CHE 1301 A
Produced by Ian Anderson and Robin Black
Released on August 1980
UK CHART POSITION #25 . . . US CHART POSITION #30
Find it at GEMM
CHE 1301 cover  

A bit of wishful thinking in the title, as a passing grade is the most this can hope for. Today you’ll find it sitting quietly in the back of the class, rarely raising a hand when the band’s best and brightest are called to account for themselves, the dim product of an adulterous dalliance. Relative to the previously brilliant offspring of Tull, mind you. A (it’s actually more of a symbol than simply the letter “A”) marked a shift in strategy, perhaps necessitated by the diminished state of Ian Anderson’s voice. Numberers and graybeards are more likely to grumble over the new lineup, but the big difference between A and Stormwatch is Ian himself. His vocals are often treated with mechanical effects, and the once-sungolden tones seem filtered through a fog, suggesting a cyborg of aqualung and ironlung. Listeners may have glimpsed this in “Something’s On The Move” and “Dark Ages,” a certain strain that suggested a mastodon stuck in a tarpit (by means of illustrating the band’s struggle to free their great ability, not to suggest that Ian sounds like a mastodon). They’ll certainly hear it in Tull’s next album, The Broadsword And The Beast (which, oddly, some have warmed to sooner) and find the mechanical assimilation of flesh complete on Under Wraps. Those three albums represent a miniature “phase” of Tull (which would include Ian’s own Walk Into Light as well), drifting into the ‘80s until their second wind arrived. Songs like “Flyingdale Flyer,” “Protect And Survive” and “Uniform” don’t add to the discussion the way “Home” and “Orion” did, but they’re still the audible products of a fertile imagination. It’s just that A works for me when it sounds like the old Tull, while Stormwatch works because it is the old Tull. It’s not a question of the players involved, as Eddie Jobson and Dave Pegg have the cachet to carry this off. It’s the old, alchemical genius that A is missing: rhythms that leapt like young bucks, the liquor-loosened ribald rhymes, the smell of peat-kindled fires intertwined in the organ lines. Here instead is the beginning of a new, mundane alphabet, which in the hands of a master communicator like Tull is still worth noting.

CHE 1301 back cover
CHE 1301 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. CROSSFIRE    3:51
  2. FLYINGDALE FLYER    4:27
  3. WORKING JOHN, WORKING JOE    5:01
  4. BLACK SUNDAY    6:33
  5. PROTECT AND SURVIVE    3:32
  6. BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED    3:47
  7. UNIFORM    3:30
  8. 4.W.D. (LOW RATIO)    3:37
  9. THE PINE MARTEN'S JIG    3:23
  10. AND FURTHER ON    4:19

    All songs composed by Ian Anderson with additional musical material by Eddie Jobson. Arrangements by Jethro Tull.

CREDITS

IAN ANDERSON -- vocals and flute, cover concept
MARTIN BARRE -- guitar
MARK CRANEY -- drums
EDDIE JOBSON -- keyboards and electric violin
DAVE PEGG -- bass
Robin Black -- engineer
Peter Wagg -- art direction
John Shaw -- photography

return to JETHRO TULL discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK August 1980 Chrysalis LP/CS CDL 1301 lyric sleeve
US August 1980 Chrysalis LP/CS CHE 1301  
GER 1980 Chrysalis LP 202 838 320  
POR 1980 Chrysalis LP 6399 098 lyric insert
UK   Chrysalis CD CDP 32 1301  
US   Chrysalis CD VK 41301  
JPN 2004 Chrysalis 2CD TOCP-67288 24-bit digital remaster w. bonus Slipstream video

 

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