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NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS
12 July 1969
TULL: TRACK BY TRACK
There's no guarantee with 'Stand Up' (Island, ILPS 9103, 37s 5d), second LP from Jethro Tull, that when you play it Ian Anderson will manifest himself in all his finery and jig about in his own inimitable way before your eyes. But there is the promise that if you shut your eyes and listen you'll find it difficult not to imagine him cavorting around inside your mind.
If you find that frenetic flute and cracked North Country voice as endearing as I do then 'Stand Up' won't let you down. Their debut album was a surprise success last year so this, with the assistance of hit single exposure, ought to do better. As far as comparison goes, 'Stand Up' is more consistent than 'This Was' though some titles lack as much immediate impact as others on the first album.
New Day Yesterday, the opener, is typical Tull rock-jazz with climbing guitar and pounding drums behind Ian's vocal sounding as if it was recorded in a tin.
There are many numbers that will pin you in your seat to wonder at their intricacy and prettiness. One is Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square where African rhythm, set by, I think, penny whistle and mandolin, is utterly spell-binding. Jeffrey is a quaint friend of Ian's who you may recall from the first album, but I couldn't pick out any reference to him in the lyrics. In fact on my home player I couldn't pick out any lyrics at all but I fared better on the more efficient office machine.
Bouree, which Ian announces on stage as "This one's by Bach; just ripe for prostitution," is another ultra-pretty number, perhaps the prettiest. A stop-start instrumental, it is primarily a vehicle to combine all the moods of Ian's flute and is totally delightful.
Back To The Family, not dedicated to Rick Grech, is fascinating not least for its lyrics which might be autobiographical. It's all about how the phone's always ringing and he has so many problems he's going back to the family for some peace. Trouble is that once there he realises having problems is better than nothing to do. The mood is set by the music, with crashing cymbals and guitars signifying the realisations of discontent, like when he gets back to the city, takes up his problems again and wonders why he didn't stay at home where he was. Could be retitled 'A Pop Star's Lament'.
Look Into The Sun is one of the many love songs. Ian sings it as if the lyrics have personal significance but like the others of that ilk here it needs a number of listens. Acoustic and electric guitars maintain a summery and wistful quality in the backing.
Side two opener is another Jethro stage number, Nothing Is Easy. Hairies rock and rock with jazzy flute, a simple message, developing into instrumental mayhem towards the end.
Fat Man is as much a stand out on 'Stand Up' as it is on stage. Glenn fair rattles like a maniac on bongos (reminded me of that advert with coffee beans pattering onto a tin) and to the African rhythm, Martin's high-pitched mandolin adds an Oriental influence. A hypnotic effect musically, while Ian's dry lyrics inform us of his wish never to be a fat man but to stay a thin one with not too much to carry around.
After that a hairy ballad, We Used To Know, with Ian's scratchy love voice singing of the places which all of us have to hold in fond memory. Builds, then breaks off for a tremendous flute which rises then cuts out to allow Martin on lead guitar to show his worth.
It is unlike the Jethro you may know, as is the pretty Reasons For Waiting which sets muted woodwind against folksy guitar and, would you believe, strings. Nice arrangements, nostalgic lyrics and one of the albums most appalling [must be a typo: 'appealing' - AJ] songs.
Back to heavy sounds again For A Thousand Mothers, an Anderson piece about the generation gap, which gives the impish one another chance to pull out yet another fiendishly clever, and pretty, flute phrase from his sleeve. Stops, then starts again for the whole group to get in a last frenetic instrumental fling.