Jethro Tull
Minstrel in the Gallery


4.5
superb

Review

by e210013 USER (125 Reviews)
November 28th, 2016 | 23 replies


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is one of the best and most prog albums of Jethro Tull. It’s perhaps the most acoustic and beautiful piece from them too.

“Minstrel In The Gallery” is the eighth studio album of Jethro Tull and was released in 1975. The line up on the album is Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, John Evan, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and Barriemore Barlow. The album had also the participation of David Palmer, Rita Eddowes, Elizabeth Edwards, Patrick Halling, Bridget Procter and Katharine Tullborn.


In 1975, progressive rock was, we now know, with the benefit of hindsight, already on its way to its decline in the end of the 70’s. Pink Floyd was, arguably, hitting their prime stride, releasing possibly their most cohesive and satisfying album “Wish You Were Here”, but many other major acts from the great old days were on the ropes, running out of steam or gone altogether. Yes was on a hiatus, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and The Moody Blues were not dead but shells of their former selves, Rush was just getting into the game, and King Crimson had called it quits. Genesis soldiered on and made a string of respectable albums with Collins at the helm and then made a longer string of increasingly commercial, successful albums. But many of us would agree that things were never the same once Peter Gabriel rolled up his freak flag and went it alone, despite the great quality of the two albums recorded with Hackett be undeniable.

So, aside Pink Floyd, Camel, Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator, Jethro Tull was one of the kings of the hill, in terms of consistency and quality. The benefit of hindsight makes their proficiency, and the quality of their work, more obvious and more important to acknowledge. Some of the best material produced from progressive rock’s heyday is decidedly of its time, lyrically and musically, as we can see on works like “Aqualung”, “Thick As A Brick” and “A Passion Play”. But “Minstrel In The Gallery”, in particular, needs no defence nor any nostalgia to be fully appreciated.

After “Thick As A Brick” and “A Passion Play”, Jethro Tull’s fans had grown accustomed to side long songs and conceptual albums, something they’d been prepared with “Aqualung”. In 1974 the band released “War Child”, an album made of shorter songs and carrying no real concept. “Minstrel In The Gallery” not only had songs that felt connected but it had also bigger tracks, especially the lengthy and exceptional track “Baker St. Muse”. The dominant theme on this Jethro Tull’s album was an Elizabethan medieval minstrelsy, with electric and acoustic sounds in a rock and folk musical context. The album went back to the classic Jethro Tull’s style that we all know and love, powerful, heavy and complex progressive rock mixed with beautiful, acoustic folk-melodies. The sound had also become richer and more symphonic as the band on a permanent basis now had David Palmer to add tasty string arrangements to the songs.

About the tracks, the title track opens with an acoustic, minstrel-like medieval part before it explodes into the heaviest and most hard-hitting instrumental passage Jethro Tull ever recorded. The main part of the song is a catchy, flute driven rocker that would become a favourite on stage for years to come. “Cold Wind To Valhalla” starts also as a soft, acoustic tune, but becomes more aggressive when the whole band kicks in and plays the excellent melody of the track. “Black Satin Dancer” is maybe Jethro Tull’s most overlooked classic ever. The main melody is one of the most beautiful Anderson ever wrote, and the string arrangement makes it even more majestic. The sinister and heavy instrumental part is a prime example of progressive rock at its absolutely best and most dynamic. “Requiem” is a very nice and cosy acoustic ballad. The melody is maybe not the strongest or best, but what a great atmosphere and feeling. The second side opens with more acoustic beauty in the form of “One White Duck/Nothing At All” before you’re in for the ambitious, 17 minute “Baker Street Muse”. This would be the band’s last really lengthy epic, but i’'s still a very good one, although not so good as “Thick As A Brick”. Overall, this is one of Jethro Tull’s best albums and one of the best prog albums.


Conclusion: “Minstrel In The Gallery” has much going for it. It has all the classic elements of a great Jethro Tull’s album. It has good lyrics, the inimitable Anderson’s voice, wonderful acoustic and electric parts and finally the sophistication and the lush orchestrations by Palmer. “Minstrel In The Gallery” is the most acoustic Jethro Tull’s album and is also one of their most progressive albums too. It’s also, for me, the most beautiful and most peaceful piece released by them, and it’s also undoubtedly one of their best. I can safely say that I placed “Mintrel In The Gallery” in my Jethro Tull’s top five, with “Aqualung”, “Thick As A Brick”, “A Passion Play” and “Songs From The Wood”. I often recommend this work as an essential listening to someone just discovering Jethro Tull, because it has a little bit of everything of their music. It’s especially recommended for people who particularly love progressive music with the predominance of the acoustic guitars and in my opinion, the two best prog groups to do so are Jethro Tull and Strawbs.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
November 28th 2016


2592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Here it is another great album from Tull.

As usual I would appreciate to have some comments from you.

TheIntruder
November 28th 2016


433 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"This is one of the best and most prog albums of Jethro Tull. It’s perhaps the most acoustic and beautiful piece from them too."

I agree. This is often an album with less attention than it deserves. It's one of the most solid albums of Tull. Nice review. Have a pos.

e210013
November 28th 2016


2592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"It's one of the most solid albums of Tull."

I agree Intruder.

Thanks for the comment and the pos.

EvoHavok
November 28th 2016


7702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice write-up. I love this album and would like to see more people giving it a try.

e210013
November 28th 2016


2592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"I love this album and would like to see more people giving it a try."

Thanks, Evo. I think the same.

EvoHavok
November 28th 2016


7702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I actually played "Cold Wind to Valhalla" a few times in Dubtrack and most people dug it.

e210013
November 28th 2016


2592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice, Evo. Are you a musician?

EvoHavok
November 28th 2016


7702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No, not at all. I just have a cheap acoustic guitar that I never play. Why?

Divaman
November 28th 2016


4423 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Not one of my favorite Tull albums, but certainly a decent effort. "One White Duck" was always my favorite track on this one. Nice job on putting the album in a historical perspective.

Digging: Bayside - Interrobang

Egarran
November 28th 2016


13918 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Always nice to see some love for this. It's my 3. Tull after Thick and Aqualung.



Never really liked Black Satin Dancer. Basically I don't want to know about Anderson's sex life.

Digging: Nile - Vile Nilotic Rites

e210013
November 28th 2016


2592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ Evo

But you must try. It's very amusing when we can play the most simple songs by we own.

smaugman
November 28th 2016


5074 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

divaman ultimate dad rocker?

e210013
November 28th 2016


2592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ Divaman

I know it. This album never was your cup of tea. In my perspective it's a pity. But we are talking about music, and music is a matter of very personal taste, isn't it?

One of these days I will put here a review of "Aqualung", and then, I know that you will have a very different opinion.

Cheers.

EvoHavok
November 28th 2016


7702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@e21

Yeah, that's true. I need to find the motivation, haha.

e210013
November 28th 2016


2592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ Egarran

"Always nice to see some love for this."

You can bet on it, pal.

"I don't want to know about Anderson's sex life."

Neither I.

Divaman
November 28th 2016


4423 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Really e? I'll look forward to your review. Now I have to go check what you rated it.



And yeah, Smaugman, I'm having a stereo system put in my coffin so I can still rock out even when I'm 6 feet under.

e210013
November 28th 2016


2592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ Evo

You can bet on it, bro.



Jethro42
November 28th 2016


15964 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There are so much going on, on this album, it's hard to retain a song by heart, especially the more electric ones. Because of its multi-part nature,''Baker St. Muse'' is particularly difficult in that matter. It's rewarding with some patience...

"I don't want to know about Anderson's sex life."[3]

BUT, ''Black Satin Dancer'' is arguably my fave song on here. It's majestic, agreed.

Nice review, buddy, with a good slice of prog rock history. Coming from you, it's always a pleasure to read.





e210013
November 28th 2016


2592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree Jethro, there are so much going on, on this album, indeed. Personally, I love all its songs, too, but precisely due of its multi-part nature,''Baker St. Muse'' is particularly loved by me, speaking as a prog fan, of course.

Thanks for your comment, bro. It's always a pleasure to me talking to you, too. And thanks for the pos, too.

TwigTW
November 29th 2016


3824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

How great is this album? @5, it might be my favorite. Like Jethro said, there is so much going on--but that is what I like about it. It's easy to get lost in.



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