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Jethro Tull - The Jethro Tull Christmas Album CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.50 | 388 ratings

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4 stars The weather outside is frightful, but inside it's so delightful because I've been listening to The Jethro Tull Christmas Album! 'Tis the season and all that jazz.

I should preface what I'm about to say by admitting that Jethro Tull is one of my favourite bands, but I think that The Jethro Tull Christmas Album is about as good a prog-related Christmas album as you'll ever find. It might also manage to be the best Jethro Tull album since Crest of a Knave.

While many Christmas albums are blatant cash-ins, front man Ian Anderson and crew do an excellent job mixing original Christmas themed tunes with arrangements of traditional carols and a few re-recordings of older Tull tracks that fit the season.

"Birthday Card At Christmas" starts things off with a fast-paced romp laced with excellent flute playing by Anderson. As many have said before, Anderson's skill at playing the flute only seems to increase with time. His voice also seems to be in much better shape on The Jethro Tull Christmas Album than on most latter day Tull recordings.

The energetic nature of the album continues with "Holly Herald", an instrumental track arranged by Anderson. I'm actually quite pleasantly surprised at the level of energy Tull brings to this album in general.

Next we have the re-recordings of "A Christmas Song" and "Another Christmas Song". "A Christmas Song" appears as a bonus track on the remastered edition of This Was. A live version also appears as a bonus track on Rock Island, where you can also find "Another Christmas Song". I like both tracks, but my preference would be for "A Christmas Song" and its closing refrain of "Santa, pass us that bottle, will ya?"

It's debatable over which version of "A Christmas Song" is better, but I much prefer this version of "Another Christmas Song" over the Rock Island version. The production is much better. It sounds fuller and more fleshed out.

In my opinion, the Tull version of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" is about as good as it gets and the other arrangements on the album are also excellent, including "Greensleeved" (based on "Greensleeves", naturally), Bach's "Bour√?¬©e", Faur√?¬©'s "Pavane" and "We Five Kings" (based on "We Three Kings", natch).

"Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow" brings us back to the Tull originals and once again, the production here brings this version leaps and bounds over the original, rather tinny recording that appears as a bonus track on The Broadsword and the Beast.

"Last Man At The Party" is an original, but once again manages to maintain the high quality of the rest of the album. While may not be directly about Christmas, it's a very festive song and really, who doesn't think about New Year's in close association with Christmas anyway?

"Weathercock" is a re-recording of the Heavy Horses track. I think the Christmas Album version compares favourably with the original, although re-recording any tracks from the Songs From The Wood/Heavy Horses era is a bit of a gamble due to the widely regarded high quality of those two albums (and there are more tracks from those albums on The Jethro Tull Christmas Album).

However, I do think Tull has given all of these re-recorded tracks their own flavour. I'm sure that few people will claim a preference for the Christmas Album versions of "Weathercock", "Fire at Midnight" or "Ring Out Solstice Bells", but Tull has handled the re-recordings with a subtlety and grace that won't upset most long time fans.

"First Snow on Brooklyn" is another fine original. This one has a bit of a sweeping, wistful feeling to it that calls to mind waking up on a dark, snowy winter's morning.

Overall, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album is quite a good album. It's a fun album. I'd highly recommend it to Tull fans, even those who have been disappointed by their output post-1979. I'd also recommend the album to anyone who has been looking for a Christmas album to listen to that has a proggy bent. While it's not quite a prog classic, this album is absolutely solid in every respect.

Highlights: The rearrangements of the classical and traditional tunes stand out for me. Especially the instrumentals tracks. "Holly Herald", "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", "Greensleeved", the extensively rearranged "Bour√?¬©e", "Pavane" and "We Five Kings" come immediately to mind. The re-recordings of older tunes which were marred by shoddier production when they were first made also stand out, like "Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow" and "Another Christmas Song". But the new originals are also quite good.

I enjoy the whole album, really, and I've continued to pull it out every Christmas since purchasing it. Check it out.

FunkyM | 4/5 |


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