Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
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.