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Jethro Tull - Stand Up CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.05 | 1453 ratings

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4 stars Stand Up is the 2nd album released what was then a rather fledgling of a band, Jethro Tull. It is also probably the best of the first 3 albums that pre-dated 'Aqualung', before most people in America had heard of them, but in the UK, it quickly became a number one album. There were a few milestones for this album, which also contribute to making it the most important of the first 3 albums. For one thing, it was the first album that guitarist Martin Barre would be on. The original guitarist, Mick Abrahams, had quit the band because he wanted the band to stay with the blues-oriented style that was evident in the first album 'This Was', while Ian Anderson wanted to explore other avenues, including folk rock. Barre, in the meantime, has been on every Jethro Tull album since.

Another milestone on this album is that it was the first time that Anderson would have complete control over the songs and the lyrics. Interestingly enough, except for occasionally borrowing some folk elements, this album would still focus on blues oriented songs, even though there are elements of other styles that really stand out on this album.

The band had a fairly fixed schedule they followed during the recording of their second album. They would get to the studio at 9 am and work on a few songs, then be done by 4 or 5 pm. Most of the songs were finished in the first day, except for at least one noteworthy track, the instrumental 'Bouree', (based on Bach's 'Bourree in E minor', proof of Anderson's desire to work with other styles), which had to be done in several takes before the band was satisfied with it. They ended up editing together the best bits from various takes.

Besides Martin Barre (who of course was lead guitarist and who also provided some flute backup on a couple of tracks), the rest of the band remained the same as the previous album; Ian Anderson on vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, organ, piano, mandolin, balalaika, harmonica; Glenn Cornick on bass; and Clive Bunker on drums and percussion. Cornick would end up leaving the band after the 3rd album 'Benefit', and Bunker would by with the band until after the released of 'Aqualung', but would go on later to work with Robin Trower, Steve Howe and Manfred Mann among others.

The blues-influenced rock is quite obvious in the heavy 'A New Day Yesterday', which is based around the now familiar guitar and harmonica riff. Barre really got to show off early on the album, showing that Tull wanted to let everyone know that even though he was a new guitarist for the band, that he meant business. The music is a bit rough compared to the slicker sound the band would come up with in the future. But that makes the blues riff even more authentic. This is followed with the more folkish and pastoral sounds of 'Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square', and it seems that the flute finds it's home comfortably into Tull's music, even though this is one of the tracks where Barre provides flute backup. Then comes the excellent 'Bouree', the jazz-classical mix, and Anderson now gets the chance to really show off. The bass quite adeptly takes the more complex bottom line, or contrasting counterpoint of the Back original, and turn it into a jazz standard. Of course, this track winds up being a concert and fan favorite. Now, the Tull is in the house!

The melodic and lovely 'Back to the Family' follows now, and the blues / folk sound comes to the fore here. The verses have the folk sound while the chorus, bridge and instrumental break go for the heavy sound, and the first semblance of their later progressive sound comes apparent, but the complexity of their later music is only hinted at here. 'Look to the Sun' has a more acoustic approach using the soft guitar and piano with little flute embellishments that are almost buried too deep into the mix. The band's desire to try out new things and effects are evident in Anderson's vocals here as there is an interesting warble to his voice on this track.

'Nothing is Easy' opens the second side of the album with a track that has a heavier rock edge. It is based on the band's experience of hard living they must have had before their real worldwide popularity. Again, the blues influence is still strong, as the band was not quite ready for a full transition yet. 'Fat Man' however, again shows the acoustic side of the band again, and also features Anderson playing the mandolin. Back in 1969, the mandolin was very rarely used in rock bands, so this was showing a big step towards the desire to try out new things. These days, a mandolin might not seem so cutting edge, because the instrument is used often, and that is usually a good thing. Here also is evidence of the use of lilting music for the band and incorporating that folkish vibe into rock music.

'We Used to Know' has a chord progression that is very similar to the later hit by the Eagles 'Hotel California'. Anderson never felt slighted by The Eagles use of the progression because he claims that it was probably used before Tull used it too, and also says that Hotel California is a better song anyway. There is a well balanced mix of acoustic and electric guitar here, but the music is once again more rock and blues oriented. There is also more proof of Barre's amazing guitar work during the instrumental sections here as he really gets to stand out. 'Reasons for Waiting' steps back again to a more pastoral feel with acoustic guitar and the flute playing the melodic theme, this time once again supported by Barre on flute. Anderson's vocals are very expressive on this one, and he does play some of the fancier flute passages however. It's a very nice song, but rather straightforward with some lovely strings later in the song. 'For a Thousand Mothers' ends the original album with a heavier track, again leaning towards a blues-influenced track with heavy flute and guitar.

The 2001 remaster then adds 4 more tracks. 'Living in the Past' is the non-album hit song that was released around the same time as this album. It was released in the UK just as Tull was finishing up it's US tour in 1969, but became more famous especially in the US in 1972. It does seem to fit in more with the music released later which is why many were surprised that it was released in 1969, as it has a tricky 5 / 4 rhythm. 'Driving Song' was the b-side to the original 'Living in the Past' UK single. This track is quite rock oriented based off of a repeating guitar hook and standard rhythm. 'Sweet Dream' is another non- album single released in the UK which has the distinction of being the first Chrysalis release in the UK. It was recorded during the same sessions as the Stand Up album. It has a familiar instrumental riff and the use of brass (which really stands out) and orchestra, again the music is very rock oriented and based around that riff, but both electric and acoustic guitars are well used in the track. '17' is the last of the bonus tracks, and is also the b-side to 'Sweet Dream'. It is a straightforward, yet interesting rock song. These bonus tracks only add more great music to the album, and they mostly fit in quite well with the music originally on the album.

This is my favorite of the original Tull trilogy. I find the music to be more interesting than the somewhat rough sound of the debut 'This Was' and more focused and complete than the rushed 'Benefit' album. The album has a great amount of variety, gives all the musicians time to shine, and goes farther in the development of a legendary band than either of the other two albums did. The songs are more memorable and almost every track has its own individual reason why it is important. Though it is better than the other two, I can only still give it 4 stars, because it hasn't quite reached that perfect or essential status that other Tull albums were able to achieve, but it is still one that I wholeheartedly enjoy to listen to.

TCat | 4/5 |


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