Jethro Tull
Stormwatch


3.5
great

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
August 19th, 2010 | 101 replies


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “The weather’s on the change...”

Stormwatch’s album cover always seemed to me to be rather prophetic of Jethro Tull’s near future. A seafarer clad in a mournful black, raindrops dripping from his ragged beard, defiantly and undauntedly gazes through binoculars into the coming tempest, prepared for the approaching storm. This mariner is not unlike Ian Anderson, whose band was on the very brink of collapse by the time that the album was released. Bassist John Glascock was ailed by a cardiovascular disorder that would soon prove to be deadly and cause drummer Barriemore Barlow to fall into a deep depression (one that would ultimately end with his departure from the band). Furthermore, progressive rock would soon fall out of favor and, to stay relevant, Anderson would be forced to adapt to new music trends, throwing in superfluous synthesizers and vocoders into his music. And yet, despite the impending anguish, the band is just about as focused as ever on Stormwatch, which saw the band leaving the seventies with quite a bang.

Not only did Stormwatch mark the end of Jethro Tull’s seventies output, but it also concluded their so-called “folk trilogy”. Unlike the first two installments, Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses, which contained light-hearted, pleasant tunes, Stormwatch is quite dark-in fact, it’s arguably the band’s most somber album. Doleful songs of nostalgia, longing and lamentation find themselves in the place of jolly, pleasant ditties about mice reading books and running on treadmills, causing the album to sound much more serious than it’s precursors.

The change in tone makes Stormwatch a remarkably (perhaps even deceptively) unique album in Jethro Tull’s catalogue, especially when one considers that the band’s sound remains largely unchanged. The lively flutes, invigorating, yet unobtrusive, strings arrangements, peaceful acoustic guitars, and folky melodies are all still here, and the band still fuses elements traditional English music with progressive rock, but it all seems incredibly different from what came before.

That said, as refreshing as the change in tone is, the album is grievously marred by inconsistency, much in the same way as Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll: Too Young To Die! was. Towards the beginning and end of the album, once can find some of the band’s greatest compositions: the appropriately elegiac and mournful Elegy (the band’s best instrumental save Bouree) and the longing, lonely Home, which features some of orchestrator David Palmer’s best work, instantly come to mind, as does Dun Rungill, one of the band’s best acoustic numbers.

However, the middle half of the album, consisting of Dark Ages, Warm Sporran, and Something’s On The Move, is home to some of Anderson’s most insipid and lifeless songwriting. None of these tunes contain a single memorable melody or riff, aside from the former, which, admittedly, has in it’s nine minute-long runtime a few interesting ideas (they’re stuck among six or seven minutes of meandering drivel, though, so don’t get your hopes up).

Still, despite the fluctuating quality of the songs, Stormwatch remains quite an interesting album for fans of the band. Not only does it present a darker, more serious side of Anderson’s persona, but it also contains a rather larger amount of compelling, if not incredibly innovative, music. One, however, can’t help feeling that of Jethro Tull’s folk trilogy, Stormwatch is obviously the weakest link.

3.6/5

Recommended Songs
Dun Rungill
Home
Elegy
North Sea Oil

Postscript: The remaster is, as usual, the way to go with this album. Of the three bonus songs, two (Kelpie and King Henry’s Madrigal) deserved to be on the original version of the album, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why Anderson and co. chose to include bores like Dark Ages when they had such jolly tunes ready for release.

Remastered Edition Recommended Songs
Kelpie
King Henry’s Madrigal



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user ratings (158)
Chart.
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
August 19th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Eleventh part of the Tull Discography. I'll be doing A next, still need to listen to it some more, but it's much better than I previously though.

Nagrarok
August 19th 2010


8576 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn you, I just posted a review two minutes ago. Nice work though, you're doing a great job on this discog.

FurbyPower
August 19th 2010


26 Comments


Furby digs. But please review faster next time, Furby lives for your Tull reviews!

Jethro42
August 19th 2010


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'll have to re-listen to that album, even if my rating might stay the same. Undoubtely the darkest Tull era, and the loss of its key members didn't help at all. Elegy rules, as your review does, my friend. Have a pos'd

vanderb0b
August 20th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, everyone



But please review faster next time, Furby lives for your Tull reviews!




I won't disappoint you, Furby, the next one will probably be up pretty soon.



the loss of its key members didn't help at all




If I remember correctly, the entire band played on this album, although Glascock was present on only about half the songs.

Jethro42
August 20th 2010


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm actually talking about a rough period that has started with Glascock's health problems/death (wich have greatly affected both Barlow and Co, and the album's process), and soon has continued after the loss of all Jethro Tull' members except for Anderson and Barre. And also,the 'Dark Age' of progressive rock had just begun at the time.

Jethro42
April 5th 2011


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not later than the year after, they experienced a pot relapse;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKHSBG0hgyY

Drunb
December 16th 2011


2 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For me the best tracks of this albums were Orion, Dark Ages and Something's On The Move...

But hey, I'm a J-Tull newbie so my opinion probably doesn't count as much as much as you guys who have listened to these songs for years.

JamieTwort
December 16th 2011


26988 Comments


I love Orion, and Dark Ages has it's moments.

13themount
January 31st 2012


173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

underrated album; some good songs here.

13themount
January 31st 2012


173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

underrated album; some good songs here.

Jethro42
January 31st 2012


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3 at a max

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
March 2nd 2012


2540 Comments


I definitely agree that this is the weakest of the so-called trilogy, but even here, Anderson displays some very accessible songwriting, and yet again, his flute solos are second to none. Naturally they wouldn't get any better than this afterwards (let's face it, the 80's either destroyed Progressive Rock or made it much more mainstream), but there is quite a lot of memorable work to be found here, especially on the latter half of the album.

Digging: Bongripper - Terminal

Jethro42
March 2nd 2012


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You need to try Roots to Branches.

JamieTwort
December 4th 2012


26988 Comments


This album's been growing on me recently.

4'd.

menawati
December 4th 2012


16587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

woa it's jethro bump time, love Dun Ringill so much

Jethro42
December 4th 2012


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

''woa it's jethro bump time''



Done. I just listened to the whole thing again, and it's worth a 3.5 really

JamieTwort
December 4th 2012


26988 Comments


P/ Jethro.

Been jamming this a lot lately, good winter album.

menawati
December 4th 2012


16587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yea wasn't it a sort of trilogy ?

songs wood - spring, heavy horses - autumn and this winter

Jethro42
December 4th 2012


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

P/ Jamie. Yes I keep an eye on this album. Not sure why I've underrated it.



@Menawati; I dont know. It could be.



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