Crest of a knave

Released in 1987, much to the disapproval of orthodox tull fanatics, the album went unabated to the memoirs, as an instance of camouflage. On a first listening, Martin Barre's riffs, as affluent as they always have been, bear the Dire Straits sound e.g. Brothers in arms. One of the main reasons to talk of this album is its adherence to synth, progressive metal sound, something that brings in the decadence of traditional raw progressive tull-ish genre. Cannot be deemed as something as classic as Heavy Horses, but as a subtle gift we get two classic numbers, that remained as epic signature tull creations, namely Budapest and Farm on the freeway. Needless to say, they relied heavily on the electric guitar of Barre, Anderson's heavy vocals and effective use of flute.

The album is a strange mix of anxiety over progress - "Steel Monkey" about a high-rise building constructor and "Farm On The Freeway" about a farmer having to sell his home as it stood on the route of a proposed highway - and the band's tour of Eastern Europe and a series of unsuccessful encounters with the local female population - "She Said She Was Dancer" and "Budapest", depicting a backstage encounter with a shy female stagedancer. There are some fairly heavy (for Tull) riffs on this album - "Steel Monkey" and "Raising Steam" in particular - but the album as a whole cannot be termed as heavy. Steel Monkey is more reminiscent of money for nothing.

The album was a critical and commercial success. Jethro Tull went on to win a 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, beating odds-on favorites Metallica with their album And Justice for All . Under their manager's advice, no one from the band turned up to the award ceremony, as they were told that they had no chance of winning. In response to the criticism they received over the award, the band took out an advert in a British music periodical with the line, "The flute is a (heavy) metal instrument!" In 2007, the win was named one of the 10 biggest upsets in Grammy history by Entertainment Weekly.

Being an ardent lover of Knopfler, I couldn't have overlooked the essential similarity with them in this album. I won't term it as a derivative of Straits, but its an independent creation by itself. Anderson's vocals lack the usual recklessness , but it projects the other side of the band. To me its indispensable , and generically speaking, its easily one of the best outcomes in 80's rock scene.