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5 September 1987

TULL'S CLOWN JEWELS

Jethro Tull
'On The Crest Of A Knave'

(Chrysalis CDL 1590/CD)

It's difficult to believe that until now, the legendary Jethro Tull have only released two albums this decade, the last seeing the light of day in 1984. But Ian Anderson has not been idle.

The bug-eyed flautist has been keeping watch on an ever-changing pop world and, eager to keep up with the times, he's not let any of fickle old rock music's trends pass him by without first taking frantic and agonisingly detailed notes.

In some ways, this attention to detail has paid off. The new LP's opening tracks are stunners: 'Steel Monkey' sets a tense keyboard motif against a backdrop of riotous axe-soloing, while 'Farm Of The Freeway' [sic] is a contemporary tale of businessmen sweeping away a humble farmer's livelihood.

Best of all, 'Jump Start' hits the jackpot with an old score being settled between the apparently deranged frontman's flute and the pirouetting guitar of Martin Barre.

In a shrewd move, Ian Anderson has studied the current heavy metal renewal and adapted it to suit his own ends, and the results are impressive to say the least.

But in his efforts to stay 'hip', the hairy progressive rock guru has fallen prey not just to the influence of modern pop's more inspiring aspects but also to its foulest evils: the rank odour of Mark Knopfler pervades the remainder of 'Crest...' like a sulphur cloud sinking down upon a lush expanse of conifers. Shamefully and cruelly, the album is snuffed out. It's a pity, in all seriousness.

MR SPENCER