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Jethro Tull

War Child

Review by Greg Olma

Jethro Tull really switched gears with this 1974 release.  Gone were the album length tracks replaced with fairly short tunes.  This album seems to get overlooked in favor of Aqualung or Thick As A Brick but to me it was refreshing to hear the band get back to basics of writing songs that weren’t so involved.  The story behind this release is that it was supposed to be a soundtrack for a movie that never got made.  I don’t see how all the tracks would fit together into one story but then again, Ian Anderson’s visions are sometimes over my head.  I quite like this record because it contains all of the Jethro Tull elements but in shorter pieces, a welcome change after the Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play albums.  If you are in the mood for some early Tull, I suggest you get this disc because there is a lot going on here but in smaller bite sized pieces.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
War Child

As you would expect, the album starts off with the sound of war (air raid siren, bombs, gunfire, etc) and of a little girl.  It is the title of the album and this track in “sound.” Then it fades as Tull starts to play this jazzy number.  It sounds like Jethro Tull but somehow different also.  During the chorus, you can hear bombs going off in the background.  You can hear all of the Tull elements except for flute.

Queen And Country

This one has kind of beer band type of sound.  As the tune moves along, it gets kind of heavy with some great guitar work from Martin Barre.

Ladies

Acoustic guitars start this piece that reminds me of “My God” off of Aqualung.  Then the flute kicks in and it switches to a medieval sounding tune.  When the chorus comes around, it changes again putting forth some middle eastern elements.  This song goes in many different directions but in the end, I don’t think it really works.

Back-Door Angels

Now this is classic Tull.  You could almost swear this was off of Aqualung due to its heaviness.  Barre puts in his best guitar work on this cut.  It’s a shame that this record gets passed over because tunes like this capture the band in their prime.

Sealion

Lyrically, I don’t really “get” this one but musically, it is another fine example of what Jethro Tull is all about.  Naturally, there is great flute playing from Anderson but I feel the lyrics ruin it a bit.  I don’t get how all of this would have fit into a movie.

Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of A New Day

The sound of someone (I assume Anderson) humming starts off this cut.  Acoustic guitars and Anderson’s voice slowly build this tune and as the song builds, more instruments are added to fill out the sound.  This was a single and destined to be a concert favorite for many years to come.

Bungle In The Jungle

This track starts off with lion roars but that unmistakable flute eases in.  The lyrics at first are very animal themed but soon the metaphors come out and by the third verse, we get the feeling that Anderson is singing about God.  This was also a single for Jethro Tull and it has a great catchy chorus.  There are parts that are heavier but mostly, it is a light-hearted track.

Only Solitaire

At a minute and a half, this is the shortest tune on the record.  It is a little acoustic piece and it is gone before you know it even started.  Anderson’s vocals are very soothing on this one.

The Third Hoorah

The tune starts off with a big “hoorah” and then moves on to a medieval sounding song.  In my opinion, this band has perfected that sound in the rock space and “The Third Hoorah” is a prime example of that.

Two Fingers

The record ends with an odd track.  It has a very 1970s sound to it and feels like they were going to use this for the end of the movie.  It’s a mid-paced rocker that at times sounds dated but still retains that Tull charm that is timeless.  Apparently, this cut was recorded for the Aqualung album but never used.  They rearranged it and re-titled it for this release.  I would love to hear the original because this version sounds like it belongs to this record more than the earlier Aqualung.

 

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