Stormwatch is the third and final release of what has been labeled as Jethro Tull’s folk/rock trilogy. It also brought to a close a very strong period in the history of the group.
Change was in the air. While Stormwatch has similarities to Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses, the music had begun to travel in other directions. The sound was heavier and the lyrics were much darker as they explored a number of environmental themes. Today, given all the worry about Global Warming, I am amused by the concern for a new ice age.
This would be the final album for Tull’s longest lasting and arguably best group of musicians. It would serve as the final hurrah for drummer Barriemore Barlow, keyboardist John Evan, arranger/keyboardist David Palmer, and bassist John Glascock. Only band leader Ian Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre would be around for the next album. Glascock would die of a heart condition and would only play on three of the ten tracks. Anderson would play the bass parts on the rest of the album.
Stormwatch is a consistent album with no real highs or lows. It is a little weaker than its two predecessors, but still remains a solid if not spectacular listen.
I have found the two longest tracks the most interesting. “Flying Dutchman,” at just under eight minutes, has a number of tempo changes as it ebbs and flows away. Anderson contributes some fine flute solos which give this song about boat people an elegance. “Dark Ages” clocks in at over nine minutes and while it may be a few minutes too long, it remains a powerful performance.
“Orion” is one of the three songs which feature John Glascock on bass, and is the one I consider his farewell as his playing is excellent throughout. “Something’s On The Move” is a nice rocker which is driven by Martin Barre’s guitar. “Old Ghosts” is the fusion of an acoustic and electric sound which they were so good at creating. “Dun Ringill” is a wonderful little acoustic piece.
The album was released during September of 1979 and would be the final release in one of the best catalogs of the decade. While it may not be their best album, it is still very good.
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