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Jethro Tull - Benefit CD (album) cover

BENEFIT

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.91 | 1083 ratings

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mr.cub
3 stars Firstly, let me mention that my track listing is slight different than that listed above. I believe the above list is from the original US vinyl, because the Remastered CD follows the original UK release. Anyway, the quality of music found on Benefit is extremely good at times, 'With You There to Help Me' and 'To Cry You a Song' being the obvious centerpieces of the album.

Overall, a lot darker and cynical than Stand Up- Ian even expresses this feeling in the liner notes of the remastered CD. To me this seems like something that would come before Stand Up, in reality it comes after. It is certainly a backwards step when one thinks of the diversity of their previous effort, but if anything it is a small step. Insert keyboardist John Evans who would provide Tull with great ideas for the entirety of the 1970's, and subtract the heavy doses of Ian's flute. Let me begin by discussing the highlights of this album, an excellent album to add to your Tull collection as it contains some hidden gems.

Firstly, 'With You There to Help'. Starting the album of with a flair for the dramatic- backwards flute and acoustic guitar building the piece (something we will see done with similar effect on 'Cross Eyed Mary') before the verse and chorus quite well. This is one of Tull's best pieces and a highly sophisticated piece that is an extension of Stand Up. Quite enjoyable.

'Nothing to Say' had a beautiful feel to it, Barre's guitar taking the listener to medieval pastures- his riffs working well with the peaceful acoustic nature of the piece. Throughout it seems as if there is something building beneath the surface of this piece, then Barre's haunting solo closes the piece; it sends chills down my spine.

'Alive and Well and Living in' is one of my favorites, Evans piano leads us to an incredible Barre riff, with Bunker giving an incredible foundation. After the second chorus, it descends into a piano and acoustic guitar solo section before Ian's flute takes the listener to the end. 'Son' builds upon the harsh tone of the album, an odd transition in the middle of piece provides an eccentric transition before returning to the main riff. A very harsh, and aggressive song.

'For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me' continues the trend of acoustic melodies balanced with heavier sections. It is at this point in time it is important to note the absence of Ian's flute throughout. Then we have the sludge masterpiece: 'To Cry You a Song'. Great riff, pounding drums, echoing and haunting lyrics ("Flying so high/trying to remember/how many cigarettes did I bring along? /when I get down/ I jump in a taxi/ riding through London to cry you a song").This is the song that captures the essence of this album's cynical and dark atmosphere. It is a guitar fan's dream, Martin's layered guitars are remarkable and his solos are tasteful, heavy and ubiquitous in this piece. ("I came down from the skies to cry you a song")

Ian's flute returns in 'A Time for Everything' , a piece that features some experimental noodling with ringing sound effects, aside from them the piece is good and a nice reflection of the type of music found on Aqualung. 'Inside' is very much like their work from Stand Up, not as heavy on Martin's guitar- he seems to approach the song much like he did 'Living in the Past' or 'Bouree' and Cornick's bass stands out and is in fine form. This song is a nice counterpoint to the rest of the album.

'Play in Time' features an energetic, belligerent and unforgiving riff, Ian playing this on flute and Martin following in line; more keyboard experimentation from John Evans and Ian's vocals are in excellent form. This is not the same band that release 'Look into the Sun' or 'Reason for Waiting'; a hardened and much more relentless sound, which is characteristic of the full album. And then the album closes with 'Sossity; You're a Woman'. John Evans' organ and Ian's acoustic guitar begin the piece with Ian coming in on vocals shortly thereafter; a very dark and somber acoustic number, the flute is reflective and much akin to the flute in other Prog bands, atmospheric and pastoral without the same youthful exuberance as 'Bouree'.

The bonus tracks are equally worthy, if you enjoy the album you are bound to like these as well. Personally this is the most consequential of Tull's classic period when looking at their sound, but it is highly entertaining and beats virtually all hard rock out there. Excellent sound quality and a great rock record. Enjoy!

mr.cub | 3/5 |

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