1.0 out of 5 stars "They lost what they thought they were keeping."
By Timothy Blickhamon February 18, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Okay, this record actually has some small merit and deserves, in fact, a star or two more than one. I'm giving it only one, however, to counteract the exaggerated influence of the five-star Tull zombies.
Someone below calls this 1975 record the "beginning of Tull bombast". I think most critics would call "A Passion Play" (1973), rather, the beginning of Tull bombast. I would too, though I like most of "A Passion Play"--so much so that I'm willing to overlook what I don't like about it. With the possible exception of "Songs From the Wood" (a wan fluke), that's it, however.
What went wrong? Well, we can only speculate, but notice that "Minstrel in the Gallery" is the first Tull to attribute production credit solely to Ian Anderson. Producer/manager Terry Ellis is gone, and there doesn't seem to be anyone left to tell Anderson when he's veered off course.
Some of the reviews make a bit of a fuss about Jeffrey Hammond. I find him fairly invisible here. During his entire five-album tenure, in fact, he seemed much less inclined to solo or fill than his predecessor, Glenn Cornick. Well, I do like Hammond's quasi-walking bass on "Aqualung" (the song), but I have a vague recollection reading somewhere that, though the liner notes credit the entire album to Hammond, Cornick actually played bass on this track. By the way, Cornick was apparently pushed out of the band by Anderson, who preferred to have his best friend in the band, though Hammond at the time hadn't touched a musical intrument in years.
Anderson also pushed Mick Abrahams out because Anderson wanted to be sole singer and songwriter. That may well have been for the better, but I don't think drummer Clive Bunker's departure was. Barriemore Barlow is clearly much more of a technician than Bunker, but Bunker had much more style and personality, style and personality unriveled, in my opinion, by any rock drummer except The Police's Stewart Copeland. I consider, in fact,Clive Bunker just as important a part of Jethro Tull's sound as Ian Anderson. Without Bunker, "Thick as a Brick" and "A Passion Play" were just coasting, and with "WarChild" it became painfully clear Jethro Tull could coast no longer.
So, to sum up, I suggest three reasons:
1) With the increasingly ambitious, large-scale projects, "Aqualung", 'Thick as a Brick", and "A Passion Play", Ian Anderson had painted himself into a corner.
2) Without Clive Bunker the band had been living on borrowed time.
3) When he removed Terry Ellis (after having previously removed Mick Abrahams and Glenn Cornick), Ian Anderson finally pulled the rug out from under him.