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Jethro Tull - Too Old to Rock 'N Roll: Too Young to Die! (1997) Retail CD
While this album was supposedly a concept album, it takes a lot of effort to follow the story. This album also departs from Tull's usual styling, which is an unusual comment given that I have emphasized in other reviews of Tull CDs that Tull has always followed their own musical path.
"Quizz Kid" starts out mellow and slow with strings and an easy electric guitar riff. However, indicative of the punk age of the time, bass and electric guitar riffs push themselves to the front, and this song sounds like a punk-influenced hard rock song. The lyrics are about going on a game show with the hopesmore… of winning big.
"Crazed Institution" does not try to mislead you. From the very beginning the beat of this song speaks rock. By this song you are under the impression that Ian Anderson was striving for a harder edge on this album as compared to Tull's earlier folk-flavored offerings. The lyrics in this song are about celebrity and fame and the insanity that such status causes a person's life.
"Salamander" provides the first real flavor of Jethro Tull as the group had been known up to this time. Clever acoustic guitar picking takes you halfway through the piece until a heavily echoed Ian Anderson brings on the vocals. The contrast between the acoustic and folk-flavored instruments and the echoed voice is interesting and makes me wish that Ian had explored this song in greater depth.
From a lyrical viewpoint, "Taxi Grab" is a relatively lightweight offering, and is not a fan favorite. From a musical viewpoint, this song is a rocker, bass and harmonica driven, a blues-flavored hard rock song. The music is pretty good, but the weak lyrics detract a bit.
"From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser" begins in a traditional Tull style, dirge-like and acoustic. The lyrics tell a story of someone sinking further and further into the depths, perhaps becoming the character of Aqualung. The music remains acoustic until the end, keeping the dirge-like tune, though a saxophone-flavored bridge gives the song an interesting style.
"Bad-Eyed and Loveless" gives you the viewpoint of a woman as an old man thinks he would have seen her as a young man. The instruments backing this song are minimal, principally an acoustic guitar. This song continues the theme of someone who has degraded into the character of Aqualung; you have to wonder how much deeper into the depths this person can go.
"Big Dipper" shakes off the acoustics and allows the electric guitars to stretch their licks once more. There are interesting percussion effects in this song as well as an instrument that I believe was a Vako Orchestron, a synthesizer. The musical effects are unique. The lyrics are all about fun and sex, the theme deceptively lightweight, hiding perhaps a sinister undertone.
I enjoy "Too Old to Rock `N' Roll: Too Young to Die". This song is bombastic, and perhaps the only song on this CD that shows much progressive rock influence. The instruments are dramatic and strident, punctuating the notes in harmony rather than any extensive counterpoint. Lyrically this song is about aging rockers when they get too old for the perceived style of rock that has historically emphasized youth, and of course they have many years left to live. I wonder what Ian Anderson thinks of this song today.
"Pied Piper" has just a touch of folk-rock flavoring mixed into a rock beat. The Vako Orchestron makes another easily discerned appearance, providing an unusual musical voice. Because of the synthesizer sound, this song makes me think that perhaps Ian Anderson was influenced by Wendy Carlos, who created "Switched-On Bach" and several other all synthesizer albums. Lyrically, the character that sank to the depths of despair has been patched up and made anew, and now eyes young girls lasciviously.
The album finishes with "The Chequered Flag", a song that provides some soaring music and vocals, and yet is a bitter-sweet ending. The lyrics are about the incompletion of life. The unfinished symphonies, the unread books, the tasks imagined and never satisfactorily accomplished. The music is mellow, synthesizer and strings providing the core sound.
While Jethro Tull has historically combined folk and rock, this album is more a product of its time. A synthesizer is clearly heard in several songs. Several songs are hard rock. The Jethro Tull of "Thick as a Brick", "Aqualung" and "Songs from the Wood" has temporarily taken on the mantle of contemporary rocker. If Tull had not created the other albums for comparison, a listener might readily enjoy this one. However, even Tull with their eclectic style moved too much to center for many fans, and perhaps lost a few fans as a result. However, this album is, while not comparable to the best of Tull, a good 70s rock album. While I am unable to provide a strong recommendation for this album, for Tull fans it is a must own. For casual listeners, I recommend the previously mentioned albums, along with others that have a strong folk-rock and progressive influence.
|5||From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser|
|6||Bad-Eyed 'N' Loveless|
|8||Too Old Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die|
|10||The Chequered Flag (Dead Or Alive)|
- Jethro Tull - Too Old to Rock 'N Roll: Too Young to Die! (1997) Retail CD
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- 19/02/07 by putrguru
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