Benefit

Jethro Tull

Chrysalis Records, 1970

http://jethrotull.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/21/2005

Unlike Christopher Thelen's prior review, I'm working off the original copy of this 1970 release, Tull's third and best.

That sounds a strong claim, especially in the face of such masterworks as Aqualung and Thick As A Brick, but this one works because of the strong songwriting and the true band effort. Where each successive release emphasized Ian Anderson over all else, Tull still sounds like a true group, the same British blues-rock outfit that debuted in 1969 with my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 This Was

Benefit shows a band with a grasp on their sound and a desire to branch out from that sound, and this sense of ambition infuses the songs while remaining rooted in bluesy psychedelic rock. From introspective folk ("Sossity, You're A Woman") to punk snarl ("Son") to sonic experimentation ("Play In Time,") this is the first time that Tull begins to stake out their own territory without sounding like anyone else.

Lyrically and musically, this album is a bit darker in the songs, without a hint of the twee English folk or the bombast that would characterize every Tull album after 1971. "Nothing To Say" has a spooky ascending chord structure in the chorus and some solid vocal harmonizing, while "To Cry You A Song" features some good guitar work by the underrated Martin Barre. The man also contributes an ahead-of-its time sneering punk riff in "Son" that you do not see coming.

The laid-back "Teacher" glides by on effortless attitude before segueing into "Play In Time," with Hendrix-like backward guitar and sound-effect experiments, and "With You There To Help Me" is another solid effort. Only "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me" warrants the skip button.

Sadly, Tull never replicated this sense of adventure. Aqualung falls apart on the second side and Brick gets old after the first couple of hours. This is where the band really came into its own and it remains the best album statement the band made, even if it takes a few tries to really get into it.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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