F2-21082 Minstrel In The Gallery
Produced by Ian Anderson
Released on September 1975
UK CHART POSITION #20 . . . US CHART POSITION #7 . . . GOLD RECORD (11/13/75)
Find it at GEMM
F2-21082 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

M y favorite album of all time. Oh... and I listen to it backwards (side two first, side one second). It’s a habit I picked up years ago, seizing on the inverted back cover as an invitation to experiment, the story smelling sweeter that way. (It also allows Minstrel to end with the logical “Requiem,” and my madness for order demands that it does.) In such a topsy-turvy state, Minstrel becomes the story of a struggling minstrel who sets out from the comfortable life (“One White Duck”) to wallow in the darkest alleys of inspiration (“Baker St. Muse”), his genius in full flower even as his faith in mankind shrinks. By twisting the two halves, “Grace” now serves as a sort of “Lola,” the minstrel’s entrée into the public discourse of would-be benefactors. “Minstrel In The Gallery” then marks the introduction for the band (no misconstruing that), “Cold Wind Valhalla” represents their ascent to stardom, “Black Satin Dancer” an example of the minstrel feeding the same dark appetites in the gilded setting of the courts (alley or palace, the vices are the same). “Requiem” is the sobering conclusion to so much excess, though I’ve never speculated on who the deceased might be in relation to the minstrel. And that, in a nutshell, is what idle minds do to perfectly good albums. Of course, most people (I would think) listen to this in the order that Tull arranged them, and glean from Minstrel a loose concept album that casts Ian and company as minstrels in a modern-day gallery of wine, women, and “newspaper warriors.” Really, the music is so unerringly brilliant, the lyrics so evocative and incisive, that there is no wrong way to hear this album. Critics usually cite the overt Elizabethan touches (often before rambling on about some imagined Atlantis, but then I’m really a terrible critic), which is more of a visual judgment than anything. Minstrel In The Gallery evokes the world of Shakespeare in its literate lyrics, Elizabethan imagery, and the mixture of rustic folk music and refined classical airs into their rock. The precedent in Tull’s work would be “Queen And Country,” though Minstrel’s folk fancies likely stemmed from a shared appreciation for the music of Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. Whatever the impetus, Tull has never mastered their muse so well. The arrangements are a bouquet of sound to be savored through the years, evergreen and unerring in their aim, depicted with flourishes from each member (a table thump here, a delicious touch of strings or biting guitar part there) that arrive like old friends at an appointed hour. Again, individual beauty is a subjective beast, and my appreciation for this music might be your befuddling (nonsensical as a noun, I know). So in every sense (of our own senses), the best album in the world is whatever you think it is. And never let anyone (myself included) judge in your stead.

PV 41082 front cover PV 41082 back cover
PV 41082 front cover PV 41082 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY    (Ian Anderson/Martin Barre)    8:09
  2. COLD WIND TO VALHALLA    4:17
  3. BLACK SATIN DANCER    6:51
  4. REQUIEM    3:41
  5. ONE WHITE DUCK/010=NOTHING AT ALL    4:35
  6. BAKER ST. MUSE    16:40
      including:
      Pig-Me and the Whore
      Nice Little Tune
      Crash-Barrier Waltzer
      Mother England Reverie
  7. GRACE    0:37

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  8. SUMMERDAY SANDS
  9. MARCH, THE MAD SCIENTIST
  10. PAN DANCE
  11. MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY (LIVE)
  12. COLD WIND TO VALHALLA (LIVE)

    All selections written by Ian Anderson unless noted

CREDITS

IAN ANDERSON sang and played acoustic guitar and flute
BARRIEMORE BARLOW played drums and percussion
MARTIN BARRE played electric guitars
JOHN EVAN played piano and organ
JEFFREY HAMMOND-HAMMOND played bass guitar and string bass
Rita Eddowes -- violin
Elizabeth Edwards -- violin
Patrick Halling -- violin, leader
David Palmer -- orchestral arrangements, conductor
Bridget Procter -- violin
Katharine Thulborn -- cello
Robin Black -- engineer
Brian Ward -- photographs
R. Kriss/J. Garnett -- front cover artwork (based on a print by Joseph Nash)

return to JETHRO TULL discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/US/CAN September 1975 Chrysalis LP CHR 1082 green label, lyric sleeve
AUS'L 1975 Chrysalis LP L35521 lyric insert
FRA/GER 1975? Chrysalis LP 6307 559  
YUG   Jugoton LP LSCHR 73028 inner sleeve
US   Chrysalis LP/CS PV/PVT-41082 blue label reissue
US   Chrysalis CD VK-41082  
US   Chrysalis CD/CS F2/F4-21082  
UK/NET   Chrysalis CD CDP32 1082  
WW October 10, 2002 Capitol CDX 41572 24-bit digital remaster w. bonus tracks
JPN June 23, 2003 EMI/Toshiba CDX TOCP-67183 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
JPN 2005 EMI/Toshiba CDX TOCP-67670 digital remaster w. bonus tracks

 

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