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Jethro Tull - Stand Up CD (album) cover

STAND UP

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.05 | 1213 ratings

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thief
4 stars The keyword here: Excitement.

Mick Abrahams left the band in late 1968. Jethro Tull tried new guitarists, one of them being Tony Iommi a.k.a. Hand of Doom. For some reason it didn't work out, I believe Tony wanted to roll out with his silly hard rock group from Birmingham named Earth. To each his own. In late December Jethro finally found axeman of the future, Martin Lancelot Barre, and he decided to stick around for forty-something years. Good for him, good for Tull fans (and good for Earth). The new era started and nothing was ever the same.

Or maybe the new era started because Ian Anderson took over?

On "This Was", the band's direction was dependent on Mick Abrahams blues-heavy style and American influences. Ian was the leader, Ian was the frontman, BUT he wasn't the sole composer. Once Abrahams left and formed Blodwyn Pig, Anderson's creativity was unleashed and Jethro Tull's style started to blossom. "Stand Up" ingeniously displays how diverse his ideas really are - blues, hard rock, folk, classical/chamber music, historicism, ballads, traces of middle ages, renaissance and baroque... as well as sprouts of progressive rock.

"A New Day Yesterday" kicks off where "This Was" signed off. Ballsy, heavy blues rock with formidable drums and tasty harmonica licks. Bass guitar is pounding, Ian's vocals are cool and laid back, flute solo grabs attention. Solid starter, a worthy successor to "A Song for Jeffrey". Speaking of Jeff, the next song "Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square" brings sweet tones of clean channel with tad of chorus, tasty percussions (is it vibraphone and bongos? I can't tell, but it works fine) and positive feelings. Let's put a smile on that face!

And then we have "Bouree". Much has been said about this one, most fans see it as a perfect mix of Johann Sebastian Bach (Sonata in E minor, fifth movement, BWV 996) and rock music. What I like here, personally, is the utmost respect of Jethro Tull for The Master. You can hear it in simplicity and honesty of this fine arrangement - clean chords, gentle rhythm section and worthy flute performance (much improved from the debut) stay true to the spirit of original composition. There is a jazzy section in the middle, but it never spoils the atmosphere, blending seamlessly into Baroque form. That's what I like about best covers - they celebrate original authors AND introduce new ideas/attitude at the same time.

I think "Back to the Family", "Nothing is Easy" and "For a Thousand Mothers" form the backbone of the album. Brazen blues closing in rapidly on hard rock territories, rabid drumming and savage flute melodies - almost riffs once you take the impact - work each and every time, especially when the group is so excited and eager to play. And all three develop in quite different ways. "Back to the Family" starts modestly, but at 1:00 minute mark someone fires the gun and the band is let loose. "Nothing is Easy" time and time again goes solo, be it Barre, Anderson and even Bunker (for a brief moment), culminating with brittle, old school rock'n'roll outro. And if you're a fan of explosive codas, nothing really matches "For a Thousand Mothers" with its ballistic flute reprise and busy drumming. It's like you were leaving the alehouse at 3:00 AM and seconds later, the doors flung open, with all your folks, minstrels and jugglers inviting you to party some more!

The other side of the coin are more folksy, intricate, often softer tunes. "Look into the Sun" and "We Used to Know" are a couple of charming, almost romantic ballads (not all love songs are considered romantic by this here reviewer). The latter treads the well known path of nasal, passionate soloing on top of acoustic guitar tireless strumming, quite similar to Neil Young's output of the time. The former is more peaceful and rural. Mental image: sunny, frosty morning in mid-January, you go out of log cabin and cheer at your hounds playing in the snow, with a cup full of favorite beverage.

"Reasons for Waiting" evokes winter as well, and does it in fantastic fashion. Acoustic parts are top notch, flutes and Hammonds create oneiric undertones, Ian's really at his best. In the middle of the song we're treated with delightful string arrangements, courtesy of David Palmer. With that set of instruments, it's easy to fall in a trap, ending up with a sugary, pointless song - but this is not the case.

Almost forgot about "Fat Man"! That is another rustic tune, full of mandolins, balalaikas, jolly vocals and primal drums (don't ask, I'm no expert!). Lovers of "Songs from the Wood" will feel at home here; the composition isn't as advanced, perhaps, but definitely gives off similar vibes. Even more proof that "Stand Up" isn't a one trick pony.

Jethro Tull was full of ideas at the time. They matured considerably since "This Was" and the result was a melting pot of influences and musical genres. While no song in itself is wholly progressive in a "Roundabout" or "Fracture" manner, the band was already on a right track. "Stand Up" is varied, accessible, and outright fun - and makes me feel like joining a band of highwaymen: having good laugh, robbing the rich, sharing with the poor!

Well, occasionally. Embroidered jackets aren't cheap, folks.

Four stars easily, 4.5 really.

thief | 4/5 |

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