Not being a Tull fan - they were always 'known' to me but a band I never really took much notice of - I was intrigued to get Broadsword & the Beast (the cut-down 'vinyl' version) from a friend in the autumn of 2007. My rock tastes tend to be prog/heavy rock and Tull never was a band I thought of to listen to. Hence I listened to this without knowing of what they did prior to Broadsword.
Beastie kicked things off and immediately the folky-prog style appealed to me. While Beastie wouldn't turn out to be my favourite on this album, it certainly made me want to hear more. The only thing I disliked about this track was the chant-style vocal delivery of the title. Martin Barre's guitar riff had my foot tapping and I felt I'd missed out all these years on a band that sort of slipped under my radar. Then onto Clasp. Anderrson's flute playing was what I'd known Tull for and wasn't surprised at the intro, but as this song progressed I was pleasantly surprised at how catchy it was and really took to the guitar riff and melody. This would be my number 3 fave on this album.
Fallen On Hard Times took me back to the 70s Folk Rock era and this sort of song suits Anderson's voice. I can't see him belting out rock anthems a-la Coverdale or Gillan, for example, but this track showed Anderson's strength in Folk Rock. This reminded me of Lynyrd Skynrd. Flying Colours started off what I thought was going to be a ballad, but it suddenly changed into a weak Yes-style song and I felt it owed much of Barre's guitar riffs to Marillion. Not quite an original sound.
Slow Marching Band was full of English Country Folk influence, and I could almost imagine John Tams writing and singing this one. It didn't really grab me. Broadsword was heavier and more moody and made me think of marching soldiers in a medieval setting. Then came the best song of the lot, Pussy Willow. I was really into the Fantasy movies of the early 80s and this took me back to those days. This song too had a double identity; the beginning like a soft folk song that suddenly broke into a really catchy rock track. The last 30 seconds was one of the best I've heard in a long time.
Following on from that Watching Me Watching You left me cold. Too harsh, too paranoid. Luckily what came after that, Seal Driver, made up for that. A proggy, guitar filled delight that was only faulted in being 5 minutes or so too short. I really would have liked it to be 9 minutes or so in length. The final track, Cheerio, was just a filler and doesn't really merit a comment.
An album I'd listen to again and again, and one I'd recommend for prog-folk-soft rock fans.