Jethro Tull
Minstrel in the Gallery


4.5
superb

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
August 10th, 2010 | 41 replies


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After a failed attempt to pander to the critics, Jethro Tull return to doing what they do best: playing progressive rock.

After A Passion Play, an ambitious and nearly indigestible progressive composition, was massacred by wrathful music critics, Jethro Tull decided to return to playing shorter, more accessible music. This resulted in the release of War Child, which saw the band trying to achieve mainstream success, but the album gathered even more hatred and condemnation (which was not, this time, entirely undeserved) from the press. Picking the lesser of two evils, the band chose to once again play progressive rock, and soon created Minstrel In The Gallery, which was not only a fitting return to form, but also is one of the most engaging constituents of Jethro Tull’s discography.

Minstrel In The Gallery relies far less on Martin Barre’s acidic and gritty guitar than previous offerings; instead folky melodies clearly inspired by Elizabethan music are the album’s main attraction, and Ian Anderson’s acoustic guitar, along with David Palmer’s tasteful orchestral arrangements are given a far larger role than usual. One could easily imagine the first half of Cold Wind To Valhalla, with it’s spirited acoustic strums and pleasant melodies, or the mournful, sentimental Requiem, among other tunes, being played in a royal court some four or five hundred years ago.

One should not, however, fall under the impression that Minstrel In The Gallery contains only calm, folky songs-far from it! The untamable Marin Barre still has many opportunities (albeit, not as many as on preceding albums) to inject even the most subdued tunes with bursts of wild energy and ferocious vigor, and moments such as the howling leads in the second portion of Cold Wind To Valhalla or the desperate, wailing solo in Black Satin Dancer (which would have been quite at home on a Led Zeppelin album) show the virtuoso in his prime.

One of Minstrel In The Gallery’s biggest strengths is knowing when to use, or, rather, when not to use, Martin Barre’s guitar. When allowed to play, he energizes any song and gives it a heavier, rawer feel, but he is wisely kept away from tunes such as Requiem, which are all the better for it. As a result, the album is divided into robust, hard rockers that are infused with melodious acoustic moments, and folky, mellow songs, like the melancholic One White Duck/0^10=Nothing At All.

Most of the album’s highlights fall into the former category, largely due to the unpredictable changes from acoustic to electric instrumentation which add indescribable amounts of appeal to the tunes. Cold Wind To Valhalla, an acoustic tune that suddenly explodes into a shrieking aural assault, and Baker St. Muse, a sixteen-minute long epic made up of many distinct, unique sections, are the album’s centerpieces along with the title track, a pleasant ditty that soon transforms into a corrosive, metallic monster.

Indeed, the album has no weak moments, aside from the entirely superfluous Grace, a thirty second tune about wishing “Good morning!” to all the Suns, birds, ladies, and breakfasts in the world. It’s really a shame that the piece ends so abruptly, for if it were further developed, it could easily have become quite an entertaining number.

Minstrel In The Gallery saw Jethro Tull once again doing what they do best: playing progressive rock laced with the occasional folky melody; indeed, for the first time in their career, the acoustic moments became the focal points of their music. Two years later, Songs From The Wood would see the band incorporating a Celtic influence into their music, and then, with the release of Heavy Horses, Barre’s electric guitar would be almost entirely abolished. As it stands, though, Minstrel In The Gallery skillfully balances warm folk tunes with hard rock, making it one of the band’s more interesting and accessible progressive albums.

4.6/5

Recommended Songs
Cold Wind To Valhalla
Baker St. Muse
Minstrel In The Gallery
Requiem

Postscript: I will once again recommend potential buyers to invest in the remaster, but this advice is given tentatively. In truth, Summerday Sands is a fantastic tune that features some of Palmer’s most spirited and exciting arrangements, and March The Mad Scientist is certainly nice to have, as is Pan Dance.

However, incomplete live versions of the title track Cold Wind To Valhalla are included, both of which are cut off before the halfway mark. The former works surprisingly well as a two-minute long folky piece, but the latter, only one-and-a-half minutes long, is clumsily cut off in the middle of the verse. This really is quite a shame, as both of these songs work very well in a live setting.

The remaster will also receive a 4.6/5.

Remastered Edition Recommended Songs
Cold Wind To Valhalla
Baker St. Muse
Minstrel In The Gallery
Requiem
Summerday Sands



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other reviews of this album
e210013 (4.5)
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Minstrel in the Gallery finds Jethro Tull establishing a middle ground between the disparate musical...



Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
August 10th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Part 10 of the Tull Discography. Album slays. I'll do these in chronological order now to make it easier for readers and for myself, so next it'll be Stormwatch, then A, and then a bunch of 80's-90's stuff, most of which is not very interesting at all. I'll finish it off with the debut, which I still have not obtained a copy of.



EDIT: Forgot that I skipped War Child and Thick As A Brick. I'll do those in chronological order after the debut.

vanderb0b
August 10th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for pointing that out. Edited.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 10th 2010


8056 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is indeed worth listening too.

Jethro42
August 10th 2010


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I need to re-listen to this album. I might bump this up, we'll see.

I absolutely love Black Satin Dancer.

And vanderb0b, once again, excellent work.

Nagrarok
August 10th 2010


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You're really doing a good job with these, keep it up.



I'll finish it off with the debut, which I still have not obtained a copy of.




You could just download it y'know.

vanderb0b
August 10th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks!



I absolutely love Black Satin Dancer.




Black Satin Dancer is pretty awesome, especially that instrumental segment in the middle.



You could just download it y'know.




I'll probably end up doing that.





ConsiderPhlebas
August 10th 2010


6157 Comments


Never heard a thing by these guys. Listening to this now - cold wind sounds pretty awesome.

vanderb0b
August 10th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Real glad you're liking it, man!

Jethro42
August 10th 2010


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

k, after I've revisited this album, my rating is gonna stay at 4/5. Pretty great stuff yes, but nowhere near as good as 'Thick as a Brick', 'Heavy Horses', 'Songs from the Wood' or 'Aqualung'. Minstrel in the Gallery has to be my 5th or 6th fav Tull' album, wich is pretty good.

Jethro42
August 10th 2010


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha Bulldogs howl like wolves when they listen to prog, so they can't be cool.

vanderb0b
August 11th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

but nowhere near as good as 'Thick as a Brick', 'Heavy Horses', 'Songs from the Wood' or 'Aqualung'




I actually like this one a bit more than Songs, to tell you the truth. Probably my 4th favorite, excluding live albums.

Jethro42
August 11th 2010


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hmmm I don't know; While 'Minstrel' is more consistent and has no filler songs, I enjoy 'Songs from the Woods' more as a whole. Despite its one or two average songs, the latter contains more memorable melodies to me, but hey, it's just me.



vanderb0b
August 11th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and has no filler songs,




Grace is filler, imo. I don't know why, but I didn't like Songs as much as I should have, provided that Heavy Horses is my second favorite Tull album.

Jethro42
August 11th 2010


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dude, I've noticed that our Tull' ratings are pretty similar, and if anything, the only difference in our point of view is your interests tend to be a tad more in their folk side, and mine, in their proggish side. It's my two cents.



vanderb0b
August 11th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I'm partial to their folky stuff. I've really got a liking for pretty much anything with a Celtic/Elizabethan influence.

Jethro42
August 11th 2010


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Does ''Elizabethan'' represent an era, or a style e.g. Baroque ??

Jethro42
August 11th 2010


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Since you have a classical music formation, I guess it's related to classical music, right?

vanderb0b
August 11th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's an era when English classical music supposedly reached its peak (about 1550-1600). Parts of this album are really influenced by music of that time.

Jethro42
August 11th 2010


15571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh I see, interesting. I love classical music, but I have an educational gap to fill regarding the genre. I love the more challenging, all the influential stuff for the progressive rock to come such as Moussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Bach...(hope I'm partially right)...

vanderb0b
August 11th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSc9Dq4gRLY

First of the two pieces is a great example of the style that I'm referring to. First two minutes of Minstrel In The Gallery, among other moments, are reminiscent of this kind of stuff. And yeah, a lot of prog bands were influenced by those composers, Jethro Tull's keyboardist was really influenced by Bach.



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