JETHRO TULL: Minstrel in the Gallery (1975)
I have been listening to Jethro Tull’s music since my teenage years, and I consider them as one of my most beloved and well-respected bands.
In my collection I have almost 20 albums of them, and there are some that I like more than others, for various reasons. One of them is Minstrel in the Gallery.
Minstrel in the Gallery was recorded in Monte Carlo on April of 1975 and it was released in September of the same year. The album follows a different musical direction from the previous album (War Child-1974), and it includes elements of British Folk music and Pre-Elisabeth medieval tunes, mixed with beautiful acoustic and electric pieces.
In the original version, the album includes 7 songs and has a total running time of almost 45 minutes. In 2002 a re-mastered version was released, including 3 extra songs, and 2 live versions of the songs Minstrel in the Gallery and Cold Wind to Valhalla.
The album’s opening song is Minstrel in the Gallery, which refers to the use of a minstrel’s gallery in the great halls of Medieval castles and manor houses. It begins with a small speech by the minstrel himself, before the acoustic guitar starts playing the song’s main theme. After almost 2.5 minutes, the electric guitar enters and the song’s structure changes completely. In my opinion ‘Minstrel’ in a typical Progressive Rock song, including a few Folk influences.
The next song is Cold Wind to Valhalla, another beautiful and Folk-influenced piece. What I wrote for ‘Minstrel’ stands for this song as well. It begins as an acoustic song, but it soon becomes electric and faster in pace and rhythm.
The 3rd song is the beautiful 7-minute-long Black Satin Dancer, which is also one of the album’s finest moments. Here the band uses the piano as a leading instrument accompanied by a string quartet at start. But after 2.5 minutes the electric guitar enters once more, playing some beautiful riffs and solos.
The A-side of the vinyl version is closing with the ballad Requiem, which is a beautiful, melodic and kind of melancholic piece. Although it is nothing impressive, I really love this song.
The B-side opens with the track with the bizarre title One White Duck / 010 = Nothing at All. A very nice acoustic song that prepares the listener for what’s coming next. And next comes one of the best long songs that Jethro Tull ever recorded, and definitely the album’s Top song by far. Baker St. Muse with its almost 17-minutes length is the album’s epic song, and an absolute masterpiece. I am not going to write anything about it, because I don’t think I can describe it in any way possible. But in order to fully appreciate it, you will surely need more than 1 or 2 listenings.
The album’s closing song is Grace, one of the shortest - if not THE shortest - songs Jethro Tull ever recorded. Grace is a half minute long melodic ballad, that it was used as a small closing piece and nothing more.
Although Minstrel in the Gallery was never characterized as a “Top album” and never climbed to the high positions of the charts, it is a very beautiful album that only needs a few careful listens in order to reveal its hidden beauty.
Personally, I love each and every song in it, and I can't give anything less than 4.0 out of 5.0 stars to it.
For those who are not familiar with Jethro Tull, I definitely don’t recommend this album as a starter (better try Aqualung). But to all those who have some albums and like the band’s style, I recommend it without a second thought.
By clicking on the following links you will listen to a couple of songs from the album. Enjoy!