Saturday, July 6, 2013

40 Year Itch : Jethro Tull Goes Overboard

I cannot recall an album by a British rock band that has given me more pain to endure.

-Chris Welch , Melody Maker

Here's the one takeaway from Jethro Tull's A Passion Play, released in the UK on July 6, 1973: Nobody likes it. People either love it:
"A masterpiece of spirited prog rock. The music keeps turning and twisting, never resting on one idea or theme for more than ten or twenty seconds. And there's never a wrong turn."
Or hate it:
"Hard to believe the same group could record a wonderful piece of music like "Brick" and then turn around and produce this drivel."

Jethro Tull's last #1 LP is a concept album about the life and death of  a man. We can gather that much from the lyrics. And not a hell of a lot more. 
But here. Take a shot and see if you can find the "deep inner meaning " of lyrics like:

Lover of the black and white it's your first night. 
 The Passion Play, goes all the way, spoils your insight. 
Tell me how the baby's made, 
how the lady's laid, 
 why the old dog howls in sadness.

Performances included the screening of this film, "The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles",  written and directed by Ian Anderson.

Some critics used A Passion Play to proclaim the death of progressive rock:

The real disappointment is that it marks, seemingly, the end of an era. After studying this album at great length, stewing my eyes out over the lyrics, reprinted on the inner sleeve, bending an ear to each nuance of the music, I am left with the feeling of never wanting to hear another British rock group album again.
-Chris Welch again

Others. like Stephen Holden, claimed to be finished with Jethro Tull:
One leaves A Passion Play with the feeling of having been subjected to 45 minutes of vapid twittering and futzing about, all play and no passion — expensive, tedious nonsense.

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