Songs From The Wood

Jethro Tull

Chrysalis Records, 1977

REVIEW BY: Riley McDonald


In 1977, Tull was pretty much a folk-rock band. They had slowly been progressing away from the prog-rock genre, and Songs From The Wood would galvanize their position as a folk-rock band.

This is quite possibly Anderson and co.'s most "fun" album to date. Songs like "Jack-in-the-Green" and "The Whistler" are laid back folky tunes that still retain a powerful melody.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Anderson's flute is used quite liberally throughout the record, adeptly showcasing his talent on it. While not as up-front or aggressive as some of his passages on Aqualung, they're beautiful in a whole different way.

However, for all the good found on this album, it has some shortcomings. The one that I find most obvious is the lack of Martin Barre's electric guitar assault. The only song where it can be heard in abundance is on the eight-minute "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)," which I find to be a disappointing song. While we do get a taste of Barre's guitar prowess, the actual track is very slow and uninteresting.

Fans of harder rock will definitely be turned off by this album. All of that edge that Tull had on albums like Aqualung, This Was and, to a lesser extent, Minstrel In The Gallery, is replaced with flute flourishes and placid acoustic guitar riffs. But for either die-hard Tull fans, or people who like mellow music, this is the album for you.

Though many purists will crucify me for saying so, I believe this album hosts Tull's best song to date. Is it the upbeat, full-of-life title track? The melodic "Cup of Wonder"? The epic, keyboard-laced "Velvet Green"? Nope. I'm talking about the album's closing track, "Fire At Midnight." A song that has a soft, Celtic intro, complete with Anderson's romantic singing, and a beautiful flute in the background. It's followed by the bridge, which contains a brilliant flute solo, and even has an electric guitar lead by Barre, something that is sorely missed on this album. All in all, it's the perfect song.

As I've said before, this album isn't for everybody. Hard-rock fans will be instantly turned off, as will people who don't care for the more folky part of Tull. However, for those who enjoy experimentation, you will not be disappointed at all.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A



© 2004 Riley McDonald 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.