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Jethro Tull - A CD (album) cover

A

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.21 | 615 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review Nš 338

'A' is the thirteenth studio album of Jethro Tull and was released in 1980. Initially, it was recorded with the intention of being an Ian Anderson's solo album. But, the record label decided that it should be released as a Jethro Tull's album to increase the sales of the album. So, I think it was the reason for the album's title, 'A' for 'Anderson'. 'A' marks a change in the sound of the band. After the three previous studio albums, 'Songs From The Wood', 'Heavy Horses' and 'Stormwatch', who had a more folk sound, they became known as the folk prog trilogy of Jethro Tull, the sound on 'A' is more a synthesizer based sound, a fact which created some controversy among many of the traditional band's fans.

'A' marks also a profound change in the line up of Jethro Tull. It features a dramatically different line up from their three previous studio albums. The former keyboardist John Evan and the organist David Palmer were fired from the group. The drummer Barriemore Barlow left the band due to the depression by the death of the bassist John Glascock and because he was unhappy with the direction the band was taking. He also had plans to form his own band. The only members who appear on 'A' and on those previous albums are, Ian Anderson and Martin Barre, and Dave Pegg, who had become a member of the band during the 'Stormwatch' live tour in 1979, replacing the deceased Glascock.

So, the line up on the album is Ian Anderson (vocals, flute and acoustic guitar), Martin Barre (electric guitar), Dave Pegg (bass and mandolin) and Mark Craney (drums). The album had also the participation of Eddie Jobson (keyboards, electric violin and synthesizer), as a guest artist.

''A'' has ten tracks. All tracks were written by Ian Anderson. The first track ''Crossfire'' is a great opener. It has an electric piano and a couple of other notes performed with a synth. The keyboard opening riff is nice and the chord change into the verse is really great. Great chorus, great song. The second track ''Flyingdale Flyer'' is even better. The opening keyboard riff works extremely well as a riff, and I really like the part where the two main riffs of the song are superimposed onto each other. The melodies are always great. Basically, everything about this song is extremely attractive to me. The third track ''Working John, Working Joe'' is another good song. It has some sort of acoustic guitar effect that sounds like a real cross between a sitar and a mandolin playing, and though the synths may be considered annoying, they're offering a fantastic catchy riff every few seconds and even get quite a good solo.This is another great song. The fourth track ''Black Sunday'' is one of the best Jethro Tull's songs, and it hearkens back to ''Stormwatch'', if only you replace all of the synths by guitars. Pretty much everything about the track is great and the various riffs of Anderson that came up are all really great. And so, it ends one of my favorite sides of Jethro Tull's albums. But, unfortunately, the things don't keep the same quality level on side 2. Despite the fifth track ''Protect And Survive'' have an opening catchy riff, a nice rhythm, some nice flute work and a good bass line, the song is repetitive and uninspired. It's the first low point on the album. But the things get worse on the sixth track ''Batteries Not Included''. This is one of the worst Jethro Tull's songs ever. The awkward intense synth opening with the awfully cheesy spooky synth riffs that pop up everywhere in the track isn't good. But worst of all is the ''siren-imitating'' melody. The seventh track ''Uniform'' has a nice violin line. The only keyboards that happen in the song are the two or three notes at the very end. Still, there are some good instrumental things going on too. This isn't one of the best tracks neither one of the worst tracks on the album. The eighth track ''4.W.D. (Low Ratio)'' is another weak track. It has an awkward funky blues groove. I'm not a great fan of those both music styles. But the sung parts are even worse, repetitive and aren't catchy too. The ninth track ''The Pine Marten's Jig'' isn't a fantastic song but it's really nice. It's one of the two songs not to feature keyboards, the other is ''Uniform''. It's a breath of fresh air on this side of the album. The tenth track ''And Further On'' has an excellent verse melody. It's a prog rock ballad that is delicate and powerful too. Besides, I've always been a great fan of corny power ballads. Finally we have a great track on the side two of the album. This is a nice and great closer for this album.

Conclusion: ''A'' is the Jethro Tull's album that begins the 80's. Those were times of changes and as happened with almost progressive rock bands, the sound of Jethro Tull begun to change to a more 'modern'' sound. This was surely the main reason why Ian Anderson fired Evan and Palmer. This was also the main reason why he invited Jobson, to have synths on the album and a different orchestration from the usual orchestration from Palmer. It was great because I always was a great fan of Jobson despite I always loved the work of Palmer too. So, 'A' is an album full of changes in many ways in the sound of the band. But unfortunately, not everything was well. 'A' has great moments, the four tracks on the side 1 and the last track on side 2. Still, all the other tracks aren't really great. Especially, 'Batteries Not Included' and '4.W.D (Low Ratio)' are even bad tracks. So, this is a good album but surelly a non-essential purchase.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |

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