The Very Best Of Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull

Capitol Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Ho hum. Another greatest hits album. Why bother? Ian Anderson himself talks in the liner notes about how he always thought that greatest hits compilations were rather like cheating. So why release one at all? Well, ask Anderson himself in his own words, "to get a flavour of a band with whom I was only partially familiar". Fair enough.

I was only partially familiar with Jethro Tull myself I've more than a passing acquaintance with Aqualung and Songs From The Woodmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , but couldn't name a track off War Child or Rock Island if you paid me. If the purpose of a greatest hits CD is to give you a taste of things, then The Very Best Of Jethro Tull works. It's like the sampler plate at a Greek restaurant varied, interesting, and leaving you a bit hungry for more, or at least for a few pieces of pita bread.

The tracks on The Very Best Of are varied in tone and tempo, much like all of Jethro Tull's work. More importantly, however, they've been remastered, and not since Alan Parsons' Definitive Collection can I remember a compilation that improved so much on the originals. Tracks like "Aqualung", "Living In The Past" and "Locomotive Breath" snap and chime with new life, and even the overly-produced "Steel Monkey" has a new life and insistent energy to it. "Songs From The Wood", "The Whistler" and "Bouree" are more delicate, clear, and harmonic.

The big winner, though, is "Broadsword". I know I've heard this track before, and I remember it as being boring and bombastic, a bad example of adolescent Dungeons-and-Dragons-rock. On The Very Best Of, it practically reaches out, grabs you, and forces you to listen to what has turned into an eerily fascinating song with insistent, building energy.

Unfortunately, not even remastering could save "A New Day Yesterday" (which I had not heard before, and I question why exactly it was included. It doesn't sound like Tull, and it's not very good). Anderson made what he called necessary edits on "Minstrel In The Gallery", "Too Old To Rock And Roll; Too Young To Die", and "Heavy Horses". I'm not that familiar with the original tracks, but the edits seem cohesive and complete on their own.

Overall, The Very Best Of Jethro Tull does what it's supposed to do; summarize one of the most varied and idiosyncratic bands of the last 30 years in one CD of tracks designed to make you look deeper. I found myself thinking that perhaps I need to own some more Jethro Tull therefore, it's a success, and recommended.

Rating: A-

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© 2001 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.