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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Jethro Tull - 1980 A
Jethro Tull - 1980 A

ARTIST: Jethro Tull
LABEL: Chrysalis
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 1992, Chrysalis (UK), CDP 32 1301 2 * 2004, Chryalis (UK), 7243 594773 0 5 (remastered, bonus, DVD)


LINEUP: Ian Anderson - vocals, flutes * Martin Barre - guitars * Dave Pegg - bass * Eddie Jobson - violin, keyboards * Mark Craney - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Crossfire * 02 Flyingdale Flyer * 03 Working John Working Joe * 04 Black Sunday * 05 Protect And Survive * 06 Batteries Not Included * 07 Uniform * 08 4.W.D (Low Ratio) * 09 Pine Marten's Jig * 10 And Further On


Hard to know what was going on in the Tull universe circa 1980. Seemed like there was a lot of crossed wires happening between band members, and the media didn't help by printing false allegations about the personnel being fired. The end result being that Tull started afresh. Long derided by fans as being an 'A-bomination', that is a little bit unfair on Ian Anderson who migrated Jethro Tull from a folky/prog rock outfit to a pure art-rock band with this album 'A. This was no doubt helped by the addition of uber muso Eddie Jobson, he of Roxy Music and UK fame. What was essentially supposed to be an Ian Anderson solo album morphed into another Tull record, with the bearded flute master bringing back former guitarist Martin Barre and recruiting ex Fairport Convention bassist Dave Pegg and former Jean Luc Ponty, Tommy Bolin and Gino Vanelli drummer Mark Craney into the fold. Apparently Chrysalis were very happy with the way the material came together, even though it was supposed to be Anderson's solo record, they wanted to make it a Tull record instead. Craney's inclusion came at the behest of Jobson, who was working on Eddie's demos in New York at the time.

The Songs
Gone is the orchestrated folk aligned material found on the late 70's LP's 'Heavy Horses' and 'Stormwatch'. The music here is tighter, more modern (circa 1980 modern) affair, with emphasis on keyboards, violins and an edgier sound, with Jobson the driving force. You hear his electronic influence shine through on tracks such 'Flyingdale Flyer', the prog laden 'Black Sunday', or the lean synth workout of 'Protect And Survive' which combines Ultravox with Rush. Strange but true! Even more distant from previous tull material is the thoroughly different 'Batteries Not Included', what must Tull fans be thinking by stage? lol! I love the way that Anderson's flute and Jobson's violin combine together on 'Uniform', in a swirling union of breath and acute finger work. This is carried through onto 'The Pine Martens Jig', flute and violin tearing up a merry dance - in jig style of course.

In Summary
'A' would go on to polarise many of Tull's hardened fans, but in reality, the album's material was a victim of the times, for which Anderson shouldn't be criticised for. The fact that the band lineup is a musicians dream team makes this one of Tull's compulsory items to have in the collection. Of course the band would go to release other great albums during the decade including' Broadsword And The Beast', 'Under Wraps', 'Crest Of A Knave' and 'Rock Island'. Seek them out..

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#1 | Eric on November 15 2009 01:39:16
Hmmm. My least favorite Tull album. I go for the 'Heavy Wood' albums from 'Songs From The Wood to 'Heavy Horses' and 'Stormwatch' and like Genesis, everyone has thier favorite Tull period but this one perplexed me and still does.
#2 | rkbluez on November 15 2009 02:44:50
Not my favorite Tull album either...Aqualung is my favorite with Thick As A Brick as close second...and then maybe Benefit.

I remember seeing this "A" tour live at the Providence Civic Center and the show was stated here the musicianship was stellar...Ian, Martin and Eddie Jobson were spot on and incredible to watch live...I remember them all dressed in white jump suites like the lp cover.
#3 | Eric on November 15 2009 03:23:29
I almost saw that tour as well. I was offered a ticket, but being in college I was pretty much broke. I remember Whitesnake opened for 'em which made not being able to go all the more difficult.
#4 | rkbluez on November 18 2009 23:19:32
Can't remember who opened for them in memory isn't what it used to be...could of been Whitesnake but why can't I remember...they weren't so popular in the States back then but I liked their early stuff.
#5 | gerard on March 09 2014 22:15:13
Was just listening to 'Rock Island' which I bought recently. While I really love some of Jethro Tull's albums, 'Rock Island' was boring, a big disappointment... :-(
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