Jethro Tull
A


2.5
average

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
August 20th, 2010 | 55 replies


Release Date: 1980 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chapter 13: In which Anderson learns how to use a synthesizer and forgets how to write a passable melody.

After the release of 1978’s Stormwatch, Ian Anderson and Martin Barre found themselves in quite a predicament: whether due to death, death-induced depression, or simple personal squabbles, four members of Jethro Tull were forced to leave the band. Furthermore, the relatively stagnant, though still interesting, Stormwatch proved that the band (which, at this point, was really just a duet) would have to advance in a new direction in order to remain interesting. Frustrated by the problems that faced the band, Ian Anderson decided to release a solo album on which he would embrace new musical technology and experiment with synthesizers. Chrysalis, his record label, however didn’t like this idea very much and insisted that the new record would be released under the Jethro Tull moniker, and thus, A, a thoroughly mediocre journey into the realms of synth-rock, was born.

Synths aside, most of A is really just a Jethro Tull album at heart: the jazzy pianos in 4.W.D (Low Ratio) and the Celtic fiddles in The Pine Marten’s Jig, to name a few examples, would have fit in with ease on past releases. The problem is, A is just not a very good Tull album. Theoretically, songs such as The Pine Marten’s Jig and Working John, Working Joe should have worked well: both tunes are delightfully energetic, contain folky instrumentation, and show the band trying their hardest to please. However, in the place of catchy and interesting melodies, all we are given is what sounds like a poor Heavy Horses outtake (one that pales in comparison to the likes of Bouree and King Henry’s Madrigal) in the former and dreary Big Brother-related delusions in the latter.

While most of the other songs suffer from the same problems as the above-mentioned examples (Batteries Not Included and 4.W.D (Low Ratio) are the worst offenders), it’s true that A contains one or two worthwhile tunes that, while not saving the album entirely, make it a much less painful listen. Black Sunday, for example, has an unusual sense of urgency to it, and is all the better for it. Additionally, the energetic Fylingdale Flyer and melancholy And Further On are enjoyable listens, as is, to a lesser extent Protect And Survive. However, aside from Black Sunday, I can’t see myself ever bothering to return to anything found on this album.

Ultimately, with a couple exceptions, the music found on A fails to excite, especially when viewed alongside the rest of the band’s catalogue, and the pitifully bad lyrics (Self-appointed guardians of the race/with egg upon their face; Now I'm a working John/and I'm a working Joe/and I'm doing what I know for God and the Economy/Big brother watches over me) certainly don’t make the album very much more enjoyable. Jethro Tull would improve the formula that they created on this album with the release of it’s successor, Broadsword And The Beast. As it stands, although, there’s very little interesting to be found here.

2.3/5

Recommended Songs
Black Sunday
Fylingdale Flyer
And Further On

Postscript: Supposedly, some versions of the physical release come with an additional DVD which contains a series of music videos for the band's back catalog. Unfortunately, I was unable to view all of these, but those that I did see featured gimmicks such as Ian Anderson dressing like a vampire and proving that he cannot lip sync for his life-in other words, these are best viewed while blindfolded.



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user ratings (103)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
August 20th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Part twelve of the Tull discography, first one under a 3. Next one (Under Wraps) will be the first under a 2, unless the album will grow on me overnight (it won't, though, don't worry).

vanderb0b
August 20th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks. Admittedly, I largely owe that quip in the postscript to Jethro42.

dnor
August 20th 2010


3978 Comments


pos'd

vanderb0b
August 20th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks dnor, no thanks to mr.ghost neg

[img]http://rlv.zcache.com/halloween_cartoon_ghost_sticker-p217698959333315487qjcl_400.jpg[/img]



G-g-g-g-ghost neg!

Nagrarok
August 20th 2010


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Love that summary, pos'd.

Jethro42
August 20th 2010


15573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

hahaha nice vanderb0b. For the curious, here is the video to look with your ears

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22CNhROiFxs

vanderb0b
August 21st 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks! That's not the only video, by the way. There's plenty! Take this for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdfPER5Cgm8

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 21st 2010


8064 Comments


Good review, very informative, Pos'd.

JamieTwort
September 18th 2011


26988 Comments


Black Sunday rules.

Jethro42
September 18th 2011


15573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Fucking love that album. lol sputnik underrating/overlooking it.

JamieTwort
September 18th 2011


26988 Comments


I bought the version of this with the Slipstream DVD as a bonus disc the other day. Haven't watched the DVD yet but the album itself is better than I remembered.

Jethro42
September 18th 2011


15573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah album is superior to both Stormwatch and Broadsword reunited.

A Slipstream?...What's that...

JamieTwort
September 18th 2011


26988 Comments


That's the name of the DVD (named after the song from Aqualung I assume), It has some music videos and live performances.

JamieTwort
September 18th 2011


26988 Comments


Here's the page on wikipedia about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slipstream_(video)

someguest
September 18th 2011


29865 Comments


Jethro Dull

Jethro42
September 18th 2011


15573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Ah Gotcha! Sounds cool! I for myself own DVD Living With the Past (2002) by them, and I enjoy it big time. It's pretty much an answer to the kind of shows/setlist they keep on doing worldwide nowadays (I've seen them twice in Montreal recently enough.

JamieTwort
September 18th 2011


26988 Comments


I'd love to see them live.

I've got the Live at Madison Square Garden DVD. The concert is from 1978 and it's excellent.

Jethro42
September 18th 2011


15573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Whoa JT, is it a bootleg or something...

edit; Thanks for the link. Reading it atm.

JamieTwort
September 18th 2011


26988 Comments


No it's an official release but it wasn't released until 2009. It comes with a bonus CD of the concert as well. Apparently it was originally shown on television back in '78, not sure why it's taken so long for it to be released.

Jethro42
September 18th 2011


15573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Sounds mega interesting. I really need to revisit my cd store specialised in prog rock and metal importations asap.



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