Category: Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull – Aqualung

ARTIST: Jethro Tull                             JethroTullAqualungalbumcover

TITLE:  Aqualung

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #7 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Hymn #43 (#91 US), Locomotive Breath

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Aqualung, Cross-Eyed Mary

LINEUP: Ian Anderson, Clive Bunker, Martin Barre, John Evan, Jeffery Hammond

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The one Jethro Tull album everyone knows, but it is definitely worth knowing.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: No matter how many times I’ve heard it, the opening guitar riff by Martin Barre on “Aqualung” always brings a smile to my face. Same with the riffs on most of the other hard rocking tunes. Those tempt you into the building. What keeps you there is the whole of the album.

Though the band has always denied this is a concept album, it is in a sense that Ian Anderson spends a lot of the album venting about God, Man and Religion. But “Aqualung” itself isn’t part of that, it’s only connected to “Cross-Eyed Mary”, not the songs like “My God” and “Hymn 43” on the second side.

This is probably the pinnacle of progressive rock in the 70’s – pleasing hard rock fans, keeping an ear for hooks and riffs, incorporating progressive and classical themes and exploring those without ham-handed long suites.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The iconic album cover was inspired by a photograph Anderson’s wife took of a homeless man.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, outtakes, alternate cuts, new mixes, BBC cuts.

GRADE: A: Why not an A+. A couple of the quieter songs, while nice, I don’t think flow 100% well (maybe they needed a resequence). Still, gotta have this

Jethro Tull – Benefit

ARTIST: Jethro Tull 220px-JethroTull-albums-benefit
TITLE: Benefit
YEAR RELEASED: 1970
CHART ACTION: #11 US, #3 UK
SINGLES: Inside
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Teacher
LINEUP: Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, Clive Bunker, Glenn Cornick, John Evan
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Tull more or less sheds the blues and becomes full on folk/progressive with a hard rock kick.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Well, here we are. No more Tull with a foot in the true blues. The addition of keyboard player John Evan enhances the band’s sound, and allows Barre more room to explore guitar riffs and sounds.

The songs seem a little weaker and less memorable than Stand Up. Teacher is an excellent song that positions the band right where they need to be for greater fame to come. “To Cry You a Song” is quite the Barre workout. The rest of the tracks, while decent, don’t have the hooks or immediacy as their past album.

You could call this a transition album in a sense, but it’s decent enough to stand on its own.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Teacher” was recorded in two versions – the UK version was the B-side of a non-album single and has no flute and more guitar. The US version is actually on the album itself. In the UK, the track “Alive and Well and Living In” was included on the album.

Two non-album singles, “Sweet Dream” (#7 UK) and “The Witch’s Promise” (#4 UK) hit the UK charts.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, it has the UK album, both versions of “Teacher”, the non-album singles and B-sides and mono mixes of a lot of songs as well.

GRADE: B: Decent, not great. If “Teacher” was on the UK album that’d raise it to a solid B+.

Jethro Tull – Stand Up

ARTIST: Jethro Tull 220px-JethroTull-albums-standup
TITLE: Stand Up
YEAR RELEASED: 1969
CHART ACTION: #20 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: Bouree – three singles were issued in the UK around the same time this was released (Love Story #29 UK; Living in the Past (#11 US, #3 UK), Sweet Dream (#7 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: A New Day Yesterday, Nothing Is Easy, Fat Man
LINEUP: Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, Glenn Cornick, Clive Bunker
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Still somewhat a blues band, Jethro Tull moves towards their landmark sound by incorporating folk and acoustic elements.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I guess this is where Jethro Tull truly, truly begins. Even though this still has a foot in the blues (maybe three toes of a foot), you have more acoustic flourishes, and more of Anderson’s flute taking a lead role instead of being an add-on or afterthought.

The band and producer Andy Johns experimented a bit with sounds and recording technique as well, and used traditional folk instruments in some songs. Anderson’s songwriting is more focused, and the album stacks up thematically (though it’s not a concept album – those would come later) since he doesn’t have to share space with a blues guitarist.

The result was a better album than their debut. The band was all moving in the same direction and seemed confident in the material and their sound. I’d start here to get a sense of Jethro Tull’s classic period.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bouree is a version of Bach’s Bourree in E minor.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A big ol’ deluxe version with the above singles (making the Living in the Past album a bit redundant – all of the deluxe editions have the cuts that were on there) and a concert at Carnegie Hall.

GRADE: A-: It doesn’t have the hits or radio cuts that people in the States know (except for the Deluxe Version) but it’s very solid and enjoyable.

Jethro Tull – This Was

ARTIST: Jethro Tull 220px-Jethro_Tull_-_This_Was_fron_cover
TITLE: This Was
YEAR RELEASED: 1968
CHART ACTION: #62 US, #10 UK
SINGLES: A Song For Jeffrey
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dharma For One was on some compilations
LINEUP: Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Glenn Cornick, Clive Bunker
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Jethro Tull Blues Band? Yep. The first Tull album was mostly in a blues vein, instead of classical and jazz, and definitely not one that’s shouting at a Higher Being.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first Jethro Tull incarnation had one foot in the blues, thanks to Mick Abrahams, and one in jazz and classical thanks to Ian Anderson. Abrahams was a peer to Anderson on this album and wrote and directed a few numbers. They covered “Cat’s Squirrel”! They have a big ol’ drum solo on “Dharma for One”. Yeah, it’s kind of like Cream with a flute.

Because of this, it sounds odd for a Tull album. It also makes the album unfocused at times. However, Abrahams is a great blues player and the rest of Tull are also excellent at what they do, so it is a nice listen. It’s just not what you expect for Tull.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Abrahams left soon after, as he really wanted to get into a blues based band. He formed Blodwyn Pig, which released a couple of albums that were pretty well regarded.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, it has a couple of B-sides and singles, including “Love Story”, the single that seemingly introduced the ‘new’ sound of Tull to the UK.

GRADE: B : Good, not great, and it’s still odd to hear a blues based Tull.