The Very Best Of Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull

If you're keeping count, this is Jethro Tull's 16th compilation...uh, I think. It's futile to keep track when "best of..." collections by the same artist get into double-digits. Nevertheless, it is Jethro Tull, a quirky and legendary band near and dear to many. Supposedly, this particular CD is also near and dear to Jethro Tull's main man, Ian Anderson. Boasting such credibility, one has to wonder whether or not The Very Best Of Jethro Tull is the very best of the very best, right? Well, when you consider that the name Jethro Tull spans over 30 years and almost 30 albums, who knows where to begin.

Digitally remastered at London's Abbey Road Studios under the supervision of Anderson, this new retrospective features 20 classic tracks. In order to fit all of the songs onto a 78-minute disc, Anderson edited three familiar tracks: "Too Old To Rock N' Roll, Too Young To Die," "Minstrel In The Gallery," and "Heavy Horses." For the new and uninitiated, the effect is hardly noticeable. For a diehard, one may be hard pressed not to yearn for the original. Certainly, Martin Barre's catalytic guitar intro on "Minstrel In The Gallery" should have been spared, instead of banished to the cutting room floor. Maybe it wouldn't have left enough room for hits like "Living In The Past," "Bungle In The Jungle," and "Locomotive Breath" as well as staple FM strongholds like "Thick As A Brick" and "Aqualung." Latter day tunes like "Broadsword," "Steel Monkey" and "Roots To Branches" give the CD an agreeable and balanced finish.

For a band with two box sets, numerous live albums and the aforementioned best ofs, it seems unnecessary for The Very Best Of Jethro Tull to come along at this point in time. Much like the Beatles 1 CD, which triumphantly introduced a whole new generation to the Fab Four, this is something that was probably cooked up by Capitol Records' marketing whizzes. Still, Anderson's involvement puts a plausible spin on the project. And at the heart of it all, there are the songs -- still as electrifying as ever, regardless of how many times they are polished off and put on display.

~ Shawn Perry

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