(In one other Vinyl scene, as if to drive the purpose residence, coke-addled file mogul Richie Finestra rips an precise Jethro Tull file off a turntable and cracks it over his knee.)
Jethro Tull, a blues-rock band from Blackpool in Northern England, joined Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues in a sloppy second British Invasion on the shut of the Sixties. Nominally an ensemble, Tull had however one core member, Ian Anderson. Ian wrote the songs, and he pursued a meandering musical imaginative and prescient, altering types — generally radically, generally inside a single album — to swimsuit his stressed muse and to slake the altering tastes of a fickle public.
By their second album, Stand Up, Tull had strayed from their blues-jazz roots into onerous rock, people rock and each different rock hyphenate within the pop pantheon of 1969. By the fourth Tull album, Aqualung, Ian sounded torn between enjoying solo guitar in a coffeehouse and fronting a heavy steel band. Album 5, Thick as a Brick, dove headfirst into prog. After a pair of album-long suites, Tull segued right into a spirited, up-tempo model of Ren-fest rock that Rolling Stone termed “Elizabethan boogie.” However whereas folk-rock purists comparable to Fairport Conference revived historic English balladry, Ian Anderson wrote his personal materials and stored one foot firmly planted within the prog universe, experimenting with classical themes, grad-school chord progressions and sword-and-sorcery motifs. Jethro Tull albums of that period made splendid soundtracks to Dungeons & Dragons classes.
Through the years, Jethro Tull misplaced the help of the rock-music press even because it gained an enormous and dependable fanbase, a passel of largely male patrons who caught with the band by way of many stylistic shifts.
Basic-rock radio lengthy offered a house for such pretty Tull chestnuts as “Instructor” and “Residing within the Previous.” However these songs at the moment are half a century outdated, artifacts of a fading ’70s soundtrack from artists missing Zeppelin-sized legacies. Many up to date music followers know Jethro Tull solely because the band that robbed Metallica of a 1989 Grammy award – in heavy steel, of all disciplines.
The Jethro Tull catalog cries out for reappraisal. On the flip of the Nineteen Seventies, the band spun off a exceptional sequence of eclectic albums, a run capped by the very good 1972 assortment Residing within the Previous. Subsequent releases have not aged so properly, however Ian Anderson remained an amazing songwriter, blessed with a exceptional sense of melody, counterpoint and music construction. A lot of Tull’s later output buried these presents beneath layers of teeth-rattling guitar or hid them inside earnest prog symphonies. When the band shut up and let Ian strum his acoustic, his songcraft resurfaced for a number of valuable minutes.
Right here, then, is an album-by-album overview of Ian Anderson’s biggest songs. We’ll cease within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, when Tull settled right into a folk-rock maturity, producing fewer stylistic troughs but additionally fewer compositional peaks.
Aspect One in all This Was, 1968.
Jethro Tull’s debut holds up higher than most long-players from blues-obsessed Britain within the late ’60s. The file pairs Ian Anderson along with his solely actual collaborator of that period, Mick Abrahams, an awesome blues-rock guitarist who would depart after one album to type Blodwyn Pig. Abrahams apparently cowrote “Beggar’s Farm,” maybe the best music on the disc. The Ian Anderson authentic “My Sunday Feeling” and the spirited duet “Some Day the Solar Will not Shine for You” rock onerous and bluesy. “Serenade to a Cuckoo,” overlaying jazzman Roland Kirk, exploits Ian’s novel expertise on the flute. Aspect two is generally filler, however “A Music for Jeffrey” is a swamp-boogie traditional.
All of Stand Up, 1969.
I believe Stand Up is Jethro Tull’s greatest album by a large margin. Three tracks, “Bourée,” “Nothing Is Simple” and “Fats Man,” rank as deathless Tull classics. “A New Day Yesterday” and “Again to the Household” are melodic hard-rock gems, whereas “Look into the Solar” and “Causes for Ready” provide pretty acoustic meditations. The Eagles pilfered the chords from “We Used to Know” and retooled them as “Resort California.” The one draw back is the lack of Abrahams.
All of Profit, 1970.
Whereas not as compositionally sturdy as Stand Up, Tull’s third album incorporates a brace of sometimes melodic onerous rock songs. “With You There to Assist Me,” the opener, gives pretty harmonies over a busy chord development. “Nothing to Say” and “To Cry You a Music” are riff-driven epics, marred solely by a creeping heavy-handedness on the guitars. “Inside” and “Instructor” are joyous romps.
Most of Aqualung, 1971.
You both love “Aqualung,” otherwise you hate it. Maybe the ascent of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath impressed Ian to open his fourth album with a pair of steel epics, “Aqualung” and “Cross-Eyed Mary.” They’re enjoyable songs: “Aqualung,” for higher or worse, turned Tull’s “Free Chook.” However for my ears, the true treasures lie farther down the observe listing, when the band steps again and Ian straps on his acoustic for a sequence of magical acoustic ballads, beginning with “Low-cost Day Return” and ending with “As much as Me.” Aspect two will get preachy (and noisy) with “My God,” however “Hymn 43” and particularly “Locomotive Breath” present the complete band at its gut-busting greatest.
All however facet three of Residing within the Previous, 1972.
This double album absolutely ranks among the many best compilations of ’70s rock, pulling collectively a exceptional run of singles, album tracks and EP cuts that span the genres of blues rock (“A Music for Jeffrey”), onerous rock (the beautiful “Love Story”), people rock (“The Witch’s Promise”) and Ian’s personal model of orchestral pop (“Life Is a Lengthy Music”). A number of of the perfect songs, together with the infectious “Singing All Day” and the title observe, had not seen launch on any prior Tull LP, a testomony to the energy of Ian’s songcraft. I usually skip facet three, a largely instrumental exercise recorded at Carnegie Corridor.
“Skating Away” and “Solely Solitaire” from Conflict Baby, 1974.
Tull bookended Residing within the Previous with pair of full-album suites, Thick as a Brick and A Ardour Play. Many followers and a few critics think about Brick a masterpiece. To paraphrase Chuck Berry, I believe each recordings lavatory down in needlessly advanced chord progressions and time signatures, in the end dropping the fantastic thing about Ian’s melodies. On Conflict Baby, the band retreated to correct – albeit uneven — songs. “Skating Away” is the glowing standout, a stunning acoustic music dressed up right into a pop hit. “Solely Solitaire” is one other fascinating acoustic tour, Sir Ian lashing out on the rising crowd of critics.
“One White Duck” from Minstrel within the Gallery, 1975.
This album indicators Ian Anderson’s embrace of the medieval bard, a persona he would inhabit into the subsequent decade. A lot of the songs begin out as pretty acoustic ballads after which explode into folk-metal exercises. They are not dangerous songs, however too typically, Sir Ian’s easy melodies disappear beneath the din. “One White Duck,” the light acoustic suite that opens facet two, is a forgotten gem.
“Salamander” from Too Previous to Rock ‘n Roll: Too Younger to Die, 1976.
This rock ‘n roll musical ranks amongst Tull’s weaker albums. The title observe is good, however the album’s greatest music is that this refined acoustic observe. If Ian had operated like Robyn Hitchcock, maybe he would have stockpiled these acoustic treasures for launch on one nice LP on the decade’s finish.
“The Whistler” and “Fires at Midnight” from Songs from the Wooden, 1977.
Critics greeted this album as a rousing return to type. Compositionally, Songs from the Wooden might be Ian’s strongest set since Residing within the Previous, though the late-’70s synth textures and folk-pop manufacturing sound dated immediately. Nonetheless, “The Whistler” is a breathless, stunning music, and “Fires at Midnight” closes out the LP like a cup of steaming cocoa.
“And the Mouse Police By no means Sleeps” from Heavy Horses, 1978.
The second album in Tull’s Elizabethan cycle sounds nearer to a real folk-rock album. The songs aren’t essentially stronger than these on Songs for the Wooden, however Heavy Horses advantages from an easier manufacturing. “Mouse Police” is a hypnotic gem of a music.
“Dun Ringill” from Stormwatch, 1979.
Unfairly maligned, Stormwatch is a nice album, moody and menacing just like the North Sea, if a tad overproduced. The crown jewel of this assortment is “Dun Ringill,” a type of Nordic fairy story set to an exquisite melody and answered by a beautiful contrapuntal determine on Ian’s acoustic guitar. It is most likely my favourite Ian Anderson music.
“Flyingdale Flyer” from A, 1980.
Beautiful multi-part harmonies adorn this music, a standout from a weaker Tull outing.
“Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow” from Broadsword and the Beast, 1982.
Broadsword marked one other modest comeback for Tull, 5 years after Songs from the Wooden. Like that album, Broadsword sounds very a lot of its period. (Not many albums launched in 1982, come to think about it, transcend the ghastly manufacturing methods of the time.) “Jack Frost” was an outtake that popped up on a late-’80s Tull boxed set, and it is my favourite Broadsword music by far, jubilant, dynamic and devilishly catchy.
“Beneath Wraps #2” from Beneath Wraps, 1984.
A beautiful, understated music from an album many Tull followers select to neglect.
Daniel de Visé is a frequent AllMusic contributor and creator of King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King.