Crest of a Knave

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Crest of a Knave
Jethro Tull Crest of a Knave.jpg
Studio album by
Released11 September 1987
RecordedEarly 1987
Genre Hard rock, progressive rock
Length39:30 (vinyl)
48:50 (CD)
55:50 (2005 remaster)
Label Chrysalis
Producer Jethro Tull
Jethro Tull chronology
Original Masters
Crest of a Knave
20 Years of Jethro Tull
Singles from
Crest of a Knave
  1. "Steel Monkey"
    Released: 1987
  2. "Said She Was a Dancer"
    Released: 1987
  3. "Jump Start"
    Released: 1987
  4. "Farm on the Freeway"
    Released: 1987
  5. "Budapest"
    Released: 1987

Crest of a Knave is the sixteenth studio album by British rock band Jethro Tull, released in 1987. The album was recorded after a hiatus of three years occasioned by a throat infection of vocalist Ian Anderson, resulting in a changed vocal style by Anderson. After the unsuccessful Under Wraps , the band returned to a more heavily blended electric with acoustic style of sound, one of the top characteristics of Jethro Tull. The album was their most successful since the 1970s, and the band enjoyed a resurgence on radio broadcasts, appearances in MTV specials, and the airing of music videos. It was also a critical favourite, winning the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental. The album was supported by "The Not Quite the World, More the Here and There Tour".

Jethro Tull (band) British rock band

Jethro Tull are a British rock band formed in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 1967. Initially playing blues rock, the band later developed their sound to incorporate elements of hard rock and folk rock to forge a progressive rock signature. The band is led by vocalist/flautist/guitarist Ian Anderson, and has featured a revolving door of lineups through the years including significant members such as guitarists Mick Abrahams and Martin Barre, keyboardist John Evan, drummers Clive Bunker, Barriemore Barlow, and Doane Perry, and bassists Glenn Cornick, Jeffrey Hammond, John Glascock, and Dave Pegg.

Ian Anderson Scottish musician, leader of Jethro Tull

Ian Scott Anderson is a Scottish-born musician, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for his work as the lead vocalist, flautist and acoustic guitarist of British rock band Jethro Tull. Anderson plays several other musical instruments, including keyboards, bass guitar, bouzouki, balalaika, saxophone, harmonica, and a variety of whistles. His solo work began with the 1983 album Walk into Light, and since then he has released another five works, including the sequel to the Jethro Tull album Thick as a Brick (1972) in 2012, entitled Thick as a Brick 2.

<i>Under Wraps</i> (Jethro Tull album) 1984 studio album by Jethro Tull

Under Wraps is the 15th studio album by the band Jethro Tull, released in 1984. The songs' subject matter is heavily influenced by bandleader Ian Anderson's love of espionage fiction. It was controversial among fans of the band due to its electronic/synthesizer-based sound, particularly the use of electronic drums. Dave Pegg has been quoted as saying that the tracks cut from the sessions for Broadsword and the Beast would have made a better album, while Martin Barre has referred to it as one of his personal favourite Tull albums. The album reached No. 76 on the Billboard 200 and No. 18 on the UK charts. The single "Lap of Luxury" reached No. 30.



Even though Doane Perry had been a member of Jethro Tull since 1984, several tracks still featured drum programming instead of a live drummer. Keyboardist Peter-John Vettese was also absent and it was Ian Anderson who contributed the synth programming. The album sleeve only lists Ian Anderson, Martin Barre and Dave Pegg as official band members. Barre remembers this production as being "the album where a lot of things were of my invention. There are still chunks of the music where lan very much knew what he wanted, but I think my input was far greater on that album than on any other". [1]

Doane Perry American musician

Doane Ethredge Perry is an American musician, composer and author. Widely known for his work from 1984 to 2011 as drummer and percussionist with the band Jethro Tull, he has also appeared on hundreds of recordings spanning multiple genres on records, film and television.

Peter-John Vettese, also known as Peter Vettese, is a British keyboardist, songwriter, arranger and record producer.

Martin Barre British guitarist

Martin Lancelot Barre is an English rock musician best known for his work with progressive rock band Jethro Tull, with whom he recorded and toured from their second album in 1969 to the band's initial dissolution in 2012. In the early 1990s he went solo, and has recorded four studio albums and made several guest appearances.

The cover was designed by heraldic artist Andrew Stewart Jamieson. The single "Steel Monkey" has the cover designed by art director John Pasche.

John Pasche is a British art designer. He designed the Rolling Stones' logo.

This album was released simultaneously on LP and on CD, but the vinyl edition did not feature the songs "Dogs in the Midwinter" and "The Waking Edge". Both tracks appeared on vinyl as B-sides to the singles.

The album back cover shows in the credits that the album was: "Recorded just round the corner from the kitchen in the room behind the door which used to be painted white but isn't any more". And also: "Martin would like to thank Paul Hamer (Hamer Guitars). Ian and Dave would like to thank almost everybody else." [2]

Musical style

The album relied more heavily on Martin Barre's electric guitar than the band had since the 1970s. The style of Crest has been compared to that of Dire Straits, in part because Anderson no longer had the vocal range he once possessed (the result of recent throat surgery).

Dire Straits British rock band

Dire Straits were a British rock band formed in London in 1977 by Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, John Illsley, and Pick Withers. They were active from 1977 to 1988 and again from 1991 to 1995. The band became one of the world's best-selling music artists, with album sales of over 100 million.

Ian Anderson later stated about the musical style of the album: "'Steel Monkey' was based around a sequencer riff, and it didn't have any flute in it. So it was yet another atypical Jethro Tull song that was a radio hit. By comparison, both 'Farm On The Freeway' and 'Budapest' are very typical Tull songs. 'Budapest' is the kind of song I like to write because it embodies a lot of different nuances which I think are subtly joined together. It sort of moves from classical to slightly bluesy to folk, and it just slips between them and you don't see the stitching." [3]


Crest of a Knave explores various themes in its lyrics, as Anderson often does. The song "She Said She Was a Dancer" shows that Tull's frank treatment of sexuality was unabated. The album contains the popular live song "Budapest", which depicts a backstage scene with a shy local female stagehand. "Farm on the Freeway" on other hand, profiles a farmer who has lost his land through eminent domain, and who now possesses only his truck. "Mountain Men" became more famous in Europe, depicting a scene from World War II in Africa and the Falklands War. Ian Anderson referred to the battles of El Alamein (WW II) and also South America (1982), drawing historic parallels of the angst that women left behind by their warrior husbands might have felt.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [4]
Sputnik Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [5]
Sounds (mixed) [6]
Sea of TranquilityStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [7]

Sounds' review was mixed. It recognized the quality and even called the opening tracks "Steel Monkey" and "Farm on the Freeway" "stunners". The overall evaluation was that: "In a shrewd move, Ian Anderson has studied the current heavy metal renewal and adapted it to suit his own ends, and the results are impressive to say the least". Although in the end, comparing the album with the style of Mark Knopfler, the review would go on to say that: "But in his efforts to stay 'hip', the hairy progressive rock guru has fallen prey not just to the influence of modern pop's more inspiring aspects but also to its foulest evils: the rank odour of Mark Knopfler pervades the remainder of 'Crest...' […] Shamefully and cruelly, the album is snuffed out. It's a pity, in all seriousness". [6]

Although contemporarily well accepted, AllMusic's later review was a little more committed, calling the album their best since Heavy Horses , but also stating: "Truth is, it isn't a bad album, with an opening track that qualifies as hard rock and pretty much shouts its credentials out in Martin Barre's screaming lead guitar line, present throughout. "Jump Start" and "Raising Steam" also rock hard, and no one can complain of too much on this record being soft, apart from the acoustic "The Waking Edge," along with "Budapest" and "Said She Was a Dancer," Anderson's two ageing rock-star's-eye-view accounts of meeting women from around the world. The antiwar song "Mountain Men" is classic Tull-styled electric folk, all screaming electric guitars at a pretty high volume by its end". [4]


The album was a critical and commercial success. It received gold sales certification in the United States, where it peaked at number 32. In the UK it also attained a Gold, reaching number 19. Successes in other countries included Gold in Canada, number 10 in Germany and number 7 in Switzerland.

Grammy controversy

Crest of a Knave went on to win the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental, beating the heavily favoured ...And Justice for All (Metallica) and critics' choice Nothing's Shocking (Jane's Addiction).

The Grammy award was highly controversial as many did not consider the album or the band to be hard rock, and certainly not heavy metal. Under advisement from their manager, 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 controversy, the band's record label Chrysalis took out an advert in a British music periodical with the line, "The flute is a heavy, metal instrument!". [8] The Grammy award was split into two categories and renamed after the event.

In 2007, the win was named one of the 10 biggest upsets in Grammy history by Entertainment Weekly . [9]

Rolling Stone listed the Grammy Award as the 18th Most Awesomely Retro Moments in Grammy History. [10]

Track listing


All tracks written by Ian Anderson.

Side one
1."Steel Monkey"3:39
2."Farm on the Freeway"6:31
3."Jump Start"4:55
4."Said She Was a Dancer"3:43
Side two
2."Mountain Men"6:20
3."Raising Steam"4:05


1."Steel Monkey"3:39
2."Farm on the Freeway"6:31
3."Jump Start"4:55
4."Said She Was a Dancer"3:43
5."Dogs in the Midwinter"4:37
7."Mountain Men"6:20
8."The Waking Edge"4:49
9."Raising Steam"4:05


Jethro Tull
Additional Musicians
Additional Personnel

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  1. "Jethro Tull Press: Guitar Legends, May-June 1997". Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  2. "Track listing" (Jpg). Retrieved 1 May 2015.
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  6. 1 2 {{cite web |url= |title=Jethro Tull Press: Sounds, 5 September 1987 | |date=5 September 1987 |accessdate=1 May 2015 |archive-url= |archive-date=9 October 2016 |dead-url=yes
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