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A serious approach of melancholy music
on 16 April 2012
Jethro Tull turned to a more serious approach with this album, indeed this is Anderson at his most melancholy and brooding at times. There was good reason as the bassist John Glasgock was suffering congenital heart problems and this was his last album before his tragic death. Other members of the band were departing so it was a genuine changing of the guard. The songs were reflecting the troubled economy with the oil crisis being at the forefront of the lyrics. I prefer this darker Tull than the whimsy of "Too Old to Rock N Roll (Too Young To Die)" or "Songs From the Wood". However it is reasonable to understand why many reviewers see it as a letdown, whereas others hail it as a masterpiece. I sit somewhere in the middle as the musicianship is well up to standard especially Martin Barre's driving guitars which are heavier on "Stormwatch".
Anderson is terrific on the flute with tracks such as 'Orion' and 'Flying Dutchman'. His vocals are seriously conveyed which is a nice change. The melodies are catchy and grow on you, particularly on the upbeat 'Kelpie' bonus track. The bonus tracks are actually all very good, some were released as singles, such as 'Stitch in Time' or B sides such as the medieval inspired instrumental 'King Henry's Madrigal'.
The packaging of the album is effective with snow bears, binoculars and album covers of the Eps and singles. All in all this is a fine album that definitely marks the end of the 70s decade. The golden era was well and truly over and now Jethro Tull were about to encounter the 80s as they verged off into new rocky territory.