Jethro Tull - A (1980) (Remaster Edit 2004)
By now everyone probably knows the old story of "A." It was supposed to be Mr. Anderson's first solo recording (Anderson: Alert!), but the recording company heard it and suggested this should be the new Tull sound of the eighties instead, and well...The rest, as they sAy, is history. While It certainly tends to lean a greater distance away from previous Tull recordings, the fact that it is Mr. Anderson still writing, singing and playing, and that Martin Barre is still along for the ride playing guitar, it isn't surprising that "A" still works as a Jethro Tull album, for the most part anyway. Theremore… is one place in particular where it may have ventured too far off the Jethro map for many Tull fans of the day, but even then I confess that I still have a bit of a soft spot for Batteries Not Included.
"A" is a keyboard heavy album that Aims for A more progressive rock stance, taken Amid more topical subjects of the dAy. Crossfire starts off the album, sans flute, in a song frantic with electronic noises, keyboards and guitars. It's a great album opener that accurately reflects the turmoil of the song's description of a hostage crisis. Flyingdale Flyer takes another topic of the day event, an almost missile crisis spurned by a technical glitch in a missile tracking station, and plays the drama out in typical Tull lyrical fashion, but fashioned again with a heavier emphasis on the keyboards. Working John, Working Joe is one of the more Jethro Tull-like moments on the record: acoustic riffing, switching with electric. However the subject matter is grounded more firmly in the present tense than perhaps it would have otherwise been. Black Sunday is progressive rock done with Pink Floyd-ian grandiosity, and it is easily one of the album's highlights. If you've never heard this track you should buy the album for this song alone. Protect and Survive is fast paced Tull, rocking out like a radiation device's needle at Chernobyl, with lyrics that mock the absurd guidelines provided by the British government on how to survive a nuclear attack. Another favorite of mine on "A." Uniforms sounds appropriately dissonant, while 4WD traverses the back roads of rock's grittier outlands. Pine Marten's Jig is a fast paced instrumental showcasing the talents of all, especially the guest musician: Eddie Jobson and his glass violin. And Further On is more progressive drama, and one of the finest album endings to have graced a Tull record.
01. Crossfire (3:55)
02. Fylingdale Flyer (4:36)
03. Working John - Working Joe (5:05)
04. Black Sunday (6:39)
05. Protect and Survive (3:37)
06. Batteries Not Included (3:53)
07. Uniform (3:34)
08. 4.W.D. (Low Ratio) (3:43)
09. The Pine Marten's Jig (3:28)
10. And Further On (4:21)