* Prices may differ from that shown
I have been trying recently to listen to a few more obscure classic rock albums, as opposed to the more obvious classics. This week I've gone for the slightly odd choice of an 80's Jethro Tull album. Most people will be more familiar with late 60's Tull songs like 'Living in the Past' and their famous 'Aqualung' album.
Tull are one of classic rock's true survivors. Since forming in 1967 the band have released 21 albums and sold in excess of 60 million records. Their style has also changed dramatically over the decades ranging from folk-rock in the 60's, a more electronic sound in the 80's, a harder rock sound in the late 80's and more recently, world music. One constant though has been lead singer Ian Anderson who has been with the group ever since the beginning, that and his flute playing (think jazz-flute from Anchorman)
By the time it got to 1987, Tull had gone through the electronic era and started to rely more heavily on Martin Barre's electric guitar. By this point they had also started to rely heavily on a drum machine instead of live drums.
The album also cause quite a stir at the 1989 Grammy's for beating off competition from Metallica (...And Justice For All) and Jane's Addiction (Nothing's Shocking) for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental. So unlikely it was that they were going to win that Tull's management told them to not even bother turning up.
So what does this album sound like? Well, weirdly enough certain tracks sound like 80's Dire Straits - with others sounding like Division Bell era Pink Floyd. But there buried deeply is the folkish style of late 60's Tull, albeit here with a heavy synth drumbeat and screaming electric guitars over the top. There are also elements of world music on the album.
I enjoyed Crest of a Knave, it was a very easy listen and had some quality tracks. Chiefly amongst them was the first song 'Steel Monkey' which featured some great guitar work and an ace drum synth pattern throughout.
'Farm on the Freeway' was also another good song that makes comment on urbanisation. Its one of the tracks on this album that sound s alot like Dire Straits (especially the style of Romeo and Juliet). This is also very true of the song 'Said She Was A Dancer'.
'Jump Start' was more classic Tull sounding and a lot more earthy and folkish than the rest of the album.
'Budapest' was a little long (over ten minutes) and a little lewd to boot - 'She bent down to fill the ice box / and stuffed some more warm white wine in / like some weird unearthly vision / wearing only T-shirt, pants and skin. / You know, it rippled, just a hint of muscle. / But the boys and me were heading west / so we left her to the late crew
/ and a hot night in Budapest.
For those of us that don't really care about fashion and trends, listening to Crest of a Knave is a guilty pleasure. I really enjoyed the sound and substance of the album, but more importantly lyrically the album was good.
Anderson and co. have certainly had better albums than this back in the late 60's and 70's, but this one has the difference of sounding of the time. I suppose rather than trailblazing themselves, Tull were in fact trying to play catch-up with other bands of the same sound.
1. "Steel Monkey" - 3:39
2. "Farm On The Freeway" - 6:31
3. "Jump Start" - 4:55
4. "Said She Was A Dancer" - 3:43
5. "Dogs In The Midwinter" - 4:29
6. "Budapest" - 10:05
7. "Mountain Men" - 6:20
8. "The Waking Edge" - 4:49
9. "Raising Steam" - 4:05
10. "Part of the Machine" - 6:54 (bonus track)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Steel Monkey
2 Farm On The Freeway
3 Jump Start
4 She Said She Was A Dancer
5 Dogs In The Midwinter
7 Mountain Men
8 The Waking Edge
9 Raising Steam
10 Part Of The Machine