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Albums that deserve a second chance
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Edited Jan 27, 2013, 21:47
Re: Albums that deserve a second chance
Jan 27, 2013, 21:43
Jethro Tull - A Passion Play

Was having some refreshments with Robot Emperor last night, and we both agreed that this needed to go on the list. I'm sure that for a lot of people, even in this manor, Tull's entire catalogue has been overlooked, the band having been pegged as folk prog eccentrics defined by a goonish flute-playing frontman occasionally gurning out of the telly during a Sounds of the 70s... However, this would be making a grave error. Tull made some of the most gutsy and imaginative music during the first prog epoch, and were genuinely huge around the world. But even among Tull fans, A Passion Play can get short shrift. Following the successful and lauded Thick As A Brick - Ian Anderson supposedly taking the rise out of bloated, pompous concept albums everywhere - APP suddenly seemed to be case of having your cake and eating it. Born out of some famously difficult recording sessions, APP was another single song LP, and while witty and irreverent as ever, it seemed very much to be for real as an artistic statement.

Anyway, cut a long story short, it got a drubbing by the critics and the over-elaborate live shows didn't go down well either, particularly in America where they had previously been able to do no wrong. Cue back-pedalling and quick retreat by Anderson & crew, the next album Warchild very much about strong hummable tunes and a more straight forward musical palette.

But... APP is undoubtedly my favourite Tull album. Yes, it's pretty dense and a tad unwelcoming, and the production is a bit ropey in places... But, it's stuffed full of fantastic riffs and melody lines, has the most synth and least flute of any Tull album, is excitingly arranged (yes, even with The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles stuck in the middle), and sees Anderson at the peak of his powers as a wordsmith, packing the piece full of memorable lines. It's also unlike anything else you will ever hear.

OK, a few other choices/reiterations:

Can - Saw Delight. Yes, I love the Damo-era stuff, but this is probably the Can album I like the most - driving, expansive, funky and funny, it hits the spot every time.

Van Der Graaf - The Quiet Zone... Glad to hear this has some fans, featuring some of Hammill's best and most incisive songs. As Hawklords is to Warrior on the Edge of Time, so TQZ is to Pawn Hearts ie. great, but almost completely different style albums by the same band.

Tangerine Dream - White Eagle. Sure I've banged on about this before, but White Eagle is for me the pinnacle of TD's catalogue. Ambitious and melodic proto-techno that easily goes toe-to-toe with the best of Kraftwerk, I'm constantly surprised it's not more lauded or well-known.
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