All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Jethro Tull: The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Most often remembered as the classic rock group responsible for mega-sellers including Aqualung (Chrysalis, 1971) and Thick as a Brick (Chrysalis, 1972), Jethro Tull has always included acoustic instrumentation as part of its musical palette. "Locomotive Breath and "Cross-Eyed Mary may be what comes to mind when asked to describe Aqualung. Still, "Cheap Day Return, "Mother Goose and "Wond'ring Aloud are all completely unplugged tunes that give that album scope beyond thundering riffs and arena-rock attitude, and make The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull the kind of collection that few (if any) other progressive rock acts could compile.

Even at its most electric, Tull has always reflected an allegiance to the British folk tradition. Once founding member/multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/songwriter Ian Anderson emerged as the group's clear leader following its more blues-oriented debut, This Was (Chrysalis, 1968), the group immediately began integrating traditional elements. The image of Anderson as the flautist who plays on one leg may be his most enduring, but Tull in performance makes it clear that acoustic guitar is an equal companion to the singer.

The majority of the songs have been available, albeit in some cases only in expensive box sets or as bonus tracks on remastered/expanded editions of Tull's discography. Two previously unreleased songs—an alternate version "One Brown Mouse, from Heavy Horses (Chrysalis, 1978), and the Renaissance-like "Pastime With Good Company —might be reason enough for the completist to check this compilation out. Collector pathology aside, The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, even if the lion's share of the material is familiar. Hearing this more finessed material grouped together paints an entirely different picture of Tull, even for its most committed fans.

The highlights are many—including the poignant "Life Is a Long Song, pastoral "Jack in the Green, Baroque-ish "Velvet Green and rhythmically charged "Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow —but there are a couple of missteps. While Thick as a Brick has to be represented, the shortened edit of its first few minutes suffers from a forced fade out coming at an admittedly necessary point, given the electric jolt about to come. The inclusion of just over a minute of "Cold Wind to Valhalla, from Minstrel in the Gallery (Chrysalis, 1975), makes no sense—over before it's begun and unnecessary, given the inclusion of that album's "One White Duck/010=Nothing at All.

One might also question the inclusion of two tracks from Anderson's The Secret Language of Birds (Fuel, 2000) and Rupi's Dance (Fuel, 2003), since they're not strictly Tull tunes. Still, with the exception of longstanding guitarist Martin Barre, the group's revolving door of personnel has always suggested that Ian Anderson is Jethro Tull. Historical inaccuracy and a couple of questionable edits do nothing to take away from The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull—a compelling collection that rightly focuses on a side of the group that many mistakenly consider to be secondary to its real mission statement.

Track Listing: Fat Man; Life Is a Long Song; Cheap Day Return; Mother Goose; Wond

Personnel: Ian Anderson: flute, acoustic guitars, mandolin, percussion; Martin Barre: acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Clive Bunker: percussion; Jeffrey Hammond: bass guitar; John Evans: piano, accordion; Barriemore Barlow: drums, glockenspiel, percussion; John Glascock: bass guitar; David Palmer: keyboards, portative organ; Dave Pegg: bass guitar, double bass, mandolin; Peter Vettese: keyboards; Gerry Conway: drums; Doane Perry: drums; Andrew Giddings: keyboards; Jonathan Noyce: bass guitar; David Goodier: bass guitar, double bass; James Duncan: drums, percussion; John O

Title: The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Capitol/EMI


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Live In Healdsburg CD/LP/Track Review
Live In Healdsburg
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Carpe Diem CD/LP/Track Review
Carpe Diem
by Don Phipps
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Exotica CD/LP/Track Review
by Chris May
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Oriental Orbit CD/LP/Track Review
Oriental Orbit
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Brightbird CD/LP/Track Review
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "The Fever: The Remastered Epic Recordings" CD/LP/Track Review The Fever: The Remastered Epic Recordings
by Doug Collette
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere" CD/LP/Track Review Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere
by Mike Jacobs
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Dirt In The Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dirt In The Ground
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "The Arrangement" CD/LP/Track Review The Arrangement
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 11, 2017
Read "Mannequins" CD/LP/Track Review Mannequins
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "Last Dream of the Morning" CD/LP/Track Review Last Dream of the Morning
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 28, 2017