Sunday, February 5, 2017

All Jethro Tull with no coffee!

I love these guys, so why not? There MUST be some more new-to-me classics in these mostly-unheard eight albums I've got piled up here. Let's see if I can find them.
* Quizz Kid, from TOO OLD TO ROCK AND ROLL TOO YOUNG TO DIE. Starts out sounding just like Cat Stevens, then the heavy Martin Barre guitar starts in before the first chorus. Kinda streamlined compared to Tull's folkier stuff. Later on it gets tricky and intricate. Kind of a cross between AQUALUNG and the folky stuff. Is the comic-book album-cover a satire of THICK AS A BRICK? Ok, the choruses are fairly catchy.
* Crazed Institution, from TOO OLD. More light acoustic guitar and flute. Thought this album was sposta be "heavier"? Pretty nice, and better than "Quizz Kid."
* Salamander, from TOO OLD. Brief, acoustic-guitar-and-flute piece with a few lines of lyrics. Pleasant, but short. So this album's desperate "heavy" rep was just a put-on, right?
* Taxi Grab, from TOO OLD. Maybe it wasn't a put-on. Of course, there's heavy and there's HEAVY. This sounds like the heavier tracks on MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY. Punchy but intricate.
* From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser, from TOO OLD. This is surprisingly MUCH gentler than I expected from the awful title: "Think you must have me all wrong." And that's the side. So where'd this album's "heaver, rock and roll" rep come from? And do I dare try Side 2?
* Bad Eyed and Loveless, from TOO OLD. Ian do love his ugly song titles, don't he? This is more delicate acoustic and Ian's vocals. The lyrics are kinda crude -- as usual. Ian could get in the gutter as good as any punk-rocker. Some of the lyrics are sort of stolen from "Velvet Green" on SONGS FROM THE WOOD. Plagiarising himself? = Signs of a lack of inspiration. (Later Note: TOO OLD was recorded first.) Still doesn't rock.
* Big Dipper, from TOO OLD. Ok, maybe this does.... More heavy guitar and bass here.
* Too Old to Rock and Roll.... -- OK, I've actually heard this before, recognized that orchestrated opening right off. You can't be a punker with that orchestra following you around. The verses are kinda standard "folky" Tull. And the choruses are really annoying. OK, we're done here.
* Beastie, from THE BROADSWORD AND THE BEAST. OK, this is a lot more upbeat than TOO OLD TO ROCK AND ROLL. Almost sounds ... uh ... "modern." Paul Samwell-Smith, who also produced Cat Stevens and America, produced this? Surprised Ian Anderson kept his autocratic hand out of it. Signs of life from Martin Barre's guitar. Catchy choruses, icy keyboards, overall above-average.
* Clasp, from BROADSWORD. "Modern" and catchy, with what sounds like syndrums. Fast-moving and tricky -- very nice, wonder why I don't remember ever hearing any of this back in the day? It's certainly livelier than A or STORMWATCH (which I liked, actually).
* Fallen on Hard Times, from BROADSWORD. "Clasp"'s tune starts this off, followed by brief flute and acoustic guitar. Not bad. The lyrical concerns from A and STORMWATCH are continued here. Gains momentum with some stinging guitar from Martin Barre. Ian's double-tracked vocal on the choruses also helps the intensity. Did Paul Samwell-Smith's advice help punch-up the impact of these songs?
* Flying Colours, from BROADSWORD. Pulls together the keyboards and guitar and pushes for more impact. These guys are pretty tight. Don't know where keybs-guy Peter-John Vettese came from, but drummer Gerry Conway and bassist Dave Pegg were both with Fairport Convention. This doesn't sound like Fairport -- too modern. A nice mix. Songs could maybe be a little stronger, but the production's solid....
* Slow Marching Band, from BROADSWORD. Wow, this is an impressive, haunting slow ballad with more piano than I'm used to hearing on a Tull album -- builds in intensity, nice choruses, stops at just the right spot. best thing I've heard this morning.
* Broadsword. The keyboards take over. Mystical lyrics, tribal drumming. This is more in the sword-and-sorcery/medieval-fantasy vein that Tull should be great at.
* Pussy Willow, from BROADSWORD. Heard this before on one of the Tull best-of's. Somehow it sounds better this morning. More impact. Not such a shock when the full band kicks in on the choruses.
* Watching Me Watching You, from BROADSWORD. The keyboards take over again. fast-paced but kinda mechanical. OK, that's enough.
* With You There to Help Me, from BENEFIT. Going back to 1970, now. Ian's voice sounds kind of distant and megaphonic. Production's much simpler (no surprise), lots of phasing on the vocals and flute. Easier for Martin Barre's guitar to jump out here. Not that far removed from their blues-band beginnings.
* Nothing to Say, from  BENEFIT. Hmmm, appropriate title.
* Inside, from BENEFIT. Ian in woolgathering mode. Not bad, but not stunning. Not distinctive. Cruder in musical approach, simpler. Jeez, am I wearing out after only three sides? More coffee!
* Son, from BENEFIT. Ok, I've lost track of what's what and what fits into what here....
* For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me, from BENEFIT. Best thing on this side. A lot more range, impressive loud choruses and delicate acoustic-guitar backed verses. can't really tell what Ian's going on about, tho....
* To Cry You a Song, from BENEFIT. This is too long, but Martin Barre's heavy guitar-riffing helps.
* A Time for Everything?, from BENEFIT. OK, but over way too quick. Didn't even have time to focus on what was happening.
-- Don't need to play "Teacher," because it's one of my all-time faves, so....
* Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square, from STAND UP. How bout those pitter-pat drums? Is this where Gentle Giant got their drum sound? Have heard lots of STAND UP before, know it's pretty consistent, but can't remember lotsa trax, like this one. Touch here is lighter than on BENEFIT, which is kinda odd since this album came first. This is basically light and acoustic, and over too quick.
* Bouree, from STAND UP. This mostly-solo-flute piece is pleasant enough, and the opening theme (borrowed from Bach? and then turned into sorta-lite-jazz) is memorable, but I've never understood why this seemed like a Big Deal. Maybe it was back in the day...? OK, nevertheless.... Could almost be a TV news-show theme, now....
* Back to the Family, from STAND UP. I've always liked this. The lyrics are freakin' hilarious. Could be a theme-song for all the "kids" who've had to move back in with their parents over the last decade. Nice flute, good guitar, and Ian's vocals are appropriately sleazy and funny. Rockin'.
* Look Into the Sun, We Used to Know, from STAND UP. Ian's voice is rather distant on "We Used to Know," but the flute solo helps make up for it. Then a shrill wah-wah solo from Martin Barre. And yet, overall the songs here are stronger than those on BENEFIT -- this just in.
-- No need to play "Nothing is Easy" or "Fat Man," those have both been on my Tull playlist for quite awhile....
* Reasons for Waiting, from BENEFIT. Very nice flute-with-orchestra piece, very soothing. Not rock and roll, but who cares?
* For a Thousand Mothers, from BENEFIT. Ok album-ender, nothing stunning. Still, lots of talent on display here. these guys could go far.
* A PASSION PLAY, Side One -- OK, bite the bullet. I haven't heard this in years, and it was a real chore the last time I tried.... Opens with lots of synthesizer- and guitar-atmosphere noise. But compared to some of their stuff I've played this morning, this bounces along nicely and has definite signs of life. the production's lighter here than on their earlier stuff. ... This is rather ornately detailed, with lots of synth and keyboard touches, and way-delicate acoustic guitar. Way closer to classical music than rock and roll. There are some actual TUNES here, though the playing keeps getting in the way of them. Then a snatch of Olde Englishe opera -- how did Queen get in here? And some twiddly-bits guitar and a little heavy riffing. This is how Ian strings together 10 different songs/riffs into one rock-opera/concept-album. If it weren't for John Evan's keyboards, this would be a lot more tedious.... His little keyb riff at the end of the side sounds a lot like Mike Oldfield's guitar on OMMADAWN. ...And we are NOT going to listen to "The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles." It's just silly. Overall: Not distinctive. Have no idea what ian's going on about here.
And that's enough for today. There's a football game on....

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