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Jethro Tull

Benefit

Review by Gary Hill

This early Tull album is a good one. It’s not got the major hits of some of the later releases – or even a lot of crowd favorites that still live in their live set, but there’s not a weak cut on show here. I’d put this up against just about anything else in their catalog.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
With You There To Help Me
Flute begins and they take this out into a spacey sort of mellow jam from there. There’s a definite folk air to much of this, but when they power it out later it resembles a bluesy prog rock. I can hear bits of early Hawkwind on this.
Nothing To Say
The harder edged jam juxtaposed with mellower ballad based pattern here is a song writing convention that would stick with Tull throughout their career. Personally I’d say this is quite similar to a lot of the music on Aqualung. It’s a good tune, and actually one of my favorites on this set.
Inside
There’s a 1960’s psychedelic pop texture to this. It’s a cool number and quite fun, but perhaps not all that “Tull-like.” Sure, Ian Anderson’s vocals and flute make certain this is a Jethro Tull song, but it’s rather atypical.
Son
Lyrically this track feels like a conversation from a rigid father and his son. Musically it’s a cool experiment, but only so successful. The first half has a bluesy old-school musical approach. Then there is a rather awkward shift to psychedelic musical elements that feel like they would have been quite at home in Haight Ashbury. The juxtaposition is kind of cool, but honestly it feels too much like two pieces that are unrelated being forced together. 
For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me
A pretty balladic cut, this grows gradually. They power this out into a folky rocker later and it’s a great piece of music. I’d probably consider it a highlight of the disc and it’s one of the more pure prog excursions here. .
To Cry You A Song
This is definitely a Jethro Tull classic. The riff that opens it is trademark Tull and yet it reminds me a bit of something from the first Hawkwind disc, too. The vocal line feels like it could have been lifted from the Aqualung album. This is a killer prog rock jam that’s probably the closest of anything here to the sounds that we would later come to expect from Jethro Tull. 
A Time For Everything
Here’s another that should feel more like what fans would later come to expect from Tull. It’s got all the elements and feels like it could have come from any number of the albums to come. It’s a mid-paced piece that rocks out well enough without rising to the crunchier levels of Aqualung. There’s a cool extended outro jam on this that’s rather spacey and again makes me think a bit of early Hawkind. 
Teacher
I’ve always liked this track a lot. In many ways it doesn’t differ much from a lot of the music from Jethro Tull and yet it’s got quite a catchy vocal hook and just works exceptionally well. 
Play In Time
This one has more of a bluesy feeling to it than a lot of the other stuff on here. Yet there are still some cool, spacey prog like sounds in place here and there. It’s not a standout, but the instrumental break goes a long way towards bringing it closer to that realm. 
Sossity You're A Woman
Here’s the most folky number on show. It gets a lot more proggy, but never rises to the level of a real “rocking” piece. It’s a good tune and a nice way to slow it down for the closing.
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