What does it sound like?:
This is by no means the only Tull compilation, for there have been many over the years, but it is, I believe, the only one that covers the whole of the band’s career. Ian Anderson has personally selected the fifty songs on this three cd set, which marks, as the title suggests, their fiftieth anniversary. As you’d expect, all albums are touched on, some more than others, ranging from their 1968 debut This Was all the way up to the final release, 2003’s rather underwhelming Christmas Album. All the obvious choices are here of course, alongside some rather more left field selections. I’m not quite sure of the logic behind the sequencing of the music, as it jumps around from one era to the next, particularly on the second and third discs, and it’s difficult for a newcomer to the band to get a feel for classic albums such as Thick As A Brick and Passion Play from the short extracts here. It’s far easier to cherry pick the choice songs from the more conventional albums however, and pretty much everything you’d expect is here from their classic run of albums up to 1979’s Stormwatch, After that era, although there were still plenty more albums to come, it was very much a case of diminishing returns, with 1982’s Broadsword and The Beast set being their last brush with greatness. Indeed, there are ten tracks in total from the eighties albums, including a couple each from the unloved A and Under Wraps and a handful from the Grammy winning Crest of a Knave set – a minus point though for including the dreadful Kissing Willie from the Rock Island album. As for the nineties and noughties albums, there are a few decent but unremarkable efforts from Catfish Rising and Roots to Branches, but by now the band was very much on the wane, as evidenced by the one track chosen from J Tull Dot Com, before they finally fizzled out completely with The Christmas Album, released almost as an afterthought some four years later. How are the mighty fallen!
What does it all *mean*?
This is a good comprehensive selection for a newcomer to the band, although the best material comes from the first two thirds of the band’s career. Perhaps it’s best used though as a launching pad to investigate further their classic seventies output.
Goes well with…
A bank holiday spent remembering the good old days!
Might suit people who like…
Classic British rock with Anderson’s unique twist on both the lyrics and the music.