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Jethro Tull - A CD (album) cover

A

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.20 | 542 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Crossover Prog Team
4 stars Well there may be many ways to change the line-up of a band, but this has to be one of the most unusual. Ian went into the studio to record a solo album, taking with him new Jethro Tull bassist Dave Pegg who had replaced the late John Glascock. Eddie Jobson (UK etc) was invited along to play keyboards and violin and he in turn brought drummer Mark Craney to the party. Ian admits that the first mistake he now made was in asking Martin Barre to also play on the album. If Martin hadn't come along then things might have been different' The tape boxes were marked with 'A' for Anderson, but when they were presented to the record company Ian was told that it was to be released as Jethro Tull. Apparently Barriemore Barlow had already said that he was ready to leave, but before Ian could talk to David Palmer or John Evan the fact that there was a new line-up has been announced to the press.

Given that this album is sandwiched between the mighty 'Stormwatch' and the even mightier 'Broadsword & The Beast' I have always felt that it is sadly neglected, which is a shame as it saw Ian move in a new direction. This was music that was much more rocky, as he moved a long way from 'Heavy Horses' which at the time was only two years old but was a world away from this. Punchy hard rock (although with extremely strong melodies) was the order of the day, with only occasional acoustic guitar to lighten proceedings such as on 'Working John, Working Joe' but the keyboard sounds had moved a long way from the portable pipe organ of the Seventies. 'Crossfire' is a great opener, one of the few (if not only) songs written about the Iranian Embassy siege but the highlight of the first side (as it was) is 'Black Sunday'. The studio version doesn't capture the passion that they demonstrated in concert, but it is a fine song all the same as the band drive along with Ian's view of a strike.

The second side started with 'Protect and Survive' with some great flute and lazy bass lines, but it is the synth-driven 'Batteries Not Included' (which almost incongruously has fretless bass behind it) that challenges for song of the album. 'The Pine Marten's Jig' looks back to older times while album closer 'And Further On' could have featured on 'Songs' or 'Horses'. This line-up toured the album then it was no more, although Eddie did return for one gig in Germany (which luckily enough I have on video).

The remastered reissue doesn't feature any extra tracks from the sessions, but it does contain a DVD! 'Slipstream' was the first commercially available Jethro Tull video (I seem to remember paying what seemed a fortune when I was on my student grant). It contains a mixture of songs from the 'A' tour along with some specially shot videos. Some of these are quite painful to watch now ('Sweet Dream' is quite definitely a case in point), while others really show the humour that has always been there ('Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll' is just glorious). But it is the live songs that take centre stage with 'Black Sunday' blasting the studio version to pieces, and 'Locomotive Breath' being the perfect closer to any gig.

The booklet contains the original front and rear covers, along with the lyrics as they appear on the inner sleeve and some words from Ian. It may not be the best presented package in the world but I bought this CD+DVD from Amazon for the paltry sum of '9.99. That has to be bargain of the year ' and boy did this take me back. Just wonderful.

Originally appeared in Feedback #79, June 2004

kev rowland | 4/5 |

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