By the time Ian Anderson got around to writing this, Jethro Tull's tenth studio album, he had moved outside London for a life in the country—and, presumably, he had gotten over the fact that he was indeed too young to die. "Ring Out, Solstice Bells" was initially released (as an EP) the previous November for the holiday season and managed (surprise, surprise) to chart on the UK Top 40. Though the album's subject matter and cover image seem to have turned folksy, there's little folk music inside Songs From The Wood, save perhaps for the songs' subject matter. The title track opens with Anderson's multi-tracked vocals, before breaking into a typical Tull-style rocker. But while the production may suit the instrumental fire, his voice sounds unnatural and over-produced. Longtime orchestral arranger David Palmer is the new player, and along with John Evan, they now give the band four hands on the keyboards. "Hunting Girl" and "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)" both feature solid arrangements, making the most of both keyboardists while offering some great guitar work from Martin Barre. The second side's "Velvet Green" is primarily an acoustic number, while "The Whistler" has a folksy hook and an excellent instrumental break. As a single, "The Whistler" b/w "Strip Cartoon" only made the lower reaches of the US charts. The album, however, charted well, reaching No. 13 in the UK and No. 8 in the US. In February, Jethro Tull toured the UK for the first time in over three years.
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Taken from The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, here is an Album of the Week to enjoy and discuss.
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"Always ready with the ray of sunshine"