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Jethro Tull

The Very Best Of

Review by Gary Hill

Choosing what songs to include on a Jethro Tull compilation like this one must be a daunting task. Just think about the wealth of material available in their catalog and then try to imagine culling just enough material to fill one CD. I wouldn't want that job. The selection chosen for this CD is really quite good, though. First off, they really did fill it to the brim, using nearly ever bit of available space that the medium has to offer. Secondly, there are tracks here from every section of the band's history. There are enough of the classics here to give the casual fan a reason to pick up the CD, while including enough of the more obscure to please the more serious Tull collector. All of these things combine to make this compilation a definite success in my book.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Living in the Past
This classic Tull jazzy rocker (appropriately?) feels a bit dated, but is definitely a necessary inclusion here. Considering the fact that this album is a compilation of old material, perhaps it was the only number that could lead off the CD.
Aqualung
Hard-edged and gritty, this is an all time classic Jethro Tull rocker.
Sweet Dream
Quite jazzy, almost like Tull taking on the territories of Blood Sweat and Tears or Chicago, this is a great rocker with some killer textures.
The Whistler
This one is quite a dramatic and a bit mysterious cut that has a great vocal arrangement. It covers some awesome prog territory.
Bungle in the Jungle
Another radio favorite, this one is a good fairly mellow rocker, even if a bit silly lyrically.
The Witches Promise
A wonderful prog rock tune, this one has a very lush arrangement.
Locomotive Breath
Starting with an intricate, almost neo-classically oriented intro, this hard rocker is a Tull mainstay.
Steel Monkey
Fast and hard rocking, this is the Tull boys' take on metal.
Thick As A Brick
An acoustically based ballad, this one has its electric and powerful moments.
Bouree
A flute dominated ballad, this instrumental is a mellow classic that dances around an intricate melody line.
Too Old To Rock and Roll Too Old To Die (Edited Version)
With its neoclassically oriented prog intro, this straight ahead rock song may be becoming more appropriate for the group by the day (at least according to detractors of the band).
Life s a Long Song
This is just plain wonderful acoustically driven progressive rock.
Songs From The Wood
This one has a very authentic chorale type arrangement and feels quite medieval, like a minstrel show song of olde. It gets quite rock oriented in a hard edge prog arrangement as it continues, but that authentic sort of old arrangement carries through. This one gets quite complex and downright symphonic.
A New Day Yesterday
A bluesy rock number, "A New Day..." is delivered with Tull's trademark type of progressive rock mayhem.
Heavy Horses (Edited Version)
Very neo classical in texture early on, this one jumps to a great bounding, even galloping, rock mode at times. It is a killer progressive rock piece that stays true to medieval and folky classical roots in a well conceived and performed arrangement.
Broadsword
Somewhat hard edged and stripped down, this one still has a neo classical, medieval Celtic texture to it, but in a much more modern sounding arrangement than that which Tull is usually thought of to be using.
Roots To Branches
Mysterious sounding in its slowly building intro with Eastern textures, as the cut evolves, it jumps into a faster paced jam for a short time, then drops down to balladic form for the verse and begins building up from there. This hard rocking prog piece really moves all over the place as it carries on.
A Song For Jeffrey
This is a pretty straightforward bluesy rocker.
Minstrel in the Gallery
This classic is a wonderfully hard-edged prog cut.
Cheerio
A very medieval sounding acoustic based brief cut, the arrangement on this one gets just a little bit over the top.
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