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Jethro Tull: The Jethro Tull Christmas Album

The newest addition to Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby & Chicago in my Christmas CD rotation is the latest from Jethro Tull. In my mind, if any pop/rock band is qualified to do justice to a Christmas Album, Jethro Tull is that band. This recently released set measures up to expectations. Indeed, I had to hit the online world to obtain it—local shops in New York City were all sold out! When's the last time record shops couldn't stock enough of the new Tull CD to meet demand? I'd have to guess it was probably 30 years ago...

The 16-song set is all newly recorded, with nine tracks written specially for the album. It also includes re-workings of catalog Tull tunes "A Christmas Song", "Another Christmas Song", "Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow", "Weathercock", "Fire At Midnight", "Ring Out Solstice Bells", and "Bouree."

The new tracks include six instrumentals, mostly traditional holiday related themes, newly arranged by Ian Anderson & performed by Tull. Anderson's arrangements of "We Three Kings", "Greenslaves", "Pavane", "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", & particularly "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman", are so innovative & fresh it throws you—yet another style dished up for this uncanny band to sink it's able teeth into.

The new vocal tracks, "Last Man At The Party", & the poignant "First Snow on Brooklyn" ("And the first snow on Brooklyn makes a lonely road to travel—cold crunch steps that echo as the blizzard bites") are Songs From The Wood/Heavy Horses era Tull—and they're as welcome as old friends with 25 years of catching up to do. The rousing opener, "Birthday Card At Christmas", finds Anderson's satirical lyrical prowess undiminished ("I am the shadow in your Christmas/I am the corner of your smile/Perfunctory in celebration/You offer content but no style"). Only Tull could be laconic with holiday tunes & get away with it.

The re-worked tracks, including, "Another Christmas Song" (one of my favorites originally released on Rock Island) are standards from Tull's catalog, & little known gems from boxed sets (Jack Frost) work well within the holiday/winter context.

If you're expecting Bing Crosby, or even Chicago—think again. For me & apparently many others in my area, Tull's first official holiday offering is a warm desert for shoveling out the cold driveway, a laced eggnog by the flickering tree. Holiday comfort food indeed, served up exquisitely by Anderson, Barre, & the boys. Merry Christmas.

Added: November 29th 2004
Reviewer: Steve Fleck
Related Link: Official Jethro Tull Website
Hits: 3621
Language: english

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Jethro Tull: The Jethro Tull Christmas Album
Posted by Jack Toledano, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-02 09:27:38
My Score:

After years of being subjected to Christmas compilations by The Carpenters, country music artists, MOR (middle of the road) artists, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, etc., it was indeed very refreshing to see Jethro Tull put their own spin on the Christmas CD section in music stores. As I tend to be a bit of a grinch around the holiday season, the Jethro Tull Christmas Album went a long way to putting me into the holiday spirit, with its very cheerful selection of old and new songs, Tull originals as well as traditional Christmas songs.

All of the songs, including Tull originals from the past (A Christmas Song, Another Christmas Song, Weathercock, Fire At Midnight, Ring Out, Solstice Bells, & Bouree) were recorded or re-recorded for this release. Therefore, there is an updated sound for the older songs, along with Ian Anderson's updated voice, although I think he sounds superb in this release. The CD was recorded with Jethro Tull's late 70's Celtic Folk style in mind, so if you like Songs From The Wood, Heavy Horses, and Stormwatch, you are in for a real Christmas treat.

As always, the instrumentation and selection of instruments used in this CD go a long way to making this the excellent CD that it is. For example, there is Andrew Gidding's accordion playing in Holly Herald and Last Man At The Party, which give the songs a nice hint of folk music from various different European countries. There are the dual mandolins of Ian Anderson and guest musician and former bass player David Pegg in Holly Herald. Ian adds the piccolo in Last Man At The Party. And of course, most Tull albums are incomplete without a string ensemble of some kind, so one was used in First Snow In Brooklyn. Add that to the usually amazing flute and acoustic guitar sound by Ian, along with the rocking electric guitar chords of Martin Barre, and you have an instrumental dynamo.

One of the things that I really liked and appreciated about the Jethro Tull Christmas Album was that it made for a very enjoyable car ride for me this past Christmas Day from the Northeast to Florida, and kept me in the Christmas spirit for what is normally a very long and humdrum car ride. This Christmas CD is not only one of the best ever released by a rock band in the category of Christmas music, but I dare say that it is one of Jethro Tull's very best releases, period.

Jethro Tull: The Jethro Tull Christmas Album
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-11-29 15:07:38
My Score:

Jethro Tull is the perfect band to release a holiday record. Think about it: The band's eclectic approach to folk-influenced progressive rock sounds as traditional today as it was groundbreaking back in the late Sixties and throughout the Seventies. Like many titles these days, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album was originally released in 2003 but reissued in 2004 with a bonus DVD featuring live footage. So in case you missed it the first time around, crank up the CD player, throw an extra log on the fireplace, grab some nog and let Ian Anderson and Co. carry you into another holiday season with traditional carols, reworked Tull tunes and a few new songs. The limited edition's CD track listing remains the same as the 2003 version, while the bonus DVD contains three selections from the concert video Living With the Past ("My Sunday Feeling," "Jack in the Green" and "Life Is a Long Song"), which serve as a perfect balance to all of the holiday cheer the band spreads on this most festive of prog-rock CDs.

Track Listing:
1) Birthday Card At Christmas (3:37)
2) Holly Herald (4:16)
3) A Christmas Son (2:47)
4) Another Christmas Song (3:31)
5) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (4:35)
6) Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow (3:37)
7) Last Man at the Party (4:48)
8) Weathercock (4:17)
9) Pavane (4:19)
10) First Snow On Brooklyn (4:57)
11) Greensleeved (2:39)
12) Fire At Midnight (2:26)
13) We Five Kings (3:16)
14) Ring Out Solstice Bells (4:04)
15) Bourée (4:25)
16) A Winter Snowscape (4:57)

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