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Jethro Tull - Stand Up CD (album) cover

STAND UP

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.03 | 828 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review 22, Stand Up, Jethro Tull, 1969

StarStarStarStar

Big smile Star

'I think about the bad old days... we used to know'

For someone who adores the classic 'prog' period of Tull, doesn't mind the 80s synths of Broadsword And The Beast, and hates Songs From The Wood with a vengeance, this album was a breath of fresh air. There are no pretentions at all, a light, slightly sarcastic feel and neatly merged blues and folk influences, and these all contribute to a great, fun album. Ian Anderson's vocals and lyrics aren't as good as they are later, but they usually suit the material and aren't terrible, and we get some good musicianship from all involved. A really enjoyable album, and an indication that pre-Aqualung Tull is not to be missed.

A New Day Yesterday begins with a pretty standard bluesy bass-and-drums riff, with some excellent additions over it from electrics, flute, violin (I think) and harmonica. Ian Anderson's vocals and lyrics, while not yet hitting their heights, fit it neatly. After some brief soloing, with the flute particularly standing out, a second variation of the main riff comes in with a slightly greater kick. Solid blues song.

Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square is my least favourite song from the album. It features eclectic bongo-drumming from Clive Bunker and rather harmless glimpses of Hammond or vibes, plus whimsical bass. The vocals are weird, but not particularly distinctive, and I can barely make out the lyrics. Not bad, per se, but I feel that the band didn't quite achieve what they wanted to.

Bourée is a unique instrumental with superb flute soloing and flute duets over a mobile bass-dominated background. The drumming is superb, holding up a beat and occasionally bursting out a little. There's also an excellent bass solo after a couple of minutes. After an illusory ending, the song picks up again into a second part, with an equally upbeat feel and an avant-garde bit of flute noodling.

Back To The Family is another odd piece, with more weird, but excellent drumming. The verses and the slight developments within them work very well with Anderson's near-nonsensical lyrics and strained vocals. The lead into the fairly hard-rocking sections is superb, with Martin Barre and Ian Anderson (on flute) both suitably soloing and dueting while the rhythm section gently move around. I'm not generally the greatest fan of fades, though, so the ending to this one doesn't leave me satisfied.

Look Into The Sun is an excellent, soft acoustic song with some small soloing from Martin Barre's electrics. Ian Anderson provides an emotive vocal, which, while unexceptional, does the job well. Martin Barre is the standout here, combining several styles of mini-soloing to good effect.

Nothing Is Easy begins with a bluesy jam and bursts of cheerful vocals, as well as lots of soloing from all involved. The song is particularly outstanding for the rhythm section, as Clive Bunker lays down an unexpectedly powerful drum part and both he and Glen Cornick provide very strong solos as well as highlighting Anderson and Barre's various parts. The climactic blues crescendo ending is always fun. Another very strong song.

Fat Man is, I think, a very successful bizarre piece, with enjoyable mandolin and bouzouki, accompied by weird drumming, including a classy solo. The humorous lyrics and sarcastic vocals work brilliantly with the unusual choices of instrumentation. Great song.

We Used To Know is my pick for Stand Up, with somewhat folky, developing acoustic verses and vocals well above Anderson's standard on most of this album combined with superb blues-rock guitar solos (including one of my all-time favourites), and undemanding, yet important, drumming from Bunker. The fade manages not to spoil it.

Reasons For Waiting rather focuses attention on the string arrangements, since the acoustics, flutes and vocals (with backing organs), while all perfectly nice, don't really stand out much. The string additions work well here and seem to be there for a reason. Pretty typical of the album: diverse, unusual songs.

For A Thousand Mothers is an attack on parents discouraging a musical career, naturally accompanied by excellent music. Most of the song is an ascending blues, though at one point Martin Barre even provides an almost Spanish-feeling solo at one point, as well as the ascending blues-rock styles that I love to pieces. The concluding, carnival-like flute riff, accompanied by some reminders of the main theme, is delightful. Perhaps the problem with this one is that a lot is going on at one time and it feels very dense and claustrophobic. Some bands are able to do a hell of a lot of high-tempo things at once, but I think Tull didn't pull that off too well here.

Onto the bonus material, all of which is pretty excellent, so will get mini-reviews.

Living In The Past has this unusual feel of an eclectic hit, with its odd timing emphasised by a rather prominent bass and vocals dancing along with it. Definitely quite acceptable, despite being odd. I like it. Driving Song is another blues with some highlights in the rhythm section, even if the flute could probably merge better. Sweet Dream is a great song with classy dramatic string arrangements and an unplaceable flamenco feel. Though there might be a few more repeats of the chorus than I'd like, the quality of the arrangement more than makes up for it. 17 is the only one of the bonus tracks which I think doesn't really hold up to the album proper, with it's distorted or multiple vocals annoying me enough that I try to ignore them and just listen to the classy percussion and guitars. Basically, I'd have preferred this song without such thick vocals.

Overall, the album, bonus material included, is extremely strong, with a couple of highlights and a couple of small lowlights. Even if Tull haven't moved onto their more widely regarded golden age of Aqualung/Thick As A Brick, they have succeeded in producing a classy, individual and quirky album that should have something for everyone. Two caveats: if you really hate either blues or weaker vocals, this might not be for you, and I naturally recommend that anyone new to Tull should go for the more impressive Aqualung/Thick straight away.

Rating: Four Stars (bonus material included)

Favourite Track: We Used To Know, with a nod to Bourée

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |

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