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Jethro Tull - A CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.23 | 650 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars JETHRO TULL was never one to rest on their laurels even when a formula such as the megahit "Aqualung" proved to be an irresistible sound that probably could have been replicated and recycled to infinity. However Ian Anderson was in it for the passion of it all. He was a true forward thinking musician who had the urge to evolve into new arenas and take serious risks along the way. While a few duds were dropped along the way (do you hear me "War Child" and "Too Young To Rock?"), most others were surprisingly cohesive and brilliantly composed. Originally slated as the very first Ian Anderson solo album hence the title of the album, A (for Anderson), it was released under the name JETHRO TULL upon request of their record label Chrysalis wanting to increase record sales. Sounds familiar, huh? In the end, it really doesn't matter because everyone knows JETHRO TULL is Anderson under the guise of a band anyway. What really matters is the music and what a surprise A is for me. This is one i had simply not been exposed to for the longest time and never really had the urge to seek it out. It turns out it is quite the catchy and well-crafted album that may not excite those who only limit themselves only to the most complex offerings of the band but for those who find the songwriting and melodies to be Anderson's most seductive force in the music, then A will not disappoint.

While this could never be mistaken for anything other than a JETHRO TULL album with Anderson's signature vocal style accompanied by the expected folk rock display of Martin Barre wailing one catchy guitar riff after another, the rest of the band is completely different from the heyday of the early 70s and after 1979's "Stormwatch" the band literally imploded leaving only the two original members carrying the musical torch. Barriemore Barlow had left the band due to severe depression, bassist John Glascock left to start his own band and keyboardists John Evan and David Palmer were simply fired for unknown reasons. In the wake of the big change was the addition of bassist Dave Pegg who only appeared on a couple tracks on "Stormwatch" now on board full time, new drummer Mark Craney who added a totally new percussive style to the mix and the most noticeable differences of all with the inclusion of Eddie Jobson who not only added Keith Emerson type symphonic pomp and new wave keyboards to the mix but contributed his sophisticated electric violin skills as well. The result is that A is simultaneous more symphonic prog sounding at times, more folk infused at times and even dips into bluegrass all the while maintaining the catchy folk rock catchiness in the songwriting department. It also takes the modern era into mind and seamlessly weaves new wave type keyboard melodies into the mix. Anderson's vocals are still top notch and this album excels in extreme progressive time signature work outs, more frenetic and demanding than almost any album before or since.

For me the progressive qualities of JETHRO TULL have never been their greatest attraction. Yes, they managed some serious progressive behemoths in their days with albums like "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play" but for me the true magic lies in the simplistic beauty of the songwriting where even the simplest albums are fun fueled trips into their folk rock playground. The album A is absolutely no different in that regard. True that it will never compete with the progressive crowd's expectations of such complexity but this album has plenty of satisfying progressive time sig workouts while never for a moment sacrificing all the addictive folk rock melodies that made this band the superstars that they were. With all the new musicians on board delivering new experimentations especially with Eddie Jobson's excellent keyboard and violin contributions, this album displays the full maturity of a totally new sound for the band and one that should have steered throughout the 80s. Personally i find this album to be quite exciting and definitely the best thing released under the JETHRO TULL moniker of the entire 80s. This is quite the really brilliant album that not only takes the folk rock aspects of what came before but seamlessly fuses them with Emerson type symphonic prog, new wave type rhythms, bluegrass and touches of adventurous and complex progressive workouts. It more than works for me.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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