Jethro Tull

Heavy Horses

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Jethro Tull's 11th studio album, Heavy Horses, is one of their prettier records, a veritable celebration of English folk music chock-full of gorgeous melodies, briskly played acoustic guitars and mandolins, and Ian Anderson's flute lilting in the background, backed by the group in top form. This record is a fairly close cousin to 1977's Songs From the Wood, except that its songs are decidedly more passionate, sung with a rough, robust energy that much of Tull's work since Thick as a Brick had been missing, and surpassing even Aqualung in its lustiness. "No Lullaby" is the signature heavy riff song, a concert version of which opened Bursting Out: Jethro Tull Live. Anderson sings it -- and everything else here -- as though they might be the last lines he ever gets to voice, with tremendous intensity. The band plays hard behind him throughout, with lead guitarist Martin Barre (most notably on "Weathercock") and bassist John Glascock showing up very well throughout. Anderson's production and Robin Black's engineering catch their every nuance without sacrificing the delicacy of his acoustic guitar and mandolin playing. "Acres Wild," "Rover," "One Brown Mouse," "Weathercock," and "Moths," the latter featuring some of David Palmer's most tasteful orchestral arrangements, are among the loveliest songs in the group's entire repertory. Curved Air's Darryl Way plays violin solo on the title track -- a tribute to England's vanishing shire horses, which doesn't really take off until Way's instrument comes in on the break, with a marked tempo change -- and on "Acres Wild."

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