Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young To Die!

Jethro Tull

Chrysalis Records, 1976

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In the life of every artist who has some true longevity behind them, there comes an album which is seen as their "black sheep." It is the album that sells the worst, has at best one hit song on it, and becomes the object of scorn by fan and critic alike. It is also the album that, many years later, is seen in a different light, and becomes a disc waiting for re-discovery.

I hereby nominate Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die! (hereafter called Too Old) as Jethro Tull's "black sheep".

Now, I'll admit I didn't like this one much as a teenager, when I was discovering Ian Anderson and crew. For years, this disc (recently re-released on CD) has sat in the dusty shelves of the Pierce Memorial Archives, seemingly consigned to a fate of just being part of a complete discography, never to be played again.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Truth be told, this album is surprisingly solid, again featuring a band in flux but coming to terms with who they were in a constantly changing musical environment. Moving away from the Elizabethan folk which made up Minstrel In The Gallery, Anderson and crew (now featuring bassist John Glascock) focus on a more rock-oriented beat. The band dares to write and sing pop-like songs which could easily have made it onto radio stations at that time.

Of course, critics and fans alike dumped all over this disc, and Tull retreated and refocused their energies on the soon-to-be-burgeoning renaissance of folk music. And while I liked what they would do next, something about the music on Too Old intrigues me.

Maybe it's the solid backbeat of the opening track "Quizz Kid," a song which screams out at me for rediscovery by someone in the field of radio, and a shoulda-been single that could have pushed this album out of anonymity. Maybe it's the light touch on songs like "Crazed Institution," "Pied Piper" and "Big Dipper" that hooks you in and refuses to let go. Maybe it's the hint of things to come in the acoustic numbers "Salamander" and "From A Deadbeat To An Old Greaser."

Maybe -- just maybe -- it's the ability to divorce one's self from the cartoon strip in the album jacket and the remembrance that Too Old was originally designed to be a stage play. If this was meant to be a concept album, it fails in that the songs are far too disjointed for the proposed storyline (despite the fact a few songs do refer to the Ray Lomas character). And, despite Anderson's recent denials that any of the materials were autobiographical, one can't help but wonder if the title track was meant to be a slam at anyone who thought that Tull, then nearing their 10th anniversary, no longer fit in the music scene.

While Too Old was not a success in 1976, the disc has proven to have great lasting power, and hardly sounds like it was recorded 28 years ago. If anything, time has proven that this album is a decent effort from Anderson and crew, and one more worthy of respect than scorn. Is it Tull's greatest album? Honestly, no -- but there are a lot more successes than failures on this disc.

For a "black sheep," Too Old is not that b-a-a-a-a-d.

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Christopher Thelen 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 Chrysalis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.