RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Jethro Tull – The String Quartets
The End Records

Rating: A

The heartbeat/soul/songwriter/singer/flautist/acoustic guitarist and bandleader of Jethro Tull, Ian Anderson, has teamed up with the Carducci Quartet and arranger/conductor John O’Hara to release an amazing classic music rendition of many of Tull’s greatest hits. 

This is NOT another one of those ‘rock bands that play with a symphony’ grandiose CD releases... no. This is a small group of expert musicians taking an inventive and spirited interpretive angle at some great classic material- in a classical way.

Anderson describes the project in detail, “I felt that there were some songs rather special to me which featured the string quartet such as ‘A Christmas Song,’ ‘Reasons for Waiting’ and ‘Wond’ring Aloud,'” explains Anderson. “These were my first experiences of working with a quartet. John came up with a few suggestions of his own which presented challenges. All had an intimacy and presence which I looked forward to recapturing.”

O’Hara felt it was an easy and natural fit, “There seemed little point in transcribing the band parts and distributing them to the players. I felt a responsibility to delve deeper and offer a new imagining of each piece. An orchestrator’s job is to arrange and compose a new version of an existing work. I also felt a responsibility to listeners who cherish this material and may not welcome a radical rendition of a beloved song. My ambition was to create a thought-provoking album that remains true to Ian’s compositions.”

Most songs are instrumental, but with “Pass the Bottle (A Christmas Song)” and “Only the Giving (Wond’ring Aloud)” Anderson adds soothing vocals that accent the strings wonderfully.  To be honest, “Aquafugue (Aqualung)” was a must to include on the album, but it is possibly the most monotonous effort presented.  It does not work nearly as well as “Bungle (Bungle in the Jungle” or “Sossity Waiting (Sossity: You’re a Woman/Reasons for Waiting)”. 

The best example of everything falling perfectly into place on this experiment of string quartet’ed Tull tunes is a lively “Songs and Horses.”  This is a classical mix of “Songs from the Wood” and “Heavy Horses.”  Mixing these two amazing songs together was an imaginative creative blast that works on every level. 

At the end of the day, Ian Anderson has always come across as a classical composer more than he has a rock star.  Flute in hand, he proudly went where Tull has never… well, actually he has done some classic stuff with Jethro Tull music… but what the hell... he had never done it quite like this! 

Hats off to Ian! 

Jethro Tull: The String Quartets’ Track Listing
“In the Past (Living in the Past)”
“Sossity Waiting (Sossity: You’re a Woman / Reasons for Waiting)”
“Bungle (Bungle in the Jungle)”
“We Used to Bach (We Used to Know / Bach Prelude C Major)”
“Farm, the Fourway (Farm on the Freeway)”
“Songs and Horses (Songs from the Wood / Heavy Horses)”
“Only the Giving (Wond’ring Aloud)”
“Loco (Locomotive Breath)”
“Pass the Bottle (A Christmas Song)”
“Velvet Gold (Velvet Green)”
“Ring Out These Bells (Ring Out, Solstice Bells)”
“Aquafugue (Aqualung)”

By Jeb “Locomotive Breath (someone give this guy a mint)”  Wright