This album was summarily dismissed by reviewers, who universally invoked their handbooks of hackneyed "critic speak." Cop-out terms like "indulgent" and "pretentious" were bandied about, employing the popular critics' method of simply discrediting an album due to its concurrent release with the arrival of punk rock -- as if that were an intellectually sound critique given the virtually unrelated style of Jethro Tull's music. The main knock on this album is the ill-conceived concept involving an aging rock star. That is a valid observation, but what rock concept albums are deserving of literary accolades? Precious few, if any. Lyrical themes notwithstanding, Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll is a fine collection of independent rock songs that marked a return to the classic Tull style carved out on Aqualung and Benefit. Absent here are the muddled epic-length pieces synonymous with Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play, the pop leanings of War Child, and the complexity of Minstrel in the Gallery. So despite being the target of disparaging reviews, this album achieved modest chart success and boasted several quality rockers like "Quizz Kid," "Taxi Grab," and "Big Dipper." Martin Barre's unheralded lead guitar style remains a force, rescuing a couple of tracks from the doldrums. David Palmer's orchestral arrangements are, at times, a bit overblown, but this album is far from the colossal disaster it's been portrayed as. Jethro Tull's third bassist, John Glascock, made his debut on this record, and Maddy Prior makes a guest appearance on the title track.
AllMusic Review by Dave Sleger