Jethro Tull
Crest of a Knave


3.0
good

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
August 23rd, 2010 | 56 replies


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Jethro Tull finally stops playing deathly boring synth rock and starts playing slightly boring prog rock.

After four years spent by Jethro Tull futilely advancing into electronic territory, and especially after the synth-laden mess that was Under Wraps, it was easy to overvalue the band’s supposed return to form, Crest Of A Knave. The album was instantly lapped up by critics and especially by fans, happy that Anderson finally decided to return to familiar ground. And yet, soon after the band was awarded the infamous 1989 Grammy for best hard rock performance (one that arguably should have belonged to Metallica), it seems that the general public realized that Crest Of A Knave contained rather little to be excited about, and was really a rather average album for Ian Anderson and friends.

The first thing one realizes when listening to Crest Of A Knave is Anderson’s weakened voice: prior to recording the album, the singer experienced throat surgery. The minstrel's voice on this album was often likened to that of The Dire Strait’s Mark Knopfler, a comparison that is very valid. Unfortunately, Anderson’s vocal range suffered greatly during the operation, and so the melodies stay confined to a very small register, and, on songs such as The Waking Edge, his voice has a harsh, raspy quality to it. Consequentially, the music never really is given the opportunity to become as interesting as on past albums such as Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young To Die! or Stand Up.

The next thing that one realizes is that most of Crest Of A Knave is really quite boring. The drum machines featured on some of the songs are incapable of replicating the attention-grabbing theatrics of Barrimore Barlow who, despite his love for flashy drumming always knew when to restrain himself. Unfortunately, he human drummers that are present on the majority of the tracks rarely are able to do any better than the aforementioned machines. The melodies are all sterile, and seem like the kind of thing that would be left over from one of The Dire Straits’ weaker albums, and the majority of the songs spend half of their runtimes meandering aimlessly.

That’s not to say anything on Crest Of A Knave, aside from the atrocious Steel Monkey, is offensively bad, but almost equally little is particularly captivating. Indeed, only two songs on the album are worth the full price of admission: Said She Was A Dancer and Budapest. The former is a tender, particularly Straits-esque tune, and is oddly enthralling, while the latter is an adventurous, ten minute-long epic. Budapest, like a majority of the band’s other epics, does end up occasionally drifting off into aimless drivel, but such moments are rare and the song really does have more interesting melodies than all of the other tracks combined.

Truth be told, Budapest and only Budapest makes Crest Of A Knave worthy of one’s attention. Aside from this song and, to a far lesser extent, Said She Was A Dancer, the majority of the album is painfully average and, ultimately harmless. Still, Crest Of A Knave fares far better than it’s successor, Rock Island, which offered very little (by this I mean virtually nothing) of interest.

2.8/5

Recommended Songs
Budapest
Said She Was A Dancer

Postscript: The 2005 remaster contains one bonus song, Part Of The Machine. I thoroughly recommend getting this song, it’s quite nice, like most Tull’s bonus tracks are. As always, I’m at a loss as to why tunes such as Steel Monkey were included over this.

I also believe that this would be an appropriate time to mention how horrible the lyrics are on Budapest. By this point, Anderson’s texts had greatly diminished in quality, but some of these lines are downright embarrassing. She wouldn't make love/but she could make good sandwich comes to mind as a prime example of this quality.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
August 23rd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Part fourteen of the Tull discography. This one is barely a 3, but, for what it's worth, it has two really good songs (and a bunch of really average songs). Next up is Rock Island, which I dread having to re-listen to.

ReturnToSpock
August 23rd 2010


46 Comments


This one is like a 3.1/5 for me

Budapest is easily one of their best songs and I really like Steel Monkey as well. I have the cassette which is missing The Waking Edge and Dogs In Midwinter.

BigHans
August 23rd 2010


29378 Comments


Havent heard it, but good review, and what an awesome name for an album.

vanderb0b
August 23rd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I agree that Budapest slays, but I can't stand Steel Monkey.



Thanks, Hans!



You're not missing much, Spock.

ReturnToSpock
August 23rd 2010


46 Comments


I really only like Steel Monkey for that cool keyboard line in the beginning.

vanderb0b
August 23rd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I have to admit that the keyboard line is pretty cool. Never thought I'd say that about a Jethro Tull song.

ReturnToSpock
August 23rd 2010


46 Comments


Yep. Said She Was a Dancer definitely sounds the most like a Dire Straits song. The others, I think the comparison is more of a vocal thing.

vanderb0b
August 23rd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Farm On The Freeway sounds a bit like the Straights (musically), as do a few other songs. Dancer is easily the best of these, although.

ReturnToSpock
August 23rd 2010


46 Comments


Dancer seems kinda fillerish to me but I enjoy it. I prefer Jump Start, Mountain Men, Budapest.

vanderb0b
August 23rd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well, we certainly disagree there. All of the songs that you listed, save Budapest, seemed to me like filler, while Dancer is, in my mind, awesome.

ReturnToSpock
August 23rd 2010


46 Comments


Not a huge Dire Straits fan in any way, shape or form, so that may be it.

vanderb0b
August 23rd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That might explain it. I like the Straights, but never really heard very much of their music and I don't own any of their albums.

ReturnToSpock
August 23rd 2010


46 Comments


Knopfler is a really good guitar player. Especially on Bob Dylan's Slow Train Coming

vanderb0b
August 23rd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, he's good. Never heard that one, I'll check it out. Goddammit, you can tell I'm not a huge Straits fan 'cause I misspelled the band's name a bunch of time in the review. Edited.

Nagrarok
August 23rd 2010


8587 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Brothers in Arms is awesome if you're looking for a Dire Straits rec. Keep up the good work I'll say again, summary is nice too. I really like the album title.

vanderb0b
August 23rd 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks! I'll check out BiA and, yeah, this album does have a pretty cool title.



Edit: Listening right now to Brothers In Arms, it's awesome.

Jethro42
August 23rd 2010


15550 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's obvious, the album sounds like Dire Straits, but much less attractive. Finally I know why Anderson's vocals were rather weak, thanx to your review. I agree the drum machines are a nuisance, but they luckily use it for only 2 or 3 songs. Gerry Conway plays drums everywhere else, except for 2 songs performed by virtuoso Doan Perry (1987-present) who soon replaced Conway. 'Farm on the Freeway', 'Said she was a Dancer' and 'Budapest' save the album from being average. Excellent review vanderb0b, it seems we agree on that album. A little typing mistake, 1st paragraph: ''...little to be excited about...''



vanderb0b
August 24th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, edited.



Gerry Conway plays drums everywhere else, except for 2 songs performed by virtuoso Doan Perry




Honestly, even though the drums were played by humans, I found them to be pretty boring for the most part.

bailar12
August 24th 2010


1766 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

you know your jethro tull well vanderbob



[img]http://www.historyking.com/images/Biography-Enrique-Iglesias.jpg[/img]



enrique approves and pos's once again



keep up the good work

vanderb0b
August 24th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, Enrique! Bailamos!



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