Album: Jethro Tull

The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, R And M

Friday 12 December 2003 01:00

Strange to think that Jethro Tull were once considered the very height of "progressive" rock, as this festive anthology could have been released at virtually any point of their 35-year career. Not so much progressive as moribund, then, which isn't entirely inappropriate for material that favours the bucolic over the urbane, and the mystical over the commercial. "I am the shadow in your Christmas/ I am the corner of your smile/ Perfunctory in celebration/ You offer content, but no style," sings Ian Anderson on "Birthday Card At Christmas", which opens proceedings with a familiar dose of flute-heavy prog-roots. A sluggardly mandolin arrangement of "Once In Royal David's City" likewise morphs into a song critical of seasonal party attitudes: "You're missing a point I'm sure does not need making/ That Christmas spirit is not what you drink", while other originals such as "First Snow On Brooklyn" and "Last Man At The Party" only add to the album's glumness. As if to illustrate the higher matters in operation here, much of the rest of the album is bulked out with insipid cocktail-jazz instrumentals of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "Greensleeved" (sic) and "Bourée", more tedious prog-rock in "Ring Out Solstice Bells" and the faux-rustic "Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow" - though none is quite as joyless as the "jolly" folk instrumental medley "Holly Herald".

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