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Very Best of Jethro Tull

4.2 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 3, 2001
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Product Description

2001 collection from the British Prog/Folk/Rock band led by flute playing frontman Ian Anderson. Includes 'Living In The Past', 'Bungle In The Jungle', 'Locomotive Breath', 'Aqualung' and many more.

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The back of this 20-track retrospective's booklet pictures 23 men (not a single woman, interestingly) who've been members of Jethro Tull at one time or another since the group emerged in the late '60s. And, of course, rock's only flute-playing frontman, Ian Anderson, is pictured (where else?) at the center of 'em all. Anderson's haughty vocals and eccentric vision (the '70s were a time of excess, but few could top a single song filling two sides of a studio album--and this on the follow-up to a hit album) made Tull unlikely stars after the release of their 1971 breakthrough opus, Aqualung. The band was in retreat by the late '70s, but has soldiered bravely on through the decades. This hits collection allows more casual fans to forgo some of the ungainly maneuvers in Tull's lengthy history in favor of what Anderson characterizes as "a broad representation of the big picture"--meaning the likes of "Living in the Past," "Locomotive Breath," "Minstrel in the Gallery" and a three-minute version of "Thick as a Brick," the aforementioned two-sided song. --Steven Stolder
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 3, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Parlophone
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005ASIL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,725 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joseph Kimsey on December 20, 2003
Format: Audio CD
My rating is not for the music contained in this package; it's for the inconsideration shown to casual fans of this group. Incidentally, I am anything BUT a casual fan of JT. Outside of a live B-side version of "Jump Start", I've got everything Tull has ever put out. Obviously, though, I'm not representative of Tull's fan base. Most of them have four or five discs and a "best of" set.
Jethro Tull has had more greatest-hits albums than most bands have had regular releases. And STILL they haven't gotten it right! This set is missing some of JT's best & most well-known tunes, like "Skating Away", "Cross-eyed Mary", "Black Sunday", "Teacher", "Farm On The Freeway", "Budapest", "Dun Ringill" and "Nothing Is Easy". There is really no excuse for the exclusion of "Skating Away", "Teacher", and "Cross-eyed Mary". These songs are infinitely preferable to tunes like "Broadsword" & "Steel Monkey".
A "best of" Tull collection really needs to be two discs. In addition, unlike the approach used for the 25th Anniversary Best Of collection, there is no real necessity in including songs from every album. For a Tull greatest hits package, you've really got to concentrate on the classic 70's period of the band. There's definitely a lot of worthy music on Crest Of A Knave and Roots To Branches, and tracks from each should be included, but 70's era Tull is by far the biggest draw for the casual fan.
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Format: Audio CD
Lovingly assembled and carefully remastered, this collection stands head and shoulders above other Tull collections. It's a mix of older and newer material, sequenced for listening rather than archiving (i.e. the songs aren't arrenged chronologically). From Ian Anderson's brief but insightful liner notes: "Mixing up the tempos, key and time signatures made, I think, for a more interesting programme." Right he is!
I'll leave selection debates to future customers, saying only that the major hits are all here and this listener at least is delighted with the album tracks, including "Broadsword," "Sweet Dream," "The Witch's Promise," and "Heavy Horses" (the latter has been cropped to roughly one third its original length, but tastefully so).
The mastering is by and large excellent, despite some overly judicious applications of treble equalization, most prominently on "Thick as a Brick" (which, by the way, was trimmed from 45 minutes to 3). For most of the album, timbres are natural, bass is taut, and the tracks haven't had the life squeezed from them by heavy dynamic compression (which keeps everything LOUD, all them time, robbing music of its natural swells and cadences).
To my ears, it sounds like the music may have been de-hissed and subsequently re-equalized to compensate for now-missing high frequencies. I regard this as a Bad Thing, but even still I must concede that the producers did a fine job (no producers or engineers are credited!). The music on this disc sounds better than any other Tull CD I've heard, excepting the amazing and now out of print Mobile Fidelity gold discs.
The booklet includes small pictures of the 23 contributing Tull members from across the years.
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Format: Audio CD
Jethro Tull have created such a vast collection of material over the last 33 years that it is difficult to condense highlights of their career onto one CD. As group leader/flutist/composer Ian Anderson even says in his liner notes, if one were to ask Tull fans to compile a "Best Of" CD then there would be as many different selections as there are fans. It is to Tull's credit that their music is so wide-ranging, from rock to folk to blues with jazz and classical influences et al. thrown in for good measure. But, when it comes to "Best Of" albums...
This is not the first Tull compilation, but it is one of the better ones. Okay, Tull "standards" (i.e. those that get regular FM radio play to this day) are included, but they are not among my favorite Tull songs. Still, less-than-dedicated fans who want to own one Tull CD would probably desire "Locomotive Breath," "Living In The Past," and "Aqualung." Thankfully, some more esoteric, recent, and higher quality Tull material is also included here (the majestic "Broadsword" and the bamboo-flute driven "Roots To Branches" - misspelled on the CD cover as "Root To Branches," but one can't have everything!). This balance of "the hits" and some decent album cuts make this an overall pleasing collection.
One major criticism is the cruel editing suffered by "Heavy Horses;" a multi-movement gem in its original form, here it has the guts taken out of it and all that is left is the verses and the choruses.
A final thought: on a recent national call-in radio show, a listener asked Tull members Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, and Andrew Giddings to name their favorite Tull songs. Their choices were, respectively, "Budapest," "Under Wraps #2," and "Dun Ringill." None of these are present on this album.
That ought to tell someone something...
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