Jethro Tull
Minstrel in the Gallery


4.5
superb

Review

by Chris USER (5 Reviews)
July 2nd, 2008 | 139 replies | 12,411 views


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Minstrel in the Gallery finds Jethro Tull establishing a middle ground between the disparate musical directions found on their two most recognizable works, 'Aqualung' and 'Thick as a Brick'.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

The term 'under-rated gem' is often an abused, over-used and undeserved descriptive. Many recordings that seem rather projective of future greatness or that contain one or two fleeting moments of inspiration are often categorized as such. Other recordings might be worthy of wider attention, but are mistakenly circumvented due to the fact that they’re either too difficult to locate or totally out of print. Then, there are the records which are sitting on every record store shelf, staring each one of us in the face, yet, for the most part, go unnoticed by everything but airborne dust particles. Their greatness is open to examination by all, yet the majority of us show casual disinterest, even undue disrespect to them. Minstrel in the Gallery is one such under-rated, overlooked gem. This record has always been right there between the uber-popular Tull titles like ‘Aqualung’ and ‘Thick as a Brick’. Has been there since 1975. You’ve probably seen its cover dozens of times, maybe even picked up its jewel case a time or two, but never thought, or cared to, inquire within. And, that’s a shame for those of you who love good, hard-hitting Progressive Rock. Because this one’s got everyone’s taste covered. And, despite it’s progressive nature, it’s both melodically and rhythmically accessible after a couple of spins. The music on ‘Minstrel’ proves to be a perfect hybrid partnership between the “acoustic meets heavy-electric” direction of the ‘Aqualung’ era, and the ultra-progressive, constantly shifting and challenging direction of ‘Thick As A Brick’. This composite mixture is evidenced all over the album, but there is no better example of this balancing act than the monster-sized track - ‘Baker Street Muse’.

This track, which takes up the majority of Side Two, runs the gamut from the most delicate introspective, acoustic passages to some all out keyboard and guitar-driven Prog. Plus, of course, every incremental magnitude of intensity en route. ‘Baker St. Muse’ is certain to satiate the intellectual, contemplative needs of the cerebral cortex, delivering enough twists and turns to keep the synapses firing like a high-performance hot rod. The title track and ‘Black Satin Dancer’ are another couple of tunes comprised of several different sub-sections, both relying heavily on the electric. The former employs a musical blueprint which I’ve never heard tried before or after. It begins like an Elizabethan acoustic piece, with only the incomparable vocal phrasing of Ian Anderson acting as accompaniment. The track then departs the 16th century and quickly darts to the late 20th, where a Progressive-Metal sub-section, which would impress Rush or Dream Theater, takes over for the next few minutes. This part gives way to the ’Rock Song’ portion of the piece, featuring the coolest, heaviest, and most progressive Tull riff since ‘To Cry You A Song’. The lyrics to this third and last section features the same lines as the first, but presented with a very different cadence. Really impressive stuff. ‘Black Satin Dancer’ is much like ‘BSM’, in that it begins with some delicate flute and piano flourishes before the electric instruments and drums take over. The intensity of this track ebbs and flows in a very unpredictable manner, from start to finish, keeping the listener enthralled throughout.

The album also features one of the few best Jethro Tull acoustic guitar pieces, ‘One White Duck’. And, a claim at being one of the few best JT acoustic pieces is no small matter of boasting, because Ian Anderson has written some of the best work ever derived from the instrument. His approach to composing on the acoustic is one of the most unorthodox in the business. The finished product always sound incredibly rich, melodic and instrumentally compelling, yet all of the tunes are built on some type of incredibly complex formula. Each one seems to employ an alternate tuning, a capo, an uncommon time signature and some unheard-of rhythmic technique. The man is absolutely brilliant and One White Duck is further proof of this. Many of the Tull remastered CDs give the fan another half album’s worth of bonus material which is able to compete with the tracks on the album proper. This one really only contributes one more tune worthy of inclusion with the rest. ‘Summerday Sands’ is a very catchy ‘single’ type song that really should have been part of the original release, at the exclusion of maybe either ‘Requiem’ or ‘Cold Wind To Valhalla’. This move would have balanced out the recording a little more and gave the band something to deliver to radio. But, the record is really fine as it stands. It’s one of my favourite in the Jethro Tull catalog, and one of my all-time Progressive Rock records. If you find yourself adoring this one, I’d suggest exploring things like Genesis’ Trick of the Tail, Black Sabbath’s SBS and Gentle Giant’s The Power and the Glory.


user ratings (195)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
vanderb0b (4.5)
After a failed attempt to pander to the critics, Jethro Tull return to doing what they do best: play...


Comments:Add a Comment 
ilikemusicthatsucks
July 2nd 2008



1063 Comments


Not sure why this hasn't been approved yet but awesome post dude.

moltenlava
July 3rd 2008



312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, man. Maybe you'll check out this album then, huh?



Smileyface
July 3rd 2008



309 Comments


I knew you would write a good review.

You're already light years better than me.

ilikemusicthatsucks
July 3rd 2008



1063 Comments


molten- indeed i will

moltenlava
July 3rd 2008



312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5


I knew you would write a good review.


Thank you. I wrote a few album reviews in college, but never pursued writing afterwards. Mostly because I didn't want to starve. lol.



molten- indeed i will



On second thought, better off with 'Thick as a Brick' first. That'll impress you for sure.



jrowa001
July 3rd 2008



8750 Comments


i like Jethro Tull a bit. havent heard this one yet. excellent review btw

Mendigo
July 3rd 2008



2299 Comments


well, I loved the first half of Thick as a Brick, but the second one seems just like the pieces of the first track in a new order or something like that. Nevertheless, I want to get some more stuff by them, maybe this one will be a good buy.
and yes, I enjoyed the review as well.

moltenlava
July 3rd 2008



312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The second half of TAAB begins slow indeed. The beginning is actually constructed in the editing room because it was realized that they didn't have a smooth transition from one side to the another when they went to mix. But, within a couple of minutes it's back up to par with Side One and continues on with that fire and intensity until the close. The track 'Baker Street Muse' on 'Minstrel' is like another TAAB, but much more concise. It's a mini-Epic. Besides these two pieces, there's really only one more Jethro Tull Epic, and that's 'A Passion Play'. But, I would definitely recommend going with 'Minstrel' before that. And, before 'Minstrel', I would make sure I had 'Aqualung'. There's about five other equally significant Tull recordings as well.



freudianslipknot
July 3rd 2008



803 Comments


Yes - well written review- pos. I think I am guilty of being selective in Tull's catalogue. I basically have three of their albums: Aqualung, Songs from the Wood and Crest of a Knave - all of which I really enjoy. I heard the song Minstrel in the Gallery years ago off of one of their live albums and thought is was really cool with a catchy groove. Anyhow, long story shorter, you've convinced me to get hold of this.

moltenlava
July 3rd 2008



312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good move. And, the three that you already have are some standout items. 'Minstrel' is basically Aqualung plus Thick as a Brick. But, if you're familiar with 'Songs', then you already know about some of their more progressive stuff. 'Songs' is great, but it's more folk-inspired, whereas 'Minstrel' is more Metal-inspired. Another great addition would be 1979's 'Stormwatch'.





freudianslipknot
July 4th 2008



803 Comments


Yes, Stormwatch is another one I haven't heard. I heard North Sea Oil, I think it was, off that, and that was a really cool song - so maybe I should pick that up as well while I'm about it

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 28th 2011



20303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is so fucking good.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 12th 2011



20303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

THE MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
LOOKED DOWN ON THE RABBIT RUN

TheNotrap
September 12th 2011



8029 Comments


I'm blind here

Digging: Savage Grace - Master Of Disguise

Jethro42
September 12th 2011



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hells yeah. This original one is still better than the live Bursting Out version, that says a lot.
Edit; lol Notrap

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 12th 2011



20303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That says a hell of a lot. Bursting Out is brilliant.

omnipanzer
September 12th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is brilliant, one of my favorites.

Digging: The Ettes - Shake the Dust

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 12th 2011



20303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Probably my 3rd favourite Tull album.

omnipanzer
September 12th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Aqua and thick then Stand up = minstrel = Passion and songs from the wood for me.

Jethro42
November 14th 2011



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've been waiting for long enough. Time has come to bump it up to a 4.5



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