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Jethro Tull - Minstrel In The Gallery CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull

Prog Folk

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3 stars This is easily the most over-rated Tull album, particualry among die-hard Tull fans. The music is not 'bad' (unlike many songs on the post 1980s Tull albums), but it is almost completely forgettable and boring, and this comes from someone who loves very complex, 'difficult listening' music! The problem with this album (as opposed to equally difficult and complex albums like Zappa live in NY, or other Tull albums like Passion Play, Songs from the Wood, etc) is that there are few memorable melodies here, the kind that make you want to put it on the turntable over and over again. Baker St. Muse is the best track.
Report this review (#16481)
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Although still a good album, one realizes that the TAABrick and Aqualung days are over and things will never be the same. The sound is much colder and is definitely squarer (as opposed to the roundness of Brick or Stand Up) here than in the previous album. Part of this feeling comes from the very dry electric guitar sound. If one can draw a comparison to Aqualung (these two albums share many similarities, IMHO), there is a definite lack of enthusiasm in MitG, as if after having broken up Tull after A Passion Play, then reforming the group, but seeing his major project go down the drain (all that was left is the War Child skeleton), maybe our Mad Flauter had problems raising his inspiration on this one. A broken spring?

Of course, the main suite Baker Street Muse is a full blown prog suite, but somehow, it does not have the real lunacy of Brick or the strangeitude of APP, and one of the main critic I will say is that the string arrangements are too overpowering (valid for the whole album throughout), a bit mechanical and they are relied upon too much not to leave an impression of emptiness. I guess the MitG title track tries to sound like Aqualung's t/t, with those huge guitars... and fails miserably and, even worse, lasts forever. The little tidbits and effects in between the tracks are a fail for me: Tull will never be Floyd.

Past its charming intro, Cold Wind To Walhalla is the type of track that Tull will heavily rewrite in the late-80's and early-90's era! Requiem and Minstrelclearly would've not made the cut on Aqualung and can be seen as fillers. Black Satin Dancer and Nothing At All two of the better tracks on the album. Some of the reviewers claim this album to be very folky, but I beg to differ: while there are some acoustic statements making slight reference to medieval folk, if this album has a strong acoustic feature, this is not enough to make it folk. And those damn string arrangements are just too present.

The re-mastering job has not really been able to take away this cold and dry sound I mentioned above, but the five bonus tracks are disputable. If Summerday Sands and Scientist tracks are much in line with the album (they could be an integral part of it), Pan Dance is a gorgeous (if a little too easy) exercise on flute, but it has little to do with the album. As for the two live version, they're just as irrelevant as if they were alternate takes.

However far from me the idea that this is an inferior album; it's just that the music on here appeals less to me. Minstrel is also one of the worst offenders of those albums where string arrangements are abused. A good point of MitG, is that it's not a concept album (at least not obvious to me); after Aqualung, Brick, APP, WC and before TOTRnR, it's rather refreshing an easier album to comprehend album. But do invest in the remaster rather than the (no doubt) cheaper original CD issue, the bonus tracks being worth it.


Report this review (#16482)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY, from 1975, is Jethro Tull's eighth album, and the product of a band at the height of its powers. All of the classic Tull elements are here: Ian Anderson's witty and occasionally risqué (if not downright salacious) lyrics, unique vocals, flute and sparkling acoustic guitar; Martin Barre's cutting, razor-edged electric guitar; the accomplished rhythm section of Barlow and Hammond on drums and bass, and the superb John Evans on piano and organ. Add to these essential components the lush orchestrations of David Palmer, imparting a finishing sheen of sophistication to the whole affair, and you've got the makings of another winner for Ian and the boys.

All of this still would not automatically secure a "five-star" rating, however, if the songwriting were not "up to snuff." Anderson had yet to compose a bad album at this point in his career (though 76's disappointing TOO OLD TO ROCK 'N' ROLL looms just ahead), and here he turns in a stellar effort. The opening title song ably blends the band's "folky" and hard-rocking manifestations within the space of a catchy eight-minute "mini epic." "Cold Wind to Valhalla" really rocks (appropriately, for its subject matter), and "Black Satin Dancer" is gentle at the outset, but heavy on the finish, and all that one could want in a solid Tull song. "Requiem" once more gives us Anderson in his acoustic "troubadour" mode, as does the droll "One White Duck." Palmer's ever subtle, never invasive, but always masterful strings are particularly vital and effective in these softer settings, and truly lovely. The album's closer (but for the very brief "framing" track "Grace"), however, is the real highlight of this set: "Baker St. Muse," with its multiple themes and directions, is the genuine article -- another of Anderson's excellent lengthy (almost seventeen minutes) "suites" that perhaps surpasses its very good predecessor "A Passion Play," and even approaches the lofty heights of "Thick as a Brick."

There are Tull discs that I listen to more often than "MINSTREL" (namely THICK AS A BRICK, AQUALUNG, SONGS FROM THE WOOD, and HEAVY HORSES), but this relative latecomer to my collection has really grown on me over the last few years. MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY has earned a fond place of honour in this Jethro Tull fan's heart, and deserves the same in yours.

Report this review (#16485)
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars five stars especially for Baker St Muse, fantastic suite with every detail of Jethro's specific style, on the album we have also great title song and one of my favorite Anderson ballads, Requiem... it touches me deeply everytime I hear it...
Report this review (#16486)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The most diverse work, among all the "JETHRO TULL albums", a perfect balance between classic rock and progressive rock, by means also of a tasteful use of classical instrumentation. It's difficult to choose a particular song; and for this reason it's better you check it out, without doubts. Make your choice!!
Report this review (#16489)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The period "War Child" - "Minstrel In The Gallery" - Too old to rock'n roll is a less wanted period for me. Acoustic guitar is, here again, very omnipresent. Compared to "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play", this record is less complex with less drums and keyboards, despite you have many bits where instruments are loaded. This record is overall less progressive, having more floating string arrangements in the background.

Among my least favorite.

Report this review (#16490)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favorite album of all time. Oh... and I listen to it backwards (side two first, side one second). It's a habit I picked up years ago, seizing on the inverted back cover as an invitation to experiment, the story smelling sweeter that way. (It also allows "Minstrel" to end with the logical "Requiem", and my madness for order demands that it does.) In such a topsy-turvy state, "Minstrel" becomes the story of a struggling minstrel who sets out from the comfortable life ("One White Duck") to wallow in the darkest alleys of inspiration ("Baker St. Muse"), his genius in full flower even as his faith in mankind shrinks. By twisting the two halves, "Grace" now serves as a sort of "Lola", the minstrel's entrée into the public discourse of would-be benefactors. "Minstrel In The Gallery" then marks the introduction for the band (no misconstruing that), "Cold Wind Valhalla" represents their ascent to stardom, "Black Satin Dancer" an example of the minstrel feeding the same dark appetites in the gilded setting of the courts (alley or palace, the vices are the same). "Requiem" is the sobering conclusion to so much excess, though I've never speculated on who the deceased might be in relation to the minstrel. And that, in a nutshell, is what idle minds do to perfectly good albums. Of course, most people (I would think) listen to this in the order that TULL arranged them, and glean from Minstrel a loose concept album that casts Ian and company as minstrels in a modern-day gallery of wine, women, and "newspaper warriors". Really, the music is so unerringly brilliant, the lyrics so evocative and incisive, that there is no wrong way to hear this album. Critics usually cite the overt Elizabethan touches (often before rambling on about some imagined Atlantis, but then I'm really a terrible critic), which is more of a visual judgment than anything. "Minstrel In The Gallery" evokes the world of Shakespeare in its literate lyrics, Elizabethan imagery, and the mixture of rustic folk music and refined classical airs into their rock. The precedent in TULL's work would be "Queen And Country", though Minstrel's folk fancies likely stemmed from a shared appreciation for the music of Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention.

Whatever the impetus, TULL has never mastered their muse so well. The arrangements are a bouquet of sound to be savored through the years, evergreen and unerring in their aim, depicted with flourishes from each member (a table thump here, a delicious touch of strings or biting guitar part there) that arrive like old friends at an appointed hour. Again, individual beauty is a subjective beast, and my appreciation for this music might be your befuddling (nonsensical as a noun, I know). So in every sense (of our own senses), the best album in the world is whatever you think it is. And never let anyone (myself included) judge in your stead.

Report this review (#16484)
Posted Friday, April 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I cannot recommend this album highly enough. The whole feel of the album is beautifully introspective, considered and thoughtful - even the heavy passages of the title track and "Black Satin Dancer" seem to have a slightly disconnected, Autumnal feel. It is this air of ... sadness almost ... that makes the album unique in the Tull canon. The LP has more in common with the best LPs by Roy Harper, Richard Thompson and Steeleye Span et al than with contemporary releases by Zeppelin and Yes.

It is delightfully British in flavour with some of the most subtle string quartet arrangements ever to grace a rock record. Indeed, the quantity (and quality) of acoustic material on "Minstrel" marks it out as one of the finest "folk rock" LPs of the 1970s.

The expanded edition collects fails to add any contemporary live electric tracks, which is something of a missed opportunity. Anderson himself is known to be cool towards this LP, for the reasons that make it so unique - the album's sense detachment and introspection - which is a shame as it contains some of his finest material, inparticular the superb "One White Duck / 0/10=Nothing At All".

More of a rainy afternoon record than a Saturday night record and all the better for it!

Report this review (#16502)
Posted Monday, September 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars At first let's make it clear that this is an acoustic album.Ian's voice at its best.In my view it's the best Jethro Tull album together with Aqualung.If you like acoustic guitar and sweet flute you'll gonna surely love it.Buy the remaster because there are some good bonus tracks that give points to the album.
Report this review (#16503)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars i give five stars to this album because is my favorite tull album. mejestic composition. after the misunderstood warchild, minstrell is the comeback of tull. very acoustic album, but wen it gets heavy, is very good and intense. get the remaster, it has good bonus tracks
Report this review (#16504)
Posted Sunday, October 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I always loved the thumping bass lines to the title track of the JETHRO TULL classic rocker "Minstrel In The Gallery". Now it sounds like the entire band is playing right on top of me thanks to the remastering process that all of this superb classic rock has gone through. As Ian ANDERSON explains with his insightful liner notes, the five-part "Baker Street Muse" is an amalgamation of delicate strings with a hard rocking foundation. No doubt none of this is easy to pull off on a primarily acoustic album with the concern of maintaining your rock-oriented audience. Somehow, these creative chaps were able to do it with their typical style and class and keep everyone happy. The amazing bass player Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond went out with bang on this album, exiting never to return nor pick up a bass again, instead he would go back to picking up the paintbrush.

The band continued their momentum and put out yet another stunning album, riding the wake of the runaway success "Warchild", and still creating some waves on the merits of their present achievement. By making a surprise right turn musically and giving their audience an acoustically based album with an Elizabethan flair, the faithful were caught off guard, but pleased. Their core audience was accustomed to rocking out and changing direction was risqué for a band that had built their following on solid consistency. This would prove that they knew exactly what they were doing though as it was a success regardless of the risk involved. They were the progenitors of prog-rock and the anointed court jester himself, Ian ANDERSON, spun his web and cast his spell with some mystical and medieval satirical lyrics tainted with cynicism, fantastic flute playing, and his own unique vocal style. How do you polarize the pumpkin eaters? Who else could come up with lyrics like that? Better yet, what does it all mean? That was the beauty and mystery of their music and it still is.

I loved hearing this album basking in the glory of this pristine sound. There is one thing that really pissed me off though, why include bonus tracks with just snippets of live songs? On "Minstrel In The Gallery" and "Cold Wind To Vahalla," you just start getting into it and it fades out. I just do not get it; why bother? It ended this experience on a negative note but just the same, there was too much to like about this CD and it is still well worth getting.

Report this review (#16506)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is probably one of my favourite Tull Albums. I find that the flute is excellent on this Album, and I think Baker St Muse is my favourite Tull song, or at least equal to thick as a brick. The album has a nice flow, and I can listen to it from start to end and enjoy the whole thing. It's not one of the harder tull albums, but I think that the quality of the music is very high. I believe this is a must have for any tull enthusiast.
Report this review (#16514)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a good record by any standard. Baker St. Muse deserves to be played right next to Aqualung. So if you are looking for the perfect mix of intense guitar play, pastoral flute and personal lyrics look no more, this is your record. I still prefer the older ones but this one won´t dissapont you.
Report this review (#35478)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This review applies to Digitally Re-mastered with Bonus Track version, 2002. This is the third version that I have in my collection. The first one was a cassette version distributed by Perina Aquarius dated back mid seventies. I remember vividly that I numbered this collection with 82 in my rock collection. I knew the cassette roughly 3 weeks before purchase date - displayed at local shop at Jl. Bogowonto, Madiun - as I had to save my pocket monies from my mom in order to get it for my collection. You can imagine how happy I was, being able to finally purchase the cassette three weeks later. Once I got it from the shop I run my bicycle like crazy for going home and played it at my Phillips cassette player. The second version was CD format that I purchased in November 1996. And last year I purchased the re-mastered version which has better booklet with brownies nuance. All lyrics are printed plus original vinyl inner bag - reprinted with CD size. Very beautiful booklet.

This album is one of the finest works by Jethro Tull where the band composed the music with the support of orchestra, arranged by David Palmer. My chief reason of having this album at first time was due to my satisfaction with War Child, Aqualung and Thick As A Brick. When I played it at the first time I was amazed with the beautiful composition of title track Minstrel In The Gallery which combined acoustic guitar work and hard rock music but not in a straight forward structure. It's a very energetic track. The album sounded more accessible for my ears compared to Thick As A Brick.

But what truly amazed me was the epic "Baker Street Muse" at 6th track which comprises four parts. For me, this track is like the answer to Genesis' Supper's Ready, or Yes' Gates of Delirium or even the band's previous epic Thick AS A Brick! It blew me away at first play and it's still my favorite until now. Not that this epic has many catchy and killing melodies, but the overall structure is truly brilliant. It combines an acoustic guitar virtuosity through some passages that form a coherent flow of music. It's also a very emotional in mood as it has varieties of style with pure vocal and acoustic guitar as well as with drums and other instruments. The music brings us to many emotive stages. I especially love the intro where the acoustic guitar enters in a very clean sound with great sonic quality (remember: this was recorded in 1975!). The lyrics starts calmly but with very strong accentuation: "Windy bus-stop. Click. Shop - window. Heel." Oh my GOD . the melody is so nice! "Shady gentleman. Fly-button. Feel.". and so on. The first lyrical verse end up beautifully with "Symphony match-seller ." (what a great singing ian!) .. continued with "You can call me on another line". Uuhhh .. It's so nice and so uplifting, mood-wise. I don't really care what the lyrics is talking about, but the combination with the music has made me stunned ... I admire you, Mr. Ian Anderson! Top notch! The orchestra is also excellent. When the music enters the chorus with "Didn't make her - with my Baker Street Ruse" and the full music (with drums) follow in dynamic way. Uh man . I cannot bear it anymore. This part has made me truly stunned and totally paralyzed listening to the great musical harmony of the music. OK OK, I'd better stop it, it's gonna be too long if I write all what I feel about this wonderfully crafted track!

The other tracks are also excellent; there is no such thing as mediocre track in this album. The above two tracks are really stand-out that's why I need to elaborate in further detail. If you love acoustic guitar and piano composition with orchestra, you will definitely love this album. Are you familiar with Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die? Or Scarborough Fair rearranged and performed by the Dutch classic rock band: Brainbox? Crosby, Still Nash and Young? The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel? Well, sorry .. I'm not saying that all that I mention are in close proximity, musically, with Minstrel in The Gallery album. But, if you love that acoustic-based songs, that's a good start for liking this album! The only difference is the structure - it's a bit complex. Overall rating is 4 ½ out of 5 stars. Notes on bonus track: I'm really disappointed with the last two tracks Minstrel In The Gallery (Live) and Cold Wind To Valhalla (Live) where both of them were intentionally faded-out. Very disappointing. But the original album is really excellent. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' .!

Progressively yours,


"Symphony word-player, I'll be your headline. If you catch me another time." - "Baker Street Muse" Jethro Tull.

Report this review (#36864)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Jethro Tull is an interesting band, stylistically. The Cover to MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY shows a medieval minstrel playing to a hodgepodge of characters. This diversity is a centerpiece of Jethro Tull's music. They have a knack for mixing hard rock, English folk, and Elizabethan themes into a cohesive, entertaining musical whole. They are also one of the few guitar-driven prog-rock bands out there. This is not to say that the keyboards, Palmer's string arrangements, and of course flute do not contribute to the overall sound. Unlike in Genesis or Camel, where flute plays a muted role, the flute is considered a lead instrument by Jethro Tull. Combine this with Anderson's humorous and witty poetry, and you have an excellent progressive band. These characteristics are all displayed masterfully on the 1975 Tull LP, MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY. By now, Jethro Tull was severely out of critical favor after their ultra-progressive PASSION PLAY and the uneven WARCHILD. On MINSTREL..., Tull returns to all the musical motifs that made THICK AS A BRICK a masterpiece. MINSTREL manages to be one of Jethro Tull's prettiest and hardest rocking work, a very surprising feat when woven together. The title track, Minstrel in the Gallery begins as a very folksy-mediaeval piece, full of acoustic guitars and delicate singing. This then changes into heave electric, rock, with screaming guitar work by Barre. The contrast is amazing on this song, and shows how talented Ian Anderson was at composition. While many artists are torn between musical influences, Jethro Tull simply mixes them freely, ensuring an ever interesting experience. One should check up on the very self descriptive lyrics to this song, as it shows how Anderson was feeling, after reaching world popularity. Cold Wind to Valhalla focuses on the legendary Norse Heaven, 'Valhalla'. It is a very good straight rock song, with enough Tull flourish to keep it progressive. The vocals are also a standout on this track. Black Satin Dancer, with its heavy string arrangements, is a little top-heavy and doesn't quite deserve a seven-minute duration, but nonetheless is somewhat enjoyable. The next too songs represent Tull at their prettiest. This is before their folk craze, so these songs are acoustic, but are more classical (read: elizabethan) sounding. Both Requiem and One White Duck... are very good, light pieces. The guitar on these pieces is especially good. The masterpiece of the album remains the epic Baker Street Muse. This seven-teen minute suite directly recalls Thick as a Brick, but is much lighter and more playful (with much more coherent lyrics). It features the trademark blending of acoustic and electric sounds, and is simply and amazing track. This song also features Anderson's best lyrics in years. While the epic PASSION PLAY was dark, dense and overbearing, Baker Street Muse, manages to pack tons of great music into the long package without suffocating the listener. The album closes with the gorgeous Grace, a little 30 second acoustic coda to the album. This album represents Tull's most medieval/elizabethan work, and is highly recommended. Prospective fans should still start with the mainstream AQUALUNG of THICK AS A BRICK first. This album is definitely for the Tull faithful.

I am torn between a 4 and 5 star rating. This is an amazing work, easily a Tull Masterpiece, but not a masterpiece of prog (It's not on the level of Thick as a Brick), so I'll go with the 4. That does not mean it is not great though.

Report this review (#37248)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars And what could I say now about Minstrel In The Gallery? I love progressive sound with the predominance of the acoustic guitars. The best, in my opinion are Jethro Tull and Strawbs. This time there aren't excuses: traditional (for prog) long songs and an impressive short one (Grace, 37 seconds). The title track is the simphony between electric and acoustic instruments. In that way also the mythic Cold Wind To Valhalla. The highest point is surely Baker St. Muse: with it it seems Jethro Tull going back to the 1972-73 period, when long suites dominated prog's scenario. Minstrel would be a good start for the few (I wish) who don't know this great band!
Report this review (#42247)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The Muse returns

After the nadir of "A Passion play", and the rather disappointing "War child", Jethro Tull enjoyed a considerable return to form with "Minstrel in the gallery". Leaning heavily at times on the elements which made "Thick as a brick" such a classic, the album has a generally softer, more acoustic feel.

The opening (title) track, is an 8 minute mini-TAAB, with a rhythm guitar intro leading to louder lead guitar and trill flute playing a dominant supporting role. While the sound is great, the melody falls a bit short in places. There are times when Anderson is singing, where it sounds as if he is making up the vocal refrain on the hoof (not just here but on other Tull tracks too).

The following four tracks are all acoustic based, softer pieces, although "Black satin dancer" does mutate around the four minute mark into a rather strange section with unnecessarily silly vocals. The best of this bunch is the strangely titled "One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All", which has an overtly folk feel to it. The sad refrain is complemented by the best melody on the album.

The feature track is "Baker St Muse", which runs to almost 17 minutes. The track is mainly light and acoustic, with sympathetic orchestration. While the piece is pleasant enough, the length does smack of being due to padding, rather than because the band needed the full 17 minutes to develop the track.

In all, a pleasant, reasonably progressive album from Tull, which has moments of real beauty and inspiration.

Report this review (#44253)
Posted Thursday, August 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3 1/3 stars

After the somewhat disappointing War Child/Living With The pass, and the flawed 'Passion Play', Jethro Tull aimed to compose a balanced album having both epics and short tracks, while doing so with good songwriting efforts. The songs are good, but the epic is even weaker than Passion Play.

1. Minstrel In The Gallery is easily the strongest song of the album, and one of the band's best pieces they have ever composed. It combines all the elements of Jethro Tull together to create a brilliant song. 8.5/10

2. Cold Wind To Valhalla : A rock song with great electric guitars and flute playing. 7/10

3. Black Satin Dancer : An overlong track in which has its best moments in the ultra- virtuosic and mesmerizing musical explosion at minute 2-3. IT should have ended there, but it instead continued with weaker passage. 6.5/10

4. Requiem : An acoustic guitar driven folk song that is very pretty. It has a symphonic finale. 7.5/10

5. One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All : Another acoustic folk song. This one has a faster pace. 6/10

6. Baker St. Muse : Mediocre Epic. I can never remember its melodies after I finish listening to the album, because nothing seems to resemble a melody!! There's a nice riff or musical moment here and there, and the music sounds pretty, but it doesn't save the overlong epic. 4/10

7. Grace : A short acoustic finale.

My Rating : C+

Report this review (#45510)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Compared to Aqualung, this is better. This is more progressive, dynamic. The spirit is somehow like the same. I think Aqualung is boring. This isn't. Many Jethro Tull's albums are boring in their own way. The name song is brilliant. Jethro Tull's heavy songs are very good. Baker St. Muse contains very touching melodies. This is one of the best albums in the world. Clear packet.
Report this review (#50754)
Posted Saturday, October 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The fourth Tull album I have heard (behind Aqualung, Thick as a Brick, A Passion Play, and Songs from the Wood) is a solid 4 star album. Most of the stuff here is great, but some of it is kind of boring, but none of it is actually bad.

It starts off with the very midieval acousticness of the title track. Great melodies here, although, as one person has said, the melody does so many little twists and turns that it sounds like Ian Anderson is making it up as he goes along, but for the most part it works well. About half way through, this song changes on you from midieval acousticicity to... hard rock of the best kind! It still retains that classic Tull feel all the way through, and it is all in all a great song. 9/10

Cold Wind to Valhalla is a very cool song I think. I love the viking/midieval imagery, and it still has some of Tull's very original personal lyrics ('We're getting a bit short on heros lately...'). Cool melody, although the bends from Martin Barre during parts of the verse sound a little offkey to me... but it is still a pretty cool song. 8.5/10

Black Satin Dancer is a very original tune. It has some very romantic sounding personal lyrics at the beginning, along with the usual flute and acoustic guitar, but all of a sudden, it switches to a rather heavy, operatic sounding section, which sonds very unique and cool. The only downside to this song is that Ian Anderson does some goofy gibberish talking in between flute notes, kind of like that one part in Locomotive Breath- you know what I'm talking about. Anyway, it's like that except ten times more annoying, and ten times goofier, and ten times more exxagerrated. Oh well, it lasts for about 10 seconds all together, so this is another good one. 8/10

Requiem is a slow little song, very emotional, very sad sounding. The vocals are very gentle and quiet. Very English lyrics about 'Walking along the strand. This song is pleasant and nice sounding, a little boring, but not skip worthy. 7.5/10

One White Duck/Nothing at all is very much in the same vein as the previous track, but I like the melodies here more, and the lyrics as well. The One White Duck section contains interesting orchestration from the violinists, and good melodies. The Nothing at all part is what I like best though. I love the melody, and the lyrics are very personal and English. Great song. 8.5/10

Now, Baker Street Muse is the song you will buy the album for. Wow! The only Tull songs better than this are Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play, and since those contain all the varied dynamics of a whole album, that is to be understood. Anyway, this song has several sections. The opening section has one of Tull's best melodies, up there with the ones from Thick... and APP. The chorus throws a little twist in there, with some mideastern heaviness after each line. The pig-me and the whore section is very short and cheerful sounding, despite its rather graphic sexual imagery. However, done in Tull's personal style with such a catchy infectious melody, it works terrifically to describe the doings of low end society. A Nice Little Tune is very short and well, nice. Catchy stuff. Crash Barrier Waltzer is very sad and melancholy, great Victorian-esque English sounding lyrics. Oooh. Then comes the best part of the song, th beginning vocal section of Mother England Reverie. Very sad sounding melody, very haunting. The song continues with a very classic rockeqsue melody with a Tull twist to it. ANyway though, the song ends after the first great melody and chorus. All in all a very AWESOME song indeed. Great mixture of victorian Englishness and Mideastern heavy riffing. Great story and feelings too. 10 well deserved points/10.

Grace is a very short pleasant little song. Love the happy lyrics, and its just great. Short and sweet. 10/10, but its very short.

So all in all, a very good album. Definitely not as good as Thick or Passion Play, or Aqualung for that matter. But very good all the same. Standouts are the title track, One White Duck/Nothing at all, BAKER STREET MUSE, and Grace. I said at the beginning that this is a four star album. Well, its actually 4.5, and I would fix the top, but I don't know how to turn this Overstrike thing off, so here you are. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.

Report this review (#58283)
Posted Sunday, November 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars For me is the best of Jethro tull albums, mainly because the way in which it combines folk guitars, more hard rock passages and orchestrations. I love the lyricis, and the melancholic mood. It's an ambitious project, but the final result is as good as a masterpiece. In my opion minstrel in th gallery is underated.
Report this review (#69978)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Minstrel in the Gallery was my second Tull album and contended with Aqualung for first place until I bought more. To kick off the album, the title track builds (like in "Aqualung") from an amazing acoustic piece to an amazing electric piece. Tull does this a few times during the album, but I think that "Cold Wind to Valhalla" is my favorite: I get chills everytime I give it a listen. "Black Satin Dancer" has some cool guitar and flute fills to add to the mood. I don't like the rest of the album as much as I like the first three tracks, but they are still very swift to behold. From that section, I think that "Baker St. Muse" is most to my liking because of all the mood changes during the song. Overall this is a rollercoaster of an album which you have to get your hands on.
Report this review (#78582)
Posted Thursday, May 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A good album, among JT best albums. To some fans this is a "cold" one, but you must remember Minstrel is the middle of 2 albums that is far more worse than this one. To me is one of the best albums from the '70 no doubt, at the same level with Songs, Heavy, Stormwatch. Listen to The beautiful title track (the best from here) and you realise this is a good one. Cold wind to Valhalla, another piece that you must listen carfully, Baker St. Muse the third good one in every way. All in all Ian and Co. did a very enjoyble work, i can listen every time i need good music not some boul[&*!#]. 4 stars for sure.
Report this review (#84937)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars this is my favorite album of all time. although I don't think it is a good album to start the band off with, it was the first Tull album I got and the last one for about 4 months, I suggest "Aqualung" to began with not that I think its all that great but it's easy to listen to and than "thick as a brick". Once you've familarized yourself with the gigantic song you'll have a pretty good idea of who Tull is. Than you can indulge yourself in a discography that is huge and for the most part quite consistant. "Minstrel in the Gallery" is brilliant from start to finish. The title track is masterful with its blend of acoustic and electric."Cold Wind to Valhalla sounds like a medieval great hall song which is fitting for Valhalla.The third track "Black Satin Dancer" is boring at times for me and my mind tends to wonder a bit from time to time but it's still good and what comes next is perfect "Requiem" the prettyest Tull song of all and sad to boot. If you do the vinyl thing flip it over for side 2.The opener ("One White Duck") is really 2 songs in 1, and I think it's overlooked because the next song is like 4 songs in 1. "Baker Street Muse" the epic of the album at almost 17 minites a song I enjoy more than "Suppers Ready","Echos","Close to the Edge",and well anything I've ever heard and yet I "THINK" popular among Tullians though other proggers never mention this one they mention "thick as a Brick as the great Tull epic, I'm not suggesting "TAAB" is bad but that "Baker Street Muse" is an epic as well that seems to be largely ignored. Finally "grace" a 37 second mini- song. That gives the 2nd side 7 songs in 3. The following is my list of Tull albums in desending order to help you know my taste "Minstrel in the Gallery" "Songs from the Wood" "Thick as a Brick" "A Passion Play" "Heavy Horses" "Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die" "Aqualung" "Stormwatch" "The Broadsword and The Beast"
Report this review (#85628)
Posted Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Following in the steps of both "Aqualung", "War Child", "Minstrel In The Gallery" took JETHRO TULL in a slightly different direction mixing in a more acoustic progressive vein perhaps than the earlier and fantastic but more rock based recordings. In fact Minstrel for me ranks on the same stage as both " Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play" which are also some of my favourite TULL albums. Of course side 2 contains the epic side long "Baker St Muse" which is a fantastic track and really got JETHRO TULL on the prog map. Musically I suppose this is also a fairly acoustic album with a good bits of orchestration on it as well. This album also contains one of Jethro Tull most beautiful songs ever recorded "Requiem" which plays as a courtyard ode and musically sounds a lot like the early soft BEE GEES. Absolutely a great album !
Report this review (#85726)
Posted Friday, August 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Jethro Tull to me has always had a sort of medieval folk influence and "Minstrel in the Gallery" takes this idea to the extreme. Now if you've listened to any music actually written in the middle Ages then you will realize that Jethro Tull has very little in common with such music. Firstly the compositions are far too long and music played in noble men's courts are rarely over three minutes, the instrumentation if completely wrong as Jethro Tull use to Sackbuts, Krumhorns or anything like that. It may seem I'm contradicting my self here but they aren't really all that similar to medieval folk music.

Music in the middle ages were basically split into two categories sacred music, or alternately church music. Sacred music was almost completely vocal and most of it was Gregorian chant, but that's another story. One interesting fact it that the church considered the organ to be an evil music for quite a long period in the Middle Ages. The other type of music was basically played by traveling minstrels and troubadours who would play in courts to entertain nobles or at festivals and such. This music was at the other extreme, almost completely instrumental and played on such instruments as pipes, lutes, sackbuts (early horn) and many other keyboard and woodwind instruments. Most music was written so it could be played by several different instruments and all musicians could play multiple instruments.

"Minstrel in the Gallery" is almost poking fun at all this old style of music. The song starts off with an announcer speaking to the lord presenting the minstrels. Then incomes Ian Anderson on an acoustic guitar which sounds a bit like a lute. After a short intro something very unexpected happens, a heavy guitar solo breaks out and ruins the whole feel of the court and minstrels playing quite folky tunes. The new feel brought into the music is one of a quirky representation of minstrels and the King's reaction. Needless to say "Minstrel in the Gallery" is one of the best Jethro Tull songs in the way it changes from an acoustic song into an electric one.

"Minstrel in the Gallery" is followed by "Cold Wind To Valhalla" which travels along the same as "Minstrel in the Gallery" except the transition from soft to loud isn't as sudden. It still has a theatrical feel and a small supporting orchestra of strings which without wouldn't give the song the same fell. Another very enjoyable song with a simple, yet effective charm to it. The next song is "Black Satin Dancer" which again has quite a mellow opening but the same thing happens. It has more mood changes than it's predecessors but it is still able to retain the same feel, there is along crescendo and guitar solo which starts around two minutes into the song. Next on the list is a three minute mellow ballad played on acoustic guitars, and the string backing group. There really isn't much to say about this song other than it is a good change from the hectic songs before it.

The next song is another quite yet satisfying acoustic song which has it's highlights and a repeating theme of white ducks. The string arrangement comes into use here again, but isn't as noticeable. "Baker St. Muse" is the band a song which, along with the two 'Thick as a Brick' parts are the band's best extended song. Though "Baker St. Muse" is all up not as loud or as fulfilling as 'Thick As a Brick' it has a great quirky, joking theme. "Baker St. Muse" sums up this album and it's ideas and there is a concept to it but it is kind of hard to follow. The best part of "Baker St. Muse" is around the twelfth minute where the final verse section begins and a very catchy section begins. There is a great line where Ian Anderson sings "Someday I'll be a minstrel in the Gallery" this one line sums up the whole album for me. There's no point talking about the last song.

1.Minstrel In The Gallery (5/5) 2. Cold Wind To Valhalla (5/5) 3. Black Satin Dancer (4/5) 4. Requiem (3/5) 5. One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All (4/5) 6. Baker St. Muse (5/5) 7. Grace (3/5) Total = 29 divided by 7 (number of songs) =4.14 = 4 stars Excellent addition to any prog music collection

However much I like this album a few of the songs just aren't five star material and "Requiem" and "One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All", aren't bad but aren't all that good. I remaster of "Minstrel in the Gallery" is very good and it comes with five bonus tracks which include alternative versions of "Cold Wind To Valhalla" and "Minstrel in the Gallery. " I'd recommend "Minstrel in the Gallery" to all Jethro Tull fans and it is essential to any prog folk fan.

Report this review (#88166)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Almost every Jethro Tull album from 'Benefit' to 'Heavy Horses' is excellent. However, most of them aren't essential to the casual Tull fan. As long as you have 'Aqualung', 'Thick as a Brick' and 'Passion Play' (and on a personal note you should own 'Living in the Past') you have the basics covered. However, 'Minstrel in the Gallery' is essentail to the collection of any Tull fan. At once one of their most rock oriented albums and their most reflective, there is someting here for everyone. The title track kicks things off with plenty of vim and vigor. It's not a standout but sets up the rest of the album. Following is 'Cold Wind to Valhalla', a hard rocker that manages to not sound like anything other than Jethro Tull and a Tull at it's most dramatic. The middle of the album marks a distinct shift from the preceeding songs. 'Black Satin Dancer' & 'Requiem' are both decent songs and are far from filler, but they don't really grip you the way Tull does at it's best. "One White Duck', however, is one of the all time best Tull songs. Or should I really say Ian Anderson songs? The song is pure Anderson from start to finish, a wonderfully insular and reflective piece of acoustic melencholia. All these horrible, whiney Indie Rock groups should listen to this song to hear how to bare your soul without sounding like a 13 year old girl or a histrionic mope. And not for nothing, but they amazing backing sounds, the mid-way change of pace and stunning melodies (there are several) make this just a flat out great song. Then there's 'Baker Street Muse'. A good extended piece, but maybe too long for it's own good. The unifying factor of all great extended prog rock pieces is that they never feel long. Or if they do it is with a carefully orchestrated sence of an epic. I feel that this song could have been easily trimmed down to Ten minutes without losing much. The opening section and it's reprise later in the song doesn't rank as one of the better moments in the early Tull catalouge. In general, though this is a good little suite, I don't find myself listening to it much. That's not to say that when i listen to it i don't enjoy it, it just doesn't have that bracing effect that other Tull works do. Though I must say, the 'Pygmy and the Whore' movement is one of my favorite moments of any album and has some of the best lyrics, both poignant and funny.

All in all, this is a good album from a Tull standpoint. Not the masterpiece that 'Thick as a Brick' is nor the stinker that "To Old to Rock and Roll' is either. For any other band it would be a masterpiece, but for Tull it's an enjoyable but non-essential album.

Report this review (#88184)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Though not an unadulterated masterpiece like "Aqualung" or the mighty "Thick As a Brick", "Minstrel in the Gallery" can easily be included among Jethro Tull's best-ever releases - a mature, accomplished, musically sophisticated album that shows the band at the top of their game, just before their creative energies took a momentary turn for the worse with its weak follow-up, "Too Old To R'n'R, Too Young to Die".

Possibly JT's most acoustically-inclined album, MitG sees Ian Anderson's highly expressive, idiosyncratic vocals pushed to the fore to the best effect, while being further enriched by David Palmer's sweeping, elegant orchestral arrangements. Though obviously present, the folk component is not as evident as in "Songs from the Wood" and "Heavy Horses". Here, the strong acoustic nature of most of the songs gives a sense of intimacy and deep personal involvement, more than the slightly ridiculous, hey-nonny-nonny feel that many have come to associate (rather wrongly, in my humble opinion) with the band's output. This distinctive aspect is compounded by Anderson's witty, articulate lyrics, which he delivers with his usual aplomb.

The title-track, definitely one of Jethro Tull's classics, opens the album in style, with an initial acoustic section that stops almost abruptly to introduce Martin Barre's searing electric guitar and the flawless, intricate drumming of one of the most underrated skin-bashers of all, the great Barriemore Barlow. JT's signature blending of folky strains and all-out hard rock is carried out almost to perfection both here and in the following track (possibly my favourite), "Cold Wind to Walhalla", which can boast of the presence of a small string section adding further interest and texture to the song . Mellow, sensual ballad "Black Satin Dancer" shifts moods and time signatures in a very effective way, proving once again that romantic does not automatically have to mean sappy.

A trio of wistful, acoustic songs. "Requiem", "One White Duck" and "O10-Nothing At All", introduces what is the album's real tour de force, the 16-minute-plus, four-part suite "Baker Street Muse". Quirky and understated in true JT style, this is a successful blend of irony, sadness and intelligent composition, miles away from the bombastic self-indulgence of too many of their contemporaries (and also of JT themselves when they got a bit too carried away with "A Passion Play"). The album proper ends with a very short acoustic song called "Grace", though the excellent remastered edition includes three additional studio tracks (of which the lovely instrumental "Pan Dance" is the best by far) and live versions of both the title-track and "Cold Wind to Walhalla" (the latter abruptly cut off, which is a pity).

Unlike, for instance, "Aqualung", MitG is not an extremely easy album to get into, due especially to the prevalence of the acoustic component that may at first cause the songs to sound a bit too samey. However, the patient listener will be rewarded by discovering the diverse facets of this album, which is as stylish and well-crafted as its beautiful, quintessentially English cover. Four solid stars, perhaps something more as well, for a really excellent effort from one of prog's defining bands.

Report this review (#88410)
Posted Tuesday, August 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Hey daddy, can we play that song where there's singing in the start, and then no singing, and then singing at the end?" Yes, that was the name I came to know The Minstrel In the Gallery by. The title track is one of the first Tull songs - or one of the first prog songs, rather - I really got into. This is one of my favourite Tull albums, now that I've finally bought it and heard more than the first track. I find - and this is strictly a personal note - that when I feel cynical, and have the same outlook as Pink Floyd (the character from The Wall, not the band), and all music feels redundant and dry and cold, transparent, and meaningless and nothing seems orchestral poetic beautifulness. It's very easy to get into, and has a lot of funny moments as well. Well done Tull, another great album.
Report this review (#92157)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 1975 brings in a folkier, more Ian Anderson oriented album, Mistrel in the gallery. This album is extremely different than Thick as a Brick and many of the songs are mainly acoustic. Overall, this album is very good, with One White Duck and Baker St. Muse being the highlights.

The first and titlle track is quite good and begins the album in a good mood. I think that many of the themes are very good and overall the song is quite good, but is lyrically repetitive which makes the song seem like it could be shorter. I'd give it 4/5.

Cold wind to valhalla shows a folkier side to the album and almost reminds me of a nordic folk song. The acoustic guitar work is nice, but a bit too folky for my taste. The band oriented section is nice and the strings are a nice addition. Overall it's not my favorite track and it deserves about 3 stars.

Black Satin Dancer follows the acoustic into electric full band format again. The beginning is a little slow and almost waltz-like and the piano tone is a little too honky-tonky for my taste. The band section is good though. 3 stars.

Requiem makes good use of acoustic guitar and strings and quirky yet nice lyrics. There are some nice themes in this song and it is not too folky. The quiky lyrics are a good thing adding to the laid- back mood of this song. Overall a 4 star song and very good.

One WhiteDduck/ 0 (to the 10th power)= nothing at all is easily one of the best tracks on this album. From the first guitar chords this song gives off a melodic and quiky feeling. The lyrics are silly, which I think makes this song fun. The ending section guitar work is especially great. 5 stars.

Baker street muse is the epic on this album and is easily one of the best. The beginning with Ian messing up and starting again gives this song a not so serious mood. The melodies and band sections are very nice, especially the themes used from 6:37 to 7:43 and about 5:10. This song ends on Ian anderson packing up and leaving the studio but yelling that he can't get out. This is a great song 5 stars.

The album closes on an odd note with Grace, a very shory silly and folky song that I like quite a lot, but is not to be taken seriously. 4 stars for the closer.

The lyrics and acoustic guitar work make this an excellent one and I would recommend this to a person who has had at least some expose to Tull in the past. The only flaws in this album are its over-folkiness at times but otherwise this is a very good album. 4 stars- excellent.

Report this review (#96118)
Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Many people will tell you this is their favourite Tull album, and it's certainly one of my favourites as well. Because there's so much acoustic guitar on it, the album may remind you of the 'modern folk music' of John Martyn or Roy Harper. And because Ian Anderson is not (yet) preaching a somewhat self-conscious 'return to the countryside', MINSTREL sounds far less bucolic than SONGS FROM THE WOOD or HEAVY HORSES. The longest track here, 'Baker Street Muse', was obviously inspired by living in central London. Some of its phrases (especially in the 'Crash-barrier Waltzer' section) suggest that, like Peter Gabriel, Ian Anderson had been reading 'The Waste Land'. But where Gabriel (in 'The Cinema Show') uses T.S. Eliot for comic relief, Anderson tries to come up with lyrics and melodies that are just as melancholic as 'The Waste Land' itself. I am afraid our Ian is not as brilliant a lyricist as Bob Dylan or Randy Newman; he tends to sound too smug and self- satisfied. But his voice never sounded more powerful than on MINSTREL, his acoustic guitar-playing is superb, and most of his melodies are wonderfully inspired (only the title track is disappointing in that respect). Take the Bachian 'Requiem' and, yes, 'Crash-barrier Waltzer': if such pieces don't move you, you've got a heart of stone. As for 'One White Duck'... I bought MINSTREL as soon as it came out, and to this day I haven't got a clue what the track is about, but I sure love the way Anderson sings: 'Something must be wrong with me and my braiiin'. At suitable moments I even apply those lines to myself.

Now don't get me wrong, MINSTREL is not quite 'Jethro Tull unplugged'. There are a few hard-rocking bits, and two of the tracks included, 'Cold Wind to Valhalla' and 'Black Satin Dancer', contain a highly sophisticated middle section which is performed by the entire band. These (largely) instrumental outbursts must be among the most exciting Anderson, Barre, Evan, Hammond-Hammond and Barlow ever entrusted to vinyl. I would recommend MINSTREL to any prog lover for the sake of such sections alone!

Report this review (#98465)
Posted Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Very good album, 3,5 stars really.

J-Tull never ceased to re-invent themselves while maintaining their distinctive sounds and style, and so this album is new and fresh sounding compared to previous albums, but elements of earlier releases echo through this album. From the progressive elements of TAAB and APP, through to the more heavy rock of Aqualung and the bluesrock orientated early days, with a medieval sound in most songs, mostly created by Ian's flute/vocals and accoustic guitars of Barre, and the bass guitar is great on this record, augmented with some orchestral arrangements that works well in Baker Street muse. Having to compare it to earlier work, it most closely resembles Aqualung in sound, though less heavy and more accoustic based

The album starts with the title song Minstrel In The Gallery setting the tone for the album, with many accoustic guitars creating a little medieval minstral ambience, it takes a while before it really gets off from the ground with a more heavy guitar sound on good drum rhythms with some great bass lines (reminiscent of Argent's Hold Your Head Up on occasion) The vocals sound bad at the beginning of the song, but get's better as the song progresses. After a too sudden stop the album continuous with Anderson introducing the next song, one of my favourite Tull songs, the mainly accoustic viking song Cold Wind To Valhalla Great tempo changes and Ian singing is quite alright for a change (generally i don't like his forced restrained emotional vocals) with some good orchestral arrangements backing the song.

Black Satin Dancer comes next, a bit too much for me, with some classical passages behind the progressive rock format and a Chicago rip-off bassline (I'm a Man) though nice not really great, once the pace quickens it becomes interesting but not enough to keep my attention and Ian's voice really can be a spoiler. The following Requiem reminds me of the Moody Blues, with whispering vocals and soft arrangements, one of the times I think the orchestra is overstaying it's welcome, could have been nice on a moody Blues album though. The same applies to the next song One White Duck but in this case the second part 0^10 = Nothing At Allwith accoustic guitar resque this song, be it barely.

Baker St. Muse together with the title track and Cold Wind is the reason this is a good album, the song dives right in with many musical ideas, and one of those progressive tracks Tull made (though Ian will always deny it, this is a progressive rock song) though less complex than TAAB some elements sound pretty similar in structure and intensity, you'll have to listen yourself to judge, I like it. The album ends with the very short Grace which serves no other purpose than to end the album.

All in all Minstrell in the Gallery is a wonderfull Tull record, not really brilliant, but very enjoyable, and the stand out track Baker St. Muse really stands out within Tull's long carreer.

Report this review (#98832)
Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Following the awful «War child», « Ministrel in the Gallery » confirms that Jethro tull is over. Some niece acoustic parts with sophisticated arrangments, but too gentle and not very inspired, blended with binary hardrock parts. The bonus from the remastered Cd release are a little better than the album itself, but it's not enough to save the whole.
Report this review (#99482)
Posted Sunday, November 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Many have said this is JETHRO TULL's most acoustic album, which is probably true, but I find this a record of polar opposites. From extremely hard hitting passages, with scorching guitars, to mellow sections with flute and piano leading the way. From a 37 second song to a 16:42 song, that was really the last epic they would create.This would be Jeffery Hammond-Hammond's last record with the band playing bass, he would actually give up music for his love of painting, talk about going out on top.

The title track is such a great song, with Ian's vocals and flute, to Martin's amazing guitar solos after 2 1/2 minutes, and the terrific organ and drum work as well. "Cold Wind To Valhala" opens with a lively guitar melody that gives way to a mellow section of flute and strings. There is a full symphonic sound as the drums kick in.

"Black Satin Dancer" is a favourite, especially the instrumental sections. I love the guitar melodies as the drums pound away. "Requiem" is another standout track with acoustic guitar, violins and a vocal melody that sounds great. This is a beautiful song. "One White Duck..." features a strumming guitar and vocals. "Baker St.Muse" is the epic that features some beautiful guitar and piano. The lyrics are witty too. "Grace" is less then a minute of acoustic guitar, strings and vocals.

Overall one of TULL's best albums, and a must have for anyone who's into Prog.

Report this review (#102083)
Posted Thursday, December 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When you see the cover, you say : hey ! This look like "Aqualung" ! But will the inside be on par with the outside ? Three years also separates "Minstrel" from "Thick As A Brick".

Could the Tull come anywhere near these masterpieces ?

The title of the album and the cover refer more to a traditional folkish collection of songs than anything else. The Tull completely mistified everybody : the critics (which they truely hate at this moment of their career) as well as their fans.


The title track is a kaleidoscope of the Tull's fabulous music : folk and heavy, great to superb vocals, complex song composition. One of my all time Tull fave. This is prog at its best : rythm changes, intense intrumental moments (although we are flirting with hard rock here) and powerful vocal parts. Do we need more hints about the rest of the album ?

"Cold Wind to Valhalla" is another very good Tull moment. Rather folky and fluty during its first section, the song explodes into a typical hard rock Tull song. Kind of magic (no Queen reference here). Great. It seems that the Tull try and follows the start of "Aqualung". Two great songs of the same vein to open the album.

"Black Satin Dancer" is another fabulous piece of Tull music. Tull at his best : it start slowly, with background violins and piano, switch to a standard quite song and turns into some great melodious moments. Great fluting and instrumental section in the middle part. The rocking side of the Tull hits again. Not the commercial one (this song won't make any "Best Of") although it is a great Tull song. The last part is just GORGEOUS : full of melody and enthusiasm. Fantastic.

Just for our piece of mind, two transition / folky tracks like "Requiem" and "One White Duck-0=Nothing at All" will bring us to the next highlight (this being the fourth one on this album so far).

"Baker Street Muse" ! Another Tull masterpiece IMO. It is my preferred song of this album. Lots of people will compare this one with "Thick...". So! What's the problem ? Comparing two masterpieces of prog rock is not an easy task. So, let's just listen to this fabulous song. It includes most of our Tull love : fantastic instrumentals, folk moments, hard rock rendition, fabulous vocals, strong backing band. It is a very accessible track : beautiful melodies, melancholical vocals : how beautiful are these moments; just another Baker Street casualty ... Romeo and Juliet are close...(listen to the lyrics). Such an emotion just in half the track. Then, the flute is going on and extends the joy (my joy at least). Baker St. Mue is one of my definite all time favorite Tull song (and "tout court" one of my all time music favorite). It is though a very much less known track than TIAB. They had the good idea at this time of their career to stick it to an almost seventeen minutes song. This is just great : not a single weak second (really). They could have brought it to a whole side of an album easily but they made probably the best choice in keeping as such.

The little nice "Grace" which lasts for ... fifty seconds closes the album. I will never understand why such (portion of a ) track should sit on an album (but there are countless examples for this : Genesis, Floyd will do it as well). I guess it is one of those mysteries only the band could reveal.

The remastered version comes with several bonuses (as usual). For the very first time (so far) none will add more interest to the original release. Three studio tracks with little flavour (one understands why they did not make the album cut) and two "live" tracks which should have been avoided by all means. What' s the use of putting a two minutes shortcut of "Minstrel" live ? Same question for 90 seconds of "Cold Wind to Valhalla" : what a pity !

To the question I asked myself in the beginning of this review the answer is yes. The Tull is on par here with "Aqualung" (IMO). If you are new to the Tull, Minstrel is probably not the worse album to start with. This is one of my (many) beloved Tull album. Five stars.

Report this review (#108073)
Posted Friday, January 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cold and dark album. Cold almost as "Stormwatch", and possibly the darkest so far. This is another example of Ian's excellent composing skills and intelligent lyrics, but that examples are not omnipresent. There's nothing wrong this album, it's simply weaker than Anderson's standards.

The opening song "Minstrel In The Gallery" contains lovely medieval part (with not so lovely lyrics) and amplified, monstrous part where Mr. Barre pulls the rawest and driest distortions out of his Gibson. Compact energy of guitar and drums is mind-blowing. Unfortunately, the very moment that Ian grabs the microphone, half of the energy is gone. Vocals and - oh my God - organ are just hard rock cliches here.

"Cold Wind To Valhalla" is another...cold song, but this touch of frost is beautiful and works fine. Very interesting crescendo, with the semi-electric section in the middle of the song with the drums that will many listeners find a bit too furious and inappropriate for the song, but I like them, as well as the counter-effect produced by them.

"Black Satin Dancer" is just a bit weaker than "Cold Wind To Valhalla" but it's still providing enjoyable moments to a listener; lovely accelerando of Ian's flute and guitar solo as a tour de force in the middle of the song are making the song more charming, despite the impression of agony hidden somewhere between sung words and flute notes.

"Requiem" is the song whose title is perfectly describing the song's overall atmosphere in general. Perhaps a little bit too solemn.

"One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All" is my second favourite track from the album. It is Ian's acoustic piece at it's best. Even if one might not find this song "the best" or even "very good", it's undoubtedly the essence of "Tullness".

Despite the occasional weaker moments, so far everything was fine. But with "Baker St. Muse" things went wrong. This sixteen minutes long songs does not offering me more than two minutes of pleasant listening. It's handcrafted well, Ian's lyrics are not bad (but not the peak neither), but this song is just hollow. For me, the only memorable melody inside it is the part "I have no house in Coventry/I have no motor car", it's in "Crash Barrier Waltzer" I think. The rest of the song is producing, more or less, the same effect as an electric stroke on dead frog's body: a spasm certainly, but no emotion (except for that gray afternoon emptiness). But I have to be honest and admit that the intro and the ending of the song are very good, the ending is the most impressive one that I had a chance hearing on an album. That won't save the "Baker St. Muse" though, because ending is got nothing to do with the music itself.

Speaking of endings, the real ending of the album, "Grace", is probably the shortest song that TULL ever did, and it's my favourite song from this album, too. It's gorgeous miniature with cuddling string orchestras and it's haiku lyrical aesthetic. In my opinion, it was utterly wrong decision to put this song onto the end of the record-no, wrong. That is not the worst thing. That's just an illusion because this beautiful miniature is following dull, almost-sidelong track, and it completely sunks while your brain is still struggling to catch some air after nothingness of the unlucky epic.

So, at the end of the day, this album contains one or two almost-brilliant songs, an astonishing miniature, a few good ideas here and there and the big black hole somewhere in the middle of the record, spreading like a cancer towards the edges of a vinyl.

Report this review (#112878)
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars The pinnacle of Jethro Tull's crappy pop folk production! This album is a "bastardization" of authentic folk music. It only features cheesy pop ballads for Christmas days. The snobbish accent of Ian Anderson has never been so painful. The self title track is a conventional, almost puritan "Christian" folk ballad. Same remark for "Cold Wind Valhalla" with its very cheap atmosphere. "Black Satin Dancer" is a symphonic, pseudo neo classical song: one more time it's too naive and gentle. No surprise with the rest of the album. For a better appreciation of prog folk tapestries of sound I advise listeners to go on the medieval, pagan inflected and acid folk side of Teutonic bands: notably Parzival and Ougenweide. This band really need to re-learn the basics before serving the mass with common mediocrity. Musically speaking the band died after his original bluesy folk fusion (this was / stand up)
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Posted Saturday, March 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I bought this album when it came out in 1975 even though I hadn't kept up with the group since "Aqualung." I must have read a favorable review or something and, since nothing else in the record racks caught my eye that week, thought I'd give it a whirl. I was surprisingly underwhelmed by it. Every few years I'd come across it in my LP collection. Not being able to recall what any of the songs sounded like I'd slap it on the turntable and listen to it with fresh ears. I always hoped that this would be the time that I'd "get it" and discover a masterpiece spinning right under my nose but to no avail. I made many, many attempts to like this album but I never did. I guess I never will.

"Minstrel in the Gallery" starts out great. It's done in the merry style they do best and things are moving along splendidly until the full band comes in with an unnecessary hard rock edge, trying to be "heavy." It ruins the tune for me totally. After a long musical interlude in the middle Ian Anderson's vocal reappears and the song gets better for a while but I can't help but wonder why John Evan's filling organ is buried in the mix. It could have made a huge difference because the tune desperately needs some backbone. "Cold Wind to Valhalla" is another example of them starting a song with excellent acoustic instrumentation and then repeating the same mistake by crashing the casual party with a needlessly raucous version of the tune. Add to that the inexcusable looseness between Martin Barre's guitar, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond's bass and Barriemore Barlow's drums (it sounds like they only rehearsed the track a few times before recording it) and you have a clumsy mess on your hands. "Black Satin Dancer" follows and you're treated to some tasteful string orchestration but the band sounds like they're hopelessly hunting for the elusive groove throughout. They segue into a contrived instrumental segment that seems complicated just for the sake of complication and that never works. Next is "Requiem," a decent ballad that features the string section performing a pretty score behind Ian's vocal. The problem here is that the melody is all over the place, making it nearly impossible to recall once the tune is over.

"One White Duck/ 0 (10) = Nothing at All" may have a confusing title but it's the highlight of the record. When Jethro Tull performs a song that is as firmly rooted in progressive folk as this one is (and they don't try to turn it into a rocker halfway through) they demonstrate why they are so highly regarded. Even the lyrics make sense, as Anderson seems to be venting his frustrations with his wife. "Something must be wrong with me and my brain/if I'm so patently unrewarding/but my dreams are for dreaming and best left that way/and my zero to your power of ten equals nothing at all." (Okay, it's not exactly "My God" quality but it beats the words to the first four songs by a mile.) "Baker Street Muse" is an almost 17-minute long epic and parts of it fly while other parts of it struggle along. It starts off well with piano and strings and this time when the group joins in they are a tight unit and things seem promising. "Pig- me and the Whore" is the 2nd chapter and the transition back down to an acoustic feel is smoothly done. "Crash-Barrier Waltzer" is a fine showcase for Ian's skilled vocals, some spirited acoustic guitar playing and more excellent contributions from the orchestra. "Mother England Reverie" is an extension of that inertia for a few minutes but then the band runs off the road as they begin to attempt tying the different themes together. They go from hard to soft and back again but it is rough in places where it shouldn't be and there's just not enough excitement generated to seal the deal in the end. "Grace" is really nothing more than a 37-second afterthought that finishes the album.

Other than the song I quoted lyrics from, the words Anderson wrote for this record are so "train of thought" personal that I have a hard time understanding what most of the tunes are about. In fact, since Ian penned all the songs and produced the whole project it may have worked a lot better if he'd brought in other musicians and made it a solo effort entirely. Of course we'll never know how that may (or may not) have worked, but as a Jethro Tull album it fails to impress me no matter how many times I listen, even with the best of intentions. 2.3 stars.

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Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
4 stars 1975 was not a pleasant year for the progressive genre. Crimso disbanded, Genesis was balding, and there were, in fact, shirtless album covers on the way. So, what did Tull do in these unstable times? Release the greatest album ever created. Ever.

Okay, not necessarily true. In fact, there was a time when I hated every song on this album (loved the cover though). But times change, don't they? New songs become old friends. It has since become MY album. Ian was going through a messy divorce, see? He was sort of dating that seal lady from the last album. So, drawing inspiration from Aqualung, he created a set of loud/soft songs and called them Minstrel in the Gallery.

And what an opening number that "Minstrel" is. I could write the whole damn review about it (and probably will). The short version is simply that "Minstrel in the Gallery" is the song we've been waiting for since 1972 (and untopped till '78). It's a dark tune, which combines the best of both acoustic medieval Tull and hard rock Tull (which could also be a short review of the album), and it's quite possibly my favorite Tull tune ever.

Long version: although "Minstrel" arguably the hardest song in Tuller history (at least, before the heavy met-tull period), the song opens with the hushed speech of a herald or something to his lord and (ahem) lady. What follows is a decent little acoustic shuffle that is actually quite impressive considering that it's not really medieval instrumentation, just some acoustic guitars. Then we're slammed with elaborations on the main theme courtesy of Mr. Barre. It's essentially just two minutes of him showing off, but this was back when had off to show. Then we slide flawlessly into the final movement, and this is where the meat is.

The build in the intro is perfect. After that, the rest of the band falls away, and it's just Martin, Barrie and Ian's voice. Now, I know Martin's just beating his guitar into the ground, but it's fantastic. Then everyone starts up again, John Evan seemingly slamming his organ at random moments. And Jeffrey, holy crap Jeffrey, is the bass player supreme. I know he lacks the flashy technique of your Squires and Lees, but just listen to the tireless basslines under the third movement; except you can't really call them basslines, because it's an actual, independent melody that, if played by a guitar, would be totally accepted as a solo or something. It's real baroque music my friend, with everyone playing a part. Evan Ian gets some manic flute riffage in at the end of the song. The lyrics are also great; initially it seems to be sneering commentary from Ian the cynic, but in the end, it's also self commentary. Aww. My only complaint is that the flute is mixed a little low, but if you aren't blasting a song with a name like "Minstrel in the Gallery," then you must be missing something. In case you couldn't guess, it's my favorite song on the album.

Alright. Sorry. Damn that's a big paragraph. But it had to be written! Okay, a "Cold Wind to Valhalla" has a similar soft/loud arrangement, but it's not nearly as dry, since David Palmer brings the string arrangements pop back in. Oh well. The strings under the intro are the loveliest thing he's done this side of Stormwatch. The rest of the song isn't bad either (it's a good ole Viking number), Barrie's drumming is great, Ian's vocals are theatrical, Martin's soloing is neat, and John slams the organ some more.

"Black Satin Dancer" is a little over the top perhaps, but at its core, it's a beautiful song. It's another loud/soft arrangement, although more frequently interspersed. It's a strained, pained waltz, speeding up and slowing down at will; and it has possibly the best guitar solo on the album. Really heartfelt that. Martin uses more echo here, and on the whole album, than anywhere else in the Tull catalogue (I think everyone does). "Requiem," a shorter, acoustical song, is just a tad on the throwaway side. I mean, it's gorgeous sure, but it's just sort of atmosphere (plus the strings are a little too much). "One White Duck/Nothing At All" is a bit better. The tune is more fleshed out than "Requiem," even if the instrumentation isn't. And it's a little longer. But what do I care? It's a more solid piece.

The next number is where it sort of falls apart. "Baker Street Muse" is a bit of a side long epic, probably set up to be the set piece of the album. However, "Supper's Ready" it is not. It starts with a fairly clever back-and-forth introductory movement, but it all heads south from there. The repetitive "Pig-me and the Whore" recalls some of the more repetitive parts of Passion Play, but at least it's headbangin'. "Crash-Barrier Waltzer," however, recalls some of the more repetitive, dull parts of Passion Play.

And the "No Time for Time Magazine" bit is the only thing on the album that actually pisses me off. It's just dull as dirt. We pick up a little bit with "Mother England Reverie," with a cool reference to the title tune. Finally, we close with a reprise of the intro, and a fairly clever ending with Ian leaving the studio. The whole piece is well played, and lyrics are pretty damn good, and there's not much offensive about it (barring "No Time"). But I can get well played, well lyriced Tull tunes elsewhere, in places that don't frequently bore me.

After all that, we close with the acoustic "Grace," and what a closer. It's about forty seconds long, but it's beautiful. And funny, the greatest lyrics on the album. Definitely one of my favorite album closers of all time, right up there with "Pigs on a Wing," "Vivaldi With Cannon" and "Aisle of Plenty."

Honestly though, if you want, you can consider this a 3.5, I won't hold a gun to your back. I mean, it's not like it gives us anything particularly new, the ground we're covering here has already been trod upon by Aqualung, Thick and Passion Play. In fact, it's often compared to Aqualung in both style and mood, and Aqualung is a far superior album (plenty more diverse too). Still, I feel there's enough in favor of the album to warrant a four.

For one thing, in the middle of concept albums growing more and more over the top, I like the respite that Minstrel provides us. It's the first album to break that chain since Aqualung, and is really more down to its level. Some people would have liked it to keep up the theme of minstrels performing for a lord, but I like the little, "Baker Street Muse, take one..." spoken intros. It gives the record an unpolished feel that fits the cold, dry mood perfectly.

And, while some people consider this to be the most concentrated Tull-style album in Jethro Ian history, I find it to be one of the most unique (something like Stormwatch seems much more "style-concentrated" to me). I mean, obviously Minstrel borrows a lot from Aqualung, but there are several things about it that are never repeated. For one thing, Ian drops the world view and takes a totally introverted approach, something that wouldn't really be repeated until his solo work, and even then, the attitude was totally different. In fact, the sound is totally isolated (other than the echoey guitar) from the records around it, possibly because they were trying to create an old fashioned "dry" album smack dab in the middle of a bunch of lush prog (Passion Play, Warchild, and they were just gonna do Too Old in a year anyway). It's like the band was trying to craft a very progressive masterpiece using just their instruments; no spacey keyboards, no sound effects. No accordions (which I'll miss) or saxes (which I won't bring up). And when they stick to those guns, it works.

And, the flow is really amazing. I don't know who pointed this out to me (I think it was someone on of all places), but "Black Satin Dancer" to "Grace" can be heard as a single piece, tell a single story, just without the overblown sound effects and goofy instrumentation (usually); the "Minstrel in the Gallery suite," if you will (that was me). Yep. Even "Baker Street" renders itself to this. I mean, you can listen to each song individually, but I sort of miss the surrounding bits and pieces when I do.

This is one of those rare cases of a progressive epic holding actual, real world resonance with the listener. Ian screwed up with his wife. Boom. We've all been there (maybe not with a wife, of course); I have. And remember Aqualung? His father was dying? This is the last time that we'll see this on an album; just Ian and Jeffrey sitting in the studio, playing acoustics (this album and, oddly enough, "Under Wraps #2," proved to me the power of the acoustic guitar as a progressive instrument).

But for me, you can't forget the opener and the closer, arguably the greatest in Tull's history. The mood is great, the flow is great, but you can't beat "Minstrel" and "Grace." Also, this is the last album by the "classic Tull" lineup. Jeffrey left, which means that his lyrical bass, moody input and humorous personality will forever be missed. David Palmer started to move in closer until he became a second keyboardist, a move about which I've always wondered. So dig this final album, the first in a long line of lasts, while you can.

(Now, I know what you're thinking! With five whole bonus tracks, surely the rating will be raised by sheer numbers! Uh, no. Along with the hard rockers and acoustic musings of Aqualung, Minstrel shares the curse of "no good bonus tracks." Not a one. The first three are studio outtakes. "Summerday Sands" is an inoffensive orchestral bloozy rocker, with the emphasis on "orchestral" rather than "rocker," tracing its roots back to the Stand Up material. But it's nothin' special. "March the Mad Scientist" is slightly better. It's the only thing that could have worked on the album; it's short, it's cold, it's acoustic, it's utterly stripped down. It's also my favorite track. "Pan Dance" is a bit of cute flute fluff that's amusing the first listen, but it very quickly becomes dull. I was hoping for something a little more along the lines of "King Henry's Madrigal." Oh well, surely the live tracks are good, how could we mess those up? Well, they ain't none of them complete! That sucks. What sucks more is that it's not John Glascock (I don't think) who's singing in the background, so it must be Jeffrey, which means that Ian has classic Tull material that he's not releasing! HEY! GIVE US OUR LIVE JEFFREY (oh, and, uh, everyone else too)! Oh well. I'm not going to lower the remaster rating, but aside from "March," there's not a lot of incentive to listen after "Grace.")

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Posted Monday, April 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars "We're getting a bit short of heroes lately" (From Cold Wind to Valhalla)

Yes, in the middle seventies we were getting a bit short of heroes. The great bands were disappearing or changing their style and, in my opinion, Minstrel in the Gallery was the last great album of Jethro Tull, one of my favorites in the prog scene.

There is a great change after the deceptive War Child. We can find different styles and great orchestral arrangements, but the music is mainly acoustic. The title track and "Baker Street Muse" are considered the hottest numbers of the album but I find that all the songs are really good. In my opinion, the best track is the epic "Baker Street Muse" followed by "Cold Wind to Valhalla" and "Requiem".

I agree with previous reviewers in the fact that the music is less complex than in previous albums, but the lyrics are good as usual. I have no doubt in considering this album as the last masterpiece of the band.

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Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

This is 1975. JETHRO TULL is one of the biggest names at the time. Concerts are sold out, LPs sales garnish the bank accounts of our 5 musicians plenty ,especially the one from the man who has all the writing credits. Even if WARCHILD was not a masterpiece, even if the rock journalists liked to put the band down back then, JETHRO TULL was on top of the -rock-world.

MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY is considered generally as one of the main achievements of IAN and friends...and rightly so.All the elements that make JETHRO TULL are here: a lot of nice acoustic guitar and flute, heavy BARRE guitar breaks, lush classical string arrangements...and of course the strong and distinct voice of its leader.

Often considered as an acoustic or folk album, there is more than that to describe MINSTREL. You will definitely find 2 distinct sides of JT music on this album:

-the hard rocking side with the first 3 tracks of the album. The title track, even starting falsely as an acoustic ballad,transforms itself into one of the most violent songs JETHRO TULL would record. A lot of energetic guitar breaks from MARTIN who is given freedom of expression by master IAN, and believe me, our guitarist is taking advantage of it. No way of stopping him.He fully unleash mean riffs after each other like a possessed demon.

COLD WIND TO VALHALLA follows the same pattern starting as gentle scottish country ballad in the typical JT vein until MARTIN BARRE and the rythm section of BARLOW and HAMMOND-HAMMOND appear again to make this song a nice rocker. BARRE add some tastefully licks and sound like he is having some really good time with his -almost steel sounding-guitar .Great vocal performance from IAN ANDERSON as well

BLACK SATIN DANCER is my favorite track of the album. Great melody, great string arrangements in the back and of course the king is once again MARTIN BARRE performing one of his most magnificent solo ever before throwing again some breaking riffs like a hungry man. I just i love the groove of this song.

-the acoustic side of the band with the rest of the album: REQUIEM is one of those typical ANDERSONERIES with only IAN, his acoustic guitar and the lush violin arrangements from DAVID PALMER who was quite omnipresent at this time .A very pleasnt smooth song. No BARRE guitar to break the song as surely, he has been given the day off by IAN.

ONE WHITE DUCK/NOTHING AT ALL comes after in the same spirit than its predecessor. Another great melody only with acoustic guitar and the string quartet. Once again ,the rest of the band is not going to get a paycheck with this song as they are missing in action or maybe they were at the beach as the album was recorded in MONACO.

Then follows the ''epic'' of the album: the 16 mns BAKER ST MUSE; That's quite an interesting piece of music with some very good parts, but also some other parts are dragging the song a little bit. MARTIN BARRE and the rest of the band are back and bring some energy well needed to keep the song interesting throughout the 16 mns.BAKER is a pleasant song to listen to, complete with all the TULL caracteristics that make the band great- nice acoustic parts, a nice rocking side, some medieval influence, this old Britain feel- but i think it would have sounded better with a shortened version as there is a feeling of sameness at the end, at least for me. The album ends with another short acoustic/string number GRACE.

The bonus tracks are OK, but not great enough to add another star! MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY would have been a total masterpiece if not for the over-extended BAKER ST MUSE. Would have this song been shortened and the missing space replaced by another great track, i'd give 5 stars.So.......wil be.


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Posted Friday, August 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars When Warchild appeared after the controversial APP with practically nothing new to offer, I (and surely most of the rest) didn't expected wonders in the next release. But just listen to it! I've heard a huge lot of people calling Minstrel in the Gallery as the most metal-oriented Tull album... but the gospel truth is, when I listened to this album for the first time, the first impression was about the most acoustic release their ever made. And now that I have knowledge about both statements, I'd say, more than agree with them, I can say that MITG is a very accomplished album, rockin' very hard for some moments (Black Satin Dancer, the title track) and, when it comes to acoustic ballads, IMO some of the best ones in Tull's catalog can be founded on this album (One White Duck, Requiem).

While the pièce-de-resistance, Baker Street Muse, is an awesome combination between Anderson's acoustic peak and the powerful electric guitar work by Barre, the closing track Grace, despite its extremely short lenght, is an acoustic and lovely piece of unbelievable beauty. Do not get wrong this marvelous album because of its location between two "dull" albums (Warchild & Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll); this CD is amazing and surely you won't apreciate it due to the high tecnique of the stuff; otherwise, because of the feeling contained on it; Ian's voice, his lyrics, the melancholic guitar chords here and there...

Dark, rocker, folky and as prog as you can get, Minstrel in the Gallery is without a doubt a quintessential Jethro Tull album, and together with Songs from the Wood, the highlight album after Thick as a Brick. Then and finally, a masterpiece of progressive music. Five stars!

NOTE: This album also has one of the best bunch of bonus tracks re-issued. Excluding the pair of live cuts, the instrumental Pan Dance and the acoustics Summerday Sands and March the Mad Scientist are superb songs, as good as the average song of the original album.


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Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A 4.45

"I don't think they're gonna like this much.."

Anderson and Tull, largely because of their success with singles in their first 4 years or so, enjoyed a critical appreciation that other long-form progressive bands (seen at the time as "flabby") could only dream of. On the positive side it made Anderson's extraordinary musical muse shine boldly and won him many plaudits for the more "album" material on albums "Stand-up" through to "Aqualung". On the negative side however, it made Anderson too susceptable to critical appoval and as the records of his progressive co-horts started to stretch out, Anderson's attempts at side-long compositions came in for criticism. The reviews for "Passion Play" were so scathing at the time that he "retired" and packed up the band. He came back a year later with "War Child", a concilliatory work with a bouncy single and was restored to critical grace. But now he faced himself and said "[%*!#]-em!" for the first time.

Minstrel in the Gallery recounts a marriage break-up. It's bleak emotional territory. It's also Jethro Tull's most mature and accomplished album. It's such an evocative package - heavy and atmospheric with driving masculine lines of thickness and many lighter themes that exemplify delight, particulalry in their settings of tempo and time. A very soulful play of "poisoned regret" and rising wit. To me this album encompasses a world of it's own, made easier to visualize by the album cover - placing the band in an unexalted grouping of background minstrels who only spectate on the revelry - and the back cover presenting the band as they are leaning against the rail of a balcony in an old wooden theatre. Anderson's sneer a companion to the words "I don't think they're gonna like this much". And so the album begins.

The title cut, starting so cutely in Tull's Elizabethan mode hawls itself into the present day with a stark distorted birth and finding a rocking groove and a re-statement. Immediately you are struck with 2 values that will remain undiminished for the rest of the album - Barriemore Barlow's exemplary drumming over rock-reluctant meter, and Anderson singing with a soul singer's anguish and pitch.

"Cold Wind to Valhalla" is another growth out of a more peppery acoustic beginning - another of the albums many pleasures - Anderson's acoustic playing - to a full band whomp with great guitar scoring of riffs and lines, and flute brimming with attitude. The playing throughout the album is of a high order and although Hammond-Hammond's bass playing is the most basic element within the sustained complexity - it is effective and perfectly matched with the drums. "Black Satin Dancer" is more the epic, although the arrangment is similar the composition is far more atmospheric, here there are spaces and the play of tension and release is more purposeful.

I don't want to write a song "roll-call", I imagine readers of this sight are at least familiar with the album - and those who have not heard it need to. All the same, it's hard not to appreciate the quality of the acoustic work. Both in the large meaty songs - "Baker Street Muse", and the shorter solo connecting pieces where the playing is so sprightly at times, and beautifully sonorous when matched with cello and strings. In all there is an off-the-floor organic quality to the album. Studio tricks aside you feel the band's method of rehearsing and playing it out with over-dubs given over for guitar, strings and vocals only. The use of strings on this album, and other orchestral instrumentation (glockenspeil) is very effective and enriching, and I can't think of a Tull album that balances these elements as well as they do here.

The poetry of Anderson's lines are more personal this time and less satirical then they were on "Aqualung", Thick as a Brick" and "Passion-Play". But as poetry - giving rise to different meanings - it shows greater craft. It's a vulnerable cathartic lyric that accompanies the wonderful "One White Duck/Nothing at All". Which brings me back to where I started - Anderson said "[%*!#]-em".

"Baker St. Muse" after a selection of longish songs, gives the finger to the critics that damned his suite-writing. It is his last side- long epic and perhaps the most effective. So visual is the journey this time, so London. It's a strange fact that as Paris is immortalized in innumerable ballad and chanson - it was the proggers that best illuminated London with it's winding streets, sweet shops, pawn shops, pubs, and deisel smell. In the song these elements, common and beaten as they are, shine like diamonds. And for all the inherent problems sticking a suite of ideas together, Anderson proves his ability in his wit and lusty / caustic eye - even when the music flags ever so slightly. The sections are good in themselves for the most part, the arrangement swells and contracts carrying the composition to a good natured rollicking end, almost psuedo serious. Anderson's narrative at the end - where "he can't get out" underscores the emotional reality of the album however light-hearted it sounds.

I love it because it's an artistic product, differring from more contrived (and still widely regarded albums) and Tull's own later works (particulalry from "Storm Watch" on) where Anderson becomes more a craftsman - even a workman - than an artist. Minstrel bears up well after a multitude of listenings.

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Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album sounded pretty good when I first heard it. The clips sounded good, so I bought the album, and the album sounded as good as the clips had me expecting. It was clearly no Thick as a Brick or A Passion Play (both in terms of style/structure and quality), but it was a solid shift for the band, and possibly a better album than the much-loved Aqualung. While on the first couple listens I was convinced, I found myself rarely wanting to give the album a spin as the months progressed. First off, why would I want to when I had those two juggernauts next to it? It hardly competed in the beginning, and now it started to become clear that this album isn't that great by itself. As time went on, the album seemed less and less good. I could barely sit through the first two songs, which I would say are the best tracks on the album, and I definitely couldn't get through the entire "Baker St. Muse," a near-17 minutes of unremarkable music. I could pin this to my change in musical taste, which I prefer to call the "maturation of my taste," but for whatever the reason, this album lost it's appeal almost completely over the three years that I owned it. It's not devoid of goodness; the goodness is just scattered about the album among an equal number of not-so-goodness. There really aren't any bad parts, but there are so many parts that go by unnoticed it's almost worse than having a couple bad parts.

I feel like my review is too focused on the negatives. Here are some positives: The opening two numbers, "Minstrel in the Gallery" and "Cold Wind to Valhalla," have some catchy melodies and good riffing and what not. They are good songs that certainly deserve to be on a compilation of the band's best songs. Actually, these two songs may have been what tricked me into buying the whole album. The epic has some good spots, but hardly enough to justify the length. They probably did it to let the fans still salivating over the 40-minute epics of years past down easily, as they would never write such long songs again. I bet a more serious Tull fan than myself can find more to like about this album, but for me this is a decent album that isn't quite worth my time anymore. It's most likely worth a shot for you, the reader, though.

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Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars among the best albums from JT and my referred one after TAAB. Mix of very hard rock and ballad with the strogest piece: the epic Baker St-Muse. The first 3 tracks of the album are also outstanding, even though not easy to get used to it (at least in my case).
Report this review (#151535)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars There are two albums that I've been listening to for the past few months with string sections of bands that scarcely use such (well, to my knowledge), this album and Fear of a Blank Planet. I thought both were, as the ratings say, excellent to any prog collection, and definitely worth one's hard-earned salary. Unlike Fear of a Blank Planet, however, this one is quite underrated to a puzzling degree. I'd almost actually expect this one to be above Songs from the Wood. Really, the strings just add that much. It has some similarities to Aqualung, though the style of the compositions are a bit more mature, though perhaps less appealing to an extent, more the sort of album that grows on you.

Minstrel in the Gallery was was given to me from a friend on my eighteenth birthday, along with Return to Forever (the album), and I was quite impressed by both, and this one particularly took a lot of listening to familiarize myself with and enjoy. I only had previously known Jethro Tull from the album Thick as a Brick which blew me away from the first listen, and this one took time to nudge into my mind. It is, first and foremost, a very acoustic album, and I think Ian Anderson intended that. Yet it also definitely has it's heavier moments, especially in the first song, the album title track. Most of the songs start off quite unconventionally, which talking or counting or something of the sort. Progressiveness is, for the most part, quite high; many of the songs have very interesting structures, to say the least, and Ian's flute is almost as prominent as his acoustic playing. I'd almost go far enough to say there's something for almost everyone on this album, cool sounding heavy guitar, flute improvisation, delightful lyrics, soft acoustic folk moments, classical elements with the strings and occasional piano, and the epic sixteen and a half minute Baker St. Muse. Very much is done in very little time with the music, and the contrast in dynamics and mood flow very nicely.

And, of course, Ian Anderson's vocals are fabulous and nearly flawless. Some seemed to view this album as uninspired, but the guy's singing sounds the most inspired of almost any album I have. While I definitely could be wrong, I think he thoroughly enjoyed producing the album, to the extent that he might have thought he broke away from the audience too much, hence why he didn't think the album would have much response.

This is a classic Jethro Tull album, in the league of Thick as a Brick and Agualung. I can't imagine a Tull fan going long without this for long, and it has definitely inspired me to become more familiar with the band's discography. One day I'll be a Minstrel in the Gallery, indeed.

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Posted Sunday, April 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Light meets Dark with the grace of the gods.

My ALL TIME favourite Jethro Tull album. Each track is a perfect blend of everything a Prog Head could dream of. The two longest tracks are all this album needs for me to give this beauty a easily earned 5 stars.

To describe this album with more detail, it sounds very much like Thick as a Brick meets Ashes are Burning by Renaissance. Kind of an odd combination, but thats what I hear when I listen to it.

Highly suggested!

Report this review (#168437)
Posted Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Graceful

After the dual flop that was the fantastically controversial A Passion Play and the ripely mediocre WarChild this album saw the Tull boys retreat further back into their less ''experimental'' form. Indeed, while the cover looks reminiscent of their Aqualung days, the music sounds somehow familiar as well. Maybe it's the bringing forward of the flute once more and maybe it's just the lessening of the keyboards in the overall sound, but somehow this is a regressive step forward for the band.

The views of this album are very much scattered. It's often called Tull's heaviest and most ''Metal'' album. And while that's clear in some very heavy passages in some songs the feel is often harshly offset by a very folky feel coming from what causes other people to call the album Tull's most acoustic outing. Certainly one of these parties must be wrong in some way? Not really, but it's heard to group the band into any one category, as is this album. Definitely, this is one of Tull's heaviest albums at times, but at others it's also Tull's most delicate... and yes, it is very much acoustic in sound and feel. The album's title track is really the song on the album which defines this. It's also the opening track, which is nice as it introduces you to the sound at hand. Indeed, a lot of the music sounds like minstrels playing to a gallery, as evident by the almost inaudible spoken intro. A soft intro leads into a very heavy section in which the flutes proceed to add life as they so often do.

From there on out on out the material is more or less divided into the two camps, the heavy and the soft. Cold Wind To Valhalla is a chilling and heavy song that makes great use of the guitar while Black Satin Dancer takes another page from the heavy book. It really is the longest track on the album that takes the cake though. Baker St. Muse is Tull's last ''epic'' and certainly a fine moment in their career. Using all the unique elements of the album they're able to create something fairly difficult to describe -- Electric and acoustic guitars mix with the flute to tell the tale. This may not sound much different from the rest of the band's body of work, but it's the extreme contrast between the light and slow moments and the dark and heavy moments that really jars the audience and gets a reaction.

The other songs on the album are the softer tracks which are all very calming and unique, but not necessarily standouts so much as the other tracks on the album. However, thanks to their somehow blissful tone they add to the album quite well as opposed to taking away from it.

Not Tull's best album by any stretch of the imagination this is still an excellent work by them which any progger would be proud to display in their collection. It's the heavy moments that make the album here, but be prepared for a nice amount of contrast and quick jumps from fast and heavy to slow and soft. 4 stars! Recommended for Tull fans, and anyone who likes a little fluting with their guitar.

Report this review (#168709)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I consider this album to be in the trough of Jethro Tull's output and creativity. Perhaps it is just because the awesomeness of earlier, and even later, Tull albums overshadows it. I am not sure what else I could say about this album, but that it seems entirely derivative of their earlier works, meaning, that they are simply reprocessing the approach and execution of earlier albums, pieces of their earlier albums, to create this uneven record.
Report this review (#170766)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
4 stars Review 47, Minstrel In The Gallery, Jethro Tull, 1975


This is one of the more interesting Tull albums from the point of view of a progressive rock fan. Not only is there a twenty minute suite (epic!!!111) with a string quartet behind it, but there's also a range of the various material that Tull seem to have attacked in their time. However, it doesn't really fully satisfy me. It has dramatically grown on me (with quite a lot of listens. I suppose if I'd shelved it earlier I wouldn't like it as much as I do now), but even now I don't particularly care for large parts of the album. Still, this is a daring effort, the string quartet is incorporated very well on Baker Street Muse, and there is enough great material to satisfy the discerning prog-fan.

Minstrel In The Gallery itself, for all the people fawning over it, hasn't really caught onto me. Sure, the basic elements of Tull are there, including cunning acoustic strumming, medieval noises, Martin Barre's hard-rocking guitar, Ian Anderson's occasional flautistry and sarcastic and semi-nonsensical lyrics. The sound is extremely stripped away, leaving really only Anderson and Barre respectively dominating sections of the piece with some general crashing from Barlowe in the background and a couple of hums from Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond. There is no real depth to the piece, and I just find that an awkward listen. Not to say there aren't some very impressive moments both on acoustics and electrics (with complimentary drums), but there are substantial sections of the eight minute track where I'm more bored than excited by the vaguely roaring guitar-work.

Cold Wind To Valhalla is rather different, again opening with a rather nice acoustic guitar and an appropriately Nordic feel, which is surprisingly well-complimented by the cello (I think; my ear for stringed instruments could be better). Again we have glimpses of a Tull whose enthusiasm for making noise seems a little disproportionate to their range of ideas, but overall we get a good dose of atmosphere, some really great moments from Anderson's vocals especially as well as surprisingly gritty and potent guitar-work. Some very nice dissonant violins over the top, and it is overall an extremely enjoyable piece.

Black Satin Dancer is the first indication of the album really picking up. Just about everything possible was included on the song, whether that's the quartet, piano, flute, or a rather more dominant rhythm section, with whatever percussion Barriemore Barlowe could find thrown I all around the song. Anderson's lyrics are enchanting, medieval and excellently sung. Martin Barre's dissonance and moody guitar heroics are very well-complimented by a throbbing Hammond bass-line. The classic flute parts are originally used on this one, and Ian Anderson's 'fwubbah, flubbah' shouting is no less than hilarious. We do get glimpses of darker organ, and John Evan seems rather more comfortable contributing to this one. The final reprise manages a slowed version of parts of the song with a phenomenal fun factor Great song, extremely catchy, and air xylophone abounds.

Requiem is another enjoyable piece, with the acoustic and the violin quartet being most prominent. I do rather like the string arrangement, and overall sound is very good. Ian Anderson's sad vocal and final twists on the acoustic guitar give the piece a rather darker feel.

One White Duck/ O^10 = Nothing At All is another acoustic-strings piece (with a plucked violin, if I hear correctly). The opening half, One White Duck, is a beautiful piece with emotional and bitterness oozing from every sound and excellent lyrical material. The more sarcastic 0^10 is a more acquired piece, with only a punchy and rather aggressive acoustic and vocal. Both of these features are excellent, but the final verse of the lyrics is truly an extreme example of cryptic, deliberately obtuse lyrics. Even I don't really care for them.

Baker Street Muse is the album's highlight, I think, even if the flow doesn't always quite work. A combination of the clever lyrics, the acoustics and the string quartet is the connecting factor for the piece. The first section, Baker Street Muse, features both the more awkward rocking Tull of this album (with a really wallowing main riff made up for by decent solos, especially flute) and the clever acoustic and quartet that really could have handled the piece without the band's help. The reliance on vocals and acoustics really does give it a one-man's-journey feel that is entirely welcome.

A jumpy acoustic so typical of Anderson leads onto Pig-Me And The Whore, packed full of innuendo, great guitar-work from Martin Barre and even a much-missed swelling organ. Following about a minute of this, an instrumental section features, spotlighting Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond's bass and a xylophone or similar percussive creature.

Crash Barrier Waltzer is a more lamentful and narrative piece, with an excellent combination of chord and note acoustic guitar, as well as the album's best use of the strings. We get a beautiful and thoughtful instrumental mainly created by the flute and acoustics.

Mother England Reverie is where everything really comes together, with the band and the quartet contributing in equal measure. The piano and acoustics really seem to merge with the strings on the initial part, and the transition to a full on rock section is more than welcome, managing to hammer through ideas with more than just noise. A rather awkward choice of transition moves to a repeat of the earlier 'Indian restaurants that curry my brain' section, to a vicious organ hum. We have some sophisticated working-out of earlier themes before the conclusion which must feature Martin Barre's finest guitar solo, as well as an acoustic-and-orchestra inclusive take on the standard thunderous blues ending.

Grace is an acoustic end to the album, lasting for maybe 20 seconds, but providing a nice cohesive, and either resigned or positive end to the album proper, depending on how you want to look at it.

Onto the bonus goodies: Summerday Sands is a Tullish acoustic single, which isn't bad, with a few grand moments, but a not-particularly-impressive chorus. Still, the acoustics are quite nice, and the song's not so bad as to ruin the album. March The Mad Scientist is a much more impressive piece, with a seriously excellent set of acoustics and bass, including a slight development of the theme of Only Solitaire. Everything is rather well-handled. Great piece. Pan Dance has the feel of a more basic Tull instrumental, with a clear flute that you wouldn't really expect from Ian Anderson. I do love it, but it's pretty indescribable.

The live version of Minstrel In The Gallery is much more concise and likable with none of the electric wallowing I have issues with and some excellent harmonies and playing from Barlowe. I suppose it won't satisfy those who like the stripped-back guitar sound, but it works for me. Cold Wind To Valhalla feels a lot more lively, with a better flute sound, at least. Unfortunately, the length is reduced so much as to be more a preview of the live version rather than a proper track. It doesn't work too badly as a conclusion, however, and the bonuses are a nice set, I think.

Ah, strings are a quintet with four violins and a cello. Apologies for laziness, but my energy levels aren't high enough to go back and fix everything. Anyway, I'm going to say that the album as a whole has some extremely interesting moments, but doesn't really satisfy me consistently enough. I have understated my love for the lyrical content of Baker Street Muse, because I feel that lyrics are something that a person should create their own opinion and understanding of. You could do a lot worse, and Baker Street Muse is a must-have for any fan of the more unusual side of Tull.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: Baker Street Muse

Report this review (#172400)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Grandiose , full of art , 1975 was a wrong timing for this superb album , it came after many masterpieces for JT , but it was also a must for that period . I've learned a lesson from dealing with giants bands like JT , i simply don't have to compare between their works , and i deal with every release apart . Minstrel in the Gallery is wonderful as it is , the songs are really amazing , Cold wind , one white duck , baker street muse & black satin dancer are lovely songs , good lyrics , prof performances , beautiful harmonies , and after all the composer was Ian , So ,,,, I REALLY LOVE THESE GUYS ..... Tracks Toni
Report this review (#176363)
Posted Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars A great return to form!

After the two relatively weaker albums A Passion Play and War Child, Minstrel In The Gallery was a powerful return to form and thus at the time of its release the best Jethro Tull album since Thick As A Brick. As such, this album proved once and for all that the brilliant combo of Aqualung and Thick As A Brick had not been a fluke and that Jethro Tull was still a force to be reckoned with; they could still deliver works of the highest caliber.

Not only in terms of the high quality of the material but also stylistically was Minstrel In The Gallery more similar to Aqualung and Thick As A Brick than to A Passion Play and War Child. The saxophone was no more, for example. But, in its folky nature, Minstrel In The Gallery also pointed clearly towards what the band would go on to do in the future on albums like Songs From The Wood, Heavy Horses and Stormwatch.

Minstrel In The Gallery remains one of Jethro Tull's better albums and is of course highly recommended!

Report this review (#177290)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is rather highly rated, but I feel it is rather weak and uninspired compared to comparably ranked discs from this band.

Minstrel in the Gallery is considered basically the first proper album since Thick as a Brick, with the two in between being discounted for various reasons. However, I find it to be less interesting and compositionally weaker on the whole than its predecessor, Warchild. Part of the problem lies with the band trying too hard again to be progressive, the same flaw that struck down A Passion Play. Instead, we get some great songs and some songs that sound like they were put through a blender by a polar bear. The album comes across as uneven and kind of trite. The folk elements are less present again than they were in Thick as a Brick and much less so than they will be in Songs from the Wood. Rather, we get a kind of progressive hard rock at points. The flute is often quieter than it should be, as well.

The title track has some fascinating instrumentation, but the transitions are frequently painful and sometimes laughable. It almost feels like the ideas in this song should be stretched into 16 minutes and not the spread-thin pieces of Baker St. Muse. The vocal melodies in Minstrel are quite catchy, and several of the instrumental portions rank up there with Tull's all time greatest, but the track is held back by some equally bad ideas spread out in there, too, and a general sense of unpolished roughness that doesn't fit very well. Cold Wind to Valhalla is a wilder, more energetic track with a lot of great singing and band interplay. The rest of the songs till the rather long Baker St. Muse are mostly unremarkable. That track, then, has some wonderful pieces composed by the band, but it also runs a lot longer than seems warranted. The short mini-track Grace then wraps up the album.

In all, there are some really fantastic moments here, but the presence of some rather weak moments drag this album back down to mediocrity. For fans of Tull, even casual fans, but nothing particularly special on the whole.

Report this review (#184368)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Even with the lack of flute, this is still an example of Jethro Tull at their best. I got this album as a Christmas gift, and even though I knew a couple of tracks, I did not expect to be incarcerated by such a grand set of songs. Each one brings me to a mellow state, all while demonstrating Jethro Tull's abilities as musicians. The greatest asset to this album is Ian Anderson's voice and the vocal melodies he sings. Certainly some of the songs are straightforward folk songs, with simple acoustic guitar and basic melodies, but they are still only an asset to this remarkable record. Also, if one can nab a copy with the bonus tracks, one should do so.

"Minstrel in the Gallery" One of my favorite Jethro Tull songs, I delight in the spoken word before the actual piece suggesting a present audience (which manifests itself in the drunk-sounding singing-along also). This song contains one of the most amazing vocal melodies ever written, not to mention the usual charming lyrics. The electric guitar work is stupendous, with crunchy chords and ragged runs. The instrumental section, laden with electric guitar and cowbell and bass as it is, would be at home in the heavy progressive rock subgenre. I also appreciate how Anderson sings the same lyrics over different melodies. It's an amazing track, and I'm glad to be one of the "smiling faces" looked down upon.

"Cold Wind to Valhalla" One of the few tracks to feature flute, the second one has powerful guitar and drumming, not to mention the constant on this album- amazing vocal melodies and insightful lyrics. The bass also stands out more so than on other tracks.

"Black Satin Dancer" With powerful piano, prominent strings, and yet another excellent vocal melody, the listener is in for a treat. Martin Barre delivers a potent guitar solo, before the music flutters away to the same chords and Anderson on his most present flute performance on the album. The respite of the piano and Anderson's voice at the end is a brief one, but the orchestra takes advantage of an opportunity to shine.

"Requiem" Acoustic guitar and Anderson's peaceful voice, accompanied by a subtle bass and string section, make up a wonderful portion of the album. Anderson's voice somehow has a strong tremolo applied to some of his words, which only adds to the atmosphere. Despite it's brevity, this is one of my favorite tracks on the album. This is as lovely as it gets.

"One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All" Another folksy number, full of vocal tremolo, greets the listener here. This is really a two-part track though: The first half is a more subdued song, with yet another magnificent melody, but the second half is harder, even though the acoustic guitar is still the dominant instrument. And, as usual, the vocal melody is nothing less than outstanding, and the words make for excellent poetry.

"Baker St. Muse" Opening with an expletive-laden "first take," the epic of the album features some smooth guitar playing before Anderson starts singing over the piano and orchestra. And, as is the case, the vocal melody carries the track all the way through. This song has one of the most interesting arrangements ever, and I am always blown away by how the different parts are put together. Martin Barre's electric guitar playing is absolutely phenomenal on this one. As is usual, the acoustic guitar plays a major role on this song. This is simply one of those compositions that belongs on the same echelon as the touted and (sometimes despised, as in the case of the latter) "Thick as a Brick" or "A Passion Play."

"Grace" Very similar to previous acoustic-driven pieces, this has Anderson employing that heavy tremolo on his voice. This song lasts less than thirty-four seconds, despite the track time.

Report this review (#204404)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fizzles out after a great start. ''Minstrel in the Gallery'' and ''Cold Wind to Valhalla'' are great folk-rock/hard rock tracks with the former having one of Barre's most killer riffs at the halfway point. Both are high points of the Jethro Tull canon.

Unfortunately, things start to slip. ''Black Satin Dancer'' has an orchestral problem, meaning that the orchestra practically constipates the song quite a bit. It's not bad, especially when Martin Barre is given room to go nuts. Following this are two tracks I question the merits of. ''Requiem'' and ''One White Duck'' are just Ian and his guitar, and I find them rather irritating. It's not like on AQUALUNG where the acoustic dabbles were short, sweet and tolerable; here, both last too long while nothing essential happens.

''Baker St. Muse'' is the album's opportune moment to gain momentum. However, the themes seem scatterbrained without much direction. It suffers the same problem as A PASSION PLAY in that there are simply too many ideas running rampant with only the ''A Nice Little Tune'' segment being of any interest to me.

MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY a hard rock and folk rock cross that sounds interesting at the beginning, but stumbles at the finish. If you want this album, get the CD remaster that contains the ''Pan Dance'' track, a superb, mystic flute-led instrumental that could easily fit on a HEAVY HORSES type of album.

Report this review (#208998)
Posted Friday, March 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars

Another classic release from Jethro Tull. Here you will find a solid mix between so many styles. From hard rock, to progressive rock, to folk and folk rock. Ian's flute and vocals pepper this album and add so many fanciful melodies to the work.

Minstrel in the Gallery is a showcase of how the whole album goes in a way. Followed by The hypnotically fascinating Cold Wind to Valhalla. Black Satin Dancer kicks things up a bit, and adds more enjoyable melodies to the mix. Then comes Requiem, a solid acoustic piece. One White Duck has to be the most directly beautiful song on the album. The vocals are absolutely spine tingling at times, and lyrically the entire album is steeped in Ian's masterful English medieval imagery. Tull always had some of the greatest lyrics I've ever heard. Baker St. Muse. is an unexpected epic. It flows from hard rocking to tasteful folk movements. Lyrically challenging, and visceral in its prettiness. Ended by the short acoustic snippet "Grace" the entire album is a joy to behold, and truly a classic for Jethro Tull.

The album does suffer form a few disjointed melodies, and the production seems needlessly stark at times, but not enough as to do any real damage to the overall album as a whole. Four solid Stars

Report this review (#211380)
Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The only deficiency in this album is its verbosity. Aside from 'Cold Wind to Valhalla', 'Requiem' and 'One White Duck', the music seems to meander on just a little bit too long. This is even the case with the two hallmarks of the album: the title track and 'Baker Street Muse. If only Ian had produced two or three more quality songs and trimmed down the other songs in a few places. However, despite the extended workouts, the album contains some excellent acoustic Tull and some of their finest melodies and compositions.

On that note, I will attempt to keep my own review from falling into the fault of the album. Minstrel certainly contains some of Tull's most lush and gorgeous melodies; and unlike Thick as a Brick or A Passion Play, this album is dominated by acoustic arrangements. That is not to say this album lacks the classic hard hitting guitar passages of Martin Barre: the title track, 'Cold Wind to Valhalla', 'Black Satin Dancer', and 'Baker St. Muse' all feature sections where Martin's guitar reigns supreme in the world of Jethro Tull.

But, for the most part, it's the subtle and delicate acoustic guitar of Ian Anderson that makes this album work. Jeffrey Hammond's bass is impressive throughout the album and fans of Jon Evan will not be disappointed with the tasteful touches from his Hammond organ and his beautiful piano parts. Ian and company brought in four violins and a cellist for the recording; the arrangements by David Palmer are remarkable and coexist within the pieces quite well. 'Cold Wind to Valhalla' is probably the best illustration of the successful integration of electrical instrumentation with the orchestral sounds of Ian's flute and strings.

'Black Satin Dancer' develops gradually, the strings and Evan's piano moving the piece along in the first section. And then it is the guitar of Martin Barre set alongside the apocalyptic organ work of Evan; Barre's solo really takes off until he returns more subdued pickings whereupon Ian begins a solo and the tempo accelerates to a demonic pace. Then the band begins to go through a number of other transitions and it is here that the piece somewhat drags along, the playing is quite excellent but the abrupt changes may not endear themselves to certain listeners.

'Requiem' ends Side One and preludes the music to come: delicate acoustic guitar, beautiful orchestral arrangements and classical tendencies. Side Two features 'Baker St. Muse' and two other acoustic numbers. The first, 'One White Duck', follows in line with 'Requiem' timbre-wise; another gorgeous melody delivered sincerely and wonderfully by Ian. 'Grace' ends the album on a subtle and sublime note.

'Baker St. Muse' takes the sonic mood and feel of the album, incorporates the multi-part progressive nature of Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play, and presents the opus of the album. Delicate piano, acoustic guitar and strings are again the instruments of choice. This piece demonstrates the marvelous compositional skill of Ian Anderson and the uncanny interaction between the musicians. There is no question that this piece is a hallmark of the classic early 70's lineup, and an excellent note on which Jeffrey Hammond to depart. A must have for any prog listener.

Report this review (#221711)
Posted Thursday, June 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Jethro Tull's 1975 album, "Minstrel In The Gallery", is one of the most progressive records of the group, along with "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play". Ian's voice is perfect as always, creating a medieval atmosphere. His flute is a little less used here and, instead, we have very good passages of acoustic guitar. The orchestral arrangements are present on most part of the album and I love that! The keyboards are more on the background, but Barlow's drums and Martin's overpower guitar are on the scene here! They give us excellent instrumental jams, more noticed on the title-track, "Black Satin Dancer" and the best song, the marvelous suite "Baker St. Muse". With this album, Barlow proves that he is one of the most technical drummers of the 70's. This record is, too, the last with bassist Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, whom goes out to be a painter. Well, overall this is one of the best albums of the year, and "Baker St. Muse" is the winner for best song. A deserved 5 star.
Report this review (#244817)
Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars One white duck on your wall.

Minstrel in the gallery was the last Tull album i got into, and believe me, it took some serious listening to understand this album. This is to me, the most rewarding of the "less" popular Tull albums. There's a clear resemblence to Aqualung here, and if it wouldn't be for the lack of monster hits like the songs "Aqualung" and "Locomotive Breath", Minstrel in the gallery could easily compete with its older siblings.

The opening track has a nice bassline and rocks out quite nicely, the problem for me is that it tries to resemble "Aqualung" too much and just doesn't make the cut. It's still a nice track though. I think that the rest of the albums flows through decently, i've never needed to skip a track on this album, and that atleast for me says something. The flute solo on "Black Satin Dancer" maybe goes a little overboard, but that's what Tull is all about. There is, of course, clear highlights on the album. "Cold Wind To Valhalla" and "Baker Street Muse" stand out the most, but i also like the pretty little tune "Requiem".

Minstrel maybe isn't perfect, but when you get into it it gives much more than say, Benefit, has ever given me. 4 and a half star would be ideal but i don't do that so it's a 4. Great album.

Report this review (#253317)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Minstrel In The Gallery is one of the fan favourites but it has always escaped me why. Right from the first time I heard it I was amazed at the lack of passion in this music. Was this the same band that had created poignant masterpieces such as Taab or Stand Up?

Of course, Jethro Tull is a very diverse band so it is no surprise that fans tend to pick completely different favourites, depending on the aspects that please them the most in Tull's sound. For me this album lacks enough compelling song writing to make it stand out above average Tull music. Another criticism I have is that they tried too much to return to the success formula that was called Aqualung. Both the 'harsh' sound and the acoustic versus 'hard' rocking nature of the songs are a clear nod to territories they had visited before.

And the backwards looking recipe did not inspire them to great song writing. The opener Minstrel In The Gallery is exemplary. It seems to be in search for a memorable tune for its entire 8 minutes but it doesn't happen. The song has some raw power yes, but it lacks the inspiration to charm me. It's also saddening to hear how old and drained this band sounds. Well , they were 8 albums into their career already.

Cold Wind to Valhalla and the charming One White Duck are the only songs that have any lasting effect on me. Actually this would be the only two tracks that I have occasionally been returning to over the years. Baker Street Muse is ambitious and has a few nice sections, such as the softer middle part, but generally I would have to repeat the same criticisms that I have summed up for the title track. It's slightly better but never does this sparkle with the creativity and enthusiasm that kept Taab and Passion Play going for more then 40 minutes.

This sits somewhere between 2 and 3 stars, decidedly better then War Child or Heavy Horses.

Report this review (#253571)
Posted Monday, November 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars If IAN ANDERSON is a deft writer of lyrics and flute and acoustic guitar player, these qualities have always been offset by a voice that grates after at best half an album, an unredeemable cynical edge to his themes, his dictatorship over the band, and a blend of folk and hard rock that misses more than it hits. As a prog folky, I felt like "Minstrel in the Gallery" would finally be "Tull" does "Amazing Blondel", but Anderson lacks the warmth and devotion to the folk idiom that would be required. While this clearly works for the massed prog fans who like to feel they have a folk side, his success depends on that side rarely surfacing in any authentic way. So this 1975 offering is really an exercise in flat and rote verbose Elizabethan hard rock more than anything.

Most of the track lengths are generous, and certainly some development does occur, but even the pleasing structure of "Black Satin Dancer" cannot hide the cacophony that comprises its bulk. The title cut is even worse, as there seems no transition between introductory acoustic phrasings and the raunchy majority of the exercise. For that reason, "One White Duck" is by far the most effective piece, as it includes two folkier tracks, the first mellow and intensely melodic, the second more expressive and classically Tull, but remaining focused primarily on harmonics. It manages to convey the general album theme of the unfulfilled minstrel better than anything else here. "Baker St Muse" has some fine moments in the middle but suffers along with most of its ilk from lack of cohesion and melodic strength, and a tendency to resort to a surfeit of wailing guitars and flutes to cover the dearth of inspiration..

JETHRO TULL's eclectic mix of prog, hard rock, classical and folk suffers from a lack of emotion and genuine minstrelsy on this 1975 release, which is maybe Anderson's point after all, as it is more of a piece in a rogues' gallery than an intrinsically valuable work of art.

Report this review (#258975)
Posted Saturday, January 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This review is based on the regular CD without the bonus tracks included. I would consider this a more "folky" Tull than their previos album. Minstrel in the Gallery has always been one of my favorite Tull albums along with aqualung and Songs From the Wood. There is not a weak spot on the album, although Black Satin Dancer has never really appealed to me it is still a solid track. The title track is, of couse, a classic, and is also great on the Bursting Out Live album. Cold WInd to Valhalla may be my favorite on the album- great strumming guitar, great lyrics, it really sets a perfect mood for all things VIkingish. Requim is solid. One White Duck=Nothing at all has some of the best lyrics in any Tull compostion. I have no idea what their ultimate meaning is but I enjoy them just the same. Baker Street Muse is a long extended romp that shows off all sides of Tull from lyrics to musicianship. ANd the ending- I love it. "I can't get out!" I have read some poor reviews of this song, but I consider it to be good, classic Tull. Overall, this album is a 4 1/2 star effort, 4 stars on this site.
Report this review (#271216)
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars After the somewhat pop styled War Child, Tull came back with the much more prog Minstel In The Gallery. And mostly, this is a worthy album.

The title track, in a much longer form than is was usually played live, is a great prog piece. It's outlandish, bombastic, and has lots of unexpected twists and turns. And it's the best song on the album. Cold Wind To Valhalla takes a bit to rev up, but once it gets going, it has a good solid prog feel.

I must admit, I never really got One White Duck, despite it apparently being one of Anderson's favorites, being played on countless tours. It seems to be inferior to many of his other folky tunes. Listenable, but forgattable.

And Baker St. Muse. I know it's a favorite of many here, and it does have it's moments. But it's only moments. The song starts out a bit mundane, gets very good, then let's down quite a bit, and then repeats the good part. Why is this a favorite?

3.5 stars, rounded up. And so ends Tull's proggiest period.

Report this review (#273539)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I am a huge fan of (the second half) of War Child. I think that Minstrel In The Gallery also suffers from a similar condition to its predecessor. It is not consistent. Not to the same degree though. Its best efforts are not as good and its worst does not scrape the sea floor so deeply. I don't think there are actually any all that bad tracks on Minstrel. Just a bunch of middling works along with the some good ones. The middling works I am refering to are Cold Wind of Valhalla, Blak Satin Dancer and requiem. The good ones are the title track, One White Duck and the soft finale Grace. The first three just don't leap off the page. One White Duck is probably the strongest and most consistently good work.

Straddling both categories is the epic Baker Street Muse, at times it is inspired and as fired up as Ian Anderson can muster; especially the middle portion and at the "Minstrel in the Gallery" part. At other times it drags down nearly to the first half of War Child territory. The "Baker Street Muse" chorus line probably grates the most. It has its ups and downs. I think it is worth a listen for the good parts though.

I'd say taken as a whole I like Minstrel in the Gallery as much as I like War Child as a whole. It's good, not great. If you're a Tull fan this is pretty typical stuff. There are shinier bits from the band, so I'd only recommend coming this direction if you've already been past Aqualung, Stand Up and Thick as a Brick. Three out of five.

Report this review (#276657)
Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Try as I might, I could not quite get into "Minstrel in the Gallery". It's a fair album for me, but nothing compared to "TAAB" or "A Passion Play", at that. It requires a number of listens to appreciate the few great moments present. The lyrics somewhat lack the "power" that was featured on their previous albums (perhaps due to Anderson's separation with his wife at the time the record was being made). The music is somewhat stagnant, leaving me wanting more risks and creativity. The strongest track for me is the 16 minute "Baker St. Muse", reminding me of previous, glorious moments earlier in their discography. I included in my ratings the bonus tracks, as it does not affect my overall rating. These tracks do not really offer much, but they're somewhat pleasing to my ears at times. Overall, I say this is a must for Tull fans, but seeing as I am a casual fan, it does not really do it for me. Not essential, but it's a nice, little addition once you have the aforementioned classics.

1. "Minstrel in the Gallery" - 8/10

2. "Cold Wind to Valhalla" - 8/10

3. "Black Satin Dancer" - 8/10

4. "Requiem" - 7/10

5. "One White Duck / 0^10 = Nothing At All" - 7.5/10

6. "Baker St. Muse" - 8.5/10

7. "Grace" - 7.5/10

8. "Summerday Sands" - 8/10

9. "March the Mad Scientist" - 7/10

10. "Pan Dance" - 7.5/10

77/10 = 77% = 3 stars

Report this review (#290265)
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For all intents and purposes I am amazed when looking back at the discography that War Child happend before Minstrel. I mean Minstrel is a superb conceptual piece and WC a bit of a mishmash albeit quality mishmash. JT produced Minstrel in 1975, the highpoint of prog creativity speaking and it demonstrates it too, really quality stuff but the song writing is just one tiny hamper short of a picnic. The title song is awesome and an eight minute classic, as is " Black Satin Dancer" but after that the album trembles a wee bit. Anderson as usual in complete control like salmon fishing on a remote loch, but the final result strays a bit. The long drawn out " Baker St' Muse" is sadly just that a tad overbaked but otherwise an excellent rare classic. Overall the album is very good. Three and a half stars.
Report this review (#290569)
Posted Friday, July 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ah! So you are at last digging deep into the Jethro Tull library!?

Splendid! Then I shall start now!

Minstrel In the Gallery is an album that is regarded among the people that have it, but it doesn't have the controversy or just strait popularity of THICK AS A BRICK or A PASSION PLAY. Though I think this fits perfectly into the duology of those two albums.

Though usually A Passion Play is regarded as dark album, this album is far darker, I think would have worked far better if our friend Ian decided to combine the first five tracks through the magic of editing into a side-long track. That would have brought more attention.

Actually I think I'll edit my own that way.

edit: Okay, I did that, and it sounds way better. All of those word things at the begginings are out and it starts with the beggining of Minstrel, then I wanted to end it with the second part of Minstrel, yet I changed my mind and made that second to last and made Requiem it.

edit 2: Wow, I just like ended that review to make a mix. Maybe I should conclude the review.

1. Minstrel In the Gallery: Starts off quite nicely, and following one of Martin Barres best solos ever is a second similar part to that that rocks much harder, much in the style of 'I've Seen All Good People' by Yes

2: Cold Wind To Valhalla: This ones a strange one to describe

Will finish in a few hours

Well, it turned out to be a couple of days, disregard that.

3: Black Satin Dancer: This track seems to define what Jethro TUlls style was at this point in time, and has a sweeping, epic part at the end, that really makes me smile every time.

4. Requiem: This song is perhaps one of the most personality-effecting songs I have ever heard, for its extreme solemness. One time, I played it to a group of people that were smiling and happy, then by the end of the song the entire room was silent.

5. One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing at all: Basically this song is the yang to Requiems Yin, it is a bright acoustic song that lasts long yet doesn't overstay its welcome, and can make all of those feelings encompassed by Requiem instantly vanish. The lyrical undertones may be sad, yet I choose to ignore that.

6. Baker Street Muse: This song is as much of a medley a Thick As a Brick is, which isn't a medley at all. Baker Street Muse is a wonderful song, yet doesn't match A Passion Play or Thick as a Brick, but then again, those are two of the greatest albums in rock history. This relates more to TAAB as Passion play just by the way the transitions and song structure works than anything else.

7. Grace: Jethro Tull's own 'Her Majesty'

Though MInstrel In The Gallery is an easy 5 star album, it should not be aproached as your first Jethro Tull album, for that, there is Songs From The Wood and Aqualung.

Report this review (#297152)
Posted Thursday, September 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Minstrel in the Gallery is a really nice progressive album. There's full of medieval-like melodies and riffs and there's great rocking stuff too. It's really progressive and I guess there's no tracks in it and don't like. It sure isn't comparable to Thick as A Brick and A Passion Play but it is still a charming album. I always liked the way Ian sings and plays the flute and there's a lot of flute playing in the album. There's no major problem in the album and it gets 4 stars easily for me.

I recommend this one for every lovers of medievalish prog and amateurs of rock music.

Report this review (#301549)
Posted Saturday, October 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Easily my favorite Tull album after "Thick as a Brick" and "Aqualung", Minstrel in the Gallery sits nicely between the two in terms of proggish composision and classic rock grooves; the energy, feel, variety, and dynamic amongst the group on this one is outstanding.

The title track opens things up with a acoustic intro, then gives way to seriously rockin' guitar and organ-led jams, with complex playing and great vocals by Anderson. I was exceptionally surprised and pleased when I first heard this track-- it has great rock energy played with the distinctive Tull style.

"Cold Wind to Valhalla" keep the energy going with an upbeat tempo, the inclusion of strings, and ambitious song writing. This one has lots of twists and turns to keep things interesting and heavy-- especially for Tull. I was impressed with the rhythm section on this, who crank out a fast and razor sharp foundation throughout. "Black Satin Dancer" complements "Valhalla" nicely, varying the tempo a bit but keeping up the powerful mood and style-- great guitar solo by Barre; in fact, the guitar playing throughout this album is stellar. The next two tracks are beautiful acoustic pieces with string accompaniment, showing a folksy side to this otherwise rock-oriented album with a nice change to balladry.

The closer is an extended track with lots of variety, again showing off an exceptional level of song writing ambiton-- which the band pulls off wonderfully. This album feels very much like a group effort and less like an Ian Anderson solo album, which is what I find some Tull albums to turn in. Minstrel in the Gallery is the complete Jethro Tull package-- filled with great variety, playing, and unique feel which makes this band one of a kind. If you're new to Tull and enjoyed their other key albums-- this is the next place to go!

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#303034)
Posted Saturday, October 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Minstrel in the Gallery" is another one of the classic Jethro Tull albums that will divide reviewers as it is quite a bombastic little treasure, and not everyone is into Anderson's egotistic flights into fantasy. It is one of the first albums I heard from Tull and always enchanted me with it's humour and unique presence. On the title track there are inspirational guitars by the great Martin Barre.

"Cold Wind to Valhalla" brings the flute into play but this instrument is surprisingly left off most of the other tracks although it is Anderson's signature instrument. The bassline is wonderful on this too by Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond.

"Black Satin Dancer" is piano driven, with an excellent lead guitar solo. The flute makes another appearance and there is a full blown orchestra to enjoy.

"Requiem" is a trademark acoustic arrangement, Anderson loved to put at least one acoustic treasure on an album. Anderson's vocals are gentle and it is a peaceful atmosphere generated here.

"One White Duck/0^10 = Nothing At All" is a real curio that merges from light release prog to tense rock with soaring guitars.

"Baker St. Muse" is the epic of the album beginning with an 'outtake' and then Anderson launches into it headlong as the orchestra draws out a sweet melody. Barre once again has a chance to shine on guitar and he is given full reign as he literally explodes with an unrelenting force.

The bonus tracks are as good as bonus tracks can be, pleasant to hear but forgettable.

Thus an excellent album draws to a conclusion and it is definitely one of Tull's best though not to the standard of TAAB, Benefit or Aqualung. 4 shining stars.

Report this review (#321774)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars The absolute greatest Jethro Tull album, a graceful and mellow little album.

No one track is greater than the other. I listen to this as if it is a concept album, has to be from start to finish (Well, I do that with pretty much all albums but this one just plain HAS to be listened to like that).

The title track is one of the greatest songs Tull has ever released, it starts off as an easy going folk song but the mood quickly switches to hard rock and the guitar playing by Barre is amazing during the shift. Anderson's singing is at it's most emotional and I suppose that's because he just suffered a breakup.

Cold Wind To Valhalla is a nice track that really grows on you after awhile. It is in the same vein as the opener and yet it's something completely different, just great stuff.

Black Satin Dancer is a very emotional love song that the band pulls off with perfection. Everything is done perfectly whether it's the guitar, flute or voice. Just perfect.

Requiem is a soft folk song who's purpose is to sort of even out the material. It's a great track and really feels good to the ears.

One White Duck/010=Nothing At All is another purely folk song that is a great anticipation builder for the upcoming epic. It is much in the same vein as Requiem and the lyrics on this are just fantastic.

Baker St. Muse, the epic. A great track too, one of the best Tull has ever pulled off. It's not too drawn out like their album long pieces and keeps the listener's attention whether it be through the lyrics or the instrumentation, it's all great. The many shifts from hard rock to folk really make this song (and album) great.

Grace is one of my favorite album closers ever. It does it's job perfectly, ends the album with a sort of tired feeling that somehow sums up the album even though it's only like 50 seconds long. Great closer.

It's the best Jethro Tull in my opinion, I'm not sure why people have such a hard time with it. Just take one good listen so you can really hear the music, I gurantee if you don't like it, it's better than you think.

"May I buy you again... tomorrow?"

Report this review (#332883)
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Minstrel In The Gallery is great album. It is musically varied and took quite a few listens to grow on me. It was more than worth it. This was a spectacular change in sound by the band. There are some hard rock moments as well as acoustic verses. Martin Barre's guitar has a bit more edge than on previous JT albums.

The title track is excellent and I do like "Cold Wind to Valhala" very much. It is slightly melancholic and a little dark. Repeated listens did it justice. "Black Satin Dancer" has some piano in the verse parts which gives it a romantic and emotional feel. The first three songs as well as the epic "Baker Street Muse" have a few complex changes while "Requiem" and "One White Duck" are more straightforward, floating acoustic numbers with some string arrangements. They are very mellow, graceful and dreamy.

Overall, this is super stuff. I would like to urge some reviewers to listen to this album more. As another reviewer said, it's a lot better than you think initially! I couldn't agree more. 4 solid stars.

Report this review (#383548)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I can't get out!


I can easy say that Minstrel is the last ''classic'' from them, at least is the last album that can be compared with the sound of JT's masterpieces (even if it's not at their level), in this album Ian is at his best with the lyrics (I've spent quite a day to understand all the meanings under Baker Street Muse's lyric) and in every song we got the impression that he is joking with the words, the lonely duck or the ''sweet Sunday lunch confusion'' and maybe the ''may I buy you again tomorrow?'' are examples of how the disc is fullfilled with multiple meanings and you can listen it like a thousand times without understand everything.

Main Theme

This time there isn't any concept, just only 7 songs fullfilled with music, from the start of Minstrel with his guitars, the intro with acustic and the electric with the enter of drums in the center piece. Follow Valhalla that's maybe the weak part of the album even if it's far better that Warchild's tracks here we see again the flute dancing between the guitar and the percussions ad the counterpoint of Ian voice. After this we got a sad part (that will end with Baker Street), starting with the quite and slow Black Satin Dancer, fullfilled of Ian voice at moments and full of drums+electric guitar in others, but keeping always the quite theme almost 'till the 4th minute where a great (even small) intro of solo guitar bring again the voice and his flute counterpoint, till the end where Ian bring back the first part of sadness. The same mood is the prelude for Requiem: this one tell when two lovers lose themselves, here we got the second weak part, empty of music even with great moments of the quite guitar (like an interloper between the starrings of this song) and the flute, again superb work for Anderson.

The last three song could have been alone in the disc and still it'd be great: starting with the last chapeter of sadness, White Duck/Nothing at All were in origin two separate songs but since the sound was similar Anderson put them toghether and the final work is a superb song with the guitar which start slowly at the beginning of Duck as Ian start to sing, is a quite easy song (talking about how is structured is empty again, far too less music in it but since Ian make himself an instrument I think it's a plus) and the reprise of Nothing at All bring everyone to ask himself what is coming.


I'll spend some words for Baker Street: is the road where lived Sherlok Holmes (at 221b), Anderson himself lived there near the time he wrote this and finally Baker Street today is one of most known roads in the center of London... add too that in english ''muse'' and ''mews'' have the same pronunciation (at the beginning Palmer himself thought that the title of the track was Baker Street Mews) and you get the complete picture of how deep you need to go for understand this song. Talking about the structure is a suite of 16 minutes, divided in 4 parts (maybe 5 since the last part repeat itself), here we got a complete picture of the people living in the street from the onomatopoeia at the bus stop 'till the chorus following with the second part where the music changes and the lyrics become much faster, as the Pig-Me (maybe Pygmy?) does what he needs to do with Fraulein, follow the 3rd part and the sadness grows again for the Crash-Barrier Waltzer, the music is a reprise from Requiem/White Duck, this time we got the prostitute and the policeman stuck in their roles. Last part comes out as Anderson himself, here the music is slow at the beginning and follow the voice again but this time is like he makes the counterpoint of the instruments. The song finally grows when Anderson describe the sleeve of SftW (There was a little boy stood on a burning log, rubbing his hands) when enter the flute and the drums, while magically the guitar turn itself as an electric one. But there is some time to repeat the 1st movement with a more harder music from the percussions. Just great, maybe alone this song can match TAAB, too bad is only 16 minutes. The end leave a 36 seconds of Grace. Powerfull and charming, again the duo voice/guitar make the whole thing where Anderson salute the things of his life asking them if he can buy them tomorrow (in the lyrics he doesn't explain if the last words are referred to the breakfast or to the whole thing).


Conclusion of this long review: This is the last chapeter of greatest Tulls, like Going for the One for Yes or Wind & Wuthering for Genesis after this the things change and we'll not see, last it's maybe the best lyrics form Anderson after all. The middle part riuned the perfect picture: the emptyness of music cannot match the full and complete Aqualung or the neverending freshness of TAAB, so if they are 5 stars this Minstrel (too bad) can be only 4 since is a quite step back from them.

Report this review (#458793)
Posted Friday, June 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Minstrel in the Gallery is one of the most underrated albums of all time. Even Ian Anderson doesn't seem to enjoy it quite a lot. Yet, it is a beautiful and even combination of progressive rock, folk rock, acoustic and electric music. Wonderfully played and produced, of course, like Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play, and also just as cohese. There are no flaws in this album. All songs are great. The guitar work is among the best (if not the best) of Martin Barre's. Even though the songs are shorter, they still have changes in mood, time, speed, in a very organic way. A true overlooked masterpiece worthy of more careful listening, and one that summarizes perfectly Tull's sound and style.
Report this review (#477659)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars

Following the finely written, but inconsistent 'War Child', 'Minstrel In The gallery' suffers from similar problems as its predecessor, but ends up being a much more consistent work. The production is also better, although quite unusual for Jethro Tull with its cold and dry sound (more like a Led Zeppelin record). The strings are still here, but they manage to annoy only on 'Cold Wind To Valhalla' and bits of 'Baker Street Muse' (while being wonderful on 'Requiem'). I would recommend getting a bootleg live radio session along with this album, where the band played the title track, 'Requiem' and 'Cold Wind To Valhalla' off this album, as the latter sounds really improved (and stringless!). Although lyrics have always been the strong point of any Tull album, this one particularly stands out, having many really exceptional lyrical moments.

Overall, a strong work and a really good album for both beginners and connoisseurs of Jethro Tull's opus.

Report this review (#505347)
Posted Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the stumble of War Child, Jethro Tull brushed themselves down and produced this one, which I consider to be something of a return to form. Bringing back the acoustic side of their sound which had been played down on War Child, adding an orchestra to some tracks (to little benefit, to be honest, but at least they don't do any harm), taking on a mildly medieval tone and tossing in a nicely structured epic (Baker Street Muse) for good measure, Tull go a long way towards reassuring the listener that, contrary to what those disappointed in War Child might have said about them, they were still capable of producing a decent album that wasn't a 40 minute suite. Of course, Too Old to Rock and Roll still awaited - and wasn't that a controversial one! - but here at least the band were riding high, and had good reason to.,
Report this review (#541057)
Posted Monday, October 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Jethro Tull had delivered many good records already before Minstrel in The Gallery. After a small dip with Warchild this is a record showing JT was getting bach in business again: great folkrock, hardrock with a technical aproach.

The titletrack is without doubt the best track of the record. After an initial folk-introduction the guitars burst out more energetic than ever with great heavy technical solo's. The record as a whole is less technical than "A Passion Play", more like "The Thick as a Brick" period. But this record is somewhat more energetic than the thick as a brick, which is an great advantage and making it somewhat better IMHO. The first two songs also sound a bit more underground.

Black Satin Dancer is a symphonic folkprogsong with some orchestral arangements, which also becomes loud and agressive for JT-standards, but finally ends with a repetition of the softer starting arrangement. Side one of my vinyl copy ends with a soft symphonic folksong called Requiem.

The second side starts again with some folkrock. Than the longest track of record begins, Baker St. Muse. This side is less confincing than side one. Having no brilliant moments like the titletrack. What I also don't like about both sides, is that the instrumental outbursts are in midle of the composition, while an outburst at the end leaves the listener with far better feelings. But JT choosed to begin and end both side with a soft folkrock part.

This comes to my conclusion that side one is worth four stars and side two is worth a small 3 stars. Sometimes I only listen to the first side. 3,5 stars for this record.

Report this review (#623401)
Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Why five stars to "Minstrel"? 4,5 would fit better, perhaps. One way or another, it counts 5 up there.

The album have as starter what everyone would expect of Jethro Tull looking in retrospective: the band (Barre, Hammond, Evan and Barlow - suberbs) going wild behind nice and structured melodies; introspective lyrics and cynical aproach of Ian Anderson towards... uh... well, life; and nice and softly orchestra writted and conducted by David Palmer. The concept of the album is too well aligned with the music, the artwork and the lyrics (what else progheads would ask!?). For that you just have to take for example the spoken intro of the first track (spoked by David Palmer) and the lyrics of Baker Street Muse.

The title-track of this album is itself an independent masterpiece, with an nicely acoustic introduction of Anderson and then with Martin and Barlow just exploding for four minutes, and then returning to a rock-single song of quality, with a riffy flute that drives the rest of the the track with no problem; "Cold Wind to Valhalla" shows the return to fantasy, the escapism... with an eye in the present, as one of the last lines of the music suggests: "Midnight lonely whisper cries: 'We're getting a bit short on heroes lately' " - oh, and the song is one of Martin and Barlow AGAIN explodes in their instruments; "Black Satin Dancer" resembles a "Aqualung" song, beginning in a acoustic fashion, going really hard-rock later, having a strong flute solo, and ending again in acoustic. The lyrics of this one are deliciously dark.

The acoustic pieces works perfectly, as they were originally separated in the side one and two (the "Requiem" and "One White Duck"), therefore giving some space to breath between them. The epic "Baker Street Muse" is, once again, aligned with the concept of a Minstrel - he has a muse, but he is lonely and bitter, and his muse is actually the street in front of him. This song goes for 16min and have (again!) everything you would expect from Jethro Tull, containing probably the best bass lines that Jefrey made with Tull and amazing keyboards of John Evan (some says he is absent in MITG, I cant see how). If you listen very carefully, the song seems to take you to a trip, then leaving you again in the same place, as we were in a bus ride, forgeting to step down and returning to the same spot were we jump in. To close, a little acoustic piece, "Grace", really nice and again with bitterness, with should not surprise anyone at this point.

Ian Anderson once said the album was with every member of the band working alone, not as a band. Well, I think this made the album works, highlighting all of the members capabilities. The album enter in the progressive rock history, since now we can call our favorite artists truly as "Minstrels".

Report this review (#897363)
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another gem of a singular band. I can not find irrelevant parts. There are three perfect songs as Minstrel in the Gallery, Black Satin Dancer and Especially Baker St. Muse, a suite very different from his earlier and with a different theme, but well made. Regarding the rest, stand One With Duck and Cold Wind to Valhalla. The band is perceived stylistically and musically renewed after some passages of uncertainty after Thick as a Brick, showing they still had much to give. It perceives the beginning of the period even more folk-tinged hard rock. The quality of the lyrics and good production delimit a highly recommended work.
Report this review (#922556)
Posted Sunday, March 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars That's better. I love the opener "Minstrel in the Gallery" and it rates up there with the very best of Tull numbers. It opens as an acoustic guitar driven bit of folk music where I love how the acoustic guitar punctuates the music into an electric rock masterpiece. This track goes into my desert island track suitcase. The lyrics are back to Jethro Tull brilliance here. "Cold Wind to Valhalla" - nice acoustic guitar opening to this track - a bit of Norse religion / mythology. "Black Satin Dancer" - I've heard it was written during the time of Anderson's divorce although I haven't verified that - the track would make a great deal of emotive sense if it were. A very strong emotive track this one. Interesting flute interplay with a hard rock lead. "Requiem" - a softer track, very emotional both lyrically and musically. "One White Duck" - again a very emotive track with very interesting lyrics - again the Anderson divorce thing would make a great deal of sense of the track. "Baker St Muse" - once again lyrically emotive however also lyrically extremely good. A very good track full of musical contrasts in the folk prog rock vein. "Grace" - very short track - conclusion to a heavily emotional set of tracks.

This is a good album as far as I'm concerned where the highlight is the brilliant title track itself. This album is extremely good as far as the lyrics are concerned and the music is accomplished typical Jethro Tull prog folk rock.

As far as the track additions go on the extended album they don't add much at all "Summerday Sands" is pleasant enough if a little airy. "March the mad Scientist" is light folky stuff. "Pan Dance" is an instrumental flute and orchestra thing which I enjoy. The two live tracks are purely a taste of Tull live and they don't mean very much.

Some brilliance here however I do find the emotional content of the later tracks a little tiresome after a while. Anderson himself I believe is not too fond of the album. A four star rating from me due to when it's brilliant it's really brilliant - also due to the lyrical content and to some pretty damn good use of the instruments from the band. The additional content on the extended album is pleasant enough although it doesn't add very much at all.

Report this review (#942598)
Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This has to be one of Jethro Tull's finest moments. While the band often was able to evoke a very wonderful old English sound and feeling with their earlier music, Minstrel in the Gallery is a true triumph in this respect. Every song has the "prog-folk" feeling that was explored later in their three folk rock albums, but here it is much darker and just... perfect. Ian Anderson put the minstrel concept to good use and as a result most songs on Minstrel are acoustic guitar oriented. But it is Jethro Tull, of course, and so the acoustic is blended with hard electric guitar riffs, thundering drums, and searing keyboards when needed. Add to that the usual string arrangements courtesy of David Palmer, and you have a nearly perfect album that is constantly engaging and amazingly unique.

It opens with the title track, which introduces us to the minstrel band presenting a lord and his lady one of their cheery tunes. At first, it goes along with sparse instrumentation and has that perfect medieval feel, with great acoustic guitar and flute. The lyrics are quite dense and don't have any obvious meaning, but that is a whole separate matter if you wish to take a look at exactly what it is he's singing. As the song goes on, the acoustic guitar fades away and is replaced suddenly by distorted, hard rock guitar. Then, the song kicks into overdrive, and we are presented with some of Jethro Tull's hardest, most complex and fun to listen to instrumental playing since maybe A Passion Play. Anderson also returns to the verses for awhile, but the real focus is the guitar and flute. This song sets the stage for the rest of the album, as some of the best songs follow a similar acoustic/electric blend. The complexity of the music doesn't die down much, either.

The other songs are all great as well, but the highlight of the whole album is definitely the nearly side-long suite "Baker St. Muse". This giant of a track is also one of the band's best works and is more of a trip through a strange, mysterious London than a song. Broken into multiple parts, it features some of Ian's best acoustic guitar playing, which dominates most of the track, and spectacular string arrangements. The sections with the entire band are fantastic as well. "Baker St. Muse" is truly an amazing song, worthy of many listens. The other highlights of the album are "Cold Wind to Valhalla" and "One White Duck/0^10=Nothing at All", but every track has something very special. This is an album that is constantly rewarding and a true work of art. Additionally, the remastered CD version that I have features five bonus tracks, including the great "Summerday Sands". These are also similar in sound to the album tracks, and are worthy of listening to (except maybe the two "live" tracks, which despite the name don't make sense as live performances).

The only downsides to this album would be firstly the sound, which is not always that good. There is a rather dull quality sometimes, and even a high-pitched tone just audible behind the music in some tracks. I expect it was like this on the original album and it's a shame, because it does take away from the mood of the songs somewhat. Also, someone who likes harder prog or more electric guitar than acoustic, you may be dissapointed by this album, which often stays more mellow than fiery. Then again, there are plenty of parts that pack a real punch.

Final thought? Minstrel in the Gallery is probably my favorite Tull album and is without a doubt the best medieval sounding/themed album they did. One could say it takes the idea started on Aqualung with Anderson's short acoustic pieces and improves on it to the point where a whole album could be made from it. Really great album for anyone who likes acoustic, medieval prog and great songwriting.

Report this review (#950805)
Posted Saturday, April 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't hate this album, but this one isn't catchy as their previous works. Well, the first track is awesome. This is a way better than the previous one, War Child.

I think this is still overrated. I don't know why a masterpiece album like A is underrated by the difference sounding (unfortunattely the last good album from Jethro Tull) while Minstrel in The Gallery is rated high presenting us a simple formula without the same complexity. MITG is not bad at all. Some good passages. But if you have any Tull album on your own, you really don't need this one. This album is a very acoustic rock and roll attempt by Ian Anderson. It has my favorite cover art by Jethro Tull after A Passion Play.

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Posted Thursday, June 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Jethro Tull had one peculiar career behind them by the time they released their eighth album, "Minstrel in the Gallery". They debuted as a blues rock band, swiftly changed direction for the second album, swerved again for the third, and then established their sound for the seventies with their infamous fourth album, "Aqualung". Then they went off and did two albums of one double-sided song each. They successfully blended acoustic folk music with heavy rock and added a third element of classical influence which shone through in flute, piano, and strings.

"Minstrel" sees the Tull sticking to that combination and still managing to work out new wonders. According to Wikipedia, Ian Anderson was experiencing some tough personal times around the writing and recording sessions and he felt the band was not focused. In spite of this, the album shows all members in top form, particularly Martin Barre's rock guitar holds a place in the spotlight at times.

The album opens with the title track and begins as a folk song about some imaginary minstrel and the effect his music has on various intriguing characters. But the song soon changes into a heavy instrumental segment that could be called proto-progressive metal. The rhythm section just hammers and pounds away as Barre works his guitar like he's refining iron ore. A steady beat sets in and the song rocks away to the end.

The next two tracks follow a similar course, offering acoustic beginnings with guitar, flute, and strings, and then morph into some hard rockers.

Here, however, our journey switches terrain and from "Requiem" through "One White Duck / 0 -10=Nothing at all" to the beginning of "Baker Street Muse" we are treated to some beautiful acoustic guitar sometimes complemented by strings and flute. "Baker Street Muse" is given 16 minutes to travel through a folksy beginning, followed by a prog rock part, more hard rock, more of Barre's prog metal guitar playing, acoustic guitar with chimes, melancholic music, and a return to the rock theme. All the while, Anderson sings lyrics from his quirky and often humorous view of people. After the song has concluded, we can hear Anderson walking to the studio door only to find it locked where upon he cries, "I can't get out!"

"Grace" is a short final track that might slip right past you if you stop to check the train schedule or open the Facebook app. Then come the bonus tracks. Two additional songs, "Summerday Sands" and "March the Mad Scientist" sound like typical Jethro Tull pieces but have a different feel from the rest of the album. "Pan Dance" is really different as it is a string orchestra and simple percussion performing along with Anderson's flute. I rather like this classical effort with an un-English style.

I really like how this album maintains the seventies Jethro Tull sound while still offering new concoctions of music. And though it might have soon been time for the band to pursue a new direction ("Heavy Horses"), they proved that they could really make this triad of rock, folk, and classical work cohesively.

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Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nº 53

The title of the album refers to a minstrel performing in a gallery. A minstrel was a medieval troubadour who performed songs whose lyrics told stories about distant places and about real or imaginary historical events. They created their own tales or memorized and embellished the tales of others. A minstrel's gallery is a great hall of the castles or manor houses where the minstrels sung. So, the dominant theme on this Jethro Tull's album was an Elizabethan minstrel piece of music with electric and acoustic sounds in a rock and a folk musical context.

Relatively to the line up of the band it's the same of their last albums. After the end of this Jethro Tull's musical period, the bassist Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond will quit the band and be replaced by John Glascock. As Ian Anderson wrote, he returned to his first love, the painting. On the other hand, for the 1975 live tour, David Palmer, who had long been the band's orchestra arranger and, in my humble opinion, he did a great job on this album, officially will join the group on keyboards and synthesizers. So, the line up on the album is Ian Anderson (vocals, flute and acoustic guitar), Martin Barre (electric guitars), John Evan (piano and organ), Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (bass guitar and string bass) and Barriemore Barlow (drums and percussion).

After a failed attempt to pander to the critics, Jethro Tull returns doing what they know to do better, which is playing progressive rock music. The Anderson's lyrics show an introspective and cynical air, possibly due to the Anderson's recent divorce from his first wife and the pressures of touring, joined with the frustrations of writing for this new work and recording the album in Monte Carlo.

'Minstrel In The Gallery' is their eighth studio album and was released in 1975. It has seven tracks. The first track is the title track song 'Minstrel In The Gallery'. It's a very beautiful musical composition which combines acoustic and hard rock music in a very balanced way. It's one of the two stronger and most energetic songs on the album. The second track 'Cold Wind To Valhalla' is a song that transports us to the Viking medieval imaginary. It's a more acoustic song that combines the acoustic and the electric parts very well. It's one of my favourite songs from the album. The third track 'Black Satin Dancer' is a very romantic song with a very original tune. It's, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful songs on the album and represents one of the best examples of the superior Palmer's musical orchestrations. The fourth track 'Requiem' is a slow acoustic ballad, featuring only Anderson's singing and playing acoustic guitar, Hammond's bass and a small string orchestra backing them. 'Requiem' is an emotional song, beautiful and sad at the same time, which doesn't surprise, due to its name. The fifth track 'One White Duck/Nothing At All' has some similarity with the previous theme 'Requiem'. It's a very beautiful and light acoustic piece of music, very well orchestrated and with great acoustic guitar working. Both are really two great songs. The sixth track 'Backer St. Muse' is the epic song on the album and is divided in four parts: 'Pig Me And The Whore', 'Nice Little Tune', 'Crash Barrier Waltzer' and 'Mother England Reverie'. It's the second stronger and most energetic song on the album, after 'Minstrel In The Gallery'. 'Backer St. Muse' reminds me very much 'Thick As A Brick' and 'A Passion Play', not only in its musical structure and in some of their musical passages, but also because it's quite extensive with slightly less than 17 minutes. Probably, this is one of my three favourite songs of Jethro Tull. Only 'Thick As A Brick' and 'A Passion Play' are better than this one. The seventh track 'Grace' is the shortest song on the album. It's a very pleasant and short acoustic song, which despite be short, ends the album with a great style.

So, we may consider this album divided in two distinct parts. The first and the sixth tracks, which correspond to the lengthiest tracks, are more electric and heavy than the rest of the album. They definitely can be considered the two best tracks on the album. The remaining five themes are more acoustic but they maintain also a very high quality level.

Conclusion: 'Minstrel In The Gallery' 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 orchestration of Palmer. 'Minstrel In The Gallery' isn't for sure the best Jethro Tull's album but is undoubtedly one of their best and the most peaceful too. For me, it's also without any doubt, the most beautiful piece of music released by them. 'Minstrel In The Gallery' is the most acoustic Jethro Tull's album and is also, in my humble opinion, one of their most progressive albums too, into all their musical career. So, we are again in the presence of another masterpiece of the group. If you don't have this album yet you're missing out one of the cornerstones of the progressive rock music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1521899)
Posted Friday, January 29, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have been listening to Jethro Tull's music since my teenage years, and I consider them as one of my most beloved and well-respected bands. In my collection I have almost 20 albums of them, and there are some that I like more than others, for various reasons. One of them is Minstrel in the Gallery.

Minstrel in the Gallery was recorded in Monte Carlo on April of 1975 and it was released in September of the same year. The album follows a different musical direction from the previous album (War Child-1974), and it includes elements of British Folk music and Pre-Elisabeth medieval tunes, mixed with beautiful acoustic and electric pieces. In the original version, the album includes 7 songs and has a total running time of almost 45 minutes. In 2002 a re-mastered version was released, including 3 extra songs, and 2 live versions of the songs Minstrel in the Gallery and Cold Wind to Valhalla.

The album's opening song is Minstrel in the Gallery, which refers to the use of a minstrel's gallery in the great halls of Medieval castles and manor houses. It begins with a small speech by the minstrel himself, before the acoustic guitar starts playing the song's main theme. After almost 2.5 minutes, the electric guitar enters and the song's structure changes completely. In my opinion 'Minstrel' in a typical Progressive Rock song, including a few Folk influences. The next song is Cold Wind to Valhalla, another beautiful and Folk-influenced piece. What I wrote for 'Minstrel' stands for this song as well. It begins as an acoustic song, but it soon becomes electric and faster in pace and rhythm. The 3rd song is the beautiful 7-minute-long Black Satin Dancer, which is also one of the album's finest moments. Here the band uses the piano as a leading instrument accompanied by a string quartet at start. But after 2.5 minutes the electric guitar enters once more, playing some beautiful riffs and solos. The A-side of the vinyl version is closing with the ballad Requiem, which is a beautiful, melodic and kind of melancholic piece. Although it is nothing impressive, I really love this song.

The B-side opens with the track with the bizarre title One White Duck / 010 = Nothing at All. A very nice acoustic song that prepares the listener for what's coming next. And next comes one of the best long songs that Jethro Tull ever recorded, and definitely the album's Top song by far. Baker St. Muse with its almost 17-minutes length is the album's epic song, and an absolute masterpiece. I am not going to write anything about it, because I don't think I can describe it in any way possible. But in order to fully appreciate it, you will surely need more than 1 or 2 listenings. The album's closing song is Grace, one of the shortest - if not THE shortest - songs Jethro Tull ever recorded. Grace is a half minute long melodic ballad, that it was used as a small closing piece and nothing more.

Although Minstrel in the Gallery was never characterized as a 'Top album' and never climbed to the high positions of the charts, it is a very beautiful album that only needs a few careful listens in order to reveal its hidden beauty. Personally, I love each and every song in it, and I can't give anything less than 4.0 out of 5.0 stars to it.

For those who are not familiar with Jethro Tull, I definitely don't recommend this album as a starter (better try Aqualung). But to all those who have some albums and like the band's style, I recommend it without a second thought.

Report this review (#1546492)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Good, but a bit over-laden.

Although by the title one might expect a light medieval folk-infused album, in fact this album has a heavier and harder edge, and quite a bit of complexity, at multiple levels. For Ian Anderson, progressive meant a host of things at once, not only difficult and original composition, but multiple instrumentation, and also multi-layered lyrical meanings and humour. On this album, Anderson lays it (multi-layered complexity) on thick. While welcome from the perspective of advancing new ideas in the field of music, it does come across as a bit over-laden, especially compared to Tull's lighter and more accessible previous album 'War Child', but also their magnum opus 'Thick as a Brick' (which already was infused with multi-layered complexity and humour). But while Brick was elevated by the complexity, Minstrel is weighted down by it. And this issue pervades not only the lyrics and composition, but even the recording sound quality. In terms of composition, these pieces sometimes do not feel like they naturally move from section to section, but in places seem forced. The lyrics are often dense, with both serious and humorous meanings simultaneously. And in terms of sound quality, Anderson here (and in subsequent albums) often multi-tracks his own voice in unison. He also multi-tracks other instruments. While producing some interesting sonic effects, the result is one in which there is sometimes too much going on to make it easy to process. Saying this, I really like complexity, and while this album is mixed in the ways it channels complexity, there is enough good music here to keep this within the 4 star realm. The highlight of the album is "Baker Street Muse", the long epic that takes up side 2 of the vinyl album. While this is very much over-laden, the intelligence and musicality are clearly evident. The title track, and "Cold Wind from Valhalla" are also quite good. On balance, I give this album 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which places it at the low end of 4 PA stars.

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Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Oh Officer-Let me send her to a cheap hotel. I'll pay the bill and make well."

After setting up a down and out scene of a female drunkard, Ian Anderson's lyrical concern, in the third suite to to the prog epic "Baker Street Muse", still brings a lump to my throat. Why it does after all these years is a mystery, but I find that it sends this well written and expertly played album into a higher Jethro Tull realm. Minstrel In the Gallery is the only Anderson creation with the power to do that. As a matter of fact, it's Anderson's brief but autobiographical clues and allusions that brings so much to Minstrel In The Gallery that can't be found in any Tull album before or after.

It's not that Anderson is spilling his guts here but allusions to infidelity, deceit, and duplicity in songs such as "One White Duck" seemed to have brought Ian's other feelings out on to his sleeve. Anderson is never overtly confessional. It's just his unique mixing of cynical lyrics and sardonic wit with human emotions that frees Minstrel In The Gallery from a clinical grave.

And six feet under it could have been. But I digress. Mixed with an instrumental concert romp from the brain of guitarist Martin Barre, the title track is both a pleasure and an aural showboat. Anderson's deft lyrics dance around or weave and deflect the pulsing bass of Jeffrey Hammond, who somehow manages to anchor the busy playing of uber drummer Barrie Barlow, without ever sounding overly busy himself all the while goose stepping around like a six foot metronome.

Long gone is the loudly played, recorded and mixed "Aqualung guitar" of Barre. A quieter, dryer but excellently toned unrelenting guitar assault by Barre removes himself from the rock wars and places him squarely in the heart of prog rock. There is more great Barre playing to come, especially on the "Cold Wind To Valhalla", "Black Satin Dancer" and the above mentioned "Baker Street Muse." Good old John Evan's piano and B3 organ seems a bit forced on most songs, especially on the album's title track, and a bit redundant on other songs that feature a string quintet arranged by David Palmer. Indeed, it's Palmer's strings and Anderson's over dubbed acoustic playing on song intros and featured on "Requiem" and "One White Duck/0^10=Nothing At All" that has made many people forget themselves and regard Minstrel In the Gallery" as some kind of bizarre unplugged acoustic based concoction. I wonder what Barre, Hammond and Barlow would have felt about that? Its easy to guess that they would not been amused.

The penultimate album cut on the original vinyl LP was the fantastic 16+ minute four part epic suite "Baker Street Muse." I don't know what I can say about this fantastic piece of prog rock music that hasn't been said many times before, except that when the song starts with Anderson flubbing the first take of his acoustic intro and calling for "take two", I actually believe that "take two" was the actual mix master for this complex song. So great was the playing of all mentioned, so great was the lyrics of Anderson, so great was the string arrangements by Palmer, so great were Anderson's vocals, on this and every other song on Minstrel In The Gallery, that the record could have come off as some clinically cold creature that could have easily resembled the reanimation of Frankenstein's monster. But it didn't. Anderson, for the once and only time in his career, breathed some real life and emotion into this work and turned Minstrel In The Gallery into a 5 star masterpiece. Bravo. I'm only sad that there was never an encore.

Report this review (#1839485)
Posted Wednesday, December 6, 2017 | Review Permalink

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