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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 28 December 2001
This was the album that turned me on to Jethro Tull back in 1970. It was a time when progressive rock was really getting in to its stride and Tull were supreme exponents. Benefit was an album of superb songs, musicianship and production. Ian Anderson's ethereal flute in the opening bars of 'With You There To Help Me,' grabbed my attention. By the end of the track, with his maniacal, echoing laughter, I was hooked.
There's not a bad track on the album, but high points for me are; 'To Cry You A Song.' - Fades in with Martin Barre's double-tracked lead guitar hook, followed by Ian's processed double tracked vocal. Martin's lead breaks between verses, not only double tracked, but then two complementary melodies in the left and right channels, finally coming together in harmony just before the next verse and then triple tracked toward the end. There's a lot going on here, if you take the time to listen to it carefully. 'Play In Time.' - featuring reverse guitar, reverse piano, it seems there's reverse everything at times, swirling around the stereo soundscape in organised anarchy.
These weren't rock 'n' rollers bashing out a few three chord tunes, these were consummate musicians taking their time to craft an album of intricate rhythms and melodies using the best recording techniques of the time. Every member of the band contributed to a complex jigsaw that fitted together perfectly, not forgetting John Evans' (or Evan as he was credited on the original sleeve) essential contribution on keyboards.
Over thirty years later I can still listen to this album and enjoy every second of it. It just doesn't seem dated to me at all. If I could award more than five stars I wouldn't hesitate to do so.
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VINE VOICEon 22 May 2001
When I first discovered Tull's Benefit in 1974 I thought it must be some obscure live bootleg but over the years it has given me more satisfaction than most of Tull's other albums. The songs are uniformly well written, arranged and played - the production is much tighter than Stand Up and with John Evan making his first major contribution this was arguably Tull's strongest ever line-up. Anderson's flute takes a bit of a back seat for most of the ride - more subtle and melodic, with only a few sporadic wild breathless outbursts and it is very much a multi-layered guitar album. Anderson's acoustic guitar work is superb - listen to Sossity and Michael Collins and his singing was maturing into that distinctively melodious voice which is such a feature of Jethro's best work. Cornick and Bunker were a fantastic rhythm section, tidy, inventive but solid. Barre's solos are controlled and excellent but there are lots of little flourishes and tasty accompaniment which is just as important. Stand out songs, apart from those mentioned are With You There to Help Me, Alive & Well & Living In (replaced by Teacher on the US release) and Inside, although they are all good. Benefit is a class album, ranking along with Stand Up and Thick As A Brick as my Tull favourites. Essential really.
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Tull's finest and most underrated album; a strangely introspective and bitter record that, conversely, uplifts with every listen - check out the extended coda to 'With You There To Help Me', the joyous contrasted major key chorus to 'For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me' or the simply glorious 'Sossity' for example. Very much in the mould of its predecessor 'Stand Up', but with a more melancholy feel and an understated production that enhances that mood. A classic.
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on 9 March 2005
After hearing a few Jethro Tull tracks (and obviously loving them from the start!) I decided to purchase an album and chose Benefit purely on the simplicity of the cover. I'm so glad this was my first proper introduction to Tull - I LOVE THIS ALBUM! Every song is simply amazing and beautifully well written. I especially like 'Play In Time' , 'With You There To Help Me' and the suitably placed last track 'Teacher'. 'To Cry You A Song' always makes me think of the wonder that is mushrooms! Having purchased Songs from the Wood, Stormwatch, and Minstrel in the Gallery since (all bloody great albums!), Benefit still remains my firm favourite and is a must have for all Jethro Tull fans.
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After the bluesy first two albums (which are fun but no better than the competition) comes this extraordinarily beautiful jazz/blues/rock music - Benefit.

This is the album which defined the Jethro Tull sound - flutes, guitars, piano and the wonderful bass and drums... Quite unique, especially with Mr. Anderson's tremendous voice.

Afterwards came Aqualung (almost as good - but a bit "preachy"), and then the wild worlds of "Thick as a Brick" and "Passion Play" - all truly wonderful, but not as ground breaking as this "Benefit".

All the tracks fit together so well (it reminds me of the perfection of the Who's "Who's Next") - it is a concept album in terms of sound, feel, style rather than any specific concept.

No outstanding track - they are all perfect. Oh, for those halcyon days of the early 70's - live them again here...
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on 5 June 2007
This, the third Tull album, followed This Was and Stand Up. In its time, Benefit as well-received and it sold well, although Stand Up did perhaps have a little more popular acclaim. Stand Up had been an album of rather more gentle melody but Benefit was a little harder-edged: an album with rather more electric guitar. Although not fundamentally a blues album as had been This Was, one can still hear that the band is really not that far removed from the blues, especially on the track 'to cry you song,' which is Tull at their best, and not in the least dated.

I always remember a contemporary 'top 100 of all time' list which contained a review of Stand Up and Benefit in which these albums were described as containing 'tight, riffy songs, full of melody and ripe with wit.' This is still the best description of Tull that I have ever heard, and one which I still retain in my memory. Without doubt, this was the fresh, golden age of the band. Benefit, for me, is still their pinnacle, and along with Stand Up, Living in th Past, Aqualung, Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses, contains their best work. I regret tht I am not keen on the mediocre albums from the mid seventies ('Brick' Warchild, Minstrel and Passion Play), nor on the very heavy and muddy style found on Stormwatch and Broadsword. I do quite like the lighter and more clean melody of Under Wraps, but the rest of the eighties stuff leaves me cold. If you are starting to listen to Tull, go for Benefit, Stand Up and Living in the Past. These I have never tired of, not even after 35 years.
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on 23 January 2001
We come to the difficult third album. When you have to follow a classic like Stand Up what do you do? Produce a quantum leap from nice short songs to dramatic opus (With You There To Help Me, To Cry You a Song, sound experiments (Play in Time and WYTTHM, beautiful melodies (MCJ&M and of course Sossity) and catchy fun (Inside). Benefit opened the door for Aqualung, Thick as a Brick, A Passion Play and as such is the pivotal album. As the previous reviewer says underrated but a joy at every turn. Go on treat yourself before the remaster and inevitable price hike!
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on 30 August 2008
The blues and jazz influences of the first two albums have all but disappeared, to be replaced with a gutsier rock style with very definite folky leanings. Sadly this was to be Glenn Cornick's final album (he is still my favourite Tull bassist).
Due to Tull's worldwide touring commitments they needed to release something special to keep the home fans happy (they were hardly ever in the u.k.) and this album went some way towards achieving that.
Martin Barre's guitar is prominent, replacing Ian's flute as the focal point for the majority of the songs, some heavyish riffing and quality leadwork, all made possible thanks to John Evan filling out the sound with his keyboards.
Favourite tracks? well that depends on the mood, but 'with you there to help me', 'nothing to say' and 'to cry you a song' are always worth a mention, but the rest are all top class.
Soundwise the remastering is ok except for 'inside', or have I got a naf copy?
A fine example of early Tull, if you've not heard it, then what are you waiting for, it's cheap enough.
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Tull progressed well without any whistles or bells or announcements of a new dawn.

Benefit was a solid offering of quality songs, moving into a more folkier groove with none of the blues roots of This Was. Arguably the material isn't quite as strong as on Stand Up but there are a number of interesting technological innovations such as backward loops and some typical Tull offerings like To Cry You a Song which gave definite hints of the kind of material to follow on Aqualong.

Again this was a collection of songs rather than the overblown prog that was to come in the form of Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play. The band was evolving quickly, but this was no mark time effort.
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on 15 November 2010
Hard to categorise this one and I suspect Ian Anderson probably doesn't rate it too highly. I think you have to be a real Jethro Tull fan of the early years to get the full depth of this, and it does have some serious weaknesses. But when I followed the band for the first half dozen or so early albums, this was probably my favourite. It's something to do with the sound world that Ian Anderson and the band created and somehow it's curiously at its most personal and affecting on Benefit. Ian's creativity in these early years was almost unmatched and I prefer his more straight ahead song writing of the period to the later concepts and conceits that were soon to follow. There was a real charm and whimsy to some of the writing that, unlike some of the later stuff, was unforced and effortless, an almost child-like innocence that seemed to echo the England of Lewis Carroll and Kenneth Grahame, cricket, cream teas, holidays in Blackpool and friends called Jeffrey. Anderson with his flute and acoustic guitar could sometimes charm things of great beauty and simplicity, and with the permanent addition of John Evan on piano ushering in the classic Tull line-up, the nursery was complete. It's an album of real rainy day introspection that leaves the American blues influences of This Was behind for a more English wistfulness and longing. Perhaps my favourite Jethro Tull track of all is the very minor and very Beatles influenced 'Inside', not a well known song in their catalogue but I find it very affecting. There was nobody quite like Jethro Tull back then and they hold a very special place in English rock music. If you can get into Benefit then its finest moments take you to the very heart of what they were about.
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