CD Reviews

Jethro Tull - 'The String Quartets' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 03, 2017    
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A mixture of Tull classics given new (and more cryptic) titles and arrangements.

Singer and flute player Ian Anderson has dipped his toes into the orchestral side of his musical career before, with varied results. Sometimes songs just don't transfer to a large orchestral arrangement (Kiss and Metallica being two examples) due to the fact the bombastic nature of the orchestra rendered so many songs a mess. Using just a string quartet means a subtler approach is taken, giving the songs room to breathe and taking on a new identity, as many of tracks have here. This twelve song collection is a mixture of Tull classics given new (and more cryptic) titles and arrangements.

For 'In The Past', the beautiful and familiar melody of 'Living In The Past' takes on an almost exotic, romantic quality now, though never losing the wonderful rhythm of the original. Anderson only adds occasional vocal enhancements to a few songs, the exception being 'Pass The Bottle' ('A Christmas Song') where this incarnation strays the least from the original. 'Velvet Gold' ('Velvet Green') still retains all its Medieval glory and is something that would sound wonderful in a Robin Hood movie!

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I would have liked to have heard some new interpretations from 'Broadsword And The Beast' or 'Under Wraps', though 'Farm The Fourway' ('Farm On The Freeway') – from the Grammy award winning 'Crest Of A Knave' – has Anderson taking lead over the quartet with his delightful flute playing. 'Songs And Horses' ('Songs From The Wood'/'Heavy Horses') has plenty of eloquent charm and it is one where the flute is used only sparingly.

It is unlikely Anderson could have got away with not including 'Aquafugue' ('Aqualung'). Sadly, it strays too far from the original with only a brief vocal reminding you of its original origins. 'Loco' ('Locomotive Breath') on the other hand benefits from the arrangement, the song builds from a slow cello introduction before incorporating the familiar chugging rhythms of the original with the flute darting in and out of the musical spaces.

Ian Anderson has described the music contained here as "ideal for weddings and funerals". Personally, a spring Sunday afternoon reading the paper and drinking a cup of tea is my view of where the music fits in. Even us Metalheads need a day of rest you know.

Ray Paul

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