George Starostin's Reviews



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Michael Bruun Petersen <> (09.09.99)


I stumbled upon you record review site today (link from, and I must say I like it a lot. Reading about great music is always nice, even if you don't agree with everything the writer has to say.

But I felt that I really had to comment on your Jehtro Tull page. Not the reviews themselves - although I disagree with many of them - but the opening paragraph.

You write: "On the other hand, he was also stubborn, despotic and hateful (at least, towards most of us humans), and his desperate need to release at least one album per year led to the appearance of tons of crap which everybody said was crap, but he thought everybody said it was crap because everybody hated him so much that everybody wanted to say all of his stuff was crap even when it wasn't ..."

What on earth inspired you to write this? I have read and head quite a bit about Tull and Ian Anderson, but I have never ever come across anything resembling this description. That Jethro Tull should be releasing albums every year because Ian (supposedly) hates most people sounds like a very strange idea to me. Can you document this in any way?

[G. S.: I'm sorry, the quoted phrase's meaning is as far away from your interpretation as possible. My fault probably - never put too many clauses in one sentence!]

"...Maybe everything we'd be hearing on the radio right now wouldn't be Led Zep."

You are lucky. Where I live they don't play any Zeppelin on the radio. (and no Tull, but that goes without saying).

"...besides Ian, there were Mick Abrahams (guitar; quit right after the first album because he wanted to write songs and Ian didn't want him to)..."

He wanted to be in a blues band and Ian did not want Tull to be a blues band. Ian won and Mick founded Blodwyn Pig.

"...In 1969 Abrahams replaced by Martin Lancelot Barre (guitar)..."

"Lancelot" isn't really his middle name. Ian made it up. (Perhaps you already know this)

"...In 1971 Cornick quit, replaced on base by Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond - the "ultimate" base player, in my opinion, sometimes sounds better than John Entwistle!..."

The second "Hammond" in his name was also an invention of Ian's.

"...Hammond-Hammond quit and was replaced by David Glascock.."

_John_ Glascock. (a.k.a. John Brittledick :-) [G. S.: wow, this is a bad one - I tend to evade these things, but with million member bands like Tull you can't but get screwed up from time to time].

"...In 1976 one more member was added - David Palmer (keyboards, all kind of strings, saxophone, etc.)..."

He had been associated with the band for several years before he became a full-time member. I don't think he ever played any strings, but he did do the string arrangements.

"...In 1979 disaster struck - Glascock died of an infection, there were other problems, and the band dissolved..."

No, it did not. Stormwatch was recorded while John was sick (Ian plays bass on most of that album). He died shortly after it was released and he was replaced by David Pegg, who played on the Stormwatch tour. Barrie quit after (iirc) the tour.

"...In 1980 Ian got Martin Barre back (smart guy!), grabbed session players Eddie Jobson (keyboards, strings) and Mark Craney (drums) and recruited Dave Pegg on base.."

This was intended to be an Ian Anderson solo album, but the record company would rather have a new Tull record. Thus John Evans and David Palmer were effectively fired.

"..the electronic rubbish on the 80-s albums). Conway was replaced by Doane Perry in 1984..."

And Doane is still here today (1999). By far the longest life-span of any Tull drummer.

"..Peter Vettese was dropped soon afterwards, and after that I lost count..."

Too bad - you were almost done. David Pegg left in 1995 to concentrate on his work with Fairport Convention. He was replaced by Jonathan Noyce. Andrew Giddings (keyboards) joined in 1991.

Stuff about current and former members can be found on the official web-site:

Well, that's pretty much it.

[G.S. Thanks for the information, Mike. If you're still wondering why the hell did I not incorporate it earlier, it's just because all of it can be found on ]

Matthew Bush <> (28.10.99)

As a Tull fan from almost the beginning I wanted to tell you I thoroughly enjoyed - and often agreed - with your album reviews.

I don't know if you had a chance to see the band live back in the early 70's, but they were absolutely the best I've seen, particularly the 1972 tour when the first half of the show was an hour long rendition of the recently released Thick as a Brick.... Tull was everything that they aren't anymore.... innovative, risk taking, adventurous, hilariously funny, quirky - and absolutely incendiary musically. The best stage performance I've ever seen by a rock band, and I've seen many.

Something you said really hit home with me..... the changes in Martin Barre's playing over the years. Barre was an incredibly fluid and emotional player twenty five to thirty years ago, and somewhere along the way he seemed to lose that "bluesy" feel in favor of the heavy metal riffage. If you compare his playing on Stand Up with anything after about Heavy Horses, it's very sad indeed. There's a real "sameness" to his sound, and it doesn't send the shivers down my spine like it did in the good 'ol days. Too bad Barre didn't release a solo album back when he played with fire.

I saw Tull about a month ago and my wife declared the show "boring". It was more like a Vegas nightclub act, like an Ian and Tull impersonation than a genuine concert. For a guy who professes to despise "Nostalgia", Ian was counting on it to get the crowd going - the same old gags we've seen since when they were spontaneous and funny, around the time of Thick as a Brick

Hey, thanks for listening.

Jamie Anthony <> (08.12.99)

I don't at all agree with your philosophy of Jethro Tull. I think the band's peak was around mid-Seventies - you see, progressive music has a lot of energy and is never dull - it's energy comes from constructive melodies and complex brilliance. Tull in the sixties were very much blues-based. Now that's usually a good thing, but Tull can't do blues that well - they were born to be prog! Prog takes time to understand, it can take 10-20 listens before you appreciate a prog album. I think your taste is much more pop-orientated.

<> (15.01.2000)

I just have a few comments on your comments about Jethro Tull.

You don't look deep enough into Ian Anderson's writings.

The Passion Play was meant to be something more than an Album. It was to complicated for its time and its time is still to come.

Your review on Crest of a Knave, was just terrible. I think Crest of a Knave was there best album because it showed how they could go to hard rock and still have that Jethro Tull type sound. I think you Should rethink your rating of Jethro Tull

Michael Carroll <> (08.02.2000)


Oh Why

Must we be subjected to so many reviews of a band that we obviously have an interest in (otherwise we wouldn't click the little Jethro Tull thingy), by someone who has already decided he JUST DOESN'T LIKE THEM! {Truth} JUST DOESN'T GET THEM!

Why would someone who hates "War Movies" with a passion be assigned to review a crap load of "War Movies"?

Where's the value? What is learned?

Had I realized that Venus and Mars by McCartney received a 9 and a majority of Tull albums receive 7 or less, I would have left this page immediately there after. Instead I went on to read many of these so-called reviews! There's the big YAWN!

It must have been unbearable to write!

So Why!



Hans Lindelöw <> (13.02.2000)

Interesting to read your reviews, especially on a group such as Jethro Tull, which I have listened to very much in previous years.I think they are quite good(your review´s), unsentimental and sometimes just to the point.

"I´d better look around me, compose a better song, ´cause that´s the honest measure of my worth".

But Ian Andersson didn´t wrote a better song. Aqualung is one of the best rock-album´s ever.If there is art in rock-music, this is were it is. For me personally it had great significance, those years in the beginning of the 70`s. I was young,I was bleeding, everything was bleeding the spring of 1970. And so I heard this distinct voice crying out the deep and serious question´s of my own generation - to God!

Now, who could answer these questions?

In my case, God did. I really caught up the voice of Jesus Christ, in autumn 1973, on my way to do the military-service in the north part of Sweden.There were my ancestors lived in the forest, were they gathered an prayed, I heard the blessed gospel.

Before that, in the summer, I had visited England with a friend. I so much lived in the music of Jethro Tull, that I shouldn´t be surprised, should any of the musicians drop down just were I was sitting.

But I think Thick as a brick and A passion play became to much of a puzzle . Interesting to see that you appreciated Thick as a brick so much. By then, I had many discussions with my friends on that one, but failed to convince anybody. Rather, they convinced me.

Now, to the latest album, J-Tull Dot.Com which I found here in Stockholm just before Christmas. Really a good one. Not an answer to Aqualung, but really a good one."Wicked window´s", for example.Splendid! A poem in the computer-age. Ian Andersson didn´t compose a better song, which he judged to be the honest measure of his worth. It may be an honest measure, but not the only measure.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

In this moment I have no time to write comments about all groups and musicians placed on your web-site and decide to concentrate on my favourite band (and the best band on earth) - Jethro Tull.

Before saying something about 'em, I must say that I don't understand what are you doin' on Russian web-site? You're a American. Well, maybe not native American, but American-oriented man. Only pop-shit-loving Americans may place The Byrds above Jethro Tull and give three stars to The Beach Boys and two to Renaissance. The Monkees above Black Sabbath? Christ, you're must be joking! And where the hell is such rock masters as Uriah Heep, Rainbow or Nazareth? Where's progressive heroes (Van Der Graaf Generator, Rick Wakeman)? What about REAL folk rock (Steeleye Span, Alan Stivell)? I don't say that you must rate them at five stars but man... if you skip this bands... it's a pity... now back to giants.

Below of all unprinted words I think that you don't listen Tull's albums carefully or maybe listen 'em like in old Russian joke (two Jews speaks about music and one said that he don't like The Beatles - they can't sing right, they have an awful Jewish accent and they can't even play on guitar. The second Jew asked his friend where did he listen The Beatles - on radio? No, he said, my neighbour Abraham sing their songs to me). Who sang Tull's songs to you? I know a lot of people don't like Tull, but you're first man from whom I heard that Tull's music is "tons of crap". Boy, you're so lucky to wrote it in thousands miles from me! Where the fuck did you listen to this "crap"? On Stand Up? On Aqualung? On Thick As A Brick? On Minstrel In The Gallery? On Songs From The Wood? On Heavy Horses? On Bursting Out? On Rock Island? On Little Light Music? On Roots To Branches? I'm really curious...

And before you will write some words about the band's history, go to the library and read some books. You line-ups comments is SOMETHING! Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond is "ultimate bass player"? "Sounds better than John Entwistle"? Man, Jeffrey Hammond almost couldn't play on bass guitar until he re-joined Tull in December 1970 (and Ian gave him a lessons). Barriemore Barlow played with Tull from June 1971, not 1972. Jeffrey quit in December 1975 and David Palmer joined in October 1976. Well, enough! Read Michael Petersen's comments and correct the wrongs... or somebody will die from laughing! (Excuse me. If I say that David Palmer joined in 1976 but do not specify that he joined in October 1976 somebody will die of laughing? Do I get that right? - G.S.)

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

Don't twist my words, Georgie! I said that your comments are full of mistakes, and I don't like people pretending to observe music (not necessary Tull) and writes absolutely rubbish about the band's history. OK, you're lazy to read about Tull, so take the booklet from 20 Years CD and copy Pete Frame's line-up's tree. (And who would be interested in that besides fanatics like yourself? And I do not twist your words. I wrote 'In 1976 David Palmer was added'. You apparently think that this is a mistake and 'October 1976' is the correct answer. Thank you oh so much Mr Know All; you probably must have your pockets full of coupons won over trivia contests - G. S.)

Becky Alex <> (23.07.2000)

You and this McFerrin guy have similar takes on Tull (I've been to his site as well).  Who's the original and who's the copy?  I'll give you the credit for being the original since I see McFerrin has the balls (nay stupidity) to critique an album without listening to it (see a Little Light Music)!  Tull has made outstanding music since day one and continues to do so.  If you don't like it that's cool, but you really should have your facts correct before you go over the top with your negative criticism (see just about every review of a Tull album) (yeah, like the 'fact' that "A Passion Play is Tull at their very best" - am I getting it right? - G. S.).  Other than that your site is very enjoyable and I look forward to reading reviews about some of your highly overrated bands. (If they're so highly overrated, why read about them at all???!! - G. S.)

John McFerrin <> (25.07.2000)

1. In the time since, I've managed to acquire LLM, and it proved to be pretty close to what I imagined it would be.

2. I was commenting on the circumstances that would surround said album (ie the logic of why a 'Living in the Past' instrumental would be better received than a 'Locomotive Breath' instrumental) and not so much the album itself.

3. Any 'copying' of George's musical opinions is pure coincidence - I came across Prindle's site first, and it's not as if I've totally copied _his_ musical taste.

4. Compare our Yes sites - the eternal proof that we are _not_, in fact, clones of one another.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (30.09.2000)

First let me say that for a guy who obviously doesn't like Jethro Tull all that much, your comments are astonishingly astute both journalistically and musically. The insight into Barlow's superior technique vs. Bunker's greater energy for example, is the type of thing you'd not only practically have to be a drummer to say, but you'd also have to have heard not only all the later stuff by Tull as well as some of Barlow's rather obscure sessions, like Maddy Prior's Woman in the Wings and that Robert Plant solo LP. (I think it's the one with "Big Log," or the one right after that.) Yeah, sure, I wonder how you overrate Hammond's completely by-the-book playing, but then you rally with great insights about Barre. So on the whole I give the writer a huge thumbs up, especially when so many people with no love for or knowledge of music (but rather a huge addiction to whatever the latest scene or scandal is -- you know, the type of people who'd tell you Eminem is talented and Ian Anderson is not) delight in bashing Tull -- whose J-Tull Dot Com, by the way, was their best album since Under Wraps (see my sure-to-infuriate defense of ...Wraps, which should be up on the site by now courtesy of George).

Paul Stadden <> (16.11.2000)

I think that any band that had Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi must be cool. Artsy rock? Except for Pink Floyd, these guys are the best. And Black Sabbath had astable line-up compared to this band.

David Lyons <> (16.12.2000)

(To Michael Caroll:) "Question: Why would someone who hates 'War Movies' with a passion be assigned to review a crap load of'War Movies'. Where's the value, what is learned?"

Answer: Erm, hello? Anyone in there? Surely, as the hypothetical war film devotee is, by their very description, enamoured of war films, what genuine value would be gleaned from reading page after page of text telling him nothing new and merely agreeing with everything he already thought? Sure, it's nice to stumble across like-minded fellows you can join in eulogising your favourite band/film/breakfast cereal/alcoholic tipple/brand of medication. But equally, I'm fairly certain you gain more from perusing a well written, considered critique from a viewpoint other than you own? Personally, I'm moderately potty about Pink Floyd, but I read all of George's comments with interest. Most of the criticisms I found difficult to contradict, rather I came to the conlcusions that mathematically planned and executed guitar dentistry and pleasant middle class wailing trip different switches in my mind than George's, the end result being I like them more than he does. It didn't make me want to rant on in capital letters declaiming to all and sundry that THEY ARE WRONG and I AM RIGHT.  

The worst than can befall you from reading negative comments about something you like is that you end up slightly miffed, but with your original views strengthened and reinforced. At least, thats what happens when you can coherently argue a case for your own views, without resorting to shouting.   Personally, I think 3 is a fair rating, although with a little (okay, a boat load of) quality control and a well-timed break up after Bursting Out, they'd have been nothing short of a 5.

Charles Oliver <> (20.12.2000)

I enjoyed your Jethro Tull reviews and even purchased a couple of their albums on your recommendations. I've also listened to a lot of Tull's music in 'mp3' format downloaded from the internet and I must point out that, I'm in no way a Tull fanatic like that Tikhonov Konstantin character.

However, I have reached the following conclusions which may be of use to the more 'casual' listeners :-  

Their best material comes from the pre-1973 days, Ian's voice degenerated after this period to my ears.

Don't pay any attention to Tikhonov's criticisms of George's deafness etc. - he's a tad 'one-eyed' as far as Jethro Tull is concerned.

Buy Stand Up, Aqualung, Thick as a brick and Living in the past NOW!!! They're all brilliant.

Jeff Melchior <> (28.12.2000)

The one thing I hate about progressive rock is the almost "Trekkie" fervor so many of its fans take in it. I mean, I know people who can argue all night about whether Rick Wakeman or Tony Kaye was the better keyboardist in Yes. And when you get a band that has had so many line-up changes as Tull has, you therefore have that many more minute points to debate. I don't think there's anything wrong with serious discussion about music (otherwise I wouldn't be here) but I think condemnation over missing a couple of minor details borders on the obsessive.

Morten Felgenhauer <> (15.01.2001)

It's not particularily original of me, but my favourite Tull-period is 69-72. That doesn't mean that I find the rest of their catalogue boring. Far from it - in fact I find points of interest on every album they have released. It's just that they weren't that consistent anymore. Although I consider myself as a Tull fan, I may not be recognized as one by the really die-hards (I just wrote that not EVERYTHING they did was brilliant). And I wouldn't want to mess with the 'real' fans now, would I? I'm a little scared of them. Being a bass man myself I just can't help some bass commenting: The fact that Jeffrey Hammond (I think he added an extra Hammond after joining the group) was unexperienced does not rule out the fact that he became an effective bassist and that he played on two of the most complex tracks they ever did (Thick & Passion). Jeffrey is also the person Ian sang about in several of his early compositions. My favourite, however, is Glenn Cornick, with his fluent, original and melodic bass lines - best appreciated on tracks like "Living in the past", "Bouree" (even a solo there!) and "Nothing is easy".

Tom Anger (21.05.2001)

After wrtiting my thoughts on the Moody Blues I decided to flip thru another of my favourite bands: Jethro Tull. Jethro Tull is an interesting band led by aninteresting guy. Ian Anderson made this band with his eccentric behaviour. Some of the music is great. I prefer Stand Up and Benefit. And parts of Thick as a Brick and Aqualung. And I know that some of the songs on all of these albums fail. The Band didn't have a diverse enough sound and Martin Barre altho at times a very solid guitar player just overwhelms most songs and Ian Anderson'd unique flute style is tedious.

But on certain songs they are brilliant. 'With you there to help me', 'Look into the Sun', 'Locomotive Breath', and parts of Thick as a Brick are enchanting moody and captivating. But to sit and listen to a LONG Tull CD is kinda like a dentist visit. Anderson's voice sounds like a crazy guy after a while. And when I was in college crazy was cool but now its well just crazy. But he has moments.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

I was a big Tull fan in my teens (long time back) and have recently spent some time listening to their catalog again. Conclusion: About ten songs are the work of a genius, the rest is almost always entertaining, interesting, quirky, humorous, well-played and well-produced, and totally idiosyncratic. Sometimes boring, though. But hardly ever unlistenable. Most of their albums are more or less flawed, but almost none is totally worthless (maybe Under Wraps). BTW, I never got why Tull are called 'prog' - o.k., long songs (sometimes), complex arrangements (most of the time), and sometimes intelligent, sometimes incomprehensible lyrics. BUT: no keyboard wizard, no guitar hero, no larger-than-life drummer... In fact, while all incarnations of Tull have consisted of absolutely professional musicians, there is no virtuosity for virtuosity's sake. It's all subordinated to the larger ideas. (O.k., you might argue the same for Genesis or Van der Graaf Generator, too, but those bands always aspired to virtuosity without ever achieving it - witness Banks's shitty synth solos and Van der Graaf's unlistenable jams; there are no such things on Tull records - they might have been virtuosos, but they just didn't really care...) Anyway, where was I? Yeah, you might call Tull anything - blues, metal, folk, synth pop, pub rock - but the only albums that qualify as prog in my opinion are Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play. The rest is Anderson solo with backing band anyway, and Anderson, not unlike Fleetwood Mac, was actually several consecutive bands. Listen to Stand Up and The Broadsword and the Beast, disregard Ian's voice and flute, and tell me if it's the same band -- nah! And as to what you call Anderson's cardinal vice - 'overproductivity': he didn't really put out albums more often than Paul McCartney, did he? Or Uriah Heep (heh!)? Or Elton John? O.k., Tull largely lacked real genius, but I still prefer an album with five filler songs every year to an album with no filler every five years. At least in the case of Tull, cause Tull filler is rarely unlistenable (except on the two or three albums that are REALLY bad...). What would you have wanted Ian to do? Put out one brilliant, flawless album between 1976 and 1979 and keep the rest for those anniversary outtake rip-offs? As it is, we have four perfectly o.k. albums, one each year, with traces of brilliance and a mass of mostly entertaining-though-not-brilliant background music. Maybe that sounds absurd, but I like it that way. Plus, all those whacked-out concepts wouldn't have worked otherwise...

James Hitt, Jr. <> (05.12.2001)

After reading many of your Tull reviews, I notice you sometimes talk of Tull's musical complexity as sometimes being pretentious or snotty or whatever. From everything I have read of Ian Anderson (guitar/music magazines, interviews and such), he describes it as simply more fun for him to play. I am a musician, and I agree. It is fine if you don't always like musical complexity, but it would be good for you to know that he doesn't do so to be a pompous ass, or just to piss people off.

I am curious as to what makes you think Ian Anderson is such a horrible person: "On the other hand, he was also stubborn, despotic and hateful . . ." I'm not saying I'm friends with the guy, or anything, but from everything I have read on Tull, he seems like a nice guy to me: much more humble than much of the drug-crazed, high-and-mighty, rock n roll elite drunkards (I won't name anyone in particular). I talked to a guy who met Ian after a concert at a bar: said he was very nice, and glad to talk. Certainly not the haughty ass you seem to think of him as. Could your description of him be a manifestation of your dislike for some of his music? Or, mayhaps, I am totally mistaken on your opinion of him. Maybe I misunderstood what you wrote. I would just like to be more clear on the whole matter.

[Special author note: for the most part, that line, exaggerated as it is, refers to Ian's relations with his bandmates - which haven't always been too smooth. Ian's stage behaviour was always quite nice judging from what I've seen.]

<> (26.01.2002)

i can`t help. i always liked this band, even in my punk-years,although ian anderson IS a REAL boring old asshole.

some of my friends like pink floyd or genesis instead, so everyone has some embarrassing corpses in his cellar.

Glenn Wiener <> (16.10.2002)

A good band yes. Ian was a talent and I like several of their songs particularly 'Skating Away', 'Songs From The Wood', 'Locomotive Breath', 'Bungle In The Jungle', and a few others. However, other tracks are just a bit overdone. My greatest hits compilation, Original Masters, suits me just fine thank you.

Gerard Nowak <> (13.03.2003)

Thank you, all you Tull devotees. Was almost the most hilarious experience in my life to have read through your comments seething with hatred just because someone dared to question the divine value of a Tull album. And what if I tell you that my favourite Jethro song is "Inside" or "Jack In the Green", and (dare I say it?) I don't like their rockish side, as it simply bores me? Am I gonna be beheaded? I wish the die-hards DID mind the disclaimers. Hot heads spoil this site.

Raghu Mani <> (04.10.2003)

It's been a long time since I sent you any comments - though I do check yours and other WRC sites quite regularly. I just got myself a bunch of Tull on CD (most of my stuff till now was on tape) and then decided to glance through your reviews of Tull. Of all the WRC reviewers I find that you (and your American clone ;-)) come closest to my taste in music - though we do have a fair number of disagreements. This time, my only places I disagree with you are their debut album which I would rate a lot lower than you do and Songs From the Wood which I would rate a lot higher. I'd probably also take a point from Broadsword and give it to Heavy Horses. That apart, I am in total agreement with you about everything - down to the album rating. What an infuriating band!! So much great music mixed up with so much dull and mediocre stuff. However, what draws me to this band is that it is really unique - nothing in rock music sounds like Tull (except perhaps an Ian Anderson solo album). I pretty much gave up on them in the late 80s/early 90s after their switch to generic heavy metal. I see you like their latest effort - I should check it out sometime.

Sergio E. Bath <> (17.12.2003)

It is a known fact amongst JT fans that Jeffrey was a close friend of Ian´s who could hardly pick up a bass guitar (not base), let alone play it well. As with Boz in King Crimson (that learned elementary bass technique from Mr. Fripp), JH-H gradually developed a very rudimentary playing style that improved slightly over time. Nonetheless, I find it to be rather mechanical in nature (no 'swing' at all), as he knew no musical theory (and did not have much of a sense of rythm to speak of), and all his playing was strictly memorized. That having been said, I have to admit he got away with it!

Lee <> (05.06.2004)


I just read your reviews of Jethro Tull. You gave credit where credit was due and you highlighted areas of lesser effort with insight and intelligence.

I think that you went through a period in the 80s where your main focus was not Jethro Tull and getting into albums “after the fact” is not an easy thing to do. I believe that A and Under Wraps” re very hard disasters to recover from and the average listener will carry the disdain for those albums into the next few releases. Crest of a Knave, Rock Island and Catfish Rising are not as bad as you rate them. They are not of the same quality as the early 70s releases, but nothing as bad as your reviews indicate. To a fan who listened to Jethro Tull from the beginning, Crest of a Knave was a huge relief from the 1986 Under Wraps disaster. It is hard to find fault with anything after realizing that there would be no Under Wraps sequel. It was like finding a long lost friend and reliving the past rather than finding fault with how they turned out.

You did not listen to Jethro Tull from the very beginning, did you? It is obvious from your reviews that you started listening to most of the early albums after they were released and had to “catch up” rather than listen to them as they were intended. “Catching up” with a back catalogue will always lead to spontaneous reviews rather than a review that comes from listening to the album at the time it was released. I did not listen to The Beatles growing up, even though I am old enough to do so. I “caught up” with the massive collection after The Beatles were already long gone. I can hear some great songs and moments of genius, but nothing like the reviews you gave. Sgt. Pepper has some great songs, but I do not feel think it is one of the greatest albums of all time simply because I did not hear it when it was released. I did not fall in love with it when it came out. I was already exposed to music way past 1967 and I went back in time to give Sgt Pepper a chance. It’s good, but I missed the experience of having heard it in 1967 and I can in no way give an honest and thoughtful review. People who had this album in 1967 think it is the second coming of Jesus. I think it is good music. I feel this way about all Beatles albums. The song “Within You Without You” is not a great effort by Harrison, but rabid Beatles fans will always try to find “the melody” in the songs and say it is beautiful, but the fact is that this song is poor at best. McCartney knew it at the time and tried to keep it off the album and he is the best songwriter who ever lived. I had already listened to Aqualung before Sgt. Pepper and Aqualung became my standard of what a great album is. Going back to listen to Sgt Pepper means that I could in no way relate to the experience of the people who were fortunate enough to hear it first in 1967.

This got a little long winded – sorry. The point I tried to make is that I grew up listening to Tull albums as they were released and I feel a connection with them that is impossible to have unless you had the album from the start. I listened to a lot of music everyday in 1976. Songs From The Wood came out in 1976 and I heard it in relation to everything else that was released in 1976. I was not yet exposed to songs in the 80s or 90s when I heard this album. Opinion of it is shaped by your surroundings (“You covet what you see everyday, according to Hannibal”) so I have the experience of being able to review this album in context rather than “after the fact”. All future Tull albums would have a different impact on me because I listened to them in order at the time of release.

One more thing – emotion plays a huge part in music reviews. I read some of your “Who” reviews and it seems that the “Who” sound is of particular interest to you and it obviously makes you feel something to hear that sound. Some of the early “Who” material is weak yet you rave about it. The fact that you like it is great, but looking at it objectively, it is not very good music. It does not deserve the ratings you give it. I love “Baba O’Reilly” and became a “Who” fan in 1969, but going back to their early stuff is painful for me after having listened to Who’s Next. It was out of sequence for me and I can in no way give an intelligent review of it. Maybe this is what you are doing with some of your Jethro Tull reviews?

I admire the huge effort you made to review all of this material. It would have killed me to listen to some of the stuff you listened to. Throw a group in front of me who already has 5 albums over the past 7 years that I have not heard yet and I will be bored with them and never, never be able to give an intelligent review of the material. Maybe that’s what you did with Jethro Tull in the late 80s and early 90s? Think of a Tull fan first listening to Crest of a Knave expecting to hear “European Legacy” and instead getting “Farm on the Freeway”. It was a relief. The album was Ian saying “Enough’s enough. I’m going back home.” He is the long lost friend who is finally back home.

Thanks for letting me rant on…and on………


Michael Bruun Petersen <> (01.10.99)

The summary - "An innovative blues album with some great flutework." - is pretty accurate. And 'Beggars Farm' is indeed the best song here. But the later stuff is so much better that I can't give this one more than a 6.


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

This Was review is not bad, especially after your introduction. "Cat's Squirrel" is absolutely empty guitar exercises (more than a noise, less than a filler), so why are you be sorry for the departure of Mick Abrahams? Listen to this and think again... I can't agree that drum solo in "Dharma For One" is stupid, it can't compare to the best drum solos I heard in my life (it's Ian Paice's solos, in a matter of fact), but it's nice short solo and nothing more. Of course, Ian Anderson's flute work is simply, maybe too simple, but it was summer of 1968. Wait just a couple of months and you'll be rewarded. And "Song For Jeffrey" is not a closest thing to the pop hit, 'cause if anything climbed the charts in 60's is pop then "Song For Jeffrey" is pop, and "Hey Jude" is pop, and "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" is pop. There's no pop on This Was, it's a jazz or blues or rock, but not pop.

The only thing I really hate on this album is a goddamn 60's standard to record music in one channel and voice in other. Listening this album in headphones is real torture (for me).

To summarise - This Was is good album without any comparisons, very good for any group's debut album (even for Led Zeppelin - they made the best debut album in rock history), and not very good for Jethro Tull's album. The followed masterpieces simply buried This Was in late 60's. Best song? "Beggar's Farm" or "Serenade To A Cuckoo". Rating? Seven.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

Er... I'd give this a 7. It's good, but it's not nearly as interesting as later Tull stuff. 'Beggar's Farm' is a great song, of course. 'A Song For Jeffrey' is great psycho-blues, too. I love Ian's encoded vocals - they give the song a really weird feel. My favorite, though, is 'Serenade To A Cuckoo'. That song really gives Ian and Mick a chance to shine through on their instruments. It has a great, peaceful jazz feel to it. I love it, and I agree - 6 minutes is indeed too short. However, there's too much generic blues for me to really love this record - 'Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You', 'It's Breaking Me Up', and 'My Sunday Feeling' are ok, but nothing special. 'Dharma For One' is a drum solo... it's pretty good until the actual drum solo starts. I like 'Cat's Squirrel', though. The biggest problem with it is that Mick is in one speaker, while the rest of the band is in the other. It makes the song hard to listen to in headphones - I would prefer it if it were in mono! But still, it makes me wanna hunt down a Blodwyn Pig album - I wonder how Mick sounded without Ian? Anyway, it's a good album. Just not an amazing one. Pretty impressive for a debut, though.

Paul Stadden <> (16.11.2000)

Ok, why does no one ever mention that Tony Iommi was indeed a full member of this band? Sure, it might have lasted two weeks, but was still a line-up. Heck, he even managed to appear with the band at the Rolling Stones Rock N' Roll Circus.

Todd Tennant <> (29.12.2000)

I think your judgement of Clive Bunker's solo ( as "stupid" ) is a little hasty and bit cold, and hope you will consider some counter points from a drummer who both discovered and systematically studied Bunker's style ( and others) from '68 to the present.

Of course, Ginger Baker's drumming is more tasteful and accomplished than Clive's. With the possible exception of Mitch Mitchell, no one's drumming is or has ever been as tasteful and accomplished as Baker's. Ginger Baker has done more to bring attention and relevance to rock drumming than any rock or progressive jazz percussionist. No argument there.

Clive Bunker's solo is not meant to be "Toad", and Jethro Tull were certainly never meant to be Cream back in 1968. It is almost a parody of previous jazz-style drum solos, and not meant to be taken strictly seriously. It has a sense of humor to it, (something Baker would never tolerate), and is meant to be listened to on it's own self-effacing style. Also, Baker has never come close to Clive's tremendous bursts of single-stroke speed on any recording I've heard . Baker himself admits to incorporating more of a Rudimental and African influence in his solos rather than the traditional jazz techniques he origianlly learned.

It's really "apples & oranges" when it comes down to it, and not "stupid drum solos" versus more accomplished and tasteful ones. Thanks for allowing me a forum for a subject that's been on my mind for the past 32 years.

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

Definetly bluesy, and it has nothing innovative for me to latch onto. I'm glad Ian got his way and led the band to what they became.... (A law should be passed that drum solos cant last longer than thirty seconds.) 6/10

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

This is a blues album, and I'm simply not too fond of the blues, sorry. Even if it's Ian and his flute that play them. Traces of greater things that were to come ARE there, but it's a good thing Mick Abrahams left and paved the way for Tull developing an individual style. Had they ended their career after Abrahams's departure, they wouldn't be anything more than a footnote in rock history. Of course. That said, This Was isn't offensive or anything. But it's not really that interesting either. The blues-by-numbers pieces ("It's Breaking Me Up", "My Sunday Feeling", "Cat's Squirrel", even "Someday The Sun Won't...") are o.k. and listenable but could really have been done by anybody (yeah, I guess back then Ian's flute sound WAS something new - but then, "Serenade to a Cuckoo" is living proof that Roland Kirk did it earlier). "Song For Jeffrey" is a funny novelty pop number - Ian singing into a bucket and all that -, but it got on my nerves after a few listens ten years ago, and it still does now. "Move On Alone" is marred by a trumpet arrangement worthy of James Last. A really good one is "Beggar's Farm", but even this would be improved upon a year later with all those wonderful new and original blues-influenced numbers on Stand Up. That leaves "Dharma For One", which for some strange reason is my favourite track here. Don't ask me why. Maybe I just love that claghorn so much. All in all: an adequate, often entertaining blues album, but contains very little of the stuff that made Tull special. Great cover, great liner notes.

Rating: 5/10 on your scale.

Ben Kramer <> (31.10.2002)

Don't like it. This one is really boring, and a chore to sit through. The only song that stands out is 'Beggar's Farm'. The rest is just dull blues rock attempting to sound as good as Cream, and it doesn't. The funny thing is, I don't even like Cream. I can forgive these guys tough. It's their debut album, and many debut albums are atypical of a band's sound, the sound which is associated with the band. This is a different sound, but unlike Genesis (who has one of the most unique debut albums ever), Tull's debut is rather forgettable. Overall, I'd give this a 9/15, but I can see where someone would give it more. If I liked Tull beyond Thick As A Brick, and to a much lesser extent, Stand Up, I might be giving this something higher, but Tull doesn't really appeal to me, so I don't see any reason why one of their most forgettable albums would merit a high grade.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

You know, it’s so damn fantastic to play this record after A Minstrel In The Gallery or, say, Thick As A Brick (and almost everything else in their catalogue). This was! The time, when every member mattered! (well, I’m joking, of course, but you see my point) Really, they sound like a real band here; and they play humble, simple, amateurish but totally amusing bluesy music. Not ass-kicking, but good anyway. “Move On Alone”, I love that one. But there’s nothing to hate here. Don’t even think of not buying their debut. You will laugh: “Come on, these are the guys who did “A Passion Play” in, like, five years?” Fun.

A TWELVE!!! Enjoy!

P.S. Honestly, the album doesn’t deserve that rating (more like an 11), but just to prove that you really need the record, I give This Was a 12.


Michael Bruun Petersen <> (01.10.99)

Good review! I would have loved to be around in 1969. The music sounds very fresh today so it must have been quite an experience thirty years ago.

Still, it isn't perfect. I find 'Fat Man' somewhat annoying, and I usually skip 'Reasons for Waiting' and 'Jeffrey goes to Leicester Square' as well. Not that they are bad songs, but the rest are much better. Best song: 'We Used to Know'. Great lyrics, great melody, great solo.

Rating: 8

John McFerrin <> (11.10.99)

Wow ... I must say I'm really, really impressed by this album. I mean, damn ... this is a solid, solid, piece of work. It's better than Aqualung, and that says a ton right there.

I dunno ... maybe I should give this the ten after all ... or, I could be a wuss and let this and TAAB share it.

Ben Greenstein <> (15.02.2000)

You're absolutely right - this album is fantastic. It's not progressive rock yet (except for "Bouree," which I agree is a higlight), but it's too complex to be blues rock (except for maybe "A New Day Yesterday," which is still incredibly awesome). My favourites are "Back To The Family," "Fat Man," and "Reasons For Waiting." I give it a nine.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Such an excellent album and such a weird review. First, This Was was finished in August 1968 and Mick Abrahams left Tull in November. Actually, Mick was asked to leave - 'cause he doesn't like gigs, tours etc. Second, Tony Iommi couldn't stay in Tull even if he wanted it to death. Ian always rules Tull by iron hand, so I can't imagine that he agreed with somebody's leadership. Tony "played" with Tull when the group was invited to the shooting of "Rock And Roll Circus", and it means "played" 'cause only Ian's vocals on "Song For Jeffrey" was recorded live, the instrumental parts was taped from studio version, so Tony doesn't played with Tull, not a single note.

"A New Day Yesterday" and "Bouree"? Immortal classics. Need I say more?

Now you've done it again! "A couple of resplendent ballads which Ian has never been able to reproduce again"? Wash your ears, buddy! OK, OK, "Look Into The Sun" and "Reasons For Waiting" is nice tunes, but what about "Sossity"? "Wond'ring Aloud"? "Requiem"? "Fire At Midnight"? "Moths"? "Home"? "And Further On"? "Slow Marching Band"? "Said She Was A Dancer"? Jesus, I'll get blisters on my fingers if I'll typed 'em all! By the way, the best Tull's ballad is "Jack-A-Lynn"...

Forget the "infamous metal period in the late 80's" and lets talk about "their most hard-rockin' album". Stand Up have a lot of really hard numbers (the best of them is "For A Thousand Mothers" - excellent coda), guitar and flute duelling to death, but the complete album is closer to blues than to hard. Maybe it was hard for 1969, but it wasn't hard for 1970 - after Deep Purple In Rock, Black Sabbath's first LP and Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble. And it wasn't hard for Jethro Tull after Aqualung and Minstrel (Minstrel In The Gallery was the heaviest Tull's album up before Rock Island if you don't mention Bursting Out).

Lets make a little break and lets talk about the meaning of words. We said blues, jazz, hard, folk etc., but Tull don't play blues, hard, folk. Ian's vision of rock music is absolutely incomparable, he creates his own music. Tull plays Tull's Music! We talks about Tull's blues, Tull's hard, Tull's folk, man! I said that Stand Up is blues and it's Tull's blues. The one and only album can be describe pure and simple is This Was (and for me it's not real Jethro Tull's album).

Lyrics of "Fat Man" is funny, but only "Nothing Is Easy" lyrics is true Ian Anderson's Lyrics (and definitely not the best). If YOU don't like complex lyrics (Aqualung, Thick As A Brick etc.) - everybody's on their own.

My few words about Stand Up? A first Jethro Ian's masterpiece, one of the best albums from '69 (only Abbey Road stands above). Music, lyrics, technique, sound, cover - everything is fine! Of course, after serious works like Benefit and Aqualung, Stand Up thoughts is somewhat simple, but album is absolutely complete. Best songs (not song) - "A New Day Yesterday" and "Bouree". Rating - 8. Why 8? Hey, there's Thick As A Brick on the horizon!

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

Yeah, I'd have to give this one a 10. There's not a bad song on here, or even a bad moment. The whole record just gets up and goes like This Was could only dream of! I'll go out and say that 'A New Day Yesterday' is the best blues tune I've ever heard - that guitar riff could repeat endlessly in the background for an hour and I wouldn't get bored. 'Bouree' is just as good - it manages to one-up 'Serenade To A Cuckoo' from the last album, which is no easy feat! 'Reasons For Waiting' and 'Look Into The Sun' are great ballads, quite possibly the best Tull ever did (well, among the best - there are a select few others that I like as much). The ascending flute line that opens 'Reasons' is absolutely beautiful. 'Nothing Is Easy' and 'Back To The Family' are fantastic hard rockers, as well. 'We Used To Know' has a blistering wah-wah solo by Barre. 'For A Thousand Mothers' is one of the best album closers ever, too - the combination of that heavy, fast riff and the bitter lyrics. It's perfect. The quick little ditties thrown on ('Fat Man' and 'Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square') are EXTREMELY catchy and funny. 'Fat Man' can get stuck in my head for days. I don't get how a lot of hardcore Tull fans prefer Benefit to this - I like Benefit a lot, but it ain't perfect. And this almost is. Not as good as Brick, but still, a 10. Easily one of the best albums ever made.

Bob Josef <> (25.10.2000)

The heavier rock numbers on this record, I think, are overrated. They seem to get the most attention in the live shows nowadays, which is too bad. Because the other tracks are far more interesting. "Bouree" may be a Bach piece, but it doesn't sound like a prog cover of a classical tune at all. It really is unique in the Tull canon. I think you underrate "Fat Man" -- it really is an ingenious blend of English folk and Indian music. It's too bad it would take 25 years for Ian to return to that sort of motif. And "Look into the Sun" is absolutely gorgeous. Why it never made it to all these Tull anthologies is a big mystery.

An album that takes a chance on being diverse can frequently be poor, but the high quality of these songs prevents that from happening. Not as cohesive as the next three, but maybe cohesiveness is an overrated virtue...

The remastered version sounds fabulous, and contains four single sides that were added, since the Living in the Past and 20 Years Of.. collections have been deleted: "Living in the Past"/"Driving Song" and "Sweet Dream"/"17". Howerver, the somewhat more lush production of the A-sides and the even tougher riffs and introspective lyrics of the B-sides would be more in place with the sounds of the next album

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

Clear and beautiful. "New Day Yesterday", "Look into the Sun", and "Reasons for Waiting", are all winners and of course "Bouree" which has my faborite bass line of all time and makes classical music cool. A couple sound the same, its only a 9/10.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

I agree with you that this is the best Jethro Tull album. Coincidentally it's also the first with Martin Barre on it. Not that that has much to do with the album's greatness: Barre is a competent riffer alright, but his main addition to the Jethro Tull sound was to get the blues out. Which was good. Other than that, his by-the-books solos and power chords (he got metal-infested way before the Grammy - listen to his crappy solo on "Broadsword"!) are efficient but rarely inspired. Just what Anderson wanted, probably. On this masterpiece, Barre does have a few moments of brilliance - especially on the magnificent "We Used To Know", whose chords famously turned Henley, Frey et al. into zillionaires. Packed into the brilliant cover (ohh.. early Tull covers... I love them...) are a couple of blues-inspired tunes once more, but this time it's innovative, catchy and frankly breathtaking blues. The killer riff of "A New Day Yesterday" still blows me away, as does Clive Bunker's drumming - Tull's best ever drummer, and way underrated to this day. Same goes for "Nothing Is Easy", "For A Thousand Mothers" and the hilarious "Back To The Family", which features Ian musing about whether to go back to the.. er... family, is it? Unlike on This Was, this time we have a few softer numbers, and except "Jeffrey Goes Leicester Square", which zips by almost unnoticed, they're brilliant, too. "Reasons For Waiting" has that rare thing, a tasteful string arrangement, and "Look Into The Sun" is a dream-like psychedelic ballad which is almost too beautiful for words. Cakes, however, are taken big time by the oriental-sounding and incredibly danceable (believe it or not!) "Fat Man" - extra points for the lyrics; is there any other example of obesity as a subject for a rock song? Except "Whole Lotta Rosie", we won't count that - and, of course, the JS Bach cover. As a classical-rock-jazz fusion it's way better than anything The Nice or ELP or Procol Harum put out, and it has one of the most inspired bass solos in rock history. Although you don't have to be Chris Squire to play it. Which is maybe the point. The whole thing still sounds as fresh as if it had been recorded yesterday, and there is not a weak song on it. Pity Ian peaked so early, but there was a secondary peak to follow about ten years later. How soothing.

(Rating: 10/10)

Ed Falis <> (06.03.2004)

I was around in '69 when this first came out. There seems to be a category problem in some of the discussions of this album (eg "before prog-rock, but we don't know what it is" - more or less). It's clear what it is: one of the finest examples of acid-rock ever done (as were its two successors): tight, muscular, full of texture, pulling together disparate themes for resonance. Problem is, noone recognizes acid-rock as a valid label, but there was a lot of music then that fell into the category (and no, I'm not talking about cloying psychedelia). These musics cut across idioms.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

Their second album is in some way their best. Well, I still prefer TAAB to it, but I can easily see how this can be George’s favourite. No real filler here. The very first song, “A New Day Yesterday” is simply bound to blow you away with its pulsating riff and very professional playing from every member of the band. Every single instrument sounds incredible. In fact, all of these hard rock numbers are highlights in my book. They are all memorable and extremely energetic. Some words about that take on Bach, the notorious “Bouree”. That bass guitar from 2:05 till 2:20 is unquestionably one of the greatest things that rock music has ever offered. That’s it. But I won’t put down the quieter numbers either. Ian’s voice is very suitable to those, I should say. I absolutely adore the acoustic guitar on “Look Into The Sun”. That song is gorgeous.

Not that the album is perfect. For example, that second song, “Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square” is a bit lightweight. Still, it’s good and pleasant-sounding.

A near-masterpiece, that’s for sure. A high 13? Or a low 14? Really don’t know. But a must buy.


Michael Bruun Petersen <> (01.10.99)

Not as exhuberant and energetic as Stand Up, but every bit as good. 'To Cry You a Song' is probably the best song here, but the beautiful (not dragging and sloppy) 'Sossity ...' deserves to be mentioned as well. The worst track is the boring 'Play in Time'. Not the very nice and moving 'For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me'.

Rating: 8

Nick Karn <> (19.10.99)

This is one I owe a few more listens, but to me this record seemed like somewhat of a mostly melodyless bore, with uncaptivating lyrics and instrumental work (both the complete opposite of the following album) - Ian Anderson just ramblin' about things and Martin Barre seemed to "barre" himself from contributing too many interesting riffs or performances period here. "To Cry You A Song" is probably the only semi-great number here - at least in my damn opinion - "With You There To Help Me" and "Teacher" are OK too, but the rest just doesn't do it for me. I give it a 5, but you never know... that could possibly change.

John McFerrin <> (05.11.99)

Ehgn ... weak. Oh, and the version I got has 'Michael Collins' ... but it has 'TEACHER'!! Why else would I buy this album? I heard this twice on the radio and it instantly became my favorite Tull song of all time. Heck, that twelve note riff may be my favorite riff in all of music!

Anyways ... a 5 normally, but I'll gladly give it a 7 for 'Teacher'

Iain Langer <> (23.01.2000)

This is my second-favorite Tull album. Far from the mediocrity some would dismiss it as, I think it is contains some of their most subtle and intricate songs, and is relatively free of the pretention that was about to sink them on later releases. Every single track is restrained and assured, and every track has moments of beauty to transport the true Tull fan somewhere into the ether. (This is really the last time Ian Anderson was able to sound self-assured as a singer WITHOUT sounding sinister.) I do think this is a harder album to get into immediately than something like Aqualung or Stand Up where the songs are oh so much more accessible from the get-go, but after 3-6 listenings, its true rewards should make themselves known. I might also add, that this is the ONLY Tull album that my girlfriend will allow me to play repatedly without complaining. Anderson at his most charming: "With You There to Help Me"; Best Lyric: "Inside"; Best overall songs: "To Cry You a Song", "Nothing to Say", "Play in Time" (and not a note of pretention in any of them). Rating: 10!

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Benefit is incredible disappointment? Well, if you can played about 100-150 gigs in year around the world and can write and record a perfect albums like a apple pies - so go ahead! I can agree that Benefit is not such innovated musically like its predecessor, but how can be bad album which contains "With You There To Help Me" and "To Cry You A Song"? So who the asshole? I think its somebody who looks on you from the mirror.

I can understand it, somebody don't like serious lyrics, but I repeat, man, everybody's on their own. I'm fuckin' tired of stupid pop lyrics! I hate brainless songs! Christ! "She didn't come and I'll committing suicide in cement mixer... Be-Bop-Kaluga, she's my baby..." So don't tell me that "Sossity" is drag! What's not a drag? "Hotel California" ("We Used To Know" shameless rip-off, actually) or "Light My Fire"? (Man, I never even mentioned the lyrics of 'Sossity'. He must have got lost in the Gasoline Alley - G.S.)

OK, lets cool yourselves. Lets change the course to the American version of Benefit. D'you like Meet The Beatles? Or US edition of Revolver? Or December's Children? The US Benefit is poor little bastard in the long row of American butchered issues of British LPs (and there will be the completely raped version of Bursting Out). I'm not saying that "Teacher" is bad, but this song is absolutely out of key on the album. Well, Americans likes this song so much, they wants to place it on album, but in the name of Heaven, why not a bonus track? "Alive And Well And Living In" (pretty tune with good lyrics) didn't deserve such roughness.

And in the end: Benefit is good, not such remarkable as Stand Up, but hard and whimsical. In first time Ian said: men, if you want to listen my songs - listen with open minds. This album's fate can be compare to Revolver - for many fans he was overshadowed by next brilliant work. Best songs? "To Cry You A Song" (musically), "Sossity" (lyrically), "With You There To Help Me" (both). Rating? This Was gave 7, Stand Up gave 8... well, 7.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

So you don't like the melody of "Sossity"? Am I right? Poor George, I don't even know what to say. "Sossity" is gentle tune with nice acoustic guitar's chords and Ian's biting lyrics. I love it. No other comments required.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

Definitely a step down from Stand Up, but I like it better than This Was. It's very down beat and slow. Kind of dreary, too. There's not much energy here, but I think Ian was trying to create a mood, in which he succeeded. The opening 'With You There To Help Me' is great. I love the way it emphasizes the volume by getting louder and softer at appropriate times. 'Son' is a great rocker, too. And though you think that they're filler, I love 'For Michael Collins' and 'Sossity' to death. 'For Michael Collins' had to grow on me, but I love the chorus on that song and how it blends with the soft acoustic verses. And I've always loved 'Sossity'. It's a very sad, depressing song, and Ian pulls off the intended mood perfectly. Plus, the version of the CD I have has 'Teacher' on it, and that song totally rules! Doesn't fit with the rest of the CD at all, but it still rules. A couple songs aren't as good, though. 'Play In Time' is pretty dumb. 'A Time For Everything?' is better, but still fails to excite. And 'Nothing To Say' is ok, but it never really gets going. I'd give this an 8.

Oh, and here's what I know about the versions - The British album contained the track 'Alive And Well And Living In'. However, after 'Teacher' became a hit, it got grafted in on the American version. I don't really care, though - 'Teacher' is the best song on here and 'Alive' is still on Living In The Past.

Braxton LeCroy <> (24.08.2000)

Tull's most underrated album...a gem. "With You There To Help me", "Sossity...", "To Cry You A Song", "A Time For Everything?", "Nothing To Say".....great stuff....a nine.

Ben Greenstein <> (15.12.2000)

You're just about right on this one.... although I think that the opening track is one of the more draggy numbers. "Sossity" is pretty lame, too - I don't get how people can stand up for it. Still, there is some great material - "Play In Time" is wierd and cool, "Teacher" is a classic that is on my CD version, "Nothing To Say" has a decent hook, and "To Cry You A Song" just might be the best thing this band ever recorded. I give this a low 7/10.

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

Loved it when i first heard it (on a old warped LP), but realized it just didnt have the orginality of Stand Up. My lone favorite "To Cry You a Song". "Nothing to Say" and "With You There to Help Me" are fine, but after awhile I really couldnt distinguish them. "Teacher" is such a over played piece of crap. Every time I hear it, I quickly turn it off. 5/10

Geronimo Springs <> (16.03.2001)

Maybe I'm too sentimental, but I love this album. It was the first Jethro Tull album I ever heard, and I became hooked on the band because I enjoyed Benefit so much. When I first heard Benefit in 1971, I was just discovering hard rock. Tull's sound at that time was so unusual, so unlike any other band's sound, that it caught my attention immediately. I found everything about the album - the lyrics, the arrangements, Ian Anderson's vocal delivery, and of course the flute - to be intriguing. This was an intelligent band, a group of skilled players whose sound combined the electricity and energy of hard rock with the acoustic beauty of medieval folk music.

I was not, and am not, put off by Anderson's "preachy" lyrics. This was a difficult time in his life, and the man was speaking his mind. In most of the songs, Anderson was expressing his personal feelings about life in a relentlessly touring band. He sings about the difficulty of maintaining relationships with people he loved, but from whom he was separated for long periods of time. He sings about his alienation. About his friend and lovers' feelings about being left behind. About his own impatience, and his anticipation of at last being reunited with his lover. And he sings about the joy of spending a few sweet, fleeting days with his lover and friends before going out on the road again.

Other songs deal with his difficult relationships with members of his family, and (I suspect) his band and audience.

George, I do not understand what you mean by your statement that Anderson's lyrics had gone completely "universalist". To me, most of these songs sound very personal. Anderson was by that time utterly committed to his career as a performer. As a result of that choice, relationships which were very important to him were changing in ways he found disturbing. He dealt with that problem in the only way he could, by writing and singing about it. That is what Benefit is all about.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

Although I'm trying hard to eschew McFerrinism, I can't help agreeing with you on that one, too. It's a major letdown between two masterpieces. Slightly confusing tracklisting affairs - some versions apparently have "Teacher", which admittedly improves the record, mine has "Alive And Well..." (song titles are getting worse, too) and "Inside", which doesn't help much. Anyway, what do we have? John Evan on piano for the first time, also he isn't featured that much, his work being a far cry from the inspired tinkling on albums like Aqualung and Too Old... (no kidding, more about that later on). Other than that, most of the album sounds like an inferior rewrite of its predecessor with a few ounces of psychedelia thrown in. Pity though that Ian forgot to write inspired songs. There are a few real stinkers like the dumber-than-dumb riff rockers "Son" and "To Cry You A Song", the latter featuring a riff by Martin Lancelot that may be intricate but is also repetitive ad nauseam, and regularly made me turn off the record after about a minute and a half. BORING and NERVE-WRECKING!!! Decent or even good songs come in the shape of "With You There To Help Me" (nice flute-sputtering and traces of catchiness), "Nothing To Say", "For Michael Collins...", and, hey, I even like "Sossity"! Perhaps because it comes like a shining light after the noodlefest of "Play In Time": The synths are shit, I agree, but the organ parts are nice, and anyway the song's problem is its absolut lack of melody and hooks rather than its arrangement. The rest of the record is unremarkable though not exactly annoying. It's also here that Ian started the technique of blatantly ripping off himself: listen to "A Time For Everything" and tell me if it's saying anything that "We Used To Know" didn't say MUCH MUCH better... Since the overall sound of Benefit is more to my tastes than the one on This Was, this gets a better rating from me, but... hm... maybe I should reconsider... but, heck, it has "With You There".! And I like that one better than anything on the first album. And there are no pointless Cuckoo Serenades...

(Rating: 6/10)

Steve Klauzer <> (29.03.2002)

In the Benefit review, you said that there were several versions of the album floating around, and that the US version dropped "Collins, Jeffrey, and Me" for "Teacher". Not quite. The LP I have goes like this:

SIDE A 1) With You There to Help Me 2) Nothing to Say 3) Inside 4) Son 5) For Michael Collins, Jeffrey, and Me

SIDE B 1) To Cry You a Song 2) A Time for Everything? 3) Teacher 4) Play in Time 5) Sossity; You're a Woman

Basically, if you don't feel like comparing the two track lists, they replaced "Alive and Well and Living In" with "Inside", stuck "Teacher" where THAT used to be, and threw out "AaWaLI". They used the original British album for the CD version.

PS: I picked up the new remastered copy of Benefit, complete with liner notes, a picture disc (hooray! no more boring words-only CDs), a stupid white frame around the cover art (though not as bad as the Aqualung gold CD), and four bonus tracks from the period, including "Teacher". Normally I don't like bonus tracks, but whatever.

Turns out that they're remastering the whole Tull library. They've got through the first three albums and Aqualung should be out sooner or later. I'm definitely buying all of the new CDs, for two reasons. One, extras are cool (and so are picture discs). Two, I've got the whole Tull library on crappy VK series CDs (from their catalog numbers: VK23432 or whatever). That was the first run of Tull CDs, back in the '80s, with downright shitty sound quality, horrible mixing, and shoddy packaging. The remaster is infinitely better than any of the VKs, sound-wise.

Good luck and great site (although I disagree with nearly every Floyd and Tull review, but hey, that's life). Keep up the good work!

Alex Bunard <> (12.08.2002)

Although I tend to agree on many points you've made in your analyses of the Tull albums, I must say that I disagree with your overall assessment of Benefit. I'll grant you that it's a hard to understand album, but once you gain a proper perspective, things may slightly change for you.

Benefit was a trend-setting album when it originally appeared. I was too young then to really understand what was going on, but I distinctly remember the vibe, and Benefit has perfectly captured that vibe. I'm not really sure if it actually set that vibe, or if it merely captured the existing one (probably both to an extent), but it really stands as a testament to that unique 'mellow, back to the nature' vibe of the year 1970. Same as Stand Up perfectly captured the rough-at-the-edges vibe of 1969, Benefit was a harbinger of the then hippest attitude -- mellowing out and going back to the folksy tradition.

I also think that the bonus tracks ("Withes Promise" and "Just Trying To Be") perfectly capture that vibe.

But back to the original album tracks, they all form a very coherent whole, which is something I'm surprised no one had noticed in the feedbacks to your review. The authorship/musicianship on the entire album is consistently great, with Glenn Cornick stealing the spotlight with his breathtaking bass work. Anderson's voice is very satisfyingly strong, without a trace of pomp and pretensiousness that will mire some of his later efforts. On his first three albums, he managed to achieve and keep extremely high levels of artistic consistency. With Aqualung he unfortunately started to falter, then made a quick recovery with Thick As A Brick, but then again lost the inspiration somewhat, and has never been the same since. But, on those first three albums, he shone like a true genius.

Of course, I agree with pretty much everyone here that Benefit is not nearly half as good as Stand Up. It bears repeating that Stand Up is simply stunning, probably the best rock album ever (excluding the Beatles material, of course). But I'd be having hard time agreeing that This Was is better than Benefit. And, of course, I'm aware that I am in the absolute minority when I hold that Benefit is better than Aqualung.

However, check it out: "Sossity" is a better Aqualung than Aqualung itself (not thinking of the song itself, but of the album in general). "Sossity" contains all the elements that will turn up on Aqualung a year later. The only difference is that it is more restrained, deeper, more noble. Also, "Just Trying To Be" is an excellent precursor of all the acoustic ditties on Aqualung.

Granted, Benefit is full of disappointments, but those disappointments are relative, in the sense that they mainly relate to the mind-boggling brilliance of Stand Up. In a way, Benefit is similar to Beatles For Sale, which was a followup to the stellar A Hard Day's Night, and, as such, appeared really pale and lifeless (on an interesting sidenote, both Beatles For Sale and Benefit were results of an obligatory album made after the respective band has gone through a gruelling torture of the high-pressure touring). However, on its own, Beatles For Sale is a marvelous album.

The biggest disappointment, for me, on Benefit is Martin Barre's guitar. Although it's damn close to being brilliant, it doesn't come even close to the head-ripping effect his guitar had on Stand Up. While on Stand Up he truly sounds like the best rock guitarist on the planet, on Benefit he sounds competent, inspired, but nothing more. And he also, for some reason, made a decision to restrict his palette of tones to a mere subset of what he showcased on Stand Up. Where did the phenomenal tones from "Back To The Family" go? On Benefit, we're left with a garden variety of stock tones, that come with vanilla Marshall and Les Paul gear. Disappointing for all the guitar buffs, to say the least.

Next, Clive Bunker's drums are also somewhat underwhelming. Upon closer inspection it is revealed that they are still awesome, but now they're not so in your face, as they were on Stand Up. But that's understandable, given the new vibe the band was touting at that time.

And, did I mention that I love that vibe? I wish it would catch on again. Music based on strong hooks, pronounced melodic contours, rich instrumental textures, multilayered rich vocals. What could be wrong with that? Why should music necessarily always be exuberant, upbeat, aggressive, abrasive, even destructive?

Yes, as many people have noticed, Ian is brooding here, he is whimsical and unpredictable, but he's a genius, so he's entitled.

It is very hard to pinpoint best songs here (same as with Stand Up). Unlike Stand Up, however, we can point to the weaker material here. The weakest song is, no doubt. "Play In Time", mainly because of the dated arrangement and production. Furthermore, three of the most promising songs ("With You There To Help Me", "To Cry You A Song", and "Inside") were spoiled by making them unnecessarily long. That contributed to the dragging-on feeling. Especially when it comes to "To Cry You A Song", that at first interesting lick slowly starts to get on one's nerves, as the song keeps dragging past the 3.5 minute point. "Inside" is awesome, if only they could've restrained it to under 3 minutes. Same goes for the opening number ("With You There To Help Me").

The remaining (shorter) tracks are all consistently good. The best song overall could very well be "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me". It's a grossly overlooked gem, with a brilliant gentle melody, stunning arrangement, spectacular deliverance. Next, I immensely enjoy "A Time For Everything" with the razor sharp guitar, razor sharp vocals, and the sweetest feedback that enters somewhere in the middle of the song, keeps squeeking for a couple of dozen of seconds, and almost ruins the whole piece. But, everytime I play this song, my ears start expecting that feedback, and then revel in the piercing noise. The only thing that spoils the perfection of this track is that somewhat lackluster and uninspired flute improv, that's tagged to the very end of this thunderous composition.

"Alive And Well And Living In" is great, underappreciated for some reason. "Son" is also very pleasant -- a grating noise that somehow pleases the ear. "Nothing To Say" is a rock solid ballad, with a nice, heartfelt guitar (showcasing some silky vintage tones, for a change). I can listen to it over and over (as I can most of the shorter songs; it's the long ones that I find unsatisfying).

Finally, "Sossity You're A Woman" is a mini masterpiece. Many people don't like it, on account that it's only acoustic guitar and organ, but since when is the quantity of instrumentation a measure of the quality of music? I think the piece is brilliant. Just give it a try, listen to it several times carefully, and hopefully you'll be able to get a glimpse of it's greatness.

The lyrics: don't like them very much, they are a bit lame. However, they weren't that much better on Stand Up (save for "We Used To Know" and "Reasons For Waiting"), but the album is still one of the best ever. When listening to Tull, I generally like to tune the words out and not pay attention to the lyrics too much. Ian is a genius musician/performer, but not the greatest poet around.

In conclusion, it is very difficult to rate this album. It may be a bit better than This Was, and, in my book, Aqualung. Not sure about Thick As A Brick, though. So, let's say that it's the third or fourth best Tull album ever. That's a high praise, I think, and consequently everyone should give it a fair listen and include it in their collection. On a scale from 1 to 10, I'd give it somewhere between 7 and 8.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

I don’t agree. When I listen to the album I always ask myself why it should be so much worse than Stand Up. Unfortunately, the things get kind of sad at the end, but even those tracks are anything but mediocre. A very good follow-up. Here you get great rockers (“With You There To Help Me”, “Nothing To Say”, “To Cry You A Song”) and beautiful ballads (I absolutely love “For Michael Collins”). Some songs are just good, of course, but Ian’s fantastic singing will get you anyway. A good album overshadowed by two great ones. Don’t make a mistake of skipping Benefit!

A high 11. But remind me of “Teacher” (which is not on my CD) and there you get your 12.


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Oh yeah, Carnegie Hall! Those were the days!

First of all, its a rough, VERY ROUGH concert. Early 70's Tull was full of hot-boiling power, Martin's guitar is roaring like cannons thunder while Ian's screaming flute blows your mind if you sets headphones' volume level too high. If you didn't listen Bursting Out or any bootlegs from 70's, be ready - Tull plays incredible aloud, louder than Cream and Zeppelin! Does somebody say that Martin's guitar technique is Claptonesque (or Townshend-like)? Hey, Martin wipes 'em even if Nail Nose and Slowhand plays together! Only my all-time guitar hero (Ritchie-In-Black) stands above him...

The one thing can't makes me totally happy - the concert doesn't include two songs that appeared on Living In The Past. Well, I'm a proud owner of MFSL 2 gold CD release, but I don't reject a full-length Carnegie version. John's ("By Kind") and Clive's ("Dharma") solos are ones of their bests.

Before conclusions I must say that all on 25th Anniversary Box Set is great - the powerful (and graceful) first part contains a remixed "best-of" material (listen carefully and you'll find the hints), "Cross-Eyed Mary", "Minstrel", "Black Sunday", "Broadsword" sounds harder than on original LPs! I've give this disc to my friends as the best existed introduction to Tull's music. The elegant third part (25th Anniversary world tour's rehearsals) is iron hand in velvet glove, a lost sister of "Little Light Music" ("New Day Yesterday" and "My God" are stunning). Jesus, why did they film only a little piece in 25th Anniversary Video? It would be a greatest Tull's video! The last part's full of live gems - like Martin's guitar jam in "Wind Up" or half-acoustic version of "Beggar's Farm". Man, why d'you say that Carnegie Hall is the best part of box set? They're all the best!

Of course, in Russia you can buy a lot of fucked editions of Tull's albums about a buck for each, but did you try to compare 'em with originals? (FYI: a 'fucked' edition sounds exactly the same as the original it's copied of. That's the essence of digital audio: a zero is always a zero, a one is always a one. Gold CDs can be different because there are different remasters, though - G.S.) And I don't mention gold or Japanese CD. Yes, its costs MUCH more, but a sound... Don't be greed, spend a sixty bucks and buy box set before it will be share the fate of 20 Years 3CD-release. I almost forget the excellent booklet!

So coming back to Carnegie Hall. Wonderful performance and sound (Ian's personal remix). Best parts of the concert are acoustic medley ("Sossity" guitar chords is beautiful) and final "We Used To Know" / Martin's weeping guitar solo / "For A Thousand Mothers". Rating - 7 (for this concert and 8 for whole box set).

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

Theoretically, yes. Practically... it's a roulette. Technological process, George, technological process of original and pirate CDs is not the same. Bootleggers makes it faster (time is money), so some CDs sounds almost completely the same, some is not. For example, Led Zeppelin's pirate CDs sounds terrible. And pirates often shortens songs to put more tracks on single CD. Rainbow's "Gates Of Babylon" lasts 6:49 on the original CD, but some Russian fool cut off the violin in the end of the song, so the pirate version's timing is 6:24. "Rainbow Eyes" lost a few bits and was shortened from 7:12 to 6:51. I didn't hear Tull's pirate CDs 'cause I don't want to touch their disgusting inlays (printed on the used toilet paper), so I cannot affirm that they are not the same, but even if they are the same, buying it is disrespect to musicians and their work in my humble opinion. I'm not a rich man even for low Russian standards but I have my proud. Have you, George? (You don't have a 'proud', Konstantin: you have fanatism, and that's a little different. I'm not a Tull fanatic - I have other bands to pay tribute as well. The Monkees, for instance - G. S.).

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

I'll second that 8. This CD really rocks. It's not as good as Bursting Out, but it's definitely better than A Little Light Music. I love the original version of 'My God' included here, complete with original lyrics! The record company made Ian change 'em, but here they are, unedited. The guitar riff is amazing, and a flute solo from Ian is always something special - he really goes nuts on the thing! He's the only player who didn't merely embellish rock music with a flute - he MADE rock music with a flute. Amazingly impressive. The live version of 'A Song For Jeffrey' rules, too. I love that harmonica solo in there. The 'Sossity'/'Reasons' medley here is stunning, too. I heard 'Sossity' here first, so that may be why I love the song so much. Martin's playing is a little sloppy throughout - 'Nothing Is Easy' isn't as good as it CAN be, and the length guitar solo doesn't really go anywhere. But still, I love the way the guitar solo turns into 'For A Thousand Mothers', which I love more than words can express. It's worth picking up (though the box set is probably best for diehards - the stuff is all pretty good, but it's too much for a casual fan to sit through. Plus, disc 1 is just slightly changed remixes).

Bob Josef <> (06.09.2002)

The boxed set is now out of print, so this will be near impossible to find. (I won a free copy, so I got VERY lucky.) Too bad, because it is a marvelous concert. The band might be more professional sounding on later live albums, but they are positively fierce here, and Ian's comments are quite amusing. The only downer is Martin's stupid guitar solo -- I hate it even more than you do. The man can certainly play, but he obviously needed Ian's song structures, because this is just noise. My favorite is probably "Sossity" -- the song sounds quite different without the echo of the studio version.

A tiny correction: this was not the "only available" live version of "Nothing is Easy" -- the box also includes another performance from 1991. Not as good, of course, because you've got to put up with Ian's shot post-Crest voice. Just one example of the redundancy of the box -- there are also THREE versions each of "A Song for Jeffrey" and "Living in the Past." Which means you better REALLY like Tull if you're going to spring for it.


Mike DeFabio <> (24.08.99)

A little too pretentious, but as you say, the songs are good. I don't really care what Ian Anderson thinks about organized religion. What I care about is the fact that these songs are phat! Get it!


Marco Ursi <> (31.08.99)

I've spent the last few months easing my way into prog-rock. As of right now, this is my favourite prog album, probably cause it rocks. When I first put it on, I was astounded by the amazing title track. What a riff! After about a week of non-stop listening to the first song, I decided to let the rest of the CD play through. And I was very pleased. Ian Anderson can certainly play that flute! The thing I like about this album and Tull in general better than Yes and ELP and the other prog-rockers is that the music is pretty easy to get into (although I haven't heard anything later than Thick as a Brick). An easy 9 for Aqualung, probably a 10 for "best-of" artist, in my books.

Michael Bruun Petersen <> (01.10.99)

This album really does live up to the hype. Lots of great songs and no bad ones. Highlights include the guitar solo in 'Aqualung' (one minute of pure brilliance), the intro to 'Locomotive Breath' and the three short acoustic numbers. There are a few minor flaws though. 'Mother Goose' and 'Up to Me' which both seem a bit out-of-place and silly.

And if you don't share Ian's views on organised religion you might find the lyrics of the second half annoying. But I do so I don't.

Best song: 'Locomotive Breath'

Rating: 10. There are a number of both earlier and later songs that are better than anything on this one. But they haven't (yet) made a better album so this should get the highest rating. (but it has to share the honour with one later album, though)

Nick Karn <> (19.10.99)

Definitely agree with the 9. The concept is just a little bit unfocused but incredibly profound and shocking for 1971. A real mind-altering experience here, and one of those albums the kids "shouldn't have been listening to" around that time, along with Led Zeppelin, Queen, Black Sabbath and David Cassidy records. The title track I just can't say enough about - an absolute masterpiece of an opening song, a multi-part progressive ride with that thundering riff and opening, 'sitting on a park bench' lines, the acoustic parts and slower section. It's got it all! The rest of the album never quite matches it, but there's still some convincing great riffing - "Hymn 43" and "Locomotive Breath", and also the expert Ian Anderson flute playing of "Cross Eyed Mary" and the groovy and relaxing "Up To Me". An excellent all around effort.

Valentin Katz <> (09.12.99)

From beginning to end this albums is the ultimate experiment of commingling hard rock music with progressive musical ideology and the result is absolute brilliance. From the opening 'Aqualung' riff, the to the extended cd with 'Bouree' (Ian's take on a Bach classic). When finished, you take a deep breath and proclaim, "Damn!, that was good". And after that you're just speechless. 'My God' is the best song on here followed closely by 'Aqualung'. You and all your reviewers are complaining that you don't care what Ian thinks of God and organized religion, well fuck you!, no one cares what you think either! Album deserves a higher overall rating. Classics like this one always do

Iain Langer <> (22.01.2000)

Of course this is Tull's masterpiece. Although the previous album Benefit is underappreciated in my opinion, there is no denying that Aqualung was a monumental leap forward. Only "To Cry You a Song" on Benefit supplies any clue to this direction for the band. The songs on Aqualung are unfailingly gorgeous and unfailingly gripping. The melodicism of Benefit is still apparent, but has grown some balls. This album can be soaringly beautiful and deeply profound all the the same moment. Standout songs are "Locomotive Breath"(brutal yet beautiful) "Aqualung" (what can I say) "Wind Up" (deeply autobiographical yet majestic and somehow a universal statement about rebellion against dogma) and the lovely acoustic "Wond'ring Aloud". At one time in my life, this was my favorite album to listen to stoned, and amazingly enough it's still a pretty damn good choice.

I should add (if it isnt obvious from my comments) that Aqualung merits a 10!

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

When we says Tull we means Aqualung, when we says Aqualung we means Tull (Russian folk joke).

We came to second Jethro Ian's masterpiece, definitely best-known Tull's album. I'm tired of your screwing reviews, so lets skip it. There's so much said and wrote about Aqualung, and I'll try to say something different (its hard, but I'll try anyway). The title song have a superb solo, Martin plays with extraordinary enthusiasm and did you know that Jimmy Page was in studio when Martin played the final cut? By the way, I also heard that "Stairway To Heaven" acoustic guitar intro was Ian's outtake from "Aqualung" rehearsals (in reality that acoustic line was stolen from 'Taurus' by Spirit, released in 1968 - G. S.). If anybody will see Page somehow - ask him please! In one article (I don't remember the title) "Aqualung" was named the most danceable progressive song in rock history. Well, maybe, but can you imagine that somebody will dance and sing "you poor old sod" or "flowers blooms like madness in the spring"? Next song is Ian's fantastic flute work followed by pretty acoustic "Cheap Day" and bitter "Mother Goose". "Wond'ring Aloud" is pretty too, but long pre-version "Wond'ring Again" is even better (and its lyrics is awesome). "Up To Me" is drunken workers hymn (in my personal opinion). Middle part of "My God" (wise song) often named as improvisation onto Russian folk music, but if you trust me (I'm a Russian, so you can), I says that I can't hear nothing Russian in it. "Hymn 43" has very angry lyrics too and "Slipstream" is last acoustic gem on the album. "Locomotive Breath" is another all-time Tull's hit (no one concert will be complete without it) and I suspects that John Evan's piano intro was inspired by Sergei Rachmaninov. "Wind Up" is just fantastic, if you'll listen it carefully (music and lyrics both) you'll want to listen the whole album from beginning to the end. The only thing I'm wishing to death - "Lick Your Fingers Clean" could be the incredible coda. Oh Ian, why did you omit this classic from the LP? I have gold CD and I have remastered version only 'cause it contains "Fingers"!

A few notes about CD releases of Aqualung. The sound quality of the album is somewhat disappointment... if we began to discuss the sound quality, I must say that the best-recorded early Tull's album is Stand Up (quality rating 4 of 5), then came Benefit (3,5) and This Was is in the bottom (2,5 - too much background tape's noise plus a goddamn 60's standard to record music in one channel and voice in other so listening this album in headphones is real torture for me). In this scale Aqualung will give maximum 3 'cause it sounds very dry (if you understand what I mean). Tull's first three CDs was released in one box for EMI Centenary with improved sound quality in original sleeves, so if you'll find it - take it without thinking... Back to Aqualung: I've listened 5 different versions of CD releases and the worst was the first American issue (awful remix), next came the British release, the 1996 remastered edition (sounds much better) and two best releases is Japan issue and DCC gold CD version (both out-of-print now, but try to find 'em - you will not disappoint).

And finally... if you're Tull's fan - you have this album in your collection. My personal favourites are two first and two last masterpieces. Rating - 9 (its definitely had 10 if Ian added "Lick Your Fingers Clean"... but he didn't).

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

I heard Spirit a long, long time ago, so I can't confirm it. I simply don't remember.

Ben Greenstein <> (02.06.2000)

Just a wee bit overrated, not as much as Brick, though - in retrospect, I would give that one a really low seven. This one gets a very high eight - lower than expected because a lot of the songs aren't incredibly fantastic ("Wind Up" and pretty much all of the ballads). However, for every slightly lame number there's a song like "Aqualung," "Hymn 43," "Locomotive Breath," and "Cross-Eyed Mary," which are all well written and justifiably radio classics. As for the contreversy (which may not really exist) on "Mother Goose," I don't think it's at all out of place. Just because it's different from the other songs doesn't mean it breaks the overall mood or flow of the album - on the contrary, it makes for a lot more diversity. I dig it - but keep in mind that I also think that A Passion Play is one of the greatest albums ever.

Rich Bunnell <> (06.06.2000)

The first time I heard this album, I was blown away, then the second the third and subsequent times I've really enjoyed it. I really don't care about the lyrics, as usual, but most of these songs are really good. "Locomotive Breath" is the best (great driving rhythm on that one), and nearly as good are "Hymn 43," "Wind Up," and "Cross-Eyed Mary." I like the title track too, but stupid compilation album commercials have made it so that I recognize nothing from the song but the opening riff and then can never remember how the rest of the song goes. It's a shame, because it's a really good song. The only things I don't like on the album are the little acoustic breaks, and though "My God" is a cool tune, I think it's a bit too impenetrable for me to enjoy completely. I'd give the album a high eight.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

There's nothing new to say about this - tons of radio standards and an extremely famous concept. The songs are really great throughout - 'Aqualung', 'Cross Eyed Mary', 'Hymn 43', and 'Locomotive Breath' are among the most overplayed songs in history, but they're all great. I especially love the bass in 'Cross Eyed Mary' during the 3rd verse - now THAT'S a bass line! My favorite cut on here has to be 'My God', though. The way the gentle acoustic riff turns heavy, then jazzy, then disappears during a weird chant session, then comes back. It's one of the finest songs in the Jethro Tull catalogue, and if you ask me, ever recorded. The short acoustic links are very pretty, and the folky 'Mother Goose' is catchy and funny. This album's actually pretty diverse - most of the radio standards are hard rockers, so people assume this is a hard rock record, which it really ain't. I'd give this a high, high 9. And if you buy this, under NO circumstances buy the original CD release - it chops off the last verse of 'Wind Up' and the opening guitar bit of 'Aqualung'. It's hard to find, as it was soon fixed, but it still crops up in used bins now and then. Oh, and the new version has bonus tracks, 4 of which are repeats from the 20 Years Of Tull box set, 1 is an alternate version of 'Wind Up' that sounds exactly the same, and 1 is a length interview with Ian. It seems like they just wanted to cram bonus tracks on, but didn't want to make it extensive like in the Who catalogue. Oh well.

John McFerrin <> (21.07.2000)

I'm still not totally sure why you're somewhat down on 'Wind Up'. Is it just the fact that it's at album's end? Or is it because it follows 'Locomotive Breath' and thus seems somewhat anti-climactic?

Well, anti-climactic or not, I still like this song a ton. I _love_ that riff in the middle section of the song, and even if the song starts off somewhat slowly, it's still a fairly solid melody. Interesting lyrics too (I find it strange that I am extremely religious and yet rarely cringe in the slightest when listening to this song, or this album as a whole).

Anyways - a 13. But whatever.

Bob Josef <> (16.09.2000)

No one had ever written a set of songs challenging organized religion and chronicling the plight of homeless derelicts before, which is a major reason the album got so much attention in the USA, even though the previous two (I'm not that familiar with This Was) were just as solid, if not as hard rocking. It's hard for American fans to separate the album from the hype, if you were there at the time. It does have an almost perfect balance between acoustic and electric numbers, rare for any album, although nowadays the acoustic numbers don't get nearly as much attention.

Ian sounds awfully angry and world weary for a lad of 24 or so. It's amusing to contrast this with his 1995 solo album Divinities, which consists of 12 instrumental pieces devoted to the concept of comparative religions! Maybe age does temper cynicism...

The first Best Of.. album had a remix of the title track. The major difference is that the distortion used on the bridge vocal is removed, making it sound clearer, but more distant in the mix. Since that collection (also called M.U.) is now out of print, I don't know if this version has been re-released elsewhere.

David Lyons <> (06.01.2001)

Oh no. Oh dear God no. I've just been tootling through the Tull pages again, and I've discovered something truly, horrendously awful. I agree with Konstantin about something. Two things, in fact. Firstly, 'Lick Your Fingers Clean' makes the perfect ending to the album (yes, I know its on the reissue, but then they spoilt it with what feels like a three day interview with mister flute pants), both musically and lyrically (I know it's childish, but I still chuckle at the 'underpants' line every doggone time). Second up is 'Wind Up' - c'mon George, humour someone who's suffered listening to Crest Of A Knave and print a retraction, even if you don't mean it - It's a great song!

Incidentally, have you noticed how the second side of the album begins as a pretty universal declamation of organised religion and all its pitfalls (with a slight Church of England bias), yet by the end it's clearly the C of E bearing the brunt, and more specifically the way it was practised at his particular school? Perhaps that's one of the reasons I like the album so - I'm a moderately lyric-driven listener and it's all to the good when it actually strikes a chord (I may not be C of E, but British-Schools-With-Religion-Built-In (a patented term), no matter which denomination, seemed to exist for the sole purpose of creating atheists. At least they did in my day).

So there you have it, their best effort, in my opinion, edging Thick As A Brick in the album category, with 'Wind Up' taking the best song honours over 'Too Old To Rock And Roll...' (no, I'm not just being perverse...I really, genuinely like it. Besides, I've been to scotch corner, and I always like it when songs mention places I've been to. A flimsy conceit, I'll grant you, but it works for me).

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

Overhyped classic. The title tracks fine, but the intro to "Cross-Eyed Mary" set me up thinking "heres gonna be a great one" and boom, theres little creative music being made here, a huge dissapointment. My faves "Wondering Aloud" (sweet simple love song), "Locomotive Breath" (unbelievable riff), and "Wind Up" (deep meaningful lyrics). The CD does the LP one better with the rocking "Lick Your Fingers Clean" (why was this left off? ITS GREAT!!) Sorry all you Tull heads, but a 9/10.

Bob Roberts <> (27.01.2001)

I have been a big JT fan for a lot of years, and Aqualung was one of my first albums ever. I played it so much that I had to put it away for a while - a few years really. I went on to explore all of the JT catalog and found some better, some worse.

I think the title song is great - strong guitar, great drums, great feel. But it is one of the most overplayed songs ever, right up there with 'Stairway to Heaven'. It is annoying that a lot of people don't know any other JT because Aqualung gets all the casual airplay. The second most overplayed song is 'Locomotive Breath'. I really like both of these songs, but I can barely listen to them anymore. Maybe part of the problem is that I have never been a heavy metal/hard rock fan. There is a little too much crunching guitar and codpiece thrusting in 'Aqualung'.

However, 'Crossed Eyed Mary' is one of my favorite JT songs and I think a much better song than 'Aqualung'. I always liked 'Mother Goose', 'Slipstream' and 'Up to Me'. I used to get a lump in my throat listening to 'Wind Up' and of course the heavy religiosity of 'My God' and 'Hymn 43' were fun to play while my Catholic mother was around. 'Wond'ring Aloud' was my favorite song for a long time, I fell in love with falling in love because of that song. I still think it is one of the best written Ian songs (lightyears ahead of 'Fat Man' - sorry George). Evocative, simple and sweet.

This is the place where I think JT's best stuff starts. I do like Stand Up, This Was and Benefit (in that order) and I see a lot of the future stuff in them. But for my money Tull's best work started with Aqualung and ended with Stormwatch. Heavy Horses is the high water mark in my opinion. Broadsword was OK, and I am just starting to listen to Dot Com. But when they decided to be a mediocre heavy metal band was when they lost me. Ian started writing all of these ridiculous, hack, crap songs. There are occasional above average ones, but not enough to make me want to listen to Rock Island or Catfish Rising over and over. I agree with you George, he needs to be a little more selective. He has never had another strong presence in the band to keep him in check and hold him to a standard, but he should. And all of the compilation stuff! Oy! I could go broke trying to buy all that stuff! Thank goodness for Napster (while it is still free!)


Michael and Priscilla Bloom <> (05.02.2001)

I really appreciate your pointing out what a balls-out rocker of an album Stand Up was, because I'd quite forgotten. To me, the difference between it and Aqualung is that Stand Up is still "bluesy" in the same way as Led Zeppelin, while in Aqualung there was a conscious attempt to purge the blues influences from their musical language. (Possibly this effort got started on Benefit and wasn't being done right and that's why Benefit doesn't quite measure up.)

This is also what makes Aqualung so important in the evolution of heavy metal, which despite Zeppelin really didn't get to be a genre unto itself until it differentiated itself from "hard rock." Many of the jagged scales and chords used in Aqualung can also be found in the early King Crimson, in Deep Purple's Machine Head, in some of Black Sabbath's stuff (all these bands with colors in their names, so I always want to throw in Blue Oyster Cult here). Obviously the theme of Aqualung, that God may not be dead but that those who presume to speak in His name are brain-dead, casts a gargantuan shadow over metal philosophy to this day.

Do you remember when the Grammy Awards first presented a trophy for best metal album of the year, and they picked Tull's latest (I think it was Catfish Rising) over a real good Metallica album? Metallica's fans were outraged, especially since Catfish was such a lackluster item. But I figured their purpose in giving Tull the first metal Grammy in history was to acknowledge them as one of the major inventors of the whole genre, that in fact Metallica and Slayer and the whole death metal scene would have been unthinkable without Tull in their ancestry. (I believe Deep Purple were on hiatus that year, or else they probably would have won.)

Geronimo Springs <> (20.05.2001)

There has been so much written about this album over the last thirty years, it is difficult to think of anything to say about it that has not already been said. Nevertheless, I will try, as Aqualung deserves the attention of any serious rock music fan.

In all of rock music, there are few albums that really deserve to be called "great". Aqualung is one of them. Undeniably Tull's most important album, it received a lot of well-deserved attention when it first appeared in 1971, and it remains a favorite among lovers of "classic" rock to the present day. Its songs are beautifully (sometimes it seems even magically) performed by a band that was one of the most accomplished and polished ensembles in the history of rock. Lyrically, it is Ian Anderson's most focused album, and one of his most accessible. The themes he deals with - society's pathetic outcasts and the hypocrisy of organized religion - would be revisited by other artists in the years to come. But never again would those outcasts be described sympathetically in such graphic, "warts-and-all" terms, and never again would hypocrisy be condemned with such venomous hostility. When he wrote the lyrics to these songs, Ian Anderson was truly inspired.

For the groundbreaking originality of its writing, the thoughtful and emotional treatment of controversial subject matter in its songs, and the breathtaking performances of the band, Aqualung deserves the highest rating possible for a rock album. Aqualung is indeed a work of art. Aqualung is a masterpiece.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

Everything, as one of your commentators has, er, commented, about this album has already been written. So I'll be brief. This is of course one hell of a record. It's one of the rare occasions where Barre really shines, as much as I hate to admit it. Add to this a stylistic turn to GOOD hard rock (cp the bad hard rock of latter-day Tull), a well thought-out concept, uniformly strong song material, Clive Bunker's grand finale, melodies and riffs that are built to last, great work by Evan and the master-flautist, and you're in Tull heaven. And the artwork was getting better STILL (and this was still not the end!). I see why "Locomotive Breath" is your all-time favourite; me, I've just listened to it too much in the last couple of decades (ha!), though I still appreciate its grandeur. But the thrill is somewhat gone. Not so with the awesome title track, "Cross-Eyed Mary", "Wind-Up" (possibly my favourite song here), and the beautiful, beautiful acoustic tracks, which I must politely insist, Mr. Starostin, are as far from filler as anything in the Tull canon. IMHO, of course. One point off though for the Gregorian chants on "My God" and the fillerish folk pastiche "Mother Goose". The rest is ace.

(Rating: 9/10)

Eric Rogozin <> (30.08.2001)

When I was in Germany this year, I went to the big music store and saw there big Jethro Tull collection. It goes without saying, that this situation drove me mad, at first, 'cos I've never seen all Jethro Tull output put together in one single place before (especially in Russia, where it's not very easy to find Jethro Tull albums), and, at second, because there was a chance to listen to any of these albums through. I have chosen Aqualung, because I heard "Locomotive Breath" and "Wind-Up" before and liked these songs, and I knew, that it's one of the most famous and outstanding Jethro Tull albums. But I never thought, that it would be such great!!! I listened to the whole album through and all I could say was "Wow!"! I was so much impressed! It was really a discovery for me, I mean, of course I knew and liked Jethro Tull before, but perhaps I had not a whole conception 'bout their music, now when I've heard Aqualung I've got it! Great! The title track I remember the best and all I can say, that it's fucking superb! Really great!

And also I listened to the whole new comilation The Best Of Jethro Tull through. Compilations usually suck, but that one was great as well. I would advice it to anybody. All periods are present here, and I think, that it's one of the seldom cases of the good-made compilations like Paul McCartney: The Grand Collection and The Best Of Bob Dylan.

Ryan Maffei <> (30.03.2002)

It may not be their most ambitious or solid work of all time, but Aqualung is a damn good record. And I'm not saying it's exemplary of what a prog album should be-on the contrary, it's just a great piece of work, more streamlined than, say, Genesis, more earnest than the still-superficial soundscapes of Mr. Fripp and his Crimsony Crew. The folk tunes here do little for me, but the bludgeoning, ferocious hard-rock sections, with Ian Anderson blowing his flute away and spitting scathing poetry with the utmost conviction, are truly worth my critical while. Anderson soars like never before with his bitingly personal "Wind Up", while "Aqualung" is a thrilling blend of arty folk and searing riff-rock. And let's not forget the unstoppable atmosphere provided by "Locomotive Breath".a point or two off for throwaways like "Up to Me", "Slipstream", and "Wond'ring Aloud", but Aqualung is an 8 record that's dangerously close to a 9.

Glenn Wiener <> (16.10.2002)

Easily their most commercial album. However, the subject matter is not so appealing. Like 'Locomotive Breath'. Love the slow classical piano beginning and the way it flows into an edgy rocker. Truthfully I kind of like 'Wind Up'. Nice acoustic beginning then a rocking middle part and then it slows up again in the end. 'Mother Goose', 'My God', 'Hymn 43', and 'Cross Eyed Mary' are other quality tunes. 'Aqualung' I'm just not that crazy about. Some of the other songs are just not that memorable. I think you are right, a bit overproduced.

E <> (25.11.2003)

My first Tull album, my first prog album, and indeed one of the albums that got me into rock altogether. Prior to it I basically had a rather predictable collection of Beatles and Stones albums. I'd already heard 'Cross-eyed Mary' on the Breaking The Waves soundtrack, a score with a rather eclectic, though glam heavy, selection, including T. Rex, Mott The Hoople, Procol Harum, Deep Purple and Roxy Music. When I first heard Aqualung it simply blew me away. I'd feared it would be a three song album, but while the notorious triumvirate may stand out above the rest, the CD is completely devoid of filler, and tracks like 'Up To Me' are nearly on par with the notorious trio. The album is definitely top tier prog rock, and possibly Tull's finest hour, eclipsing even Thick As A Brick and Stand Up, and I don't believe that this opinion is merely the product of sentimentality. For me Tull are one of the three top progressive rock groups, along with King Crimson and Genesis, and this is high praise as I love the genre and myriad bands in it (Yes, ELP, Caravan, Renaissance, Curved Air, Van Der Graaf Generator and Gentle Giant, just to name a few). While the band would go on to taint its legacy with scores of mediocre to atrocious albums, peak period Tull were truly a force to be reckoned with. Best of all the dream of all Tull fans has come true and a masterful comeback is in progress. Commencing with the best Tull album in ages, Dot Com, Anderson and company capitalized on this breakthrough and made 2003 the year of Tull, with the brilliant Christmas album flanked by strong solo outings from both Ian and Martin Barre. I truly can't wait to see what they do next, and who thought that could ever be said of Jethro Tull again?

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

Well, great, of course. I wouldn’t say that I care much for progressive rock, but I don’t mind excellent rock music. And this is it. The title track is an instant classic. My first track by the band. The song is a multi-layered masterpiece. All the parts work, and that guitar solo in the middle is worthwhile. “Locomotive Breath” is almost as good. Inspired flute work from Ian, as usual. And catchy (that can be said about everything on the album)! The slower numbers are all gorgeous. Who can resist the acoustic beauty of “Cheap Day Return” (written about Ian’s father) or “Wondering Aloud”? And I simply adore the closing track, “Wind Up”. A melodic song that says much about Anderson’s attitude to churches (Sunday schools, whatever). I love it. Very personal and moving. I won’t discuss every song here, but I’d just say that they never fall below “very good” quality.

Would be a low 14 if they included the catchy “Lick Your Fingers Clean”. But gets a very high 13 anyway. Get it!


Mike DeFabio <> (24.08.99)

I can't stand Lizard either.

This is a great album. My personal favorite Jethro Tull album. It wouldn't have worked at short song level, though. I'm glad they just made one big song. You seem to have said everything worth saying about it so I'll be brief.


John McFerrin <> (31.08.99)

Ah, yes. I love this album, I really do. It's bombastic, sure, but it is SO catchy. Everything flows in and out of itself phenomenally well, whether it be Ian's psycho flute playing or that wierd organ tone or Barre's guitar, it's just perfect. Of course, that's part of the reason the next bunch of albums are so shaky; this was an extremely dangerous project for him, as he was straddling the line between catchy, memorable songs (which he did well) and overly bombastic, venomous, and unmemorable attempts at prog (which he didn't do so well). With this album, Ian inflated his songwriting and arranging balloon as far as it could possibly go, and alas (predictably, too) it exploded (Passion Play etc.)

Oh well, so much for being profound. For now, I give this a whopping 10, but as soon as the reissue of Stand Up comes out in a couple of weeks, I'm gonna get that and see how it is.

Michael Bruun Petersen <> (01.10.99)

This review reflects my own views very accurately indeed. If it wasn't for the annoying noises that ruin the first five minutes of the second half I would give it a ten.

The 25-th anniversary edition contains a full version of the newspaper that came with the original LP. And the sound quality is better as well.

Best part: "Do you believe in the day? Do you? Believe in the day!"

Rating: 9

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Hurrah!!! He did it!!! Now we have the third Jethro Ian's masterpiece and it's ABSOLUTELY CLASSIC, THE BEST ROCK ALBUM I'VE HEARD IN ALL MY LIFE!!!

Oh Lord, thank you for my friend Mike who gave me Walkman and the tape with Aqualung and Thick As A Brick and thanks Mike for rewinding the tape to B-side! Man, it was ten years ago and I still get chills when I'm listening the Martin's blitzing passages and Ian's breathtaking flute! It was completely stunning ("forty minutes of full musical orgasm", as I said a few hours later) and if somebody pushed me with cries "Man, the end of the world is coming!", what d'you think I've answered? I don't fuckin' care! I didn't fuckin' care then and I don't fuckin' care today!

Pass the emotions and speaks about the album itself. Its awesome right from the cover. D'you read the whole newspaper (1997 remastered edition includes full version - thank God again)? What a wonderful mystification... and its still go on (Gerald Bostock's authors credits appeared on all latest releases). Can you compare this sleeve with any other sleeve of any rock album? I can't. And all other things are brilliant - from sound (hats off to Robin Black) to technique (they did the whole album in three takes!), Ian's music and lyrics are genius, the arrangement is... hell, I don't know such colourful words to describe all my feelings! Anything I love in rock music is here!

A couple of remarks about editions. The original CD version sounded good, remastered version is nice (and also contains the unforgettable live version from Madison Square Garden), but the gold release's sound is astonishing! There are a few Tull's CD released on DCC and MFSL and Thick As A Brick and Stand Up are the hardest to find. It will cost you a hell lot of money (around 50-100 greens in Russia, I don't know the price in the rest of the world) but I have gold Thick and I don't regret, not a single cent! By the way, all other gold releases are out-of-print too but still available in standard price. Run and buy it!

Hey, my supper's ready, so I need to finish! As I said its absolutely classic, my all-time favourite Tull's album, and only three other albums can stand closer (but anyway behind!). (If you're interesting, its Rick's King Arthur, Ritchie's Live In Germany and Roger's Pros And Cons.) From 1972 this album stands above all rock music like Everest above the hills, and after two thousands of listened CDs (2120 to this day, I count 'em carefully) I still can't find the better example of progressive rock (or art rock, or classic rock) - name it as you wish but it's still the best! My favourite part is... maybe last ten minutes - Ian's saga shines on and musicians are full of incredible enthusiasm. Rating? You think its 10? No!!! 100!!! That's good enough...

Ben Greenstein <> (06.03.2000)

You know, I hate to sound like I'm trying to be the "sole voice of dissent" or anything, but I am NOT blown away by this album. The same guitar/organ interplay gets really tedious, really fast, and most of the melodies strike me as second rate. Sure, side one begins and ends with some of the most beautuiful music I've ever heard, but that "see there a son is born" section ends too quickly (it's like one verse long) and the instrumental passages are just unmelodic noodling. I far prefer the follow-up - it's got lots of memorable, catchy sections (despite what everyone says) and the instrumentation is far more diverse and interesting. Still, Brick isn't bad, just overrated. A perfectly average eight.

Richard C. Dickison <> (29.03.2000)

I just have to say again, how can anything as long and drawn out as one of Tikhonov Konstantin's reviews be considered a good thing?

This one left me cold,Thick As A Brick I mean, the reviews just annoy me, but there are two parts I like in there so I can't throw it out.

I just edit it for my own listening pleasure, sort of like the scroll bar when I see Tikhonov's berating George for not telling us how many moles Ian had on his left butt cheek. Who cares, you obsessive f*** (oops sorry George)!

Rich Bunnell <> (14.06.2000)

The reason that this album is so good isn't because of Ian Anderson's "epic vision" or some crap like that. It's because Ian took the Tull sound and condensed it into its most enjoyable, melodic form and stretched it out over the course of an entire album. Most of the best parts are on the first half, mainly because the second half is weighed down by some rambling sections. I can't understand why some people find this "overlong" or "hard to listen to"-- it's just like any other Tull album, only the songs aren't separated by track numbers and everything's more well-written than usual. The best section of the song, of course, is the opening six minutes, but it's all pretty good. Overall, I'd give it a 9.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

As much as I hate to agree with Konstantin, this is my favorite album of all time, which means that I give it a 10, of course. I bought this record on the way to a Rod Stewart concert of all places (which, by the way, sucked). I got it home, put it in my CD player, and my (musical) life has never been the same. This record was an epiphany, an awakening that "Hey, there's more to music than Green Day!". And I got into prog and art rock and psychedelic rock and all kinds of stuff. And it was all thanks to this record.

I didn't really know what to expect, as all I had heard was the first 3 minutes and didn't know how a band could fill up 45 minutes of space on one song. But they sure showed me! This album is absolutely packed with rich musical and lyrical ideas. From beautiful acoustic pieces to hard rock to mystical chants to war marches, this album has a little of everything that is right with rock music. My personal favorite bit is right at the end of side 1 when the flute and the xylophone ascend together and then it breaks into the weird rhythm of the "Where the hell was Biggles?" bit. Breathtaking music. This is what all prog rock should sound like - it's complex and beautiful without being overbearing.

I hate to prattle on, but I really do love this album and recommend that you pick it up at your local retailer. And Rolling Stone magazine gave it one star. What more could you want?

Braxton LeCroy <> (24.08.2000)

Ditto on your TAAB review.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (30.09.2000)

This goes out not only to George but also Mike DeFabio -- what's wrong with Lizard? It has some of Fripp's most melodic songs ("Lady of the Dancing Water"), Sinfield's most brilliant lyrics ("Happy Family" -- best song ever about the Beatles -- "Indoor Games"), great quirky-Brit vocals by Gordon Haskell, probably Mel Collins' best work ever, just about the only Jon Anderson vocal track I can stand, and some truly inspired free-jazz passages. If you listen to the break on "Indoor Games" side by side with the would-be Zappa/Beefheart-esque segment on side two of Thick as a Brick, the first sounds about as close as any white British guys are going to get to, say, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams screwing around late one night circa 1966, while the second just sounds like a bunch of white British guys screwing around. If you haven't listened to Lizard since before Crimson became the Fripp-a la Talking Heads-full-on weirdness show, give it another try!

Paul Stadden <> (16.11.2000)

Ok, now you can consider King Crimson's Islands as a 1972 album even though it came out in December 1971, but since Black Sabbath released Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in December 1973, they "neglected to release an album" in 1974? [Okay, I give. I give. In this case, Black Sabbatrh neglected to release an album in 1973. I give. Now sue me - G.S.] Ok, enough of that. To the album at hand. I have to admit, that you're right that this is progressive perfection, but for me, it gets a little odd. Such as in Pink Floyd, The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon are just a little too odd. I love Animals because the songs on there are real and individual, not just part of a collective whole. This Was is definitely my favorite Tull album. A Song For Fred is simply the best.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (21.12.2000)

My first Tull's album. My first prog-rock album. My first .... Hey, what the hell! I can't even describe this masterpiece, YOU have to feel it with your heart, really. For some strange reason I have three versions of 'Thick as a brick' (song) on my disc plus interview with Ian Anderson (though, I suppose I should ask Konstantin Tihonov about it). The first one is the original 22-minute version, the second one is modified (err.. I wanted to say simplified) version and the third one is live version from Madison square garden.

I tried many times to count the tunes on the title track but always miscalculated. The melodies were so beautiful (and unexpected, too) that I forgot about my duty. I give this 10/10. Any other ratings?

Jeff Melchior <> (28.12.2000)

It angers me that punkers think they have a corner on the anger/social protest market in rock. Although, due mainly I think to cultural difference, it's not always easy to understand exactly what Anderson is singing about, it's pretty obvious he's pissed about something (albeit a bit more subtle than the in-your-face religious bash of Aqualung). Anderson is definitely the star here - I don't think his acoustic guitar and flute playing was ever more inspired before after Thick As A Brick - certainly not on A Passion Play or later, look-at-me-I-am-so-very-rural-England records such as Songs From The Wood or Heavy Horses. Probably Tull's peak as an album band, although they'd continue to churn out pretty good singles surrounded by filler (I guess I can't say that unequivocally as I've never heard the Minstrel In The Gallery album, but if George's review is accurate then it wasn't an excepti! on to the mid-to-late '70s Tull rule.

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

Perfect. Can I say more? The LP cover is one of the best ever made, the concept interesting. The idea of angry English childhoods is overdone, (The Who Tommy, Pink floyd's The Wall) but hey the lyrics cant be beat. Its proggy alright but its the only real progged piece out there I've ever fully enjoyed. 10/10

Bob Roberts <> (27.01.2001)

I started listening to JT when I bought Songs from the Wood in '77. It took me a few years to get all the albums, and I waited to get TAAB until almost the last because I thought the one song concept was a little hard to swallow. Once I bought it I immediately fell in love with it (and Passion Play as well). But as the man said, I had to hide my love away.

By 78 - 79 all the people I knew HATED prog rock, and JT most of all. I have several brothers and sisters who made me play this on headphones - while they played Zeppelin, Billy Joel and Hendrix (dude!). But this may have been a blessing in disguise, because this album was made for listening on headphones. The sole reason I bought a CD player (way back when - it was an investment and it meant all of my ~300 LPs would be obsolete) was to listen to TAAB and PP.

That being said, I don't think it is the best album ever, or the best JT album - I would give that to Heavy Horses. It is an interesting concept, really two concepts. The idea being that it is an album written by an English boy _not_ Ian Anderson. So the stories, lyics, etc. are supposed to be a step removed from Ian. But it is a little preachy and musically a little too inflated. What happened in England to this generation of boys that made them have to write so many weird rock operas about their childhoods? Tommy, The Wall/The Final Cut/Thick as a Brick/etc. are all paeans to the weird English system and make you cringe when you hear them ("you can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat!")

In the end, I give this album an 9, only because I think some of the music is too high concept. It would be an 8 but the album idea is so original and interesting, and the cover so cool that it pushes it up a notch. You can still find the old LP with the complete newspaper in used bins here in the States if you look hard enough - well worth your time!

Robin Mayor <> (15.06.2001)

Found the album in a friend's parents' record collection about 17 years ago and I love it as much now as I loved it then.  I don't care to pull things apart to see how they work,suffice it to say that it works like a trojan!

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

This is why hardcore prog fanatics love Jethro Tull. Because it has only one song on it, and man, is it long! Is it complex! But unlike on, say, ELP's "Karn Evil 9" or Yes's infamous Shastric scriptures stuff, there is no pointless noodling, no repetitive riffing, no whacked-out sci-fi lyrics and generally not much obnoxiousness at all. Sure, the lyrics and "concept" are whacked out enough, featuring the ficitious Gerald Bostock's incomprehensible (or is it surrealistic/symbolist?) erotic epic poem or whatever it was, but somehow that adds to the charm. As does the whole St. Cleve's Chronicle stuff. And, wait, there's music as well. Bits and pieces are close to genius - particularly the beginning and the "poet and the painter" section - and even when it's not genius, Thick As A Brick, unlike Benefit, is NEVER boring. Which is no small achievement for a 45-minute song. 'Part from Anderson, the other star of the album is John Evan, who comes up with piano and organ lines that - even if they were written by Anderson - are the equal of anything in intelligent rock music. Nevertheless, why this is everybody's favourite "prog" record - provided we call it "prog" - is somewhat beyond me. Stand Up is better. So is Aqualung. But wait, these are not prog records. These are early Tull records. Okay, Foxtrot is better. And The Court Of The Crimson King. And even two of Tull's later albums (yeah, you guess which!). 10 points for originality, listenability and general brilliance, 6 points for resonance and emotional content. Sorry, I'm an old sentimentalist.

(Rating: 8/10)

Bob Josef <> (22.12.2001)

This album works because, IMHO, it is not "one long song," despite appearances to the contrary. Although they have never quite said so, I think Anderson just had a bunch of not-quite-complete songs that, along the way, they turned into a continuous album by linking them with instrumental passages, sound effects, orchestration and variations on the song themes. But it works much better than most such side long pieces, because the band almost never forgets that the sections are SONGS, and show respect for melody and song structure throughout. Brilliant.

As for the lyrics, they aren't as obscure after a close looks It seems as if our boy Ian had issues with Dad in particular and men in power in general, which means that the words are basically one long diatribe against authority figures and questioning the roles of men. But the veiled language, puns and sense of humor means that this works much better than something like Pink Floyd's The Final Cut, avoiding real heavy handedness.

The remastered version blows away the original CD, with a lot more OOMPH in the bass frequencies and a lot less noise. The live MSG version is a 12 minute condensation pretty similar to the Bursting Out take, but still fun. And the interview with Ian, Martin and Jeffrey is amusing and interesting, as they explain the creation of the album and the bizarre newspaper cover. All this has turned this into my favorite Tull album at the moment -- a peak that shouldn't be missed.

Michael Danehy <> (03.02.2003)

Perfect progressive rock albums are hard to come by, I suppose. Red has that ugly and dated "Providence" thing. Foxtrot has too many boring songs on the first half. Selling England comes very close yet I don't love "Cinema Show" _that_ much. "Close to the Edge" hasn't got enough melodies. Court of the Crimson King has 11 minutes of idiotic noodling. Etc. Etc.

TTAB is no exception to the rule. The first side comes as close to perfection as anything in prog rock. The melodies rock. The playing is immaculate. Even the aesthetically unpretty "See there! A son is born" part has grown on me. All in all, TTAB Part I is the second best album side in the genre (with Foxtrot's second being my pick for best). I just do not feel that Part II lives up. It starts out with a bang with the drum solo and thunderous keyboards, is killed dead with the stupid section with the talking. You know, the part with "God is an overwelming responsability bla bla." and it never returns to full steam. The "Do you believe in the day?" ballad is pretty but it drags on too long. I do love the "your comic books your super crooks" reprise and the little symphonic touch just before the "Thick as a brick" reprise, yet it is not enough. *Sigh* Another potentially perfect progressive album, marred by being dragged out too long.

My rating: 13/15 but it should have been a 15/15.

<> (15.11.2003)

Thick as a brick is my favourite Tull album. I like it much better than Aqualung. For me Thick as a brick is the highest point for Tull. Also, you said more than once that Tull released a lot of crap. This is probably so. However, I bet, Tull members do realize that. True, noone can release outstanding albums forever. However, it is also worth to note that noone is required to do so. You don't have to commit suicide if you can't surpass your own creation. You don't even have to stop creating. I bet, Tull had a lot of fun playing with synths during Under Wraps sessions. You've said that music is not like business (when talking about Ramones). However, this here constant complaining about the constant decline of quality in Tull's later works sounds so very much buisness-like.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

I know I won’t be original, but this is their peak. No doubts about that. All these parts flow into each other in a perfect way. The album is packed with unforgettable melodies. You get your flute right when you need it, you get a guitar solo right when it’s time for it. Not that the album is very sterile (it sure as hell isn’t) or something. It’s just so perfectly arranged! It would be really hard to name my favourite part, but that “Do You Believe In The Day” portion is brilliant. I can’t say anything about the plot since I don’t get it, but as far as I can say, it’s rather interesting. Those noises in the middle let the album down a little, but that’s just a minor flaw.

A solid 14!


Michael Bruun Petersen <> (01.10.99)

The title track is vastly overrated. It's on every damn live album, greatest hit collection and box set. I hate it I hate it I hate it.

Most of the rest is pretty good. But the bad live stuff and the fact that some of the tracks are taken directly from previous albums does spoil things a bit. Still, it's well worth buying if you like early Tull.

A lot more (and much better) stuff from the Carnegie Hall concert can be found on the 25 Years of Jethro Tull box set.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Is Living In The Past a compilation or an original album? I think it's something in between. The album includes unreleased and single-only-released material, but the absence of concept makes it just a good collection, very good for all early-Tull's fans. Here you can listen almost all influences of Tull's music - medieval tunes ("Christmas Song"), hard rock ("Sweet Dream"), jazz ("Living In The Past"), blues ("Driving Song"), naive love romanticism ("Witch's Promise"), bitter social sarcasm ("Wond'ring Aloud"). And don't forget the excellent live side from Carnegie Hall! John's jazz improvisations over Beethoven's and Rachmaninov's themes are pure gold and Clive's highly-energetic drum solo (with group's rather funny background) puts "Dharma For One" between album's highlights.

What about the editions? UK and US issues (LP and CD both) contains different material (on CDs some numbers was omitted), so skip 'em all and take the 2CD MFSL gold release. Its including the complete LP version plus additional material from all existed releases with lush booklet (full of fantastic photos and original sleeve notes) and I don't even speak about the sound. In my personal opinion, addition of four early numbers from 1968-69 ("Aeroplane", "Sunshine Day", "One For John Gee" and "17") will make this album completely perfect. Well, Ian have promised the remastered version in 2000, so maybe he'll add 'em like a bonus tracks. Lets keep the fingers crossed.

And the famous last words: for early-Tull's lovers its a nice choice, probably the best of all, 'cause its contains "Song For Jeffrey", "Bouree", "Alive And Well And Living In" and "Locomotive Breath" as good examples of all four studio albums. Best tracks? With the exception of previously released albums' material its "Christmas Song" (the grandma of further folk exercises), "Living In The Past" (Ian said they played this masterpiece around a thousand times and I says its still not enough!), "Sweet Dream" (Tull's first true hard rock), all live stuff from Carnegie Hall and "Wond'ring Again" (it should be on "Aqualung"!). Rating - 7 (its a compilation, d'you agree?).

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

I think I must change my rating. Probably I was in bad mood during last listening, but I recorded this album on tape for my friend last night and it was wonderful. My new rating is 8.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

Pretty much absolute agreement from me - these singles are amazingly good! My favorites are 'Living In The Past' and 'Witch's Promise', both of which are absolutely stunning - I especially like the 5/4 time in 'Living'. That one's a classic of classics. The thing is, none of the other material is bad - it's hard to knock 'Life Is A Long Song', 'Nursie', 'Sweet Dream', 'Christmas Song', 'Alive And Well And Living In', or basically any track on here. The CD does have a couple of problems though. The first is minor - a couple of cuts ('A Song For Jeffrey', 'Hymn 43', 'Inside') are taken directly from older Tull albums. Actually, 3 songs get cut off the CD - 'Locomotive Breath', 'Bouree', and 'Teacher' - but who cares? They were all on older albums anyway. The biggest problem here is the carnegie hall stuff. I kinda like the first few minutes of 'Dharma For One', but once the drum solo starts, I get bored. And I don't get the point of 'By Kind Permission Of'. They should have just taken a track from the concert as opposed to cutting them up and pasting them together. Yeah, we know John's good, but he'd sound better in a better context. Plus, there were a few singles and b-sides that didn't make this album - most notably '17', the b-side of 'Sweet Dream', 'One For John Gee', the b-side to 'A Song For Jeffrey', and Tull's first single, 'Sunshine Day' with 'Aeroplane'. They should've been on here instead of 'By Kind Permission Of'. Why weren't they included? Who knows? I give this a 9 regardless - those singles cannot be topped. And here's a weird factoid - on the original vinyl, there's a song call 'From Later'. On the CD, they called it 'For Later'. Which one is the misprint? I'm not sure.

Rich Bunnell <> (30.07.2000)

The two long-winded live thingies aren't too good, and three of the songs are repeats, and two of the songs are short one-minute fillerish songs not unlike the ones on Aqualung. That leaves thirteen songs. And they're all ace!! Well, none of them stand out, but that's what makes everything so good-- nothing makes everything else look like crap. In fact, I'm glad "Teacher" isn't on here, because it's better than everything on this collection, and it would somehow cause me to rate it lower. The best songs are "Life Is A Long Song," the title track, and "Sweet Dream." I can't really describe any of them because they all pretty much follow the generic Tull sound, i.e. peppy acoustic guitars and flutes. Luckily, the melodies are topnotch enough to make this fact really easy to overlook. Plus, the collection chronologically is a nice breather between the two long-winded "epic" albums. 8/10

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

Tull keeping it simple. The best are the simple ones. Alot of good stuff and the signalling of the end of the "great" era of Tull. After Thick, they never had the same appeal to me. faves include "Up the 'Pool", "Sweet Dream", "Dr. Brogenbroom" (silly but I find myself liking it)and "Wondring again". Solid 8/10.

Bob Roberts <> (27.01.2001)

I agree wholeheartedly with your review. I really like the previously unreleased stuff, the alternate takes are OK, and the live stuff is almost unlistenable. When I first bought this, I was such a dedicated Tull fan that I forced myself to listen to the live stuff many times in the hopes that I would "get" it eventually, I never did. The only redeeming quality is that 'Dharma for One' made me curious about eastern religions and started me on a quest for knowledge.

'Life's a Long Song' is such a sweet little song, with a delicate acoustic guitar riff and some very evocative lyrics. I love the verse, "As the Baker Street train spills your pain all over your new dress/and the symphony sounds underground put you under duress/well don't you squeal as the heel grinds you under the wheel." I think we have all been there. "And the tune ends too soon for us all." How true.

'Up the Pool' is also in this category. This is such an infectious song. I can listen to the choruses over and over. And then way that Ian makes it into almost a pub drinking song. Really gives you a feel for Blackpool.

'Dr. Bogenbroom' is my favorite. Catchy and haunting with weird harpsichord riffs and a healthy tinge of evil sounding Ian. I have no idea what it is about, despite multiple listenings, but I sometimes have the chorus running through my head for days. "Three cheers for Dr. Bogenbroom!"

I'm glad 'Alive and Well and Living in' is included, as my American version of Benefit did not include it. 'Witches Promise' is an overlooked Tull gem as is 'Singing All Day.' I think that is Ian's idea of a good pop song - well it is mine at least. 'Driving Song' and 'Sweet Dream' just rock. Better heavy stuff than the highly lauded 'Auqualung' to my taste. And 'Living in the Past' is one of my favorite JT "hits" - next to 'Bungle in the Jungle' and 'Songs from the Wood.'

I also dig the big booklet with color pictures of the band in the original album design. This is another high concept album design that is a real treat. I had to go looking through used bins to find it, but I am glad I did.

I would give this album a 9, only because of the waste of the live side. It is, without a doubt, my favorite "old" Tull album (pre-Aqualung) I am a little scared that there is a Tull album I like better than Konstantin did. I can take comfort in the fact that he liked the Carnegie Hall stuff more than I did. <smile>


Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

Yeah, those early singles... Most of them are great. The two solo improvs of the Carnegie Hall concert are not so great, unfortunately. Interminable piano wanking by John Evan, and ditto with drums by Clive Bunker. These two are fantastic musicians, but they're supposed to play in a band. If I want solo classical piano, I put on Glenn Gould. If I want solo drums, I put on Les Tambours de Bronx. Or something. And nobody asked for lyrics to "Dharma For One" either. O.k., let's get to the good stuff. The tracklisting is even more confusing as on Benefit, since there are various CD versions and various tracks doubled from the studio albums. I have the original double LP, and it has "Inside", "Locomotive Breath", "Song For Jeffrey", "Bouree", "Teacher", but no "Alive And Well..." But never mind anyway. [BTW: my neighbour has just put on The Wall at ear-wrecking volume. Like every day. Maybe I should move into the countryside. God bless Ian Anderson.] Corresponding to my slight blues antipathy, I don't much like the early stuff like "Love Story" (nice percussion though) or "Driving Song", and not even the title track, but the novelty "Christmas Song" is strangely moving. The ace stuff is on Sides 2 and 4, namely the devilish "Sweet Dream" (heavily influenced by Peter Green's "The Green Manalishi"), the riffy "Teacher", and all that wonderful music from 1972. "Life's A Long Song" is one of the most beautiful Tull moments ever. Very laid back, very British, very catchy and finger-snippy - anything like that on a Yes record, and the world would be a better place. Plus acoustic songs that are by no means inferior to those on Aqualung. Plus a pointless instrumental with an undecided title. What more can I say. Two points off for the live things, since it's a quarter of the whole album.

(Rating: 8/10)


Michael Bruun Petersen <> (01.10.99)

As good as Thick as a Brick. Lots of good melodies. And nice organ and sax stuff. But it is a much darker and more serious album both musically and lyrically. So it was a good idea to have some "comic relief" in the middle. And 'The Story of the Hare who Lost His Spectacles' (narrated by Jeffrey Hammond I'm pretty sure) is quite clever and amusing. But it gets very annoying after the first few times you hear it. And as it isn't given a seperate track on the cd there is no way to skip it automatically.

Best part: All of the second half after the story. The best fifteen minutes of Tull ever.

Rating: 9

Ben Greenstein <> (15.02.2000)

I don't agree. This is easily one of the finest "prog" albums I've heard thus far. Keep in mind, though, that I haven't yet heard Brick in it's entirity, only claimed to, so I don't really have anything to measure this up against. It's dark, though, and has a seemingly endless supply of cool melodies and tricks with guitars (dual channel type stuff, you know?), and so is really intriguing to listen to. The "Lover Of The Black And White" section, I'll agree, is the best, but both the "title track" like part and the closing section. I would rather be able to skip to certain parts, but I don't really dislike any of it, so why bother? A nine. Or a ten. I'm not sure.

[Special author note: I'm not exactly sure as to what Ben calls an 'endless supply of cool melodies' here. Maybe in the same way as Frank Zappa's Yellow Shark has got an endless supply of cool melodies for some? Bits and snatches of unstructured, rambling chord changes do not equal melodies in my book.]

Edward M. Lufrano <> (23.02.2000)

This was Ian Anderson's masterpiece. A most original and ground-breaking work. As a group Tull has never been tighter. This is Rock Music's version of Dante's Divine Comedy. As grand, ambitious and moving. The problem is: like any form of high art it has to be studied. You can't listen to it once through and condemn it simply because you are unwilling to put in some effort. I was at the 1973 Madison Square garden performance of this opus and I can honestly say that I have never before or after experienced a show that has moved me so deeply and profoundly. Oh! and by the way - It is Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond who narrates 'The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles'.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Well, Passion Play... one of the hardest-to-observe Tull's albums...

Coming back to your reviews - Chateau D'Isaster sessions was stopped 'cause the technical conditions of recorded tapes were unbelievable awful. The band had not much time before the next American tour so Passion Play was completely recorded in three weeks. The result was... not everyone enjoyed it.

But for me A Passion Play is a very good album and its definitely not deserved the hysterical critics in English rock press. Oh what a fools! I hate tight-minded idiots whom pissed on something only 'cause they didn't understand it! Buy yourselves an additional brains, morons!

And what 'bout you? You said Passion Play lacks of melodies... go to the doctor and clean your ears of geese feathers, pal! D'you try to listen "In The Foot Of Our Stairs"? "Overseer Overture"? "Flight From Lucifer"? "Magus Perde"? Side two of the LP is the masterpiece comparable with Thick As A Brick.

Yes, Tull's music is more straight-forward and aggressive, but the only thing fades away of Brick legacy is Ian's sense of humour. Play is a serious work (except, of course, "The Story Of The Hare"), so its still a work of natural born master. And Ian's saxophone is awesome!

The remastered release will come in 2000 (probably), but I recommend the MFSL release with complete artwork (theatrical programme not appears in standard CD issue) and marked tracks (they were named for US radio). You'll easily find your favourite part.

So if you're asking me, boys and girls, I says that Passion Play is good album and you need to listen it very carefully. If you can dig it (I give you my word) you'll be rewarded! In other side, if you can't... you'll hate it. My personal preferences is the beginning of the second part of the story - "In The Foot Of Our Stairs" and "Overseer Overture". Rating? Eight.

R. David Hayward <> (30.04.2000)

Knowing that A Passion Play is the flashpoint for dissention even among the most rabid of Tull fans, I bought it expecting to agree with the general opinion that it is a pile of pretentious wank. After one listen, I was pleasantly surprised. After a few more, I had to admit that it ranks alongside Thick as a Brick as a true masterpiece. That being said, I can see why so many people fail to appreciate it. A single 45-minute track, a theme of death and rebirth, complex and highly allusive lyrics, even more complex music veering abruptly from one style to the next, and a seemingly incongruous fable in the middle don't exactly add up to an easily accesible work. Even the wit that worked to lighten Thick as a Brick is absent. However, A Passion Play is very rewarding and eminently listenable, working well both as a fresh and pleasant musical piece (even if a bit abstract at times), and as a serious artistic statement. The thought that immediately struck me, reflecting on this album, was "this is what 'The Wasteland' would be like if TS Eliot had been a musician." A Passion Play is, I think, very much like that poem; both are long, complex, very serious, and easy to get lost in. It is for precisely these reasons that both are controversial and often under-appreciated by both the general public and the artistic "establishment". Personally, though, I find it terribly exciting to come across such a thoughtful and reflective work (how often do subtle allusions to Dante and Milton crop up in contemporary rock music?) packaged in one of Ian Anderson's most sublime musical compositions.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

Very few people hold the middle ground on this album - it's usually considered either a masterpiece or complete crap. I don't think it's a masterpiece (it's just an attempt to follow-up Thick As A Brick, and it's just not as good), but it sure ain't crap, either. I'd give it an 8. Side 2 is what really does it for me - I think that entire half is absolutely brilliant, especially the "Well meaning fool/Pick up thy bed and rise" section. I really love it. Side 1 isn't as good, though - it's not bad, and it's well played, but it just isn't as resonant as the stuff on side 2. The "Lover of the black and white" part is great, and I love the main theme (that appeared again has 'Tiger Toon' on Nightcap), though nothing is really bad. I would give it a 9, but I'm docking it a point for one reason - the ending totally blows! At the end of Brick, there was a sense of resolution and climax. Here, the record just shuts down, Ian sing the "Into the ever Passion Play" line one more time, and everything fades out. What's that about? Maybe it's because the main "song" is A Passion Play isn't as good as the main one in Brick, but it really leaves me hanging. Oh, and I actually like the lyrics here - they make all kinda of weird allusions and stuff. Some of them are just weird, though - my favorite is "The Ice Cream Lady wet her drawers/To see you in the Passion Play". What??? Oh well. My copy of this is actually divided into tracks, so I can skip around however I choose! Hooray!

Rich Bunnell <> (26.08.2000)

Underrated by critics, overrated by fans, you know the drill. This album isn't nearly as consistent as Thick As A Brick largely because in attempting to branch out musically to escape the one-style trappings of that record, Ian hit on a lot of rambling, incoherent musical passages which really don't work. Plus, too many of the parts of the album start out catchy and promising but either end too soon or turn into something much more annoying. There are still a lot of fun, classic Tull passages though, in spite of what this album's critics say, such as the rocking last few minutes before the soft section that closes the album [yeah, is that the one where each verse begins with a strained 'ughghgh', as if Ian is lugging heavy furniture around? Sure is funny! - G. S.], the first eight minutes or so of the album, and "The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles," though I can't understand the story enough to find anything funny about it besides the hilarious vocal delivery. I'd grant this one a low seven.

Bob Josef <> (05.10.2000)

In my little comment on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, I mentioned that every prog band released an album where ambition outran musical talent and sense. And I neglected to mention Tull's contribution to the hall of infamy, this ridiculous release.

Evidently, Ian decided that Thick as a Brick was much too accessible. Well, if his intent was to befuddle the listeners, he succeeded. The lyrics are even more dense than Thick, but at least there you got clever and funny lines. Here you get just randomness. If you're going to have pretentious nonsense lyrics, OK, but then you've got to accompany them with catchy melodies to at least keep the listener intrigued. Here, there's lots of forgettable sludge (no matter how many times I listen to the live Passion Play excerpts on the 25th Anniversary box set, I can't remember a damn thing about them), discordant noises (especially from the shrill saxes) and even lousy playing, a first for Tull. Ian may be a talented multi-instrumentalist, but we're lucky he dropped sax from the repertoire after this album. And John evidently just discovered the Moog synth, because his playing sounds very clumsy. It's no surprise they had to add David Palmer as a second keyboardist later.

And let me get one thing off my chest: it really bugs me that some of the same people who bash Graeme Edge's little bits of poetry on Moody Blues albums rave about how great the stupid time-waster called "The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" is. The biggest embarrassment in Tull's history -- and what does is have to do with ANYTHING? Ugh.

It befuddles me how this album got to #1 -- I've never heard any of it on the radio. It certainly doesn't lend itself to radio airplay. The fan base built by Aqualung and Thick as a Brick must have been incredibly strong in 1973, but time has proven that Emperor Ian had no clothes with this one. The only excuse for this being such a dud is that they only had three weeks to write and record it -- it took Yes five months to come up with their monstrosity (Tales). This is the real "Chateau D'isaster" -- the excepts from the scrapped project on the 20th Anniversary box set indicate that it was vastly superior.

There are a few impressive moments here and there (the "Under the cold sun, freezing" part is kinda cool), but although I haven't heard every single Tull album, I know enough to say that this HAS to be their worst -- and I own a copy of Under Wraps (now ducking to avoid flying objects hurled at me from rabid Tullers).

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

AAARRGGGHHH!!! Only one good bit in the entire boring, drawn out, obscured lyric piece. They tried to top perfection and well, they got deservedly burned. 4/10

Bob Roberts <> (27.01.2001)

As much as I love Heavy Horses and Songs from the Wood, A Passion Play is the single Tull album that changed my life. I'll give some of you time to stop throwing up and explain.

I was about 13 or 14 when I got this album. I hadn't read Dante or "The Wasteland" (I still haven't) and I was pretty sheltered art-wise. I had been introduced to Tull by way of their hits and more accessible albums. I bought this album and was immediately challenged by it. I know that it is hard to listen to musically, and some of George's criticisms are valid, but this is the essence of Avant Garde. It has melodies, but they are not repeated several times and they are stripped down to their bare minimum. Some parts are discordant, but so is Free Jazz and Avant Garde Jazz and DaDa music - and Punk and some other straight ahead Rock. And more importantly, so is life. This music hits you at a gut level, swirls you around, confuses you, angers you, and then drops you on your head and says "Figure that one out, Junior."

So I had to learn how to listen past melodies, past "guitar riffs" past pretty chord progressions. I had to learn that music sometimes isn't meant to entertain, but to affect you - just like other forms of art. Look at Modern Art Painting, it is not easy to understand, some of it seems downright stupid or random. But there are meanings within that you need to push to find. Art is not always accessible, meaning it doesn't just jump out and come to you. But if you take the time to go to it, you are rewarded. On first listen or first reading, no one these days understands Shakespeare. You have to learn how to appreciate it, and you are better for having done so.

They lyrics are also difficult and challenging. I will say, George, that I could not explain all of them, and most of them only have a meaning for me. Some of these meanings are almost feelings, or hazy unrealized concepts, or entry points to deeper discussions. Think of James Joyce and how hard it is to read and understand his work. This is similar, very similar.

I listened to this album at least once a day for about two years. I learned a lot about myself, and the nature of art, humanity, and life and death. I am in no way saying Ian Anderson belongs in the same group as Shakespeare or Joyce. But only because his subsequent work never again came close up to this. I hate to sound like a "rabid" Tull fan - which I am not. But this is an incredible, transcending experience - not just a bunch of tunes and some lyrics.

As for "The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" it is an allegory. Read into it what you will, that's it's job. I think it does serve to lighten the album to a certain extent, but I find it just as dark and challenging as the rest.

I agree that the second side, which I have seen called "The End," is the best part of the album. I still get chills listening to "We sleep by the ever-bright hole in the door/eat in the corner/talk to the floor/cheating the spiders who come to say 'Please'/ (politely)/They bend at the knees." I am not even sure why, it just seems to touch a strange, collective unconscious part of me.

Light years better than Thick as a Brick and the highest achievement of Ian's career. Other albums are more fun to listen to but none are more creative, challenging or affecting. And isn't that what art is all about? My score (you guessed it) 10+++.


Geronimo Springs <> (06.05.2001)

For years I considered A Passion Play to be a baffling, excessively complex prog-rock opus with an annoying cartoon in the middle. After repeated listenings to the MFSL CD (which, by the way, does sound remarkably better than the standard Chrysalis release) I still think it is a baffling, excessively complex prog-rock opus with an annoying cartoon in the middle! But, the album has grown on me to the point that I no longer dislike it. Its savior is in the amazing instrumental passages. As a band, Jethro Tull was blessed with outstanding players who were up to the challenge of this extremely difficult piece of music. As usual with Jethro Tull, it was not the performance of the band which was disappointing. The serious flaw in Passion Play is Mr. Anderson's lyrical meandering.

I agree with George that it is a shame Martin Barre is not featured as a soloist on Passion Play. One of the things I love most about Jethro Tull is Barre's breathtaking guitar work. A Tull album with no guitar solos is a big disappointment for me.

But, for all its flaws, Passion Play does contain a great deal of incredible ensemble playing, which makes the album rewarding to listen to. Too often the lyrical "story" just gets in the way, particularly the ridiculous "The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles". But even that is not enough to make the album a complete failure.

RTV Maraton <> (27.05.2002)

Musicaly, this is a MUST HAVE for anyone who could understand it....and those people are rare...from the begining 'till the very end this album is good,SUPERB,FANTASTIC,ASTONISHING...people who cannot listen to it should stick with Tears For Fears and Pips, Chips and Video Clips for the rest of their notPassionate lives...


DR <> (23.10.2002)

"No melodies", huh? Ok, what IS a melody then? Anyway, IMHO this album has lots of embarrassing structural weaknesses (mostly during part 2) but certainly no lack of melodies! Maybe less "groove" that TaaB, a couple of irritating modulations ("Show me a good man..." and the following instrumental passage) but it's not THAT bad!

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

No, no, no. I really don’t get why this record should be SO much worse than its predecessor. Well, yes, it’s worse. The melodies are not so strong (but enough good ones, anyway) and on the whole the album doesn’t sound that inspired as TAAB. But, still, I like this stuff. Also, I’m a fan of simple acoustic strumming (ha!).

Sure, the album contains a number of different songs with no pauses between them. And these songs are catchy with solid hooks now and then that make you (alright, me) want to listen to the record again and again. I’ve heard this thing about 5 times already and I still want to play it at least one more time as soon as possible. The record may not seem very interesting taken as a whole, but they throw in some absolutely great moments from time to time. And I certainly like that. As for the story (about spectacles; well…), it’s quite good, but the best thing about it is that it starts so unexpectedly, you just have to smile.

My opinion is that you won’t be disappointed if you like Thick As A Brick. How about a solid 12?


Michael Bruun Petersen <> (01.10.99)

Probably their weakest album from the 70s. But still there is much that is good. 'Skating Away ...' and 'Only Solitary' are masterpieces. Really.

And don't let George fool you - 'Queen and Country is also very good. 'Two Fingers' (one of the supposedly "painfully unbearable" songs) is a reworked version of the Aqualung outtake 'Lick your Fingers Clean'. The original version later appeared on the 20 Years of Jethro Tull collection. (in Georges review of that one the song is described as a "fantastic rocker". Go figure :-)

[Special author note: hey! I resent that irony! True, I haven't paid attention to the similarity of the lyrics, but the two melodies have simply nothing to do with each other! The original rocked, the reworked version drags. So much for the reworked version. Go and see for yourselves.]

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

War Child is good, but not strong...

In a matter of fact, Child (unfinished film's soundtrack) is second part (or even reworking) of some Passion Play ideas ("Skating Away" and "Solitaire" was prepared for abandoned France version), but concept of Child is much more accessible and music is less whimsical than on Thick and Play.

Your review sucks as always, so lets crossover it right to the album itself. This is the first Tull's album with stronger folk elements, some songs based on medieval Elizabethan marches ("Queen And Country" and "The Third Hoorah" are the best examples). "War Child" is good too, and if "Back Door Angels" bores you to half-death, I'm really sorry that's only to half. "Sea Lion" has best lyrics at the whole album, and I must confess... I don't think "Skating Away" is great (I know, almost everybody loves it, but I don't). Yes, lyrics is wise as only Ian's lyrics can be, but the song still can't catch me. "Bungle In The Jungle" is 100 percent hit with excellent effects and final "Two Fingers" is a reworking of "Lick Your Fingers Clean" (I prefer the original, but longer version is strong and powerful too).

Deaf critics named this change of course as Tull's turning point to more commercial albums. But did Ian want to catch a success? I don't think so. I suspects he didn't even try 'cause if he wanted it, Minstrel never appeared (but he did, thanks Lord).

Editions? Remaster is not exist (at least), but gold release is here (and it's damn good!).

Well, I think I said enough. Indeed, War Child is not the best Tull's album, but he's not bad as their early 80's efforts either. Best song - "Bungle In The Jungle" (yes, I know it's not original). Rating - 7.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

This record was pieced together, and it shows. It's good, but it could have been better. There are a few classics here, especially 'Skating Away', which is an amazingly great pseudo-folk song. I really like 'The Third Hoorah' too, though - I actually think it improves on the title track. It's got all those cool sounding harpsichords and bagpipes, and it creates a really happy, jovial atmosphere. In fact, it's my second favorite song on here. I like 'Two Fingers' too, but it isn't as good as the original ('Lick Your Fingers Clean'). The title track is vaguely majestic sounding, and 'Sealion' is really weird, but still good. My main complaint with this album is tracks 2-4. 'Queen And Country' goes nowhere, 'Ladies' is really boring, and 'Back Door Angels' sounds sort of like 'Black Satin Dancer', except while I like the latter, 'Back Door Angels' just drags and drags until the counting at the end segues into 'Sealion', which is good. Oh, and as for 'Bungle In The Jungle', I don't think it's bad, but I don't think it's great - it's simply an average-good song. I'd give this a 7, too. A low one, though - I think it's the worst Tull album of the seventies.

Rich Bunnell <> (28.08.2000)

Sorry to be the sole voice of praise, but...uh....why does everyone hate this album? I'd think that a full album of extremely solid melodies and no truly bad songs ("Back-Door Angels" kind of drags) would be given more praise than I've seen given towards this particular collection, but to each his own. It's not my favorite Tull album because nothing besides the two singles really stands out ("Bungle In The Jungle" is so freaking catchy!! Dumb lyrics cannot hinder this song), but the songs which you guys are apparently finding awful, hideous melodies in, like "Queen and Country" and "The Third Horrah," I find no different from other Tull songs and actually quite catchy and charming. Underrated as far as I'm concerned, and a definite 8 for me. If this is the worst Tull of the seventies, as some have said, then bring on Minstrel and Too Old To Rock, baby.

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

Good solid comeback, but just not enough. "Angels" and "ladies" are just plain awful. "Warchild" is the best piece, but ruined by the reprise "The Last Hurrah". "Two Fingers" is fine, that is if you havent heard "Lick Your Fingers Clean". Then it sounds awfully weak. "Bungle" is over played and I just dont like it too much anymore. 7/10

Bob Roberts <> (27.01.2001)

It is a mixed album, still shaking off some of the heaviness of TAAB and PP and moving toward they folksy/medieval sound that I liked on SFTW etc.

'Warchild' sounds a little sedate, as if Ian heard the criticism of being too bombastic and tried to tone it down. 'Queen and Country' is strong, but perhaps a little too repetitious. I kind of like 'Ladies' with it's weird medieval structure and handclaps, reminiscent of historical films where courtiers are dancing. But the refrain "Ladies..Ladies.." is a little too much for me, and the final bit with the saxophones (Ian must have liked his sound enough to keep playing on this album??) sounds like early Bowie and is totally incongruous. 'Back-Door Angels' represents what I think of as the 'She Said She was a Dancer' genre of Ian's music. He is obsessed with tarts and tramps and quick sexual liaisons, which I suspect he has little experience with. It is very much like 'Black Satin Dancer' another one of my least liked Tull tunes.

I always thought 'Sealion' was an echo of Passion Play and a stronger retort to the critics than 'Only Solitaire'. For example: "Just a trace of pride upon our fixed grins --- for there is no business like the show we're in. There is no reason, no rhyme, no right to leave the circus `til we've said good-night. The same performance, in the same old way; it's the same old story to this Passion Play. So we'll shoot the moon, and hope to call the tune --- and make no pin cushion of this big balloon. Look how we balance the world on the tips of our noses, like SeaLions with a ball at the carnival."

Since I loved PP, I really like 'Sealion' and I think it is an enjoyable song except for the goofy voice Ian uses for the "You balance the world on the tip of your nose/like a sealion with a ball, at the carnival.")

'Skating Away' is good, fun and catchy. This is obviously an echo of TAAB. If 'Sealion' is an answer to the critics regarding Passion Play, 'Skating Away' is Thick as a Brick condensed into a 3 & 1/2 minute song. It also ties Passion Play back in using the lyrics. ("And as you cross the wilderness, spinning in your emptiness/you feel you have to pray/Looking for a sign/that the Universal Mind (!) has written you into the Passion Play.") Likewise 'Bungle in the Jungle is a good catchy song and my favorite of the Tull songs in heavy radio rotation. I think it is a little spooky and continues to deal with the concepts Ian loved, ("and He who made kittens put snakes in the grass/He's a lover of life but a player of pawns"). This is an unusual hit as it has layers of meaning and is a bit vicious.

I agree 'Only Solitaire' is a tongue in cheek stab at the critics who haunted and hated JT for 'Passion Play' I loved the line, "Who the hell can be/when he's never had VD,/And doesn't even sit on toliet seats?" Bless me but I like 'The Third Hoorah' and, George, it is like TAAB - you can march to it! Lastly, I have to say I like 'Two Fingers' better than 'Lick Two Fingers Clean' - just my preference.

I agree with Rich, why does everybody hate this album? Even our friend Konstantin gave it a lukewarm review. It is choppy, but that is it's nature. It was a hangover from TAAB and PP, intended as a film and suffers from being disjointed. But overall I like this album. Definitely not their worst seventies album - I think that is Minstrel. I give it an 8, with points off for the criticisms previously mentioned, but points for the cool picture on the back of the album illustrating each of the songs. Favorite song - 'Bungle in the Jungle'

Geronimo Springs <> (06.05.2001)

One of my least favorite Tull albums, I was turned off to War Child after hearing the atrocious 'Bungle In the Jungle' on top-40 radio. This truly horrible Jethro Tull song was overplayed when it first appeared in 1974, and it remains so on classic rock stations to this very day. It is one of the very few Tull songs that I really hate. An awful, cynical attempt to placate the critics and win new fans with a radio-friendly pop song. And it was only half successful. Although it was a hit single, the critics still hated the album.

Overall, the material on War Child is weak, weak, weak by Tull's (until then) high standards. Only 'Skating Away On the Thin Ice Of the New Day' compares favorably with the band's earlier efforts. I do like 'Ladies', 'Back-Door Angels', and 'SeaLion' too, but none of them are really remarkable. George is right. Ian Anderson's songwriting talents were on the wane, and it shows on this album. A Jethro Tull album with only one memorable song is a real shame.

I was disappointed in Passion Play when it first appeared. After War Child I wrote the band off for several years, believing Anderson had simply run out of good ideas, and that as a group Jethro Tull had become irrelevant. I eventually changed my mind, and began listening to Tull again (playing catch-up and listening to their late 70's albums for the first time just a few years ago). My feelings toward Passion Play and War Child have softened somewhat since the 70's, but I still do not believe they are as original, as groundbreaking, or as compelling to listen to as the earlier albums.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

This is where for some people Tull lost it. Me, I think they lost it a little later. This is a so-so album and the beginning of the long half-brilliant-half-filler sequence that went on, with interruptions, until the early 80s, when the filler either became unlistenable or remained listenable but took over completely. The instrumentation, very similar to A Passion Play, is a bit weird - lots of saxophones and accordions and some crappy synths, particularly in "The Third Hoorah", which is a really annoying song anyway. There seems to be some concept, since this is one of Anderson's countless aborted musicals / operas / stage plays / TV series / oratorios, but except for the reprise of the title track in "The Third Hoorah", and a profusion of songs about groupies and society in general, I'm in the dark as to what it's about. But never mind. Four songs here are excellent, but one of them, "Only Solitaire", is only one and a half minutes long. Three others ("Ladies", "Queen & Country", and "Bungle In The Jungle") are inoffensive filler; "Bungle" is a shameless flirtation with radio expectations, so it was even a minor hit. We can forgive Ian for that. Two are crap, namely the tuneless "Back Door Angels" and "The Third Hoorah", and one, "Two Fingers" is only disappointing if you've heard the original version, "Lick Your Fingers Clean" (it's on the 20th anniversary boy set), before, as I did. That version is way, way, way better. This leaves us with three full-scale gems: the title track, for all its cheesy sound effects, is menacing but catchy, and I dig it. "Sea Lion" is at first listen a cacophonous mess, but gradually you discover the tremendous charms of that over-the-top vocal melody and that frenzied flute and guitar riffing. It's lovely and uplifting, and Evan's accordion phrase in the chorus only improves it. The highlight, however, is "Skating Away...", a remnant of those notorious Disaster Sessions, which packs more ideas in its four minutes than Pink Floyd [he still listens to f***in' The Wall at full volume] packed in their whole career. Love that glockenspiel. Love the way the drums stumble in after Ian's "you're a rabbit on the run" line. It's wonderful, it's unusual, and Ian humming and having tea at the beginning still sweep me. Seriously. And watch out for Martin Lancelot skating away on the thin ice in the right bottom corner of the back cover! And the back door angel up left! And Hammond-Hammond dressing up as "Country" (must be, since the other guy is obviously the Queen)! And Evan keeping "Two Fingers" clean! OOh.. those early Tull covers... Pity that the filler seriously drags the rating down.

(Rating: 6/10)

chris1arch <> (21.08.2001)

Well, you ALMOST hit it on the head when you dabbled with the Spanish notion (sheeesh!). The thing to me that is most intriguing about this album is the sonic feel of it. It is really quite unique from most of the Tull catalogue that it is sandwiched between. There can be no doubt that the presence of Evan's accordion steals the show and creates the tonal quality present in much of this album. O.K., so it doesn't exactly do for the accordion what Zydeco or Polka (cringe) do, but it does play rather well into the numerous songs in which its features. Spanish?......well, if you say so George. To me, it is more simply a "peasant" instrument (Mamma's got a what?) to drive Ian's Medieval-Brit Pub-style tunes to. Perhaps it plays into the "court minstrel" idea a bit.

More importantly, Ian and company made a complete turnabout from the concept album back into a "song-oriented" effort. And a strong one at that.

As far as the songs? Well, anyone living in the US in the 70's (who wasn't a complete lemming) grew to despise "Bungle" probably as much as hearing "Stairway" and "Roundabout" for the three zillionth time. While it is hard to have perspective on a song that you don't hear anymore, the song seems so OBVIOUSLY to pander to Ian's hurt pride (or was that hurt record label's pride?). Maybe the whole "the business world is a real jungle" theme is just a little too overdone. Inane lyrics, soupy, syrupy instrumentation, what's to like? As a concertgoer to (at least) four Tull concerts from the 70's, Bungle definitely stands out on the album - and not necessarily in a good way. And, yes, commercial does = sucks, no matter how you may wish it to be otherwise.

The title track makes good use of the piano and sax duo in the intro and sets the tone for the whole album as far as I'm concerned. I could have done without the cheesy audio (and the bombs) at the beginning, however. On the up side, Ian manages to blend together an array of sax, piano, violin's and guitar without overly relying on any singular instrument.

I disagree with all who speak disparagingly about 'Queen and Country'. I rather like it actually and especially like the fact that Ian has mixed accordion AND a string quartet together. And a nice little ditty thrown in by Martin in the middle. Try it'll like it. I promise.

'Sealion' is, perhaps, what 'Bungle' wanted to be - that "life is like a....." comparison song that has some humor and balls to it. One of the better ones on the album. And it ROCKS. It remains one of my favorite memories from the Warchild concert .

'Skating Away' is one of the better acoustic guitar oriented songs ever done by Tull and....well....'ya gotta LOVE that xylophone! VERY creative use of instrumentation. But wait, there's that accordion again. Lyrics are mildly clever (..."you didn't stand a chance, son, if your pants were undone...." The length of this song is perhaps the best part - just filling enough to be tasty without overstuffing the listener!

'Ladies' is a really a "pleasant little number" (you may cut and paste this description into the 60's - 70's Tull song review of your choice). It is (unabashedly) a filler. that, to me, provides a satisfactory respite to the harder songs on the album.

'The Third Hurrah'? Well, some may bash this song, to me it is a relatively crisp number where, I believe, the string quartet works very nicely. Try the middle instrumental portion of the song. While the bagpipe (or what sounds like a bagpipe) may not be my favorite instrument, it is another example of Ian's intriguing instrumental variety on the album. While not a great song, it fills the roster out just fine.

As far as 'Solitaire' - another nice acoustical ditty. The critic-bashing is not very veiled and he does sound somewhat bitter but the song does have its own charm. Silly perhaps, but I still like the ending very much when the "two" Ians proclaim ("....but you're wrong's only Solitaire.").

All in all, not really a bad effort coming off their Passion Play effort where Ian seems to have let the single song concept album eat him alive.

Album rating - 8.5/10

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

So, after two monsters, Mr. Anderson gives us a humble album with (not 2, not 1) 10 separate songs. I like that. Despite the fact that I think it’s a bit of a letdown. The overall impression is that it’s a hard rocking album with a number of soft spots (and the soft spots are the best, I should say). My favourite tracks are the unforgettable folkish “Skating Away”, the insanely catchy “Bungle In A Jungle” (Ian wrote those lyrics??????), “SeaLion” (I especially like those quieter parts; aren’t they wonderful?), the short but effective “Only Solitaire”. The hard ones are not that memorable, but Ian (and company???) knew how to make all of his songs sound good. Well, in the 70s. At least.

A very (very-very) solid 11


Michael Bruun Petersen <> (01.10.99)

Down beat and introspective. And not very catchy at first. But boy has this album grown on me. And no, I am not deceiving myself. What an awfully patronising thing to suggest. This is my favourite Tull album. Every track is great. With the possible exception of 'One White Duck'.

Rating: 10

Iain Langer <> (22.01.2000)

The title song (and opener) is not so much the centerpiece of this album, as the lead-in to its true nexus, which is the 16-minute suite entitled "Baker St. Muse". "Muse" is a culmination of themes introduced in the title song, and is Tull's most crisply expressive, most autobiographical, and most purely British statement of art and intent since the "My God" side of Aqualung.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

I can't believe my own eyes! Somebody wake me! Minstrel had 5?! Man, you really need to go to the psychiatrist!

Further readings of your reviews is growing my suspicions... you didn't listen Tull's music at all! Yes, somebody don't like Passion Play, I can understand it (thinking is hard work, not for everyone), but Minstrel is definitely best Tull's album after Thick As A Brick. Buddy, Chris Welch from Melody Maker is not your kin?

Of course, Minstrel is sad, angry, depressive, "too introspective" (Ian's own words), and from the introduction of title song to the last acoustic guitar's chords of "Grace" it's perfect masterpiece. The "Minstrel" itself is incredible hard (I imagine like Ritchie and Ronnie James are nervously smoking while listening Martin's brain-wracking guitar passages and Barrie's wild drumming) and Ian's lyrics is his best poetic creation. "Cold Wind To Valhalla" have nice Wagner's influences, flute on "Black Satin Dancer" rocks gentle and aggressive simultaneously, and "Requiem" is Ian's last farewell to his first marriage, one of pretty acoustic gems only Mr. Anderson could perform. Next came "One White Duck" (the less remarkable song on the album, but good anyway) and the epic "Baker Street Muse", 16 minutes of pure classic Jethro Tull (don't forget David Palmer's string quartet) closing by the "nice little tune" "Grace".

It's real tragedy, but the gold issue never been released. I prayed for it (Lord, only you know how much I prayed) but MFSL bankrupted and I heard that DCC will not release gold CDs further. Lets wait the remaster (or maybe Japanese).

So, it was fourth Jethro Ian's masterpiece, one of Tull's creative peaks (Ian said that the album is closer to his own solo work, but I think he's wrong... Yeah, I'm so dare!). Critics' fury blown once again, but as one wise man said - the dogs is barking but caravan's riding. Best songs are "Minstrel", "Requiem" and "Baker Street", rating - 9.

Oh, I almost forget! On the sleeve of Original Masters gold edition "Minstrel" authors' credits was given to Ian and Martin. I've checked all other editions where "Minstrel" appears - only Ian's name features (and Minstrel CD have no authors' credits at all). Does anybody know what it's mean? What?! You still haven't this album? Run to the musical store! Leave the computer! RUN!!!

Ben Greenstein <> (02.06.2000)

I wouldn't give it a five, because I think even the title track is drivel. It's amazing that this is the same band as on those early albums - there are no melodies here, no instrumental diversity, just a lot of boring, bland, "Jethro Tull" brandname music. A four, on a good day. What an awful self-parody!

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

Hey, I fell under this album's charm quite easily! It was one of the earliest Tull albums I got, and I really dug it my first time through. I still like it quite a bit. The title track is great, as all 3 parts of it are great (my favorite bit is probably still the acoustic part, but it's a close call). But here's where I differ - I think the rest of these songs are good, too! 'Cold Wind To Valhalla' has the strangest feel about it - it really has a rustic, Viking feel to it. 'Requiem' and 'One White Duck' are quite decent ballads - 'Requiem' is forgettable, but still nice, and 'One White Duck' is gorgeous. Plus, I really love 'Black Satin Dancer'. That dark riff that comes in after Ian stops singing at the beginning simply rules, and the solos really help accent it. Plus, the opening vocal melody is tops, too. I think 'Baker Street Muse' is really good as well. The opening bit is ok, but I love the 'Pig-Me And The Whore' section to death, and the acoustic parts in the middle are quite pretty. I'd give this album something between a high 8 and a low 9 - I think it's really good. I agree that Brick is better, but I certainly don't think I'm deceiving myself. This is just another one of those "love-it-or-hate-it" albums that Tull put out.

Braxton LeCroy <> (24.08.2000)

"Baker Street Muse" is one of Tull's best pieces. Its structure is brilliant and its lyrical content mastreful. I love it. A great album too. A 9.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (17.12.2000)

This record is ably defended (most impressively, to my mind, by Iain Langer) on many insightful levels here, so even a career-long Tull fan like me doesn't have much to add. But I will say this to George: Do you simply not like acoustic ballads or have you just not listened to "Requiem" and "One White Duck/O...," etc. more than a few times? These are two of Ian's most brilliant and personal songs, light years away emotionally and compositionally from earlier masterpieces like "Reasons for Waiting" and "Sossity..." (which is saying a hell of a lot!) Part of their greatness is that they do NOT merely lean on standard folk progressions but experiment quite boldly with same. Maybe you're just not in tune with the album's central themes, Ian's break-up with his first wife and the downside of rock stardom, which so thoroughly inform both these songs and, of course, the entire "Baker St. Muse" suite.

[Special author note: just to raise all doubts, I'll state here that (a) I like good acoustic ballads a lot and could name several dozens of gorgeous acoustic ballads without second thought and (b) I have listened to both of the songs mentioned above for at least ten or fifteen times. It isn't a terrible problem with me - they are both listenable. But while Ian might be 'boldly experimenting' with folk progressions on both of them, I don't hear anything in these two songs, melody-wise, that would distinguish them from the far more memorable and graceful acoustic snippets off Aqualung, for instance. Yes, true enough, songs with no distinguishable or memorable vocal or instrumental melodies really bother me. At least, if you don't do this, give me a truly unique atmosphere like on the early Kate Bush records or something. As such, I can't really view the intelligent and thoughtful lyrics as an excuse for getting rid of the melodies.]

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

My last favorite tull Album. You cut it rather nastily (you just dont like Ian too much) The title track is great, "Cold Wind" is well done, and "baker Street Muse" has some of the TAAB magic. Dark and personal. 7/10

Geronimo Springs <> (06.05.2001)

At the risk of being accused of marching in lockstep with the fascist element among Jethro Tull fans (and George, after reading replys to your reviews, I know exactly what you meant when you said Tull "tends to attract the kind of people that were rabid Hitler lovers in their previous incarnation") I nevertheless feel compelled to defend Minstrel In the Gallery as a much needed return to form after the previous two Tull albums. After the lyrical meandering of Passion Play, and the cynical attempt to placate the critics and attract new fans with radio-friendly pop crap on War Child, Minstrel In the Gallery does at least sound like what a Jethro Tull album is supposed to sound like.

No, it is no Aqualung, but Minstrel In the Gallery does contain its fair share of memorable songs performed in the (pardon the overused term) "classic" Tull style. This is what you seem to dislike most about the album, but I welcome it as a much-needed change. The only problem I have with any of the material on the album is the boring, world-weary "I have no time for Time magazine, or Rolling Stone..." section in Baker Street Muse. By this time I was well aware of Ian Anderson's attitude toward his critics, and I cannot believe he thought any listener wanted to hear yet another tirade. But fortunately that whiny section is brief, and does not detract from the album's otherwise worthwhile songs.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

Come on, Mr. Starostin, why do you hate this one so much? And Mr. McFerrin, why do you think you then have to hate it, too? Because it's a fan favourite? I don't get it. This is perhaps not the work of a genius (little of Tull's music is, actually), but it's by no means worse than War Child. And WAY WAY WAY better than that embarrassing Broadsword thing. And all in all quite a good standard Tull album. O.k., so you don't like "Baker St. Muse". I understand that. I don't understand why it's a favourite of all diehard Tull fans. Or wait, maybe I do. It's complex, conceptual, long, quirky and all that. Me, I just think it's okay. Nice background music. But not offensive at all. Unlike "Black Satin Dancer", which frankly sucks. But the rest of the record is, believe it or not, rather good. "Cold Wind To Valhalla" is a good one and a much better Viking song than most of the stuff on, you guessed it, Broadsword And The Beast. The title track starts with an interesting acoustic melody and continues with breakneck riffing and - for once - inspired soloing by Martin Lancelot. Plus a great flute riff. If this is the first real glimpse of metal Tull, "Requiem" and "One White Duck" are as good as middle-period acoustic Tull gets. "Requiem" particularly is sad in a quiet, unassuming, shoulder-shrugging way, and I think it works very well. And "Grace" - "hello breakfast, may I buy you again tomorrow?" - this is pure poetry!! Nevertheless, a few points off for ugly Satin Dancers and average Baker Street Musers.

(Rating: 7/10)

RTV Maraton <> (27.05.2002)

Heh...this one recalls tears every time when 'Duck' or 'Grace' or 'Baker st.' or 'Requiem' is played...Jethro plays music which is not for everyone...a person who doesn't like this album probably has some serious taste problem...

Keith Hart <> (06.06.2003)

My God, what a column of marchers here. In Canada, Jethro Tull was always the high-minded head of the denim army and this album has always packed a lot of satisfaction. I don't find any overall weaknesses, in fact I'm generally relieved that Anderson and co. applied themselves to the task of creating an entertaining rock album, with neatly developed ideas and some very good vocal performances from anderson. It's one for the fans who may have been dissapointed over the 'about-face' of War Child. There's a polished spirit to the record and artful control over (ah) sectional compositions. I'm never wanting more from any particular song, nor am I wanting less. It's charm lies as well in Anderson's cheeky return to the side-long epic after his partial re-entry into critical good graces and a bouyant single with "Bungle". But he's not surrendering. He's going to try it again, and this time it's light, musical, entertaining and pleasant. Nothing universal. Very English, very grounded. So he finishes well after all. He doesn't gloat extravagantly about it either. His shadow over the band is never wilting, they play well providing thrilling moments and warm atmospheres fertile with suddenness and drama.

I love this one. <> (18.06.2003)

I think you and most other online reviewers missed the key strength and worth of MITG. 1st, to paraphrase the reptile James Carville, "its the mood, stupid" This album, like several other Tull albums, has a mood that is unique and engrossing and very rare among 70's rock albums (Zeppelin had cool created moods too). It is bleak, cold and sad ('Cold Wind', 'Black Satin Dance', 'Requiem') and ultimately uplifting ('Grace', 'Minstrel'). I can always get into the mood of this album. I would also state that although there is not an abundance of melodies on this album, there are many good ones ('Requiem', A nice little tune, 'Pig Me and The Whore', title track and 'Cold Wind'). And I think you are just plain crazy if you can't find beauty and enjoyment in 'One White Duck'. I don't know why this album has become a popular whipping boy of the online reviewing community, I don't think it is merely because it got good reviews before and you want to take it down a peg, no - it is, unfortunately for you, more serious. I think the mood of this album, and in your case, Songs From The Wood and Stormwatch, completely miss you and have no positive impact. I know you can be impacted by a created mood by other artists but for you Tull just can't do it (exceptions for specific songs noted).

[Special author note: I think you hit a nerve there with this comment - I can abide Tull only when there's clear melody, in which case the mood greatly helps it get along, but mood/vibe alone doesn't do it for me. I'd take Amon Duul II instead if I want just mood.]

Bob Josef <> (03.02.2004)

In the liner notes from the new remastered version, Ian Anderson calls this the most acoustically oriented Tull album that had yet been released. I find this strange, since, to my years, it was the electric album yet. Yes, even more so than Aqualung. I think it has Martin's best playing up you to that point -more polished, more skill and more control and yet more powerful. This helps a lot to compensate for some of the relative melodic weakness of some of the songs ("Black Satin Dancer" and portions of "Baker Street Muse").

Even so, I do disagree with with your assessment of the melodic strength of the album. Although Warchild had some moments that are better, overall, this one is a major recovery over that one -- and even more of a comeback from the abysmal A Passion Play. "Baker Street Muse" is a far more coherent long form piece than APP. And the two acoustic numbers, "Requiem" and "One White Duck"/"Nothing it All", do have lovely, if a bit simpllistic, melodies. The only drawback is that John Evan's presence it rather slight in the arrangements, but that's compensated but the fine musicianship elsewhere.

There are five bonus tracks on the remastered version, all of which had appeared on the 20 Years Of.. box. There are fragmentary versions of the title track and "..Vallhalla" which are billed as live, but which are actually preliminary studio versions; the "Minstrel" B-side "Summer Day Sands", a beautiful orchestrated ballad which is better musically than some of the actual album tracks; and two later tracks that appeared on a 1976 Christmas EP. "March, the Mad Scientist" is a bizarre little tribute to that month (I think), while the beautiful instuemental "Pan Dance" was actually used as a stage piece during the War Child tour. I think these were the last Tull recordings with Jeffrey on bass.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

Well, I quite like this record. Obviously more than you, George. But less than all those fans (certainly!). The record requires many listens to be really appreciated. I like this album a bit more than I should probably because of the fact that I absolutely dig their acoustic guitar sound. Anyway, the title track is a classic with the opening slower part being the best thing on the whole album. Also, the song is catchy after the second listen already! Ha. “Cold Wind” is a nice track with some kind of a hook in the chorus. My second favourite track is “Black Satin Dancer”, a hard rocking song with some great flute from Ian (not from Jeffrey – get that) and a memorable melody. Two quiet acoustic tracks follow and they are very pleasant to listen to (the melodies are not that evident, though). As for the epic “Baker St. Muse”, it’s good. First of all, the lyrics are great. The music is definitely worse, but some parts (especially at the beginning and at the end) are bound to stick in your head. Don’t tell me you can resist Ian singing “You can call me on another liiiiine”, because you can’t. Well, of course, the song is overlong and some parts drag, but still… And “Grace” is simply gorgeous! I love it. What lyrics!

All in all, this gets an 11 overall.


Michael Bruun Petersen <> (02.10.99)

I pretty much agree with the above. There are no bad songs here.

But there is also only one truly great song. ('Salamander' almost makes it two, but it's too short and too similar to the start of 'Cold Wind to Valhalla'.) Best song: 'The Chequered Flag'. Full of sadness and regret, but in a very quiet and beautiful way. Unfortunately the volume of this track is quite a bit lower than the rest of the album so you'll have to adjust your stereo whenever you get to this track.

Rating: 7

John McFerrin <> (14.12.99)

I also found this on the same server (see John's comment on Crest Of A Knave below - G.S.), and downloaded a copy. The first time I had ever tried to listen to it was almost a year ago, and for some reason even though I had borrowed it, I just had no desire to sit through it, and shut it off in track one

This time, though, I listened to it straight through, and sure enough, not a single bad song! Not too many great songs, but every single song is good. Sure, it diverges highly from the tull-formula, but considering that that formula had given us Passion Play, Warchild, and Minstrel, that's not too much of a bad thing


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

What can I say about Too Old To Rock'n'Roll? A few excellent songs in... hmmm... a not very good album. While pop-oriented listeners loves this album much more than Passion Play or Minstrel, Too Old contains a couple of weak songs ("Whizz Kid", "Big Dipper") simply ruins the album's impressions. After the Minstrel this light-weight album was an almost catastrophe. Yes, Ian and David Palmer wanted to write a parody musical for Adam Faith, yes, after the explosion of punk and Tull's late 80's reborn, the concept of the album is somewhat prophecy, yes, if we takes particular songs, they're not bad, but the whole album is incomparable with anything that Tull did before (even with This Was).

Of course, Too Old To Rock'n'Roll have his nice moments, in a matter of fact the last three songs on each side of the LP are good (Ian's vocals on "Too Old To Rock'n'Roll" and David's sax on "From A Dead Beat" are stunning), but even they couldn't save this album for me. Well, everybody had a bad days... and good times will coming very soon!

I heard that in 1996 EMI released the limited edition of gold CD but I didn't meet anybody who've seen this CD. Listen the regular edition and keep remaster in mind.

Brief conclusions - Too Old To Rock'n'Roll is not good as its predecessors, but I have it anyway. And I think that even unsuccessful Tull's album would be the masterpiece for many, many bands. (Fairport Convention or Eagles blown of proud if they could made something like that!) So take it. Best song? Indeed, the excellent "Too Old To Rock'n'Roll". Rating - 6.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

I can't believe it! Nobody mention it! I wrote "Whizz Kid" instead of "Quizz Kid" and I wrote it wrong deliberately 'cause I wanted to see how much attention readers pays to George's pages. Hey, Tullers, are you blind? (And I thought the readers just didn't pay much attention to Konstantin's comments:) - G.S.)

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

This album is really underrated. In most Tull-fan polls, this album is usually the 3rd most hated (behind Under Wraps and A, but ahead of Rock Island). I don't get that at all, because I think this album is at least decent. Actually, there is one song on here I detest - 'Bad Eyed 'N' Loveless' is the epitome of tunelessness. Stupid lyrics, stupid music, stupid EVERYTHING! I hate I hate it I hate it. The rest of this album is quite decent, however. The title track and 'The Chequered Flag' are both classics. The title track tells a story in itself, even without the aid of the rest of this stuff. And 'The Chequered Flag' is among the prettiest songs Tull ever did - I especially love how the strings join the chorus at the end. 'Salamander' is great, too, but that guitar lick is VERY similar to the beginning of 'Cold Wind To Valhalla'. The rest is comprised of decent rockers ('Quizz Kid', 'Crazed Institution', etc.) and a pretty ballad ('From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser'). You're right about that 7 in every way - some great tunes, but not enough excellent material to boost it higher. I like it better than Warchild, though. I just really hate 'Bad Eyed 'n' Loveless'.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (17.12.2000)

Proof of Anderson's genius is that even lesser albums like this one contain bits of total brilliance, like "Pied Piper." If you had to play one short song to give someone an idea of what Jethro Tull was about musically, lyrically, and emotionally, "...Piper" might do the job. It should also be mentioned that this album is notable for a title that has inspired endless variations in the press, often probably from journalists who've never even heard the record. My favorite example: The photo of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky at a public function that was captioned, "Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young to Lie?"

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

Once more I give you best, Mr Starostin. You're right. This is better than everybody says it is. And watch out: Konstantin doesn't like it because it doesn't sound like Tull, therefore it's not fifth or sixth or whatever Jethro Ian Masterpiece. As usual for late seventies Tull, there's some average stuff on it, but there are also some highlights that are arguably better than anything on either Benefit, Minstrel, or War Child (except "Skating Away..." maybe). Most of all the title track, of course, which is genuinely moving, features Steeleye Span's Maddy Prior somewhere deep in the mix, and is one of Tull's all-time Top Five, IMHO. Almost as good is "The Chequered Flag", which shows Ian could do a convincing early Tom Waits if he elected to. Other goodies are "Salamander" which confirms that Anderson rarely could do wrong when he stuck to acoustics, and the late-night bar torch song thing called "From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser" - all of these are not exactly good-time songs, but when he wrote depressed lyrics, Ian was by no means at his worst. It works for lonely evenings. And for those mornings when you check your comb for the number of hairs that have fallen out. Ian is a huamn being with deep, genuine feelings. This album proves it. Pity that the rest of the songs are utterly mediocre: "Pied Piper" is at least funny, but everything else is unremarkable, and in one case, "Quizz Kid", even ugly. What a shame. But we're used to this by now.

(Rating: 6/10)

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

Sure, it’s not a classic, but it has so many really good songs (almost all of them are, I’d say). I appreciate that the band moved from pretentiousness to simple, good memorable tunes. This record is just pleasant to listen to.

Like I said, no really bad songs. Sure, “Bad-Eyed And Loveless” is a misfire (with a really strange melody), but it is also quite a nice track that can’t spoil the overall impression. “Big Dipper” is not that great either (just a simple rocker, again, not bad at all). The highlights include “Crazed Institution” with its great refrain (catchy as hell!), the magnificent title track which might as well be in my top 5 of the band’s best songs. The song has an amazing melody and absolutely heartbreaking vocal delivery from Ian. I’m also a big fan of the beautiful “From A Deadbeat”. Oh, and “The Chequered Flag” is great as well. In fact, it’s a real classic. Absolutely incredible singing!

Excellent rock music. A definite 12.


John McFerrin <> (10.08.99)

Y'know, I really wanted to like this album, I really did. All these hard-core Tullers all over the net kept saying it was so great, and I wanted so much to believe them. But alas .... urrgh. I like the title track, 'Jack In The Green', and 'the Whistler'. The rest of it isn't bad persay, but not interesting at all. I guess a 6 is alright for this, but it really disappointed me a lot

Michael Bruun Petersen <> (02.10.99)

As mentioned above, many hard-core fans are extremely fond of this one. I can understand why, but I don't agree.

The good parts are very good indeed. The title track, 'Velvet Green' and 'Fire at Midnight' are some of the very best Tull songs. And once you get past the "Lets make the guitar sound like a bagpipe" intro, 'Pibroach' is also very good. But the rest is a little too much "happy fairies in the wood" stuff for my taste. Best song: 'Velvet Green'

Richard C. Dickison <> (17.12.99)

Well, I hate to leave the only comment I make about Ian a bad one about that A album (ARRRRGH).

Thank you Mr. Petersen for your description of this period as a series, The Woods, The Country, and The Sea. Add to that, the Minstrel In The Gallery being The City, and it seems to make some sense.

I would love to make Ian out to be more intelligent and poetic than ever so erratic.

I really do like this period of his music though, No one else was or has ever come close to this. A combination of Elizabethan stylism and rock was interesting to me, and gave him authentic reasons for his beautiful flute playing.

I agree with George that Minstrel In The Gallery was a one off tune, and a weak album.

I will also agree that Ian was very loose in keeping to his themes when he used them. But if you take this period in perspective, it really had allot going for it. With a brief revisit to these themes in Broadsword and The Beast, being the last of this successful style.

I think most people will prefer to go back to Aqualung or Thick As A Brick for their Tull music but I really find these albums to be more interesting, thats my opinion at least.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Of course, Songs From The Wood is not folk rock! It's Jethro Tull's folk rock! But what'd you call a folk rock? Dylan? Byrds? Jefferson Airplane? Fairport Convention? D'you ever listen Steeleye Span's Below The Salt? Alan Stivell's Chemins De Terre? Horslips' The Tain? Clannad's second album? THIS IS FOLK ROCK!

Songs From The Wood is definitely based on folk elements and I'm tired to repeat - Ian's musical creativity is incomparable. I heard many comments "Man, they sounds like Jethro Tull!" but I can't say that just one of them was true (I must be honest, "Thomas The Rhymer" from Steeleye Span's Now We Are Six is closest and its the only one... and produced by Rena Sanderone, by the way).

Well, folk flowed onto Tull's music right since 1968 ("Christmas Song"), and eight years later Ian wrote his fifth masterpiece. The title track have amazing vocal harmonies (even Martin and David sings!) while Mr. Barre's guitar and Mr. Barlow's drums don't let you forget... this is still Jethro Tull! "Jack-In-The-Green" is acoustic folk ballad, "Cup Of Wonder" is full of Pagan images (whole album's lyrics is true folk), and "Hunting Girl" is what I call the perfect example of Jethro Tull's folk rock with frivolous lyrics, wringing guitar's and bass' passages and above it all - Mr. Country Squire himself with his mocking voice and brilliant flute. The following "Solstice Bells" holds the flag of Pagan imaginary while "Velvet Green" and "The Whistler" is classic folk masterpieces. Did I say that "Hunting Girl" is the perfect example of Jethro Tull's folk rock? Yeah, I did, but "Pibroch" is even better - dragging Martin's riffs around Ian's acoustic intermissions is genius. And who else can close the album with such wonderful ballad as "Fire At Midnight"?

This is the latest Tull's album features on gold CD. Take it while it's still available!

So let me bring you songs from the wood! Jethro Ian's first folk masterpiece is fresh and really full of life-long celebrations. Best songs... title track, "Hunting Girl", "Pibroch" and "Fire At Midnight" are my favourites but the rest is excellent too. Rating - 8.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

You know what? I've always absolutely LOVED this album! It's an attempt at a sort of "folk-prog" that certainly sounds unique. Nobody else put out records like this. I love the title track, 'The Whistler', 'Velvet Green', and 'Pibroch' in particular. I love the way the weird guitar noises wrap around the melody in 'Pibroch', and that flute solo in the middle is breathtaking - it may be my favorite Ian solo ever. 'Hunting Girl' is cool, too - those opening keyboard lines are awesome! The weakest tune on here (for me, at least) is 'Jack In The Green', which is ok, but uneventful. They improved the formula of that one immensely on 'One Brown Mouse'. Really, I'd have to give this a 10. It's my third favorite Tull album (behind Stand Up and Brick). This is another one of those albums that the Tull fans seem to love, but leaves most people kind of cold. I don't even really understand the appeal of the album myself - all I know is that is is extremely pretty, memorable, and consistent. And that's good enough for me.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

Mr Starostin, I don't get you. Mind you, I don't want to say that you deliberately diss fan favourites, or that you have no taste or reviewer credentials, or anything. No, I'm just at a loss when I try to analyse your taste. You like Too Old. O.k., I can imagine why. You like Heavy Horses. Good. You dislike Benefit, A, and Under Wraps. Fair enough. But you hate Minstrel, and you dislike this one, and although you state your case, I don't really understand it. But I don't want to go the same way as other commentators on your site. All I want to say is that I like this album, but then I love folk music anyway. Good folk music, that is. And this is, by the standards of Tull, excellent folk rock. The first time since Thick As A Brick that Ian came up with something entirely original. I'm serious. There is some fluffy stuff here as well, such as "Fire At Midnight" and "Solstice Bells", and "Pibroch" sucks indeed. But "Jack-in-the-Green", "Cup of Wonder" and "Velvet Green" are catchy, romantic minor folk-rock masterpieces, "Hunting Girl" has novelty value, and the title track and "The Whistler" are downright fabulous. The way that, after those jolly acapella and country dance sections, Ian suddenly stutters "Songs from the Wo-hoood / Make you feel much m-bet-taah" just knocks me out. It's scary! You don't really believe him that songs from the wood make you feel much better, do you? Like "Harold The Barrel", this has almost as many ideas as "Close To The Edge", but needs a fraction of the running time. Thumbs up! And "The Whistler" sees Ian once again going over the top, and he pulls off that whacked-out traveling fluteman thing absolutely convincingly. Hats off. But on the whole, sentimental value is probably what makes me like it. I like the countryside, you know. And once again, I love that cover.

(Rating: 8/10)

Brad Strassburger <> (12.12.2001)

Hello. First of all I'd like to thank you for making such an interesting site. Moving on, I would like to know why you hate the "poisonous guitar tone" in 'Pibroch' and 'Hunting Girl', yet praise 'Cross-Eyed Mary' which contains a far more "poisonous" guitar tone, in my opinion. At the very least it could be classified as ugly. Not that I don't love all the songs in question, in fact I enjoy poisonous guitar lines. Anyway, I was just wondering. Also, I think you underestimate 'Cup of Wonder'. Just thought I'd add that.

[Special author note: well, 'Cross-Eyed Mary', I think, uses more or less the normal hard rock tone of its epoch (if anything there could be called 'poisonous', it's Ian's singing! Brr! But the main problem, of course, is that in 'Pibroch' this tone is just used for atmospheric reasons, not forming a cohesive melody of any kind, whereas 'Cross-Eyed Mary' is a strong riff-based tune.]

Stefan Klauzer <> (18.04.2002)

This album is better than Heavy Horses, IMO. It's basically in the same vein; I can't believe you hate it like you do. Your main problem with it is the "lack of catchy melodies". I find this kind of hard to believe from a Krautrock fan. I know it's probably been said before, but this isn't supposed to be full of hooks. Melodies aren't everything, but it doesn't really matter because this album's got some pretty good ones. [I could expand on that, but since the comment is already so huge I'll just briefly remark that J.T. are a song-based band, and usually get by (or used to get by) on the strength of their melodies, whereas Krautrock bands set out with an already completely different pattern - G.S.]

Personally, I love this album. It's got a 9 in my book as one of their best; I rank only Stand Up, Aqualung, and Thick as a Brick above it. I'm not an insane hardcore Tuller, either, who believes that Minstrel in the Gallery is the greatest album ever made and Under Wraps has some redeeming qualities. I don't normally think of music in terms of melody, etc. -- for me, it's a complete package and if I like it, I like it. However, that's really not much of an explanation -- "This album is good because I like it", while true, isn't quite enough. So I did listen to it and break it down, and it suddenly occured to me. What really makes this album is the vocals. Ian's voice is at its richest and takes everything up a notch. "Jack-in-the-Green", "Cup of Wonder" and "Velvet Green" benefit the most from this, but it's good all around.

For the songs, I'll just ignore the title track, "The Whistler", "Jack-in-the-Green", and "Cup of Wonder", since you've praised them already and there's nothing to refute. I'll also leave it "Pibroch", since I'll admit that it's nothing great. "Hunting Girl" you trash for the synthesizers and riff, and not much else. I wouldn't call the synthesizers cheesy at all -- to me, cheesy synths are Rock Island or something. They serve a musical purpose in this, and the riff DOES stick with you -- I had it running all through my head yesterday. Speaking of tracks you say don't stick with you, how about "Ring Out Solstice Bells"? I can remember the verses just fine: DAdaDAdaDAdaDAda (hey, that's like iambic pentameter! Except there're only four). And you've gotta love the vocals in the chorus -- more of the great singing I was talking about earlier. Although, speaking of cheesy synths, the synthesizer (or whatever it is, some keyboard instrument) in this is pretty lame. Still good song, though.

Second side: HOW CAN YOU HATE VELVET GREEN??? Cool harpsichord-sounding thing (although probably electronic), good flutework, very nice atmosphere. Let Ian's vocals take you away here... songs like this can remind you of how short 6 minutes can be. And you've gotta love the lyrics, it's all about the joys of sex in the fields. "The Whistler" and "Pibroch" we've already covered, so that leaves us with "Fires at Midnight", which you COMPLETELY trashed for some reason, almost as bad as "Pibroch". However, unlike "Pibroch", I really like this song. It's not meant to be a main song like the others, but rather sort of a "walking home along a country road at sunset" sort of deal. Bidding farewell to the woods, and all the life and music in there, and coming back to civilization. It's a great wrap-up to a great album. Besides, I don't see you ripping "The End" off Abbey Road -- this is the same kind of song, in a way. Not supposed to be a great song by itself, but a good way to end a album with a satisfied glow.

Anyway, give this album another spin if you've got the time. Even the bad isn't THAT bad (not like "What's Become of the Baby" off of Aoxomoxoa -- now THAT'S a waste of 9 minutes. "Pibroch" is just not that great but not a total waste of time). Don't think of it critically, or look for the little things -- just let Ian take you on a trip through the woods. You're kind of right in your review -- after all, if the 1989 Ian had sung this, it'd be terrible. Again, the vocals make this album. Of course, if this were made in 1989 it'd be filled to the brim with stupid electronic crap. Both you and McFerrin (were you two separated at birth or something? The ONLY difference between you is that he likes Tales From Topographic Oceans and you don't) pan this album, and I can't see why. But I love it, and I'm loving loving it. Best of luck.

MY RATING: 9/12 on your scale -- although I'd have bumped Aqualung up to 10/13 to compensate, because it's just that good.

Joe Campanelli <> (14.12.2002)

I've just got a few comments about this album. It's always been one of my favorite Tull discs, along with every other reviewer on the net (with the exception of your evil twin -- hell, it's the same story with Crest of a Knave and Roots to Branches as well! Sure they're just returns to form, but so are Magnification and Time out of Mind...). So I guess instead of saying what I like about the album, I'll be the prick and say what I don't like about your review. Just kidding... sort of.

Apparently, you don't like this album for one reason: it's not "real" folk-rock. I guess you were expecting the Fairports or even the Band or the Byrds, but in my opinion, this record's truer to the essence of folk-rock: updating folk music to a rock style. See, for example, how much you hate "Cap in Hand". You say it sucks because it's overlong, puffed-up, and unmemorable. Valid arguments, I guess, but you're going against your other argument: IT IS PURE FOLK-ROCK! That "Pibroch" in the title isn't some mythical character, it's a style of music! And guess what -- pibrochs tend to be majestic, extremely long and slow, and not very catchy. "Cap in Hand" is a rock interpretation of a pibroch -- hence, folk-rock. For those who don't know, Ian is from Scotland originally and grew up in the north of England before going to London to start up the band. Of course his vision of folk music is going to be a lot different from the Fairports' manor in Sussex or whereever. Pagan and Celtic influences abound here.

Instead of whining about Vietnam or whatever the British hippies cared about at hte time (and I guess it bears noting that this was 1977 and not 1968), Songs actually fits the music perfectly. Hell, "Cup of Wonder", with its references to the "old straight track" and all, actually led me to look into (and eventually check out 258425 books from the library) ley lines, which sort of led into the monoliths and standing stones and stuff like that. No other band could spur that kind of looking-into.

Anyway, this isn't really a rant against you or your review (well, it sort of is early on), but just to explain my deep passionate love for this album. I'm no Konstantin Tikhonov or whatever that guy's name is, but I do sincerely love Jethro Tull and think that this is one of the greatest records of 1977. What's its compitition, anyway? Saturday Night Fever? Never Mind the Bollocks?

PS. I was reading over your review again and noticed your comments about Ian on the cover looking like he came straight from a Kent or Sussex farm. As I mentioned, Ian's roots (for his roots-rock) are in Blackpool, which is in the north of England right near Scotland, and literally at the other end of the country from Kent. Getting after him for not sounding like the southern folk sounds of the Fairports or whatever is a bit like getting after cowboys for not playing bluegrass. Just a little comment...

<> (05.09.2003)

Greetings George,

I am one of those die-hard Tull fans you talk about, and you certainly have some... interesting things to say. It could be worse, at least you aknowledge that Ian has made some top-class music (how much top class music is where we differ). Anyhow, I noticed you talking of the photo on the Songs From The Wood cover. This is not actually a photo, but a super-detailed painting, credited on the vinyl to Jay L. Lee. It you doubt this, a close look at the fire or the "Ian's" red shirt sleeve will give it away, particularly with full size vinyl cover-art.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (14.07.2005)

I see no problems with this album. Good to great folk songs with enough memorable moments to be enjoyable. Just like TOTRnR was a good rock album, this one is a good folk album. The two undeniable classics are of course the title track and “The Whistler” (my favourite song here). Both are catchy and very cleverly arranged. Sure, the only two songs that are a bit difficult to get into are the lengthiest ones: “Velvet Green” and “Pibroch”. But don’t skip them. These are very nice cuts that contain amazing playing from the band and very pleasant atmosphere. All the other tracks that I didn’t mention here are very solid and have GOOD MELODIES. Really, a very good album. Get it.

Again, a 12.

Neil Eddy <> (15.08.2005)

Of all the Tull albums I have heard and/or owned (and that's a few - but notice the past tense :-) this one is my favourite (and the only one of two I still own). Why? Two reasons: One; It is perhaps one of the most economical of Tull albums - second only to the great Aqualung, with the songs for once being tightly played with little filler or indulgence (as apart from most of the Tull catalogue) - 'The Whistler', 'Songs from The Wood', 'Pibroch', and 'Jack In The Green', being pointed examples of this.

Secondly; it features the bass playing of the late John Glascock, who I think died after Heavy Horses or Bursting Out... A much under rated bass player and whose bass lines were one of the key elements integrating 'traditional' Tull with the English Traditional Folk Feel, the album has. There is not one traditional style English Folk track here (apart from the 'Pibroch' interpretation), what there is I think is more of a feel and English trad folk reference. Which is nice because it worked and I think if they had gone any further they would have lost a number of fans as a result. Also Glascock gave these tunes great punch live (and the older songs too) - I remember seeing them live during the "Songs From The Wood" tour and they were very very good...

Was it also the first album featuring David Palmer - Rock's only 'post-op' trans-sexual - as an official member as well? :-0


John McFerrin <> (19.05.99)

Heh. Very cute. Yeah, this is a nice little album. The title track is something, I must admit. I wish 'No Lullaby' was more live the liver version, where he doesn't repeat the whole song, as it's quite a good song other wise. And yeah, there's forgettable stuff, but it's a very pleasant and enjoyable album, unlike, say, Minstrel in the Gallery.

Michael Bruun Petersen <> (02.10.99)

In many ways this is similar to Songs from the Wood. But the tone is darker and thus more to my liking. With a few exceptions the lyrics don't seem very nursery-rhyme like to me. Now go back and reread what George wrote about the title track. It's all true. Except that the final song - 'Weathercock' - is even better. A beautiful melody nicely shared by both mandolin, flute and guitars. And some of Ian's best lyrics ever.

Rating: 8. Some of the songs are only average.

Richard C. Dickison <> (21.12.99)

Here is a real peak for Ian in this series of albums, begining with Mistrel In The Gallery and ending with Storm Watch. Now the real reason for this is Ian is finally orchestrating his music appropriately. What I mean is that on many, many of his albums you get the feeling that his schedule of an album a year was detrimental to the music. Listen close to Storm Watch where he brings in heavier rock elements, at times it sounds like the lead guitar and the drummer are over playing what could have been some beautiful passages. While right here on Heavy Horses he held back and perfected the playfulness of Songs From The Wood. The music is balanced more towards the simple strings and less towards the electric. Still, there is an edge and dynamic feel here. 'Acres Wild' sounds fine to me, sorry George, 'Moths' has beautiful guitar parts and George and I agree fully on 'The Rover'. This album is a gem for those searching for a perfect Tull album, this is as close as it gets at this stage of the game.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses are a twins-brothers... Who's for mother-history worth more? (Another Russian folk joke)

Well, unknown wise man said almost anything. The sixth Jethro Ian's masterpiece is another folk rock classic, so I and my friends are still choosing the best. My opinion - particular songs on Heavy Horses are stronger than songs on Songs From The Wood but as the complete album Songs From The Wood stands a little higher its follower. (This is my very personal opinion and its not made on the stone.)

So, what about songs themselves? Opening "Mouse Police" rocks with its funny lyrics, while "Acres Wild" is excellent folk ballad and "No Lullaby" is full of dark tones and angry guitar's passages (pretty good song, but a shorter live version on "Bursting Out" is much better). The most remarkable song on the first side is "Moths" with incredible harmonies and crystal lyrics (one of Ian's best sad romantic efforts). The one and only track really disappoints me is "Journeyman" - this bitter sarcastic song is absolutely out of concept, it could be good on "Stormwatch", but here...

Side two opens with nice "Rover" and another fans' (not my) favourite "One Brown Mouse" (too simple for my taste). But they all pales in brilliance of "Heavy Horses", nine minutes of pure perfection, the most beautiful song Mr. Ian Anderson even wrote. If Thick As A Brick is my all-time favourite album, "Heavy Horses" could be my all-time favourite song... [Could be... if you suddenly forget "Minstrel" or "Budapest" or "Black Sunday" or "Broadsword" or about a two dozen of other songs... my own remark to myself.] Martin's leads is amazing, Darryl Way's violin makes the gentle web while Ian's voice shines through. And "Weathercock" is another Tull's folk classic with Scottish jig passages and strong lyrics.

Bad news: no gold CD, no Japanese releases. Wait for remaster.

And in the end... Heavy Horses isn't Tull's best album, but its definitely the most beautiful Jethro Ian's masterpiece. "Moths", "Heavy Horses" and "Weathercock" are highlights. Rating - 8.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

Actually, I think this is a little bit of a step down from the last one, but I'd still give it a 9. 'Acres Wild' is ok, but not great. Same goes for 'Journeyman'. And 'Weathercock' never struck me very strongly, as it's buried by the epic title track. The rest of this stuff is absolutely wonderful, however. My favorites are 'One Brown Mouse' (which is beautiful), 'Rover', and 'Moths'. However, nothing stacks up against the title track - it may just be the best track Tull ever recorded - right up there with 'Black Sunday' (which I really wish was on a GOOD album instead of A). Every part of it is wonderful - the majestic chorus, the charming verses, the joyous fast part - EVERY LAST SECOND!!! The rest of the album is good, too - 'Mouse Police' is funny, 'No Lullaby' is powerful, and well... that's every song on the album. This record's really hard to find, though. Everyone NEEDS to hear that title track - words just fail me. Great song, great album.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (23.09.2000)

Note to Heavy Horses lovers: Can anyone explain the curiously remixed version of "Moths" that appears on the 25th anniversary box, which for some reason loses some key flute riffs and other nice details of arrangement?

P.S. That alternate mix of "Moths" and the live "Locomotive Breath/Black Sunday" medley are, of course, on the 20th and not the 25th anniversary box (my typo). But while I'm at it, I might as well add that I think the really class stuff on this box is "Overhang," "Kelpie," "Mayhem Maybe," "Motoreyes," "Down at the End of Your Road" (originally B-side of "Steel Monkey" 45) and a few other songs that, if included on Broadsword..., could've rendered it a lot more diverse and enjoyable.

Scott Gordon <> (08.01.2001)

I noticed that your rating for Heavy Horses and Aqualung are now identical. You raised Heavy Horses from 11 to 12. I believe both albums are deserving of the excellent rating that you give them, however,  I do not see how your analysis of each record justifies your giving them the same rating. This rating of 12 that you assign to Heavy Horses is either too high or else  your rating for Aqualung is too low.

In your review of Heavy Horses, you all but state that three songs, 'No Lullaby', 'Journeyman' and 'Acres Wild', are filler. You don't actually call them filler, but other than 'Acres Wild' you have little use for them and believe they are too long or have no melody or just plain unlistenable. Since, Heavy Horses contains nine tracks. that means, unless I am misinterpreting your review,  that you feel that about one third of Heavy Horses contains poor quality music that is close to being called filler.

One song, 'Weathercock', was left out of your review of Heavy Horses. 'Weathercock', which I think has a nice simple melody, follows the same format in structure and lyrics as the other songs Ian wrote about animals, so I will assume that you probably enjoy that song.     

I did not see anything in your review of Aqualung which makes me believe you think the album contains any weak/poor music, much less on 33% of the songs. In fact, even though you said you may not care for Ian's acoustic links on Aqualung, some instrumental bits on 'My God', or the song 'Wind Up', you were careful not to refer to them as filler or even significant flaws. In fact I believe you said they were little nasty tid bits..tiny ones..

Furthermore,  I noticed you responded to a reader's comments of your review of Minstrel in the Gallery saying that the acoustic songs on Minstrel were not memorable like the ones that Ian wrote on Aqualung. Also, isn't it true that one way   an album can overcome the problem of too much filler/flaws is to also contain really memorable songs as a counterbalance. Using this standard, Aqualung still beats out Heavy Horses. Based on your review of Heavy Horses the memorable tunes include the Title Track, 'Rover', 'Moths', 'One Brown Mouse' and 'Mouse Police Never Sleeps'. Compare those songs to the all time classics on Aqualung which includes the title track, 'Locomotive Breath' and 'Cross-Eyed Mary'. Could there be any doubt which album contains the bigger more memorable songs? You said yourself in your review of Aqualung that 'Locomotive Breath' was your favorite Tull listen and that the song was pure genius from the Bach imitating piano opening right until the end with Ian singing 'no way to slow down.'    

As I said, I adore both Jethro Tull records, in fact I think 'No Lullaby' and 'Acres Wild' are not filler but quite listenable, especially the chorus section on 'No Lullaby' which really rocks.

[Special author note: okay, can we think of a 'low nine' for HH and a 'high nine' for Aqualung? Seriously now, I think Scott is paying way too much attention to the numbers, more than I ever do. But actually, Aqualung cannot get a ten because it has quite a few flaws (mentioned above) that prevent it from scoring perfectly. As for HH, the only song which I don't have any use for at all is 'Journeyman', which is really annoying. Basically, I have upgraded the rating exactly because both 'Acres Wild' and 'No Lullaby' turned out to have grown on me, a little at least. Plus, a rating like that is important, even if it is a little exaggerated, to show that even from my critical perspective, Jethro Tull didn't really suck in the late Seventies, and were at least once able to come up with a super-impressive record.]

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

This is less original, since it's essentially Songs From The Wood, Part II; but once more I have to agree with you: the song material is indeed more solid. And I also agree with you that the title track is absolutely tell-all-your-friends fantastic. I would even go further and say that this is Tull's best song ever, period. I would gladly throw Eric Clapton's complete works into the trashbin for that violin break and that galloping flute in the middle. I could knock on the door of that dumbass whose record collection seems to consist of The Wall and nothing else and force him to listen to "Heavy Horses" 50 times in a row. That's how good this song is. If you look for genius in Jethro Tull's work, here it is. I think I've made my case. The rest is quite good as well, and except for the "Pibroch" rehash (not a good idea in the first place) "No Lullaby", there is, for once, no filler. "And The Mouse Police" is hilarious. "Acres Wild" is beautiful and as folksy as Tull gets. "Moths" is at least as moving as the "Solsbury Hill" it charmingly rips off, and it would have easily been the best song on Songs From The Wood. Why does everybody hate "Journeyman"; it has a killer bass riff and some ghostly organ lines. "Rover" is pleasant, if not great. "One Brown Mouse" is cutesy. And "Weathercock" is modest, melodious and charmingly unpretentious. You guess what my rating is. Even without the title track it would be an eight.

(Rating: 10/10)

<> (10.04.2002)

I just bought The Broadsword and the Beast and I find myself longing for the real thing - this album. Personally, I think "Weathercock" wears the armor that Ian was looking for in "Broadsword". Funny, along with "Acres Wild", in contrast to your picks, it is one of my favorite songs on this album. In fact, they're all good, although I do agree that the attempts to rock out - "No Lullaby" and Journeyman" are the worst - I often skip them. Instead I take in the beautiful, lush, earthy, acoustic -yet dynamic, folk rock present on the rest of this album. This is an album that definitely grew upon repeated listenings - at first I thought it was pleasant - but man it is much more than that - a year after purchasing this one I'm still picking up different little gems finely textured in the music. And an interesting concept to boot. Now, I'm in the mood to buy Songs From The Wood.

Paul Watts <> (08.12.2005)

You don't see any value in Journeyman, and it seems neither does just about anyone else. My humble opinion is that it's quite easily the best track on this album. Someone described it as bitter and sarcastic- I think this is far from the truth. It is Ian Anderson describing one of his passions, that being train travel.

It seems Ian is a bit of a train buff, and 'Journeyman' describes a train trip home (from work, perhaps) late one cold English night. The song's strength lies in it's lyrics.

Spine tingling railway sleepers, sleepy houses lying four square and firm. Orange beams divide the darkness, rumbling fit to turn the waking worm.

(Orange beams are of course the headlights)

Sliding through Victorian tunnels where green moss oozes from the pores. Dull echoes from the wet embankments, battlefield allotments, fresh open sores.

In late night commuter madness, double locked black briefcase on the floor Like a faithful dog with master sleeping in the draught beside the carriage door......

(A simply wonderful analogy)

....and hear the soft shoes on the footbridge shuffle As the wheels turn biting on the midnight frost.

(Can't you just picture the scene)

This, folks, in case you hadn't noticed, is poetry- and of the very highest standard. Precious few have Ian Anderson's way with words. Something quite mundane is the subject of a brilliant word-painting, and the painting is embellished wonderfully by the playing of the band. The feeling that comes across is of a bygone era but I think the scene being described is in fact a modern one (eg the locomotive described is a diesel, not a steam locomotive).

Musically, the song carries on the medieval rock flavour of Songs from the Wood.

Although the title track and a couple of others have merit, for me 'Journeyman' stands (alongside the title track) as a genuine Tull classic from this recording. Four minutes of musical and poetic bliss that I will never tire of. A completely overlooked masterpiece. I urge you, George, to listen again and also examine the lyrics of the song.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (17.02.2006)

For many years I kept a diary and my entry for May 1st 1980 [ from what I can recall ] was that I listened to Heavy horses and described it as gypsy rock. I was ever so disappointed in it. I'd read a comment in a book that described Tull " laying down their 'sturm & drang' heavy metal " and I determined to catch hold of some Tull if I ever saw a record of theirs. I bought this one 2 days after DEEP PURPLE IN ROCK [in fact,at the time, it was a toss up between the 2 which one to get ] and the experience of that had left me panting for more of the same ! Life is full of little surprizes. I absolutely could not take it ! I totally hated it ! Loathed it ! It's one thing to borrow or "acquire " an album and not like it, but to spend my weeks' bus fare on it and hate it AND still have to work out how to get to school....this was more than I could bear ! So I did the only thing open to me as I could neither return it [ return LPs ? In Enugu ? Ha ! ] or sell it [everyone I knew was into disco which had spread like the plague ]. I listened to it. Again. And again.... and in the process decided that I could allow some exceptions in my heavy metal quest. By the time of my little brother's birthday, 3 weeks into may I was as hooked on this album as one of the salmon on Ian Anderson's fish farm come export time ! Because it was and still is a superlative album. Not one duff track, no filler, not even the magnificent JOURNEYMAN.

It's as well we tell no lie.........Until I read Scott Allen Nollen's excellent biography on the band's history I had no idea that H H was so highly rated. I'm not surprized, however. But why have so many got such a downer on NO LULLABY ? It is a fabulous track that does something I wish more tracks would do - go through the whole thing twice ! Saves you having to rewind ! Love that song. I remember at the time that because disco really was the biggest thing to hit Nigerian youth since the civil war [ and that isn't meant to be funny, ] I was forever trying to find songs of the kind I was getting into that had a disco - ish beat....I thought JOURNEYMAN was one such ! After a while I stopped caring coz it's such a fab piece. No melody ? I'm humming it now ! It's very melodic, no, melodious ! ROVER, WEATHERCOCK, MOTHS and ONE BROWN MOUSE as well as being animalistic { sorry....} are songs of such power and melodic beauty, they could all bring tears to my eyes in the right circumstances. ACRES WILD is a great song that is so perfectly placed, and I laugh now as this one was the first one to incur my pre - conversion wrath. The title track is sumptuous and delightful. At the risk of incurring death threats, it seems to me to be a re - tread of NO LULLABY. It's construction is similar, it is placed in the same position on it's particular side and it does the same thing; runs from slow to fast and rocking without getting boring. That doesn't diminish it's beauty or my enjoyment of it. I just happen to find them very similar [ not in melody though... ]. Both great songs. In fact for me there isn't a track on H H that isn't brilliant. The band is lightningly bright throughout, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, flutes, violin meshing together in a great production. I'll be riding heavy horses till I drop [ or go deaf... ].


John McFerrin <> (28.08.99)

C'mon, George, be a man! Give it a 10!

Seriously, folks, George isn't kidding one bit; this album simply rules from start to finish (except for the aforementioned 'Hunting Girl,' but hey, one song doesn't ruin the whole album.) 'No Lullaby' sounds about a million times better here than on HH, the few 'filler' tracks are cute enough to be throroughly enjoyable ('Jack in the Green,' 'One Brown Mouse'), and the hits ... wow. Whatever dross may have been in the originals (Songs from the Wood, Minstrel in the Gallery) is trimmed away, leaving you with completely lean and mean rockin' machines. If Barre would play with that much energy on the records (or if Ian would let him, anyways), I'd be a hardcore fan for life. Oh, and ditto on the 'Flute Solo Improv' and the Aqualung cuts.

OH, and what the heck is the deal with the 2 CD version? I saw a copy of it in the imports section of a local CD shop, and for paying like 15 bucks more, you only get 3 MORE SONGS. WTF??!!!! And two of them are less than two minutes long (though the live 'Sweet Dream') might be cool. Get the single CD version if at all possible, people.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

IDIOTS!!! STUPID IDIOTS!!! How can you say that castrated version of Bursting Out is better? D'you listen the original? Oh Saint Ian, forgive 'em! They don't understand what they says...

Oh yeah, I got it, hard life in the capitalist countries, the working class people must save the each cent... (It never occurred to you, buddy, that some people just don't treat Ian Anderson as Father, Son and the Holy Ghost in one person like you do? - G.S.) Off the jokes, man, the US CD edition of Bursting Out is real piece of shit! It's not including three songs - excellent version of "Sweet Dream", Martin's and Barrie's solo "Conundrum" (I calls it "Cannon Drum") and Martin's little nice guitar piece "Quatrain" and that's not all! Some brainless Yankees cuts almost all Ian's stage banter... jocks, introductions, comments - everything! They turns an unforgettable concert into the dead meat! Pass the next thousand series of Star Wars or Titanic and buy yourself a UK 2CD release (around 20-25 bucks, by the way)!

So what about the concert? IT'S AWESOME!!! THE BEST LIVE PERFORMANCE THAT I'VE EVER HEARD!!! Ian and friends wasn't Technique Gods as Blackmore or Wakeman (sorry, Ian, Martin, John, John again, David and Barry) but together they could wipe any other band! Only Rainbow Live In Germany is comparable with its almighty guitar's power, wall-crashing drums and unbelievable vocals!

Now look what we have on the normal, unraped edition. The show begins with a few energetic introductions shouted by Claude Nobs (band's old friend), the musicians warms their fingers and tears down into the smashing version of "No Lullaby". Performance, sound, technique - everything is great! As Claude said, sit back, relax and make yourself comfortable to enjoy an evening with Jethro Tull! Next comes "Sweet Dream" and its acoustic intermission is wonderful. The crowd is full of enthusiasm and so the musicians. Now lets have a break and lets Ian introduce you a band: Martin, John, John again, Barrie and David (he's gone for a piss but he'll be back in a minute). Its time to a couple of acoustic numbers - "Skating Away", "Jack-In-The-Green" and "One Brown Mouse". I can't say that I fell in love with originals but here they are damn good. And don't miss Ian's cruel wit! But there's no place to jokes - though heavy blues' riffs of "New Day" we comes to the flute solo improvisation, "God Rest Ye Merry" and "Bouree". Nobody can't play on the flute like Mr. One-Legged Flautist can! My hand to God! The crowd roars while "Songs From The Wood" voices leads us to the last first part's gem, "Thick As A Brick". D'you think nobody can play this better? Yes, nobody but Tull. Wait only a four months and on October 9th you'll listen it.

OK, quickly change the disc, and now we got... "Hunting Girl"! Jesus, Martin's guitar and John's bass passages are fantastic! Silly sods, of course I sing about some other... OF COURSE! "Too Old To Rock'n'Roll, Too Young To Die"! So its time to let Ian rest for awhile - its time for "Conundrum". Clive's Carnegie's solo I loves more but angry Barrie is ultimate Tull's drummer anyway. He'll show yourself when "Minstrel In The Gallery" looks down upon the smiling faces... And here we come! The side four of the LP are Aqualung masterpieces. Blitzing "Cross Eyed Mary" fades into accurate "Quatrain"... The show's over? No, no, no! We wants the encore! We wants Aqualung! And here's His Majesty - powerful, fast, energetic! Martin is God! Barrie is God! And God is Ian! The crowd still cries! More! More! More! And John sits to the piano and begins... "Locomotive Breath"! The band is real locomotive, nobody will stop 'em! Nobody could even try! The hardest Tull's performance you heard in your life! Enjoy!

Well, it almost done. I've already said about releases (Goddamn! No gold! No Japanese! Goddamn!), so let me tell you about my lovings - "No Lullaby", "Sweet Dream", "Hunting Girl" and the astonishing encore. The seventh Jethro Ian's masterpiece gets 9 (only 'cause Thick As A Brick got 10).

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

I'm sorry, man, I didn't know that you have a problems with a sense of humour. Next time I will write something like that: It's a joke, George. You can laugh. Open your mouth and say: ha! ha! ha! Actually, I loved the Trinity idea. The Father is Ian, the Son is Martin, but who's the Holy Ghost? Maybe Mr. Tull himself? (?????? No, it's not me who's going nuts - G. S.)

Philip Maddox <> (09.07.2000)

I have the 2-CD set, which has a killer rendition of 'Sweet Dream', an ok instrumental called 'Conundrum' which eventually turns into a drum solo, and a cute, short jig called 'Quatrain'. I recommend that one just because I hate it when people screw with original albums and cut material off (like the old Beatles and Rolling Stone American releases). I don't care on albums like Living In The Past because those songs can be found elsewhere, but chopping off songs is kinda dumb - they could have made it a budget 2-CD set, like Yesshows. That problem aside, though, this is a killer live album - it's hard to beat tracks like 'One Brown Mouse', 'Minstrel In The Gallery', 'Cross Eyed Mary' and 'Thick As A Brick'. Plus, that flute solo is amazing, as Ian's solos generally are. I even like 'Hunting Girl' quite a bit. I'd give this a really high 9, just because it's hard for me to give a live album a perfect score (Live At Leeds excepted). This is still the best live Tull album by a good margin - if you see it next to A Little Light Music, PLEASE get this!

Jodok Pedersen <> (22.09.2002)

I just got the Bursting Out double CD. It was very hard to get because it's not anymore in the Tull's catalogue (do they really think Living with the past is better?). Anyway, it was worth the wait, absolutely brilliant. I noticed, you were confused about the introducion of the announcer. I'm pretty sure it's not an overdub, because the announcer begins in swiss german. I was so surprised to hear my own language and found it quite funny (he seemed to be pretty nervous). Then he continues in Italian, English and French, which is not that unusual in our country. I'm just dissapointed about the shortend Minstrel in the Gallery and Songs from the Wood.

P.S. I love the Minstrel in the Gallery album. That's the only point on your site which made me upset. I wonder why you don't get it?


Michael Bruun Petersen <> (02.10.99)

This is a natural successor to Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses. I don't think Ian had this in mind, but you could consider this to be the third part of a trilogy. (the woods, the country, the sea).

Anyway - Stormwatch is dark, foreboding and very, very good. Every single track is good. It has the best "worst song" of any Tull album. ('Something's on the Move').

And now a little nitpicking. The main line of 'Dun Ringill' is "down by Dun Ringill" and not "goodbye Dun Ringill.

Best song: 'Elegy'

Rating: 9

Richard C. Dickison <> (21.12.99)

Interesting how you see him leaving behind this unique style he had created in this series of albums.

Here he has decided to start bringing a more rock sound to his music. The bad choice was he did not orchestrate it into the album, at times I cringe, the guitarist almost sounds like he wanted to be on some other band, and was that drummer going deaf?

It has it's moments though, 'Dun Ringill' echo's through nicely, 'Elegy' is perfect. But these moments are harder to come by, some songs start off right but lead to back into some really mucky playing, again the guitarist and that drummer.

Oh, let's not forget the keyboardist but George has stated that problem a few times, right?

He would re-visit the things that were wrong here in Broadsword and The Beast, and in my opinion correct a majority, but why did he not just spend more time listening to some of this stuff he obviously tossed out with out much thought. He still needed to work on some of the effects too. They only helped create more murk and sounded tacked on, Ian use those volume controls next time.

Anyway, again the saving grace here is that Ian had created a sound truly unique and seperate from what most of the prog movement was doing and obviouly he had more fun than allot of the other bands.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Oh, Stormatch... the sad album and the sad story. John Glascock untimely died from heart disease after the unsuccessful surgery (rest in peace, John), so old good Tull couldn't be exist no more. John's close friend Barrie left after the followed tour, Ian began his solo project... well, that's another tale.

I've read your review almost without any interest (you're becoming very predictable), so lets see what we have on the album. Anti-utopia? Why not? OK, last folk effort is depressive (maybe too depressive), but they're still Tull, they're still masters, you cannot drinks the skills, so why d'you think its bad? Aggressive "North Sea Oil" drives ahead (in Tull's folk rock capital word is ROCK) while "Orion" and gently orchestrated "Home" lets you rest before apocalyptic "Dark Ages" rise with its high-speed Martin's guitar and Ian's scornful lyrics. Next came jazzy "Warm Sporran" and I think its too much banal optimistic before I found another, very funny (and dirty) interpretation - probably Ian wanted to say that Ices Are Coming, so, boys, you need to keep your balls warm... OK, OK, its weird, I'm only joking! "Something On The Move" was light-weight for me too, but after such overrated bullshit like Titanic it can be the joyful requiem for DiCaprio (I means Titanic drowned and I'm so happy!). Sadness still flows through dark elegant "Old Ghosts", "Dun Ringill" and "Flying Dutchman" and really materialises into one of the gentlest Tull's tunes, David Palmer's "Elegy". A few months later this unearthly melody (dedicated to dying David's father) became a symbolic farewell to John Glascock and the good old days of good old Tull. For many, many fans things were never the same again.

Pass the editions (no gold, no Japanese).

The final word... last classic work of classic seventies' Tull... if you're not agree, re-listen the album. Best songs here are first three and "Elegy". Rating - seven.

Philip Maddox <> (09.07.2000)

I'd slap an 8 on this one. A lot of Tull fans see this as the conclusion of a "folk" trilogy, which I don't see, as this isn't folk music at all - even Ian said that this was never intended to sound like the last two albums. But I still think there's a lot of good stuff on here. I agree that the best songs are 'Elegy' (which David Palmer wrote - imagine, a non-Ian song on a Tull record!) and 'Dun Ringill' (which is one of my all time favorites). I really like 'North Sea Oil', too. 'Home' is kinda pretty too. I don't even mind the long songs on here - they aren't mind blowing, but they're certainly interesting and at least good. My least favorite song on here is probably 'Something's On The Move', which bores me more in 3 minutes than either of the long tracks. This was an important album for Tull - thing were quite different after this one came out (though Broadsword probably could have come out in the seventies minus the electronics).

And just to be obnoxious, I'm gonna point out that there was no title track on Benefit, either. Heh heh heh.

David Lyons <> (16.12.2000)

Okay, okay, right. I 've just about had enough. I've read all these reviews, and all of Mr Konstantins wildly delusional comments, and now he accuses George of being predictable? People in glass houses, really. Or perhaps it ought to be amended, in this case, to 'people in padded cells'. At least, for the sake of humanity, I hope thats where he is. The Ian Anderson Home For The Fanatically Bewildered. What must it be like to adore one single band soooooo much? Makes me shudder just to imagine. And, for the record, I really quite like Jethro Tull, as I mentioned earlier.

John McFerrin <> (19.01.2001)

Boy, somebody's in a good mood! I mean, I may have underrated this album on my own site, but Jeez M Crow, an _11_? I mean, I guess most of the songs have at least a little positive something here or there that keep it from being worthless, but I still don't hear anything very good or great except for the obvious choices ('Dun Rungill' and 'Elegy'). For me, this is Ian trying to squeeze every last drop out of the generic 70's Tull sound, and discovering that there wasn't much left.

On a good day, I _might_ give this a 9 on the 15 point scale.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

This, and not A, is the beginning of the end. Contrary to a widespread belief, it has nothing in common with its two folksy predecessors, and I'm afraid it's not as good either. One can hear that the band was falling apart at this stage; there is lots of pessimism (the warm optimism of Heavy Horses just one year back! Imagine that!), little melody, and quite a lot of cacophony. Filler begins to take over. Ian doesn't seem to know where he's heading. Neither does Martin Lancelot, not that that's something new. Testaments of the amazing tunelessness of this album include "North Sea Oil", "Something's On The Move", "Orion" and "Old Ghosts". The epic "Dark Ages" is only slightly better, and "Flying Dutchman" is nice in a "Baker St. Muse" sort of way. This is also the first album in a very long time to feature instrumentals (two of them!!), and while "Warm Sporran" is a complete throwaway, "Elegy" is really quite moving. It says a lot that David Palmer wrote it. In the long run, the only really outstanding song, apart from "Elegy", is "Dun Ringill", and even that is inferior to acoustic songs like "Salamander" or "Requiem", to say nothing of "Wond'ring Aloud" or "Nursie". Ah, and there's "Home." It's nice and sentimental, but "The Chequered Flag" it ain't. On the whole, slightly disheartening.

(Rating: 5/10)

RTV Maraton <> (27.05.2002)

This is definetly THE BEST Tull album of all times, there's virtually not a single bad second on it and in my opinion it's a way for Ian to say good-bye to the 70's.


Richard C. Dickison <> (18.05.99)

Let me say this from the bottom of my heart.( A is for) AAARRRRRGH.

Oh this album is not just any old bad, it's really bad, it's bad of bad.

Here I was like just happy, content, mellowed out listening to Jethro Tull recreate their unique version of folkish fairy rock, sometimes dark, sometimes cheerful, sometimes, well as you pointed out boring, Songs, Heavy, Storm, then.... Hey, What gave Ian the idea to add in these Human League sounding Casio keyboards??? What's with that Herdy Gerdy song structure???

What in gods name made him think anybody should be put through this sludge?

Up to this point the only album I could not recomend for anyone was Passion Play but next to A that was genius. I beg you please don't even bother acknowledging this one, stand away from the record bin, Mother aint going to make this better.

The next one, Broadsword and The Beast, is the last in my collection. This is in spite of the fact Tull won that Grammy for rock with one of their later albums.

And people say they got better, Someone got paid off is all I can say. If you want to continue after Broadsword your on your own, and this album was your warning. Broadsword was really not that bad by the way, I had to be talked into getting it, some good tunes on that one, the keyboards add and not destroy, almost great, but be careful, be very careful. You have my sympathy George

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

I know, all of you will laughing, but I says that A is not quite bad. OK, wise guys, now tell me about any album from '80 comparable with it. Genesis' pop-crap Duke? Yes' hype Drama? How many progressive and folk bands survived after the punk's crucifixion? How many of them kept their musical creativity in dirty waters of the new wave? Just a couple, right?

So I repeat that A is not bad, but it's definitely light-weight for Jethro Tull's album. Got it? It was an experiment and its at least interesting. Ian had artist's right to experimentation even if 99,9 percents of Tull-fans hated this album right after the release.

A brief pre-history: after finishing of Stormwatch tour Ian dismissed the band "for awhile". Chrysalis Records made him a proposition to record an album with his solo versions of well-known Tull's songs but Ian decided to make a complete solo album with Martin, new bassist Dave Pegg, keyboards virtuoso Eddie Jobson (former Roxy Music, Curved Air and Stormatch tour's supporting band UK) and American session drummer Mark Craney. When recording sessions was over, Chrysalis Records (and, I suspects, Mr. Anderson too) declared this project in press as the new Jethro Tull's album. Barriemore Barlow, John Evan and David Palmer was forced to leave the band (later Barlow said that he had already left anyway).

Now take a look on the album. The first impression is SHOCK! After famous progressive and folk exercises we suddenly get new-wave-sounded Tull. Eddie Jobson's synthesised passages on "Crossfire" and "Fylingdale Flyer" don't complicate with nervous lyrics while "Working John, Working John" (good song anyway) cries for John Evan's jazzy piano and David Palmer's gentle arrangement. Breathless "Black Sunday" saves the first side of the LP, so the second side is natural catastrophe. "Protect And Survive" is still interesting with its violin soloing and social-satiric lyrics, but next three songs are pure garbage. "Batteries Not Included" is one of the few Tull's all-time-low efforts ("Uniform" and "4 WD" are not quite better). After 'em folky "Pine Marten's Jig" and nice ballad "And Further On" sounds like a titans' past glory. Oh how mighty can fall!

Nothing interesting about editions, so I'm finishing. Forget that you're listening Jethro Tull's album and you'll love it (joking, joking!). I don't recommend this album for Tull's newcomers, but "Working John, Working John", "Black Sunday", "Protect And Survive", "Pine Marten's Jig" and "And Further On" is good enough for me to have it. Rating? Five.

PS. Ian should have named it his solo work.

Jeff Blehar <> (05.04.2000)

Okay, buddy, I'm a wise guy, and I can name about twenty albums great and small that blow your pitiful little Jethro Tull's A out of its diseased water.  David Bowie's Scary Monsters (And Supercreeps), Peter Gabriel's Peter Gabriel 3, U2's Boy, The Police's Zenyatta Mondatta, Talking Heads' Remain In Light, Bruce Springsteen's The River, Steve Winwood's Arc Of A Diver, and yes, even Genesis' Duke.  Need I continue?  Or perhaps you should please GROW THE FUCK UP.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with loving Jethro Tull rabidly (and hey, even though I certainly think more that 50% of their output was tripe, I'll proudly stand by my collection of their 1968-1973 albums), but there IS something seriously awry when you start acting like an uncultured jerk by flaming everyone who doesn't worship Ian Anderson's toenail clippings.  Look at me, I LOVE The Beatles, perhaps more than you like Tull, and I'm quite hard on them.  That aside, there's a fundamental difference between defending the band you love (sure, who doesn't do that every now and then?) and ATTACKING other groups and other people who don't see your way.  Down the road of intolerance lies fascism and authoritarianism, something I should think that you would know something about, being a Russian. Spare us the juvenalia.

Sorry folks, if you read my reader comments, you'd know that I NEVER say things like this, but...sometimes a guy just has to stand up and talk back, eh?  Back to the regularly scheduled critiques.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

This wasn't supposed to be a Jethro Tull album, and it shows. Some of these songs are absolutely awful - 'Crossfire', '4WD', and 'Uniform' are all total garbage. Worse than the worst stuff on Under Wraps. Awful, awful, AWFUL songs. Wretched. Some tunes on here are pretty good, though - 'Fylingdale Flyer' is amusingly jolly (I agree about that one - what a great song!), 'Protect And Survive' is good (I know you hate that one, but I like it; it's got a really cool flute line and funny lyrics), and 'Black Sunday' is an absolute classic, and one of my all time favorite Tull songs. There aren't any other songs ANYWHERE that sound like that - it's an extremely sad song, really catching you up in it's grey world. Just for that song, I'd boost the rating up to a 5. The rest of the album is passable, but bland. Bland, but passable. Tull's done much better. If you see it cheap, though, I'd get it for 'Fylingdale Flyer' and 'Black Sunday', both of which totally rule. 'Black Sunday' should have been a hit - it may be my favorite Tull song. Why did they bury it on this album?

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (30.09.2000)

Clearly a transitional album and one I won't overly defend, though I completely agree with Philip Maddox about the greatness of "Black Sunday," which also has the distinction of taking a routine (in rock circles) topic like touring and turning it into the stuff of high drama. Note for fans of this song: if memory serves, the live "Locomotive Breath" on the 25th anniversary box is actually a medley of that and this, not surprisingly as Tull closed shows with those two songs for much of the early '80s.

A few notes for fans, drawn from an unpublished (my article, that is) press conference that I attended with Ian in October '80. Jobson was never intended to become a full member of Tull or anything else Anderson-related, so the "guest" listing on the album is accurate, i.e his leaving wasn't a matter of Ian's temperament or alleged control freakdom. Also, the full story on the title is that when Anderson was recording the record, the "A" was just studio shorthand for "Ian Anderson solo album." At this press conference, Anderson vaguely admitted that once the record company talked him/bullied him (he didn't give a lot of details on how) into calling it a Tull album (an idea he very much opposed and knew would cause bad publicity), he came up with something resembling the concepts that fans had gotten used to since Aqualung.

Also at this press conference, one wise guy tried to blindside Anderson with a nasty quote from Barrie Barlow about the post-Stormwatch "sacking" of the band. Ian got a little pissed but stayed on message, first admitting that he never quite got along with Barlow because he tended to figure out what he wanted to play on record far in advance rather than letting it evolve through takes, the latter being Anderson's preference. (I love Barrie Barlow's playing but you gotta admit that sounds pretty credible if you've heard the difference between the Bunker/Cornick rhythm section and the Barlow/Hammond one.) Then Ian went out of his way to say that as far as money was concerned, while publishing royalties always favored him, of course, he always made a point of making sure that performance royalties were equal for every member of the band, including on A (something that is not always the case in the music biz). Indeed, he said he routinely encouraged the band to contribute music as long as he wrote the words, as he felt he couldn't do a good job singing words other people wrote (a common complaint of folks like Ian, whose early days were about singing classics like "In the Midnight Hour" and "Soul Man" night after night). This explains the gradual composing contributions of Barre on the albums from Minstrel... to Under Wraps (as well as the Barre solo albums that come after -- for more on that check in with A New Day or buy David Rees' Minstrels in the Gallery from Fire Fly Publishing).

Some of these themes recur in the one-on-one interview I did with Ian for the October '82 issue of (believe it or not) Trouser Press (which I'm proud to say is quoted, if uncredited, in the Rees book). No doubt impossible to find these days, I'll try to send xerox copies to interested parties who e-mail me (if I don't get flooded with hundreds of requests and start needing my own postage meter).

David Lyons <> (16.12.2000)

Three cheers for Jeff Blehar. Oh, and Eddie Jobson - Keyboard Virtuoso??? I guess thats why he played the electric violin all those years.......

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

One more thing I can't understand: why does everybody hate this album so much? And why does everybody say it's a synth orgy? It's not, and it's not really a bad album either. Most people probably prefer Stormwatch because its cover looks more like Tull, and because Palmer and Evan and Barlow are on it. I'm not saying that A is a really good album, but I think it's o.k. It's not worse than Stormwatch. Maybe even better. Mind you, I agree with you that the trio that starts with "Batteries" and ends with "4 WD" is abysmal. That's an objective fact, heh, heh. And "Pine Marten's Jig" is berserk in a very nasty sort of way. It's painful to the extreme. And "And Further On" is average. And so is "Protect And Survive." But "Protect And Survive" is not as bad as the rest of Side B, believe me. And we have Side A, which includes at least two songs that are way superior to anything on Stormwatch or Broadsword, to say nothing of Under Wraps. "Working John Working Joe" and, of course, the wonderful "Black Sunday" rank with almost anything in the Tull canon. And the synths (poor Eddie Jobson!! He doesn't deserve all that hatred of those rabid Tullomaniacs. HE didn't kill the band. Ian did!) are much less prominent and much less obnoxious than on Broadsword, which everybody loves. And "Flyingdale Flyer" is good! And "Crossfire" is better than "North Sea Oil"! And I love Ian's demented stare on the back cover!! Spare a dime for poor little A!!!!

(Rating: 6/10)

RTV Maraton <> (27.05.2002)

Heh...when I read tons of hating lines about this album i tought that i will hear only complete garbage on it, but thankfully that did not hapen, the only two really bad songs are...'batteries not included' and '4WD'...but who needs that?...'black sunday' is one of the best Jethro Tull songs ever + something no other bands can even try to play on stage or in the studio, and that's 'the pine marten's jig', 'fylingdale flyer' reminds me of something i lived throught in 1980' when i was hospitalized....+ and further on...what can i say about this....WONDERFUL! This one is worth listening!



John McFerrin <> (19.05.99)

A good album. I'd only give a 7, but still not bad. I was extremely miffed when the all-music guide gave it only 1 star. Anyways, this would have been a very solid formula for Ian to follow in future years. Too bad he turned to absolute shit.

Richard C. Dickison <> (21.12.99)

Here is the end of the line for me, but what a great revisit to the earlier themes from Minstrel In The Gallery to Storm Watch. It was almost as if he was apologizing for A.

He has taken the effects from Storm Watch and added a bit more synth which actually helped to the meld harder rock elements into the mix.

Now as George has stated if only he had spent more time in this mode, but no this is just a brief reprise of a more promising period. 'The Clasp' is interesting, 'Fallen On Hard Times' swings a good beat. 'Cheerio' is my favorite farewell song from Ian. Thus the last flame of style from this band died out, good luck listening to the rest of the muck, I can't stomach it myself.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Ahead my impressions of Broadsword I must say that the name of the album is THE Broadsword And The Beast, not Broadsword And The Beast. Almost everyone skips the first "the", but look at the title on the sleeve closely and you'll see it.

And what we have under the sleeve? (Excellent cover, by the way, one of the Tull's best. Actually, it was designed in past seventies - on one photo Ian, Martin, David Palmer, John Glascock and Barrie Barlow stands under the huge poster of the Broadsword sleeve.) Well, pop-lovers must be happy 'cause Ian found the "golden middle" between the seventies folk tunes and eighties techno-sound. Yes, A and Songs From The Wood child at least keeps the concept (closer to Stormwatch), the whole album is complex and it have Ian's master-sign, but for me Broadsword (together with A and Under Wraps) lays at the bottom of all Tull's output. The excellent melodies simply drowns into the synthesised background and pop-rhythmic structures, so it would be great for any other band but not for Tull. At the Tull's jewel box stayed only the title song (masterpiece of masterpieces), gentle ballad "Slow Marching Band" and powerful Vikings' tale "Seal Driver". The rest of the album is not bad (except for "Watching Me, Watching You", this song can be compare with "Batteries Not Included" from A as the tape noise and nothing more) but Ian should have re-arranged 'em. Acoustic version of "Pussy Willow" from Little Light Music completely wipes the original.

Few words about the current line-up. The Ugly Tyrant (also known as Mr. Ian Anderson) didn't throw out Eddie Jobson and Mark Craney as you wrote above (I didn't - G.S.). Mark suffered from diabetes and couldn't stay in intensively touring band, and Eddie wanted more musical freedom (he got it in "Nash Bridges", d'you hear?). Their replacements was folk legend Gerry Conway and Peter-John Vettese (good player but the worst Tull's keyboards-man). Gerry played on the European leg of "Broadsword" world tour, for the American part Ian recruited ex-10CC Paul Burgess (Ian said that Gerry was excellent but "too much emotional" drummer).

Maybe 'cause the Broadsword was produced by ex-Yardbirds Paul Samwell-Smith or for some unknown reason the sound of UK CD (and LP too, I checked) is terrible (the unexplainable treble distortions appears along the whole album). It became more unexplainable after listening of US version - American CD doesn't suffer of it at all. MFSL released the improved LP but gold CD stayed in plans only. So take US CD or wait for remaster.

And before closing the Broadsword page of the Tull's history I must describe my deeply personal impressions of "Broadsword" (the song, not the album). Listening this strongest war-hymn I'm always imagining one of my favourite SF films - second part of the Aliens saga... Through Martin's superb solo and Ian's nervous lyrics I clearly see Ripley, she drives the armoured carrier into the aliens' nest while Hicks, Vasquez and Hudson steps back with the thundering firings... Remember that? (By the way, darkest "No Lullaby" from Heavy Horses is the image of the dramatic third part for me.) Too weird? Maybe, but that's the way I feel it. I said about my preferences, so the rating is 5.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

This record really seems to split the Tull fans - some think it's a great return to form after A, while others think it's the precedent of Under Wraps. With the exception of 'Watching Me Watching You', I think this album sounds nothing like Under Wraps. It also doesn't sound much like any other Tull album. It also totally rules. 'Beastie', 'Broadsword', 'Pussywillow', 'The Clasp', and basically every other song here is amazingly great. 'Broadsword' is my favorite song on it - very majestic and "regal". 'The Clasp' is my second favorite - I love those weird rhythms, and the flute line is one of my all time favorites. I'd give this a 9 - a point off because it's too electronic and 'Watching Me Watching You' is a bit weaker than the rest of the material here. I'm glad you liked this one - people who hate it tend to REALLY hate it, some even more than Under Wraps. The All Music Guide gave it 1 star and called it "tuneless drivel". That's worse than Clapton's Pilgrim, which got 2 stars. Please. I HATE the All Music Guide.

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

Synthy tones date this one, but my favorite "Fallen on Hard Times" just makes this a good album. "Beastie" and "Slow Marching Band" are great also. The rest aint so great. I'm glad somebody agrees "Seal Driver" sucks. For some reason I've read alot of Tull-head reviews raving it, but its just dumb. If they'd just stuck to this, maybe they wouldnt of become the forgotten band there are today (for good reason) 7/10

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

This is another one where there is a serious disagreement between us, Mr Starostin. You and most other people apparently think that this is the last good Tull album and the best since Heavy Horses or even Thick As A Brick, and an island of beauty in the horrible synth- and metal-infested 80s and 90s Tull canon. In my opinion, however, this album is very very bad indeed. All those bombastic Viking and fantasy antics don't help when Peter Vettese's synth onslaught is much, much worse than anything Eddie Jobson could ever have imagined in his wildest dreams. Peter's synths are not tasteful; rather, they utterly destroy what little charms the album might have had without them. And why Ian hired Gerry Conway must forever remain a mystery. Conway is one of folk rock's most respected and capable drummers (witness assorted Fairport / Richard Thompson / late Pentangle or Steeleye Span albums), but since he mostly is confined to electronic drumming here, a drum machine would have done the trick just as well. Which Ian realised by the time he recorded the beautiful Under Wraps album. To the songs: they're hardly any better than the arrangements. Okay, "Broadsword" is a good one, but Barre's solo is so ugly that it almost spoils it. "Cheerio" is nice, but it's hardly a minute long. "Watching Me Watching You" is the one piece where the synths sound like they're in the right place, and the song is original, catchy and somehow moving. Ian's short flute riffs here are ace. But the rest... "Beastie" has no tune and sucks. Same goes for "Clasp". And for "Seal Driver". And for "Fallen On Hard Times"; plus, this one has the most banal lyrics imagineable ("Oh Mr President, it's all such a mess" - do you call that social critique?? THAT?). "Pussy Willow" and "Flying Colours" do have tunes, but they're bland to the extreme, and Peter in "Flying Colours" sounds so awful it drives me nuts. Yeah, and "Slow Marching Band" starts off o.k., but turns into a ridiculously bombastic, soulless power ballad nightmare after a minute or so. And that's it. Give me "Protect And Survive" anytime, heh, heh!! "

(Rating: 3/10)

Coops <> (08.09.2003)

I would give this album a slightly lower rating however...I find that the first part of the album (the 'Beast' part) is the most interesting and a hell of a lot better then the second...personally I believe 'the Clasp' is probably the coolest song on the album, as well the most interesting do to the fact of the great, as you said Viking mood. Definitely not one of their masterpieces but its a whole lot better than the album before and the ones to come right after this one. I would give this one a 7.5 out of ten.


John McFerrin <> (23.02.2000)

Just got a copy of this from an ftp site and am listening right now ... THIS ALBUM SUCKS. This is exactly the kind of bullshit that I'm trying to AVOID when I'm making myself into a classic rock and art rock conoissuer (sp?). To me, the biggest sign that this album blows is that I simply CANNOT listen to any of the tracks for more than 40 seconds or so before becoming overwhelmingly bored. and I probably have the longest attention span when it comes to music of anybody I know. Ugh. This PIECE OF SHIT is a 1, nothing more. And I've NEVER given a one before.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Oh no! No, please! Oh God, help me! Don't remind me about this! NO!!!

OK, Tull-haters, you can jump around with gladly wows! Here we have all-time-low Jethro Tull's album for ever and ever. This nightmarish electronic claps could be Duran Duran's or Ultravox's stupid hits... What could happen with Ian's musical creativity? Why did he fire Gerry Conway? Did he like the drum machine so much? Or maybe he wanted to save some money? Bitter joke, yeah? D'you want more bitter jokes? Martin named this album as his favourite at once and I suspects he didn't even understand what he said. Yes, Mr. Barre and Peter Vettese credited as Ian's co-writers, but with hand on my heart, Martin, there's nothing to be proud. In a matter of fact, the album's material isn't quite bad, spy-paranoia lyrics is curios, but the instrumental is pure disaster. The album needs the total re-arrangement, 90's acoustic versions of "Under Wraps" and "Later That Same Evening" are proving it. Enough experiments, Ian!

There's no improved releases and I hope they'll never be.

I'm feeling really sick after the listening of this album (it was my second listening at all 'cause I bought this CD five years ago, listened and didn't touch until now). Listening the shelf of all Tull's CDs is great pleasure... except for this one. If you didn't listen it - you're so lucky! Don't even touch it! If you're not... try to forget it... anyhow.

Nothing to rate and no rating once again.

Philip Maddox <> (30.06.2000)

I picked a copy of this up on Ebay a few weeks ago to round off my Tull collection (though I still don't have Crest), and was surprised to find that it wasn't as bad as it's often made out to be. Of course, it hardly ranks with classic Tull, but it has some pretty good songs (in spite of the awful arrangements). The title track (in both of its versions) is very good, in fact. The melody is good, and Ian's voice is still in its "old" style, so it comes off pretty well. 'European Legacy' isn't bad, either. 'Apogee' is ok, but it suffers from stupid lyrics, as do most of these songs. Ian's lyrics aren't that good here for the most part. The seem to concentrate on Cold War espionage and spies, etc. The lyrics are bad and, at times, ungrammatical (especially 'Saboteur', when Ian keeps yelling "Me no saboteur!" over and over again until I wanna strangle him). Still, I like 'Radio Free Moscow' and 'Nobody's Car' which create an adequate atmosphere of paranoia (like 'Watching Me Watching You' did on Broadsword). The live version of 'Nobody's Car' on the 25th Anniversary Box Set is way better, though, as it's energetic. That's the main problem with this album - there's no energy. Since the parts were preprogrammed, there's no feeling of urgency to the music. Plus, a few songs ('Saboteur', 'Paparazzi', 'Automotive Engineering') totally blow. Plus, the record lasts for a friggin' hour! Anyway, I'd probably give this a 4, but I higher 4 than I gave Rock Island. I STILL think that this is better than Rock Island. You don't have to worry about accidentally getting this, though - it's so badly out of print that you'll probably never see a copy of it in your life. And there's no reason to hunt it down unless you happen to be a completionist (like me). The CD does come with a funny picture, though - it shows the whole band (including Doane Perry, who didn't play a single note on this record!), who all look like grizzled old men, and right in the middle is Peter Vettese, who looks like the kid everybody knows who got stuffed into lockers in high school - he looks totally out of place with Tull (and sounds out of place, too, I might add).

Braxton LeCroy <> (24.08.2000)

It's hard for even a Tull devotee to argue with anything negative about Under Wraps.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (23.09.2000)

I don't mean to pull rank here, but as someone who's seen Tull about twenty times (including their first ever U.S. gig, blowing Blood, Sweat and Tears off the stage at the Fillmore East), interviewed Anderson for magazines twice, and held onto to just about every Tull record he ever bought up until the early '90s, I must defend this record. Maybe you had to be there to appreciate it: after the weaker tracks on Heavy Horses, the mostly weak Stormwatch, and the truly dreadful (for Tull) Broadsword and the Beast, it seemed that Ian Anderson had, amazingly, run out of ideas. The better tracks on Walk Into Light gave reason for optimism, however, and when Under Wraps came out it sounded like a whole new start to many of us. The arrangements are brilliantly inventive and the use of drum synthesizer, for once, is inspired; as a drummer, I can tell you that no one could possibly play the double-bass part on "Saboteur," which is the only reason to ever use synth instead of real drums. Most of the words are, admittedly, of the less psychologically-inspired variety that have dominated Tull albums since A. (Hell, you can't write intensely personal genius like "Nothing to Say," "Wind-Up," and "Thick As A Brick Edit #3" all your life, can you?) But I have never understood how any Tull fan who ever appreciated the way this band could play single songs that had more riffs and ideas in them than most other bands' entire albums could not thrill to highly cinematic mini-symphonies like "European Legacy," "Heat," and "Paparazzi." And the simpler songs like "Under Wraps #1" and "Radio Free Moscow" are just pure fun pop for post-now people, something that most critics had been asking Tull to do again since the "Living in the Past" 45 hit the charts. Does everything have to sound like "Aqualung" all the time? (Apparently yes, judging by the next album, Crest of a Knave, which unimaginately regressed to a sludgy guitar-rock sound and idiotic lyrics like those on "Budapest.")

Bob Josef <> (20.10.2000)

This LP was another freebie (I used to be good with rock trivia contests) and it was worth what I paid for it. (I'm missing two CD-only songs, but I guess that's no loss.) But it's not so bad that I feel like someone should have paid ME to listen to it (unlike, say, A Passion Play).

It does seem to be a big stylistic shift when compared to Broadsword, where the synths were more of an embellishment than a main instrument. As others have said, one has to listen to what came in-between -- Ian's first solo, Walk Into Light -- to understand where this all came from. The roots of Under Wraps are found there, from the poppy synths of Vettese (who co-wrote a number of the songs) to Ian's fascination with the Eastern Bloc (the final track, "Different Germany," predicts the fall of the Berlin Wall by six years).

Listening to the album, one would swear that the other influence would be Yes's 90215. It's like they said, "Hey, our old prog-buddies Yes recorded a New Wave pop album and made a bazillion! Let's do that, too!". Martin Barre's playing sounds like he was replaced by Trevor Rabin. But the difference here is while Yes found a guitarist/songwriter (Rabin) and a New Wave producer (Trevor Horn) who were entirely comfortable with such music, Tull trying to force their usual song structures into these arrangements is like trying to put the proverbial square peg in the round hole. It doesn't work. It's very amusing, for example, to hear Ian's flute come tootling in all of sudden while these electronic non-grooves are bustling in the background. Totally incongruous. The acoustic "Under Wraps #2" proves that these songs could have worked if Tull had stuck to what they know best, but they paid the price for this experimentation -- the record was their first outright sales disaster.

However, I disagree on one point. I like the lyrics here -- they are really quite intelligent and comprehensible, which is a major reason I rate this higher than A Passion Play. And the tour was supposedly really good -- as Philip said, the live "Nobody's Car" hints at this -- I bet the songs were stronger live than on the album.

I also used to win cheesecakes from these rock trivia contests. If you've got to pick between listening to Under Wraps or a cheesecake, take the cheesecake. You'll definitely get a lot more enjoyment.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

This is an easy one to agree with anybody. It's as horrible as everybody says it is. The acoustic version of the title track is really very good, and "European Legacy" would be acceptable as okay filler on any other Tull album were it not for the shitty drum machine sound. But everything else is a tuneless, synth-laden, pretentious nightmare. No point in defending it just for the sake of being an unconventional music fan. The "concept" with all those ridiculous cold war allusions is by all accounts a joke that has badly misfired. That Martin Lancelot considers this his favourite Tull album goes to show that he wasn't to be trusted in the first place. And by the time Ian stutters something about "the tall general is definitely crossing", I'm ready for the oxygene tent. But wait, the first 15 seconds of "Heat" are nice, good flute line. Until Ian snarls "get out of the HEAT!" A good lesson for anyone who may have thought that it couldn't get worse after Broadsword. It did. Oh my God. Luckily, after this, Vettese was off in the desert, where he has remained ever since save for a short but very harmful attack on Clannad's otherwise rather nice Sirius album (he seems to get paid for ruining good bands' reputations) and a brief cameo on Rock Island. This meant Tull music got a little better. A little.

(Rating: 1/10)

Alexander Zaitsev <> (31.05.2003)

Under Wraps is a perfect example of a self-indulgent album, even more self-indulgent than Tales from Topografic Oceans (which I adore)."Under Wraps #2" is charming, but it seems to me that Ian made it to please the fans of his earlier work. Sort of a trick on his part(old bastard :).'Lap of Luxury' is decent, as 'Later,the same evening' is. 'Radio free moscow' has ok vocals.Everything else is crap. But the album does have an advantage: Atmosphere.

Atmosphere of a cheap 80's spy movie,created by cheap music and cheap lyrics, but nevertheless an atmosphere.Creating an atmosphere, but not music was Ian's aim here and here reached it. I don't know how to rate atmospheres. Nothing to rate here. Better go and buy Walk into light, everyone It has the same kind of music but is somehow better.

Steven Marcus <> (23.04.2004)

I have been a Tull fanatic since I first heard Aqualung in 1972 at a mates house. So I have every album which slowly over the years I have been replacing with CD's. I saw Underwraps in the shops at £4.99 and thought at that price I had to buy it. Mistake. This album is less than bilge. It is so bad its unplayable. I could not hear the whole album through. I took it back and reinstated the vinyl.


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Well, man, I need to completely disappoint you. If you bought this CD three years ago, then it was really last copies of early US release. But around a two years ago this album was re-printed in Germany, so now you can easily buy any quantity of CDs. Actually, the new US release is available too (I saw it in the ordinary record store last week).

Anyway, this album is good, but on the other side it could be much better. David Palmer's project to play Tull's music with symphonic orchestra in different and creative context turned into pompous "rock band with an orchestra" standard formula. David's orchestra arrangements are interesting but sometimes simple ("Living In The Past") and similar ("Elegy"). Of course, this album have fine moments ("Thick As A Brick", strings on "Bouree") that even weak "Fly By Night" can't ruin, but David should have use vocalists (not necessary Ian's voice, maybe the choir) and more original arrangements as on his latest symphonic rock projects (Yes, for example).

Avoid all my critics, there are nice cover versions of Tull's songs, so I recommend it to all Tull-fans. Pass empty "Fly By Night" and enjoy the rest. Rating? Hard question. It's not true Tull... but Ian's flute and Martin's guitar are here, so I give it six.

Philip Maddox <> (30.06.2000)

Back when I was back in the high school marching band, my teacher (who was psychotic, by the way) often gave us crowd pleasing instrumental versions of old rock songs to play, which would inevitably get the crowd a swayin'. Of course, these arrangements were hardly very good; 'Smoke On the Water' was particularly tuneless. But either way, we never sounded as good as the tunes we were trying to play were (except for a few wretched late period Elton John songs, which couldn't be worse than they originally were).

The point of this story? This album sounds like friggin' marching band arrangements! The arrangements are WAY too close to the original songs. I can't think of a single reason to listen to, say, 'Too Old To Rock And Roll' here as opposed to the studio version. 'Locomotive Breath' and a few other tracks have good flute from Ian, but again, so did the originals! The only track that sounds notably different from the studio version is 'Warchild', which I've actually grown to like quite a bit. It's slow, rumbling, and creepy. At times, I even like it better than the studio original!

Aside from that, the new versions of songs that were instrumental anyway aren't hurt at all, either: 'Elegy' and 'Bouree' are as good here as ever. 'Elegy' is particularly beautiful - since Palmer wrote the song anyway, he really gets to show off with the song. It's at least as good as the Stormwatch version. 'Bouree' isn't as good as the original (what is?), but it still sounds good. And even though most people would disagree, I think 'Fly By Night' sounds good here. The song appeared on Ian's solo album Walk Into Light, which is impossible to find, but I've heard it sounds just like Under Wraps. I've never heard the original, but this version has a weird feeling to it that I can't describe - I just like it. It's gotta be better here, though, without the eighties style synths. I guess I'll give this a 5 - a particularly low one. Some of the songs sound great here, and no songs sound bad, as the originals were great - I just see absolutely no reason to play this if you have a decent Tull collection or greatest hits compilation.

Chris Ward <> (26.01.2001)

I have A Classic Case early release (Ha!), and its alright. Interesting, but just doesnt satisfy ones soul. 5/10


John McFerrin <> (14.12.99)

Ugh ... I found a copy of this at an ftp site, so I decided to give it a listen and ... ugh

Ok, first off, I really don't mind the heavy metal solos. They don't really add anything to the sound, but they really aren't that bothersome to me. What does bother me is that the songs themselves are practically worthless. How in the hell could Ian justify 'Budapest' being ten minutes long??!! Not to mention his voice. When I heard a sample of 'Steel Monkey' on, I guess they had altered it a bit, because Ian's voice had a cool, low growling quality to it there. Needless to say, I was very disappointed when I listened to it and heard the shitty thinness of his new voice. Gughgughghjghjgj ....

I'll give it a 2. There is simply almost no reason for this album to exist.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

What are we talking about? Yeah, Crest Of A Knave! Well, lets look at your review... Oh shit! Oh shit, man, I didn't know! I said before that you're deaf, but it was only joke! I'm so sorry! I didn't know that it's true!

And I think you're blind too. Look at the sleeve and tell me where on Crest Of A Knave plays Peter Vettese? After 1986 summer tour Peter was retired and later came back just for some overdubs on Rock Island! The core line-up is Ian, Martin and Dave plus two drummers (Doane Perry and Gerry Conway) and Fairport's Ric Sanders played violin solo on "Budapest". That's all! Remember, pal, don't write about things you don't even know! (Too bad. And I thought I could put the blame for these shitty synths on someone else. I guess Mr Anderson has to carry the cross himself, then - G.S.)

OK, enough sarcasm! Of course, Crest Of A Knave is not triumphant comeback, so Tull at least fell out of Under Wraps curse. Yes, the unfamous throat problems forced Ian to write in a lower key to protect his vocal cords, Martin's violent riffs ruled almost the whole album and made it somewhat Knopfler-looking, so fuckin' what? Sleeping Beauty woke up and you don't happy?!

Honestly saying, you can't be happy after listening the first track - while lyrics of "Steel Monkey" are funny, the terrible drum machine and weird mix sounds like "Under Wraps" played by Deep Purple. This is Ian's farewell to experimentation? Or present to his masochistic fans? But whatever it was, the following "Farm Of The Freeway" is a completely redemption for all those long years. Tull plays blues as only Tull can play! Everything - music, lyrics, instrumentation - is Tullish (OK, OK, just a little bit harder). I forgive your sins, brother Ian! Go and sin no more!

Everybody knows that this album won '88 Grammy for best hard rock / metal album (poor Metallica!). Well, Yankees made yourselves an idiots as only Americans could (especially after followed Rock Island), but "Jump Start" with its heavy guitar / flute's work and sarcastic lyrics could be a small excuse for 'em. And then we have "Said She Was A Dancer", the ballad inspired by the Ian's unsuccessful affair with Russian ballet dancer. What could Mrs. Anderson say (if it was true)? This Dire Straits-style song was always an accuse for Ian's lost of originality, but in compare with highly-praised Brothers In Arms album I think that Tull played Straits-style far better that Straits themselves!

Next came "Dogs In The Midwinter", another satirical song with another touch of drum machine (this time a little better) thrown out of my mind by followed epic "Budapest", the ultimate point of Tull's return. Ten minutes of classic, folk and flamenco, violin and acoustic guitar, gentle whisper and ironic lyrics. Legends said that the story is true and Ian saw this unearthly beauty "one night in Budapest" after the concert. God bless the Hungarian's women!

"Mountain Men" holds the sarcastic mirror in front of the modern life's face (bitter romantic efforts and angry social sketches becomes dominating themes in Ian's late 80's lyrics). Nothing changes in this fucking world, only we grown older. But after sad haunting "The Waking Edge" energetic "Raising Steam", 80's "Locomotive Breath" (the one and only good example of drum machine in Tull's song) still keeps the hope. Everything is not lost, friends!

From this point forget the difference between releases. Ian's own engineering is excellent (as everything he does), so buy any available edition.

Yes, Crest Of A Knave is somewhat strange and not true Tullish, but this album is stronger than any 80's predecessor. Take it without any doubts! My favourites are "Said She Was A Dancer", "Budapest" and "Raising Steam". Rating is 7.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

Nobody's perfect, George, nobody's perfect. Even His Majesty Ian. I don't like synthesisers too, but we're living in technological world, so we need to pay the price. In other hand, synthesisers couldn't ruin the perfect song. Neither you.

Braxton LeCroy <> (24.08.2000)

Crest of a Knave won the Grammy & deservedly so. It is not Tull's best but still better than any of the tripe being spun forth in those days. "Steel Monkey" & "Budapest" are two of my all time Tull favorites. "Farm on the Freeway" is a fine peice of work also."Jump Start" is a solid rocker also. This one gets an 8.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (30.09.2000)

A few thoughts: (a) As I understand it, Anderson's vocal problem is of a muscular nature, totally different from nodes of the vocal cords, which are corrected by a simple if anesthetic-requiring opeation. (I had the nodes operation and a vocal coach told me Stevie Nicks and Sammy Davis Jr. had it over twenty times apiece, having never learned to sing properly.) Apparently this problem can come and go without warning and the only treatment is rest, which is why Ian's voice can sound great and not so great even within the same show, much less the same tour. (b) What disturbed me even more than "Budapest's" insipid lyrics (such a total reversal, both in terms of quality and age of the desired object, from "Sossity...") were the constant jokes Anderson would make onstage around this time about fifteen-year-old girls. Rebelling against political correctness is one thing but child sexual abuse is another as, ahem, we heard on "Cross-Eyed Mary." (Besides, this is the guy who many say threw Cornick out of the band because he couldn't keep his hands off the groupies.) Thankfully, Anderson seems to have rallied totally on this score: both "Beside Myself" on Roots to Branches and "Sanctuary" on Secret Language of Birds are thundering condemnations of child prostitution, and one of the best songs he's ever written about women, love, and sex, J-Tull Dot Com's "Bends Like a Willow," is in praise of...his wife! Good on you, Shona! (c) Though there's definitely a bit of a Dire Straits sound to ...Knave, I think this charge mostly stems from people's unconscious recognization of the similarities between the chords and melody of "Farm on the Freeway" and those of the Brothers... track "One World." Confronted with the Straits rap in a Goldmine interview in '86, Anderson countered that Knopfler was originally criticized for ripping off Dylan, then said that he thought Knopfler was the most important rock guitarist since Hendrix and Clapton. (d) To those who love to slam Tull for winning the Heavy Metal Grammy for ...Knave: First of all, Tull is one of the bands that can claim to have been in on the very creation of the genre, which back in the late '60s and early '70s (in the wake of Hendrix and Cream) meant songs like "Whole Lotta Love," "Iron Man" (featuring ex-Tull fill-in guitarist Tony Iommi), "Mississippi Queen," "Cross-Eyed Mary" and even stuff like Todd's "Black Maria" and Spirit's "When I Touch You." Second, Anderson himself has said that the band saw so little chance of winning that they didn't even attend the Grammy ceremony in L.A. Finally, Anderson had the classiest response to winning imaginable, taking out a gatefold ad in Variety and other trade papers that showed an illustration of a flute and the caption, "The flute is a heavy metal instrument." P.S. As if you needed another reason to vote for Gore instead of Bush, the Democratic nominee once claimed to be a Tull fan! (Anderson and Leno joked on the latter's show in '93 about the V.P. requesting -- and getting! -- a signed copy of the "cigar box" CD.)

For those whom I may have misled re that Goldmine interview with Ian, it would've been more like fall '87 or early '88.

Bob Josef <> (20.10.2000)

Wow.. I'm a little surprised at how much venom this album generates. Because, to me, it really restored my faith in Tull. Granted, Ian's new voice is hard to take (I saw a show on the tour before the I acquired the album, and it was dismaying to hear that new voice on classic material). But, still, the main thing that struck me is how much the album sounds like Dire Straits -- not just Ian's singing, but in Martin's playing (better to sound like Mark Knopler than Trevor Rabin) and even in the songwriting. I could easily see Knopler coming up with "Farm on the Freeway," "Said she Was a Dancer," "Budapest" or "Mountain Men." Intentional or not, this really makes for a good time. There are a couple of exceptions. I actually like "Steel Monkey" -- the sequencer programming is annoying, but the lyrics -- about the construction workers who build skyscrapers -- are good. And I would rate "Jump Start" higher than you do. It's the one track that truly sounds like a classic Jethro Tull song, and was a really exciting live number.

Another free LP for me, but this time, it would have been worth an actual purchase.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (03.12.2000)

Re this Tull-as-Dire Straits controversy: For what it's worth, I just remembered a quote from that Goldmine interview with I.A. shortly after the release of Crest... In this interview, Ian says (and this is almost an exact quote), "I know for a fact that Mark Knopfler rang up Martin's guitar maker in 1980 and said, 'I want the sound that Martin Barre of Jethro Tull gets.'"

Jeff Melchior <> (28.12.2000)

Wow - this has to be the most controversial Tull album ever. The record's Grammy coup against Metallica was the source of major controversy among headbangers back in the day (frankly, though, these days I'd be pissed off if any Tull album were to lose to such modern Metallica crap like Reload). To be honest, I've yet to hear this album, but the disdain for it from Tull fans and non-fans alike is provoking the same morbid curioity as Yes' Tales From Topographic Oceans once did (although I doubt I'll like it as much as Tales - this is an '80s album after all). Note to obsessive fans: negative reviews are not always necessarily a bad thing.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

Opinions on that are fairly divided. You, George, frankly don't like it very much. And all those Metallica fans who are angry because of the Grammy thing don't like it either. Which is understandable, since a Heavy Metal Grammy for Crest of a Knave is a bizarre idea indeed. That said, I think that the album is not that bad. Sure, Ian's voice is gone and he sounds uncannily like Mark Knopfler. And the opening synth riff of "Steel Monkey" wasn't a good idea. Nor, for that matter, the ZZ Top rip-off "Raising Steam" (wait... ZZ Top's Afterburner came out in 1985 - that makes sense, speaking of subconscious influence..). And I never liked "Farm On The Freeway", it's almost as banal and clumsy as "Fallen On Hard Times" (almost!) - but if you disregard the lyrics for a minute, "Said She Was Dancer" and "Budapest" are both quite good. The Eastern lady thing could have been a concept or running theme as well, couldn't it? And the jam in the middle of "Budapest" is better than anybody had a right to expect, to say nothing of that beautiful flute line in the beginning. And once you've got over the opening riff, "Steel Monkey" kicks ass, as you would say. I'm being serious. And "Mountain Men" and "Jump Start" are perfectly acceptable Tull filler. I have the LP version, which lacks "Dogs in Midwinter" and "The Waking Edge", but as far as I remember, these were nothing to write home about. Anyway, far from a masterpiece, and a Grammy for that is really a funny idea, but easily Tull's best album since A. At least. Maybe even since Heavy Horses.

(Rating: 6/10)

James Hitt, Jr. <> (23.06.2002)

I don't really understand why so many people seem to praise this album as one of Tull's new masterpieces, but then again, I likewise don't see why many people at the same time, including George, seem to think it such a piece of worthless vinyl (or plastic, whichever media that one owns it). I like this album. I don't love it, but I think a few tunes on it redeem it. To me, "Farm on the Freeway" is certainly more than the unremarkable song that George describes it as, and it sounds excellent live. "Jump Start" as well is a very good tune with a neat kind of shuffling acoustic/flute bluesy intro. And I consider "Budapest" an enjoyable song. Okay, it lacks almost any exceptional vocal melody (but what about the part "...and she wore a perfect smile..."? That has a nice little melody! Okay, so I'm grasping for straws!), and it is a little lengthy, but, I think those two beautiful flute breaks in the middle at 4:15 and again toward the end at about 7:20 totally make the song worth its not so good qualities. I don't think you mentioned them in the review, but you should really stop listen to them closely; might even change your feelings for the song, if just a little. I mean, they are beautiful! Achingly bittersweet! If Knave ever finds its way in your CD player ever again, you would do good to give these beautiful flute melodies a real listen.

Then again, they may not even do a thing. Oh well, to each his own.


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)


Eleven long years passed since we had Jethro Ian's last masterpiece and now we get it again! They are harder, they are wiser, they are stronger and they are Tull! God is on our side!

So don't worry, Georgie! You don't have ears of tin! Only mind. Seriously, did your place your CD in player on the right side? (Unfortunately, yes. I did consider playing it backwards, though. Bet ten to one it would have come off better - G.S.) I don't think so. Rock Island is Tull's best 80's effort and one of the best efforts of all decade. Tull plays harder then new Purple and more uncompromise then any of remained progressives!

If you have any doubts of Tull's reborn, the opening "Kissing Willie" will sweep it away. High-energetic rocker follows by "Rattlesnake Trail", the first touch of human's isolation theme, album's concept which decorates "Ears Of Tin", a ballad painting of urban life's despair. Emptiness' theme continues in "Undressed To Kill" (unremarkable song for me) and the title blues, the work of an authentic master.

Side two opens with bitter sarcastic "Heavy Water", while "Another Christmas Song" is a sad gentle prelude to the album's highlight, "The Whaler's Dues", the strongest epic blues Tull's ever played. Are you with me? Yes, and through ironic "Big Riff" we comes to the final point of dislocation, "Strange Avenues", "looking like a record cover from 1971".

Line-up? Here we hear Ian, Martin, Dave and Doane Perry, plus Maartin Allcock and Peter Vettese as a guests. Peter finally left the Tull's stage, Maart went off after the followed world tour (he returned for Catfish Rising world tour and said his last goodbye in late 1991).

Once again you may skip all different releases. Excellent sound, so take it while you can.

So the bottom line... it was eighth Jethro Ian's masterpiece, the hardest album in Tull's history. George says it's a crap and I says it's a gem. Buy it, listen it and then find George and break his nose (or try to find me and break my nose). Anyway, "Another Christmas Song" and "The Whaler's Dues" are between my all-time Tull's favourites. Rating is eight.

John McFerrin <> (04.03.2000)

To deflate the other comment on this album a bit ...

First off, I will admit that this is better than Crest, mainly because there are no REAL low points like 'Steel Monkey.' BUT, there is a big problem that goes along with that. At least on Crest, Ian occasionally showed a fresh idea or two and at times the album was at least interesting (that's not meant in a good way; while the way he combined synths with generic crappy metal might be a fairly original idea, it was still shitty beyond belief, and the 'interesting' part only comes from wondering how the hell this man could once upon a time have had enough _good_ ideas to make Brick.)

On Rock Island, however, while there is nothing particularly offensive about the album, I can honestly say that, except for the rattlesnakes in the one chorus, not a SINGLE INTERESTING THING happens the entire album. I don't require originality necessarily, but I DO want something that intrigues me enough to keep listening. Island just refuses to do that at ANY point in the whole 50 minutes.

Add it all up, and it gets a 2, just like its predecessor. But, to be fair, it's a high 2, as opposed to Crest's mid-level 2.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

I thought about the wrong side of CD, now I'm thinking about the wrong CD. You can blame on pirates, George, but the miser pays twice.

Philip Maddox <> (27.06.2000)

I gave this a 6 when I reviewed this on the Karn site. I've since listened to it a few times and have come to the following conclusion - I must have been really high on crack when I wrote that. I'm more inclined to agree with you now, George - it's VERY dull. It's not that the whole record is bad, per se (except for 'The Rattlesnake Trail' and 'Big Riff and Mamdo', which suck horribly). It's all just so boring that I usually turn it off about halfway through. I still think 'Ears of Tin' is pretty cool (even though the fast part has the exact same melody as 'Kissing Willie' - did Ian not notice that?). 'Heavy Water' isn't bad, and 'Another Christmas Song' is ok, except for the fact that Ian used a big, booming percussion sound in that song where it clearly doesn't belong. The rest ranges from really mediocre to insanely tedious (That part in the middle of 'The Whaler's Due' when he keeps on chanting "Will you forgive me?" wears out it's welcome, and quick). These songs sound like they could have been good, but Ian just stopped trying. I give it a low 4, and my opinion that this is the worst record Tull ever put out. I'd avoid it unless you're a diehard. And even THEY tend not to like this album much (and I should know, cuz I LOVE Tull). It is a good cure for insomnia, though. Why should I listen to this when Zappa's You Are What You Is is right next to it? But hey, I think Ian had plenty left to say. I really do love Dot Com (despite it's stupid name). This was just a low point.

Jochen Haug <> (17.07.2001)

And this is where, at the tender age of seventeen, I stopped buying Jethro Tull albums. This album is not, mind you, horrible, but it's a totally uninspired, boring rewrite of Crest Of A Knave. Why not give us a rewrite of Heavy Horses at least, Ian? Maybe it was the - albeit marginal - presence of Peter Vettese that inspired Ian to some more crimes against good taste; but then, it's not the arrangements that are to blame here. At least not primarily. There are quite a couple of tracks with really embarrassing lyrics, such as "Undressed To Kill", "The Rattlenake Trail", "Kissing Willie" ("fillet of sole", anyone?), "Big Riff and Mando" and "The Whaler's Dues", and all these songs have zero melodies and dull hard rock arrangements, "Big Riff" being by far the worst offender. "Heavy Water" is a somewhat better, catchier take at the hard 'n' heavy formula, whatever that's worth. The power ballads / epics are nothing exciting either: the title track drags, the Aqualung reference in "Strange Avenues" is an example of tragicomic humour (the good old days will not return), only "Ears Of Tin" has anything like atmosphere, feeling, and melody. If you don't count the ugly mess in the middle. And "Another Christmas Song" is another novelty thing, and it's not without its charms and easily the best track here. Which is not saying much. I hear that some of the later albums are better (Roots and Branches? Or the new one?). But I'am afraid that the time I spent money on Jethro Tull albums is over. I might make an exception for Bursting Out. Someday. Maybe.

(Rating: 4/10)

Alexander Zaitsev <> (30.05.2003)

Hi! It's very funny to read Konstantin Tikhonov's comments.I didn't know he was SO obsessed with JT :)

Anyway Rock Island is'nt a gem. The flaws are evident. 'Kissing Willie' is not a Dylan rip - off. Bob is a decent man and he would never write something like that. "Willie" is an english slang word for,ahem... male genitalia. So I think I needn't explain what the lines "Willie stands and Willie falls" or "Me and Willie just can't help come, when she calls" mean and what the process of "Kissing Willie" is. Now, isn't that an awful song? It is, for such a gifted songwriter as Ian!

Other songs have lyrics ranging from good to excellent, but are lyrics enough to save the album? Perhaps. I adore "Another Christmas Song", IMHO the best song of Tull's "metal period" , but other songs are mediocre at best. 'Whaler's Dues' is horrendous,too:. "Are you with me"- shouts Ian "No"- is my reply :)

My rating is a weak 9/15 for both the lyrics and the music and 5/15 for the music (Happily it is not an instrumental album. Can you imagine it to be one like Divinities? :)


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Oh man, I think I'm going slightly mad! I was only joking that you're deaf and you proved it. I was only joking that you're blind and you proved it again. For Christ sake, why did you place 20 Years below Rock Island? It was released in 1988, look at the sleeve! (The "Selection" compilation came out in November 1989 - G. S.) Another (strictly personal) question - where did you see 30th Anniversary box set? (Okay, so it was 'anniversary collection' or something. I don't really care anyway - G. S.).

OK, fuck it, you don't spent money for original CDs, you're buying pirate releases, so WRITE IT! And this is not the worst. Somebody will read your reviews and trust it. Jesus, I hate deaf critics and I hate reviewers whose don't know nothing about groups they write! Buy yourself a book, or ask your friends... do anything! You're making yourself a true asshole!

So let me tell you a little story, boys and girls. Once upon a time (in summer 1988) Jethro Tull released a 5 LP box set for their 20th Anniversary. Each part of 65 tracks' box set contained different material from Tull's history. First part ("Radio Archives") was recorded in 1968-69, 1975 and 1977 for BBC Radio in London and Monte Carlo (on LP some live tracks from 1982 Hamburg concert was added). Second part ("Rare Tracks") contained single-only released material, third part ("Flawed Gems") was completely unreleased material including "Aqualung" outtake "Lick Your Fingers Clean" and medley from "Chateau D'Isaster". Fourth part ("The Other Side Of Tull") was recorded in 1981 (mostly) plus a new song ("Part Of The Machine") recorded especially for this box set, re-mixed version of "Moths" and a couple of well-known Tull's acoustic songs. Last part ("The Essential Tull") is live recordings from Hamburg '82, London and Philadelphia '87 and rare version of "Teacher".

This highly-demanded by fans box set was released on 3 CDs, but since 1992 it's out-of-print and hardest-to-find Tull's album. In Russia cost flows around 400 USD and you'll wrecking your neck in searching (I heard that in Israel price is 1800 USD but this rumour remains unconfirmed).

A year later the edited 2 LP (26 tracks) and single CD (21 tracks) was released. They contains excellent material, but pales in front of the complete edition. For my endless shame I don't have 3 CD release but I'm still hoping...

OK, now we'll look on the single CD edition. The first track is wonderful live version of T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday Blues" recorded in late 1968 with Mick Abrahams on guitar. Remember, this group could be the biggest attraction since The Stones! "Love Story" (maybe the last track recorded by Tull with Mick) and "New Day Yesterday" (Martin's here!) are good but nothing spectacular. After 'em comes two gentle "Rare Tracks" - "Minstrel" single's B-side "Summerday Sands" and "Ring Out Solstice Bells" EP's "March The Mad Scientist".

More words about the editions. US and UK single CDs contains completely same tracks but the tracks order is different. On the US version (my case) "The Essential Tull" tracks followed "Radio Archives" / "Rare Tracks" and in "Flawed Gems" / "The Other Side Of Tull" are some differences too.

So next on my CD comes "Witch's Promise", a 100 percents filler 'cause its a ordinary version from single and "Living In The Past". In 3 CD release this song was good addition for rare edition of "Teacher" but here its a waste of precious (and limited) time. Skip it and you'll hear fantastic live versions of "Living In The Past" (Philadelphia '87, probably the best version I've heard) and "Aqualung" / "Locomotive Breath" from Hamburg '82 (the Broadsword tour, not A!). "Bursting Out" versions is far better for its high-energetic and emotionalism but these tracks are still good, especially "Locomotive Breath" with breathtaking "Black Sunday" theme in the end.

Then we hear "Flawed Gems" and the powerful "Lick Your Fingers Clean" loudly cries for adding on Aqualung. Maybe Ian had a momentary lapse of mind when he thrown this song out? Nice "Overhang" is one of many Broadsword outtakes (Tull recorded material enough for triple LP album) and I'm asking yourself why did Ian (or Paul Samwell-Smith) put such garbage as "Watching Me" under the sleeve and leave "Jack-A-Lynn" or "Mayhem Maybe" on the shelf? "Crossword" (Stormwatch outtake) is pretty too, but following "Jack-A-Lynn" is real flawed gem, the best Tull's love ballad Mr. Anderson ever wrote (this mysterious name refers to Ian's wife's middle name - Shona Jacqueline Anderson).

US version continues with "Kelpie", another "Stormwatch" outtake and another good song which precedes "The Other Side Of Tull" and the great epic "Part Of The Machine". While Maartin Allcock comes in and Gerry Conway comes out you can enjoy gentle guitar chords and Ian's satirical lyrics. "Mayhem Maybe" was re-recorded in 1988 (Ian's vocals and instrumentation) but still have energy and sense of humour. The last five acoustic tracks are three live fragments from Hammersmith Odeon '87 ("Dun Ringill" and "Wond'ring Aloud") and Monte Carlo '75 ("Grace") plus two ordinary versions from "Living In The Past" ("Life's A Long Song" and "Nursie"). By the way, Hammersmith's recordings concerns to "The Essential" part and "Grace" is from "Radio Archives" LP.

Bitter and angry, I must said that single CD is a natural confusion! Misplaced tracks and three pure fillers instead of "Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow", "Coronach" and "King's Henry Madrigal"! In other hand, here we have "Stormy Monday Blues", live "Living In The Past" and "Locomotive Breath", "Lick Your Fingers Clean", "Jack-A-Lynn", "Part Of The Machine" and its the only available version, so I have it and don't regret. If you have no prophetic abilities and you can't be sure that 3 CD version will be re-release some perfect day - take it! My rating is 8.

PS. Three more tracks from 3 CD edition was released on 1996 remastered version of Aqualung (BBC recordings of "Song For Jeffrey", "Fat Man" and "Bouree"). Maybe Ian will add 'em all on further releases? I hope so. Actually, there are rumours about Japanese re-release of all Tull's albums flows too.

PSS. I suspects that 30th Anniversary box set is EMI Centenary's re-release of first three Tull's CD in original cardboard sleeves. If I'm right, man, you're definitely blind! It was released in 1997!

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

Some sources said November 1988, some said November 1989. For the first time Aqualung was released on CD in 1985 but you didn't place it nearly to Classic Case. Anyway, the original box set was released in 1988. There are few "anniversary EDITIONS" - Aqualung (1996), Thick As A Brick (1997), Tull's first three albums (1997) and there's the only one "anniversa ry COLLECTION" - 25th anniversary The Best Of Jethro Tull 2CD edition. Please, be accurate, George.

Philip Maddox <> (06.07.2000)

This is a pretty good disc, but I've recently come across a used copy of the entire box and was left wondering "Who picked these tracks?!" There are songs on the box a whole lot better than 'Crossword' or 'Part Of The Machine', and songs a lot more necessary than the studio versions of 'Grace' and 'Witch's Promise' which you can already get on regular Tull albums anyway. Actually, I'm not sure who this disc is even targeting - casual fans probably aren't too interested in weird outtakes and live numbers, while hardcore fans would rather track down the box set. Oh well most of the material that IS here is great - the BBC numbers are great, 'Summerday Sands' and 'March' are B-sides that could have made the albums that the singles accompanied (Minstrel In The Gallery and Songs From The Wood, respectively), and the outtakes are mostly good. I still can't understand why numbers like 'King Henry's Madrigal' (a great instrumental) and 'Sunshine Day' (the first Tull single) were scrapped for studio reruns. This is worth picking up if you can't find and/or afford the whole boxed set, as this does have perhaps the best number on the whole set on it - 'Jack-A-Lynn' is quite beautiful, and if it had been placed on Broadsword as opposed to 'Watching Me Watching You' I would probably have given that album a 10. I'd probably give this CD a 7, and a high 8 or low 9 for the whole set. And hey, you can't go wrong with 'Dun Ringill'! They should reissue the whole set, though - demand for it is high, and keeping it locked away is ridiculous.

Bob Josef <> (30.08.2002)

It is too bad that the box is now out of print, and is unlikely to be back. Besides the numbers Philip and Konstanstin have mentioned, among the better tracks they left off of Selection are a cool rocker called "Beltane" (outtake from Heavy Horses, I think) and a fun number that plays with well worn cliches called "A Stitch in Time" (Songs from the Wood sessions, I believe). There are a number of studio retreads, but most of them are pretty obscure ("One White Duck," "Only Solitaire," "Nurse," "Under Wraps 2"), with the exception of "Witch's Promise" and the well-worn "Bungle in the Jungle" (does a live version even exist?). The early UK B-side version of "Teacher" is OK, but the version from the American Benefit is better. Some quibbles: I really think that "Lick Your Fingers Clean" is one overrated song -- just about everything on Aqualung is better. On the other hand, "Part of the Machine" is another powerful Dire Straits clone along the Crest of a Knave line; "Summerday Sands" is gorgeous; and "Jack-a-Lynn" is really a refound classic. The band even performed it live on the Rock Island tour and rerecorded it for the 25th Anniversary Box.

The live stuff doesn't really add any great revelations, but on the whole, the box was a pretty good find. Now that it (along with Living in the Past) is out of print, a few of the songs have surfaced on the remastered albums from This Was to Heavy Horses. Still, unfortunately for the hardcores, it looks like most of these tracks are gone for good.


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Catfish Rising? Rock Island little brother, blues' slowness and irony instead of heavy riffing and conceptuality.

Poor deaf-born Georgie said his word, now let me say mine. Among Tull's fans Catfish Rising was named as "back-to-roots album" for its blues feelings. In one hand they were right, 'cause blues structures are definitely dominating on Catfish, but in other hand it's Tull's blues, not traditional blues a la This Was. And don't be fooled by word "dominating", here we have hard, jazz, folk and blues united under the one sleeve. OK, a little more blues, just a little more...

I labelled this album as Rock Island little brother, but opening "This Is Not Love" in compare with "Kissing Willie" is big brother to the predecessor - more hardness, more sarcasm and more intensive playing. Once again Tull's album swept all critics away by it's first song!

The one and only thing couldn't make Catfish a great album, his longevity leads to the small unbalance between excellent and ordinary songs. For example, follower to stunning "This Is Not Love", "Occasional Demons", is unremarkable. Shorter Rock Island was more complex album, but don't worry! Catfish Rising is good anyway! "Roll Yer Own" and "Rocks On The Road" (my favourite) are splendid Tull's blues, after 'em "Sparrow" is almost a filler. Don't let me be misunderstood, this song is not bad, but others are far better. "Thinking Round Corners" is another example of modern court jester's satirical sketch and "Still Loving You Tonight" (my girlfriend's all-time favourite song) is a perfect love flower on the blues' field. Joe Dassin-style song? Kiss my sexy ass, pal! (Grow yourself some taste, pal! Go ahead and explain to me why this song is better than vintage Phil Collins! - G. S.)

"Doctor To My Disease" is... hmmm... too light-weight for my taste (music and lyrics both), but frivolous "Tall Thin Girl" and gentle "White Innocence" crystallised with their blues charm. Blues feeling is strong on "Sleeping With The Dog" too, and "Gold-Tipped Boots" boiling self-irony crashes the idea of the "nostalgic album". "When Jesus Came To Play" rules to the bitter ironic ending, with its lyrics refers to Aqualung album and sarcastic guitar chords.

While George is lazy to write a note about line-up, I'm not. The core is the same (Ian, Martin, Dave and Doane), and here we have three keyboard players - Andy Giddings, Foss Patterson and John "Rabbit" Bundrick. Ian made rehearsals during the record sessions and the winner was Andy Giddings, Tull's keyboard player to this day. Oh, and don't forget that Dave Pegg's son Matthew played bass guitar on some tracks (when he's father was washing hair)!

If you're decided to buy this CD, try to find rare Japanese edition. It contains additional track, single' B-side "Night In The Wilderness".

And before the end... if you like Rock Island or Crest Of A Knave, you will love Catfish Rising. It's not the strongest part of Tull's stuff, but it's stronger than any other effort from '91. D'you wanna check it? Be my guest. I named "Rocks On The Road" as my favourite, and "This Is Not Love" is between highlights too. Rating is 7.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

Oh, the question of taste! It's a very funny question, an extraordinary funny question from man who rates Aftermath higher than In The Court Of The Crimson King... (because Aftermath has at least ten great songs where Court has four. And I thought he wouldn't flaunt his snubbiness any further - G.S.)

And what d'you mean "vintage Phil Collins"? You can shit on non-Gabriel's Genesis (I agrees that all their 80-90's efforts sucks), but late 70's stuff is fantastic, and Phil have a great voice, far superior than Peter's weak hoarse. (I must apologise to Gabriel's fans. Peter was good in studio, but on stage his singing was true disaster.) (Uh-huh. And apparently, No Jacket Is Required is 'Phil's third masterpiece' - G.S.)

What are we talking about? Yes, "Still Loving You Tonight". Pretty ballad tune, tidy blues rhythmic, gentle love words (Yeah, Genesis' 'Hold On My Heart' fits the same criteria, too - G. S.). OK, you don't like it, but you compares Ian Anderson with the pathetic chansonier! (Hey, he's a good chansonier, no need to feel so upset - G.S.) What the fuck, George? And the question of sexy ass. Actually, it was my girlfriend's words when she finished readings of your comments (do you actually choose girlfriends depending on their feelings for Jethro Tull? - G.S.). Anyway, while YOU continues to claim that Hollies or Elton John made more creative impulse for the rock music's progress than Deep Purple or Black Sabbath and accusing MY taste, MY answer is still KISS MY ASS! (Wrong. I'm only saying that the Hollies and Elton John wrote better, more diverse and, in Elton's case, more profound music than Deep Purple and Black Sabbath - G. S.)

Philip Maddox <> (27.06.2000)

MUCH better than Rock Island (no matter what I said on the Karn site), but still not great. Actually, this one has a clean dividing point - most of side 1 is good, while most of side 2 is crap. 'This is Not Love' is a great metal song (complete with an enthusiastic "Yeeeaaahhhhhh!!!" thrown in every now and then - it sure isn't Ian singing it!) I think 'Occasional Demons' is better than you think it is - it's not blisteringly creative, but it is catchy and memorable. I like it. 'Rocks on the Road' and 'Sparrow on the Schoolyard Wall' are classics, which is great (seeing as Rock Island had no classics and only one or two "good" songs at all). They're both energetic and well written, both lyrically and musically. Great tunes. A lot of this record is still stupid, though. 'Doctor To My Disease' sucks REALLY bad. Ian could write a song like that in 3 minutes (and probably did). 'White Innocence' is a lame re-write of 'Budapest'. I actually liked 'Budapest' - this one is almost the SAME STUPID SONG! Why listen to this if you can listen to the original? 'Still Loving You Tonight' goes two or three steps beyond boring. The Weather Channel is indeed the best place for those lame guitar breaks. Nothing else on this album is really bad - and some of it is even good! - but it's still a long way from Broadsword and the Beast. I'll give it a high 5 - not too shabby, but nothing special, either. It's worth picking up if you see it cheap (I paid $5.00!).

Oh, and even though it does sound an awful lot like 'Fat Man', I still think 'Like a Tall Thin Girl' is pretty amusing and catchy. But that's just me. And one more thing - PLENTY of better albums came out in 1991 - you hear that? How about Out Of Time by R.E.M.? That one's plenty better than Catfish Rising.

David Lyons <> (17.12.2000)

I have a strong feeling that Tikhonov chooses his girlfriends based on their visual similarity with a 1970 style Ian Anderson. Either that, or from a mail order catalogue.


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

Oh yeah, Little Light Music! The crystal flower behind the titanium armour...

Well, boys and girls, I'll tell you another story. It was 1992, I was a newcomer, I didn't have all Tull's albums but I had a Bursting Out already. My friend came to me with a Little Light Music CD and said, "It's Tull's new concert!" "Whom I need to kill?", I yelled. "Nobody, just listen..." And I've listen...

Don't be a dummy, don't wait Bursting Out Part II! Tull is not Purple! My first reaction was "What the hell?!" and my second reaction was "This is fuckin' great!", so I introduces you Jethro Ian's second live masterpiece that's completely different from Bursting Out. I don't saying that Bursting Out (or Little Light Music) is better, they are DIFFERENT! Bursting Out is powerful, energetic and fast, Little Light Music is gentle, acoustic and graceful, and they are incredible both!

A little pre-history. This album was recorded in May 1992 during the acoustic tour throughout Europe by Ian, Martin and Dave with another (this time last) Fairporter, drummer Dave Mattacks. For the first time Tull used the digital tape recorder and the sound of the concert is absolutely unbelievable! It sounds better than many bands' studio records! Put CD in player, fall on the knees and praise the Lord for Leon Phillips, Tull's concert engineer!

George said that the concert is mostly instrumental for the cause of Ian's voice problems, but if it was true, why did Ian sing on heavy "New Day", "This Is Not Love" or "Locomotive Breath" instead of lightly "Pussy Willow" or "Look Into The Sun"? (Because (a) he only sang a couple of verses from 'New Day', (b) the beer-drinking crowds would have rebelled if they'd get a vocal-less version of 'Locomotive Breath', (c) 'This Is Not Love' was from the new record which they were promoting, (d) 'Look Into The Sun' is a ballad that requires a clear voice which Ian did not have. Any more questions? - G. S.) If you'll listen some bootlegs from late 80's and 90's you'll hear more instrumental versions of old Tull's songs. I think it's Ian's revival of old spirit in a new form and its work wonderfully. The warm atmosphere of the concert and acoustic arrangements of "Under Wraps" and "Pussy Willow" cured this songs from synthesisers' curse and improvisations around "Rocks On The Road" and "Bouree" made 'em even better then originals. And don't forget Ian's vulgar sense of humour (be warn, David Pegg!).

Once again Tull recorded a live album without any filler. My preferences are "Living In The Past", "Under Wraps", "Rocks On The Road", classic folk tune "John Barleycorn" and "Bouree", but the rest of the album is excellent. Even always boring for me "Life's A Long Song" and "One White Duck".

When you'll find this album, try to find the edition from Greece. On this version of "John Barleycorn" Ian sang with George Dalaras, Grecian folker.

Now lets farewell with ninth Jethro Ian's masterpiece. You will love this album even if you hate all 80-90's Tull. The astonishing version of "Bouree" is a true miracle. My rating - 9.

PS. By the way, this CD doesn't include the whole show, but you can find the complete concert on some bootlegs.

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

A) You're lying, Georgie! Ian sang the whole "New Day" in the beginning and repeated the first couplet in the end. (Okay, so he goes into that lengthy flute solo to recover - G. S.) B) The beer-drunken crowd accepted instrumental version of "Living In The Past", didn't they? (You know perfectly well that "Breath" is a bigger radio staple. If you don't, you're out of time - G. S.) C) Catfish Rising world tour was over in April 1992 (so what? It was still Tull's newest album, wasn't it? - G. S.). D) "From A Dead Beat" is ballad too. Any more fantasies? (it's sung in a lower pitch, far more simple for His Newly-Found Hoarseness to tolerate. Your turn to play the game? - G.S.)

John McFerrin <> (05.04.2000)

Arrgh, I just noticed that you rebutted Gospodin Konstantin, so now my two cents won't mean as much. In any case, here it is anyways (mind you, I haven't actually hear the album, but I think I can still make an argument)

A. There is no way the thin Ian voice could pull off 'New Day' with as much gusto as one would like, so I would think that he would HAVE to make the instrumental part longer.

B. 'Living in the Past' is a very highbrow song, and an instrumental version could be viewed as an intellectual curiousity. 'Locomotive Breath', however, comes as close to a "YEAH MAN, ROCK AND ROLL" song as any in Tull's catalogue, and stripping it of lyrics would hurt it considerably.

C. Just because a tour for an album "ends" doesn't mean that the artist stops promoting it. In 'Catfish''s case, I would imagine that he need all of the promoting he could get.

D. 'Look Into The Sun' requires a MUCH better singing voice than 'Chequered Flag', simply because the singing difference between the two originals is enormous. Hearing 'Look' in, say, Ian's 'Budapest' voice would make me want to shoot myself.

Philip Maddox <> (06.07.2000)

An admirable effort, but it doesn't really stack up to other live Tull recordings. The problem isn't Ian's voice, though. the problem is how these songs are rearranged. I HATE this version of 'A New Day Yesterday'. It doesn't work at all. 'Look Into The Sun' is extremely boring, 'Living In The Past' loses all of its subtlety, etc. Some tracks are still great, though - the instrumental 'Bouree' and 'Pussy Willow' are both absolutely great. 'This Is Not Love' and 'Rocks On The Road' were both really good songs from Catfish Rising, so I'm not going to complain. 'Under Wraps' was a good song anyway, so I dig the version of it on here quite a bit. And it's hard to screw up 'Nursie' and 'Life Is A Long Song'. I do disagree about 'One White Duck', though - I think that's a really pretty song, though I wish they had included the 'O^10=Nothing At All' part at the end. Still, few of these songs are better than their studio counterparts - many are significantly worsened! - which makes me think this album belongs somewhere between a 6 and a 7. And Ian's comments are great - especially that intro to 'A Christmas Song'. Poor, poor Dave...


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (03.03.2000)

May I spoil your mood, friends? D'you think that first CD from Nightcap contains the whole "Chateau D'Isaster" material? If you think so, listen Minstrels In The Red House bootleg CD. Here you'll hear few more fragments not present on Nightcap (including the first version of "Skating Away"). In 25th Anniversary interview Ian said that he found only a part of "Chateau D'Isaster" tapes, so some parts remains unfound (not for sneaky cheaters). Also I heard a rumour that Ian's tape was seriously damaged and he was forced to re-record some instrumentation. Anyway, the result is great!

The first CD is almost masterpiece ("almost" 'cause it's unfinished and still shitty sounded). I love Passion Play, but this tape's sense of humour and inspiration are amazing. Oh those fuckin' Chateau D'Herouville studios! Oh those fuckin' engineers! Oh those fuckin' tape machines! They butchered one of the best Tull's albums! The music survived but the history is unchangeable. The least we can do is listen it. "No Rehearsal" is Tull at their peak!

The second CD is a compilation a la 20 Years contains the outtakes mostly from '74, '81 and '90 sessions. Once again I don't understand why did Ian omit "Common's Brawl" from Broadsword and throw "Truck Stop Runner" out from Catfish Rising? Ian, CD's running time is 80 minutes, not 60! I love all your stuff! OK, not all, some '81 tracks are weak ("The Curse", "Crew Nights", "Lights Out", "No Step") but the rest is damn good. Bach-based "Quartet" have fantastic folk choral, "Small Cigar" and "Bradford Bazaar" are Ian's brilliant acoustics, and 90's material is strong as the best songs from "Rock Island" ("Rosa On The Factory Floor" is one of my all-time favourites).

So, all Tull's newcomers and die-hard fans, take this CD immediately. You will not regret, I swear. My ratings are 8 for "Chateau D'Isaster" part and 7 for "Unreleased And Rare" part.

PS. Ian planned to release 4 CD edition, but shortened it to 2 CD. WHY?!

Jason X <> (15.07.2004)

You have 'Silver River Turning' as a highlight on this album, yet you have 'Heavy Water' as a blue on Rock Island. If you listen to both of them next to each other, they're very similar (It happened by coincidence that I listened to Nightcap immediately after listening to Rock Island today). Presumably since 'Silver River Turning' wasn't released, Ian used the basic melody and vocal hook later for 'Heavy Water'.

I can understand that if Rock Island as a whole has you gritting your teeth you won't be as inclined to enjoy a single song as much as you would if it's part of a "random crap" album. Taken by themselves, I kind of prefer 'Heavy Water' though.

Philip Maddox <> (06.07.2000)

I'd probably have to rate these disc separately, as they have little or nothing to do with each other. I'd give the first a 9 and the second a 7, which would make this an 8 from me. I agree that the first discs is better than A Passion Play - some of these songs totally kick! My favorites are the last 3 (which also appeared on the 20 Years of Tull set), 'Left Right' (which has great lyrics and hard rock power), both parts of 'Law Of The Bungle' (both of which are both funny and catchy), and, well, basically everything. I couldn't say it's worth a 10, as it's not structured at all, but if Ian had polished this up, it might have been a good deal better than A Passion Play was. And Martin's comment at the beginning of 'Law Of The Bungle Part 2' made me fall over laughing. Disc 2 isn't as good, though - it has some really great tracks, like 'Broadford Bazzar' (which is beautiful), 'Sealion II' (which I prefer to the original), 'Quartet' (which is funny), 'Rosa On The Factory Floor' and 'Truck Stop Runner' (which should have been on Catfish Rising instead of 'Doctor To My Disease' and 'White Innocense'), and 'Commons Brawl' (a GREAT Broadsword outtake). Unfortunately, some of this stuff is kinda lame - 'Lights Out' and 'No Step' suck, 'Piece Of Cake' is dumb, and 'A Small Cigar' is pointless. The Broadsword outtakes here aren't the best ones - they were already put on the 20 Years Of Tull set. 'The Curse' sounds straight off of Under Wraps (though it's better than most of what made that album). Still, there's enough good stuff here to earn MY recommendation.

Bob Josef <> (01.01.2001)

Agreement here. The "Chateau D'isaster" part, with a bit more work, could have been a great album along the lines of Thick as a Brick. I don't hear much resemblance here, musically, to A Passion Play, simply because there are an absolute plethora of good melodies here as opposed to the dearth of such on APP. The lyrics of the second half (some allegory based on theater and performance?) seem to be at the root of APP's concept, but who can tell? How could Ian deteriorate so quickly from this is incomprehensible.

As for the second CD, I was really hoping for more unearthed goodies along the lines of the 20th Anniversary Set, but he must have used up of the good stuff for that release, because these are pretty much second rate. None are really outright horrible, though, except "Sealion II". This (earlier?) version still has a lousy melody and abominably stupid lyrics. Cecil the sealion? All I can I think of when hearing that is my favorite cartoon when I was 6, Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent. Almost as bad as "The Hare that Lost His Spectacles." And hearing the older stuff alternating with post-Crest material only reemphasizes how lousy Ian's voice has become.

Still, worth it for Tull-heads, if only for Disc 1.


Michael Carroll <> (08.02.2000)

1) 'Stuck In The August Rain' and 'Another Harry's Bar' are the only songs that have at least a tiny drop of genuine emotion (I don't even want to mention the problem of melody). Please mention the problem of melody?

[Special author note: it's non-existent. Or it's 'rudimentary', whichever one prefers.]

2)'Valley' (a rather pointless tale of confrontation between two indigenous tribes, (((((as far as I can get))))). Or hey, is it just about people hating each other?)


3)Wicked Windows' is almost a Moody Blues-styled ballad (Ian Anderson sounding close to Justin Hayward?

I hope you're joking!

Hey wait a minute?!?!? Why do I bother?

Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

Jethro Ian's tenth masterpiece is simply fantastic 'cause it's incomparable with anything that Tull did before and it's 100 percents Tullish. Eastern influences over the Western landscape, Ian's wise lyrics ("Valley" isn't the tale of two tribes' feud, it's about people's separating and reticence) and a touch of religious makes the album's impression absolutely complete.

Georgie, Georgie, Georgie, what do you mean "non-existent melody"? No, what do you mean "existent melody"? Boom-Boom-Da-Da-Boom? Roots contains excellent melodies ("Rare And Precious Chain", "Harry's Bar", "At Last, Forever", "Beside Myself" etc.). Try to listen 'em again and don't forget that this is Jethro Tull and not The Monkees. (Unfortunately, that's exactly the thing I'm holding in mind all the time - G.S.)

Once again it's the best effort of the year (Divinities took the second place) and once again George pissed against the wind. I highly recommended this great album to all Tullers (especially for newcomers). Best songs are "Valley" and "Another Harry's Bar". Rating is 8.

PS. George, you definitely need to listen Ian's solo Divitinies. Probably it will help.

Adrian Gutu <> (18.04.2000)

It is obvious that you DON'T understand the whole idea .

Try somethig else dont waste your energy in the wrong direction.

Roots To Branches it is a masterpiece from 100 points of view ,starting with the orchestration.

Philip Maddox <> (07.07.2000)

I like this one WAY better than you do. I'd give it a 7 - I think it's several times better than crap like Rock Island. Two songs on here really do it for me - 'Wounded Old and Treacherous' and 'At Last, Forever' are amazingly great tunes. 'Wounded' has a great, jazzy feel, interesting lyrics, and a great flute/guitar duel at the end. 'At Last, Forever' has great lyrics, too. The tune is extremely mournful and sad - it succeeds where 'The Whaler's Dues' failed. The rest of this stuff is at least pretty good (except 'Out Of The Noise', which is pointless). The title track and 'Rare And Precious Chain' open the album on a very high note - they're very interesting songs with eastern influences and ever improving vocals from Ian. Actually, it's not Ian's voice that's improving - he's simply writing songs that fit it better. I don't see why you hate 'Valley', though - it's long, but well played, pretty, and somewhat deep. That may be the best thing about this album, though - Ian's lyrics are much better than on other recent albums - I at least agree with you on that. The rest of the album is good, but nothing special, which keeps the album from getting more than a 7. Still, this kicks the crap out of any other post-Broadsword Tull album (except Dot Com, which really rules).

Braxton LeCroy <> (24.08.2000)

Tull's second most underrated work (after Benefit). "Beside Myself" is a beautiful piece, the title track is a damn fine one and "Rare and Precious Chain" is strong also. I'd give it a 7.

David Lyons <> (17.12.2000)

Oh my dear God no. Konstantin found someone to agree with him. A Masterpiece?? (Tull's Tenth Masterpiece???? I always assumed, foolishly it seems, that by definition you could have but one masterpiece. Your master piece. The piece of yours that is master. Your sodding best work, outstripping all else. Jesus, I'm going to sue that man for compensation re: increased blood pressure). I ought to shoot myself for two reasons - 1) For persisting in purchasing Tull albums when its clear to any sane person that you really shouldn't bother and 2) For persisting in reading Tikhonovs bizarre outpourings that have no basis whatsoever in the real world. Pissing into the wind indeed....Ian Andersons into his third decade of it.

Bob Josef <> (04.09.2002)

Well, you're a little hard on this one, I think. I do agree that the melodies are not particularly memorable. I couldn't even tell you what songs from the album they played when I saw them on this tour. But I do enjoy it for a number of reasons: really good lyrics; excellent sound quality and production (maybe the best ever on a Tull album); and Andy Giddings terrific keyboard playing -- the best since David Palmer left the band. The Indian motifs are definitely unusual for songs recorded in 1995. I do agree that "Another Harry's Bar" is their most blatant Dire Straits rip-off yet, but it's a pretty good rip-off. I don't hate "Valley" as much as you do, but this is the one place where the lyrics are quite cliched.

The most unusual thing for is that Ian exhibits an emotion that he really hadn't much on record before: vulnerability, particularly on "Beside Myself" (the single, and definitely my favorite) and "At Last, Forever." We're pretty much used to Ian being sarcastic and oblique. To be so direct in these two songs is another sign of him mellowing with age, I suppose.


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (18.03.2000)

Good album and nothing more. The story of Rock Island / Catfish Rising continues, after the strong and hard-boiled concept album Ian with friends made a simple collection of songs (wonderful songs, actually), while I prefer more complex stories. (And more longer. Four years of waiting... and the album lasts only 55 minutes!)

And I think that woman's backing vocals is not good idea in Tull's song (I don't mention Maddy Prior!). Najma Akhtar have a perfect voice, but her backgrounds made title song too poppy for my taste. In other side, some songs here are really nice and pleasant ("Spiral", "Wicked Windows", "El Nino", "Black Mamba", "Bends Like A Willow", "Gift Of Roses"), so the whole impression of the album is up to your taste.

This time it's not the best album of the year (Under The Violet Moon and Return To The Centre Of The Earth stands higher), but this is Jethro Tull's album and it means that this album is very good (at least). My favourite song is "Bends Like A Willow" and my rating - 7.

PS. I bought Mr. Anderson's new solo album today. It's fucking great! Ian's eleventh masterpiece, no doubts!

Philip Maddox <> (30.06.2000)

Now this is what I call a comeback! I liked Roots To Branches, but this record still blows it away and stands as easily the best record Tull has made since Broadsword. Of course, the title of the album is extraordinarily banal. It sounds like they're tyring to sound up-to-date, but instead sounds like they're grasping at straws. Feel free to mock the title.

The music, on the other hand, is among the best that Tull has ever done. The heavy metal tracks here ('Spiral', 'Hunt By Numbers', 'El Nino') are the best metal tracks they ever did by a comfortable margin. They easily blow away 'This Is Not Love' and 'Jump Start', which easily blew away all of their other metal tracks. This album has some folky tunes on it too, and they fail to disappoint - 'The Dog Ear Years' is a GREAT song, and quite possibly my favorite song on here. Nostalgic? You bet! But also featuring a very pretty vocal melody and flute parts. 'A Gift Of Roses' is pretty, too. Even the more standard Tull songs here (like 'AWOL' and 'Bends Like a Willow') are well crafted and written. And Ian let other people write songs! Andrew Giddings wrote 'Nothing @ All' (which is basically an introduction to 'Wicked Windows', but still...), and Martin Barre wrote 'Hot Mango Flush', which is weaker than most of the stuff here, but still isn't bad. I don't even know what to say about 'Black Mamba' - it's almost like a heavy metal song, but the instrumental interplay is pure Tull - what a great song! I give this a 9. Who'd have thought Tull could pull off a record like this at this late date?

Oh, and about the difference between an Anderson solo record and a Tull record - Ian's solo records (and there are 3 of them) are completely Martin Barre free (except for a couple of songs on The Secret Language of Birds) and are typically made up of Ian and his current keyboard player (Peter on the first one, Andrew on the second two). Ian's first solo album was a lot like Under Wraps (so I've heard). His second, Divinities, is totally instrumental with orchestra-like keyboards added by Andrew over Ian's flute and acoustic guitar. His most recent, The Secret Language of Birds, is almost entirely acoustic. It really sounds like no other Tull album that came before it. In general, though, Ian puts out a solo album when his ideas deviate too strongly from the typical Tull formula. A was supposed to be a solo album, which explains why it sounds so different from other Tull albums. Though he liked the style of Walk Into Light enough to base Under Wraps on it.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (07.10.2000)

Note to Philip Maddox: Anyone who doesn't like Under Wraps is sure to hate Walk Into Light, which traffics in similar ideas but without the full Jethro Tull audio spectrum. While there are some good tracks, the whole thing sounds like it was recorded by Anderson and Vettese over a relatively short time, with the lyrics falling into that mundane A style. (In that October '80 press conference that I mentioned on the A page, Anderson said that the lyrics were inspired by things he read in the paper that morning, wrote up afterward, and sang later that day. He seemed to find this liberating and however he wants to work is his business, but I remember thinking this was a disaster as a working method as it brought to an end the more intrapsychic quality of most earlier Tull lyrics. He merged personal and worldly concerns a little better on ...Wraps than Walk..., I thought.) As for J-Tul Dot Com, there are too many great songs for me to go into at length, too much inspired playing and arrangement. Once again, the son-of-Aqualung cuts ("Spiral," "Hunt by Numbers") are the least interesting but I agree with most folks' comments about the other songs, though I will add that "Far Alaska," "The Dog-Eared Years," and especially "A Gift of Roses" deserve more credit for melody and arrangement than some have given them. (With "...Roses," as with "Bends Like a Willow," it's nice to see Anderson writing sincerely and successfully about his wife, given how many years she's apparently held down the salmon hatchery while he's out touring the world.) Memo to George: you do know that "El Nino" is not about a thunderstorm but rather about the worldwide weather condition that occurs every seven years or so, creating more-than-usually wet weather, right? ('97-98, when most of this was apparently recorded, was the last time it hit, and the reference to its "little sister" is to "La Nina," the drier year that habitually comes afterward.)

The live show I show of this album in October of '99 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles (where the band has played often in the '90s) was pretty good. Anderson was singing well, the band was very tight, and they did some things I haven't heard them do in a quarter century, like a brief instrumental segment of Passion Play. Giddings also teased the audience with about ten seconds of the piano intro on "Flying Dutchman" before they did "My God," and the show was heavy on Stand Up songs -- "A New Day...,' "Jeffrey Goes...(Doane really good on bongos with sticks), "Bouree," "Nothing is Easy," "Fat Man" (Martin on flute), and "For a Thousand Mothers." "Thank you for having us back!," Ian warmly said at the end of the show, for any of those who still think he's a terminal curmudgeon.


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Bob Josef <> (02.12.2005)

Well, Ian is getting positively sentimental in his old age! Especially on "Birthday Card at Christmas" -- even at this point, I'm not sure you'd totally expect that from the old curmudgeon. But since I'm turning into an old curmudgeon, too, that suits me just fine! I really love the atmosphere Ian comes up with for these tunes, even if a lot of them are only, at best, tangentially related to Christmas. I wouldn't say that the remakes of the older material necessarily improve on the originals, but he would have to do new arrangements to make the album sound consistent from beginning to end. The one song that does improve is "Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow" (originally a ..Broadsword.. outtake that eventually ended up on a B-side and on the ..20 Years.. box). The original was sort of hard synth-pop, but "acoustifying" it makes it more like a real Christmas song. The singing (like on "Birthday Card..", for instance) is, like on SLOB, sounding more like 70's Ian than he has in a long time. And he does give original instrumental twists on old Christmas songs like "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Greensleeved" that make them avoid seeming cliched and old hat. Overall, this is one of the strongest Christmas albums ever to come from a rock group, although it probably won't ever get the attention it deserves.

By the way, you seem to have forgotten that "Another Christmas Song" originally was made for Rock Island. Based on your review, though, perhaps you may be trying to suppress your memories of that album!


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (21.03.2000)

Very weird video with an excellent music. Filmed (as one rumour said) in Royal Albert Hall in November 1980, this tape contains the A tour concert (not the whole concert, just a few excerpts) with some bits of clip footages. Ian's imaginery is great, but stupid multicoloured filters made this video an extraordinary strange. "Black Sunday" live version is good, but the edition of the film is bad, in one moment you can hear Ian's flute while he didn't begin to play yet. "Dun Ringill" clip is interesting, "Fylingdale Flyer" is weak musically so the video image still can't help. "Songs From The Wood" and "Heavy Horses" are simply wonderful (I don't understand why did Ian shorten an original versions). "Sweet Dream" Dracula-image is fantastic ("Get out and get what you can while your mommy's at home a-sleeping") and I suspects that the audio tape was taken from "Bursting Out" (Tull didn't play "Sweet Dream" during the A tour, so it maybe "Bursting Out", maybe not). "Too Old To Rock'n'Roll" is a studio recording and the one of the funniest clips I've ever seen (oh those wooden ducks! those wooden ducks!). "Skating Away" is "Skating Away" (I still don't like this song), "Aqualung" is astonishing as always, and "Locomotive Breath" is the strangest part of the video. Yes, George's right, the song lost unforgettable riff, but in the coda you will hear breathless duel between Ian's flute and Eddie Jobson's electric violin, the moment of true revelation.

It's pity, but it's the only one official Tull's video-concert. All other tapes (Seattle '79, Berlin '85 etc.) was filmed for TV, so you will not find 'em on the legal market. Maybe they will appear on one perfect day?


Tikhonov Konstantin <> (21.03.2000)

A look into the history made for band's 20th anniversary, it contains some interviews with Ian and his faithful fans. Here we have fantastic pieces - Stockholm January '69 version of "To Be Sad Is A Mad Way To Be", videos of "The Whistler", "Too Old To Rock'n'Roll" (from "Slipstream") and "Heavy Horses" (another funniest thing, probably George turned off his VCR before this song, not after) and Tull's all-time peak - their October 1978 show at the Madison Square Garden. "Thick As A Brick"! "Songs From The Wood"! "Aqualung"! Oh, God was in New York that day! I prays that the whole concert will be released some day (there are rumours of the DVD release coming). The late 80's clips are nice, especially "Said She Was A Dancer" and "Jump Start", even "Steel Monkey" is looking good (but only looking). Bad points: some clips are shortened - USA '70 "Teacher" (you will find the whole version from France TV in same year on "25th Anniversary Video"), "Lap Of Luxury" (wise decision) and "Budapest" (and this is the real crime!). Editors of 25th Anniversary Video was much more wiser, they placed whole versions of some clips after the end of the film. Anyway, if you Tull-fan and even if you don't understand Ian's jokes - take it!


Steven Knowlton <> (16.10.2001)

I haven't heard this album, but I'd say the title "In an Olive Garden" probably is a reference to Christ, who prayed in an olive grove on the night he was betrayed.

Bob Josef <> (28.12.2001)

A tough album to categorize. Who was expected to buy this? Like you, George, I have a hard time differentiating between the pieces. But taken as a whole, the album is a very pleasant, enjoyable listen, calming and soothing. And the combination of all sorts of musical influences is quite interesting and creative, more so than the endless variations on the Crest sound Ian had been engaging in lately.

The most interesting thing here to me though, is that the melodies here are far stronger than on the simultaneously released Roots to Branches, a supposedly far more commercial project. I saw a show on the RTB tour, and the band played three Divinities numbers, and pulled them off quite well. Maybe if Ian had written lyrics to these and released it as a Tull album, it would have been a lot more popular.


Bob Josef <> (23.04.2004)

I like this one a lot better than I thought I would. Simply a delightful record. It has all of the advantages of Roots to Branches -- excellent production,  Andy Giddings' superb arrangements, interesting imagery in the lyrics (if not as direct as RTB), occasional ethnic influences. And it has none of its shortcomings -- namely, the lack of melodicism in that album. The intimate, acoustic approach is also far more suitable to Ian's now very limited vocal range. These are his best vocals since the pre-Crest days (still a long way from the glory years, of course). I do agree that the lack of diversity is the only shortcoming in the album -- but again, RTB was more diverse, so that is not always an advantage. I can say that I enjoy every single song here. The live (in a radio station) bonus tracks are nice to have, too. The stripped down piano-and-flute version of "In the Grip of Stronger Stuff" fits in rather nicely. The Celtic influence is a lot more obvious. The excerpt from "Thick as a Brick" sounds a little bit more out of place (Ian is a LONG way now from that lyrical point of view), but it's not bad.

The fact both Divinities and this album are so much better than RTB sort of suggests that Ian can no longer effectively incorporate the "rock" influences within his work. They seem to be intrusive, interfering with his sonic and melodic goals.  Although I haven't heard Dot Com, so maybe the jury is out on that. Still, if his recent Rupi's Dance is more along this line, I'm looking forward to it more.


Alex Zaitsev <> (10.06.2004)

Oh my God, did that review make me laugh! No, really, George, you've somehow managed to mix everything up in the funniest way possible! "Rupi's Danc"e is not a song about a teenage vixen! Rupi is Ian's kitten, the very "black angel" that waves its paw to the listener on the album cover. Geez, you calling the song "sleazy" is just so damn hilarious! So, on the one hand, thanks for giving me a good laugh, but on the other hand, try to do your work better when doing such analyses. I know that it's hard, with all those thousands of albums and stuff, but anyway, it's just a minor quibble.

[G.S.: Hey, instead of laughing at me, better get extra respect for Ian - I'd like you to check these lyrics with no extra sources and understand it's about a 'kitten'! Besides, as long as I'm not writing a PhD on Jethro Tull, there's only so much time I can spare for research - checking out somebody named "Ralitsa Vassileva" was wild enough this time. Correction made, anyway. Thanks.]

PW (12.06.2004)

Rupi's Dance gets a lot of play for me; though it does indeed take a few listens (rook me 8-10) to begin to full appreciate this album. George's best songs on this are pretty much the ones I declared to be the best after just a few listens ('A Raft of Penguins', 'Photoshop', 'Old Black Cat', and 'Rupi's Dance'); they seem to be more immediately catchy. Not a bad track on the album. In comparison to The Secret Language of Birds, this one has a slightly more fleshed out sound, with perhaps even more flute leads and slightly less acoustic guitar, maybe having more 'rhythm' based songs (which is ironic since this one might have taken more listens to get into), and sounds a tad 'heavier'. Though really, overall, these two albums are much in the same vein. And while I initially rated SLOB a bit higher, I now have reached the conclusion they are close in quality. Both get 8/10 for me. You get your fast instrumental in 'Eurology' and your more relaxed one in 'Griminelli's Lament'. Great heavy almost American Indian sounding flute riff in "Pigeon Flying Over Berlin Zoo'. And while I wouldn't necessarily call this an "old man's" album, it does indeed strike me, like SLOB, as a more 'mature' album. But not boring and certainly fun and realxing. And while some may say this album doesn't push forward any envelopes, it certainly is a unique find in today's musical landscape. No one else that I've heard is putting out music of this nature and quality with good melodies and without the sonic bombast. Hey that's how I like much of my music anymore.

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