37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Masterpiece
Every so often in life something very special comes along. The album Songs From The Wood is in my opinion just such an example of specialness in its extreme. Released in February 1977 while England was gripped by Punk Rock, its folk and countryside related themes only served to fuel its many NME type critics. However, I would wager that many Punks secretly loved the...
Published on 1 July 2006 by Mr. D. J. Rudram
0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Crap!
This is, quite simply the worst album they made and I've now got them all on cd.
I think they made this just to pay a tax demand.
It has nothing going for it at all!
Published 10 months ago by Jackarmy1071
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Masterpiece,
Every so often in life something very special comes along. The album Songs From The Wood is in my opinion just such an example of specialness in its extreme. Released in February 1977 while England was gripped by Punk Rock, its folk and countryside related themes only served to fuel its many NME type critics. However, I would wager that many Punks secretly loved the record and at the time possibly played it in secret in their bedrooms via headphones.
Songs From The Wood contains a perfect set of earthy and folk edged songs that sound as fresh and vibrant today as they did back in 1977. There is a feeling of pastoral happiness that runs throughout the album which in turn makes you feel all the better for listening to it. If it's at all possible you can almost 'Hear' Ian Anderson smiling as he sings.
It's interesting to note that Jethro Tull's previous offering was Too Old To Rock'N'Roll, which although brilliant and special in its own right was a world removed from the styles and themes on Songs From The Wood. In my opinion it was a change in direction that was a perfect and refreshing move for the band.
And what of the songs? Well, as I've already said it's a perfect set, stuffed with brilliant tunes and lyrics from start to finish. I could probably write a whole book concerning the merits of each individual song. However, I will dwell here on just the one track entitled Pibroch (Cap In Hand). This brilliantly played song also tells a very interesting story about a man returning one night 'cap in hand' to his woman after a relationship break-up only to look through the dining room window and witness strange slippers by the fire and strange boots in the hallway. Even more disconcerting he also notices a candle lit table for two has been laid. In short he's been dumped for someone else. It's fabulous writing that as usual paints a such a vivid picture in the mind that you can almost feel and see the warmth of the fire and the look of those strange slippers. Also you can feel sadness as the spurned lover sadly walks away with his cap now firmly on his head.
Hopefully I've said enough to sell you Songs From The Wood. It really is a must have album for anyone with an imagination and an ear for a good tune. I've been listening to it for the past 23 years and I'm not bored of it yet!
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Jethro Tull album,
This album is the epitome of Jethro Tull. The instrument playing is simply wonderful, the songs are evocative and meaningful and the production is great. The blend of rock and folk has never worked better than it does here. The highlights for me are the title track itself, The Whistler, Hunting Girl and Velvet Green although people new to the album might be more familiar with Ring Out Soltace Bells, a regular on the Christmas playlists of many radio stations.
This album and its messages takes on a new meaning in the present feeling of doom regarding global warming and climate change. Ian Anderson's song writing suggests an almost predictional message of the difficulties facing a society in which the wheels of industry and pollution have taken hold over nature and as nature struggles to fight back, it becomes clear that it faces an insidious and determined enemy. On the other hand, if this is too deep, just enjoy the songs for what they are-tuneful songs played by a band at the top of their game.
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rural Rides,
Some old sounds for summer. They may be considered terminally unhip now but Jethro Tull caused something of a sensation in 1968 when they emerged, amid the by now wilting flower children, made up to look like a bunch of ageing farmers.
By 1977, after several line-up and stylistic changes, they developed a baroque form of folk-rock in the shape of "Songs from the Wood". It is a riotous collection celebrating earthy delights in rural settings. Pagan ritual, revelry, song and dance, much ale, horse-riding, and riding of an altogether different variety. Yes, not to put too fine a point on it, a lot of the songs here are about shagging. If Tull are to be believed, these country folk are at it all the time.
The album shows Tull at their most ornate and bucolic with plenty of Ian Anderson's trademark flute, acoustic guitars and mandolins, and all manner of (non-synthesiser) keyboard. Martin Barre's electric guitar, always a pleasure, gets a god airing too. His searing notes drenched in reverb form a dramatic counterpoint to the acoustic folk heart of "Pibroch", a very Lady Chatterley tale of discreet liaisons between a woman of substance and a lowly employee. "Hunting Girl" is a less sultry, more jaunty number on a similar subject. You see? They're sex mad! Fetch me a bucket of cold water. Makes you want to move to the country right away.
So, unfashionable though Jethro Tull may be, "Songs from the Wood" is a brilliant catalogue of rural frolicking, from love among poppies filled with summer rain on the opening track to putting your feet up by the fire at midnight on the closer. A perfect soundtrack to summer.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tull me more!,
Songs from the Wood opens with the line "Let me bring you Songs from the Wood - to make you feel much better..." - and it certainly does that.
The outstanding tracks are rich and thick like the oral equivalent of clotted cream, and although the others are mostly uninspiring, the ratio is safely in favour of the former. "Hunting Girl", "Velvet Green" and "The Whistler" are very personal songs to me, while "Solstice Bells" and "Fires at Midnight" are definitely for a midwinter pick-me-up. "Crimson Wonder" on the other hand is for that time in summer when the trees are green, the corn is ripening and you spot a hare, fox or pheasant in the meadows, reminding you of nature's splendour for approximately four minutes.
The downside is that the other tracks are - to a non-Tull fan - disappointing. "Jack in the Green" seems to be Tull-by-numbers, and "Beltane"...I'm not sure I've ever listened to it properly after a year of owning this CD. The live version of "Velvet Green" is good - especially the twiddly folk-dance in the middle - but I'm not a massive fan of live recordings, as on record they come across as tinny versions of the real thing.
It's a great introduction to Jethro Tull and I would urge anyone that wants to get into them to listen to this album first. The beauty of most of the tracks make up for the poor quality of some, and this will probably be one of the albums that in years to come I will listen to and be swept back to where I was at the time that I first heard it, which is compliment enough for anyone.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Songs' Remastered,
This is the latest release in the ongoing remastering of the whole Tull back catalogue. As well as the original tracks from the 1977 album, this disk comes with two bonus tracks, the studio track 'Beltane', originally planned as a b-side to 'The Whistler' single, but shelved at the last moment, and only finally released on the '20 Years of Jethro Tull' boxed set and a live version of 'Velvet Green', culled from the legendary 1977 BBC 'sight and Sound in Concert' recording, and similarly released in the '20 years' set. This was the album that won me over as a life-long Tull fan, and is regularly cited among their favourites by long-time followers of the band and prog-afficionados alike. A complex blend of electric rock, accoustic folk-driven material, and rich keyboard and percussive orchestration, it benefits more than most albums from the greater depth and texture brought out by the remastering process. The album is a must for all collections, and it's definitely worth upgrading to this version from the original CD version if you've got the cash.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Join the chorus if you can, it'll make of you an honest man.,
When most people fancy a lungful of crisp clear country air, they go, not surprisingly to the country.
But I don't, I merely put on this CD and I'm there, whistling alongside the Poachers, sharing a fire at midnight with the Badgers,and all of us singing Songs from the Wood.
If your foot doesn't start tapping when Cup of Wonder comes on I'd check your pulse. Every song on this album is good, so good in fact that Mr Anderson decided to release a song from it on the "Ring Out Solstice Bells" EP,
and he didn't release many singles.
Some people try and pigeonhole the music, some call it folk rock, others prog rock, I just call it good music.
All the songs sound as fresh and vibrant as they did all those years ago.
Of all my Tull albums this is the one that gets the most played.
(Although, "Thick as a Brick" isn't far behind.)
All tracks composed and produced by Ian Anderson.
Here's a snippet of lyrics from the title track.
Let me bring you all things refined:
Galliards and lute songs served in chilling ale.
Greetings,well-met fellow hail!
I am the wind to fill your sail,
I am the cross to take your nail:
A singer of these ageless times-
With kitchen prose,and gutter rhymes.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece,
The excellant songs from the wood now remastered in 24 bit, sounds even better and with a few bonus tracks and updated booklet make this CD an essential purchase and certainly one of the best Tull albums. One of my all time favourites.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Tull at their best,
Tull always had three main musical styles in the 1970s - hard electric rock (albeit rather quirky), long, complex progresive rock pieces, and more folk-influenced acoustic pieces. This album showcases the latter mainly, although there are a few moments of blistering electric guitar work from Martin Barre on the odd track. The album seems to have captured this Tull line-up (arguably the best of all time) at their musical zenith, and Ian's songwriting skills are displayed in fine form as well (his voice is great as well). The band on this record are just so tight in their performance, yet still quirky and original. From beginning to end, this is quintessential Jethro Tull - quirky, folksy, rocky at times, honest, unique. Each track has its moments and bears repeated listening. While some 80s Tull may sound dated, perhaps because of the keyboard work, this album remains fresh and inspirational. OK, so it may be a product of its time, and we don't find anything much like it in the 21st century, but it still sounds good, I guess because it is a classic. If you are only going to buy a small number of Tull albums, this one has to be near the top of your list. It doesn't have the long, complex 10 minute+ progressive rock masterpieces that some other Tull albums feature, but as a record of folk-inspired Tull it is unparalled. If you are a Tull fan you MUST add this to your collection. And if you're just curious about the more acoustic side of Tull, give it a try and see if it's charm will work on you. Oh, and isn't there something just very English about this album?!
By the way - if you are wondering about the sound quality of this remaster - fear not ! I have the gold disc MFSL version as well, and this (far cheaper) remastered version is almost as good as that - i.e. it sounds brilliant !
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When the waves come pounding over your Dansette...,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is SUCH a good album. I had not listened to very much Tull before I bought 'The Acoustic Jethro Tull' on a whim last year via Amazon. It was remarkable and really opened my eyes to the pleasures to be had from a band I'd consigned to a stack of records labelled 'prog rock' and consequently 'not for me'.
How wrong I was. Since then, having taken heed of the reviews on Amazon, I've more or less firmed up my plans to expand my collection of Tull/Ian Anderson in a particular sequence and 'Songs From The Wood' was number two on the list.
I cannot understand how this great music could have been off my radar for so many years. Well, maybe I can. I first started getting into music when the NME was telling me Jethro Tull and bands like them - hang on, IS there any band like them? - were just not cool, so not of the moment they weren't worth paying attention to. Now that so many of the bands I was assured back then were the future of rock music are hardly remembered at all, Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson still straddle the world like a colossus. I think respect for them is growing all the time and I'm sure that increasingly more lovers of contemporary music will be turned on by their charms. I feel mad that my younger self was fooled into thinking - by people who ought to have known better - that there was nothing here for me when now, at fifty, I discover there is so much.
As others have noted, there's not a single filler track here - they are all good. You won't find yourself skipping tracks until you hit on the only two you can tolerate. I appreciate the musicianship of Tull - no room for three chord wonders here and none the worse for that. Something else I find remarkable too - this band were doing songs about the planet, conservation, how people relate to the earth and stay connected to it in spite of the diversions and disturbances of urban living before any of this stuff became fashionable. I'm far from what you'd describe as a 'tree hugger' but the themes of the songs resonate with me. Like Anderson, I have lived in Blackpool. Like Anderson, I live in the country now.
Between the two Tull albums I now have - and I hope to get many more - not much else gets a look in on the car stereo these days. Ian Anderson has a great voice, the lyrics are very good - whether thought provoking or funny. The next two albums I plan to get are two of Anderson's more recent solo outings and I'm expecting similar great things from them.
My conclusion? Labels are a total waste of time. I believe that to ever label Jethro Tull as 'prog rock' was very, very wrong. They go well beyond the genre and like most truly great bands, they don't easily lend themselves to categorization. My only regret is I spent thirty years studiously avoiding them.
Buy 'Songs From The Wood' if you are in two minds. It's unlikely to disappoint - but only if you leave your prejudices behind. One to snatch from the sand and save when the waves come pounding over your Dansette.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius at Work,
This is a magnificent collection of songs from Jethro Tull. There is no filler here at all. For anyone interested in Tull don't hesitate to listen to this, and I'd be amazed if you're not bowled over by it. This was the peak of their folk rock period, and for me their very best piece of work of any kind. The band led by the unique Ian Anderson explore and harness the forces of nature and ancient lore to then unleash them on the listener.
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