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4.8 out of 5 stars
Heavy Horses
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Released in January 1978 and very similar in style to its predecessor Songs From The Wood, Heavy Horses to my mind represents the absolute peak of Ian Anderson's songwriting and lyrical genius. If you like brilliant tunes and superb earthy and rustic lyrics concerning amongst other things, Cats, Horses, Trains and little furry folk then this is the album for you. While playing this album you can almost taste the countryside as pure and perfect Jethro Tull tumbles out from the speakers.

With many records there is often a need to only programme in certain tracks so as to avoid poor and tuneless filler material. With Heavy Horses there is no need to do this as it is a perfect set from start to finish.

As far as I am concerned all the songs on the album are tuneful classics. Lyrically though the track 'Journeyman' is extra special and concerns Ian Anderson's observations during a late night train journey. In the song he likens a commuter's black briefcase to a dog sleeping in the draft beside the carriage door. It's genius writing, which is so clever that you can almost believe that you are on that very train. The title track 'Heavy Horses' is also fabulous and builds up gradually to a fine Martin Barre guitar solo which gets things rocking very nicely. Is it Heavy Rock music? Is it Folk? I can't really say as it defies categorisation. Let's just say then that it's perfect Jethro tull of the very best vintage.

So there we have it. A brilliant album and an absolute must for anyone interested in listening to some extremely well crafted music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
On the back of seeing Tull live in Manchester I decided to buy this cd. I'd loved Thick as a Brick as a kid but knew very little else. This cd just blew me away from start to finish. The "Mouse Police" is a stunning opener and every track is just as good including the two bonus tracks. I now have all Tulls albums but it's this one I still come back to, and is by far the most played. To be fair, the period between Minstrel in the Gallery to Stormwatch is the height of their genius with Heavy Horses the absolute crowning jewel. I could write about every track with absolute conviction and the images Anderson & Co have mustered up in the music and words are as powerful as any great piece of literature. No other band has ever produced such a rich tapestry of English life so honestly as this. In a way, this is Tulls Dark Side of the Moon with a more subtle approach.
Heavy Horses is the perfect Tull album, stronger and more subtle than "Songs from the Wood", merging rural and urban life into one. For me, if there is anywhere to start with Tull, it's this album - music you will never tire of.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2004
Heavier than Songs From the Wood but still exploring pastoral themes, this is one of the defining albums from Jethro Tull.
Great lyrics, superb tunes.
If you like Tull you must own this.
If you like heavy rock but don't know Tull (?), its probably their best jumping on point.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
It would be easy to take a negative view of this album. Released in 1978, with punk laying low the titans of prog rock, it emerged to widespread indifference. With the zeitgeist buzzing to songs of urban and suburban alienation, anarchy in the UK and the urgent realpolitik of the street, what were Jethro Tull doing? Living up to their early 70s song title and living in the past. As album concepts go, it just doesn't get any more conservative than this. The folk instrumentation without the protest lyrics of the folk music. Songs that sneer at the spiritual vaccuum of the cities and celebrate the medieval nobility of the shire horse, the farm cat and the field mouse. Even the back cover depicts the band as "squires of the manor". A couple of decades later, John Major's speech about old maids cycling to Holy Communion through the morning mist would come to define just how laughably out-of-touch the Tories had become, but "Heavy Horses" is _full_ of that sort of sentiment. It must have seemed to rock critics back in '78 that Tull were marching to irrelevance and extinction.

Nevertheless, I fell in love to this album in the spring of 1984. While Britain was reeling under the Miners' Strike and every punk dystopia seemed to be coming true, I was on a train travelling through France, watching the Gallic countryside sweep by, listening to "Heavy Horses". And in that moment, as an understanding of just how different, how intriguingly and profoundly alien France was to England, this album soundtracked my gentle culture shock and I understood I was listening to something utterly and unmistakeably English. I've never stopped listening to it since, but where are Arthur Scargill, the N.U.M. and the angry punk movement now? They have become history, while oddly "Heavy Horses" remains, as leaf-crisp and dew-fresh as the day the vinyl was cut.

This is in no small measure due to the outstanding quality of the material here. Ian Anderson's muse has never worked harder. These songs exhibit every Tull virtue, but none of the characteristic vices. Tracks like 'Heavy Horses' itself or the sinister 'No Lullaby' manage to be complex and portentous, without ever sounding smug or pretentious the way Thick As a Brick did. 'One Brown Mouse' and 'The Mouse Police Never Sleeps' are delightfully witty and whimsical, without descending into any childish nonsense about hares losing spectacles. 'Journeyman' casts a satirical eye on the gloomy lot of the evening commuter, but avoids sneering like the anti-God stuff on Aqualung, a genuine affection and compassion breathes forth. And 'Moths'... 'Moths' is quite simply the most beautiful song Jethro Tull ever wrote or performed, my all time Desert Island Disk.

Arguably, this album turned out to be something of a high watermark for Tull. They wisely distanced themselves from English folk motifs hereafter, to revisit them in diluted form in the Scottish and sepulchral Stormwatch, dallying with electronica on Under Wraps, before settling into the percussive prog-rock groove they'd perfected on Aqualung for all their subsequent output. At the time, this album may well have been a regressive step for Anderson & Co, retreating into a bucolic fantasy world in the face of musical and cultural changes that seemed overwhelming and threatening back in the late '70s. Yet, somehow, it drew forth their keenest expression. Like Spenser abandoned in Ireland by his English court or Malory doodling in gaol, to find solace in the timeless mystique of the hedgerow and the field, in a Faerie Queene or Morte D'Arthur, well that might just be the most quintessentially English thing of all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2009
This was the first Jethro Tull album I heard and for me it is still their finest work. It is pure poetry and social comment on the decline of the British countryside. Each song sits neatly within the general theme; which can be said of most Tull works, but I feel it is particularly true here.

The title track is is very poignant and shows a superb depth of knowledge of the subject, mourning the passing of the heavy horse and those that worked with them.It never fails to make me pause and reflect.

One Brown Mouse is another clever song, the imagery of us running in our daily treadmills is just so relevant and is perhaps even more so now in the 21st century than it was when Heavy Horses was first released.

There is not a track on the album that I would skip each one has a story to tell that is worth listening to.

Musically..

The quality of sound and production is superb and it is Jethro Tull at their very best both lyrically and instrumentally.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2010
The second album in the apparant folk trilogy, bookended by Songs From The Wood and Stormwatch, this is one of Tull's finest pieces of work and is performed by possibly the classic JT line-up. This was the first JT album I actually heard and I took to it instantly. Knowing I was a prog fan and a drummer, my friend played me No Lullaby and watched my big, stupid grin as Barriemore Barlow hurtled down his toms from top to bottom in a stupendous roll near the start of the track. I was hooked!...

Not only is this version remastered, but it also includes two songs not on the original, Living In These Hard Times and Broadford Bazaar, both excellent tracks. I guess in 1978 vinyl restrictions meant something had to be left out (or Ian Anderson didn't think they fit with the rest of the farmy-oriented songs). Either way, if you haven't heard these tracks on a previous compilation, enjoy them now.

From the bluesy tones of the aforementioned No lullaby to One Brown Mouse's acoustic style, this album is full of brilliently written songs which are a joy to listen to. In keeping with Tull's penchant for experimentation, the track Journeyman has a slightly quirky theme constructed around a bass riff. Guitar harmonics and the odd sounding "pipe organ" with the usual JT vocal harmonics complimented by Martin "Lancelot" Barre's excellent axe solo complete this quality track.

Far easier to listen to than some of their more outlandish earlier works, this album is arguably the most accessible of the lot. Absolutely no throwaway tracks, I'm amazed at how much has actually gone into making it and pick out more bits and bobs every time I play it. I can't pick out a favourite track as I love them all however, for me personally, the track Heavy Horses is less excellent than the rest. I mean with lyrics like "Let me find you a filly for your proud stallion seed"! Come on!...

If you're new to Tull, this album is a great way to understand what they are about (or were about in 1978). The musicianship and songwriting (barring the above lyrics which make me shudder! Maybe you have to be a farmer to appreciate it!) is world class, and in my opinion Barriemore Barlow is one heck of an understated drummer. He totally ruled and so does this album. Enjoy...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2001
Not a duff track and hardly a duff moment. Buy it. This is Jethro Tull's folkiest album after 'Songs From The Wood' and carries on many of the pagan / rustic themes. Ian Anderson sings in a lower register than on other Tull albums (a throat saving exrecise, perhaps) and sounds pretty good for it. Slightly better packaging than many other Tull CDs - it actually has a booklet with a few photos (though only one from the same period as the album). The original LP had a lyric inner sleeve. Why not reproduce them in the CD booklet?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2000
My favourite four year period in Tull history has always started with this classic 1978 album, then "Stormwatch", "A" and ending with 1982's "Broadsword And The Beast". Anyway, there are so many cool things going on on this album, it's difficult to find a place to start. Think I'll start with (in my opinion) the strangest song; "No Lullaby". At first I actually hated it, but it's now become one of my all-time Tull favourites. -As with most great music, you really need to hear this one a couple of times but then you'll be hooked. "Journeyman" is another weird and wonderful track. "One Brown Mouse" is cool too. (-Ian's a cat fan, right ?. -So am I.) And I almost don't dare to say it, but I sense a little bit of disco beat on "Acres Wild", but hey, it's the late 70s. Not a lot of flute playing this time, but no weak tunes. Buy-buy !.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2001
Heavier than Songs From the Wood but still exploring pastoral themes, this is one of the defining albums from Jethro Tull.
Great lyrics, superb tunes.
If you like Tull you must own this.
If you like heavy rock but don't know Tull (?), its probably their best jumping on point.
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