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Stand Up and Rock Folks
Stand Up - Jethro Tull
Member Name: Zmugzy
Stand Up - Jethro Tull
Date: 30/09/08, updated on 16/09/10 (160 review reads)
Advantages: One of the great rock-folk albums and a timeless classic
Disadvantages: Only one or two weak moments
After having started out as a blues-rock outfit similar to contemporary bands such as Cream, the New Faces and Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull blended their masterful technique of Blues and Rock fusion with elements of classical, folk, jazz and Indian music. The band are probably more renowned nowadays for a later album called "Aqualung" which I think has sold more copies. Although I have listened to this album, for me it just doesn't have the magic charm of "Stand Up", possibly because there is less of a folk-rock fusion. "Aqualung" has a harder heavy rock edge to it. Admittedly this preference is probably more about my own personal relationship over time with the earlier album.
A blues sound is more apparent on their debut album 'This Was', but the follow up was to incorporate a wider range of musical genres whilst still retaining some blues influences. One big change in Tull's sound on "Stand Up" was the introduction of Martin Barre's on electric guitar. Lead singer Ian Anderson and other members wanted to bring a more diverse range of influences for the second album and Mick Abrahams, an accomplished lead blues guitarist on the first album, gave his place up to Barre when he realised he would no longer be able to pursue a more blues based sound. As such this was the first album where Anderson had major control of the lyrics and musical direction.
"Stand Up" contains what has to be one of my favourite tracks of all time: "We Used to Know". After a quiet build up with strumming guitar and Anderson's words of wisdom, it develops into a rippling electric guitar solo by Martin Barre that is simply sublime. I never tire of listening to it... and always with the volume as high as the neighbours can bear. I pray to God that one day I will be able to play this on my guitar... just the first riff would be nice! Barre's timeless raw guitar riffs on this track will live with me forever. It was some years before I realised this track was the main influence of The Eagles all time classic "Hotel California", in fact The Eagles owe a great debt to this song as they basically rehashed it into a sweeter more commercial sound, got an international hit record and lived off it for the rest of their lives.
It is probably Ian Anderson's voice and flute playing that gives Jethro Tull their distinctive sound, no more so than on the folksy flute-led instrumental "Bourée" - a re-working of "Bourrée in E minor" by J.S. Bach. It is an eerie melody that evokes a kind of fairytale landscape and seems to be one of the bands favourites as it has often been played at their concerts over the years. Ian Anderson's flute begins hauntingly before progressing into an awesome upbeat improvisation that combines with melodic bass guitar work mixing both jazz and classical elements.
Clive Bunker on drums also adds his own particular flavour that adds to the bluesy riff-rock sound of tracks such as "A New Day Yesterday" and "Nothing Is Easy". Bunker's percussion is also dominant on "For a Thousand Mothers" - one of my least favourite tracks on the album in which Anderson spouts a diatribe against his own parents. Another track to skip early on the album is the short and awkward "Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square". For some this is the one track that stops Stand Up from being a truly acclaimed classic album, but I think all great albums have the odd bad composition, even Sergeant Pepper had some pretty duff tracks. On the remastered 2001 edition four bonus tracks have been added: "Living in the Past; Driving Song; Sweet Dream and '17'". 'Living in the Past' and 'Sweet Dream' are welcome additions originally released as B-sides to single releases. The other two tracks are reasonable additions, but for me don't really add to the magic of the original release.
There are some gems on the rest of the album though. Personally I prefer the lighter acoustic ballads. I love the summery feel of the folk-rock ballad "Look Into the Sun" with its pensive introspective lyrics and the 7th track, the effervescent "Fat Man", with its strongly Eastern influenced percussion section and chirpy balalaika melody. The penultimate track on the original release is "Reasons For Waiting" - one of the most beautiful ballads on this CD with Anderson's arousing melody on flute accompanied by superb orchestral backing.
Apart from one or two weak moments, this really is a compelling album packed with some truly great songs that make up some of the most accomplished material Ian Anderson ever produced. To think that if I'd have never borrowed that LP and made a copy all those years ago, how much more empty my life would have been. The album exudes charm at every level - one of the great albums that I'm so glad is always absent from those tiresome top 100 album lists. At nearly forty years old Stand Up remains a timeless classic.
A New Day Yesterday - 4:10
Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square - 2:12
Bourée - 3:46
Back to the Family - 3:48
Look into the Sun - 4:20
Nothing Is Easy -4:25
Fat Man - 2:52
We Used to Know -3:59
Reasons for Waiting -4:05
For a Thousand Mothers - 4:13
Bonus tracks on the 2001 remastered CD
Living in the Past - 3:23
Driving Song - 2:44
Sweet Dream - 4:05
17 - 3:07
Instruments and Personnel:
Glenn Cornick: bass guitar
Clive Bunker: drums, percussion
Martin Lancelot Barre: electric guitar, flute
Ian Anderson: flute, acoustic guitar, Hammond organ, piano, balalaika, mouth organ, vocals
Strings arranged and conducted by David Palmer.
Summary: The quintessential Jethro Tull