Jethro Tull - Too Old To Rock n Roll (1976)

A few critics didn't feel their toes touch bottom on this one, declaring it the deepest point in TULL's mid-career slough. And they're right in a sense, as "Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die!" is no better than "War Child", "Minstrel In The Gallery", or "A Passion Play". But wait, you say, those are some of TULL's best albums! Exactly, and you can add this to the list. Ian had traded in his minstrel's cap for a playwright's pen, creating a fictional character (Ray LOMAS) who goes from quiz show contestant to jilted lover to motorcycle martyr. The songs are largely acoustic, orchestrated in several spots (none more stunning then the theme first introduced on "Quizz Kid" and fully explored on the title track), suggestive of "Minstrel"'s "One White Duck" more than anything. The album also marked the first album without JEFFREY since "Aqualung", who was replaced by the equally talented John GLASCOCK. GLASCOCK's bass work is more pointed than Hammond's (or Hammond-Hammond if you prefer), standing in sharper relief to the rhythms of Barriemore Barlow. Against this backdrop are splashed the dry colors of Ian Anderson's acoustic guitar and Martin Barre's acrid electric guitar. John EVAN's piano is given a smaller role in the music, which makes Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll a drier drink than past albums. But if it all feels like a faded flower pressed in an old book, "Too Old" is still too good not to earn our admiration. "From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser" and "Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll, Too Young To Die" pull us right into the heart of the story, while "Crazed Institution" and "Quizz Kid" are good fun for malcontents everywhere.

There are some who will find the structured storytelling of this album presumptuous, but to me it's a welcome change from feeling my way along in the dark. Ray's resemblance to Ian Anderson is the same sort of roleplaying that he's engaged in since "Aqualung", once more adopting the persona of a sympathetic castoff. That the band is able to weave such intelligent music into the tight confines of a story is an achievement, even if it might otherwise limit the band from exploring a wider range of styles. You'd probably have to look forward to "Heavy Horses" to find a TULL album this acoustic and reserved, but there's always been a place for it on my turntable. Like "Minstrel", it's not an album I pick at, instead settling down for the whole dinner. If you've the appetite for it, it's never too late to add "Too Old" to the fold. - Review by daveconn (Dave Connolly)

Track Listings

1. Quizz Kid (5:10)
2. Crazed Institution (4:48)
3. Salamander (2:52)
4. Taxi Grab (3:56)
5. From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser (4:08)
6. Bad-Eyed and Loveless (2:12)
7. Big Dipper (3:38)
8. Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young To Die (5:42)
9. Pied Piper (4:35)
10. The Chequered Flag (Dead or Alive) (5:24)

Total Time: 42:25

Bonus tracks on remsater (2002):
11. A Small Cigar (3:39)
12. Strip Cartoon (3:17)

- Ian Anderson / flute, acoustic guitar, harmonica, electric guitar, percussion, vocals
- Martin Barre / electric guitar
- Barriemore Barlow / drums, percussion
- John Glascock / bass, vocals
- John Evans / piano

Guest musicians:
- David Palmer / orchestral arrangements, orchestra conductor
- Vako Orchestron / saxophone solo on "From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser"
- Maddy Prior / backing vocals on the title track
- Angela Allen / backing vocals on "Crazed Institution" and "Big Dipper"
Releases information

LP Chrysalis 1111 (1976)
CD Chrysalis (2002 remaster)


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