Jethro Tull
The Broadsword and the Beast


3.5
great

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
August 8th, 2010 | 31 replies


Release Date: 1982 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Eighties continue their war on Jethro Tull, and, surprisingly, lose the second battle.

One can easily draw parallels between the opening notes of A, played by a futuristic synthesizer, and the first gunshot that begins a long, costly war. From the moment that these notes were played, Jethro Tull was attacked by a powerful, indomitable adversary: the 1980’s. After spending the seventies playing blues, progressive rock, and even folk, the band stepped into the new decade, and found themselves immersed in a new world of advanced technology. Fascinated by the new music trends of the time, Anderson began to play around with synths and electronic instruments. Two years after the release of A, the band released Broadsword And The Beast, which mixed this more electronic approach with the band’s folky aesthetic. Surprisingly, this blend of styles worked rather well, and one can safely say that Jethro Tull won their second battle with the 1980’s, even though this victory didn’t come with ease.

Anderson’s arsenal is now larger than before, with vocoders and synthesizers joining the conventional flute and guitar. And yet, beneath these modernistic influences, a majority of the album really consists of folk tunes, not dissimilar to those found on Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses, albeit injected with contemporary touches. No matter how well the computer-altered vocals of Clasp and the synths in the title track try to conceal it, once stripped of the eighties bombast and pomp, the actual melodies really do resemble what the band’s been writing for the past few years.

In truth, the electronic touches are usually quite modest, and, with the exception of the excruciating Watching Me Never You, never become particularly obtrusive; indeed, they frequently end up improving the songs. One must admit that the heroic, adventurous title track, for example, wouldn’t even be half as interesting or stirring without the valiant, trumpet-like keyboards.

The synths themselves, while arguably not very much more than a cheap gimmick, don’t end up damaging the album, or at least don’t end up damaging the album very much. Rather, the eighties attitude is what harms Broadsword And The Beast. The incessant chants of BEASTIE! on the track of the same name almost entirely ruin the otherwise-delightful song, and Watching Me Watching You has, from the pointless chants of STAIRS! to the trite, James Bond-inspired lyrics, not an ounce of either originality or quality. Likewise, the hackneyed piano accompaniment makes portions of the warm, sympathetic Slow Marching Band seem like a generic eighty’s ballad (a shame really, as this is one of the prettier tracks).

Still, Broadsword And The Beast contains plenty of strong material, and tunes such as the gentle, loving Pussy Willow and the bouncy, folky Clasp should find their way into the libraries of any fans of the band. The album is usually entertaining, and Anderson's experiments with electronic elements end up being mainly successful. The band would continue further down the road into synth-pop, but never would they do it again with this success. Soon, the band would lose significance and become a shadow of their past self, and Broadsword And The Beast shows a thriving, prosperous band about to descend into mediocrity. As they say, you may have won the battle, but not the war.
3.5/5

Recommended Songs
Clasp
Fallen On Hard Times
Pussy Willow
Broadsword

Postscript: Once again, I would recommend the remastered version. It contains eight additional songs and significantly increases the run time. The first three songs, Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow, Jack-A-Lynn, and Mayhem, Maybe, are as good as anything from the original album, and I really can’t see why drivel such as Watching Me Watching You was chosen over these pleasant tunes. The rest of the bonus material is not particularly interesting, but these three songs definitely justify a purchase.
The remaster earns an impressive 3.7/5.

Remastered Edition Recommended Songs
Mayhem, Maybe
Jack-A-Lynn
Clasp
Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow
Fallen On Hard Times



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user ratings (136)
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3.3
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Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
August 8th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Part 9 of the Tull discography, something about this album's cover is awesome, I love it. Expect a lot of negative reviews to come in the near future.

IAJP
August 8th 2010


378 Comments


i got this for christmas off my nan ages ago, must say i thought it was fucking bollocks like.

Nagrarok
August 8th 2010


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There's not really any kind of order you're doing these in?

vanderb0b
August 8th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nope. I was going to do the discography in chronological order, but I probably won't be able to get the band's debut until September, so I'm just reviewing the albums that I have now.

Nagrarok
August 8th 2010


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's what I mean, it's kind of confusing. Still nicely covered though. I listened to Thick as a Brick today but I enjoy Aqualung more.

vanderb0b
August 8th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dammit, the out of order reviews are confusing me too. I wrote this positive that Broadsword was the band's first electronic/80's album, and just realized that A came before this. Edited quite a bit of stuff.

Jethro42
August 8th 2010


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

something about this album's cover is awesome, I love it.




I have that same cover art on a t-shirt I bought during one of their recent tour.



Few years ago, I gave to some songs a listen. I was pretty disappointed cause of its elecronic/poppish sounds. Now that I revisit, the title track sounds pretty great, in some degree reminiscent of some good old 'Alan Parsons Project' (I am ironically writing an APP review on the ProgJect account atm), and it also reminds me the second part of 'Terrapin Station' by Grateful Dead, and it's a good thing.

Just a minor typing mistake, 1st paragraph: ''Fascinated by the new...''

Excellent review, vanderb0b. pos'd

vanderb0b
August 9th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Edited, thanks! I can definitely understand why you were disappointed by the album, the electronic stuff is pretty odd at first. This is probably their only 80's album that I can listen to.

13themount
January 31st 2012


173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

excellent return to form; the 20 anniversary box set had leftovers which were good enough to make this a double.

Jethro42
January 31st 2012


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

meh

A >>> this



JamieTwort
May 4th 2013


26988 Comments


PUSSY WILLOW

Jethro42
May 4th 2013


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I should give this another try, just to see if my rating is still good.

JamieTwort
May 4th 2013


26988 Comments


This is my favourite of their 80's albums. Watching Me Watching You is the only song I don't like on here.

Jethro42
May 4th 2013


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Broadsword and Seal Driver are excellent, that I remember.

JamieTwort
May 4th 2013


26988 Comments


Yeah those two are probably the best.

Jethro42
May 4th 2013


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can 3.5 it, but it's the best I can do.

JamieTwort
May 4th 2013


26988 Comments


That's good enough ;)

Jethro42
May 4th 2013


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Now I wanna do the same treatment for Stormwatch.

JamieTwort
May 4th 2013


26988 Comments


Stormwatch is an easy 4 for me. I've been digging that album hard lately. It's grown on me a lot over time.

Jethro42
May 4th 2013


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes I guess we have to be patient with that one.



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