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 Jethro Tull

British progressive rock band

Studio Albums

This Was (1968)

Stand Up (1969)

Benefit (1970)

Aqualung (1971)

Thick as a Brick (1972)

A Passion Play (1973)

War Child (1974)

Minstrel in the Gallery (1975)

Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! (1976)

Songs from the Wood (1977)

Heavy Horses (1978)

Stormwatch (1979)

A (1980)

Broadsword and the Beast (1982)

Under Wraps (1984)

Crest of a Knave (1987)

Rock Island (1989)

Catfish Rising (1991)

Roots to Branches (1995)

J-Tull Dot Com (1999)

The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (2003)

 

Compilations

 

 

 

 

Jethro Tull

This Was - 6

My Sunday Feeling / Someday The Sun Won't Shine For You / Beggars Farm / Move On Alone / Serenade To A Cuckoo / Dharma For One / It's Breaking Me Up / Cat's Squirrel / A Song For Jeffrey / Round

Jethro Tull were never an easy band to categorise, moving effortlessly from the Blues to a more folksy feel, but always maintaining a strange ethereal kind of sound thanks to the flute and vocals of mainman Ian Anderson. On their debut album Mick Abraham was as influential as Anderson and had the distinction on Move On Alone of being the only vocalist other than Anderson to feature on any of their studio albums. The opening number My Sunday Feeling rather sets out the stall with rather husky, almost out of control, vocals against a blues background. Roland Kirk's Serenade to a Cuckoo sets Anderson's stall out as an instrumentalist and Dharma For One is a typical early Tull rampage style piece featuring flute and drums and the kitchen sink. Abrahams left the band after this album due to the usual "musical differences" and that gave Anderson more of a chance to express himself on subsequent offerings. Today this has a distinctly dated feel to it, but it does illustrate that in their early days Tull were inventive and original while being true to their blues roots... and you get the distinct feel that there is more to come.

 

Stand Up - 7

New Day Yesterday / Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square / Bouree / Back To The family / Look Into The Sun / Nothing Is Easy / Fat Man / We Used To Know / Reasons For Waiting / For A Thousand Mothers

For a start the album artwork won awards. The original LP opened up to reveal a flip up model of the band - imagine that happening today (of course it would be impossible in the CD format). Right from the start we know we are in slightly different territory here with Anderson firmly taking over the reigns. Interestingly the title track "New Day Yesterday" illustrates this perfectly. It still contains its blues roots but is much more of a rock piece. "Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square" ventures into the folk-rock area that Tull will inhabit for much of their career. "Bouree" is one of the band's timeless offerings, based on a work by Bach. It will be well known to many for its appearances in a variety of television programmes over the years and shows Anderson's leanings towards a classical cannon. Look Into The Sun has a more acoustic and melodic feel to it and is countered by the electric feel to We Used to Know and the wistful Reasons for Waiting. This is a band almost emerging from a cocoon,

 

Benefit - 6.5

With You There to Help Me/ Nothing to Say/ Alive and Well and Living In/ Son/ For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me/ To Cry You a Song/ A Time for Everything/ Inside/ Play in Time/ Sossity; You're a Woman

Tull progressed well without any whistles or bells or announcements of a new dawn. Benefit was a solid offering of quality songs, moving into a more folkier groove with none of the blues roots of This Was. Arguably the material isn't quite as strong as on Stand Up but there are a number of interesting technological innovations such as backward loops and some typical Tull offerings like To Cry You a Song which gave definite hints of the kind of material to follow on Aqualong. Again this was a collection of songs rather than the overblown prog that was to come in the form of Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play. The band was evolving quickly, but this was no mark time effort.

 

Aqualung
Thick As A Brick - 7

Thick as a Brick Part One/ Thick as a Brick Part Two

The fact that Thick as a Brick still stands up to scrutiny over 35 years after it was produced is testimony to Tull's lasting appeal. A vast sprawling "chuck in the kitchen sink" piece divided into just two tracks, it was heralded as one of the greatest and first truly prog albums. The influences vary from classical to jazz, folk to rock and just about everything in between. After comments in the media about Aqualung being a concept album, the band decided to produce a  true concept album, although we should use the word in its loosest connotations here. Ian Anderson dressed up the rather intense lyrics as the work of eight year old Gerald Bostock (i.e Anderson himself). The words are often obtuse, often obscure but always interesting. The album also provides a great challenge through the sleeve notes which, on the original LP, took the form of a mock newspaper The St Cleve Chronicle with a variety of jokes and spoof stories that lambasted local newspaper journalism at a time when I was a trainee journalist. This is not an easy album to listen to and shouldn't be judged until it has been given close scrutiny, although I'm not sure that's just what Anderson envisaged as he debunked the myth of over pretentious prog rock bands. It is a dense piece with so much going on - so many swirling tunes fading and returning, but remains a landmark album for the band.

 

A Passion Play - 6

A Passion Play Part One/ A Passion Play Part Two

This is a difficult one to assess. Critics are totally divided between those who feel it is essential Tull to those that feel it is filler fodder. The band weren't in the greatest of shape as they recorded this abroad with feelings of exhaustion from touring and homesickness. This leads to a slightly tired album that is really an extension of the ideas behind Thick as a Brick but in slightly darker and more sombre mood. Once again the album is a concept - chronicling the spiritual journey of a man in the afterlife. Themes of heaven, hell, purgatory are couched in Ian Anderson's now customary sprawling and dense lyrics. Once again it is divided into just two tracks, although each can almost be sub divided. It doesn't exactly have the charm of Thick as a Brick with a feeling akin to musical waffle to some of the sections. Perhaps the band are just trying to become too prog rock, too conceptual. Whether that is a good or bad thing is exactly what has split the critics. And I have to say I remain firmly sitting on the fence. It's certainly not a bad album, but at the same time it could never be counted as a classic. It's almost as if it has the stirrings of uncertainty within it and I have never been sure what to make of the Lewis Carroll-esque The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles which opens side two and offers some light relief in the form of a fairy tale. Perhaps it was one concept too far.