PV 41040 A Passion Play
Produced by Ian Anderson
Released on July 1973
Find it at GEMM
PV 41040 cover
[high resolution photo]

A Passion Play picks up where Thick As A Brick left off. Their earlier album-length opus followed the life of one man, from birth to death. Their next (Passion) follows the afterlife of one man, from heaven to hell. I donít know why this isnít more obvious to people, but some have apparently taken up the scent of the red herring in the title, concluding that A Passion Play has to do with the last moments of Christ. It does insofar as Christian theology holds that Christís death vouchsafed our afterlife, but the operative architecture here is rather Dante Alighieriís Divine Comedy than the titular medieval morality plays. And so many have gone looking for something that wasnít there, this despite ďThe Story of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles,Ē which cautions against looking for something that canít (and doesnít need to) be found. Thatís pretty much the theme in a nutshell, allowing for the usual human error on my part. (And, of course, if youíve struck upon a theme you like better, by all means keep it!) Musically, A Passion Play is more complex than Thick, downright diabolical in spots. The big difference here is the increased role of the saxophone, which supplants the flute and gives the arrangements a tempestuous twist that suggests Gentle Giant at this stage (unfortunately, Ian lost interest in sax after delivering War Child). Structurally, A Passion Play is less cohesive than its predecessor; Thick featured half a dozen or so themes played out several times throughout the course of the album, whereas Passion re-uses only a handful of themes and seems to consist of at least a dozen distinctive sections. By albumís end, Tull resorts to piecemeal composition, stringing miniature songs together without even the pretense of a sound structural bridge between them. In kindness, it could be that Tull was simply too creative to stay confined to a handful of musical themes, a point that War Childís bulging bag of booty would seem to support. Some would rank A Passion Play with Tullís most magical creations (and far be it from me to debunk anyoneís source of magic), but itís not a playmate I pull from the shelves too often, knowing it will only walk my mind in a circle.

PV 41040 lyric gatefold PV 41040 back cover
PV 41040 inner gatefold PV 41040 back cover


  1. A PASSION PLAY incl. "The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles"

    CD bonus video track

    Edited Version for D.J. Use track listing
  3. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #1)    2:15
  4. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #2)    4:37
  5. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #3)    4:18
  6. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #4)    2:46
  7. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #5)    4:38
  8. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #6)    4:16
  9. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #7)    4:58
  10. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #8)    3:04
  11. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #9)    3:29
  12. A PASSION PLAY (EDIT #10)    3:53

    Music and lyrics by Ian Anderson except "The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" by Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, John Evan and Ian Anderson. Arranged by Jethro Tull.


IAN ANDERSON -- vocal, acoustic guitars, flute, soprano and sopranino saxophones
BARRIEMORE BARLOW -- drums, timpani, glockenspiel, marimba
MARTIN BARRE -- electric guitar
JOHN EVAN -- piano, organ, synthesizer, speech
JEFFREY HAMMOND-HAMMOND -- bass guitar, vocal
Robin Black -- engineer

return to JETHRO TULL discography

US 1973 Chrysalis LPPRO CHR 1040 edited version for D.J. use
WW July 1973 Chrysalis LP CHR 1040 gatefold cover, booklet
GER 1973 Chrysalis LP 6307 518 gatefold cover, booklet
MEX   Reprise LP GX 01678  
US 1983 Chrysalis LP PV 41040 gatefold cover, reissue
US   Chrysalis CD F2 21040  
UK January 1989 Chrysalis CD CDP 32 1040  
JPN 1993 Chrysalis CD TOCP-7816  
US 1994 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-720 original master recording
RUS   CD Maximum CDX CDM 59926 repackaged w. LIVING IN THE PAST PT. III
US May 23, 2003 Chrysalis CDX 81569 digital remaster w. bonus track
JPN June 18, 2003 Phantom CDLE 209524 ltd. ed. digital remaster
JPN June 23, 2003 EMI/Toshiba CDX TOCP-67181 digital remaster w. bonus track


I dust off the classics every few years (Dante, Homer, Shakespeare) just to keep the old pilot light burning. If the classics are your passion, then the Inferno is always worth a visit. So, in as close as I usually come to a curse, go to GEMM for a used copy of Inferno -- perhaps the penultimate fireside read. Note that, where possible, acquiring the entire trilogy that comprises Dante's Divine Comedy is the preferred mode of purchase.


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