Jethro Tull – Nightcap: The Unreleased Masters 1973-1991 (1993)

JethroTull_Nightcap4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Unlike many other Prog-Rock groups, Jethro Tull always “over recorded,” producing way more demos than the band actually needed to fill an album. And thank goodness, since that meant Jethro Tull had plenty of material to include on various compilation albums through the years, including the excellent Living in the Past (1972) or the exceptional archival collection 20 Years of Jethro Tull (1988).

The other good news is that Ian Anderson and the boys were extremely nitpicky, and the rejected material often proved to be as good if not better than songs that actually made it onto official albums.

This is the case with 1993’s Nightcap, which includes one full CD of unreleased and rare tracks (outtakes from albums as far back as the War Child album), as well as a second CD that contains the legendary (and snarkily nicknamed) “Chateau D’Isaster Tapes,” with all songs being part of the “shelved” first attempt at recording a follow-up to Thick as a Brick, thus paving the way for what would eventually become the album A Passion Play.

Therefore, Nightcap is a “must have” for Jethro Tull fans who, like me, could never get enough from this sensational band throughout the decades.

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Jethro Tull – Heavy Horses (1978)

JethroTull_HeavyHorses4 out of 5 Stars!

After Jethro Tull’s “classic period” that ended with Minstrel in the Gallery, the band (to me) turned more “rustic,” softening its blues-inspired Hard Rock edge and putting a heavier emphasis on Folk-oriented tracks, although many still with Progressive tendencies.

At the time, I was not overly thrilled with the change in direction and prayed for another Thick as a Brick or Aqualung, but as the years passed, Tull’s music from the late-’70’s era eventually grew on me, and the trio of albums where this new rustic style is most prevalent (Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses, and Stormwatch) have actually become some of my favorites by the band.

On this album, with imaginative tunes such as “And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps,” “Rover,” “No Lullaby,” “Journeyman,” and the lengthy title tune, not to mention the excessively catchy “Moths,” “One Brown Mouse,” and “Acres Wild” included, I find myself playing Heavy Horses quite often and now celebrate Jethro Tull’s diversity throughout its lengthy career.

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Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson – Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock? (2012)

JethroTull_ThickBrick24.5 out of 5 Stars!

How can a band/musician follow up a masterpiece of an album? And would a band/musician even dare to attempt such a chore? Well, many have indeed tried, and sadly, a large majority have failed.

But as for this “sequel” to Thick as a Brick, well, it’s not a failure in the least. Indeed, it’s quite excellent overall, and Ian Anderson (main-man of Jethro Tull) was not only courageous in his attempt, but should be enthusiastically commended for his efforts.

Now, the big question…is the sequel as wonderful as the original?

No, unfortunately not, no 5-Star release. How could one reasonably expect this sequel to be as fantastic? Nevertheless, this collection of tracks is certainly a well-above-average release in the world of Prog-Rock, at least a 4.5 Star album, and even though the rest of the Jethro Tull band (especially Martin Barre) is not included on this release, Ian comes damned close in duplicating the “original band sound,” nearly replicating the style/tones and even the production of the masterpiece album in question.

It’s been too damned long for a new Tull album, especially one reminiscent of the sound/style of the band during its “classic period,” so this Ian Anderson solo release was a welcome addition to my collection of “Tull albums,” despite the different name credited on the cover, and it could very well fit into the band’s back catalogue.

Bravo!

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