries.

That is precisely what this album is all about. It is a paeon to a way of life fast becoming a relic in a modernising society, and makes it very clear that Anderson, for one, wholly regrets its passing. No more the days of heavy horses working the land, to be replaced by tractors and modern factory farming methods. For anyone who cares about the intensive farming tragedy of modern times, the title track is essential, but that is also countered by the sheer love that Anderson has for these magnificent creatures, evidenced by the lyrics, which list many breeds, and the album cover itself. This track is, essentially, a love story, and damn well told it is too. Special mention to Darryl Way for his orchestral arrangements and David Palmer for fantastic violins.

It is impossible to think of any weak track on this album. Some became huge live favourites, including the rip roaring No Lullably, One Brown Mouse, and the title track itself.

As with most Tull albums, there are significant mood shifts here. No Lullaby is perhaps the closest the album comes to the blues roots of the band. Heavy Horses features perhaps the finest riff that Martin Barre ever came up with for the band, whilst Moths is such a beautiful and delicate ballad. I don't think I have ever heard Anderson sing so beautifully as he does on this track, and this story of the short life story of the moth is interspersed by some quite exquisite flute, acoustic guitar, and orchestral arrangements.

The mood can be very uplifting. "Smile your little smile, take some tea with me a little while" from One Brown Mouse. "Do you wonder if I really care for you?". I could reproduce all of the lyrics, but, hopefully, you will see the playful, and loving, way in which Anderson creates his story and its characters. This also features some of the finest keyboard arrangements ever constructed by the band. Likewise Weathercock. "Good morning, Weathercock, how did you fare last night?" cries Anderson, exemplifying the important relationship between the farmer and the elements, but not one that relies upon the modern forecast, but rather the rustic sense of the farmer in touch with the land he works.. I find this a great way to close the (vinyl) release.

This is a band at the top of its game, and, were it not for the fact that I regard SFTW as being the quintessential prog folk album, it would qualify for the full award on this site. As it is, I award it 4 stars, but with a strong 4.5 in reality, and would heartily recommend it to all people who wish to expand both their knowledge of Tull and the prog folk genre itself.

A better story told than many a concept album, methinks.

Report this review (#306597)
Posted Monday, October 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A year after "Songs From The Wood", Jethro Tull came along with the cozy, symphonic "Heavy Horses". This one is still very much in touch with nature. It's a lot softer and not quite as compelling as the previous album but it's very heart-warming and it draws you in with it's silky sound, lulling vocals and another true feel of British folklore!

The first song "...And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps", gives you a taste of some nursery rhyme styled lyrics and it's quite humourous too! As well as songs about mice, there is "Moths" which is one of my favourites on the album. I also love the very melodic "Acres Wild". There are two epics on the album, "No Lullaby" and the great "Heavy Horses" Other highlights for me include, "Rover" and "One Brown Mouse" which is the most upbeat on the album.

This is a great album and very enjoyable indeed. It's very refreshing to know that it was released at a challenging time. Music was going through a lot of changes, but the Tull were still sounding good and as 'folkish' as ever.

Four solid stars.

Report this review (#314892)
Posted Friday, November 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's kind of amazing it has taken me this long to review this classic Tull album. Along with SONGS FROM THE WOOD, this cemented Tull's reputation as a great Folk-Prog band. While these 2 albums retained much of the more classic-prog vibe of Tull's earlier work, they also had shorter songs and a medieval flair. Highlights here are "Moth", "One Brown Mouse", Heavy Horses" and the dark and brooding "No Lullaby". No bad tunes are to be found anywhere on this disc. The band is at it's peak musically, and Ian is at his peak lyrically. An almost perfect album, only a small step below it's predecessor, and a step above what was on the horizon. 4 stars (4 1/2 really).
Report this review (#432683)
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars An ode to the countryside, 1978's 'Heavy Horses' would be the last Jethro Tull effort of real, genuine quality, though that's not to say that later efforts were not without their occasional merits. Having so far navigated a highly-successful and strangely-eclectic musical course throughout their career, from early blues-spiced beginnings('This Was'), to experimental folk- rock('Stand Up'), full-blown progressive rock('Benefit', 'Aqualung', 'Thick As A Brick' & 'A Passion Play') and, latterly, rootsy acoustica('Songs From The Wood'), it seemed like Jethro Tull had pretty much touched on every conceivable style the group had to offer. With punk in the ascendancy, group-leader Ian Anderson(him of the flute, codpiece and famed one-legged stance) decided to add a new dimension to Tull's repertoire in the form of a hard-edged, heavy- rock veneer that nicely-complimented the group's folk-prog-rock style, thus mixing up all the elements that had made Jethro Tull so wonderfully diverse since their late-sixties inception. 'Heavy Horses' features thick, glutinous bass-lines, meaty guitars, fluttering flute breaks and Anderson's trademark gruff-posh vocals, thus brewing up a darkly-toned concept album about the green hills, crumbling train stations, sturdy animals and bucolic farmyards that make the British countryside so appealing and so unique to those who inhabit it. However, summing up these feelings in musical terms was never going to be easy, yet , somehow, the group's semi- progressive sound suits tracks such as the imperious 'Journeyman' - which features some surprisingly rock-funky bass-playing courtesy of John Glascock - right down to the (earthy) ground. Stand-out tunes, alongside 'Journeyman', include the album's folksiest piece, in the form of the surprisingly-catchy 'Acres Wild', the brazen, bruising 'Rover' and the sweetly-toned album finisher 'Weathercock', which features a tour-de-force from both Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre. Occasionally the added orchestral arrangements threaten to overshadow the carefully-constructed tracks, but 'Heavy Horses' is still, nevertheless, a fine addition to the Jethro Tull canon. Keeping your sound both fresh and exciting over the course of ten years and eleven studio albums is no easy feat, yet Anderson, who is assisted ably by Glascock, Barre, Barriemore Barlow(drums), John Evans(piano, organ) and David Palmer(keyboards), manages yet again to find a wining formula that shows just why this winningly original group have stayed so popular for so long. In the grand scheme of things 'Heavy Horses' doesn't quite make 'classic' Tull status; but it comes damn close. Highly recommended. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011
Report this review (#541659)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Continuing in the vein of 'Songs from the Wood', 'Heavy Horses' is a strange listening experience. While everything that made its predecessor good appears to be in these new songs, they don't sound as moving and easy-flowing as, for example, 'Velvet Green' or 'Hunting Girl'. Most of the album feels like it's trying to be clever just for the sake of being clever. The songs presented are also uneven in quality (there isn't really a bad track here, only a feeling of coldness, similar to 'Minstrel in the Gallery'), as the title track is so good that it alone earns the album a three-star rating. The musicianship is still top-notch, only Ian's voice shows clear signs of decay, sounding more like it was a sixty-year old man singing, but still great at interpreting his lyrics, leaving the listener no desire to complain about vocal technique.

Overall, an album fans will appreciate and casual listeners call 'just okay'. I recommend getting the 'Bursting Out' live album (recorded on the 1978 tour) first.

Report this review (#546753)
Posted Sunday, October 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Heavy Horses gives its material a harder, rockier edge and a more troubled and cynical lyrical bent than the comforting yarns of its predecessor, but neither of these shifts in approach change the overall impression that it's a collection of material which didn't make the cut for Songs From the Wood. Still, Songs From the Wood was such an excellent album that even its off-cuts are impressive! Opening with the whimsical cat and mouse tale of The Mouse Police Never Sleeps - with spooky vocals and some of Ian's most hard-rocking flute work since the band's early days - the album takes the listener on another folk-prog trip. As usual on Tull's heavier albums, Martin Barre's electric guitar is a particular treat.
Report this review (#557407)
Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This the second release of the "folk trilogy". For many people this is the last masterpiece of the band, and I agree with that to a certain degree.

I absolutely love this album, just like its predecessor it's full of inspired melodies and arrangements, that sound complex but are focused at the same time. This time around, the lyrics deal with the actual day-to-day struggle and activities of life in the country side. Although the themes are much more "real" and less mystical than the ones on "Woods", the lyrics are full of poetry and the result is a beautifull ode to nature throughout the album.

The title track is the most known of this group of songs, in fact I think Heavy Horses is my all-time favorite song from Jethro Tull. Explaining the epicness and beauty of the lyrics and music in this piece is a worthless task. It's a hymn, just listen and let the magic embrace you. That being said, I think the rest of the songs are beautiful and somewhat unfairly overlooked, even by the band itself. I mean, little gems like Acres Wild and Moths shoul be played live regularly,. Other great pieces like No Lullaby, Rover or Weathercock should also be more prominent in the band's history.

Oh well, I won't try to hide the fact that I absolutely love this album, from the first second to the last, but I truly think this is a masterpiece that is, to a certain extent, overlooked in favor of well known classics such as Aqualung or Thick As A Brick (different styles, and also masterpieces, but in my book ,no better than this baby).

Report this review (#808698)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I should perhaps consideer the 4 stars to Heavy Horses... but we do have to admit that, in the only full embraced adventure of Jethro Tull trough the folk genre, Heavy Horses is probably the most mature work we find.

Talking about maturity, I suppose that are few works by musical groups where you saw a complete performance by all members so efusive and complementary. There are less flute than in the last album, partly I believe because of the well arranged melodies, that go on to become full musical ventures soon you noticed. Jethro Tull is working as a band, almost the equivalent as a machine - machine? Oh, the irony...

So it is, the only way to Anderson express himself is by his idiosyncratic singing and poems (and in the track "Moths" that is only him playing). Indeed, again the word is maturity. If the begning of the album shows the "Brown Mouse" and his dog, "Rover", "Heavy Horses" punch you in the stomache as an epic about time passage and obsolescence.

Sometimes I do believe that we should stop judging "this album is better than that" and give the score for the work itself - Heavy Horses deserves full five stars.

Report this review (#897369)
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Heavy Horses keeps Jethro Tull in the folky realm which was started with the previous "Songs from the Woods". Jethro Tull always had been folky: these records however showed more focus on their folky side. This record sounds a bit more raw then the "Songs from..." and is a bit less progressive. Their are lot of symphonic elements though and the music is intelligent enough to please most progressive listeners.

My main complain about most Jethro Tull albums is that they are inconsistent: they start with two or three good quality songs and then the quality drops to a three minor stars rate. This Heavy Horses is one of the exceptions and is one of JT's most consistent record, showing two good sides with some great tracks like "...and the Mouse Police never sleeps", "Acres Wild", "Rover" and the titletrack "Heavy Horses". The second side of the record is as good as the first one and this is a great improvement in comparison with "Songs from the Woods", "Mistress in the Gallery", "Aqualung" and also the next album "Stormwatch". This makes Heavy Horses the first JT record which I will give four stars.

Report this review (#912863)
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is an all time classic for me and it's packed onto my solar powered eplayer for when the babyfaced jester in North Korea starts playing his chess games with the West. "and the Mouse Police never sleep" Good opening track with a good ending - what is that a cat coughing up a hairball right at the end of the track? Good hard folk rock. "Acres Wild" - about copulation in wide open spaces - an interesting track that I enjoy. I do find that a lot of the time Anderson has copulation on the brain throughout his career. Nice folksy rock. "No Lullaby" - A hard rock in folk tradition of what I would call an anti-lullaby of hard truths sung to a child. Strong track. "Moths" beautiful Tull track about moths and lemmings and humans and copulation. "Journeyman" - not brilliant but not bad - workman like track. "Rover" - another good track about dogs, roving and human roving. "One Brown Mouse" - a discussion with a pet mouse in a cage, on face value - nice folksy track. "Heavy Horses" - A giant of a track which I find it to be very sad indeed. Tribute to the work horses that once did a lot of the heavy farm labour in England. There is a thread in the forum section which deals with "has prog ever made you cry", or something like that. This track has to be a very strong contender when it comes to inspiring emotion in a listener. The music is very strong and apt throughout the track depicting the strength of the work horses at their prime as well as the sadness as they were put out to pasture in favor of mechanised farming. The beauty of beholding a Clydesdale up close and the sadness of having to put an animal like that down. "Weathercock" - Stunning Mandolin use in this track - an upbeat folk pastoral track. "Living in these hard times" (bonus track) - very good lyrics about pregnancy and hard times - enjoyable catchy folk rock track. "Broadford Bazaar" (bonus track) - very pleasant track to round of a brilliant album.

There are a lot of references to animals/creatures throughout this album. The music is very tight and well constructed and is a mix of rock, traditional folk and pastoral as well as medievil music. The album rating, for me, is a no brainer and I happily award this 5 stars.

Report this review (#942741)
Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Heavy Horses. This is the follow-up to Songs From The Wood. Folk folk folk. Very similar in style. But the music of this album really reminds me of horses. But it's strange because most of the songs do not have to do with horses, but mouses. My favorite track is Acres Wild, without any doubt. I think this is the most catchy song from Jethro Tull relatively short tracks. Maybe because it was one of my first Jethro Tull tracks after Aqualung when I was a kid. The title track, Heavy Horses, is the lenghty track of the album, and it's pretty good. No Lullaby is an all time favorite by Jethro Tull at stage live. This is a funny album, worth check.
Report this review (#991528)
Posted Wednesday, July 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Jethro Tull have released so many albums over the years that it is easy to take it for granted that some albums become overrated or even maligned by music reviewers. "Heavy Horses" is one such album, receiving some scathing reviews and being critiqued as focussing too much on a pastoral woodland atmosphere, treated like a crop that has failed. I had heard the album years ago and let it rest not having made my mind up what to make of this approach. Tull moved into mainstream pop sounds in the 80s with oddball tracks such as 'Lap of Luxury' or 'Steel Monkey' so at least 1978's "Heavy Horses" has a progressive feel and some killer tracks such as the title track.

There are many great moments on the album although overall it does not meet a consistent standard of excellence. 'Heavy Horses' is undoubtedly the showstopper with enough melodic hooks that saw it gain some success on the music charts. It opens with a classic riff that is well known. It moves into a verse sung with feeling; "Iron-clad feather-feet pounding the dust, An October's day, towards evening, Sweat embossed veins standing proud to the plough, Salt on a deep chest seasoning, Last of the line at an honest day's toil, Turning the deep sod under, Flint at the fetlock, chasing the bone, Flies at the nostrils plunder." The mid section builds into a canter and encapsulates a joyous spirit augmented by exuberant violin.

'One Brown Mouse' is another highlight worth attention, along with the other rodent track '...And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps', a title reminding me of a Frank Zappa song. On the opening track the flute warbles and twitters from the outset, and Anderson's vocals are often multi layered to good effect. He incorporates an acoustic touch and there are some glorious Hammond organ flourishes. I am not a fan of the ending mantra though. 'One Brown Mouse' has acoustic vibrations and beautiful woodwind along with a nice melody. The lyrics are sweet natured; "Puff warm breath on your tiny hands, You wish you were a man, who every day can turn another page, Behind your glass you sit and look at my ever-open book, One brown mouse sitting in a cage."

Not everything works as some songs feel mediocre and are all but forgotten outside of the Tull fanatic fanbase. However Martin Barre's awesome guitar work is always a delight and he shines here with extended lead breaks on 'No Lullaby' and 'Heavy Horses'. The violin appearances are welcome too, but there is not enough excitement and it meanders along in some songs such as 'Weathercock'.

'Acres Wild' is acoustics and flute pastoral nuances with some banjo and Daryl Way's violin thrown in creating folk atmospheres. The album has its fair share of complex mini epics such as 'No Lullaby' with odd time signatures and some song within a song sections. John Glascock and Barriemore Barlow have a field day and the band certainly adopt a progressive approach.

'Moths' moves into lighter territory, medieval guitars, floating flute and raspy Anderson vox, but it goes on too long and is lyrically uninspiring. 'Journeyman' has a few Barre riffs over a cool funky bassline. The sig is very off kilter and the flute twitters elegantly as an embellishment to Anderson's storytelling vocals. 'Rover' has some nice acoustic and flute interplay. Anderson's vocals are again multi tracked and raspy so it kind of grates on the nerves.

The album is inconsistent but houses some gems so is worth a listen though I have heard way better from this legendary band.

Report this review (#1203095)
Posted Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
TCat
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Team
4 stars This album was considered the 2nd album in a trilogy of Folk Rock albums by Jethro Tull, the first being "Songs from the Wood" and the third "Stormwatch". In my own opinion, the first was the best of the three because of it's carefree feeling. This one is the 2nd best, and is very close to being as good as the first, but missing the mark just a little. This one was a little more rock oriented and heavier, but definitely not over the top in heaviness, not by a long way. There seems to be a little weakness in the album towards the middle with "Journeyman" and "Rover", but only because the songs towards the middle do not seem to stand out like the other tracks on the album. In fact, they start to sound a little too much the same as the tracks that come prior to them, but there is still a lot of quality in the songs. The album's only flaw is in the lack of variety.

Don't fear though, because this album contains several highlights and also more than a few career highlights among the tracks. I think the tracks "The Mouse Police Never Sleeps", "No Lullaby", "Moths", "One Brown Mouse", and especially "Heavy Horses" are some of the best songs from the band through it's long career. Because of the thickness of the songs here, it does take some time for some of the greatness to show through, but when it does, you can be sure that you will agree that there are some career highlights on this album. So there is definitely enough greatness on this album to merit adding it to your JT collection if you were wondering.

The album is definitely heavy on the folk and on progressiveness. There is plenty of both here. It is also both acoustic and electric guitar driven and the flute and keyboards are mostly on here as support. With all the great tracks on the album, there is also a share of minor songs which don't leave as strong of an impression and that leads to the feeling of weakness as you approach the songs in the middle of the album, but things do improve again towards the end.

With all the reviews done on this album, there really isn't much more to say. Not necessarily an essential album because nothing groundbreaking is on the album, but there are enough career greats on here to seriously consider owning the album. That makes it an excellent addition to your prog rock collection. 4 stars.

Report this review (#1411500)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars JETHRO TULL was always the band I should have loved, and, though many individual songs enchanted me over the years, I could never stomach Ian Anderson's vocals for very long, but at the same time an instrumental Tull album would have sounded like...what? In 1977, they released "Songs from the Wood", around the same time I was getting into British Isles folk rock, beginning with STRAWBS, waving at FAIRPORT CONVENTION, and camping out with STEELEYE SPAN. I would soon deduce that, while TULL did an admirable job reproducing that olde Englishe sound, those other bands really lived and breathed it, and they sang a whole lot better too. So TULL continued to inhabit that netherworld, where I should have gaily romped but kept stumbling mid-skip.

I was vaguely aware that "Heavy Horses" was a less wholeheartedly Celtic follow up to "Songs from the Wood", but, with its 40th anniversary fast approaching, and with my not having committed to my quota of 1 new Tull album a decade, I decided to give it a full airing. More muscular, modern, and committed than its predecessor, its songs are at least as appealing, and, apart from in the dreadful "No Lullaby", in full service of a loose thematic concept executed as though it were a lost gospel. Even Anderson's voice seems mixed just right, again apart from "No Lullaby" and the mediocre bonus cuts, which were wisely left off the original. I think one of them is supposed to be a variation on "Hard Times"; do yourself a favor and seek out a version by anybody else, like DE DANAAN for instance.

The rest is uniformly brilliant, and it's nigh impossible to pick out a few highlights, but the vivacious "Moths", the more bluesy "Journeyman", and the intensely melodic "Rover", form quite a sturdy spine, with a plethora of flutes, bass, guitars, The opener refers to the "Mouse Police" as being the country cats, with tails at half mast, and affirm Anderson's love of and respect for the smallest feline. You can also see where bands like the MORRIGAN were taking notes. The title track is a gorgeous epic that begins simply with a traditionally inspired melody sensitively delivered by Anderson, and develops unpredictably from there, owing no small debt to CURVED AIR's Darryl Way on fiddle. Anderson's love of the English countryside and a way of life slowly atrophying is symbolized by the heavy horses being replaced by unfeeling machinery just as surely and grotesquely as HG Wells Martian machines. Yet this is not the cynic of the dreary "Minstrel in the Gallery", but the idealist who pays homage to what he sees and hopes to freeze in time. Mission accomplished.

As the adage goes, better late than never. Please to make your equine acquaintance.

Report this review (#1443225)
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars The last amazing Tull album.

While Stormwatch would maintain much of the Tull sound found on this album, it is decidedly weaker. Heavy Horses is the last truly great Jethro Tull album made before they slowly changed their style and tried to adapt to the 1980s. This album for me has a warm feeling to it, and is more relaxed and mature, yet also a bit more quirky, than its immediate predecessors like "Songs from the Wood" and "Too Old to Rock'n'Roll...", and I have often enjoyed listening to it all the way through. The standout, and one of Tull's best-ever songs, is the title track "Heavy Horses", lamenting the shift away from equestrian-based farming and the rise of the tractor. A really musical track, but also one in which Anderson's lyrics are more human, more authentic and direct, and less heavy-handed or trying-to-be-clever, than on many other Tull songs. This is one of the tracks that cemented Tull's reputation as a "progressive folk" band, and furthered the linking of Tull to rural English ideals, even though they began as a blues-rock band. The other standout is the long "No Lullaby", a really excellent builder with some great guitar work from Martin Barre. The rest of the songs are shorter, and a bit more quirky than the typical Tull album. "And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps" and "One Brown Mouse" are interestingly both about mice - one imagines Anderson holed up in a rural cottage writing this music. Both of these are great tunes. "Moths", "Journeyman", "Rover", and "Weathercock" all reference English folk traditions, and relate to rural lifestyles, and "Acres Wild" relates to the latter. While the quality varies among these shorter tunes, the whole album is generally strong enough for continuous listens, although it is the two long tunes that clearly standout. I given this album 8.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

Report this review (#1695727)
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Review Permalink

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