Jethro Tull’s entire back catalog is getting the remaster treatment and it’s about time! Minstrel in the Gallery is one of Tull’s many crowning achievements of the 1970’s. The lyrics are nothing short of poetic and the music is awe-inspiring. Minstrel in the Gallery shows the band’s more reflective side and Ian Anderson’s acoustic guitar is as integral to the album as is Martin Barre’s electric riffs and John Evan’s piano playing.
The title track opens the CD in grand style and sees Anderson singing over his acoustic guitar before Barre rips into one of his classic electric solos. "Cold Wind to Valhalla" has an overtly medieval sound that is more fully developed on Tull’s next classic album Songs From the Wood. "Black Satin Dancer" slithers mysteriously along while "Requiem" and "One White Duck" show Ian Anderson at his most confessional and somber. "Requiem" in particular comments on Anderson’s failed marriage and is one of the tracks that Anderson himself has criticized as being too introspective. It’s a beautiful song that is a rare glimpse into the man’s soul. But the highlight for many is the 16 minute "Baker St. Muse". Broken into four sections, this is full flight Jethro Tull. Musically complex and full of Anderson’s typically dark humored take on British society, it would be wonderful to see this track played on Tull’s next tour!
The CD is rounded out with 5 bonus tracks and "Summerday Sands" is my favorite. Unlike most bonus tracks, this one fits nicely into the emotion and spirit of the original CD. The remastering job is perfectly acceptable, but it’s not a stellar improvement over the original CD as Thick as a Brick was. Though the acoustic guitars sound brighter and the bass is a bit tighter, there’s still a muddiness in the mix that probably couldn’t be improved on. But the packaging is splendid and much better than that of the first batch of Tull remasters. Thankfully, the tacky white borders surrounding the CD booklets of the earliest remasters are gone and full lyrics are included as well as an essay by Ian Anderson. Most appreciated is the reproduction of the original artwork. If you don’t have this CD, you are missing out on one of the cornerstones of progressive rock!