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Articles Home » 1982 Articles » Jethro Tull - 1982 Broadsword And The Beast
Jethro Tull - 1982 Broadsword And The Beast

ARTIST: Jethro Tull
ALBUM: Broadsword And The Beast
LABEL: Chrysalis
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 1988, Chrysalis (UK), CDP 32 1380 * 2005, Chrysalis (UK), 473 4112 (remastered, bonus)


LINEUP: Ian Anderson - flute, acoustic guitar, vocals * Martin Barre - electric guitar, acoustic guitar * Gerry Conway - drums, percussion * Dave Pegg - bass, mandolins, vocals * Peter-John Vettese - piano, synthesizer

TRACK LISTING: 01 Beastie * 02 Clasp * 03 Fallen On Hard Times * 04 Flying Colours * 05 Slow Marching Band * 06 Broadsword * 07 Pussy Willow * 08 Watching Me Watching You * 09 Seal Driver * 10 Cheerio


I remember one day in my youth while visiting a car boot sale an older woman trying to offload me this album telling me that if I liked AOR I might be interested in this one. I declined the offer (although I did pick up a rather tired looking New England debut), on the basis that a couple of the musicians in the group appeared to have beards! Not cool looking beards like the ZZ Top boys or Yoffy (Rick Jones) from children's show Fingerbobs, they had beards last seen on the 70's Tottenham Hotspur forward line. Anyway what did she know about music? well obviously more than I did at the time. Fast forward to 1986 to a field in Milton Keynes enjoying the Marillion Garden Party tour, when during the day a number of bands came on support, one being Jethro Tull, and what's my response, I sit down on the grass and really took no interest, especially when the stage show highlight was a guy playing a flute on one leg, not impressed, I wanted lights, thunder and spandex. So it took the third time of asking for me to encounter Jethro Tull and this time I grabbed it, in fact buying the majority of their back catalogue (which have been released with bonus tracks) and this one released in 1982 has risen to the top of my favourites.

The Songs
The opening 'Beastie' is a fairly relaxed beginning which develops into quite a sinister hard rocking number, like a character created by Robert Louis Stevenson for one his gothic novels. Although actually the main protagonist in fact lies in the mind of most of us. Keyboards compel more atmosphere to the story with 'beastie' being chanted at the most opportune moments.

With 'The Clasp' the dark feelings of 'Beastie' are replaced with a magnificent keyboard opening, moves gently onto the folky tones of the flute. With slight effects on Anderson's voice, strums of acoustic guitar and mandolins, put together to form an excellent melodic rock tune. It melts into a second part that is equally exceptional and the ending comes back to where we had begun.

With 'Fallen On Hard Times', Tull may well have gathered some new fans, as this was covered by Northern Kings, on their 'Reborn' album. The original is of course less symphonic than that played by that collection of metal Vikings, but it is still a very clever song lyrically and a mid paced stomper musically. The subject matter is very much relevant today, with housing repossessions, soaring debt levels and unemployment rising throughout the modern world. We're class this as the Jethro Tull political party broadcast.

'Flying Colours' is my favourite Tull song. The lyrics read like a marriage guidance pamphlet of all the ills of partnerships and marriage. The explanation and the manner the vocals bring the song forward are just utterly moving, biting and essential. Try this 'don't lay your bait while the whole waits around to see me shoot you down' The song portrays Tull as the godfather to the likes of Marillion while having a similar melodic keyboards pull as Survivor and Boulevard, what more of a recommendation do you need.

'Slow Marching Band', is beautiful, emotionally stirring. It seems to reaching back to an old traditional composition, like a school hymn you mumbled your way through at school assemblies. The melody soars and flies on air currents. Martin Barre is really an excellent and underrated guitarist, and manages to include a Brian May hint to the lead guitar break during the tune.

The title track of 'Broadsword' is full of fairytale imaginary, tales of old, crusades, pomp and ceremony. It has the epic sense of the 'Ben Hur' soundtrack with the drums moving from battle speed to ramming speed. It manages to add the keyboards of I-Ten to medieval scenery, one helluva of a strange combination, granted. This is pagan metal, long before the likes Alestorm, Tyr, Turisas and Ensiferum set sail. What I wouldn't give to see the actual stage show which incorporated a pirate ship, main braces and rigging.

After a couple of classic tunes we arrive at 'Pussy Willow' which is more of a simple song structure with its Justin Hayward intro last found on 'Forever Autumn'. After a couple of gentle verses its head first into a melodic chorus with a piano bash (like Freddie Mercury would do during concerts when banging down his elbow onto the piano keys.) The chorus is one of the most memorable of the whole album and includes the great line, 'hear her typewriter humming cutting dreams down to size again' , sounds like an old girlfriend!

'Watching Me, Watching You' must had sounded pretty modern when it was released, today it may sound a little bit dated with the synths, but that's not to say it's a poor song. If you are still enjoying the likes of 80's Saga and Wang Chung then like me, you will enjoy this one.

I have no idea what 'Seal Driver' is talking about, my guess is that it could be describing relationships using shipping analogies, I'm probably wrong, but Anderson is a masterful lyricist, Britans finest. It's a thundering track, quite progressive in nature, look it's got to the end before I have even mentioned progressive rock.

In Summary
As I was illuminating in my last sentence, Tull were no longer peddling the P word (nor had they had been for a while), this album contains some top class AOR songs and top class rock songs. It's one of most complete albums in my record collection, I am still discovering parts of this album even down to the record cover which I only notice while writing the review. Each corner has a gargoyle portraying each member of the group, genius. If you haven't picked this one up yet then I suggest you go for the re-issue that comes with 8 bonus tracks, with 'Overhang' and 'Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.' being further recommended listening.

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