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Music Review: Jethro Tull – Heavy Horses

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Jethro Tull returned during April of 1978 with their second in their trilogy of folk/rock albums.Heavy Horses was musically very close to its predecessor Songs From The Wood, although the lyrics would be a little darker in places. It would continue their commercial success and receive sales awards in The United States, Canada, and their home country.

The band's lineup remained intact. Flutist/songwriter/vocalist Ian Anderson, guitarist Martin Barrie, drummer Barriemore Barlow, keyboardist John Evan, keyboardist/arranger David Palmer, and bassist John Glascock had been together for a number of years and the musicianship was tight and excellent throughout. This would be Glascock’s last full album with the group as his health had begun to deteriorate which would shortly cost him his life. His playing on this album would allow him to go out in style.

Ian Anderson returns to the English countryside for musical and lyrical inspiration. The poetry of his lyrics is some of his best and his flute playing floats over the rock/folk rhythms. David Palmer’s orchestral arrangements and additional keyboards enhance and fill out the sound.

I have always placed this album just a notch below Songs From The Wood but it still is one of the stronger and satisfying releases in the Tull catalogue.

The strongest track is “Acres Wild.” Anderson acknowledges his English Celtic roots as he fuses up-tempo medieval music with seventies progressive rock. He even manages to make the whole affair melodic. Close behind is the title track. Barre’s guitar and Glascock’s bass performances provide a nice foundation for Anderson’s poetry.

There are several other tracks of note. “Moths” has a beauty about it which is provided courtesy of Anderson’s flute. “Rover” has a light touch and is a nice whimsical interlude. “Weathercock” is another example of what a fine flutist Ian Anderson had become and how unique that instrument made group’s sound.

Jethro Tull would make a number of very different stops during their career but perhaps none are so satisfying as their folk/rock period.Heavy Horses is a fine example of that style as it is earthy, rustic, and above all enjoyable even three decades after its release. It remains Jethro Tull at their finest.

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About David Bowling

  • http://bruce-smidt.com Bruce

    This was one of my favorite albums. Although I haven’t listened to it in quite a few years I could still hear the songs in my head while reading your post. I’m going to have to rummage around my boxes of albums for it or perhaps I’ll just buy the CD.

  • http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=463156 JC Mosquito

    My turn to agree with you, David – not quite as good as Songs from the Wood, but solid nonetheless.