Classic: Jethro Tull, The Broadsword And The Beast, 1983
Many frequent visitors might be surprised by my Classic choice of today. Guess a lot would expect Aqualung, or maybe Thick As A Brick. Certainly now TAAB2 has just been released. But no, as often is the case, I am very much attached to the first Tull album I ever heard, the wonderful The Broadsword And The Beast.
Released in a time when keyboard wizard Peter-John Vettesse (or should I say Vitesse) was still part of the band. With of course, besides Ian Anderson, Martin Barre on guitar (an underrated player if ever there was one), David Pegg on bass and Gerry Conway on drums. In this decade Jethro Tull had a much more modern sound (more rocking guitars and the synths of Vettesse), yet the typical trademarks (flute, acoustic passages, Anderson’s witty lyrics and fantastic playing all around) were still present.
I think album opener Beastie has stood the test of time remarkably well. It still sounds viable and menacing. A great track that was also fun to play live. Clasp is another mixture of old and new, with the folky interlude exchanging ideas with the synths. Fallen On Hard Times is more the Tull of old, with keyboards playing a more supporting role. Flying Colours opens with a very tasty piano that goes on to support Anderson’s melody. And then the synths again take over and it becomes a more rocking affair. Just listen to Barre filling in the empty spaces. He is so good at that! With Slow Marching Band the “Beastie” side of the record comes to a slow folky end. Very fitting for Tull of course.
Side B, or “Broadsword” as it is called has another 5 tracks. We find the same combination of the band on it more rocking / progressive side (Broadsword) with more regular sounds (Pussy Willow (funny!). Watching Me Watching You is another example of what you can achieve with keyboards. And the band again manage to put a threat to music (Stares!). Great how they do that. Also the 6/8 beat is cause for confusion I imagine. Before we say goodbye with the playful Cheerio, we get another more progressive outing with Seal Driver.
Still a fantastic album to listen to. It also proves how Anderson`s voice has thinned over time. Yet every time I saw them live they impress. Great band, for over 40 years…