Home Site

Jethro Tull

  • This Was,
  • Stand Up,
  • Aqualung,
  • Thick As A Brick,
  • A Passion Play,
  • War Child,
  • Minstrel In The Gallery,
  • Too Old To Rock N Roll,
  • Songs From The Wood,
  • Heavy Horses,
  • Stormwatch,

  • Album Reviews |

    Jethro Tull

    thick as a brick aqualung stand up songs from the wood heavy horses

    This Was 7 ( 1968, UK Pos 10 )
    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

    Covering the Jazz great Roland Kirks 'Serenande For A Cuckoo' ( apparently the first song Ian Anderson learned to play on the flute ) was a unusual touch, I suppose. Sat slap bang in the middle of the album, it provides a delicious interlude inbetween the more bluesy and/or psychedelic moments. At this stage, Mick Abrahams was as much a creative force as Ian Anderson. Conflicts led to the departure of Abrahams after the recording of this album, Ian obviously wanting his own way. 'Dharma For One' sees the drummer getting his own way, an impressive extended drum solo providing the bulk of the track. The likes of 'It's Breaking Me Up' sound almost unrecognizable as Jethro Tull - yet here they are, in all their blues/rock splendour. An accomplished little blues/rock outfit, yet this would always have been a dead-end had they pursued that particular direction, rather than the more english folky direction Ian Anderson and friends later did pursue. I must say, I do far prefer the shorter, more concise songs on this set, to the blues jams. The arrival of Clapton, Hendrix, etc saw some kind of concrete movement reaching fruition. Jethro Tull were a little late in the day to make any kind of huge impact upon the blues scene, although they did have the talent, Abrahams being a particularly accomplished blues player. Yet, blues wasn't enough for Mr Anderson. His vision went beyond that, into Jazz, world music, folk music - etc, etc. 'Beggars Farm' for example, a mix of Jazz and blues and a very nice mixture it is too.

    'It's Breaking Me Up' plunges Tull straight into the blues, not entirely convincingly so. They've got the feel, they got the harmonica - yet Ian Anderson makes for a lousy blues singer, at the end of the day. Well, the thin mix doesn't exactly help on the version of the CD I have, which isn't the remastered version. Still, of the blues excursions, 'Someday The Sun Won't Shine For You' works wonderfully well with the harmonica and the proper blues feel through the guitar and the bass, etc. On the other side of the coin, 'A Song For Jeffrey' is a piece of idiosyncratic songwriting moulded somewhat uneasily into the blues genre by the players that were in Tull at the time. It does contain some fantastic blues playing, great guitar work. It pounds, yet it seems clear, although this is obvious with retrospect - that Jethro Tull had so much more to offer. Anyhow, I do find parts of this album charming, it's certainly easy to pick up and listen to, if not quite distinctive enough for Jethro Tull's 'This Way' to be my pick of the pops, or anything like that!

    Add A Comment?

    Readers Comments

    Pete yellowcakeus6@cwctv.net
    I've still yet to hear Mick Abrahams' live "This Was Band" version of this album. Its certainly not my favourite Tull album, but Beggars Farm I like very much, and A Song For Jeffrey. Ian making funny noises at the end of it, once the final song has faded out, is quite entertaining.

    top of page
    Stand Up( 1969, UK Pos 1 )
    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

    Before I speak of the actual music, the cover art deserves a mention. It consists of a charming sketched caricature of the band members. The original vinyl sleeve was designed so when opened, a cutout of the band stood up in its center. Which ties in with the records title I suppose! That particular feature of the art-work, needless to say, is lost with the CD issue of the album. 'Stand Up' is often spoken of by Ian Anderson as a personal favourite of his, and perhaps with good reason. Following the fairly well received 'This Was' and with the addition of a new guitarist, 'Stand Up' saw the group stretching out a little and incorporating different styles and elements to compliment the blues influences. The opening 'A New Day Yesterday' may well still be firmly rooted in blues music, but it's done fantastically well. A propulsive bass rhythm, some great exhilarating guitar work including solos, the obligatory flute work ( of course! ) and an interesting vocal leaning towards Hendrix, perhaps? Whatever, it's a song that propels itself along with the rhythm section doing well in particular. The flute and guitar solos are a delight to behold. The second song 'Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square' rams home the diverse nature of this record early on, being a quirky little folksy pop song. It's very light, but very enjoyable and the flute work is again accomplished. 'Bouree' is a little piece of Bach transformed into an exhilarating instrumental featuring great playing from everyone but especially notable once more for Ian Andersons superlative flute work. It gave the group a distinctive sound. 'Back To The Family' is a little blues, a little pop. Starts off quietly before a more rocking blues sequence comes through. It has a passion and a pace about it, and utter conviction in terms of the performance. 'Look Into The Sun' mellows things out with some acoustic guitars to close the first side of the record.

    Following a fairly flawless first half actually, no weak songs at all although 'Look Into The Sun' does lack the convinction of other songs, 'Nothing Is Easy' carries on from the blues sound of 'A New Day Yesterday' and again features interesting vocals and some great guitar and flute instrumental work in addition to notable drum parts. It's hugely enjoyable! Adding in a bit of quirkiness again, 'Fat Man' has some Indian sounding guitar work and very eccentric lyrics that are lots of fun. 'We Used To Know' is a little soft guitar led ballad morphing into another group blues workout and includes a wonderful guitar solo half way through. The whole song sounds haunting, but it's very accomplished with it. And, the guitar really does sound great! 'Reasons For Waiting' is another nice mellow song that perhaps doesn't do anything 'Look Into The Sun' doesn't, but it's welcome enough all the same. More superlative flute work and all-out performances mark the closing song 'For A Thousand Mothers'. The flute mixed in with the blues influenced Rock music works extremely well. It's a little different, I suppose. You know, Eric Clapton never played flute! The most recent CD-Reissue of 'Stand Up' has four bonus tracks including the perennial 'Living In The Past' which became the groups biggest selling single. There is much more to Jethro Tull than 'Living In The Past' although this record won't sound strange or anything to fans of said song.

    Add A Comment?

    Readers Comments

    Richard Vasiliy tijemart@yahoo.com
    Yeah, the album is really good and I give it a similar rating as Adrian. It begins from powerful blues-oriented A NEW DAY YESTERDAY (I prefer it's live version of 1977) - one of the favourite JT fans' songs. I like it too though. Maybe this one is the best song on album, but it's the same good as JT-version of Bach's BOUREE (flute is excellent here!), "Celtic-Indian" reel FAT MAN (oh, it's not about Ian Anderson :)) and 100%-English Medieval ballad WE USED TO KNOW (it's rather similar to WITH YOU THERE TO HELP ME from the next album). NOTHING IS EASY and FOR A 1000 MOTHERS are excellent too. But the other 4 songs are weaker (but rather good too) and more traditionally for '76-'78 JT albums (not their best period, to my opinion). Anyway, STAND UP is very good to me!

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    I like Jethro Tull because there is something very English about their sound, as opposed to groups that sound like Brits imitating Americans. And Stand Up is very gratifying to a toothless old hippie such as myself.

    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    This is my favorite Jethro Tull album. It's a good mix of folk, blues, and progressive music, and I especially like the medieval feel of some of the songs. Anderson's flute is rather understated here compared to other albums, and it does more to compliment the songs rather than acting as a lead instrument.

    John Harrison j.harrison.7@btinternet.com
    Yes, a great album, although the CD I have (not the latest remastered version) is an awful mix with the flute barely audible in some tracks. Thankfully I still have the vinyl copy I bought back in '73. One thing that surprises me in your review is that you don't mention Glenn Cornick's bass playing at all, which is absolutely tremendous throughout, particularly on Bourrée and We Used to Know. I always think that when someon puts together a list of the great rock bassists, Glenn should be somewhere in the top ten.

    Pete yellowcakeus6@cwctv.net
    This album, although its follow-up sounds quite dated today, is a wonderful timeless piece of work, that could fit in anywhere. It speaks for itself as to why it brought the band so much attention and success, when first released.

    Tagbo Munonyedi grimtraveller@hotmail.com
    Having thought about this for a while now, I would say that the first album that could qualify as progressive rock was Revolver by the Beatles. For me the origins of progressive are almost as interesting as the music and while it may seem like a boring rehash, those origins shed much light on what progressive rock actually is (or was). Whereas from the early 70s "prog" had become a fairly defined genre, it had, {rather like heavy metal and jazz fusion} unintentional beginnings. Unintentional in the sense that the creation of a genre wasn't the intention, but rather, to expand the possibilities of rock and move it away from whatever it was in 1965. The original rock'n'roll of the 50s rarely grew beyond it's original limits and had died an inauspicious death, save for a few throwbacks and diehards like Jerry Lee Lewis, by the early 60s. But that 60s generation allowed many of their influences to creep into their music and it was almost inevitable that they would begin to compo! se rock songs that moved beyond R&R and R&B formats. And on Revolver, classical (Eleanor Rigby), jazzy (Got to get you into my life), Indian (Love you to), medieval-ish (For no one), backwards instruments (I'm only sleeping) and experimental (Tomorrow never knows) were consciously applied to take rock away from it's perceived limits. Psychedelia was a crucial staging post on the way to progressive.....but not everyone went down the psychedelic route.

    The guys that made up Jethro Tull didn't. But sometimes their early progressive credentials are called into question. If I was a rock lawyer I'd cite two pieces of evidence that firmly plant them in the progressive camp. In four words, Blodwyn Pig and Stand Up. Blodwyn Pig was Mick Abrahams' band and really, his beef with Anderson was that he wanted to stay rooted in the blues, which was anathema to Anderson. Abrahams used to say, if it ain't blues, it's shit ! So the only reason for the existence of the Pig is coz the ot! her members of Tull (and Anderson in particular) wanted someth! ing more challenging and satisfying than simply being another white blues group. But not being a psych band, those other influences that had gained respectability in rock circles were given pretty much free reign to develop and writers like Anderson found that they could compose literally whatever was in their heads and hence, rock kept progressing. And Stand Up is Tull's first headlong lurch in that direction. Besides, in the musically daring climate of '68 - '69, just having one or two people that could play a little flute (both Anderson and Barre played the instrument) qualified a band as being 'progressive'. But it's not so simplistic as to say that as Abrahams departed, the blues went out of the window coz on Stand up there is blues, the difference being that here (and I would say this of progressive rock in general), the blues is simply one colour in the rainbow rather than the rainbow itself. Purists like Mick Abrahams wanted the blues to be the rainbow.....it's also int! eresting to note that most of the first wave of blues purists (like the Stones, the Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, the Pretty Things and even Alexis Korner, without whom, British blues would've been stillborn, possibly) had to change and mutate away from the blues (and in doing so created some of the greatest music of the millenia), while the second wave (like Fleetwood Mac, Ten Years After, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack etc, etc) either changed and progressed or stagnated and died. In a number of these songs on this album, there are little bluesy licks and trills, but thankfully they are so well fused with a myriad of other colours and therefore sounds fresh and unique. In 1969, as far as press and punters alike were concerned this was progressive rock coz it was ambitious......and different. I suspect that even the title is significant - Anderson said that the debut was a blues album coz that's what was the going concern at the time; psychedelia was old hat, there seemed to be al! ot of going backwards musically (that's not a contradiction), ! there wa s little love and peace and plenty confrontation and the band wanted to record and it was the way to get the foot in the door (although Family might disagree with that). But Anderson had greater plans and compromised first time around - he's saying "this was Jethro Tull", meaning that they were not going to be in that place for long. I think that here, he's saying, "will the real Jethro Tull please stand up".

    That ambition is announced right from the kick off in the superb A new day yesterday, ironically the overall bluesiest piece, but with a difference. It's riff twists and turns so deliciously and is essential to the song. Funny thing about blues, given that it gave so much to jazz, gospel (maybe the relationship with both jazz and gospel was a bit more symbiotic), rock'n'roll, latterday folk and soul, I've long found most of it's adherents to lack so much scope, imagination and foresight in the musical sense and it's less of a surprize that rock went on to become ! not only the dominant form of music in the latter half of the 20th century, but also the form of music that best fused with most other forms around it. Musically, A new day is so powerful that it almost doesn't matter what it's about. And given that hard rock/heavy metal was originally marketed as progressive rock, it kind of stands in a stylistically interesting place. And Bouree is such an amazing track, the kind of song that showed yet another fascinating musical leap for rock. The Beatles may have shown much of the way but credit also needs to go to those who were smart enough to take up the mantle and chart new ground that the Fabs hadn't even begun to imagine. One of the things I love about late 60s and early 70s rock is that so many groups released so many albums and so many of them reeked inventiveness and something new. Far more than ever made it. Why Jethro Tull made it and the likes of Fuzzy Duck, Gracious, Mogul Thrash and others didn't is just one of those! inexplicable things. I guess there were just too many good ba! nds and LPs, they couldn't all survive. There was also something in Ian Anderson's make up that made him push frontiers. Bouree must have made many purists on the classical side puke, but that was their loss. I find Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square to be pretty similar in mood (or at least, some of it is) to Bouree, but without the cute touches. Still, it was further evidence of Tull progressing through the previously accepted boundaries. A great track. Fat Man is a great study in stereotypes, the kind of song that would have been almost unthinkable four years earlier, both lyrically and musically.

    Martin Barre's guitar playing all the way through the album is first rate and I really like his wah'd soloing on the weird waltz, We used to know. It's so much like Hotel California that I refuse to entertain the notion that the none of the Eagles (or Joe Walsh) were aware of Tull's music. It would be one heck of an episode of morphic resonance. Back to Barre's playing on t! he song, it really rips and locks tight with Glen Cornick's melodic bass playing. Cornick was quite an impressive player, while I wouldn't call his solo on Bouree the best ever in rock (I can't recall where I read that, but I do recall reading it), it is beautiful. It's a rather 'put together' one though, coz it was alot longer, rather all over the place and possibly spiced with mistakes, but the best bits were taken to form the piece we all know and love. Good production. Cornick was what I'd call a sympathetic bass player and his role in the music shouldn't be underestimated. Anderson may have written great songs, but without intelligent players like Cornick, Barre and Bunker, those songs would've been a load of fungo bat. While Anderson definitely defined the image and subject matter, fact is, for all his domination, Tull were a band and as such, songs like Back to the family, Nothing is easy and those that shift the mood with neo folky softness (like Reasons for waiting! and Look into the sun) were dependent on the skills of the pl! ayers. I love songwriters and I think their visions can be breathtaking. But no writer in the recording age (and even before technology existed) can really know what something can sound like until it's recorded. Keith Richards once made the point that he doesn't like to come to sessions with a song fully realized coz though he may have written the song, it needs what the other players bring to fully expound it's possibilities. I can see it the other way too, but in truth, even if you know how you want a particular instrument to go, unless you play it yourself, you are dependent on someone else so it's a unique and paradoxical two way process....Over the years, the guys that made up this aggregation of Tull haven't been fully and properly credited for making some of these albums as good as they are. Like with Alice Cooper, there are many who are surprized that Jethro Tull is the name of a group and not that of the guy with the flute.....

    top of page
    Aqualung 9 ( 1971, UK Pos 4 )
    Aqualung / Cross Eyed Mary / Cheap Day Return / Mother Goose / Wond'ring Aloud / Up To Me / My God / Hymn 43 / Slipstream / Locomotive Breath / Wind Up

    Jethro Tull get all intelligent, sophisticated - weave in thematic ambitions and generally progress. Personnel changes apart, 'Aqualung' is tied together by the songs themselves. It's fortunate that the performances are all pretty great too, but yeah, it's the songs that hold this together, and magnificently so. Ian Anderson doesn't sound so warm or loving vocally, he sounds like he's got something to say. 'Aqualung' makes a distinction between religion and God, an important distinction - but let's not get all heavy here. You can enjoy this album without thinking at all, but it's also able to provoke thoughts - the lyrics are unusual and absolutely wonderful. The first side of the record is full of little stories and story-telling, and it works. The second side sees a more philosophical side come into play, and that works too. And you can enjoy the guitar parts, get off on the flute parts! What more could you ask for? The first three songs flow wonderfully. The title track is full of flowing and impressive musical parts, 'Cross Eyed Mary' is snarled and hard hitting, yet so easy to enjoy. 'Cheap Day Return' for all it's 83 seconds is absolutely gorgeous, I so love the folky guitar parts, I love the whole feel of this - and the vocal is beautiful and touching. 'Mother Goose' is full of happy sounds, full of happy Flute playing and full of Ian Anderson. It's good! 'Wond'ring Aloud' returns to folky sounds, 'Up To Me' returns to superlative happy Flute. It works - the entire first side of this album is absolutely glorious with 'Up To Me' sending chills down my spine and making me happy.

    Side two of 'Aqualung' is less radio friendly, more ambitious still from a writing point of view - literally the other side of 'Aqualung'. 'My God' is a trip, 'Hymn 43' sports pounding Piano work and more fascinating lyrical content. 'Slipstream' works on side two like 'Cheap Day Return' works on side one - if only because it's a similarly short song with similarly decent vocals. The lyrics again stand out, Jethro Tull stand up, excuse the pun. Strings sweep quietly through the close of 'Slipstream' - 'Locomotive Breath' comes in, oh so quietly. Piano again to the fore, classical influences and elements. Jethro Tull mix in all sorts of musical influences, and they do it so very well. 'Locomotive Breath' gets a little funky, a little harder rock - the flute is there! I enjoy this a great deal, let's just use the word again and call it glorious, fantastic music. 'Wind Up' closes a virtually perfect album. Guitar riffs, lots of groovy stuff. A virtually perfect album? The distinction is small, just an instinctive thing. What's important is that 'Aqualung' is important, the songs are all good - there isn't a single 'wow' track here perhaps, but only perhaps. There is enough moments of 'wow' spread throughout, and the whole thing really does tie together beautifully.

    Add A Comment?

    Readers Comments

    Al Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    For a toothless old drooling hippie such as myself (alright, I'm not actually toothless) Aqualung brings back memories. I sang 'Locomotive Breath' in a garage band in 1971 or '72: good lyrics about a train that wont stop, and "the all time loser" going "headlong to his death". Hymn 41 (or whatever the number is) has great anti-religious lyrics. 'Wond'ring Aloud' is a quiet little break. I'm a little tired of title track, though; it's a real in-your-face song. There is mention of sex (and why shouldn't there be?) on 'Cross Eyed Mary' and the title track-- which sings about the anti-hero Aqualung "eyeing little girls with bad intent". Tull is a very English band. Listening to 'Mother Goose' I get an some sort of an idea of what English folk music is about. I live in the Midwestern U.S., and here the closest thing to English folk music is white guys singing about tractor trailers.

    Paul Watson pazwaz@hotmail.com
    It remains the only album that I will still sing along with, all the way through! Honest, thought provoking lyrics, great riffs, melodies and musical arrangements all wrapped up with highly skilled rock craftsmanship. Breathtaking variety of styles, instrumentation and mood. Over 30 years on and I reckon this is still one of the ten best albums by anybody - ever! Ian Anderson said he "would rather look around me - compose a better song - cause that's the honest measure of my worth". 'Nuff said. Jethro Tull for Pope!.

    Pete yellowcakeus6@cwctv.net
    As good a song as Aqualung is, it gets a little boring to hear it on live performance after live performance..[what, AGAIN??]. The same with Locmotive Breath. Good album anyway.. and very brave of Ian to basically speak his mind on the subject of the major religions, in 1971AD.

    Thomas McDowall thomasadammcdowall@talktalk.net
    Many great albums that seem to be definitive of a particular, era, upon reflection, albeit they were masterpieces in that time and place, simply do not stand up to the test of time. The sparkle has often as not waned, the lyrics, which seemed to be so inspirational then, are now lost and irrelevant to our present lives. Not so with Tull's Aqualung. Homelessness, destitution, paedophilia, the evil of organised religion, the sadistic school regime that leaves you with no real sense of your own worth, all of these topics and many more are addressed in this album and all remain relevant, if not more so, today. The music sounds no less wonderfully accomplished 35 years later on and the musicianship displayed by all the band cannot be bettered. This is a masterpiece and in my humble opinion should be considered as one of the top 10 albums ever recorded. It is for this reason that I take exception with Adrian in as much as I have no hesitation in awarding this mag! nificent tour de force a hallowed 10 out of 10.

    top of page
    Thick As A Brick 9 ( 1972, UK Pos 5 )
    Thick As A Brick / Thick As A Brick

    You know, sketching around the lyrical details for this two part Ian Anderson composition, I half decided that I didn't actually want to know what it was about. Good lyrics, interesting piecing together of ideas and storytelling, but this? "Your sperm's in the gutter / your loves in the sink" - and that's an early lyric, setting the scene, if you will! The scene is set more clearly by the albums cover art made up to look like a newspaper. "Judges Disqualify Little Milton In Last Minute Rumpus' reads the headline, and the story underneath reveals that an eight year old has been disqualified of his status as a literally prizewinner following a reading of his 'Thick As A Brick' poem. We're told by a judge that the child is 'seriously unbalanced' and that his work displays 'unwholesome attitudes'. So, that's your concept. A concept? 'Thick As A Brick' you see, along with 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' by Yes, is just about the most 'prog' of all progressive rock albums from the classic era of the genre. Two 'songs' and forty plus minutes of music, music that includes a huge chunk of impressively complicated sounding keyboard parts amid the other superlative playing this album displays. The music holds the piece together, ultimately. I actually couldn't care a damn about the lyrics, although occasionally I like to hear them to follow the story, but it's hard work. Enjoying the album as a piece of music is very easy work however, if you are at all aquainted with the progressive rock scene of the early seventies. If so, listening to two tracks covering forty three minutes or so of music shouldn't pose a problem. Even if not aquainted, there is melody all over this thing and the composition changes plenty of times as it goes along. Like little abandoned songs stictched together, different ideas and melodic threads woven into a fabulous new whole. A-hem. Well, something of the sort, anyhow. I'm being light-hearted, and the music is occasionally light-hearted, occasionally serious sounding. The lyrics vary from being hilarious to awe-inspiring to downright offputting. A mixed bag then? Quite possibly, although, and I must stress this point, easy to listen to as music and sounds, very easy. Lots of melody, you see? Let's not forget the lyrics though, I didn't mean that. These lyrics are an intrinsic part of 'Thick As A Brick', almost it's very point of being, I suppose. Me? I enjoy the music and the sounds. I enjoy the lyrics, half and half. I'm impressed by the way they've been put together, impressed by the wordplay. The concept and the actual story and I can take or leave, depending on how I feel. 'Thick As A Brick' is that kind of an album. If you're in the mood for it, it's absolutely fantastic. If not, it's still good - but you may not reach the end of the record with your brain intact....

    Let's talk about this music here then, seeing as i've mentioned all the melody and impressive nature of the playing! Well, we open with a little distinctive flute melody that weaves in and out most alluringly. Ian Anderson sounds in fine vocal form, as he does throughout, actually. I'd loved to have heard the full forty three minute 'Thick As A Brick' played live. That must have been an experience! The CD version of the album does have a twelve minute live version as a bonus track, but it's not the same thing. Where was I? Nice flute and charming little childlike melodies continue for a minute and a half before the bass and drums kick in and things start to get going. Back for a little more light acoustic guitar and flute, back for a sweet vocal section - onwards we go. Suddenly, things explode in noise with the keyboards everywhere, brass parts? These keyboards are great!! The guitar, oh my!!! Sorry, got carried away, but really, this is stupendous stuff. This kind of switching between nice mellow sections and noisy superlative playing sections is continued throughout. Most of the first part of the album is great, by the way. Don't like the second half quite as much, although the extended drum showpiece near the beginning of 'part two' makes me smile. Here's the drummer, yeah? Going all out to show what a fantastic player he is. And what's Ian Anderson doing? Good question. He's dancing and hopping around with his flute, that's what he's doing! It makes me smile, and good music always makes me smile. Noise abounds at the start of 'part two', the drummer sounds like his arms are about to fall off during his solo...... the flute comes in - THIS IS SO SILLY! I love it, though. Around the six minute mark everything goes medieval. A marching rhythm for a brief moment a little later, the mood turns towards desperation and sorrow. Guitar parts stab and things move onwards. I don't know, but things drift a little as the album comes to a close. No, 'Thick As A Brick' isn't perfect, but then, what is? It's so stupid and alarming and different however, that I love listening to it more often than not. Love the way it goes back to the beginning at the very end, repeating the songs intial melodic 'sway'. To be honest, I don't know what the hell i'm saying.... Let's give it a '9' and be done. <

    Add A Comment?

    Simon B slb23@shaw.ca
    Ian Anderson once said that they spent more time on the cover and packaging of THICK AS A BRICK than the album itself. For the most part, it is VERY GOOD, but it drags in one or two places (the spoken word passage near the begining of part two, for example.) The album's styles include: English folk, hard rock, classical, pop, (and they often combine different styles as well) throughout the album, which makes for interesting listening. The cover and accompanying pages are meant to look like a newspaper, with articles, classifieds, advertisements, and even a "review" of the album itself. The newspaper is full of witty English humour, and often refer back to itself in the different articles. The lyrics are very obtuse, with puns, clever wordplay, and tons of poetic devices. All the band members are very good with their instruments, playing very difficult passages with tremendous skill. Ian Anderson is in fine vocal form, as well. THICK AS A BRICK is ! an essential album for fans of early 70's progressive rock, and a must for Jethro Tull fans. 9/10

    top of page
    A Passion Play 6 ( 1973, UK Pos 13 )
    A Passion Play

    Well, understanding this album is difficult. Yet, upon reading up on the circumstances of its creation, we can have some symptathy, especially with Ian Anderson. The group had to abandon their original follow-up to 'Thick As A Brick' for various reasons, then found themselves under pressure to complete the new record. 'A Passion Play' ended up being recorded and conceived within a three week period. Bearing in mind the sheer lyrical ambition, this short time frame was never going to produce an ideal record. Also bearing in mind, the entire band were exhausted from touring and from the abandonment of the album they were proposing to record. Yet, Ian Anderson had an idea. 'Thick As A Brick' had been quite a mischeivous concept album. Wanting to do something darker, they embarked upon recording sessions, yet this dark concept wasn't really in the minds of the band, just then. Come the sessions for 'A Passion Play', the darker concept returned. Unfortunately, this resulted in an album without any lighter moments to contrast the darker ones. Well, except a four minute or so long re-telling of a childrens story in the middle of the record apparently to provide light relief. Some may find it amusing, all I find it is skippable, yet you can't, because this album is more of less just one big long track. Re-used ideas. The musical ideas for this record were rescued from the aborted album sessions. That album was to have had a completely different concept. So, already, 'A Passion Play' gets off to a bad start, yeah? Because the music isn't designed to enhance the lyrics, or at least, so it feels from listening to the record. As for the music, there are little guitars, Ian Anderson plays Saxophone for some unknown reason, the rhythm section do their best, and that's pretty much it!

    The first half of the album has you straining to work out what's going on. Reading up, liner notes or web-sites, gives you an idea. Without those aids, it's unlikely anybody would have a good idea, or a true idea. The second half of the album starts much better than even the best moment from the first half, and so it continues. Ian Anderson seemingly sings in two single notes throughout the entire record, has no light to contrast the dark, the record lacks individual exciting sections that contrast from the majority of the sections, because everything quickly returns to the same, fairly uninteresting, melodic theme. I've tried so hard to like this album. I've studied it, i've listened again and again. It has merit in terms of the playing. I can't say it was Ian Anderson's finest hour, yet having said that, he did well to produce the lyrics and the concept within such a short space of time. There are some who take this album very seriously. Well, they can if they want to. Sadly, the final product is somewhat flawed. Music is meant to be enjoyable. In such a spirit, i'll end this review with a quote from Ian Anderson himself, from 1999, when reviewing and speaking of 'A Passion Play'. "With Thick As A Brick, we took the idea of the concept album and had some fun with it. Now we thought it was time to do something a bit more serious and make an album that wasn't a spoof and wasn't meant to be fun.

    Add A Comment?

    Readers Comments

    Paul paulwatts@optushome.com.au
    It's funny how one man's meat is another's poison. I personally believe A Passion Play to be Jethro Tull's classic contribution to rock music. On the other hand, I loath Thick as a Brick, and I believe Aqualung hasn't aged very well either. Where Thick as a Brick is completely imprenetrable lyrically, this has a straightforward theme which is followed throughout the recording. A young man dies, and he is taken to a theatre where his life is played back to him. Following this, he is brought before God where a decision is made as to whether or not he will be reborn. This decision appears to be made by the suibject himself rather than the Almighty. Magnificent lyrical imagery abounds on this recording. Ian Anderson had few, if any equals as a poetic lyricist. The playing of the band is first class. A Passion Play was canned by most reviewers upon its release in 1973, but it was my choice of Best Album of that year. It's probably not hard to see why i! t was trashed. It is not catchy. It is not danceable, it stops and starts, and its entire premise is very dark and brooding. Nonetheless, as a serious work, this is one of the true accomplishments of 1973 or any other year. I also believe Pink Floyd's classic "The Wall" owes "A Passion Play" a huge debt of gratutude, as it follows very much the same storyline, albeit with much more striking musical effects. I think "A Passion Play" has aged better than just about any of Jethro Tull's other material, only "Songs From The Wood", occupying a completely different musical area, comes close. I will not for one moment accept this the gestation of this recording was a mere three weeks or so. To my mind, Thick as a Brick was part of the gestation for A Passion Play, particularly musically, as was Aqualung, although more lyrically and story-wise. Apparently Passion Plays traditionally include a comedy interlude in the middle. Hence The H! are Who Lost His Spectactles. Brimming with puns and double en! tendres, this is the perfect "intermission". Magnificently insane narration. A Passion Play is not easy to listen to, but careful attention with an open mind is rewarded. I give this recording 9.5, only because some of the joining work between what are really nine or ten songs built around a common story, could have been done better.

    Jeremy Wonder_Warriors@hotmail.com
    I agree with you on other things but in regards to this. Are you mad? A Passion Play is a monumental masterpiece with excellent lyrics and inventive melodies. It hasn't aged a jot since it was first brought out either. Your review on Thick as a brick is also ridiculous as i find the album a bit of a bore compared with most of his others.

    Pete yellowcakeus6@cwctv.net
    I prefer the Chateau D'Isaster tapes, myself, but Passion Play is very well done, and of course JHH makes it rib-ticklingly funny narrating 'The Hare'.

    Grez grazioli7@hotmail.com
    I feel this album has suffered a bad press over the years - it's not bad to listen to, I really rather enjoy it. Well, all bar the hideous "the Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" - Ian Anderson should be bludgeoned about the head with his flute for that little aberrancy. Still, it's nowhere near as good as "Thick as a Brick"...

    top of page
    War Child( 1974, UK Pos 20 )
    Warchild / Queen And Country / Ladies / Back Door Angels / Sealion / Skating Away On Thin Ice / Bungle In The Jungle / Only Solitaire / The Third Hurrah / Two Fingers

    I've been reading up on my Tull history. Not an expert at all, just my normal research for some background information. Reviews, by long-term Tull fans describe this album as 'a mess', others like it a lot. Myself, well. It's decent enough, the arrangements and music are clearly thought through, orchestral embellishments in places makes for a good contrast. Still, it seems to be somewhat of a regression after the previous few albums. The switch back to more handy song-lengths was perhaps expected after the critical savaging of 'A Passion Play' by critics at the time. The switch from a tight concept to a selection of songs all loosely covering the same kind of themes, but not adding upto any kind of consistent narrative is fine. But, they didn't even have to do that. What linked the songs of 'Stand Up' together? Well, the sound and playing did. The melodies consistently accesible and enjoyable. This album is kind of inconsistent, for every nice moment there is a song that just doesn't grab you, stand-out or become particularly memorable. A drop in quality? I don't think so, just a lack of an exciting direction, perhaps? And, for an album too often lacking in fun-filled moments, music is meant to be entertainment after all, it comes as some relief when 'The Third Hoorah' arrives. This is the kind of song I want on a Tull album to break up the more serious musical sections. Not that the music on 'The Third Hoorah' isn't serious to an extent. It's certainly played well, full of fun and makes you grin. Ian comes up with a decent vocal melody, which isn't always the case and the keyboard and string parts are just good fun, too.

    As well as electric guitars, the keyboards , etc - we have some nice acoustic guitar sections. I like 'Ladies', it's reaching for those medieval folk influences. The orchestrations on 'Queen And Country' on the otherhand, quite distract from what could have been a very effective harder hitting rock number. There is a fine solo sailing through, but other strange instrumentation just detracts for me, rather than enhances. Almost as if such supposedly more advanced arrangements were proof enough of continued advancement by the group, to make up for the decline on the good ideas and melodies front. The title track gets things off to a solid start, kind of like a cut down version of 'A Passion Play'. 'Skating Away On Thin Ice' is certainly a highlight, a lightness and sureness of touch in the musical background, simple melody lines. It reminds me a lot more of the kind of material 'Aqualung' presented us with than anything else here. 'Bungle In The Jungle', well. The vocals and lyrics are entertaining, the music rather standard, albeit with certain embellishments arrangement and instrumental wise. Still, the feeling remains within me of 'A War Child' being a rather inessential Tull release. Enjoyable for fans, for sure. Not a bad album per-se, just not a particularly exciting one, either.

    Add A Comment?

    top of page
    Minstrel In The Gallery( 1975 )
    Minstel In The Gallery / Cold Wind To Valhalla / Black Satin Dancer / Requiem / One White Duck / Daker St Muse / Grace

    Maybe it's just my copy of the album, but the sound is a bit muddy. This is a shame as the opening title track clearly has a lot going for it. The sound is certainly simplified from the likes of 'Thick As A Brick' or 'Passion Play', yet melody is increased to compensate. We hope the band are now getting the balance right and can simplify whilst still sounding interesting and intelligent. So yes, the title track swings through various sections sounding enough like Jethro Tull for long-term fans to be happy enough, if not exactly thrilled that the band aren't seemingly pushing forwards anymore. Still, after 'War Child', any half-decent new track would have been welcome enough for the fans of the group. 'Cold Wind To Valhalla' is stripped right back, acoustic guitar, little bits of flute. The track then gains the full rhythm section and switches to electric guitar and becomes fairly thrilling. A return to form, perchance? A lot of people would have loved the tull to release another 'Stand Up'. We don't get another 'Stand Up', but shorter songs played with conviction and containing ideas and melody? Sounds good to me. 'Cold Wind To Valhalla' ends up with lots of tricky playing and excites. It does. It excites! Then, things take a slight downturn. 'Black Satin Dancer' sounds like an exact cross between the first two tracks. Contains very good guitar playing, but it becomes clear Jethro Tull aren't back to their very best. They always used to have variety within their albums, didn't they? 'Requiem' offers us a ballad, heaven help us. Not very much at all appears to happen, but the sentiment is there. It sounds nice enough if one doesn't pay too much attention to how little is actually going on.

    'One White Duck' sounds like an 'Aqualung' reject, the sixteen minute album centerpiece, 'Baker St Muse' is hopefully something stunning we can all really get our teeth into. The album desperately needing to raise its game right about now. The previous two tracks on the album had contained strings, violins. 'Baker St Muse' continues to contain strings and violins. Yet, purely due to its length perhaps, varies things a little. A little, at last. It's a fairly impressive piece of work, although nowhere near peak Tull form. It doesn't lack conviction, it just lacks new ideas and lacks a lightness of touch that previously Jethro Tull had no problem with. It sounds like they are labouring for ideas.

    Add A Comment?

    Readers Comments

    michael green michaelgrenxx@hotmail.com
    I agree with previous callers, JT were quintessencially English and therefore interesting to people who longed for something a bit different from the norm at the time. I also remember going to the flicks about the time of the release on minstrel and hearing it before the adverts before the film itself. At Southport in an old cinema, and you could imagine there being a gallery. There might have been one at some time in the past. Am I living in the past ?

    top of page
    Too Old To Rock N Roll, Too Young To Die 5 ( 1976, UK Pos 13 )
    Quiz Kid / Crazed Institution / Salamander / Taxi Grab / From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser / Bad Eyed And Loveless / Big Dipper / Too Old To Rock N Roll Too Young To Die / Pied Piper / Chequered Flag (Dead Or Alive)

    'Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll, Too Young Too Die' was intended for a musical about an over aged biker. The liner notes included a comic strip to tell the story, but the story never made the stage. So, another in a line of fully unrealised 70s concept albums? Well, yes, quite frankly. The songs stand-alone without the concept, which without an adapted accompanying stage musical, is rather pointless. The opening 'Quizz Kid' is firmly progressive rock, although by now, the music scene in general was undergoing radical change, eg, punk rock. How would Jethro Tull respond to punk? Well, not at all for the time being. 'Quizz Kid' is a decent enough opener with the usual multi-section parts and some decent playing. 'Crazed Institution' starts all folky and acoustic and lacks melody. We wait a couple of minutes for anything at all to happen, the rest of the band start to join in more forcibly, but nothing much of interest does actually happen. Things improve during the rockier numbers, 'Taxi Grab' for example. Whilst not Jethro Tull rock music when compared directly to the blues-rock of 'Stand Up', it does rock and it does feature guitars. The melodies, and there are plenty of them here, twist and turn and spoil us in places. There is a suspicion this track would have worked better with a simpler arrangement, but then again, I like this overegging of the pudding, this clumsy arrangement complete with spectacular, wailing harmonica. Still, my favourite track of the whole bunch is likely the title track. We've got effective orchestral embellishments, rather charming melodies although in this case, little rock n roll. Well, unless we count a little chugging section right before the outro.

    Speaking of orchestral embellishments, plenty of tracks here have them. The closing song, to mention just one. The Jethro Tull band sound strangely lifeless for the vast majority of the album, this new direction, if it can be called as such, more apt for an Ian Anderson solo record than a Jethro Tull record. Perhaps this is why fans responded/respond generally unfavourably to 'Too Old To Rock N Roll, Too Young To Die'. I mean, the album is perfectly professional, it has a level of intelligence about it. It's just not particularly enticing or repeat-playable. Still, 'Salamander' has some neat acoustic playing in it, 'Pied Piper' is weird yet strangely captivating. The album isn't without its charms, there just aren't really enough of them.

    Add A Comment?

    top of page
    Songs From The Wood( 1977, UK Pos 20 )
    Songs From The Wood / Jack In The Green / Cup Of Wonder / Hunting Girl / Ring Out Solstice Bells / Velvet Green / The Whistler / Pibroch / Fire At Midnight / Beltane

    The beginning of the punk-explosion that wiped away many a failing prog-rocker brought out the best in Ian Anderson and his Jethro Tull chums. 'Songs From The Wood' is an album concerning english countryside activity, all played out against a backdrop of Jethro Tull's own unique take on folk music. The end result is far closer to Jethro Tull of 'Stand Up' or 'Aqualung' in terms of endearing melodies than arguably anything they'd done since. Well, the likes of 'Thick As A Brick' are another story altogether, but yes, this is the sound I like from my Jethro Tull. Lots of flute and a lightness of touch combined with a few startlingly good pieces of musicianship. The title track for example manages to combine almost all the styles of music Tull had ever experimented with, and weaves these strands in and out of a five minute piece that holds up as prog, as pop/rock, and importantly as a cohesive piece of actual music. You know, in terms of it being a good old fashioned decent tune! Across the album as a whole, the band seem to have a renewed enthusiasm, marry this to superb arrangements and production and you have one of the most enjoyable Tull albums for a very long while. I'll discuss some of the reasons I like the record so much. Well, i've mentioned the excellent title track, so how about the festive sounding 'Ring Out Solstice Bells', a fine pop tune, no less? Little clapping sections, images of Ian Anderson hopping about on one leg playing his flute, sounds of chiming bells and other excellent percussive embellishments. Marching drums, ah, I love this little tune so much! Some of Mr Anderson's finest ever lyrics are a feature of 'Velvet Green', another high-point of the record. The song starts out all medieval, a sound Tull always did do very well, before proceeding onwards with several impressively well executed and tricksy musical passages.

    Flicking through the tunes on this album much as one would the pages in a magazine reveals a cohesion across the albums ten songs but also a decent amount of variety. Poppy songs mix with rockier songs mix with different styles of memorable instrumental introductions. The eight minute 'Pibroch' for example opens with some Hendrix style guitar wankery, pure prog organ theatrics for the opening of 'Hunting Girl', a decent riff played out against a salt-shaker for percussion a feature of the closing track, 'Beltane'. 'Fire At Midnight' is a quiet piece of balladry and story-telling, 'Jack In The Green' another fine lyric this time set to music purely as accompianment, just like the old minstrels used to do centuries ago. Hey, nice attention to detail there, Ian! The excellent 'Hunting Girl' is playing as I wrap up this review. Typical prog in some respects, tricky time signatures and changes, an ominous sounding church organ. All the usual prog things, yet also a sound absolutely unique to Jethro Tull at their finest. When Tull were at their finest, they were absolutely out there on their own, an absolutely uplifting and joyous musical treasure.

    Add A Comment?

    Readers Comments

    Pete yellowcakeus6@cwctv.net
    I think this album really turned around the fortunes of Jethro Tull. It hailed in the band's return to folk, a kind of folk that most could CALL folk, at least. Lots of startlingly good tunes and a must buy for any lover of English countryside folk..

    top of page
    Heavy Horses 8 ( 1978, UK Pos 17 )
    ... and the Mouse Police Never Sleeps / Acres Wild / No Lullaby / Moths / Journeyman / Rover / One Brown Mouse / Heavy Horses / Weathercock

    Jethro Tull continue with the folky vein that so pleasingly characterised 'Songs From The Wood'. The lightness of touch combined with great arrangements and superb playing works well for the band. There's great rhythm section interplay here and wonderful percussion throughout that adds to the complexity of the songs. These are listenable progressive rock tunes, though. Very approachable and genial, in fact. In fact, the opening cut could have been twice as long and still been friendly and approachable. It contains plenty of complex rhythms, Ian flutes away and the lyrics are intriguing and well constructed. The rhythm section appear key with elastic playing that's very pleasurable. 'Acres Wood' appears to be celtic folk/rock and it's a combination that works well, another supremely constructed composition full of stellar playing from all involved. A question you all no doubt want answering though is what about the epics? Well, we've got a couple, one for each half of the album. It's a very well balanced album because of it. The title track is the longest cut here at 9 minutes and seems to warrant its length. A couple of main melodic threads weave throughout, strings that enhance the piece rather than appear merely tacked on to seem sophisticated. It's a song that goes round in circles, taking pause for breather at the same time the listener requires it. You can delve in and out of the tune and still come back in. It's quite clever for something that sounds relatively straightforward. I like the lyrical themes so that's about it, big thumbs up from Adrian.

    The other lengthy tune here is third track 'No Lullaby'. Opening with a big rock guitar the song progresses, um, progressively. It's very tricksy with much guitar and should please fans of 'Aqualung' or 'Thick As A Brick', very prog rock it is. More highlights remain, the Zappa-esque percussion contained in parts of 'Rover', the medieval prog-pop of 'One Brown Mouse' right through to the closing 'Weathercock' which has more flute and more solid bass and drums. If there is a critiscm of this album it's the fact it needs more variety, the songs begin to swim together at a certain point and after a certain amount of plays. The title track apart, the second half of the album is also weaker than the first half. So, this is no perfect album but since when did Jethro Tull offer us that? Along with 'Songs From The Wood' this is very solid though and confirmed that Jethro Tull were still relevant in the age of punk and disco.

    Add A Comment?

    Readers Comments

    paul paulwatts@optushome.com.au
    I've never really regarded Tull as a primarily progressive band, although elements of the genre do appear in their music, most notably in the longer tracks. There are two of those here, but really neither of them embrace the progressive tag to the extent that Pibroch, from the previous album, did. No Lullaby isn't anything special for mine (although as always the playing is immaculate), but the title track certainly is special. A brilliant, stirring performance. The other highlight is Journeyman, which closes the first side (vinyl). Lovely bassline, a medieval feel to the song, and magnificent lyrical wordplay from one of the true masters of the artform, turning a mundane subject (late night train travel on a cold English night) into something quite romantic. Often overlooked but to me one of Ian Anderson's best songs.

    top of page
    Stormwatch( 1979 )
    North Sea Oil / Orion / Home / Dark Ages / Warm Sporran / Something's on the Move / Old Ghosts / Dun Ringill / Flying Dutchman / Elegy

    A couple of notable things to get out of the way first of all - bassist John Glascock was suffering from a disease that went onto claim his life, so Ian Anderson can be heard playing the bass on many songs. Fairport Convention man Dave Pegg would subsquently take up the bass duties for the 'Stormwatch' live tour even though Jethro Tull were moving away from their folk-prog direction. Lyrically, we have tales of the environment, the weather, dark sea and bearded old seamen. Opener 'North Sea Oil' is only three minutes long but surges ahead with many floaty progressive rock twiddles, particularly from the flute of Tull frontman, Ian Anderson. Sound wise, this is straight progressive rock whilst the second song has more hints of the late seventies - particularly the arrangements of the string parts. Both songs have a fairly weak sound, the early Seventies Jethro Tull music sounded richer and more organic, although I suspect the reason for this is largely production and engineering related rather than anything else. Well, it's not going to help either when a key band-member is suffering from ailing health (John Glascock) who only contributes to three songs on the album. A ballad arrives, a couple of rockier numbers but the strings still get in the way of songs that otherwise would no doubt fit the live arena perfectly, 'Home' aside, which is the quieter moment and seems to have been included for the sake of it, being pretty but not much else. Instrumental 'Warm Sporran' is a weird one mixing Frank Zappa progressive sounds with Bagpipes and horrible sounding synths.

    The next two songs get 'Side B' off to an energetic start which proved that Ian Anderson still had all his 'fiddliness' musically and lyrically, even if his vocals throughout the LP often sound thin. 'Old Ghosts' is good but those strings I mentioned earlier still get on my nerves, it's like they've imported Beatles producer George Martin in circa an illness and during his mid to late seventies 'Wings' phase. Well, of course, one could also almost imagine the strings and bass parts during 'Old Ghosts' to be some kind of audition for a role in a disco dance band. 'Flying Dutchman' is an enjoyable multi-part song that echoes back to the bands true prog-rock roots - it's something I can really digest is 'Flying Dutchman' even though i'd like the vocals to sound stronger and the strings to be quieter. As the final track, the instrumental 'Elegy' ends, you end up nodding and thinking, 'that sounds a bit George Harrison' and then reflect upon the album as a whole. It seems to lack finesse and purpose, despite a handful of the tracks contained within being fairly good. Fairly good songs that by the way, probably sounded much better when played live, which I think highlights the reasons 'Stormwatch' relatively failed when compared to the bands more classic Seventies works.

    Add A Comment?

    top of page
    this page last updated 01/08/15

    Full Archive - Sort By Decade - Sort by Genre

    Album Reviews | A-Z Artists | Beginners Guides | Twitter | Blogs We Like |
    Channel Youtube | Contact Us | Features | Music & Web Apps | Ratings At A Glance
    Singles Bar | Top 100 Albums | Top 100 Songs |

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

    Made In Devon.