Ian Anderson’s then-recent divorce may have affected jaundiced if lovely songs here such as Requiem, with its sad goodbyes after a hotel tryst. His ex-bandmates, though, reckon Anderson’s foul mood resulted from the attempt at tax exile that made them record Minstrel In The Gallery in Monte Carlo.
While the rest of Tull lounged on the beach ogling the topless sunbathers, their leader worked himself into a lather over the loafing indolence of his super-rich neighbours. The very idea of sunbathing sent him spare.
Such amusing revelations fill the liner notes of the book-sized double-CD/double-DVD edition, weighed down with alternate mixes, live tracks and brief live footage. But Anderson’s grumpy, singular vision paid off, something made plainer by the bright clarity of Steven Wilson’s remix.
The A-side (if you take the LP option) boasts Martin Barre’s rearing guitar solos on Cold Wind To Valhalla’s Norse folk-rock, and Anderson’s tormented flute flurries during Black Satin Dancer’s sexual rush.
Mostly, though, there’s a careful simplicity to the arrangements, built around Anderson’s acoustic guitar and delicately applied orchestration, especially during the B-side’s chamber-rock suite, Baker St. Muse. This draws on Anderson’s spell living near that Marylebone address for character sketches of prostitutes, marks and a rough-sleeper rousted by a cop, sharing some of Aqualung’s sympathy for the dispossessed.
This is one of Anderson’s best and most likeable works./o:p