My Record Collection 132

Jethro Tull – Well, one of the classic prog-rock bands of the Seventies and beyond.  I suppose I must have heard them around the release of Aqualung, their second album, I think.  The band really revolves around lead singer and flautist extra-ordinaire Ian Anderson.  My first purchase of theirs was 1972’s Thick As A Brick and I have sort-of worked both backwards and forwards since then.  I have seen them 2 or 3 times and they always put on a great show.  But they started off as a blues band in the mid-sixties, releasing their debut album This Was in 1968, which I later bought.    This is a very bluesy record heavily influenced by joint songwriter and guitarist Mick Abrahams.  Now, Mick left soon after the recording of these songs and the direction of the band became far more folky and progressive under Ian.  So, this album is really not so representative of the band, but still quite a pleasant album in itself.  Best song is ‘My Sunday Feeling’.  The rest are okay but too bluesy for my liking.  Much better was their fourth and really their breakthrough album Aqualung (1971).  The band were now established in Ian Anderson’s trademark prog-rock style, with complex songs at times lyrical and almost classical with bursts of heavy guitar and drums.  Jethro Tull were one of the leading bands playing this new inventive music – almost anything went and Tull soon became one of the biggest bands on the University and Concert circuit.  Ian plays flute wildly and uniquely and has a raspy sort of voice which can be quite hypnotic – he used to stand centre stage on one leg like some hippy pixie and captivate audiences.  The title track of this album is superb, one of their best ever songs.  Quite a few tracks are acoustic like the gentle ‘Mother Goose’ as well as much heavier tracks like ‘Locomotive Breath’.  Altogether a triumph and it is still their best selling album.   However, not quite my favourite of theirs.  I had fallen in love with the following year’s Thick As A Brick, and nothing ever quite replaced it for me.   The whole preposterous idea that the album was written by a 12 year old genius; the 12 page newspaper which was the cover of the vinyl album, the beautiful music and words which were grandiose but made little sense.  The whole thing was a brilliant piss-take and yet a hauntingly great record.  No titles for the songs, and – to my ears – it seems all one long piece anyway.  Great stuff – and the beauty of it was that both audience and record company were open-eared ready for whatever came next.   My next Tull album is Minstrel In the Gallery from 1975.  Despite the folky title and some lovely lyrical acoustic stuff, this is still a typical (if there is such a thing) Tull album.  Full of inventive and complex songs and a royal mix of heavy and lighter music.   The title track is the best, but I also like ‘Baker Street Muse’ and ‘Black Satin Dancer’.  The following year’s Songs From The Wood is even better, the songs seem more of a piece – though there is the usual mix of dainty acoustic ditties, flights of fancy flute and bursts of heavier stuff.  Best songs – the title track, ‘The Whistler’ and ‘Velvet Green’.  Next up is Heavy Horses, and again a pretty good album of mixed songs.  In many ways Anderson’s writing is symphonic with repeating motifs and mood changes, yet retaining an overall feel that is all his own.  This is probably why I really like music from this band and although I have failed to keep up with his many releases I have seen them three times in Concert, where somehow the music comes alive even more.  Best songs on this album ‘No Lullaby’, ‘And The Mouse Police Never Sleep’ and ‘One Brown Mouse’.  But in the end one tires of repetition and Jethro Tull were , excellently I must admit, simply repeating themselves – so I sort of lost interest.  Not that precludes me from buying something in the future if the fancy takes me.  One last album, a greatest hits The Very Best Of Jethro Tull.   A few tracks I didn’t have including ‘Too Old To Rock’n’Roll, Too Young To Die’, ‘Life’s a Love Song’ and ‘Bouree’.  A nice, if rather long listen. 

Thick As A Brick - Jethro Tull