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Tull's early album of progressive creativity
on 16 April 2012
Jethro Tull's much celebrated 1969 album is one of the early examples of progressive creativity. Some of the material contained herein has become part of prog folklore, and standards in the Jethro Tull live set. It begins with that wonderful riff and blues feel of A New Day Yesterday, introducing the pallid vibrations of Ian Anderson's vocals, and his trilling flute. The guitar riff is killer, and there is even an accomplished lead guitar solo from Martin Barre that sounds psychedelic. Barre even contributes flute on "Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square" and "Reasons For Waiting.
Bourée is one of the pieces that is much loved by Tullites as it is actually a reworking of Bach's Bourée in E Minor. As an instrumental it showcases Anderson's exuberant flute playing, and the bass solo of Glenn Cornick. It reminds me of Camel's Snow Goose in feel.
The wavering vocals of Look Into The Sun are worse than the bleating vocals of Family's vocalist, however Anderson settles down the vocal gymnastics as the album continues.
There are some quirky 60s things on the album such as Back To The Family that doesn't do much for me, apart from the choppy percussion of Clive Bunker, but there is enough on the album to warrant the high rating it consistently receives. Though it is nowhere near as good as "Thick as a Brick", "Aqualung" or "Benefit".
Nothing Is Easy is one of the Tull classics, featuring scintillating flute playing and a strong melodic beat, as is Fat Man, another song that appears on countless compilations. The instrumental break on Nothing Is Easy is a trade off between flute and lead guitar licks, a wonderful combination. The style exudes a sense of joy and good natured humour. Fat Man has that wild tempo, balalaika, and incessant flute. It is repetitious but mesmirising and totally different to other Tull tracks.
There are quiet moments such as We Used to Know, the obligatory acoustic based song, but this has a wah wah pedal driven spacey lead break. For sheer acoustic excellence there is Reasons For Waiting, a bit too slow for me though I love the flute interludes. The orchestra strings join in later and lift it to an epic romantic level.
The album ends with a rocker featuring many lead riffs and powerful flute playing at its best. For a Thousand Mothers has some excellent playing, the drums crash like jazz free form, and the breaks in tempo are jarring.
The Tull CDs have become renowned for the bonus materials and this CD is no exception. The 2001 digital remaster features 4 bonus tracks, Living in the past, Driving Song, Sweet Dreams and 17. Some good music amongst this especially the brilliant upbeat Living In The Past which is the same version found on all Tull compilations. Driving Song has a cool riff and some odd time sig changes.
Overall I enjoy listening to this album, it introduced the amazing talents of Martin Barre who would stay with Anderson from here on in, and it represents an era when prog was in its infancy, and Tull were one of the undisputed pioneers. 3 ½ stars.