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Jethro Tull - Songs from the Wood

Review: 098
Date: 21 Oct 02


Rating: 5 Stars

Ian Anderson - Vocals, Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin & Whistles
Martin Barre - Electric Guitar & Lute
John Evans - Piano, Organ & Synthesisers
Barriemore Barlow - Drums, Marimba, Glockenspiel, Bells, Nakers & Tabor
John Glascock - Bass Guitar & Vocals
David Palmer - Piano, Synthesiser, & Portative Organ

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


Jethro Tull, what a wonderful name for a band. The very mention of their name conjures up images of Ian Anderson, that long haired flautist, dressed in his shabby rain coat, hopping around on one leg, but still looking every inch the Rock star, leading his ever changing line up of cohorts to ever greater deeds of daring do.

Jethro Tull started out in Birmingham, England, in November 1967, hitting instant success with their first album “This Was” in October 1968 and third single “Living In The Past” in May 1969. By this time they had already left behind their basic blues roots and had shifted to be molded into the image carrying vehicle that Ian Anderson required. This produced some of the best blending of blues, jazz, a smidgeon of Rhythm & Blues, definite progressive rock elements, for good measure throw in a healthy dose of medieval folk music with your basic hard rock, some fine musicianship, plus the use of whatever instrument suited the song, and there your are, music that will make you a millionaire many times over. They go back a long way now, but to this very day continue to produce music that is as relevant, interesting and entertaining as ever.

This album, “Songs From The Wood”, was the second of five albums put together by this particular line up of Jethro Tull, which held together for almost five years (an eternity in Tull time). That is if you don’t include the addition of David Palmer on keyboards (who had been aboard as arranger since the first album anyway) and the tragic death of John Glassock to be replaced by Dave Pegg (formerly of Fairport Convention) on bass. Dave Pegg is still a member of Jethro Tull today, splitting his time between working with the Tull and the Fairports.

“Songs From The Wood” came out after the harder rockin album “Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll To Young To Die”. Ian Anderson’s reaction to the arrival of Punk Rock.

Never one to shy away from fashion and always sticking to his roots (with the charts full of albums by the likes of the Damned, Adam and the Ants, etc.), Jethro Tull released their most folk orientated album to date. Of course, the fickle press leapt on this and slammed the band for being way beyond their sell by date. Particularly Ian Anderson was held up to be an object of ridicule for his appearance and songwriting skills.

Not that the record buying public took much notice as the album shot up both the American and British charts researching number eight and thirteen respectively. By now the band was one of the most successful bands of all time, living in tax exile, and their live concerts were a sell out all over the world.

The music is sensational throughout its nine cuts. “Hunting Girl”, “Songs From The Wood” with its excellent middle verse of

“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 soil.
I am the cross to take your nail;
A singer of those ageless times –

With kitchen prose, and gutter rhymes”, and “The Whistler” are maybe three of the best folk rock songs ever made, certainly up there with anything else I can think of.

“Ring out Solstice Bells” evokes the spirit of Christmas like no other, with rhythmic handclaps, the wonderfully monickered Barriemore Barlow let loose on all sorts of percussion, whilst the flute weaves its magic spell over a relentless backbeat.

Penultimate song “Pibrack (copin hand)” is where longtime Tull guitarist Martin Barre is allowed to step out into the spotlight with the electric guitar with some marvelous interplay between himself and Anderson. In folk rock terms the equivalent of Blackmore playing against Jon Lord in the old Deep Purple. A wonder for the ears.

All in all “Songs From The Wood” is a masterful album, full of varied surprises, and if you like this collection, look out Tull’s follow up album “Heavy Horses” just as good ….. but different.

I leave you with my favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll Trivia question. Jethro Tull have had three lead guitarists during their 33-year career, all from Birmingham. The first was Mick Abrahams, who lasted one year and one album. Martin Barre recorded all the other Tull albums. But who was the guitarist in-between Abrahams and Barre? He went on to become a huge International star himself, and appeared with Jethro Tull on the Rolling Stones Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus.


Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew


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