Prior to the release of their third album, Jethro Tull scored another two Top 10 singles in the UK with "Sweet Dream" b/w "17" and "Witch's Promise" b/w "Teacher." The flip side of the latter single would become an FM radio staple in the US, where the band's success prompted their first headlining American tour. With Benefit, Jethro Tull puts the cap on their initial period, defined by their classic bluesy sound. In came Blackpool mate John Evan (yes, from the John Evan Band) on piano and organ, but more importantly, up went Ian Anderson the raconteur: With acoustic guitar in one hand and flute in the other, Anderson's original songwriting soars in such songs as "Sossity; You're a Woman" and "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me." The album is darker and moodier than the band's previous output, yet just as exceptional. "Alive and Well and Living In" benefits from Evan's piano, while "Inside" reflects the album's toned-down nature. The record reached No. 3 in the UK and No. 11 in the US, and solidified Jethro Tull as one of the first commercially accepted and successful progressive rock acts, on par at the time with Led Zeppelin. Following the album's release, bassist Glenn Cornick left for Wild Turkey and was replaced by another John Evan Band alumnus, Jeffrey Hammond. His name might sound familiar, as he was the subject of a couple of prior Tull songs.
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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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