Friday, November 15, 2013

Jethro Tull 2: Stand Up

On only their second album, Jethro Tull were already evolving. Where the cover of their first album depicted them as crazy, leering old men, Stand Up was a little more elaborate, from the intricate woodcut motif to the actual pop-up of the band in the gatefold. Records sure were fun once upon a time.
The album’s a little heavier than the debut as well, partially due to the arrival of guitarist Martin Barre, who also played flute and whose louder approach on the frets is different from the pure blues of Mick Abrahams, who left to form Blodwyn Pig. Thus “A New Day Yesterday” sports a powerhouse riff along the lines of what Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were starting to do. “Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square” picks up a character from the first album, this time to the accompaniment of guitars treated to sound Greek. “BourĂ©e” is a jazz arrangement of a Bach melody, mostly featuring the flute and Ian Anderson’s gruntings, but he does step aside for a bass solo. They get closer to their eventual sound on “Back To The Family”, which seesaws between sections of different tempi—a more restrained verse and heavier interludes, setting up the dynamic shift of “Look Into The Sun”, a pleasing slice of electric English folk.
Sticking with the formula, “Nothing Is Easy” kicks off the second side with another onslaught of riffs, guitar versus flute in waltz-time, plus drum explosions and a sure-to-please syncopated ending. The Greek sound returns on “Fat Man”—complete with a bongo solo—and that waltz tempo is back on “We Used To Know”, which starts tentatively then builds into a wild showcase for the wah-wah pedal. “Reasons For Waiting” is just lovely, with the flute sounding more like the type heard on a Traffic album. There’s even a sympathetic string arrangement over the second half. Any soothing feeling is blasted aside by “For A Thousand Mothers”, providing an edgy end, complete with a surprise reprise.
It’s easy to imagine long-haired kids playing air guitar to Stand Up, and it should go without saying that the same kids might have been inspired to mime the flute as well. We said it anyway. It’s a decent follow-up, showing the band amid their quest through the mythical forest to find the ultimate sound. Or something like that. (A later CD added both sides of the “Living In The Past” and “Sweet Dream” singles, as did a three-disc expansion, which also added BBC sessions, radio spots, a previously released 1970 Carnegie Hall show condensed to fit on a single disc, and a DVD with the audio of the same show, unedited.)

Jethro Tull Stand Up (1969)—3
2001 remastered CD: same as 1969, plus 4 extra tracks
2010 Collectors Edition: same as 2001, plus 17 extra tracks

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