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Jethro Tull

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Jethro Tull Songs from the Wood album cover
4.22 | 1605 ratings | 103 reviews | 45% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Songs from the Wood (4:55)
2. Jack-In-The-Green (2:32)
3. Cup of Wonder (4:34)
4. Hunting Girl (5:13)
5. Ring Out, Solstice Bells (3:47)
6. Velvet Green (6:05)
7. The Whistler (3:31)
8. Pibroch (Cap in Hand) (8:38)
9. Fire at Midnight (2:27)

Total Time 41:42

Bonus tracks on remaster (2003):
10. Beltane (5:19)
11. Velvet Green (live) (5:56)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ian Anderson / vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, mandolin, whistle (all instruments on track 2), producer
- Martin Barre / electric guitar, lute
- John Evan / piano, organ, synthesizers
- David Palmer / piano, portative organ, synthesizers
- John Glascock / bass, vocals
- Barriemore Barlow / drums, marimba, glockenspiel, bells, nakers, tabor

Releases information

Artwork: Jay L. Lee with Shirtsleeve Studio

LP Chrysalis - CHR 1132 (1977, UK)

CD Chrysalis ‎- VK 41132 (1985, US)
CD Mobile Fidelity - UDCD 734 (1998, US)
CD Chrysalis ‎- 5 81570 2 (2003, Europe) Remastered w/ 2 bonus tracks

Numerous reissues

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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JETHRO TULL Songs from the Wood ratings distribution

(1605 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(45%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JETHRO TULL Songs from the Wood reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars "With Kitchen Prose, Gutter Rhymes and divers" subtitles the album! Quite a programme as promised by the Mad Flauter. Maybe too much for its own good, actually.

After the real faux-pas of TOTRnR, Tull took a solid breath (of fresh air by moving to the country) and tried to catch their second wind in an effort to salvage a career that was slowly gliding to the ordinary. And with this one album, they will prove that they still had to be "counted with": although the artwork reminded a bit the one of Time Was, it was an English folklore book that inspired a good part of the album but not to the point where he would embrace it as seriously as Comus or Gryphon would've. It must be also signalled that Anderson had produced (and guested on) a Steeleye Span record, which also obviously also inspired him, and this was indeed visible/audible with the present album.

Starting in a minor mode with the supposedly-witty title track and the acoustic follow-up Jack In The Green, we have to wait the awesome Hunting Girl to find something to seek our teeth into: this is easily the A-side's highpoint with its amusing high-class ladies, and thankfully the longest track on there. Before that Cup of Wonder had served a bit as an appetizer, but it still felt to little, three songs into a Tull album. The terrible X-mas carol of Solstice Bells is percussive, but made you happy the needle lifted from the slice of wax. Thankfully the second side starts with the delicious pastoral Velvet Green (despite the classical intro having me fear the worst every time), the superb aptly-titled Whistler (loaded with flutes), the strange and enchanting album-longest Pibroch (a bit plagued by effects on the flute and guitar), with only the short Fire At Midnight being the weakest track on this flipside, but still beating most of the stuff on the other side.

One of the small tiny disappointments is that the tracks lengths are rather conservative, but at least the three best tracks are the longest. TAs often with Tull albums, very/too much sung passages and although there are some instrumental passages, one feels that there is not enough space for interplay. Unlike its predecessor, the string arrangements are more discreet and seem better justified.

The bonus tracks of the remastered reissue are a little less interesting than on some other of their albums, as there is a (useless) live version of Velvet Green, and the very adapted-to-the-album Beltane, though the last minute is just dragging -on. But the truth is that this album did not need bonus tracks to remains an essential mid-70's Tull album, though it is mostly due to an excellent flipside remedying to a weak start. .

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars SONGS FROM THE WOOD, from 1977, is one of my favourite Jethro Tull discs, and represents a brilliant return to form, after the previous year's disappointing TOO OLD TO ROCK AND ROLL. Singer/songwriter Ian Anderson, in keeping with the recording's title, revels in his folkier side here, with terrific, spot-on accompaniment from his band (comprised of Martin Barre on guitar and lute, John Evans on keyboards, Barriemore Barlow on drums and percussion, and John Glascock on bass and backing vocals). Additional keyboards and "portative organ" are provided by frequent collaborator David Palmer, who eschews his polished orchestral arrangements this time out, to further reinforce the session's "rootsy" atmosphere.

The album gets off to a rollicking start with the title track -- a cheery, multi-textured piece that features great harmony vocals with a pub-like, singalong feel, ringing acoustic guitars, tight bass and keys, and Anderson's instantly-identifiable, joyous flute. Anderson's clever lyrics serve as a sort of menu or traditional "calling on" song, telling the listener of the songwriter's intent: "Let me bring you all things refined: Galliards and lute songs served in chilling ale. Greetings, well-met fellow, hail! I am the wind to fill your sail. I am the cross to take your nail: A singer of these ageless times -- with kitchen prose, and gutter rhymes."

The tracks that follow ably live up to the promise of the excellent opener: "Jack-in-the-Green," concerns a diminutive woodland sprite who "drinks from the empty acorn cup" and tirelessly works to bring in the green of summer, even in "changing times" of "motorways (and) powerlines." The multi-talented Anderson, somewhat of a Jack-in-the-Green himself, plays all instruments on this quaint little ditty, including guitar, bass, flute and percussion.

The following song, "Cup of Wonder" takes the form of a sort of extended toast, exhorting us to meet in good fellowship, and "pass the plate to all who hunger... pass the cup of crimson wonder." Again, there are fine vocal harmonies and flute-work on this solid and satisfying slice of folk-prog (best served with some chilled brown ale!)

The next number, the harder-rocking "Hunting Girl," is one of the spicier offerings on the menu, and is generously seasoned with delightful dollops of Barre's chainsaw guitar. Fans of the heavier side of Tull will especially enjoy this musical entree, which wittily tells the risque tale of an impromtu amorous encounter between a "high-born hunting girl" and "a normal local so-and-so." Very hot!

"Ring Out, Solstice Bells" is a celebratory song (it's collected on the new Jethro Tull Christmas CD) that hails the arrival of the winter solstice, when the hours of daylight begin to wax, and the dark, chilly days of the season are on the wane. This would be an excellent choice to add extra cheer to your next festive gathering or compilation!

The sixth song, "Velvet Green," is also quite tasty, with particularly good drumming from Barlow, and healthy leavenings of rhythmic organ and "singing" lead from Evans and Barre, respectively. This is another wonderfully diverse musical melange; at times quasi-medieval in flavour -- at others herbacious and folky. The lyrics detail the myriad pleasures to be found in strolling -- and rolling -- in loving company "on the green." A classic Tull cut!

Lucky number seven, "The Whistler," is a very catchy tune, which, as the album's single, garnered the band some well-deserved (and long overdue) airplay in the year of its release. The song masterfully combines Celtic and rock flavourings, via flute and guitar, in a tidy, three-and-a-half minute format. It's a savoury aperitif which whets the appetite for the next course!

At nearly nine minutes, "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)" is the longest track on the album, and, for my tastes, the least satisfying. By no means a "bad" song, the relatively heavy "Pibroch" has some great guitar, but suffers somewhat from being just a tad over-extended and rambling, and risks leaving the (by now almost sated) listener with a "bloated" feel.

Any vague misgivings melt away, however, as the evening draws to a close, and we bask in the warm and hearty glow of the "Fire at Midnight." By way of goodnight, Anderson bids us to his hearth to contemplate the "dying embers of another working day," and informs his lady love that "it's good to be back home with you."

Before writing this review, I considered giving this CD only four stars, but upon revisiting it as I write, I can only conclude that SONGS FROM THE WOOD is one of Jethro Tull's more noteworthy and successful efforts, and thus award it top marks. Highly recommended to all confirmed and would-be Tull fans! Please, don't hesitate to take a walk in the WOOD! There's nothing to fear, and the rewards are piquant and many-splendoured!

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record is folk prog hard rock. It is very rythmic and very acoustic: there is omnipresence of flute, acoustic guitars and percussions. There is lute and mandolin too. But it is quite more elaborated than the acoustic "Too Old To Rock'n Roll, Too Young To Die". Indeed there are keyboards played by 2 musicians, mostly piano and distortion free organ. The keyboards are not too much in the foreground, so that you can enjoy all the acoustic instruments. There are lots of percussions (glockenspiel, marimba, bells), and often it really sounds like if it is played next to a fireplace. The electric bass is absolutely not timid and complex enough, and its sound is very good. Barre's electric guitars are less present here, but there are songs which are rather prog hard rock. Ian ANDERSON's warm voice is excellent, as always. The presence of David PALMER gives some symphonic style to the ensemble.
Review by daveconn
5 stars I first made the acquaintance of these songs in the premature blush of boyhood -- on an 8-track cassette no less -- and while I enjoyed the effort, it soon found itself in dusty neglect deep within a stereo cabinet that seemed designed for the sole purpose of drawing dust from every corner of the room and collecting it in a single manageable heap. Fast-forward to half a dozen years later, where I find myself in college, girded in chastity and chafing at the sickly smell of privilege with "Songs From The Wood" (now on elpee) among my scant possessions. It was here that my new friends and I explored these woods in earnest, and it's remained one of my favorite albums ever since, as rich an experience as spilled from any speaker. The difference between "Songs From The Wood" and the works before it is not inconsiderable: these songs have a pronounced contrast between light and dark elements, saturated and splendid. Beginning with "Minstrel", TULL's music emanated from a lovely elsewhere to which each song was bound: an Elizabethan allegory laid atop the modern world, a clever caricature of cartoon depravity, and here the magical woods of legend related from a whetted whistle. You don't listen to these albums, you become immersed in their worlds. The festivities of "The Whistler" and "Cup of Wonder" swirl around you, the white ribbon of mist curls around your feet from the damp ground as you traverse "Pibroch (Cap In Hand)", the joint heat of a strong fire and a faithful friend (chasing rabbits remembered in his mind) emanates from "Fire At Midnight".

Mind you, I love nature and the invisible world intimated by its shadows and sounds, so "Songs From The Wood" plays from a place that I call home. Its mix of hard rocks and faerie folk invites closest comparison to "Minstrel" (minus the strings), its twining scents of green blossoms and sweet decay suggest the vibrant cousin of Heavy Horses. No matter where your fancies lie, "Songs From The Wood" deserves a place of prominence in any prog collection (with posthumous apologies to a certain unappreciated eight track lost in a lamentable molting).

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Always found "Jethro Tull" a difficult band to catalogue, are they progressive Rock, folk/prog, Celtic/prog Fusion/blues/prog? Not even Ian Anderson dares to answer this question and he often makes jokes about this categorization. But in the case of "Songs from the Wood", the answer is easier, they have clear folk, pastoral and progressive influences due to the fact that Ian had moved to the countryside shortly before.

The years had passed and Tull's style had evolved from being a complex blues band to one of the most influential progressive bands (even if Ian doesn't admit this), "Thick as a Brick" became a prog' icon and one of the most respected conceptual works, but with "Songs from the Wood" they landed in a less complex and ambitious ground, returning to shorter tracks as in their early years but with a different feeling.

"Songs From the Wood" is an extremely beautiful album and one of the best balanced records ever released, there's not a track that can be considered the most representative of this album, but every single song is very good and almost in the same level, there's not a single filler.

The title track starts with an amazingly low toned chorus that introduces the listener to a pastoral atmosphere, a great introduction for Ian's characteristic voice, the constant of this song are the contrast and changes in timing, with an outstanding guitar work by Martin Barre and a strong bass by John Glascock this song is absolutely brilliant.

"Jack in the Green" gives Ian the chance to prove he's not only a charismatic frontman but also a complete multi instrumentalist, he dares to play all the instruments as Mike Oldfield and Vangelis did before him but with the extra merit that he's also a great vocalist.

"Cup of Wonder" is a very rhythmic and happy tune, starts with the classic flute by Ian and is properly supported by all the band, especially by a precise piano played by John Evens or David Palmer, not sure about that because both are credited in the album.

"Hunting Girl" is a track where no Tull member takes the lead, everyone is absolutely accurate, it's beauty must be credited to a solid band work, each instrument fits perfectly and everything is exactly in it's place. A harder song but good for all tastes

"Ring Out Solstice Bells" is a very elegant song where the sacred Christian world blends with the Celtic spirit, based in early English British folk melodies works perfectly in the "Jethro Tull Christmas Album" released a year ago.

"Velvet Green" starts absolutely Medieval reminding me of other Celtic bands as Steeleye Span, even when Ian's voice is so unique. The complex vocal work is the higher point of this wonderful track along with the Renaissance sounding keyboards.

There's something in "The Whistler" that always makes me believe that nothing can be wrong and that the world is alright, a catchy tune also influenced by Celtic music, the flute work is simply delightful especially because is ultra high and makes a nice contrast with Ian's low toned voice. "The Whistler" proves that great songs don't always need more than 3:30 minutes to be unforgettable.

"Pibroch (Cap In Hand)" This song must be credited to Martin Barre's heavy guitar sections, probably is the most challenging track of the album not only because it's length but also because it breaks the basic atmosphere of the record. Not my favorite track but surely is a complex and ultra progressive song that flirts with hard rock.

"Fire At Midnight" is the closer of the album, a short song that returns the listener to the countryside that Ian Anderson loves so much, mostly a good vocal work with acoustic guitar and almost sure with lute to complete the scene.

Not a 5 stars Jethro Tull album, I believe this honor is only reserved for "Thick as a Brick", but well deserves 4 stars for the solid band work and the amazing personality of Ian Anderson playing the style where he seems more comfortable. I strongly suggest "Songs from the Wood" to every Tull fan.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Very well presented album. The songs compliment one another in the ' fit'. It is excellent and really climaxes on both sides with ' Hunting Girl' and ' Pibroch' respectively. ' Songs from the wood' is a great sing along and you can really feel JT connecting with the Earth Mother. When there was a growing awareness of protecting the environment Ian Anderson of the Highlands delivers the message so effectively.' The whistler' was a great video too and did reasonably well as a single all those years ago. Highly recommended.
Review by Muzikman
5 stars The perfect combination of electric and acoustic instruments blend together on the JETHRO TULL album "Songs From The Wood". This radiant and lucid remaster is an absolute joy to listen to; in fact, I could not get it out of my CD player, which actually delayed getting this review completed. The theme of this album is the great outdoors, specifically the woods, and all its mystery and wonder. The stuff dreams and fairy tales are made of is what Ian ANDERSON, the modern day court jester and Robin Hood, and his band of merry men bring to you. Inspired by living in the country and reading about the folklore of his ancestors, ANDERSON took the group in decidedly more folk-rock direction. This did not hurt the band's image or reputation one iota. This is an outstanding album with the consummation of a marriage between Martin Barre's electric and Ian's acoustic guitars.

The Celtic and medieval influences prevailed once again for Mr. ANDERSON and company on this fine outing. The first two tracks set the atmosphere and mood beautifully. The classic tracks "Songs From The Wood" and "Jack-In-The-Green," which are in concert favorites of mine, find ANDERSON following his muse and loving every minute of it, and it shows in his brilliantly spirited performances on literally every song on this album. "Pibroch (Cap In Hand)" will satisfy those that enjoy the more electric JT and those that are just as pleased to hear both sides of their musical personality. I for one enjoyed the airy feeling of "Velvet Green," a live bonus track and the quick switch of atmosphere to the rocking "Beltane" and "Hunting Girl." I am not hard to please when it comes to JT music; I love it all without any respite. In addition to the music, I found some pleasant humor on the back cover of the liner notes. A picture of a tree stump with a record player arm following the lifelines of the tree, which was an interesting metaphor. There are many more thought provoking things going on inside of this album that make the images click inside your head where that little switch is located, and the music flips that internal switch. As with all of this remastered series, the liner notes get the loving care of Ian ANDERSON himself.

Some truly fantastic tunes that have ever-changing music and lyrics bring you right into a living room in the countryside where Ian conjured up the principle of this album. I think what is most significant about this release is that it digs down and exposes all of the band's talents and influences all at once on one album, nothing is held back. I loved every second of it.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Songs from the Wood" marks a clear return to the massive folk-oriented approach that had been first assumed by Jethro Tull in their "Minstrel" album; it also marks the first Palmer's collaboration as a full-time member: by then, Palmer decided to concentrate on complementing Evan's keyboard duties and take a momentary rest from string arrangements. This album contains some of the most frontally complex Anderson compositions ever (e.g.: tracks 1, 4 & 6), a factor that made all musicians return to their accomplished virtuosity and re-polish it after the simpler "Too Old to Rock'n'Roll" material. The namesake track kicks off the album with flying colours: the sheer excitement and energetic feel that stem out of the catchy troubadour-like vocal harmonies, the endless countermelodies and counterpoints, all of them skillfully performed, catch the listener's attention and mood immediately - a magnificent opener, indeed! Then comes the relaxing 'Jack-in-the-Green', full of evocative references to a time when myths where an integral part of man's cosmovision. Tracks 3, 5 & 7 bring us back the straight uplifting mood introduced by the opening number: 'Ring Out, Solstice Bells' is given an extra eerie ambience thanks to the use of soft synth layers that perfectly complement Anderson's floating flute lines and Barlow's tubular bells. 'Hunting Girl' tells the tales of gallant ladies in a delicate mixture of hard rock and folk with some subtle jazz undertones instilled in the piano parts - once again, the listener is granted a most amazing exercise on counterpoints. The folk factor is enhanced in another overtly complex piece, 'Velvet Green', which also incorporates exquisite Renaissance influenced elements: the intricacy of this track is cleverly delivered without breaking the delicateness demanded by the successive motifs. A real gem! - IMHO, this is the apex of an album that has so many brilliant moments in it. But when it comes to the grandiose stuff, the thing is 'Pibroch (Cap in Hand)', a progressive opus with a robust hard edge for the sung parts (Barre's guitar layers sound really sinister here), and a varied, multicolored tour-de-force in the interlude: first, you have an intimate Celtic celebration in the forest at night, around a little bonfire; then, a majestic keyboard orchestration delivered by Evan and Palmer brings us to a mystic plateau, where the moon and the stars shine in full swing illuminating out emotional elation. The return of the somber initial motif brings things back to the dense mysteries of the world of human myths. This opus, while not as articulated as other complex pieces of the album, manages to brilliantly deliver diverse climaxes all throughout its different sections. Finally, the melancholy 'Fire at Midnight' serves as an appropriate curtain call for an exciting album: the time for night rest that comes after all the consuming exhaustion of the day. This JT masterpiece deserves the perfect rating, according to Prog Archives patterns.

Review by b_olariu
5 stars First of all i'm a big, big fan of Jethro Tull. Amazing band and musicians. One of the biggest bands ever. This album i enjoy since 1992 when i listen for the first time. Great music. Simply i like all the albums, but he period between 1969 and 1982 are the best for the band.In the '70 JT was one of the biggest band , and still is .... Songs from the wood is to me the best album, i prefer this one and the next one Heavy horses in stead of the first period Benefit era. Songs from the wood, Cap in hand are simply awesome, the rest are beyond ear candy. I consider this one a masterpiece so give 5 stars, among the best folk/prog albums ever. Go and ge it, you will not be disappointed, good stuff . P.S. Great cover and very good job for the inner sleeve of the album. Superb drawings.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is in my opinion one of the best JETHRO TULL albums. I think they succeeded much better when doing artistic classic rock than progressive epics, and this album is a great example of that style I prefer. The overall feeling of the songs are happy, and they make a nice collection of tracks with similar folk rock style. These rock songs accompanied with acoustic guitars and flute bring forth the memories of sitting beside the fireside at winter at my childhood home and listening to this... (wipes tears) Very recommendable stuff!
Review by Marc Baum
5 stars Simply a beatiful album. This is the one which comes after "Thick As A Brick", "Aqualung" and "A Passion Play" as best Tull album ever in my opinion. The acoustic guitars are brilliant, and Anderson's legendary flute is in top form. Songs like the title track, "Hunting Girl", "Velvet Green", the wonderful "The Whistler" or my fave "Pibroch (Cab In Hand)" (one of the most beautiful Tull-tracks ever) are ultimative classics in folk prog and shouldn't be missed by any fan of great music. "Songs From The Wood" is far more song-oriented and less complex than "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play", but in it's own vein also an masterpiece. Stop reading here and join the Songs From The Wood!
Review by Starette
3 stars I don't give Jethro tull as much credit as a major fan of theirs would but that doesn't mean I don't find them dull to listen to.This is my first album in listening to Jethro Tull. They sounded a tad bland pop-songy to me, but still trying to be folk-music-ish.They still have genius, I admit (whistle and flute-use= excellent) and the in-put of random celtic instrumentals was good enough for me to swoon at times. I'm a fan of the Corrs *blush*- now I know where they got it from.

Songs from the Wood: Do you mind if I refer to the band as 'a bunch of tree-hugging good-natured hippies'? Ian Anderson had the technique of 'twirling' his voice- sticking of the conventions of Irish folk-singers. It sounds delightful. This song kept the same catchy beat while introducing us to most of the instruments to be played in the album.

Jack-In-The-Green: "Have you seeeeen the Jack-in-the-green?" No. Can't say that I have. This song, like many of Jethro Tull's, sticks to the theme of wishing there were more trees than buildings. I repeat. Hippies. The melody of this didn't really capture me as much but it *is* a fun song.

Cup of Wonder: The riff in this wasn't enough to stay in my head for long after listening to it three times but after a while I was how catchy it was. A song that appears to be the celtic equivalent of Bacchic rites. "Pass the cup of crimson wonder!" I want wine NOW dammit!

Hunting Girl: One of the songs that sticks in my head after listening to the album; a fast- paced ballad of a song with great use of a distorted elec-guitar riff AS WELL AS a flute riff! Anyone who knows that I love songs to bang my head to know that I love this song. In fact, this song inspired me to paint a picture. And that's saying something.

Ring out Soltice Bells: Like Cup of Wonder, this sounded quite like something I'd rather sing in church. Seems to be the choral chord they all sing together. Nice technique with the echoing voices at the end (probably to reflect the way church bells sound). Very much a happy-go-lucky song. What am I saying? It's Jethro Tull! Of COURSE it sounds like a happy-go-lucky song!!!

Velvet Green: A harpsichord at the beginning playing a melody to take us back to the 17th or 18th century..but then the drumbeat comes in and Ian sings in his folky way. Not only does this song appear to be about the colour green (tut, tut, you would NEVER have guessed that, I'm sure!) but it also shares the same romantic environmentalist theme as Jack-in-the-Green. Good use of tempo and melody-change in this song which keeps proggers happy.

The Whistler: I found this quite fun indeed. "Come on... I am the whistler *the whistle sounds*" It also uses the convention of having a minor key in the verse and a major key in the chorus (pardon me if I sound like a musical-theory prat) which means that it's VERY 80s-style poppy. Need I explain it's good for irish-dancing? No.

Pibroch (Cap in hand): This is definitely a song that is typical of progressive rock, unlike the others on this album which I'd rather put in the pop/rock category. It starts with an eerie suspending-pedalled guitar moan wich leads on to an Iliad of great riffs and (my favourite) a fantastic little celtic duet from the flute and guitar..and occassionally what sounds like an irish-tin-whistle. (JOY!) Also with the odd singing ever now and then, but it's really more instrumental-dominated. Ends with the same guitar moan with which it began. This emphasis on the guitar moan makes it seem like the backgroud music to some kind of ancient celtic ritual to me- or maybe that's just me being overly- imaginative.

Fire at midnight: This song didn't do anything for me to be honest- the melody sounded like any irish folk-song would. Give me The Currah of Kildare any day! This is definitely the kind of song that urges us to sing along. Very repetitive at first but, I must say- I DO like the duet with the electric and acoustic guitars.

So do Jethro Tull have the 'genius' that most proggers say they do? Yes; I suppose you could say they awoke an almost forgotten tradition by mixing rock with folky-sounding music. Something that many other bands eventually followed in the footsteps of (as expected.) It is also known that they ripped-off their folky idea from another obscure band that I've forgotten the name of "but Jethro Tull do it BETTER" someone once said. But are they essentially "progressive rock" in general? Well... hunt me down and kill me but I'm a bit sceptical on this one. Probably it's just the lay-out of the songs and the singsong-edness of all the melodies that we're all too used to in the world of non-prog. But I still enjoyed this album! It's good music for getting your kids into so I shall play it to my children and my children's children. It will grow on you if you allow it to.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Let me bring you all things refined, Galliards and lute songs served in chilling ale."

First of all: nice cover art with that Ian's looking like man you can also see in the cover of the 1985 compilation Original Masters. With Songs From The Wood Jethro Tull start an important TRILOGY creating a very original prog/folk/rock . The theme is the representation of three different stages of the world evolution: The 1977 album shows a strong Norse mythic influence and we could define MYTHIC AGE (the past-growing nature) prog/folk/rock; then it's the turn of Heavy Horses in 1978, inspired to a more concrete reality's vision, more pessimistic vision of the world through the evaluation of rural life and I dare to define RURAL AGE (the present- harvested fields); after that album we have Storwatch (1979) in which there's the predominance of the modern world with all its factories and pollution. An apocalyptic vision of human genre. I call it IDUSTRIAL AGE prog/folk/rock (the future-nature's destruction). In Songs From The Wood there's more legends influence (Cup Of Wonder, Hunting Girl, The Whistler), more joy that flows from the music (Ring Out, Solstice Bells). Great technical contribution from all the Tull members (Anderson, Barre, Evan, Glascock, Barlow, Palmer), great vocals from Ian! Many of these tracks became miliar stone in the JT live repertoire.

In the 2003 remastered edition feature two extra tracks: the great powerful Beltane and a live version of the "medieval" Velvet Green.

I have to rate it with 5 stars this splendid opus!

Highly Recommended! Highly Recommended!!

Review by Zitro
4 stars This is the folk side of Jethro Tull at its best. It is usually happy and energetic in most of the album. It focuses on acoustic guitar, flute, and vocal melodies (good melodies!). Do not expect much rock in this album (Except for the rocking 'Hunting Girl' which is the highlight of the album for me). The title track is another highlight. The acapella vocal introduction is very memorable, and melodically and musically, this little song really shines. Most of the other songs of the album follows the style of the title track, resulting in a short, but sweet album to play on a relaxed mood. Not to forget, the production of this album is very well done.

1. Songs From The Wood (8.5/10) 2. Jack-In-The-Green (7/10) 3. Cup Of Wonder (7.5/10) 4. Hunting Girl (9/10) 5. Ring Out, Solstice Bells (8/10) 6. Velvet Green (8/10) 7. The Whistler (8/10) 8. Pibroch (Cap In Hand) (8/10) 9. Fire At Midnight (7.5/10)

My Rating : B

Review by Menswear
4 stars This one seemed to increse in popularity recently, maybe due to the 2003 remastered versions? I surely didn't hurt the band because this sounds very rich and up-to-date!

The vocals, the flute and acoustic guitars are clear and crisp. I never heard a 70's album so well remastered or at least, an album that the technology improved so much my listening enjoyment. The content is pretty well described by the cover: songs inspired by rural, anti-urban simple lifestyle. Well, when multi millionaires tell us about going back to more humble ways of living, it could sound fak, but not this time. Simply because Ian Anderson is putting emphasis on the poetry of the country and the surroundings than the values of simplifying your life (which is reflecting in the fantasy lyrics of many tracks).

The music itself is delicious as homemade apple pie. I was very surprised how this album could easily pass for Gentle Giant lost material (especially Velvet Green). Many times the keyboards lines and patterns reminds me of Kinnear. It's honestly the closest thing to Octopus that I've heard, and some other times it shares some similarities with Acquiring the Taste. For a big Gentle Giant fan as I am, this is a primo choice. Finally, I guess it's aslo useless to tell you about the furious medieval/ folkish flute, making this a very strong Tull album. Curious fact: Could the song 'The Whistler' be a secret hommage to George Whittaker?

Fans of the bluesy / heavy Jethro Tull will surely miss Barre's guitar and Evan's Hammond, but for the others who likes the folk more than the rock, this is a brillant record to invest money in.

Sugar Shack potential guaranteed.

Review by Chus
4 stars It's good, it's good...

Unfortunately I found it a bit uneven: the first side is not bad but "Hunting Girl" is a bit to kinky for me; it sounds like progressive disco, but the A segment of the song is nice, with interesting meter and good organ lie. The rest of side A is nice: "Songs from the Wood" is indeed a classic, with vocal harmonies in the vein of Gentle Giant; "Jack-In-The-Green" is the acoustic track of this side, whilst not very memorable it has it's charm, and once again it has an asimmetrical meter; "Cup Of Wonder" is a happier tune, not happier than "Solstice Bells" but it has a great groove at the bridge, while "Solstice Bells" is the christmas song; it's impossible not to clap your hands along, and in the middle they throw an unsuspected jazzy break, unfortunately it lasts no longer than 15 seconds, but it's one of the best tracks of this side.

Side B is the real highlight of the entire album and it's worth alone 4.5 stars at the least. It couldn't start better: with the chamber piece "Velvet Green": every part of this song is amazingly blended, despite the sudden breaks, and the intersection is arguably the best part, with great rhythm section and tasty portative organ lines by David Palmer; the instrumentation on this song is arguably the most original of the album. The rest is equally amazing: "The Whistler" shows Anderson as a real bard, and the implementation of whistles are the first to be heard from Jethro yet at the time. "Pibroch" is a mix of rocking parts and plain classical (it's a shame it's purely synthetized; I wonder why the string orchestra on this record is absent) and has the most bombastic segments of the whole. The closer is "Fire at Midnight": great closer and ends the album on a high note; it contains amazing bass lines that enhances the melody nicely.

Not THE masterpiece of JT's catalog; but this is a nice beginning of their short-lived prog- folk/rock era. 3.5 stars rounded to 4 stars

Review by oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars A terrible album. Nothing progressive anymore and it confirms that « A passion play » is the last decent album in Jethro tull's discography. There's a rock instrumentation on « Songs from the wood » so it's not acoustic, despite what some reviewers wrote. We're well in 1977 and the progressive era is definetly over. Awful singing, nothing reminiscent of « Aqualung » and except a few guitar sounds, there's nothing left. To avoid.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars After the little acclaimed previous album : "Too Old...", what is Jethro Tull proposing ?

The tilte track is not just a folk song : it has its hard moments, tempo changes. Its structure is complex. Wild at times, then immediately after, back to the countryside again. On the spot ! Melody is catchy. It is a great opener.

"Jack-In-The-Green" is a short garden party English folk little tune. Not too bad after all. "Cup of Wonder" is quite rythmy at times (good bass playing, but this is not new for the Tull).This song is quite classic in the Tull repertoire (but won't be "A" classic if you know what I mean).

"Hunting Girl" is a great piece of music. Thanks to its variety, it catches the listener's attention from the start till the end (it's the third longest song of the album). Hard at times, this song also offers nice flute breaks. Strong band, with some church organ sounds (reminds me of "Close To The Edge"). One of the highlight. "Ring Out Solstice Bells" is a quite dull song. The weakest so far. Tull at his low.

"Velvet Green" is purely folk-accoustic with a medieval atmosphere. I quite dislike it. It has some obvious flavours from the title track but where "Songs From The Wood" was rocking at times, this one remains folkish from start to finish. It's a long weirdy song. "The Whistler" also has the middle age flavour. Not the Tull I prefer. This type of "rocking gigue" is quite awful and altough some people might think that this is how Tull sounds great, I just cannot cope with this. I guess that this confirms that every taste are in the nature and makes this great web-site so interesting.

Strange album : it opens with four good to very good tracks then follows with three rather poor ones.

"Pibroch (Cap in Hand)" is the most elaborate and interesting song of the album. The Tullest one (not surprisingly since a pibroch is a type of music native from Scotland - Ian being Scottich). Acoustic and melodious, with nice flute breaks and melancholic vocals. Electric and vigourous as well . The whole band sounds really great. The track that I prefer on this album. It ends bizarrely though.

"Fire at Midnight" is the closing track and will not add anything to your Tull collection. Two bonus tracks on the remastered version. "Beltane" is not bad at all and could have replaced one from the original album. Easily. ""Ring Of..." or "The Whistler" for instance. It is more rock-oriented : it reminds me more the Tull that I prefer. Do not expect too much from the live rendition of "Velvet Green" : similar to the studio one : below par. IMO.

Even if I admit that I am more attracted by the "hard" side of the Tull than with Engligh- medieval-folk-countryside music, Ireckon that there are not too many moments of these here. This album is finally a good effort. Seven out of ten. So far, I have almost rouned up most of my Tull reviews when I was confronted to an uneven rating (using my scale of ten). For the time being, I will rate this down to three stars (but maybe with a few more spins I might change my mind and upgrade it to four).

Review by The Whistler
4 stars Dave Pegg once said that "Jethro Tull was a far better folk rock band than Fairport Convention was," or words to that effect. Well, that was probably because Uncle Ian was employing him at that second, but Tull's folk rock odyssey kicks into overdrive on this album. Some have suggested that folkish undertones have existed since day one (or at least since "A Christmas Song"), and I won't disagree. But still, Songs is the album which we're talking about, and I won't drift off topic! ...Much.

Anyway, Songs From the Wood opens beautifully with, imagine that, "Songs From the Wood;" which for a while seems as though it will be like that Christmas Song, only faster. It's all vocal and light and fluffy. But about midway through, the cymbals start crashing, Palmer's synths and Martin's guitar start dueling, and when the mandolins come in, you know you're doomed (uh, in a good way, of course).

Yep. Songs From the Wood is what I like to call "heavy wood," a phrase not exactly endemic to Jethro Tull (as it turns out). By that I mean most of the songs on Songs turn out to be charming folk undertones, with some progressive dressing, and blasted through the hard rock flute.

Now, it still does have those charming folk undertones, as present in the next track, the bright 'n folksy "Jack-in-the-Green." This is, of course, the infamous "Ian played all the instruments" track...well, one of them anyway. "Cup of Wonder" is sort of a forgotten classic (except by, a site to whom I owe no allegiance (but my check's in the mail, right guys?)); it's a Celtic rocker that's unequalled by all (save the Whistler, of course).

"Hunting Girl" might be the fan favorite off the album (it's the reason I bought the dern thing). It's got what might be the most quintessential Tuller mix; Barre's sharp, metallic riffage paired with John Evan's blatting pipe organ, in front of pounding bass and driving drums. And of course, classic Ian flute and dirty lyrics.

A little change is brought in by the runaway radio hit that is "Ring Out Solstice Bells," which is softer, slightly more orchestral (courtesy of Palmer's synths again), and damn near jazzy towards the middle. "Velvet Green" is a rolling, folky, largely acoustic number, with a jumping mandolin/portative pipe organ driven instrumental midsection. Both numbers are inoffensive, but not quite as powerful as the harder stuff.

Not so for the final three number, probably the darkest of the lot of 'em (prep for Horses?). Of these, "The Whistler," takes the goose as my favorite song on the album. It manages to encompass the entire record in a song. It's over the top, of course, but it's also charming. It pulls you in with ghostly acoustic guitar and bells, then it turns into a frantic fife exercise for our favorite resident mad flautist. The instruments are layered perfectly, and the tune remains one of my favorites.

Naturally (and unfortunately), once you've hit the top, you can only go down. And down you go, with the vile "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)." I liked the concept as demonstrated by the lyrics, but that's it. "Pibroch" starts out innocently enough, but once you realize that the song is going to be mostly those same guitar noises over and over again, well, it has a way of wearing on you. It's not charming like "Jack," it's not beautiful like "Whistler," it's not fast enough to pull you along (like a "Hunting Girl"). It's not even folksy at all, except for the acoustic bridge, which is sadder than the song around it, because it shows what it COULD have been (although I'm guessing the "clap along" aspect made it better in live shows).

Still, the album earns a little back with the beautiful (albeit a bit forced, er, I mean, "bombastic") "Fire at Midnight." It's a pleasant enough tune, with a very cool, complex instrumental bridge. Overall, a nice ending to a nice album. In fact, between "Songs" and "Fire," the album flows very well, and remains a favorite listen.

So that leaves us with an album with only one song that pisses me off, not bad. That, of course, stops it from pulling a flawless rating. The record is a fan favorite, and it's easy to see why; the sound is really solidified. This of course leads it to be a little thin stylistically. I mean, there's only so many ways to play the whole "folk-ROCK" Tull tune. But I think that tracks like "The Whistler" and "Cup of Wonder" pull the album from any monotony. A good buy; some people suggest it's the first album you get to get into Tull. Well, it was one of my first Tull albums, and look at me now! I'm not crazy...

(Psst! Songs From the Wood comes equipped with two, count 'em two, bonus tracks. And they are both absolute filler, of the best "buy the album again" sort. "Beltane" is a howlin' rocker, much heavier than anything on Songs. Although it's still about woods and ancient rites and such, the delivery makes it come off as a little empty headed. Slightly better is a live cut of "Velvet Green," but it's not, you know, amazing-tastic. It's just your standard Tuller fare, live from the vaults. No one will kill you if you don't feel like listening past "Fires at Midnight" every time.)

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars

The last Tull's masterpiece from the golden era. Actually the last Tull's masterpiece in general. And this one is very unique. Yeah, right. Like the others are not. I know. But sound is just impressive. And songs, arrangements, complexity and lyrics of course.

Basically, this is maybe the most focused non-conceptual album that I ever heard. It really sounds like group of wood-related songs: emphasis on acoustic parts, Celtic overtones, omnipresent flute (and tin whistle and similar instruments), but on the other hand, nicely incorporated synthesizer sounds (and some lovely piano and portative organ works) and occasional bursts of hard rock, too. This album is perfect amalgam.

"Songs From The Wood", the opening song, is an ultimate prog rock masterpiece. It is written in complex (and changing) time signatures, utilising really nice job from all the band members both vocally and instrumentally. And I just realised I don't wont to do the dissection of each particular song - not because of laziness, but because I'm not up to the task. Simply put, this album is rewarding it's listener with new impressions, emotions and stories every time when you'll give it a spin. That is masterpiece - no excuses from a fanboy. There are two weaker numbers on the record - "Pibroch (Cap In Hand)" is rolling slow, it's idea is not bad, but implementation is a bit too ambitious; and "Cup Of Wonder", which is not a bad song by no means, with it's catchy melodies but it's simply not on the same level with the others. These two are lacking a certain merry feeling and that hard-to-define presence of Anderson's songwriting genius. But that is not enough (luckily) to distract you from listening of the album, because everything else is unique in it's beauty, and beautiful in it's uniqueness, and yet so familiar and catchy.

The highlights: 1) Chorus sung by the lads in the opening tune; 2) Lyrics of the aforementioned; 3) Hard rock elements (please not guitars, bass and drumming) in "Hunting Girl"; 4) Lyrics of "Hunting Girl", too; 5) Bells in "Ring Out, Solstice Bells". Chorus too. Drums too. 6) Acoustic guitar in Velvet Green. And arrangements as well. 7) Background guitar/mandolin on "The Whistler"; 8) Everything else.

The greenest album ever.

Review by fuxi
3 stars What on earth came over Ian Anderson in the mid-seventies? He moved into the country, started reading about British folklore and legends - and he had to sing about them too! Ever since that day Jethro Tull have been designated a "prog- folk" band. Well, I refuse to accept such a label. In my book, the Tull are first and foremost a "symphonic prog" band (with folk and blues influences).

So when Ian opens this album with the words "Let me sing you songs from the wood", my immediate reaction is: "no". As Howard Devoto would sneer, only a few years after SONGS FROM THE WOOD was released: "Back to nature? I don't know what it means." I've never liked that opening tune, and 'Jack-in-the-Green' sounds even more awful.

For me, this album really only takes off with 'Cup of Wonder' and (fortunately) just keeps getting better from there. Sure, Ian's lyrics remain a source of embarrasment ("Stir the cup that's ever filling with the blood of all that's born", anyone?) but his tunes are so catchy, the band arrangements are so inspired, and the sense of joy is so palpable I find it irresistible. Jethro Tull had learnt to make optimal use of a uniquely rich combination of instruments. Acoustic guitar, pipe organ, first-rate percussion, synthesizer, flute, electric guitar, bass and piano are all found playing together, trading licks and soloing exquisitely. And still the band's sound stays crystal-clear. Their enthusiasm is infectious. 'Velvet Green' is my favourite: quite possibly the most perfectly devised six minutes in all prog history.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

After the mainstream sounding TOO OLD TO ROCK N ROLL album, IAN ANDERSON once again modified the JETHRO TULL formula to give it a more traditional earthy sound. IAN ANDERSON left the LONDON hustle for the simple pleasures of the beautiful English country side and it definitely shows on SONGS FROM THE WOOD. Welcome to the world of mandolin, whistle, lute, pipes,bells and other well traditional musical instruments.

Nevetheless, this is not a pure folk album; this is strongly folk oriented of course, but the hard rock with the riffs of ol' MARTIN BARRE is still well represented on tracks such as the great title track, the catchy HUNTING GIRL with great guitar licks. But in between the guitar mayhem always appear the pastoral soud of an acoustic guitar with nice flute playing when it's not a mandolin.

Of course the acoustic ''country'' songs outnumber the fast ones like JACK IN THE GREEN which feature only IAN ANDERSON, his acoustic guitar and flute. Nothing prog on this title, trust me! A song definitely from the woods! the same goes for the upbeat CUP OF WONDER, kind of sing-along song that could be heard in some pub or old tavern in some small English village.

You even can go back in time with the cute VELVET GREEN sounding like a march with its definitive medieval athmosphere! i feel like being in a old castle with a minstrel entertaining the court of the duke. THE WHISTLER keeps the same spirit that prevail on this album: a typical energetic , nice acoustic driven tune with a lot of mad flute all over the place.

PIBROCH (cap in hand) is the most out of place song on this album; not the song by itself, but mainly its heavy guitar intro which is replayed twice more in the middle of the song and one more time at the end; kind of anachronic considering the athmosphere of the album...and even these 2 guitar parts don't fit this otherwise nice song with a great melody and beautiful proggy arrangements except these parts

Also it's worth noticing that IAN ANDERSON voice as well, deeper, harsher than usual, nothing as clear as A SMALL CIGAR for example, but i guess it matches the spirit of this recording.

This is not an album i listen often too! This is a good album with its own personality, but as i said it's good, but not great for me!

3 stars define a good album, right?so....


Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Jethro Tull is back with a better album! Yeah, this one shows improvement from the band's previous release "Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll, To Young To Die" which was recorded in a hurry after the band released an excellent "Minstrel In The Gallery" album. This album is strong musically and it resembles the music of original Tull with - this time - more of organ work. The line-up is the same with previous album but this time David Palmer contributes more than just playing sax on previous album. This time he plays piano, synthesizer and Portative Organ.

The opening title track starts off with choirs in an excellent harmony followed with stunning acoustic guitar rhythm and organ work. Second track "Jack-In-The- Green" is a good one with Ian Anderson plays all instruments. "Cup Of Wonder" has an excellent combination of flute and acoustic guitar typical of Tull music."Hunting Girl" was my favorite when I was in senior high school as it has a very nice and catchy organ and flute work. The song moves dynamically with flute leading the way with dynamic music that follows. Guitar riffs provide break that brings to the entrance of vocal line. Oh yes, this track is very memorable for me and I remember my friend, Kok Bolex, also loved this song and we usually sung together at the time. We also aired this track regularly at our illegal radio station and popularized the song to our home city of Madiun at East Java, Indonesia. What a great and memorable track! It's funny if you don't enjoy this track - it's so powerful!

"Ring Out, Solstice Bells" is a song to cheer up because it has hand-clapping as part of the song. "Velvet Green" has an excellent composition influenced by classica music. The combined flute and acoustic guitar work is top notch! "Pibroch" is another memorable track which reminds me to my old school days. It starts off with a rocking electric guitar solo in long sustain fashion. What a rocker! The flute sound brings the music into dynamic part combined with tight basslines of John Glasscock. Structurally it's a well-crafted song with catchy melody. You should not miss this track man!

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any prog music collection with the music that represents true Tull sounds with modern setting especially through the use of organ / synthesizer by John Evans and David Palmer. Recommended! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Although Jethro Tull usually get bracketted as Folk Prog a lot of their material falls outside this category. However there's no mistaking where to place Songs from the Wood, being a strong Folk inflected album. It's also one of their best and features some of the bands most melodic moments. It's also one of their strongest line-up's with the excellent (and sadly now deceased) John Glascock on Bass, having replaced Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond on their previous release, Too Old for Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die. David Palmer takes more of an upfront roll, now complementing John Evans on Keyboards having previously been involved in orchestral arrangements with the band. The often underrated Barriemore Barlow shows why he's one of the best 70's Prog Drummers with complex patterns yet sympathetic feeling for the music throughout. Of course not forgetting Tull Mainstays Ian Anderson and Martin Barre, who have rarely sounded better, Barre still managing to shine on electric Guitar despite the strong acoustic flavour to the album.

It's rare for a band to release an album without any filler tracks but Tull have managed it here every track being top quality stuff. On an album of such quality then it's difficult to pick highlights but the title track Songs from the Wood, Jack-in-the- Green, Hunting Girl and The Whistler deserve particular attention. What also helps is an excellent production allowing each instrument to shine through on the complex structures of the songs. Anyone enjoying this album may also want to check out their following and companion album Heavy Horses.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Let me bring you...

Songs From The Wood is a refreshingly calm and upbeat album in a time of turbulence for the band and the entire prog rock community in general. While most bands were trying to accommodate with the barrage of Punk music flowing over the airwaves, Tull decided to take a step back with their acoustic guitar and flute, sit on a stump in the woods and play out some very excellent music.

A very familiar yet very different Tull from the one that fans know so well, this album brings forth all the elements that Tull uses to frequently - that hypnotic flute, that magic minstrel of a voice, that perfect mix of acoustic and electric guitar. One element that does take some getting used to, though are the a-Capella bits which utilize harmonizing voices (the very first thing you hear on the album is one of these, actually) and the addition of hand claps for extra percussion.

Another thing about the album is that every song stands alone. There's no long interlinked suites, no overlying story and even the super short songs stand alone as their own songs instead of acting as intro/outro pieces. The songs are all generally shorter, with a few exceptions - but this is no handicap, as the short songs on this album manage to maintain a very progressive feel while toying with the idea of typical rock but never abusing it. There is an overlying concept with this album however, and that is the feel of spring. This is the theme that Tull uses over the whole album, and it really seems to capture the season with its light and fun feel. It also really does feel like the band has come out of hibernation after their last albums didn't fare so well (even if Minstrel In The Gallery is quite excellent). This concept would be carried on to the next two albums after this (fall and winter respectively) with varied results.

Oddities aside, this album is one of Tull's best. It's likely the album that most capitalizes on their folk feel, every song having melodies very distinct to the genre, but the heavy Tull feel still remains along with the progressive side on the band. A couple of the songs that use this the most (thus making them the album's standouts and some of Tull's best work) are the synth driven Velvet Green and the aggressive story of Hunting Girl - The first of which opens with some very old English sounding keys and guitar while Anderson's voice makes the use of its rise and fall to deliver the song to it's heavy sections. This is likely the darkest sounding of the tracks on the album, making it a very welcome addition and contrast. The latter opens a lot quicker with some very frantic keys and bass, this one more electric sounding as the guitar kicks in and launches the song into motion. Flutes and guitar drive the track as Tull so adequately does as the rhythm and pace makes the song unique and demanding (in a good way) to listen to - To top it all off, it's also backed by a good story.

Not to say the the rest of the album isn't worth mentioning. Songs From The Wood opens the album by setting the tone and heavily hinting as to what the rest of the album is going to sound like while Jack-In-The-Green acts as a strange little fairy-tale to keep things rolling. The Whistler is one of Tull's best songs to sing along to with it's excellent (and upbeat) tempo and chorus while Pibroch (Cap In Hand) slows things down (if only for a moment) to deliver the album's longest track.

One of the album's biggest flaws however, is the addition of one song. Not a bad song by any means, but very out of place (considering the otherwise Spring feel) with the Christmas track Ring Out, Solstice Bells. Still an upbeat and fun track, this one gets kind of annoying with that irritating ''doo-*clap*-*clap* doo-*clap*-*clap* doo-*clap*-*clap*-doo''. The harmonized section at the end is kind of abused as well. This track is (at this moment) mostly just the subject of terribly nit-picking on my part, as I would still love to hear it played on the radio at Christmas time.

This is an album which gets a lot of praise thrown its way, and for a reason. While not easy to get into the first few listens this is definitely one which picks up momentum fast. 4.5 stars really! One weaker track should not discourage anyone who likes their music a little bit old school and/or a little bit relaxing. Tull fans likely have this one already, but it's recommended to them and anyone who likes flute. Y'know what? It's recommended to everyone, this one is an excellent addition.

Review by TGM: Orb
2 stars Review twenty-something, Songs From The Wood, Jethro Tull, 1977


Gutter rhymes indeed.

A pyrrhic victory for the lads in Jethro Tull. Despite the enormous potential of some of the delightful melodies, only Hunting Girl consistently matches up to the quality I want from Tull, while the title track, Pilbroch, Solstice Bells and Fire At Midnight all have their moments, though highly flawed. The melodies are rather overused, the arrangement sometimes seems a little lacking, and I don't have the lyrical grips to keep my interest in a repeated melody. One big issue on the album as a whole is that the atmosphere is lacking. The bland song structures only exaggerate the repetitive nature of the album, and mean that lame choruses are repeated ad extremum crudelitatis. We see plenty of Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus songs, which is one of the reasons that I've seen people bashing Asia, but apparently being marginally folky makes that not a problem. Overall, a rather disappointing and unfulfilled album, but not a complete disaster.

Ian Anderson, it seems, is a lyrical schizophrenic. On the one hand, you have the classy, clever, scathing, sarcastic, honest Ian Anderson, who can write songs like Back Door Angels, Thick As A Brick and Baker Street Muse. On the other, you have his evil folky twin, who can churl out pretty generic pseudo-intellectual, quasi-Anglo-pagan songs, with most real atmosphere build-up wrecked by repeats. Lyrically, much of this album is a horrible, horrible experience. Verbal waterboarding.

Songs From The Wood kicks off with a nice multi-vocal harmony, with flute, acoustics, a fine bass part and various piano and synths kicking in gradually. Eventually even Martin Barre's allowed to play, and we get a dose of mandolin in the heavier chorus section. This escalates up a little to produce a darker atmosphere, and though the Ian Anderson flute solo feels a little light, I like it up to now. Up to this point, what's not to like?

And suddenly, insert a completely random, almost-verbatim repeat of an earlier verse. Why? Does it add anything to the song? No. Is the context altered enough to make the re-entry clever and interesting? No. Does the flute solo near the end redeem it? Probably not. Essentially, the first part of the song transports me to the atmosphere of a rather English wood, with deciduous trees everywhere, badger burrows everywhere and trying pathetically to call back the dog. The repeat wrecks that atmosphere.

Jack In The Green is simply extended miserable acoustic strumming with accompanying grating vocals, some small Barriemore Barlowe additions (from some marimba to proper drums) that are interesting enough. Everyone else is there in the mix, but noone ever takes the opportunity to break out of it, and any moment risking a dangerous musical explosion is quelled by the rather flaccid flute. The folk lyrics are a complete disaster, with a standard Nature vs. Modernisation idea surrounded by entirely vestigial lines. Now, a vocal-dominated song with strong lyrics and music that highlights these ideas can be amazing. Jack-In-The-Green is that sort of song, only with appalling lyrics and music that doesn't contribute at all, and it's far from amazing.

Cup Of Wonder starts with a delightful, cheerful section with a throbbing bass and flute moving to a dancy drum-beat and some opportunities for Martin Barre to rock out a little. The other verses are essentially small, but neat variations on the first verse. The instrumental section is a little feeble, almost seeming vestigial, but before the return to the last verse we get a rare, effective gentle flute part from Ian Anderson. The issue with this song is the chorus line 'pass the cup of Crimson Wonder-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh' (complete with acoustics and mild accordion). Frankly, one repeat of that at the end of each chorus would have been daring. Two was lunacy. Over three choruses, it's unbearable. Could have been a great song, but wasn't.

Hunting Girl begins with several brief solos, and features an excellent rhythm section throughout, with Barriemore Barlowe contrasting heavier beats and even metallic sheets with a couple of tinselly taps. Barre and Anderson (flute) both get to take a few solos, and make the most of them, creating a rather physical feel appropriate for the song. The lyrics have finally returned to the familiar Tull ground of rollicking innuendo and a whimsical storyline. A very welcome development, as I can sing along to them happily, and nod my head to the rocking theme. The silver amidst the dross. Not gold, but as good as silver gets.

Solstice Bells is an awkward song to review, as I never know whether to compliment the bouncy piano and cheerful feel, or to viciously attack the sheer mindlessness of the idea and over-repeated chorus. I'll do both. The bouncy piano is great, and the cheerful feel is enjoyable. Alas, the idea is at best dubious, the amount of shouting 'ring solstice bells' becomes bland after two verses, especially when I doubt the legitimacy of the idea. Perhaps it's a really good song, but I can only listen to it when my pedantic mind isn't in overdrive.

Following a rather childish opening with the two keyboardists most prominent, Velvet Green develops in a mixed manner. The opening part, complete with a harpsichord-like sound (probably acoustics), is bland in the extreme, with neither glockenspiel nor a rather dim bass part giving any feel to it. It moves (quite abruptly) to a more chord-based song (with some minor scaling-ups from Barre) and the lyrics (despite a very strong vocal performance from Anderson) verge between barely listenable and painful! There are some light reproductions of the guitar on The Pig-Me And The Whore, which doesn't really bother me. The subsequent instrumental section is tedious, and the return to the basic opening part's sound is unwelcome. Another example of some good ideas and some really poor ideas coming together to form a song that tempts the skip button.

The whistler begins with a superb verse, including enjoyable acoustics, glockenspiel and a keyboard. The chorus, highland-ish whistle (no, really?) included, gets old rather quickly, isn't particularly atrocious despite sheer stupidity lyrics ('I whistle along on the seventh day'). The other verses, with some very interesting additions over the basic theme, and some grinding Barre guitar saves the rest of the song from feeling too repetitive. Great ideas, bad ideas, mediocre combination.

Pilbroch, with a manic guitar-flute duo that I refer to as the 'Fen Witch Riff' is the most memorable (though not the best) thing in the song, but it shouldn't be knocked for this. Ian Anderson comes in very neatly 'There's a light in the house... in the wood... in the valley'. The verses are rather a thing of beauty, with a story told through strong folk lyrics and a generally matching atmosphere.

The extended instrumental section indicates a 'romance' implied by the cheerful mandolin with darker additions from David Palmer and John Evans. The 'Fen Witch riff' comes in, presumably to voice the obsession of the protagonist, a cheerful flute-acoustic duet with a rather highlands feel and a clapped-out theme moves on to a more grandiose Evans-Palmer-dominated section. The escalation to the final verse is amazingly well-handled, . The Fen Witch riff comes in again to escalate out the song to its bizarre confusion. All in all, a very interesting song, but the grating and dissonant Fen Witch riff is overused.

Fire At Midnight is an uplifting vocal-led melody, with a romantic theme and some great lines ('Kindled by the dying embers of another working day/Go upstairs, take off your make-up - fold your clothes neatly away). Ian Anderson growls (but not in a metallic way) a little at the end of the lyrics, which isn't too bad. The instrumental section seems almost a convention here, not really adding anything to the table. I'd have preferred something more connected to the verses. The repeat of the second verse feels quite nice here, and overall this is a fairly neat round-off for the album.

I don't have the mental stamina to listen to another version of Velvet Green, and I admit that Beltane is relatively decent, except in that you have Ian Anderson saying come-a Beltane 2,613 times near the end of the song. Usually, I give up at Fire At Midnight, and go and find myself some VDGG to wash out the grassy stain of the album.

All in all, enough merits for a sickly two stars, and I simply do not understand why some make it out as a masterpiece. Not an album you should come to expecting great things, probably not vital, especially if poor lyrics can disappoint you, and it's simply too repetitive for its own good. Still, worth getting, if only for Hunting Girl, and you may (probably will) like it more than I do.

Rating: Two Stars, though it'd be three if all the good ideas were converted into say, four good songs, and four if all the songs reached the potential of their best ideas. Maybe I'm being harsh, given that this is better than the other albums I've given two-star ratings to.

Favourite Track: Hunting Girl

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ring out Ring

Songs for the Wood marks a glorious return of Tull from three fairly mediocre albums. The tile song is worth the price alone with its rich and layered vocal harmonies and some great instrumental sections Tull makes a statement of Prog/Folk in ways only they could do.

With this album the band marks a direction they had toyed with in past albums but make a full statement of English/Celtic folk with the tinges of prog rock all over it. Great orchestrations by David Palmer and keyboard work by Palmer and John Evans, the rich full sound of this CD is a last will and testament to the classic period band line up. Although the songs are separate I could see several instances where these could have combined like in the Thick as a Brick or Passion Play type. Solstice Bells is the only song not quite in the same mix and probably could have been the album closer and would have been more satisfying. Highlights include Jack in the Green, Hunting Girl, Velvet Green and The Whistler.

I love listening to this album and I think if you know anything about Jethro Tull you will tooand even if you don't this isn't a bad place to start. Great album and the end of an era. 5 stars

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Join the chorus if you can, it'll make of you an honest man

Songs From The Wood was an improvement over the previous Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll, Too Young To Die, but it is not as good as the two albums that came after it, Heavy Horses and Stormwatch, in my opinion. As much as I love Jethro Tull and this album, I cannot help but to feel that this album is a bit overrated in relation to several other Jethro Tull albums. I have always found Songs From The Wood to be a bit too cheerful and "whimsical". Indeed, it reminds me of Gentle Giant (which is not a bad thing, though) sometimes, especially on the title track with its complex a cappella vocals.

I also think that the material here - though very strong for the most part - is certainly not among Ian's very best. The longest track Pibroch (Cap In Hand) with its over eight minutes tend to drag slightly and you get a bit tired of it before it is over. I also think that Ring Out, Solstice Bells is slightly out of place here since it is something of a Christmas song, or is it? The rest of the album is very good, as I said, but I have always preferred Heavy Horses and Stormwatch over Songs From The Wood. While those later albums bring me to exciting places, Songs From The Wood tends to bring me to the same forest where the hare lost his spectacles. And that is not my favourite place to be!

The sound on most songs here are less Hard Rock than those later albums I mentioned, but also compared with earlier efforts like Minstrel In The Gallery or Thick As A Brick.

A very good but somewhat overrated album, still an excellent addition to any Jethro Tull collection with several essential songs

Review by LiquidEternity
4 stars This album is generally regarded as the return of Jethro Tull to the forefront of the prog folk scene.

I agree. This is the first moment that the band reaches anything near the energy levels of their masterpiece, Thick as a Brick. But here the rock dwindles almost entirely away, and we are left with entertaining acoustic guitars and a whole lot more flute than usual. The vocal melodies (and, oh my, are those harmonies in a Jethro Tull song?) are probably the best they recorded onto any album. The band is functioning here as a tight-knit and well-practiced band, rather than a number of players performing some half-baked semi-progressive attempts at complicated music (sorry about all the hyphens). The sound dynamics and production are top notch, possibly the best in this three album period (including the two following Songs from the Wood), which is possibly the best period in Jethro Tull's 70s output.

Every single one of the songs on this album are quality. The opening title track features some neat vocal rounds and a well-written main section. Jack-in-the-Green and Cup of Wonder are both splendid tracks, though nothing about them really stands out. Hunting Girl literally explodes with good double bass drumming and a melody that doesn't leave my head for days. Ring Out Solstice Bells and Velvet Green are both beautiful tracks, more mellow, but built around a solid folk feel. The Whistler features probably Ian's greatest flute moments ever, making the whole song high-energy and wildly folky. Kind of like a fireside hoedown with a free show of Superman on the flute. Pibroch (Cap in Hand) is a longer track with some really neat guitar and flute sounds at the beginning, possibly some of the most progressive production that Tull ever bothered with. The closer, Fire at Midnight, is a standard sort of folk track, but with some wonderful melodic hooks and a sweet bit of flute.

If the album had a bit more variation on it, then it could rank up there with Thick as a Brick. But then, it's place is not to vary a lot but rather to present Jethro Tull's impressive handle on progressive folk. This is a highly recommended album to fans of folk anywhere, fans of Tull anywhere, and fans of plain good music almost anywhere.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Excellent album, (almost) bad timing. If Songs From The Wood was released an year before, I guess it would have been met with much more critical and public acclaim. For 1977 was the ´year of the punk´ and Too Old To Rock´n Roll Too Young To die (with its sparse instrumentation and short, direct songs) would be considered a more fitting release for the time (something Pink Floyd achieved with Animals). Nevertheless, Songs From The Wood did get some atention and rightly so. It is one of Jethro Tull´s best.

While JT was a hard band to label during their golden years, this is truly a much more prog folk album and in this vein, a masterpiece. Ian Anderson seemed a bit lost on what to do with this band in their previous releases (even if they were still good). With Songs From The Wood his muse was back, the band in great shape (Martin Barre is especially inspired and JT did get some more extra input with the permanent arrival of arranger David Palmer as a second keyboards player) and the sound is absolute exciting. Tunes like Pibroch (Cap In Hand), Hunting Girl and the title track are among Jethro Tull´s best (but I should say the album as a whole works very well, with no fillers). It was one of the few prog albums in that year (along with Going For The One) that sounded conving and powerful despite the hostile enviroment it met when delivered.

I was very glad with the CD remastered version with two extra tracks (Beltane is quite good). The booklet is fine and the remixing improved the overall sound. After 30 years it is still a joy to hear. Highly recommended.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Released in 1977 after the disappointing "Too Old to Rock'n'Roll, Too Young to Die", "Songs from the Wood" is widely considered as the first part of the band's 'folk' trilogy, continued with "Heavy Horses" and "Stormwatch". I would go so far as to say that it is the only authentically 'prog-folk' album by Jethro Tull, in spite of their reputation as standard-bearers of the genre. Needless to say, it is not the same brand of weird and wacky prog-folk as practiced by the likes of Comus or Spirogyra, but rather closer to the approach of a band like Steeleye Span (whose album "Below the Salt" was produced by Ian Anderson). "Songs from the Wood" is an enchantingly fresh musical effort in which the two souls of the band, the acoustic and the electric, blend seamlessly - pastoral and at the same time uplifting, avoiding a headlong descent into the dreaded 'hey nonny nonny' clichés of the genre thanks to Martin Barre's razor-sharp guitar licks and Ian Anderson's wryly humorous vocals.

Jethro Tull have always been one of those bands who set great store by strong album openers, and "Songs from the Wood" is no exception. The title-track, in spite of being just under 5 minutes long, gives the impression of lasting much longer, due to the complexity of its structure - a gorgeous a cappella intro followed by some astonishing instrumental prowess, especially on the part of the late John Glascock on bass. The following song, "Jack-in-the-Green", is a charming offering dedicated to one of the many nature spirits of British folk tradition. Whenever I hear it, I feel like I am walking in a beautiful oak or chestnut wood, beneath the fragrant shades of the trees. Personally, I believe a piece of music can be called really successful when it appeals to other senses than just hearing.

As it is the case of most albums, even the best ones, there are a couple of weaker pieces on "Songs from the Wood", though they do not in any way detract from the overall fabric of the record. Among the many highlights, besides well-known Christmas tune "Ring Out Solstice Bells" (which is not a personal favourite of mine, though I would not call it weak), I would mention the electrified, salaciously-themed "Hunting Girl", which could have come straight from the sessions for "Aqualung"; energetic flute-fest "The Whistler"; and the beautiful medieval fantasy of "Velvet Green" (also present in a live version as a bonus track). The album's longest song, "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)", is also the most ambitious and the heaviest, based as it is mostly on Barre's guitar, and distinctly darker in mood than the rest of the disc - perhaps not a complete success, but a very intriguing slice of music nonetheless.

As already noted above, the performances by all the band members are very strong. For a band who has never had a stable lineup, and is essentially run as Ian Anderson's show, Jethro Tull sound extremely tight on this album, even more so than on undisputed masterpieces like "Aqualung" or "Thick as a Brick". Even if Ian's unique vocals dominate the proceedings (there are no wholly instrumental tracks here), the album definitely feels like a group effort, and in my view this is part of its appeal - besides its being one of those ultimately feel-good discs that everyone needs in their collection, especially when needing some respite from the likes of VDGG or Univers Zero.

"Songs from the Wood" is one of those cases when I would find that elusive half-star rating really handy. Indeed, while an undeniably excellent album, I believe it somehow does not reach the iconic status of "Aqualung" or TAAB. Therefore, I will rate it a very, very solid four stars (and half a virtual one, of course), and recommend it to everyone but those who think that great musicianship and beautiful, folk-influenced melodies are tantamount to four-letter words.

Review by The Sleepwalker
4 stars Songs From The Wood is a very folky album with lots of nice acoustic tracks, and several heavier songs. Most of the songs are quite catchy and I find most songs very interesting. Anderson's voice is definitely one of a kind, and I think it really fits the album.

The album opens up with the title track. It starts out with only harmony vocals, but soon flute and acoustic guitar will join the jolly vocals. Though the song starts out pretty strange, and I think people will easily dislike it, the song changes into everything you didn't expect of it, a very, very powerful bass riff makes it's entry and the song gets epic. Though the song keeps it's folky vibe, it becomes a fantastic rocking track, really an amazing opener, maybe even the best of the whole album.

Next is "Jack-In-The-Green", an acoustic and very folky track. The song is a very nice one, Ian Anderson's vocals are very nice and the song has a very pleasant ambience. The song does only last two and a half minutes, which does not make it an epic song, but definitely a fun one.

"Cup Of Wonder" is a song in the same style as "Jack-In-The-Green". It's also a very folky song, not just acoustic, as distorted guitar is heard on the background. The song also is more upbeat and the chorus is very catchy. Just as the previous song, it's far from being epic, but it's a very good song nevertheless.

Next is "Hunting Girl", by far the heaviest track on the album. The song starts out with a lengthy intro, a great structural part with lots of organ, guitar and most of all, flute. Martin Barre's guitar in this song is heavily distorted and flanged, it might not be very much in the folk mood of this album, but it gives this song a heavy, raw mood. The song is pretty upbeat and the most striking song on the album, I love it!

"Ring Out, Solstice Bells" is by far the worst track of the album, in fact, it's the only track I dislike. The song is very happy christmas song with lots of annoying claps, I absolutely disgust it.

"Velvet Green" however, is very good. It has lots of medieval influences and is one of the lengthiest tracks of the album. I really like this one, the instruments all are very lovely, they fit the vocals very well and the song knows several nice changes. I can't really say anything bad about this song, but even though that, I don't think it's the best song on the album, it maybe misses the spice of "Hunting Girl" or the power of the title track, it's a fantastic song though.

"The Whistler" is another good track, the vocals are very good, it's pretty epic for a three minute song and there are some nice flute parts in the song. This song really fits in with most of the folky tracks, the biggest difference is that this one is very up-tempo.

"Pibroch (Cap In Hand)" starts out with a lengthy intro, a nice one, but I don't really think it fits with the rest of the songs. The vocal parts are really amazing, this is probably the most epic song on the album, not only because of the vocals, but also because of the lovely middle part. The middle part is very much in the style of "Velvet Green", it gives this song some sort of extra dimension. A really good song, though the intro doesn't really fits with the other songs.

"Fire At Midnight" is just like most of the short songs on this album, a very nice track. "Fire At Midnight" has more distorted guitars than the other short songs and it's a nice ending of this great album.

The bonus tracks of the 2003 remaster are "Beltane", an upbeat rock song, very nice, not fantastic, but a nice bonus track, and an excellent live version of "Velvet Green".

I give Songs From The Wood four stars. It's a fantastic prog album, but I don't think it's essential. If you don't like happy, acoustic folk songs, you shouldn't get this album, but most of the songs are really worth checking out. If you do like progressive folk music and you don't yet own this album, what are you waiting for, get it!

Review by Sinusoid
5 stars Whenever I picture the Jethro Tull sound, I picture lots of folk-inspired themes, lots of flute and some hard rock-type sound. SONGS FROM THE WOOD seems to have that sound that seems very prototypical in my head. There's a certain warmth that the album possesses that causes me to gravitate towards it.

Instrumentally, the album is very spot on; nothing is too cheap or obvious, but at the same time, nobody really overdoes anything. We get a good dosage of trademark Martin Barre riffs (the hero of ''Pibroch''), the flutes and percussion are stellar, but it's the thick bass guitar sound that pleases me the most. Collectively, many of the tunes exonerate an ornate or festive like sound. So, if it's happy, cheery music that turns you off, run far away from this album.

The only problem might be some of the pop-like structures as tunes like ''The Whistler'' have this verse-chrous-verse structure. I tend to ignore that since I like the sound around it. The most enjoyable tunes more me are the title cut (with harmony vocals, a rarity for Tull), ''Jack-in- the-Green'' (perversely twee), ''Ring Out, Solstice Bells'' (ANOTHER Christmas song?!?), ''Hunting Girl'', ''Velvet Green'' and ''Fire at Midnight'' (possibly my overall favourite cut). Yes, I'm self-aware that those select songs comprises 2/3 of the album. And I get very giddy about the bonus tracks, so this is a case of bias.

Take this review with caution; I like SONGS FROM THE WOOD very much, but rookie Jethro Tull fans ought to try AQUALUNG or THICK AS A BRICK first, then branch out into their other 70's stuff including this one. But, this IS one of their finer efforts that ought to be considered for a prog collection.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars According to Forrest Gump, his momma repeatedly told him that life was akin to a box of chocolates. She also might've been describing the sundry albums of Jethro Tull. In the last few years I've been giving this respected grand champion steer of the progressive folk movement another hard look (after being estranged from them for decades) and in so doing I don't think I've ever found a band to be more confounding and inconsistent. On every trip to the local used LP vendor I've endeavored to pick up one of their records to hear what I missed and I can inform you that, indeed, I never know what I'm gonna get. It's a crap shoot. In the case of "Songs from the Wood" I hoped for a bulging pouch of toasty nuts like those I found within the vinyl grooves of "Heavy Horses." Alas, I came away scratching my noggin in befuddlement. What I've come to realize is that when it comes to this eclectic bunch one man's scoop of poodle poop is another man's treasure and, more often than not, I end up savoring most sometimes what others don't care much for at all. To quote the king of Siam, "'Tis a puzzlement."

The album's rustic cover painting doesn't mislead, though. This was obviously a wholehearted attempt on their part to get back to the existential fundamentals upon which the group was erected and the opener, "Songs from the Wood," starts things trotting off gallantly in that direction. The song's intricate a capella harmony vocal arrangement is entertaining and leads you to believe that Ian Anderson and his merry men are about to "bring you love from the field/poppies red and roses filled with summer rain/to heal the wound and still the pain/that threatens again and again/as you drag down every lover's lane." The group dutifully jumps in after a bit and tightly performs the tune's colorful, complex patterns with nary a snag and the wide variety of instrumentation used in the production allows for fascinating listening. All in all, this polished gem contains all the ingredients that make Jethro Tull so unique and worthwhile. Too bad they can't keep it up.

The all-Ian-all-the-time "Jack-in-the-Green" is next and if nothing else this one-man tour de force shows beyond any reasonable doubt that Anderson was, is and always will be the guts and bolts of this band. He plays and sings everything on this cut and that's all well and good but, unfortunately, it's a rather unmemorable ditty. Maybe he was trying to tell us that the Cub Scout troop leader role isn't all it's hyped up to be when he intones the line "It's no fun being Jack-in-the-Green/no place to dance, no time for song." (Ugh.) "Cup of Wonder" follows and it's prototype 70s folk rock that's only missing the pizzazz. The song's riff-verse-chorus formula is repeated before they toss in the obligatory instrumental bridge and then they predictably close out with another repeat of the beginning sequence. Yada, yada, yada. I'd rather they be bold and risk ramming the rocks than to bore me into a stupor. I can usually find something in Ian's lyrics when his music fails me but not this time. It's as if between takes he grabbed a rhyming dictionary off the shelf and jotted down some random sentences. (Mmmph.)

Barriemore Barlow's energetic, highly detailed drumming distinguishes the intro to "Hunting Girl" and, while it's no thrill ride, it's definitely a welcome step in the right direction at this juncture. Since both John Evans and David Palmer are listed as the keyboard wizards in the credits I'm not sure who did what and when but they brighten the complicated verse structure considerably and the song's instrumental sections sound more like the entire entourage got to contribute and, therefore, were more fun to play. (Belch.) The words describing a seize-the-moment tryst on the heather shared by a commoner and an upper-crust lass are refreshingly clever. "She took this simple man's downfall in hand/I raised the flag that she unfurled," he sings with tongue-firmly-planted-in- cheek. The title of the next track, "Ring Out, Solstice Bells," would, understandably, cause one to brace for a sugary smearing of sticky schmaltz but it rises to the challenge and easily surpasses that low expectation. The perky 7/8 time signature they employ for the verses and the big, full choruses make this song a delight. The piano work is excellent throughout and the Christmassy climax with bells a chimin' is downright heavenly. Every once in a while these boys surprise the hell out of me.

On "Velvet Green" they demonstrate, once again, their proficiency for mixing modern instruments with traditional ones like mandolins and lyres to create the inimitable Jethro Tull sound. Okay, that's no news flash but give me a break. I'm grasping at straws here. At least the tune's unpredictable arrangement keeps things from stagnating completely. The passable lyrics portray the enviable lifestyle of a carefree country Don Juan "who's a young girl's fancy and an old maid's dream" that goes about sowing his "wild oat seed" indiscriminately. (Meh.) "The Whistler" features energetically strummed acoustic guitars that lay a brisk-paced foundation underneath some very lively whistles and synths. I like the way they kept the drums down in the mix, allowing the music to flow atop its natural momentum. Maybe they were trying to divert your attention away from the less-than- pensive words.

Ostracize me if you want but I've never been a fan of guitarist Martin Barre. He's functional and pedestrian, at best, and often he's as annoying as a swarm of vampire gnats as he is on "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)." Here he's fascinated with the neat-o delay/echo effect he over- utilizes on the introduction and at other points. It grows old quickly. The song then drops into being a bluesy dirge of sorts and, in case you missed it the first time, they rerun the Martin Barre Show again. The first instrumental break arrives but it only induces a yawn as you keep waiting for something interesting to burst out of the cage this number is trapped in. Suddenly it happens and you're treated to a sprightly movement involving flutes, whistles, and mandolins followed by madrigal-styled keyboards and it's like sunshine streaming through a break in cloudy skies. (Where were they hiding this and why?) The excitement is short-lived, though, and they lazily return to the original feel and theme. (Fffftttt.) At least they end the album on an upswing with the simpler "Fire at Midnight." Barre's bull-in-a-china-closet guitar almost ruins the mood but he exercises a crumb of restraint and Anderson's unpretentious ode to the joys of home life manages to survive Martin's rude intervention. "Me, I'll sit and write this love song/as I all too seldom do/build a little fire this midnight/it's good to be back home with you," Ian sings contentedly. (Ripppp.)

If you're new to Jethro Tull I must warn you that they're prone to being as hit and miss as a pre-school point guard. Having said that, discovering their masterpieces like "Stand Up" and "Thick as a Brick" as well as their highly satisfactory outings such as "Heavy Horses," "Passion Play" and "Benefit" are well worth the effort. But prepare to be underwhelmed by albums like this one along the way, too. Technical merits notwithstanding, "Songs from the Wood" is sorta like taking in an exhibition of an esteemed painter's canvases but being impressed only with the quality of the frames. The tunes are recorded expertly, there's not a note out of place and there's no denying that they put a great deal of effort into making it something they could be proud of yet it fails to ascend above the rank of mediocre. And, for a prog reviewer such as myself, it was a nightmare to fairly assess. So please excuse the classless incidental fart and burp noises that bullied their way into this essay. I couldn't help it. I was gassy. That stuff happens every time I'm beset by the acute ennui that results from trying to pen a decent review for albums like "Songs from the Wood." There were no lasting moments of ecstasy to shower with glowing adjectives and, conversely, there were no instances of pure inanity to mercilessly assault and poke fun at with semi-literate daggers. Makes for a critique as unremarkable as the album it addresses and, to me, that's a fate worse than garlic breath. 2.5 stars.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After a series of dusty albums, the fresh and sparkling Songs From The Woods is a real relief. The band is in fine form and Ian Anderson finally sounds as if his heart is into it again, just as in his best days. For me this lists as the only Tull release outside their creative early 70's peak that contains new ideas and enthusiasm for the material. It's very folksy and well produced for a change.

Songs From The Woods is an eye-opener, sharp and crisp, with plenty of good riffs, harmonies and surprising twists in the song structure. Also Jack In The Green is a winner, great folksy tune with a vicious and biting vocal performance from Ian.

Unfortunately, they didn't maintain the same focus for the entire length of the album. A song like Cup Of Wonder has its moments but the vocal especially is too mediocre to feature. Hunting Girl however is another great tune. One of the aspects I like about it, and about this album in general, is the addition of the tasteful and very fitting keyboards. It makes for a very original and alluring sound. Velvet Green is my next highlight, as are The Whistler and parts of Pibroch.

A few weaker songs not withstanding this is a very enjoyable Tull release. Not as good as some of their earlier works but it's easy to see why it stands as a favourite among prog folkies. From this point unwards, the decline for Tull was steady and fast. I for sure haven't heard any album since that matches the sparkling creativity of this one. 3.5 stars

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars At last an album in which TULL really lives up to its partial folk classification, with a number of tunes that sound like they could have been adapted from the traditional a la STEELEYE SPAN or FAIRPORT CONVENTION. At its best it eclipses the works of those artists, but at its worst it plumbs depths they would never have dreamed of.

On the plus side, tracks like "The Whistler" sport a Celtic whimsy, and both "Hunting Girl" and "Velvet Green" incorporate progressive and other rock instrumentation into sprightly melodies, neither overpowering the other. They represent sequels to the lovely "Third Hurrah" on "War Child". Moreover, Anderson's nasal twang actually suits the material while not smothering it. Shifts are deftly executed, and even the very short "Fire and Midnight" sounds complete if contained.

On the down side, "Pibroch" is a messy behemoth of an epic, simply drowned in heavy excesses and unbecoming the album as a whole. Given the traditional short length of LPs, its inclusion was a serious misstep. "Cup of Wonder" and "Ring Out Solstice Bells" are both spirited but have muted success relative to what FAIRPORT and STEELEYE would have done with the same material, partly because of Anderson's vocal shortcomings. Admittedly his flute provides some welcome and overdue breaks.

One of JETHRO TULL's more authentic sounding disks, "Songs from the Wood" works well within the group's progressive parameters and helped to resurrect their fortunes. This hardy perennial is worth harvesting if you have a penchant for olde Englishe folk music Anderson-style.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars After the disappointing Too Old To Rock & Roll... (which I like much more now than I did back then), Jethro Tull rebounded with one of their best releases. With a bit more folky flavor added, and some stellar performances from the entire band, Songs From The Wood is one of the best albums in their long career.

The standout tracks on this one are Songs From The Wood and Hunting Girl. Both of these songs feature tight, complex arrangements, that show the talents of all of the band members. The rest of the album, while not quite at the level of those two songs, is all very enjoyable.

And by the way, my first Tull concert was a show on the tour for this album. It is still one of the best concerts I've ever seen.

4.5 stars, rounded up.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This album is really a tale of two sides for me. The first side is too folky and uninspired and worth 2 stars, but everything comes to life on the second side which I would rate 4 stars. So yeah 3 stars is my rating here.

"Songs From The Wood" opens with vocals and harmonies.Yikes ! Thankfully the music comes in before a minute. Flute 3 minutes in followed by guitar and organ. Vocals and harmonies are back late. Not a good start. "Jack-In-The-Green" is laid back with strummed guitar, flute and vocals. Very folky. "Cup Of Wonder" opens with flute as a good beat comes in. Vocals too. Piano after 2 minutes. "Hunting Girl" features drums,organ, flute and guitar early. Vocals after a minute. An odd sounding track really.

"Ring Out,Solstice Bells" is like a Christmas song from the heathen (haha).The clapping and bells are all cringe worthy. That ends the first half. Oh that's why they were clapping. "Velvet Green" sounds really good when it settles around 2 minutes.These contrasts continue. Good song. "The Whistler" is even better. Vocals sound great and there's lots of flute and strummed guitar. "Pibroch (Cap In Hand)" opens with some welcomed electric guitar. Flute and drums follow then it settles with vocals. The contrasts between the laid back and more fuller sections continue. It ends as it began. Nice. "Fire At Midnight" is pastoral to start.It picks up nicely as contrasts continue.

Good album overall. Certainly Prog-Folk fans should really enjoy this one.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars Most would agree that it was probably time for Tull to step away from the album-length epics. In so doing with Songs from the Wood, the band manage to keep their trademark style (frenetic bits, lots of quick shifting between melodies, etc.) but break things up into digestible tracks.

I prefer more extended pieces--perhaps some middle ground between entire album cuts and singles--but this was a good move for the band regardless.

This has a bit of a Gentle Giant feel to it, perhaps most similar to Octopus, in that the songs feature a variety of instrumentation and inspiration. We've got the nice vocal call and response sandwiching the rockier bits in the title track, the tasty 12-string and flute combo of Cup of Wonder, the baroque-inspired Velvet Green, the folk-rock Whistler, and the spacey--at least by Tull standards--Pibroch. All of these are very solid songs in their own right.

Very well played, and creative variety with textures and instruments. However, too often I think that I've heard similar bits before, perhaps not on this album, but on previous ones. Let's face it--it's just hard to really distinguish yourself after coming out with so much great music. I think Tull is running up against that just a bit here, but that shouldn't reduce the quality of music on this album. However, if you're to the point where you think you might have enough Tull, then you probably can live without Songs from the Wood.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Now with 150% more Medieval-ity. After one not so well accepted album (which I like nevertheless), Tull are back again.

I suppose I have to say that I love/like/appreciate every second of this release. Every little thing from sound of guitars (acoustic, bass and electric, each of them in own specific way), flute not used just for sporadically done soloing (but incorporated into music in its trademark way that shines like a flute-beacon even after 30-40 years of Ian Anderson using it, still getting comparisons to Tull work for other artists). Maybe intro to Pibroch could be better (not bad, but not fitting into "sound" of this album).

Having song melodic and at the same time very complex (and well structured, graduating) is challenge for song writers, but here it works. Because Jethro Tull became some kind of basis for Prog Folk (especially albums that are like this album), it's hard to decide how Prog this is. Or on the other hand it is very easy.

One very personal note. Title song is one of the first songs I've heard by Tull. I heard this on some kind of Best of compilation many years ago, but always skipped it after hearing Songs From the Wood, because I extremely hated its intro. Unfairly as I see now, but this hatred and prejudice seemed to follow me into Prog years too. I'm glad that it's gone now.

I suspect that they took some folk tunes and enhanced, boosted, crafted them into Prog Folk gems, but if it sounds good, I'm not going to argue. The Whistler is probably the "best" song, with very pleasant dual endings on electric guitar & electronic synth (or second guitar ? I'm not sure, but it sure, it's always after singing "alone on the saturday..."), even purpose of this album is more about having consistent work.

5(+), for the Tull.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's a well known fact that Songs From A Wood will make you feel much better... whatever that actually suppose to mean!

After reading a few reviews of this album I'm surprised by the amount of people calling it an acoustic Jethro Tull release. I guess that it's the combination of the album's title and the first two opening numbers that gets people confused since if you start digging deeper all new exciting shades add a completely new spectrum to the equation. If you're interested in hearing this band's more acoustic material then I'd actually suggest listening to Aqualung due to its acoustic guitar driven middle section. Instead, I shall only describe Songs From The Wood as the best Jethro Tull album since their glory days of Thick As A Brick, which is actually quite an achievement!

With the return to the shorter song format on War Child I honestly assumed that the band had reached their creative peak and were now setting down in a more familiar territory where they would treat their fans to an album, every other year or so, with a few surprises here and there but nothing to write home about in the long run. This was where I was completely off the mark and it was Jethro Tull's privilege to point out my miscalculation on the subject.

1977 was the year where progressive rock had already gone out of style, which might also be the case in the band's direction with this material. Still, there is an undeniable creativity on each of these 9 compositions that makes this album more than just another release from a prog dinosaur. The biggest change this time around are the strong folk rock influences that have taken over many of the hard rock moments. Surprisingly enough the album rocks just as hard, if not even harder, than classics like Aqualung with the new spin creating an exciting aura around this material.

The album-opening title-track and Jack-In-The-Green are two of those comfort zone acoustic numbers with a twist that we've come to expects from Jethro Tull over the years. Not really the spectacular moments that many fans make it out to be but still a nice kick-off that adds a moody vibe to the release. The remaining seven tracks are far from your average affair with some quite spectacular moments like the very folk-sounding Velvet Green and especially The Whistler, which I never get tired of, that adds an almost Celtic music sound into the mix.

To summarize, Songs From A Wood is an excellent album well worth your time if you're a fan of Jethro Tull's music. This album is not necessary the best introduction to the band's sound although it would, nonetheless, be a great addition to any prog rock music collection.

***** star songs: Velvet Green (6:05) The Whistler (3:31)

**** star songs: Songs From The Wood (4:56) Jack-In-The-Green (2:31) Cup Of Wonder (4:34) Hunting Girl (5:13) Pibroch (Cap In Hand) (8:36) Fire At Midnight (2:34)

*** star songs: Ring Out, Solstice Bells (3:47)

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars Chipper, upbeat, woodsy, and very folksy, Songs From the Wood shows Tull playing unambitious but still enjoyable tunes with an exceptionally pastoral feel, trading almost every hint of heavy electric blues for sprightly merriment dancing atop green hills at solstice time within sight of the old standing stones.

Sounds ridiculous, and it really is. There isn't much in the songwriting or instrumental department to make this album stand out-- especially compared to other Tull albums; however, Songs From the Wood does possess a very strong and unique minstrel tone which is not without its charm. The title track is one of the highlights, with a distinctive Ian Anderson vocal perforamnce to set the tone and a comparatively intriguing rhythm from the band. "Jack of the Green" is a low-key acoustic piece, nice but not accomplishing much other than letting Anderson indluge himself, which is pretty much the name of the game until "Velvet Green" comes up, which lets the band dig in a try a few interesting things with their instruments. The very fun and dynamic "Whistler" is a standout track, though the album as a whole passes by in a sort of medieval-malaise-- with narry an interesting flute solo to be found. The lengthiest track, "Pibroch", feels like a failed experiment, losing steam despite numerous classic-prog refinements and an epic palette of sounds.

The whimsical feel of the album and the prevalence of Anderson's highly inflected vocals make this sound more like a solo album than a Jethro Tull album; this is practically a display of Anderson's self-absorbed minstrelry. Still, there is enough of that old prog fire left in the band to appeal to fans, especially those in need of a hot cup of tea beneath autumn bowers to the sound of pan flutes. Not bad, but not especially good either.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by lazland
5 stars Following the relatively disappointing Too Old To Rock 'n Roll & etc., the Tull came roaring back with this exceptional album, the one that is, to my mind, the exceptional prog folk album.

Anderson, by turns, educates us, for instance in Jack in The Green, amuses us, whiplash across buttocks for Hunting Girl, calls us all to celebrate ancient festivals in Ring Out Solstice Bells, or invites us to join us in a farewell nightcap in Fire At Midnight.

In other words, this album has just about every aspect of our great and good rural society that you could possibly wish for. It is an album which screams out against the metropolitan elite that was, by this time, increasingly destroying vast tracts of British rural life (it hasn't got any better since), but, actually, it is better for the fact that Anderson does not preach or scream. He merely celebrates, and what a celebration it is.

This does not, of course, make a great album on its own. Because, I don't think the band ever sounded as good as it does in this particular incarnation. Martin Barre displays a rich and thoughtful acoustic texture throughout in addition to his trademark blues licks & riffs, whilst Barriemore Barlow was, to me, the finest percussionist they ever had. He shines throughout this album. John Glascock proves himself a perfect foil on bass and his backing vocals complement Anderson's throughout, and the keyboards provided by David Palmer and John Evan provide the backdrop to it all.

To come out with this album at a time when punk was raging across the UK was Anderson's very typical way of cocking two fingers up at the musical establishment in my country. He was, of course, stating that his band would do their own thing, as ever, but also that there was a rich folk tradition that should never be ignored, and one that was perfectly compatible with a band who played the blues and progressive rock. Pibroch is just about the ideal example of this, the start of which has a glorious bluesy feel that really does take the band back to its roots, before taking us into symphonic territory with exceptional keyboards, and then into the nearest that Anderson ever got into space rock, then reverting to the overall folk feel of the album as a whole before stunning us with more blues. Staggering to have so much within the space of just eight minutes.

This is truly an essential album, one that every single prog collection should include. Without wishing to be controversial, I will give Thick As A Brick four stars when I review it. It's great, but it is not, to me, an archetypal Tull album, more of a mickey take. No, this is the definitive Tull musical statement.

Five stars. Get it if you haven't already.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Songs from the Wood and I go way back. To 1977. Never a real Tull fan, despite many of my friends worshipping them and Ian Anderson and their "amazing" concerts, I kept buying Tull albums thinking, "This might be the one" (to win me over). Don't get me wrong, JT have some awesome songs and some very cool, memorable riffs (I remember listening to A Passion Play over and over to find those few passages of sublime prog heaven). Ian and the boys have always been one of those bands that I can only take in small doses. So, I was very excited upon acquiring Songs from the Wood because of the pastoral cover (promising some more pastoral, folk-like music, I hoped) and the fact that there were a collection of mostly short songs. But, as was still is: I find some great skill and a fair amount of listening pleasure--I count "Fire at Midnight" (9/10), "Jack-In-The-Green" (9/10), "The Whistler" (10/10), and "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)" (10/10) as five-star efforts. And now, as I dive deeper into the heretofore hidden (to me) world of Prog Folk, I compare Songs from the Wood with other efforts from the likes of Ragnarök, Eden, Itoiz, Horslips, Jan Dukes de Grey, The Strawbs, Amarok, Conventum, Pererin, Comus, Iona, Dunwich, and even Hölderlin, Cos and Fruupp. The title song (8/10) has a nice Gentle Giant start to it but by the two minute mark seems to meander and lose its steam and lyrically is almost embarrassing. "Velvet Green" (8/10) has two outstanding mid-sections, but the first 1:40 and final minute seem so tired and old. Been there, JT; done that before. This is a very polished JTull, more mature and sophisticated, with excellent production value. IMHO, this is an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection but not a masterpiece.
Review by friso
3 stars Jethro Tull - Songs from the Wood (1977)

In '77 Jehtro Tull returned to their folky formula, making perhaps their most 'traditional' folk album. Though many see this album as a return to form, I still myself still think it sounds way to flat and indifferent. All the instruments are played very well, but somehow the music doesn't live at all; despite of progressive song-writing with many intelligent rhythm changes and chord- changes.

The cover artwork on the back of the vinyl is good; the base of a tree with a pick-up needle and arm on it.

The opening track 'Songs from the Wood' has some good melodies, but doesn't sound as a whole. Jehtro tull should stick more to atmospheres here. The classc 'Jack in the Green' is a good solo performance of Anderson with his nice voice and acoustic guitar. Good song. The other tracks of the album just don't stick by me.

Conclusion. Perhaps I just don't like the sound of Jehtro too much and this album does seem to have intelligent composition and song-writing, but I miss out on a lot of soul here. I can only recommend this to fans of the folk genre. Two and a halve stars.

Review by Warthur
5 stars In the face of changing fashions at the end of the 1970s, many prog bands steered in a more commercial and anonymous direction, diluting their image to become more widely acceptable. Not so Jethro Tull; with punk exploding onto the scene, Ian Anderson and comrades realised that what people wanted was more personality in music, not less. Hence Songs From the Wood, an album which takes the folk and fantasy airs that had always hovered around Tull's image (but, aside from Minstrel In the Gallery, hadn't really been exploited that much) and turned them up to 11.

And with such fine results! The vocal harmonies on the opening track, the wildness of Pibroch, the catchiness of The Whistler or Hunting Girl (which is entertainingly filthy, if you get the lyrical allusions), and the fine sense of drama shown by Ian Anderson in his lyrical delivery, everything comes together brilliantly. Ian's vocals are a highlight of the album for me simply because he sounds more emotive than he'd been on any album since Aqualung - the lyrics clearly meaning something to him, and he's giving them all he's got. A fantastic return to form after some years in the wilderness.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Songs from the Wood" is the last of the 70s Jethro Tull albums for me to hear so I was hoping for something very special. Admittedly I knew of the album's reputation from reading many reviews and overall it was receiving rave reviews so this is how I approached the album; with some high expectations. The only way was up for JT after that failed rock opera the previous year.

The moment it cranked into the opening tracks I was startled at the intricate progressive folk soundscape generated. It is a killer track and features all that makes Tull so unique; flute, nasal vocals, technical guitar and keyboard finesse. This is followed by another gem 'Jack- In-The-Green' with Anderson playing everything, such a tour de force performance from the master. 'Cup Of Wonder; is nothing special and slowed the pace somewhat but thankfully 'Hunting Girl' is an excellent return to form with highly unusual structure and folk pastoral passages.

'Ring Out, Solstice Bells' is another treasure with medieval atmospherics along with the acoustic and flute interplay on 'Velvet Green'. This track is so well executed musically it shines like a beacon on the album. The extended break is gloriously laced with flute, pipe, fractured time sigs and angular guitar; very progressive on every level.

I was now under the impression that I was listening to one of the Jethro Tull classics, but it wasn't until the next track that I was certain of it. 'The Whistler' is utterly brilliant, with such a melodic hook and beautiful lyrics that have an emotional edge; "Deep red are the sun-sets in mystical places, Black are the nights on summer-day sands, We'll find the speck of truth in each riddle, Hold the first grain of love in our hands." The flute work is masterful and caps this off as a jewel in Tull's catalogue.

'Pibroch (Cap In Hand)' is blessed with a dynamic lead solo intro by Martin Barre. It locks into a slow pace but is never dull thanks to some scintillating flute and guitar interplay. It is a complex song with some extended instrumental breaks bookended by blues driven verses and emotional flute. One of the better longer Tull songs and the icing on the cake is the Barre lead break at the end. 'Fire At Midnight' concludes the album with more prog folk, the softer side of Anderson, and the lead break is well executed along with dreamy flute closing the album with a nice atmosphere.

Overall "Songs From The Wood" lives up to the hype and is one of the greatest Jethro Tull albums along with other masterpieces "Thick as a Brick" and "Aqualung". I would rate it as their third best followed closely by "Benefit" and "Minstrel in the Gallery" as the definitive top 5 must have Tull albums.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 40

Jethro Tull always was one of the best progressive bands and I sincerely think that they can be seen as one of the ten best progressive and most important bands from the 70's. Even today the group can be considered as one of the best and one of the most influential bands in the progressive rock scene.

"Songs From The Wood" is in general considered to be the first of a trio of studio albums more oriented to the folk music. I'm talking about of their tenth, eleventh and twelfth studio albums, "Songs From The Wood" released in 1977, "Heavy Horses" released in 1978 and "Stormwatch" released in 1979, respectively. Ian Anderson had moved to the countryside, some time earlier, in 1975, and that fact, became very important and decisive to him about the choice of the source material for the next album of the band. Anderson became fascinated with the country culture, namely, the early British folklore and legends, and the result of that, was the produce of a particularly appealing collection of songs, which became part of this incredible and fantastic studio work, one of my favourites, undoubtedly.

Besides the five usual members of the group, coming from their previous ninth studio album "Too Old To Rock'N'Roll: Too Young To Die" released in 1976, which were Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, Barriemore Barlow, John Gascock and John Evans, David Palmer, who had made some musical arrangements on some of the earlier Jethro Tull's albums, formally joined to the band, playing mostly keyboards, and starting to have a very close musical relationship with the band, which would be kept during the three more oriented folk albums, already mentioned by me.

"Songs From The Wood" has nine tracks. The first track is the title track "Songs From The Wood". This is a great song to open the album. It's the song that introduces us to the calm and pastoral atmosphere of the countryside. It's the song that explains everything that will be brought to us all over the album. The second track "Jack-In-The-Green" is one of the smallest tracks on the album and is a little tune of an English folk ballad. On this song, the charismatic and eccentric leader of the group Anderson plays all the instruments, which gave to him the opportunity to prove that he is also a complete and multi-instrumentalist musician. The third track "Cup Of Wonder" is a song in the same vein of the previous one, and is a very rhythmic and happy song. This is a kind of a classic folk song in the Jethro Tull's repertoire. The fourth track "Hunting Girl" is the harder rocking theme of the album, which became in one of their best songs and is also one of my favourite songs, too. Thanks to its great musical variety this is really a great Jethro Tull's piece of music. The fifth track "Ring Out Solstice Bells" is the opposite of "Hunting Girl" because is softer and slight, and represents a truly celebration in the song. It's a more orchestral song, in which it seems to appear a real Christmas choral chord, when they all sing together. The sixth track "Velvet Green" is another very beautiful theme with some Celtic spirit. It's a purely classic folk acoustic theme with a medieval musical atmosphere. It became also a great Jethro Tull's classic song. The seventh track "The Whistler" is another theme with the spirit of the Celtic music, beautifully combined with the rock sound. It's a small song and one of the best on the album, which proves that the great songs don't always need to be big. The eighth track "Pibrock (Cap In Hand)" is the lengthiest, complex, elaborate and progressive track on the album. It's the heaviest song on the album with a more instrumental domination. Despite be a very good theme, we can say that this track seems to appear a little bit out of place on the album. The ninth track "Fire At Midnight" is the smallest song on the album. Like the first track "Songs From The Wood", a great opener of the album, "Fire At Midnight" is also a great song to close it. It's the song which tells goodnight to the pastoral musical atmosphere of the countryside and represents a truly perfect moment to complete the final scene of this musical piece.

Conclusion: "Songs From The Wood" is a great album with a collection of great songs. It's the perfect hybrid of medieval pagan derived acoustic folk and symphonic and contemporary rock styles. From the opening solo vocal to the grandiose finale, the album it's more like a single musical movement than a simple bunch of songs. It shows a clear artistic vision and a full commitment to realizing that vision that can go a long way, especially when it's perfectly combined with an exceptional musical collaboration and with themes that touches the heart of a modern soul. "Songs From The Wood" is, in my humble opinion, one of the best efforts made by the group. It's an unpretentious album, very simple, beautiful and pleasant with several pieces of music with the only purpose to be funny and to get to enjoy us. I invite you to make a trip in the "Tull's Wood", with no hesitation and with an open mind, and enjoy with no fear this entire and very special musical atmosphere, inside this magnificent musical journey. It's highly recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Following the tour that was produced to support 'Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young to Die', Ian Anderson started to settle down a bit. He got married and he bought a house. He started listening to the old English style folk rock as performed by groups like 'Steeleye Span' and decided to add a more folkish element to the band's sound. Being able to add this organic sound in with the electric sounds of Martin Barre's guitar was going to be the trick, and keyboardist David Palmer was brought in as an official band member, who brought along with him, his classical-trained musicianship. The music ended up becoming more variant and light-hearted, a bit more spacious with the backing of the electric guitar. Smoother dynamics also became a result of the pairing of Barre and Palmer ended up giving them credit on the album for contributing material.

Inspiration for the music on this album would come from British pagen folklore and county life. The music moves from excellent harmonies, warmth and comforting tones mixed with harsh and dark styles. There is still a nice level of progressiveness to it all to with Anderson adding in tricky rhythms and quirkiness. Thus, Tull's 10th studio album 'Songs from the Wood' was born, and it would become the first of a trilogy of albums that centered more around folk styles, the other two albums being 'Heavy Horses' and 'Stormwatch'. The advertisement for the album encouraged prospective buyers to '[f]ind a quiet spot and listen to it soon.'. The album cover looks very inviting as Anderson is sitting next to a camp fire in the woods that entices you to sit down with him while he presents this excellent variety of tunes inspired by old England's folklore.

This album is one of my personal favorites of the Jethro Tull discography, and it is the one that has the sound that I have truly associated with the band's music, complex to a degree, but with an amount of warmth that still needs to be approached with caution. The line up at this time was Tull at its best: of course we have Anderson and Barre, the two main staples of the band. The remainder of the band consists of the same line-up as 'Too Old'.' except for the addition of David Palmer, thus making two keyboardists with John Evan, along with John Glascock on bass and Barriemore Barlow on drums, 6 members total. This line-up would continue until 1980 with the exception of bassist Glascock who would leave the band in 1979.

The album begins with the obvious change as the title track leads it all off and a cappela vocals announce the first track. When the band comes in, the complexity in the instrumental backing recalls the Jethro Tull that everyone was familiar with, but the cleaner and folk sound is very apparent. The idea for the song came from a book called 'Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain' that Anderson received for a Christmas present.. The balancing of traditional and electronics is perfect, the music has just that right amount of progressiveness to make it interesting, and the music is as inviting as the album cover. 'Jack-in- the-Green' is more traditional sounding and quite pastoral with all of the instruments in this case played by Anderson, while 'Cup of Wonder' is playful and has a more direct rhythmic quality to it.

'Hunting Girl' brings back a higher level of complexity and heavier electric guitars from Barre and the excellent flute work of Anderson. The synths also are front and center on this one, everyone gets to have their say somewhere in this quirky track. Next is one of my all time Tull favorites 'Ring Out Solstice Bells' which features some of the best harmonic work in Tull's discography, not to mention the catchy and difficult-to-follow hand claps and the excellent and original melody. 'Velvet Green' features obvious folk ornamentation with an alternating meter, making it more authentic sounding with the glockenspiel played by Barlow and the use of acoustic guitars from Anderson. This song is a masterpiece of progressive folk. 'The Whistler', the most popular track on the album, has the infectious chorus which is cool and quirky, and the famous flute melody that bridges the chorus back to the verses.

'Pibroch (Cap in Hand)' is the longest track at over 8 minutes and has a more experimental tone to it, featuring Barre's guitar creating effects that mimic bagpipes. This track centers more around the guitar, but still takes time to tie it all back to the folkish style and adding in the majestic pipe organ during the instrumental break, but the mixing of the old world with the new world is excellent in this track, the most complicated of the tracks on the album. 'Fire at Midnight' closes off the album with a return to the more traditional folk sound, similar in tone to the previous Velvet Green, a perfect ending.

There have been a few re-issues of the album, including a 2003 re-issue that added 2 bonus tracks, 'Beltane' and a live version of 'Velvet Green'. There was also a Steven Wilson stereo remix box set that includes two previously unreleased tracks; 'Old Aces Die Hard' and 'Working John, Working Joe'; along with different versions of tracks from the album and an early version of 'One Brown Mouse'.

This album remains one of my favorites from the Jethro Tull studio albums. This is the sound I associate the most with the band's style. The songs are warm and friendly but still have the usual doses of complexity and darkness, with plenty of excellent surprises and hooks that keeps the listener coming back. Of the most folk sounding Tull albums, it is my favorite with 'Heavy Horses' coming close behind it. It is a definite masterpiece of folk and progressive rock mixed.

Review by jamesbaldwin
4 stars Songs From The Wood, one of the first prog records I've ever listened to, marks the return of Ian Anderson's ambitions from big operas to simple Northern England folk songs.

1. Songs from the Wood (4:55) Half a minute of rather inspired a cappella singing, then comes the flute and a pastoral folk melody, all very English. Then stop-and-go, variations, changes of rhythm, arrangement with organ and piano (Evan and Palmer) and choirs that give a church air. Very prog-rock interludes. Good piece. Rating 8.

2. Jack-In-The-Green (2:32) Short and catchy song, mainly acoustic, almost a nursery rhyme led by the flute. Rating 6.75.

3. Cup of Wonder (4:34) Song with a Renaissance phrase of the flute. Very traditional folk structure. Repeating choirs. Very conventional. Interlude prog without great imagination. Rating 7+.

After three songs, the music has not yet reached a true climax, a peak of quality.

4. Hunting Girl (5:13) Very nice start with organ, flute and electric guitars, then the song continues after the bass line (Glascock). The rhythm is often broken. Barre tries an electric guitar solo but is immediately aborted (composition error). The song does not find the culmination of the good instrumental piece that started, it and ends by repeating the same vocal and instrumental phrases. Lost opportunity. Rating 7.75

5. Ring Out, Solstice Bells (3:47) Very simple song, unpretentious, with clapping and choirs in crescendo. Rating 7+.

We are listening to a collection of rather catchy, easy-to-listen folk-pop songs that have only a touch of prog in the instrumental interludes and broken rhythms.

Second side. 6. Velvet Green (6:05) Ambitious folk song with a lot of percussion work. Recited voice accompanied on the acoustic guitar with a troubadour effect that raises the quality of the music heard so far. Folklore instrumental interlude a la Donovan. It seems to be at a festival in the countryside and to attend folk dances. The various folk interludes are back, arranged with great variety. The piece raises the quality of the album. Rating 8+.

7. The Whistler (3:31) Very traditional nursery rhyme song with a folkloric flute phrase. As for folk, it abounds. Melodies and arrangements are homogeneous and well studied. It lacks the touches of genius, and the inspired melodies. Very dynamic song. Rating 7.5.

8. Pibroch (Cap in Hand) (8:38) Hard-rock beginning with hints of acid psychedelia: great work by Barre on the electric guitar. The song, the longest on the album, does not hide his ambitions. It's an almost religious epic ballad that echoes the Strawbs. Instrumental interlude in crescendo with Barlow, Evan and Palmer in prominence, very beautiful but unfortunately ends up immediately returning to the initial hard-rock piece, too forced. Then an inspired piece returns, very good, with a short clapping and a synth solo. Ending with the hard-rock piece again. It competes with Velvet Green as the best piece on the album. Rating 8+.

9. Fire at Midnight (2:27) Short song, ending rather quickly, but overall inspired. Rating 7+.

Total Time 41:42

Well played and well arranged album, with a very accentuated and homogeneous folk sound. It hasn't falls but, unfortunately, it has few memorable moments. It is mainly based on the title track and on the two long songs of the second side, the other six tracks are (I'm not saying fillers but ...) gregarious songs. The overall judgment is on the border between the three stars and the four stars but since it is necessary to consider not so much the average of the individual songs but the album as a whole, a single flow that flows, I give it 4 stars, thanks also to the second side, better than the first.

Medium quality of the songs around 7.5. Album rating 8+. Four Stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Incredible album! Songs From the Wood showed that, after a period of somewhat unsatisfying output, Jethro Tull could still make quality music. The song combines the extremely progressive elements of Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play with a simpler and more concise style to create a masterpiece of ... (read more)

Report this review (#2950765) | Posted by CygnusX-1 | Monday, September 11, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Songs from the Wood is an immense improvement over the unfocused mess that is TORRTYD. Where Tull's 1976 release opened with an uneasy, half-assed riff, this album opens with a striking, folky vocal melody. (Get ready for me to abuse the hell out of the word "folk" in the ensuing paragraphs.) Dee Pa ... (read more)

Report this review (#2903235) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Friday, March 31, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Superb album. The band leans more into the folkier side of their repertoire here, invoking folk songs and tales, mixed with an effervescent driving rock core producing a remarkable Prog Folk classic. A bright, bold, invigorating breath of fresh air amidst the predominant music of that time. Somewhat ... (read more)

Report this review (#2872999) | Posted by BBKron | Wednesday, January 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Review #67 I must recognize that I had to listen to this album A LOOOOOOOT of times before I really started to appreciate it. After three frankly not very amazing albums, Jethro Tull published "Songs from the wood" in 1977 and it was like the awakening of a sleeping giant. The sound of the alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#2485790) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Thursday, December 17, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This one opens Tull`s folk-rock trilogy. Folksy elements which were strong on previous albums completely crystallized on «Songs from the Wood». Yet the album is far away from typical output of folk-rock bands, it is even different from its prog-folk rivals. Undoubtedly it bears the mark of Ia ... (read more)

Report this review (#2409430) | Posted by Just Because | Wednesday, June 3, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars ALBUMS BETTER THAN BREAD, PART I After seven plus years of signing deals, recording, touring and partying, Ian Anderson decided to settle, and Buckinghamshire became his home. He moved in with his new wife, bought a four centuries old, 500 acre Pophleys Estate, and suddenly found a new source o ... (read more)

Report this review (#2285774) | Posted by thief | Friday, December 6, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After producing the classic Thick as a Brick album, Jethro Tull seems to struggle to come up with a strong follow- up.By the time of the alarmingly lacklastre Too Old To Rock And Roll Album released in 1976, their career seems to be on a downward spiral. Their next album 1977's Songs From The Woo ... (read more)

Report this review (#1736214) | Posted by Lupton | Thursday, June 22, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If perfect is an album that stays most true to its concept and theme, then Songs From The Wood is the "most perfect" album I've ever listened to. It starts with one of my favourite tracks of all time (the album title track) and continues with a bombardment of amazing folk rock songs, with each one b ... (read more)

Report this review (#1547031) | Posted by Watchmaker | Saturday, April 2, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Almost another masterpiece from Jethro Tull. There's no weak point on this album, a difficult achievement for the band after their last fullstar album "A Passion Play". This is the 'bringin back prog folk' album, but far more complex. The album starts with the main track, Songs From The Woo ... (read more)

Report this review (#991382) | Posted by VOTOMS | Wednesday, July 3, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars From the airy humorous pop music kind of thing that Tull offered on their previous release to this and what this is is great. "Songs from the Wood" - brilliant track, one of the giants of Tull. Dramatic folk rockout music. "Jack-In-The-Green" - good track about a mythical Celtik or English crea ... (read more)

Report this review (#942678) | Posted by sukmytoe | Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'am very happy that the score of this album is increasing, and so as the numbers of Reviews here. I sincerely wish that "Minstrel in the Gallery" goes for the same path. Any way, lets do it: Why five stars to this album? When it comes to such a work, we do have to think in conversation starte ... (read more)

Report this review (#897479) | Posted by GKR | Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Oh boy my occasional favorite Jethro Tull album! My experience with the Tull is very fragmented, having only heard particular songs from wildly varying eras of the band from my bass teacher before actually exploring them on my own. The eclecticism of what I heard made diving into Jethro Tull seem ... (read more)

Report this review (#808728) | Posted by jazz2896 | Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First, I must admit that the "prog folk" oriented era of Tull is my favorite one. Songs From The Wood is the first album of a sort of folkie trilogy by the band. That being said, this is an essential Tull record. Plenty of rich melodies and harmonies, detailed and rich arrangements, just inspired ... (read more)

Report this review (#808611) | Posted by mistertorture | Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Jethro Tull was setting a step towards folk. The became influenced by Steeleye Span because they played often in the foreprogram. Still, Jethro Tull played quiet technical (folk)rock like they used to. This record is one of the best examples of a blend of technical skilled hardrock and folkrock ... (read more)

Report this review (#711472) | Posted by the philosopher | Friday, April 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What's not to love about an album that puts you in a different world. Or, in this case, the woods! It makes you feel as if you are sitting around a campfire, and to make matters even better, Ian Anderson is their singing for you. His vocals really shine in the title track, "Songs From The Wood ... (read more)

Report this review (#566410) | Posted by theRunawayV | Friday, November 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It was both a relief and a pleasure that I didn't have to struggle to spot the good bits on this album (as was the case with almost every album after 'Thick as a Brick'), because there are plenty. Tull's tenth studio album really feels like a breath of fresh air, against both its predecessors ... (read more)

Report this review (#545810) | Posted by Ludjak | Saturday, October 8, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I happened to slot this CD in the player a couple of days ago, and it immediately reminded me why I appreciate Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull so much: this is a band with probably the most easily recognizable sound in the whole genre of progressive rock, thanks to Anderson and Martin Barre. Anot ... (read more)

Report this review (#475338) | Posted by OT Räihälä | Monday, July 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Songs From the Wood ? 1977 (3.6/5) 11 ? Best Song: Cup of Wonder/The Whistler How many of you have been listening intently of Jethro Tull's career, listening to the blend of rock and folk, once and again coming across your ears with smash and vigor, only deep within yourself hoping against ho ... (read more)

Report this review (#441646) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, May 2, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In my opinion this is among Jethro Tull's best. It's a perfect mixture of folk and prog rock, incomparible to any other album I've ever heard. It all kicks off with the title track and the mood is rather cheery, while the band are sounding as tight as ever. There's plenty of great flute and ornament ... (read more)

Report this review (#310558) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A very good Tull album in wich there's lot of folk influence mixed to prog rock. The album's first track: Songs From The Wood is amazing. Folk-medieval themes with progressive rock that show us what the album is about. The backing vocals from the band are perfect as Ian Anderson's incredibl ... (read more)

Report this review (#301528) | Posted by The_Jester | Saturday, October 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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