Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Jethro Tull - A (Chrysalis - CHE 1301)
Jethro Tull is remembered for their blend of Blues Rock with their British blood. Blues was already becoming a huge scene when they entered the musical scene. It all started with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and went on with his (And John Mayall's) help in promoting bands like The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Bluesbreakers, Graham Bond Organization and the likes. Therefore when Jethro Tull came into life, they had a chance to push forward at full throttle. And they did so remarkably to become one of the most recognized bands of the genre as well as Rock itself.
It would not be really unfair to say that the key to their success was the band's founding father Ian Anderson. Anderson was heavily into the Blues explosion era during the 1960s and was doing his best to keep the first bands he started. Having seen that he cannot play as good as many of the noted guitarists of the era like Eric Clapton and Peter Green, he hang his guitar to take up the flute. This change in instrument also made a difference in the sound as well as the future music of the group. They enjoyed a very good initial career when everyone was happy (Apart from minor changes in the line up), but then came the end 1970's and Ian Anderson had a hunch to change his direction. He couldn't manage this with the current line up, let alone under the same name therefore he took up the idea of going solo with of course Martin Barre alongside. So it wasn't really a solo anyway. However, due to lower album sales of Jethro Tull, the label Chrysalis convinced the already prepared solo album to be named under Jethro Tull in the hopes of creating a Phoenix effect. So much for the high hopes.
The change in "A" is so substantial that the standard Jethro Tull fans ran away from it. And with good reason. One thing is for sure, change was there. The opening track "Crossfire" laid it all too simply to the audience. It had the feeling of Disco music more than any other sound. The keyboards were taking the front stage and the music did not have the purity of quality it had before. I mean looking back today, it is not far fetched to say that the music on the album is not very different from the Electro Disco of the Hague Concept. The guitars are missing true, but the music is quite similar nonetheless.
It is critically discussed how the bands should change or evolve themselves. One good example of this can be noted as Muse. In every new album they released, there was a minor change which inevitably led us to today and I am sure we are to see further changes coming from them. Even a Rock Symphony would not shock me if it were to come from them. They have made us acknowledge the fact that they would change something somehow. Same aspect I have already noted within the comments regarding Jefferson Airplane's "Crown The Creature". They also wanted to undergo a change, but did not do it wholly at one step. It came gradually. It may be why this actually solo album of Ian Anderson did not fit well with Jethro Tull written on it. It would have been a different solo approach whereas because of Chrysalis's demands, it became an awkward point of arrival in it's suddenness. I think I don't need to mention a similar era in Metallica's history when each of us said "What the hell is going on?".
This album can be openly classified as what Ian Anderson wanted to do personally, not Jethro Tull. One can argue that Jethro Tull is already Ian Anderson, but that is why Ian wanted to make this album solo. He knew it was way different. Actually that is what prompted this project in the first place. The feeling of needing change, the feeling of running away, maybe too cliche, but the feeling of breaking the long held chains. Unfortunately Chrysalis made a very wrong move by insisting on the Jethro Tull name. I'm sure they have regretted this after the album sales figures. Maybe they got carried away too much by the Saturday Night Fever. Who knows.