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Jethro Tull - Benefit CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.91 | 964 ratings

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5 stars Filling the gap, the finest example.

One of the finest amalgams between good musicianship and high level of literacy; since it was released in 1970, it was wrapped with progressive overtones, but not because of occasional trends - it's more likely an emphasizing device for wide palette of Ian's ideas. It is true that the album is somewhat inconsistent, but I will stay in it's defence because all the aspects if that inconsistency are:

a) well above the average level of songwriting, b) album works perfectly as a whole, and c) the level of inconsistency is significantly decreased if you don't compare the album with other Ian's conceptual works.

Having said that, I'm defining this album as first yet very successful picture book of a skilled man who will become world-renowned rock pedagogue and methodologist in a years to come.

Are my comparisons too daring? I don't think that's the case, they're simply reflection of Ian's really intelligent work as a whole, and of his work in this particle called "Benefit" whose relevancy is not to be underestimated.

First of all - and that's probably the most important fact, musically-wise - this albums fills the gap between band's first period (of pushing the boundaries of blues) and the second period (progressive, (semi) conceptual works with social themes). It's clearly blues-influenced, but there's no straightforward blues tune on it, progressive elements are more evident in pseudo-baroque riffs ("To Cry You a Song", "Sossity; You're a Woman") than in multipart-compositions ("Son", For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me"), and last but not the least, the quality of production increased drastically.

Simply because of that fact this album deserves to be called an essential one, and we didn't scratched the surface yet.

As far as music goes, there's less flute and more piano, clashing the occasional hard-rock bursts and folkish tranquility.

Every track here is telling it's own story, and each one is augmented with excellent music - it's hard to say whether is music the background for the lyrics or vice versa. Whatever it is, it works perfectly. Ian's lyrics are emotional and clever in he same time, and the beauty of the lyrics and the music themselves is not buried under overaccentuated technicality, although this album is of high quality craftsmanship-wise. As any other Tull record.

The album is full of contemplative piano parts, which in correlation with unique Tull trademark - Ian's flute - create a perfect amalgam and pleasant listening experience. The other side of the musical diversity is armoured with barrage fire of hard-rock moments which are not raw or notorious at all; hard-rock presented here is crafted well, reasonably polished, with a spice of furiousness; there are some absolutely astonishing moments where guitar sounds like a snake in spasm lashing both sides of stereo field, an unbeatable trick that surprised even the band members, because apparently it happened in studio by a coincidence.

My point is that this album is monstrously well-balanced, focused, technical and emotional in the same time. It is not the best record that JETHRO TULL ever did simply because the band have half a dozen masterpieces up its sleeve, but as a standalone unit, this is a masterpiece in all possible contexts.

clarke2001 | 5/5 |


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