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Jethro Tull

Stormwatch

Review by Gary Hill

This album seems to be one that gets reviews on two ends of the spectrum, but not really in the middle. I suppose mine should fall there, but I really like it. I mean, to a degree the disc shows a Tull that were repeating themselves, but frankly, when it’s this good I can go for second and third helpings. I guess I’d say that this album is a considerably strong one, even if it’s not Tull’s most original.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
North Sea Oil
A considerably Celtic segment leads us out. They jump from there into a pounding jam that’s very classic Jethro Tull. This rocks out quite well. There’s a cool mid-section that includes some smoking guitar work and we get some interesting little flourishes here and there throughout.

Orion
This comes in more mysterious and intriguing. They work through a short jam that’s similar to the last track, but then drop it way down for a balladic verse. This is made more powerful through additional layers of sound and Anderson’s killer vocal delivery. They bring the harder edged sounds for the chorus. The song continues by alternating between these hard rocking motifs and the mellower ones. I like this a lot. They vary it enough to bring new musical textures each time, but the consistency allows the song to really sink in.
Home
I’m not blown away by this one. At best it’s a heartfelt and evocative ballad that has hints of The Beatles in its composition. At worst the arrangement is over the top. That beyond the limits nature comes at times from the string section. At other points it feels like a 1980’s metal ballad.
Dark Ages
This takes a while to grow on you, but it’s worth the time invested. At over nine minutes in length this mini-epic is one of the most purely prog rock tunes on show here. They take it through a number of alternating musical motifs. Some of this is classic Tull while other sections seem to stretch out a bit more. Everybody gets in some tasty instrumental work. This thing covers a lot of moods and modes and is really quite a powerful piece of music.
Warm Sporran
An instrumental (there are some non-lyrical vocals), this starts off rather jarringly with an almost jazz-like arrangement. While this texture shows up again for a short period later they move it out to a more typical Tull jam. This has the Celtic airs the band were well known for.

Something's on the Move
A powerhouse jam, this is a killer piece of music. It’s very much trademark Jethro Tull, but that’s not a bad thing. This really feels like it could have come off of Aqualung to me.

Old Ghosts
Here we have another song that’s more purely prog than some of the other stuff here. It certainly has the familiar trappings of Jethro Tull, but there are a lot of symphonic elements and lots of other cool stuff.

Dun Ringill
The intro here has loops of spoken words spun around and processed. It gives way to a killer acoustic guitar based balladic approach. This is powerful and quite cool.

Flying Dutchman
This track by itself would be worth the price of admission here. It’s a powerful and diverse number that’s another of the more purely progressive rock oriented pieces. Somehow it really resonates with this reviewer even better than the other stuff on show here. And that says a lot. It’s definitely one of the more diverse pieces on the disc. At close to eight minutes in length it’s also one of the longest.

Elegy
Much of this instrumental is in a very traditional style. One could hear it playing in the king’s court of olde. Of course, the section with the electric guitar solo would change that vision. This is fairly short and to the point, but also quite cool.

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