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Jethro Tull - Benefit CD (album) cover

BENEFIT

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.90 | 938 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars Coming off a 30 week tour of the US with bands like Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, Creedence Clearwater and even Blood, Sweat & Tears and with constant pressures from the record company to engage in incessant radio interviews following the success of 'Stand Up,' Ian Anderson returned back to his native England and began writing new material for the third JETHRO TULL album BENEFIT. After the grueling touring schedule Anderson states that this album is much darker as a result of his cynicism with his frustration with the music industry. This album also develops the band's sound to the more classic period with the addition of classically trained keyboardist John Evan who added a new element to that band that kept the melody churning allowing Martin Barre the luxury to focus on his famous monophonic riffs and guitar solos instead of being limited to merely strumming chords and this is the point is where all the elements stack up side by side to create that instantly recognizable JETHRO TULL sound. While Evan's intent was to join on a temporary basis, things worked out so well that he stuck around for ten whole years.

BENEFIT continues the folk elements with strong songwriting, addictive melodic developments and the beautiful poetic adroit vocal suaveness of Ian Anderson's vocal style accompanied by his signature flute fills, however the addition of the keys and Barre's new freedom to expand his guitar duties make this a much harder rocking album than 'Stand Up.' A whole new layer has debuted here adding to an already rich tapestry of sounds. The band expands these elements with ease. They figured out right from the start how to meld all the folk and rock elements together in a seamless manner and alternate the soft passages with the harder edged ones. There is not a bad song on this one and this is actually one of my favorite JT albums. Starting with the very first echoing flute sounds that begin the album, Anderson kicks off the album with his saturnine singing style and the melodies unfold with addictive verses and chorus' that flow together so flawlessly with bridges and unexpected yet pleasing transitions. I have always considered Ian Anderson to be one of the best songwriters out there and on these early albums he just shines like the brightest supernova in the distant universe.

Because record companies were totally evil back then (or are they still?), they decided to complicate things and there were two versions of the album. The usual one for the UK and one for the US. While not as ridiculously complex as Beatles or Rolling Stones album, the UK version contains the track 'Alive And Well And Living In' whereas the US version doesn't but rather has the track 'Teacher' and vice versa. Luckily the remastered CD version has the whole kit and caboodle and bonus tracks to boot. BENEFIT is just bereft of any flaws in my opinion. Every track just hooks the listener and takes you to that special JT universe where you can escape into the seductive song structures where guitar riffs conjure up your inner rowdy rocker while the calming keys and flute solos take you on a folky sojourn through the pastoral lands of rural England. BENEFIT is a strong album that has been perhaps one of the most listened to on my playing list. This album may be written off by some as a mere practice session for the even better albums like 'Aqualung' and 'Thick As A Brick' which were just around the corner and true this doesn't quite hit high on the progometer quite yet, but the melodies, musicianship and strong performances make this one a very slick and savvy listen nonetheless. Just as enjoyable as the classics that follow IMHO. 4.5 rounded UP!

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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