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Jethro Tull

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Jethro Tull The Jethro Tull Christmas Album / Live - Christmas At St Bride's 2008 album cover
3.82 | 52 ratings | 1 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Boxset/Compilation, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD1: The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (2003) (62:51)
1. Birthday Card at Christmas (3:37)
2. Holly Herald (4:16)
3. A Christmas Song (2:47)
4. Another Christmas Song (3:31)
5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (4:35)
6. Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow (3:37)
7. Last Man at the Party (4:48)
8. Wheathercock (4:17)
9. Pavane (4:19)
10. First Snow on Brooklyn (4:57)
11. Greensleeved (2:39)
12. Fire at Midnight (2:26)
13. We Five Kings (3:16)
14. Ring Out Solstice Bells (4:04)
15. Bourée (4:25)
16. A Winter Snowscape (4:57)

CD2: Live - Christmas at St Bride's 2008 (64:52)
1. Weathercock (4:44)
2. Introduction: Rev. George Pitcher / Choir: What Cheer (3:33)
3. A Christmas Song (3:19)
4. Living in These Hard Times (3:46)
5. Choir: Silent Night (3:08)
6. Reading: Ian Anderson, Marmion (2:18)
7. Jack in the Green (2:36)
8. Another Christmas Song (3:58)
9. Reading: Gavin Esler, Gods Grandeur (1:51)
10. Choir: Oh Come All Ye Faithful (3:52)
11. Reading: Mark Billingham, The Ballad of Breadman (3:55)
12. A Winter Snowscape (3:42)
13. Reading: Andrew Lincoln, Christmas (3:14)
14. Fires at Midnight (3:39)
15. We Five Kings (3:20)
16. Choir: Gaudete (3:41)
17. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / Thick as a Brick (10:27)

Total Time: 127:43

Line-up / Musicians

Line up on "The Jethro Tull Christmas Album":
- Ian Anderson / vocals, flute, acoustic guitars, mandolin, piccolo, percussion
- Martin Barre / electric guitar, acoustic guitar
- Andy Giddings / keyboards, accordion, bass, organ
- Doane Perry / drums, percussion (1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14)
- Jonathan Noyce / bass (2, 5, 9, 11, 13, 15)

Guest musicians:
- David Pegg / mandolin (3), bass guitar (4)
- James Duncan / drums (2, 5, 9, 11, 13, 15), percussion (3)

The Sturcz String Quartet:
- Laszlo Bencker / arrangement (10)
- Gábor Csonka / 1st violin (10)
- Péter Szilágyi / 2nd violin (10)
- Gyula Benkö / viola (10)
- András Sturcz / cello (10)

Line-up on "Live - Christmas at St Bride's 2008":
- Ian Anderson / vocals, flute, acoustic guitar
- Martin Barre / acoustic guitar, mandolin
- David Goodier / acoustic bass guitar
- John O'Hara / keyboards, accordion
- James Duncan / cajon and other percussion

Guest musicians:
- Robert Jones / organ

Members of St. Bride's Choir:
- Claire Seaton / choir (2, 5, 10, 16)
- Andrew Watts / choir (2, 5, 10, 16)
- Stuart Jackson / choir (2, 5, 10, 16)
- Phil Tebb / choir (2, 5, 10, 16)

Releases information

2CD EMI 50999 6 06102 2 5 (2009)

Thanks to NotAProghead for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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JETHRO TULL The Jethro Tull Christmas Album / Live - Christmas At St Bride's 2008 ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

JETHRO TULL The Jethro Tull Christmas Album / Live - Christmas At St Bride's 2008 reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Bearded Bard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A Bearded View On Progressive Rock #1

For my first review for this site, and my first music review ever, in fact, I thought it fitting to pay a small homage to my favourite band, and the reason I got into progressive rock in the first place, Jethro Tull. And with the Christmas season coming to its end, I thought "why not finish it off with a review of "The Jethro Tull Christmas Album"?".

Christmas, we all have a relationship to it, wether we're Christian or not, wether we celebrate it or not, and I'm no different. As a non-Christian I would not celebrate Christmas had it not been an old (pre-Christian) tradition to do so in my country, Norway. Christmas celebrations here, or Yule (Jul) as we call it, goes back to before the start of Christianization of Scandinavia in the eighth century, and are treated by many, myself included, as a celebration more of the winter solstice than of the birth of Jesus Christ.

"The Jethro Tull Christmas Album" (disc one) was recorded and released, for the first time, in 2003, at the suggestion of the head of Fuel 2000 record company, Len Fico, at Christmas the year before, to make a Tull album for the Christmas holidays. The album consists of re-recordings of old Jethro Tull classics, in slightly more acoustic and Christmassy versions, some new Tull tracks released for the first time on this album, one track from Martin Barre's 2003 solo album "Stage Left", as well as some arrangements of traditional Christmas music.

The highlights on this album for me are one of the new Tull tracks, the beautiful "First Snow on Brooklyn", with lovely fute, and also strings, courtesy of The Sturcz String Quartet, a new and interesting version of the old Tull classic, J.S. Bach's "Bourée", and Barre's "A Winter Snowscape", a great instrumental duet between Ian Anderson's flute and Martin Barre's guitar. Anderson's voice, which, as we all know, aren't as good as it was in his heyday, is in pretty good shape throughout the album, as it usually is on studio albums (it is live his voice problems gets really noticeable).

All of the Tull tracks (both old and new) selected for this album, as well as the one from Barre, have lyrics and/or themes related to Christmas or the colder months of the year. Before I heard this album I was a bit sceptical to the idea of re-recording old songs to make them fit into a Chrismas album, but there's not one of the re-recordings I don't like, and I think most of them differ enough from the originals to make them an interesting, as well as enjoyable, listen. Furthermore, I think they work well with the often jazzed up (literally speaking, the well-known Tull version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" being an example of this) traditional Christmas tunes, to give the listener a little bit of that Christmas feeling.

For me, Jethro Tull has always had a certain Christmas feel to them (well, to some of their music anyway), so it's not surprising to me that they managed to pull this off as well as they did. However, I don't feel they get overly Christmassy on this album either. I'd say they got the balance between it being a Christmas album and a "normal" Jethro Tull album just right. It's not a Tull album to play on warm summer nights though, it's definitely an album more for the autumn and winter months.

A look at the album cover confirms this. It depicts a winter landscape, with a Victorian castle (possibly a church) in the background.

In front, in the left corner, we see the minstrel, standing on one leg, hearding a flock (of sheep nonetheless!) towards the church. That wouldn't be God's flock you're hearding there, would it, Ian? You cheeky devil!

OK, we should perhaps not put too much emphasis on my not-too-deep analysis of the cover art displayed here, but it wouldn't surprise me either, if this, in fact, was the tongue-in-cheek message Mr. Anderson wanted to convey with this cover art.

Anderson's criticism towards religion and its followers are well-known, and was put to music as early as on the "Aqualung" album in '71, so it might come as a surprise to some that Jethro Tull in recent years has played several concerts in churches, and made it something of a tradition to finish the year with a Christmas concert or two. But, as Andersons explains it in a recent interview with Prog Magazine, he's "a passionate supporter of the Christian Church, but...not a Christian". But he sees himself as "a supporter of the culture, tradition, and physical edifices of the cathedral...".

These are sentiments I share with the mad flutist. Furthermore, as a non-Christian, I don't find myself in a church on a regular basis, but I've been to church on the odd occasion, and I've always felt a sense of peace when in a church.

Some of those odd occasions have been Christmas concerts, and those have always got me into the Christmas spirit, so it's not surprising that I very much enjoy the second disc of this release.

There's a few reasons why I wanted to review this particular version of the album. The first being that it's the one of the two that is the easiest to acquire, as the other one is out of print and hard to find at a reasonable price. The second being that this version doesn't have any reviews previous to mine, which I find a bit disappointing and wanted to rectify, because, third, it contains a second disc, a very good recording of one of those Christmas concerts Jethro Tull has made a tradition in recent years, from St. Bride's Church in London in 2008.

"Live - Christmas at St. Bride's 2008" (disc two) was recorded on December 22, 2008, in front of a crowd of 150. The profits from the concert went to St. Mungo's charity for the homeless.

The song selection here is slightly different from "The Jethro Tull Christmas Album", so it's not to be considered a live version of that album, but the song selection criteria is the same, so here, too, we get older and newer Tull songs (plus that one from Barre), with Christmas or autumn/winter themes and/or lyrics, mixed with arrangements of traditional Christmas music.

As on the studio album it's accompanying, the music on this live disc is mostly acoustic. The band are accompanied by an organist and members of St. Bride's Choir, who performs solely on three of the tracks, "What Cheer" (choir only), "Silent Night" and "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", and on a fourth, "Gaudete", they're joined only briefly by Anderson on flute. I heard this sacred 16th century Christmas carol for the first time on this album and instantly fell in love with it. The beautiful choir song in Medieval Latin, in combination with the organ and some of Anderson's most emotional flute playing that I've heard (specifically in the latter half of the piece), makes this, for me, the highlight of this live recording.

Between the tracks on this live disc we're treated to reading of some Christmas poems, performed by Anderson, as well as some other more or less famous media voices, including that of Anderson's son-in-law, actor Andrew Lincoln, best-known for his work in the the romantic Christmas film "Love Actually" and the horror drama television series "The Walking Dead".

These readings, along with the fine performance of the choir, the organist and the band, makes this live recording highly enjoyable, and for me it works better for getting into the Christmas spirit than the actual "Christmas Album".

But "Live - Christmas at St.Brides" is not without its flaws. It sounds to me that Mr. Anderson had some problems with his voice in the beginning of this concert, especially during the opening track, "Weathercock". Perhaps it was just insufficient warm up, I don't know, but his voice gets better shortly after the opening track and holds up pretty good for the rest of the concert.

Another thing that bothers me with this live recording, although only slightly, is the banter and attempts at humoristic comments from the performers to the crowd and between themselves. The comments aren't really that funny to begin with, so they get a bit annoying with repeated listens.

But all in all I find this live disc delightful, and I wouldn't want "The Jethro Tull Christmas Album" without it.

I highly recommend this release, not only to Jethro Tull fans, but to all proggers in search of an excellent album to put on during the Christmas holidays, or just an album to listen to when curled up in front of the fire on a cold and windy autumn night.

The profits from record royalties accruing from this version of the album, with the "Live - Christmas at St. Bride's 2008" disc, goes to help the homeless, so that's another good reason to buy this.

4 stars.

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