The String Quartets
BMG Rights UK
Symphonic Rock. Two pretty rotten words when pushed together like that. You’d have to go to ‘Kiddie’ and ‘Fiddler’ to get much worse. Well, the fiddler in Jethro Tull is no kiddie by any stretch – but he’s still stretching the definition of Jethro Tull as he tours and records in very overtly solo artist confines but under the banner of the b(r)and.
And, well, if there was ever a band – from that Classic Rock-era in particular – to thrive as/under Symphonic Rock treatments it’s the Tull. All that pomp from the Hey Nonny Ninny one-legged and mad as cheese. Out there pied-piper-ing up stoners…
So, well, this project, this “new Jethro Tull album” sounds pretty fucking marvellous for the most part. The songs – Living In The Past, Locomotive Breath, Aqualung – all resplendent. Even if they get new names (the equivalent of being tuxedoed-up for the occasion – they are now “In The Past”, “Loco” and “Aquafugue”, no really).
It’s pretty perfect really, even though it’s a) most definitely not a Jethro Tull album by any real stretch. This is the work of the Carducci String Quartet, super-sub ghost-writers. And b) Ian “I-Am-The-Entire-Fucking-Point-Of-Jethro-Tull-So-Suck-It!” Anderson does occasionally bungle his way (through the jungle) and up to the microphone. There he sounds like a parched Roger Waters. And often a bit worse than that. But when he’s flute in hand only and the strings are ‘singing’ in place of his now breathless-bleat, and when the god-awful Pass The Bottle (A Santa Song) isn’t on this is pleasant-as-fuck; like super-pleasant, like it will pleasant-the-shit-out-of-you; be you a Tull fan, a string quartet fan or both – or even maybe none of that. It’s really pretty nice.
Did it need to happen? Fuck no. But I’m weirdly glad it did.