on 16 December 2009
It's weird, I have owned a copy of `Heavy Horses' for probably about 23 years, on both vinyl and CD, and always thought it a weaker version of `Songs from the Wood'. It's not an album I listen to on a regular basis, and I am a bit of a Tull fan, owning all their albums, been to see them and collected lots of memorabilia. Why hasn't it engaged me? Absolutely no idea at all, but for all these years, until very recently, it passed me by.
I stumbled across it, bleary eyed one morning on my Ipod, popped it on and had a listen. What a fantastic piece of work! I am very familiar with the title track, but some other songs (Acres Wild and No Lullaby stand out) have really got under my skin and I have thus been listening and re-listening to them and think I have been somewhat myopic for not getting to grips with them earlier.
This was arguably one of Tull's stronger periods; there was some longevity in the line up, the dual keyboards, despite on paper sounding like a dreadful notion, was working, Martin Barre had yet to start sounding American in his playing and Barrie Barlow was at the height of his playing; a really fantastic and original drummer. Anderson's output was addressing a more rustic theme and the acknowledgement of changes in society and agriculture. As a body of work I find it of a very high standard and I can recommend it highly for anyone with a thirst for this sort of thing. A love of rock, prog, folk or a very English sound, and you will be lapping this up in spades. Can't think why it has taken me so long to `get it'.
on 15 February 2014
It would have seemed inconceivable, back in the late sixties, that the introduction of the flute to rock ‘n’ roll, where howling guitars and crashing drums dominated, could have been achieved successfully and without some eyebrow-raising scepticism. Yet, this is what Ian Anderson did with some style, as the frontman of Jethro Tull, giving the band a sound which is unique in the world of rock music. It could be argued, though, that The Moody Blues were the first to use the instrument in a rock music setting, but it is fair to give that credit to Ian, as he uses it in a more prominent role.
Heavy Horses’ faultless production, shows how the flute can, in the right hands, be successfully integrated in rock music, with beautifully sounding results.
From the “and the mouse police never sleeps” to “Broadford Bazaar”, this album is full of pastoral gorgeousness. Country living, was clearly the inspiration behind most of the songs, where cat-loving Ian depicts the feline behaviour of moggies on his farm, moth’s suicidal blind attraction to light and laments the loss of the shire horse to the inevitable technological progress. The album has a certain degree of eclecticism, featuring elements of rock, progressive and celtic music. Some of the songs are deceptively simple in structure, but on careful listening, they reveal the tightness and complexity of the arrangements. A string section is used on no fewer than three songs – “no Lullaby”, “Moths” and “Heavy Horses”. Barriemore Barlow’s highly inventive drumming can be heard on “Rover” and “Heavy Horses”and shows what a fabulous drummer he was. The latter song and title track, the longest of the album, features a great guitar intro by Barre, before Ian joins on the flute, amid Barlow’s complex drum fills. Halfway through, a violin introduces a change in rhythm and tempo, before the song returns to the beginning; “iron-clad feather feet pounding the dust”. Lyrically and musically brilliant.
The cd version contains two extra tacks, not included in the original vinyl record, which are outstanding in their own right – “Living in these hard times” and “Broadford Bazaar”. The former featuring some great flute playing and the latter being a rather poignantly beautiful song.
Heavy Horses should be essential listening to any music lover and no Jethro Tull fan’s record collection, in particular, should be without it.
So starts what must be finest lyrical poem ever created in British rock music, as it opens the title song "Heavy Horses" and is a beautiful and affecting ode to the passing of the Shire horse from agricultural life. Ian Anderson writes in the forward to the CD that the album is about 'the reality of, rather than the myth, of country living'.
Nostalgia indeed, but this entire album, along with its predecessor, Tull's slightly better 'Songs From the Wood', is full of such 'olde' English language and nods to a bygone age. Quality-wise, it's a bit more variable than Songs From but still one of their best. A good bit heavier, with guitars much more electric than acoustic but still the flute floats throughout, dancing around Ian Anderson's distinct vocals.
Written by Anderson, the songs range in tempo from the steady to the rocky, with instrumentation that includes strings, a pipe organ and a mandolin to add musical colour. The playing is as taut and flawless as ever and the production standard is superb. Lyrically it's cheeky and warm-hearted with the domestic moggy saluted in the '...The Mouse Police Never Sleeps' whilst 'moths consumed by candle flame in suicide pact' in the song named after the creatures themselves. There's much to enjoy in Anderson's observant and witty words.
If you're a Tull-ite then you already have 'Heavy Horses'. If you haven't, get it now! For those wondering "if", do so, it's a flawed gem.
on 20 February 2009
Not knowing a huge about 70's music apart from what my Dad blasts out, I confess to not being an expert on Jethro Tull. This allows me to be completely objective in saying that this album is absolutely fantastic - if you like your music with a folky yet soulful feel - e.g. fairport convention, nick drake and latterly waterboys, hothouse flowers, pogues then this is for you. I have heard songs from the wood which i also like very much but I prefer this if only because 3 or 4 of the songs are as good as anything i have ever heard.
on 12 October 2003
Tulls classic heavy horses returns with a crisper and clearer sound having been remastered in 24bit. Some people may prefer the tone of the original recording but in my opinion this masterpiece does sound better with the improved sound quality.And with the added bonus of a couple of extra tracks thrown in for good measure along with an updated booklet, make this a worthwhile purchase.
on 3 March 2014
Heavy Horses is one of the classic Jethro Tull albums. This remaster has been done with a light touch, polishing the album to make the songs shine even brighter, and comes with two bonus tracks.
Heavy Horses is, as is often noted, thematically linked to Songs From The Wood; whereas that album explores things such as pagan religion, sex and death, Heavy Horses has its roots planted firmly on the ground with songs about animals, jobs and relationships. It contains some of Jethro Tull's finest tunes too; from the winsome love song Moths, through the irrepressible urges of Rover to the epic title track, this is a band at the peak of their powers. The remastering has made each song clearer, more transparent, and even more enjoyable to listen to. The two bonus tracks are welcome additions, though rather different in feel to the rest of the album they're still worth having.
So if you're a fan, and you have an old copy of Heavy Horses on vinyl or the first-issue CD, this is a must-have addition to your collection. if you're new to Jethro Tull, you're in for a treat. Strongly recommended.
on 27 March 2000
This record is very original and ideal for a follow on from there other highly succesfull record, Songs from the Wood,which fans have found is very similiar in sound and feel. High point on this albumn is No Lullaby. Also try Passion Play if you like this...
on 30 May 2002
One of Jethro Tull's best albums, "Heavy Horses" combines the simplicity of acoustic folk influences with the power of honest rock music. As usual, the lyrics are well-penned, from the fun of "And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps" or the exuberance of "Rover" to the slightly sinister "No Lullaby" and the sheer poetry of the title track. Tull have seldom put their hearts into an album as much as they have with "Heavy Horses" and the results show.
Like all Tull albums, "Heavy Horses" needs a few playings to fully appreciate it, but anyone who makes the effort will be well rewarded.
on 26 June 2009
After the bucolic "Songs from the Wood" album, Tull returned in 1978 with another rural classic which could easily be the soundtrack to a Thomas Hardy novel. Close your eyes, and you are transported back to the Victorian countryside; the farm cat stalking its prey, the shire horses toiling in the fields, and the moths fluttering round the lantern, all under the gaze of the mystical,climate-controlling weathercock.
The two best things about this album are the music and the lyrics. Folk instrumentation a-plenty, but always with a hint of Tull's previous prog days, via Martin Barre's quirky guitar work, and Barriemore Barlow's frenzied percussion. This is particularly evident on the title track - a slow start which builds into a galloping middle section, taking you on a journey with the heavy horses as they finish their work and head home to the stable. As noted by several reviewers, "Moths" is a genuine joy. Acoustic guitar and flute embellished with orchestral passages, creating a sound totally in keeping with the bitter-sweet tone of the lyrics. You have to hear it.
Ah-the lyrics. No,actually, this is poetry. Just reading the words to these songs gives me goosebumps, conveying Ian Anderson's passion for all things rural. How about "In the dark, townsfolk lie sleeping /As the heavy horses thunder by/ To wake the dying city/With the living horesman's cry" (Heavy Horses). Or "Do you fight the rush of Winter/Do you hold snowflakes at bay/Do you lift the dawn sun from the fields/And help him on his way?" (Weathercock). Simple, beautiful, passionate words to accompany some of the finest music I have heard in a long time.
I bought the LP back in '78, and should really have added the CD to my collection a long time ago. So should you. Buy it.
on 27 February 2004
I cannot believe that nobody has yet expressed their adoration of this album on here! Perhaps it just stands for itself.
Personally, I am buying the CD album because my audio cassette tape has worn out. It has been in my car(s) for some years and although I do not claim to play it constantly (Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix and The Stones would object to that infidelity), this is an album I never tire of hearing.
It may be odd to see Ian Anderson these days - not the hairy fellow of the days of yore - and indeed a member of Tull changed gender - so the band do embrace change, but some periods and albums define a band. "Heavy Horses" along with "Songs from the Wood" are to me the classic albums that do so for Jethro Tull. In my collection, I may have "Crest of a Knave" and other later Tull offerings, but whatever the good qualities of 'Steel Monkey' or 'Later that same evening' - it is the likes of "Heavy Horses" that get brought out to show what a band blessed with an ear for a good tune, a soupcon of style and a dash of wit can do. A sound apart from the studious folk-rock of Steeleye Span or early Fairport Convention, a uniquely British eccentricity runs through Jethro Tull. Listen to this album and the Heavy Horses of the title are poetically evoked, still there to take you back to a simpler age.