Jethro Tull
A Passion Play


3.5
great

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
July 2nd, 2010 | 70 replies


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "This is the story of a hare who lost his spectacles!"

“Who is Michael Corleone?”Almost any connoisseur of film will instantly say that he is the principle character of The Godfather Trilogy, beginning as an innocent civilian, ignorant of his family’s “business”, but eventually rising to power and becoming a ruthless crime boss. “Who is Fredo Corleone?” Now this question is a bit more difficult, but far from impossible. He’s Michael’s brother, never very important, always in his superior’s shadow, and frequently quite a nuisance, but rather entertaining and competent. Jethro Tull’s album, A Passion Play, greatly resembles Fredo, as it sits in the shadow of it’s younger, better brother, Thick As A Brick, and is frequently overlooked, even by fans of the band, despite being a very enjoyable listen.

A Passion Play, like Thick As A Brick, is an ambitious work consisting of one forty minute-long song. Like the title suggests, this work indeed resembles a passion play, depicting death, ascension to heaven, and reincarnation, with a frivolous interlude separating two halves of the work. The lyrics are, as is to be expected of Ian Anderson, are impossibly overblown and theatrical, but, surprisingly, rarely come across as being overly pretentious.

Soft acoustic guitars, playful pianos, jovial keyboards, frantic flutes, and passionate vocals intertwine intricately throughout A Passionate Play, playing some of Jethro Tull’s prettiest melodies. Ian and his merry minstrels choose to make the tone a bit more gloomy and dark (while still maintaining their typical lightheartedness), but aside from this, the songwriting remains largely unchanged. And yet, none of it is quite as potent or enthralling as albums like Thick As A Brick or Songs From The Wood. Frankly, the catchy parts aren’t as catchy as the former, and the beautiful bits aren’t as beautiful as the latter.

A Passion Play’s biggest fault, although, is how unfocused it can be. Occasionally, the music descends into meandering, directionless drivel, which seems entirely superfluous. Long, drawn-out, uneventful segments with no purpose and few interesting melodies lie among lush flute solos and tender singing.

A Passion Play comes incredibly close to becoming tedious, but one thing alone saves it from this fate: The Story Of A Hare Who Lost His Spectacles. This brief interlude splits the composition into two halves and provides a light, carefree break that gives the listener some time to relax. Without this short intermission, the mammoth album would become an overwhelming affair that would only tire the listener. As it stands, although, not only does this small tale make A Passion Play more manageable, but it is also one of Jethro Tull’s most comic moments. Jeffry Hammond-Hammond and his pompous accent narrate this aimless yarn, emphasizing every other word (except for the ones that should be emphasized). Overly grandiose orchestral arrangements accompany a simple tale of hares, owls, and newts, causing the whole affair to be so overelaborate that it becomes impossibly amusing.

Despite being almost overly overwhelming and frequently aimless, A Passion Play certainly deserves the attention that it oh-so-rarely gets. Fans of progressive rock should give this at least one listen, if only to hear the Bee say (of the hare’s spectacles) "You probably ate them thinking they were a carrot."


3.7/5



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user ratings (190)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
July 2nd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Promised Jethro to do some prog, here it is. It was rather hard to decide between a 3.5 and a 4. Can't believe this didn't have a review yet.

Jethro42
July 2nd 2010


12626 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wow, this is great, thank you man. Great to see 'Passion Play' covered.
I'd rate this album the same you would yourself: 3.7/5.
Quality review, pos'd

vanderb0b
July 2nd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, Jethro. I'll try doing the whole Tull discography now.

Jethro42
July 2nd 2010


12626 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm looking forward to read all your discog. You already did 'Heavy Horses'.
You do a very good job, keep on reviewing.

NeutralThunder12
July 2nd 2010


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Aqualung>>>>>>>other tull albums

vanderb0b
July 2nd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks again, Jethro.

@Neutral
Nah, man Thick as a Brick>Aqualung

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
July 2nd 2010


15082 Comments


this is such a strange album

Jethro42
July 2nd 2010


12626 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh, and you have a little correction to do in last paragraph.
'' Fans of progressive rock should 'gibe' this...

vanderb0b
July 2nd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for finding that error, fixed it.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
April 14th 2011


21588 Comments


This rules. Definitely one of their most underrated albums. I know that seems a strange thing to say about an album with an
average rating of 4 but I hear it got a lot of negative reviews upon it's release.

Digging: Foxes in Fiction - Ontario Gothic

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2011


21588 Comments


I fucking love this album.

Ire
September 20th 2011


41828 Comments


I love fucking this album.

omnipanzer
September 20th 2011


21660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I would fuck it again and again.

omnipanzer
September 20th 2011


21660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Always loved that cover.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2011


21588 Comments


Yeah Tull have some great cover art.

Nagrarok
September 20th 2011


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Didn't find this that great tbh.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2011


21588 Comments


It took 3 listens before I really fell in love with this album. Definitely an album that gets better with repeated listens IMO.

Nagrarok
September 20th 2011


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A Passion Play’s biggest fault, although, is how unfocused it can be. Occasionally, the music descends into meandering, directionless drivel, which seems entirely superfluous. Long, drawn-out, uneventful segments with no purpose and few interesting melodies lie among lush flute solos and tender singing.


These are my thoughts as well pretty much. I never can seem to get into Tull as much as the other classic prog bands.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2011


21588 Comments


Have you listened to Minstrel in the Gallery yet, Nag?

Nagrarok
September 20th 2011


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I will, there's a couple of Tull albums still on the list to give a shot.



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