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Jethro Tull - A Passion Play CD (album) cover

A PASSION PLAY

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.02 | 1306 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sgai Friend
5 stars I was surprised to find "A Passion Play" currently rating lower than "Thick As A Brick" and "Aqualung". I was in the (fortuitous?) situation of hearing PP first among JETHRO TULL's albums, in the year of its release. So I have tended to measure their other albums - and in fact all prog rock albums - against this one. For me, ever since, and despite Ian Anderson's embarrassment about it, this has simply stood out as a masterpiece of music.

It is less folky than TAB, less rocky than "Aqualung", with a richer and more varied sonic language than any of JT's other albums. I believe part of this is due to a fortuitous mix of band-members, with the humor of Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and John Evan, and the bewildering inventiveness of Barriemore Barlow. In addition, I believe that Ian Anderson was more experimental, less inhibited and inhibiting, more concerned with making a parody of "art rock", all the while (perhaps unwittingly) guiding the work to an apotheosis of the same.

One thing which struck me was the oddly operatic, absurd-dramatic sense pervading the "scenes". I admire the way the lyrics don't quite describe anything directly, but still convey curious vignettes. This was true of TAB as well, but in PP I feel more a sense of the archetypal and mythical. But then tinged with the class-system gutter V courtyard style of many of Anderson's lyrics. I find many prog epics in the list are way too pedestrian in their texts, let alone subtexts, by comparison.

Of course there are stunning instrumental passages and interesting changes of flavor throughout the two-sided epic. And I really enjoy the Interlude story, a brilliantly scored musical cartoon. But, being a drummer myself, what struck me most among the good performances on this album was Barlow's contribution. His drum parts on this album are among the most "musical" applications of a drum kit I have ever come across (his work on the shorter tracks for "Minstrel In The Gallery" is also excellent).

After many years of listening to this record, I still find it enthralling. It may lose a half-star for a slight lack of momentum in the final scenes, but I found that lack was even more noticeable in its popular sibling "Thick As A Brick". In any case, this for me has everything I seek in prog rock - or "art rock" as it was once called.

Sgai Friend | 5/5 |

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