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Jethro Tull: Benefit - The 50th Anniversary Enhanced Edition

Benefit found Jethro Tull at a crossroads. Continue down the heavy rock, folk and blues path they’d begun to establish, or strike out on their own and forge themselves into something at least a little more different? Admittedly, the answer to ‘what happened next’ is much more clearly discovered on 1971’s Aqualung classic, but the year prior, Benefit began to signal the way ahead. Yes, Tull would continue to nod to their past, but increasingly as Benefit builds into a monstrously good album in its own right, so would it begin to combine the more idiosyncratic elements that frontman and flutist Ian Anderson would make the band’s own.

For Benefit, Jethro Tull’s third album, Anderson was joined by guitarist Martin Barre, drummer Clive Bunker and bass and hammond organ man Glenn Cornick, albeit with the further help of piano/organ player John Evans. The results were nothing short of revelatory, even if most see what would follow as the much more fully realised Jethro Tull image. Right from the off and “With You There To Help Me”, the fusion of rock, folk and prog was evident to hear, Anderson an ever more pleasingly erratic performer who lapped up the adulation in both his studio and stage work. With his humour also coming through in the music that he alone would compose for the band, the undoubted ‘Englishness’ of the results is surprising given Anderson’s Scottish roots, but even this far down the line, it is an undeniable aspect of this album and Tull in general. Further glances to the future were to be found across this release, with everything from the energetic statement of “Son” to “Nothing To Say” bursting at the seams with energy, vibrancy and a, some 51 years later, freshness that’s still a joy to behold. Add in infectious fare like “Play In Time” and “Alive, Well And Living In” and Benefit stands out as possibly the under appreciated gem in the Tull catalogue. Here it’s the 2013 Steven Wilson remix that’s dusted down for this one year belated 50th anniversary celebration, with the remainder of disc one in this sumptuous six disc set pulling in all of the bonus tracks also released back then. However, two different tracks are also added, with a wonderful, embryonic version of the Aqualung track “My God” an absolute delight, while “Just Trying To Be” also adds value.

Disc two also repeats the tracks on the second disc of the 2013 version, but again it adds a few more selections to that mix, with the 1971 Stereo Compilation Album Remixes of “Singing All Day”, “Sweet Dreams”, “The Witch’s Promise” and “Teacher” (US album version) proving rather intriguing. Admittedly, across these two discs there is a lot of seeming repetition, but for me, if there are seven different mixes of the song “Teacher” - 2013 remix, US single version, US album version, UK single version, mono, edited mono, 1971 compilation remix - then why not have them all? And for completists, the intentionally funny Benefit AM and FM Radio Spots are well worth a listen, even if they have been available previously.

Also available before is the disc three live show from 1970 in Tanglewood, however, here it is a previously unreleased remix that’s presented, again by Steven Wilson. To say it’s an energetic set would be a massive understatement and I simply can’t get enough if it. Which is handy, because it also shows up with shaky camera footage on DVD2, where other audio options including a 5.1 mix, are available. Admittedly the remaining visual footage doesn’t run for quite the full length of the whole show, but the final few tracks are still represented with eye catching stills taking up the screen.

What of DVD1? Well, that brings together the 2013 remix of Benefit, and 5 bonus tracks in a host of audio options alongside a flat transfer of the original UK and US LP masters, and a further couple of songs. All of which leaves CD4 to give us another 1970 show, this time from Chicago and sourced from the front of house desk by soundman John Burns and which offers a slightly longer/altered setlist. As with most of the live offerings in these reissues, it’s a fabulous addition to the set.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, all six discs come housed in the wonderful hardback books we’ve become accustomed to in this reissue series, but this time it also contains 100 beautifully presented, information packed pages of text. This luxurious, spacious offering allows for an essay on this era of Tull, a marvellous and gloriously contradictory track by track assessment of the album by Anderson, Barre, Cornick and Bunker and a whole lot more.

It’s no exaggeration to suggest that this Jethro Tull reissue campaign really has set the gold standard for comprehensive, respectful, affordable (if you can snaffle one before they sell out) album overviews. Benefit, as is befitting such a magnificent album, is, for me, one of the best we’ve seen so far.

Track Listing
CD 1 - Original Album (Steven Wilson Stereo Remixes)
  1. With You There To Help Me 2. Nothing To Say 3. Alive And Well And Living In 4. Son 5. For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me 6. To Cry You A Song 7. A Time For Everything? 8. Inside 9. Play In Time 10. Sossity; You’re A Woman   Associated Recordings   11. Singing All Day 12. Sweet Dream 13. 17 14. Teacher (UK Single Version) 15. Teacher (US Album Version) 16. My God (Early Version) 17. Just Trying To Be

CD 2 - Additional Associated Recordings   Original 1969-1970 Mono Mixes 1. Singing All Day 2. Sweet Dream(UK single ‘A’ side) 3. 17 (UK single ‘B’ side) 4. The Witch’s Promise (EUR single double ‘A’ side) 5. Teacher (UK Single Version) (EUR single double ‘A’ side) 6. Teacher (US Album Version) ( US single ‘B’ side) 7. Inside (UK Single ‘A’ side) 8. Alive And Well And Living In (UK Single ‘B’ side) 9. A Time For Everything ( US single ‘B’ side)   Original 1969-1970 Stereo Mixes   10. Sweet Dream 11. 17 12. The Witch’s Promise (UK single double ‘A’ side) 13. Teacher (UK Single Version)(UK single double ‘A’ side) 14. The Witch’s Promise (US promo single ‘A’ side) 15. Teacher (US Album Version) (US promo single ‘B’ side) 1971 Stereo Remixes 16. Singing All Day 17. Sweet Dream 18. The Witch’s Promise 19. Teacher (US album Version)   Original Radio Spots   20. Benefit Radio Spot #1 21. Benefit Radio Spot #2

CD 3 - Live At Tanglewood, 1970 (Steven Wilson Stereo Remix)   1. Introduction And Tuning 2. Nothing Is Easy 3. My God (incl. Flute Solo) 4. With You There To Help Me / By Kind Permission Of 5. Dharma For One (incl. Drum Solo (edited)) 6. We Used To Know 7. Guitar Instrumental 8. For A Thousand Mothers

CD 4 - Live At The Aragon Ballroom, Chicago 1970 (Mono)   1. Introduction And Tuning 2. My Sunday Feeling 3. My God (incl. Flute Solo) 4. To Cry You A Song 5. With You There To Help Me / By Kind Permission Of 6. Sossity; You’re A Woman / Reasons For Waiting 7. Nothing Is Easy 8. Dharma For One (incl. Drum Solo) 9. We Used To Know 10. Guitar Instrumental 11.For A Thousand Mothers

DVD 1   Steven Wilson’s 2013 remix of the album and 5 extra tracks in DTS and Dolby AC 3 5.1 surround and stereo 96/24 LPCM   Flat transfers of the original UK+US LP master in 96/24 LPCM   Additional tracks Sweet Dream, 17 & The Witch’s Promise

DVD 2   The 1970 Fillmore at Tanglewood Concert on video with Steven Wilson’s 2020 audio remix in stereo and 5.1 surround.

Added: December 25th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Jethro Tull online
Hits: 257
Language: english

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