Monday, March 23, 2009
Jethro Tull: THE BROADSWORD AND THE BEAST (1982)
I'm almost ashamed to admit that I know as much as I do about arguably the most boring band in the history of Prog, the execrable Jethro Tull. Historically, like Art Zoyd, there is no one in the band who is actually named "Jethro Tull". The real JT of history was a pioneer in British farming; meaning that he was an expert at spreading shit in order to coax crops to grow. Obviously, by referring to the band as "execrable" in my introduction, I believe the parallel fitting, considering the staggeringly long period of time (34 years!!!) since Tull has released even a LISTENABLE album.
Going to All Music Guide and looking at this roster of failure is truly awe-inspiring; EIGHTEEN studio albums of original material, five live albums, one Christmas album (oh for fucking Christ's sakes...) and this is just the OFFICIAL output. Like other shitty no-talent losers (Phish, The Grateful Dead, Sarah Palin, etc.) a veritable army of denizens-cum-worshippers follows the band and trades in a massive black market of concerts surreptitiously recorded over many years. Website searches show as many as 500 Jethro Tull concerts available for purchase or trade, a truly staggering collection of miserably fallow and ponderous music that must rank as the greatest treasure trove of soporifics stored anywhere outside the visual valium that is the Museum of Modern Art. At their most bodice-and-crossbow Medieval folk sleepiest, Jethro Tull makes Brahms look like Slayer. How a court dwarf was never part of their road act is completely beyond me. Huzzah! You suck!
Despite having nothing to say for as long as I've been alive, Tull surges on through the slough of despond that is their creative life, pounding out album after album that each capture perfectly the misery and weakness of the music of their eras. Take- for god's sakes please- The Broadsword and The Beast, the very worst of the Tull ossuary of creation.
There is almost nothing to say about this album other than that this is what happens when rockers reach middle age and haven't started on a nice fiber program to go with their paregoric. Because this is the opus of a band so full of shit that if they were given a collective enema, all five members could be buried in a match box. "My Dinner with Andre" pounds with throbbing excitement and the International Sloth Races are a shrieking chest-thumper of a time compared to the vast boredom that is Broadsword. Courting Mormons get to the point faster than the worst Tull ditty, and both are about equally arousing to the spirit. I've watched blood tests more exciting than this lackluster crap, and I refuse to believe an actual live human being was responsible for the drum parts on this album, sounding as they do like those retarded guys you see playing plastic buckets in the subways or in front of methedone clinics.
Since it is 1982, there are several very dated studio tricks that sound like Phil Collins' producer had stopped by to ruin things still further, or perhaps Ian Anderson had talked to Steve Winwood about how to make sure your record would sound really fucking cheesy in 25 years time. The cover is pure Dungeons and Dragons, though curiously enough the lyrics seem to be Cubist poetry attacking Margaret Thatcher somehow- meaning it's clever to Anderson, and makes no bloody sense to anybody else trying to untangle his lyrical spaghetti monster. The overdubbed vocals are hilariously non-disturbing, the use of sythesizers by rote, the goddamn flute as annoying and misplaced as ever and the Tom Scholz Rockman-effects guitar sounding like these things always do, like a little buzzsaw malfunctioning or one of those silly vibrators girls use and think nobody can hear in the other room.
The ballads are babbling and the rockers rebarbative; this is easily the worst output of a fantastically overrated band who have been coasting on one decent album since Nixon was president, and at this point I'm thinking reperations to FM radio are called for due to all the aggressively bad pulp-folk these Haggis-eating fucks have foisted upon the public. Jethro Tull has got to go, man.
Like listening to a couple of Robert Jordan fans argue about whether orcs or druids would make better sex partners, "The Broadsword and The Beast" is boring even to the initiates, and completely enraging to those sane enough never to have joined the cult. Absolute drek, zero stars. - TR