The eighties had dawned and Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull had just issued an excellent trilogy of folk/rock albums. Songs From The Wood, Heavy Horses, and Stormwatch were critically acclaimed and commercially successful.
The new decade signaled change for the group and not all of it good. Ian Anderson decided to release a solo album which went in new musical directions. His label was less than enthused by the prospect and pressured him to release it under the group’s name. Legend has it the master tapes were stored in a box simply lettered with an A which became the title of the album.
Long time bass player John Glascock had passed away and drummer Barriemore Barlow left the group. Members John Evan and David Palmer were basically fired which left only Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre to carry on. A group of new musicians were assembled with the most important addition being Dave Pegg who would become a significant member of the band. He also had the good fortune to be a long time member of Fairport Convention which made him an important part of two of the more unique and excellent bands in British music history.
I can’t remember the last time I listened to this album before giving it a couple of spins for this review. Unfortunately upon listening to it, I now know why it has not left my storage area in decades. It is one of the weakest releases in the vast Tull catalogue. The fact that no track from this release appeared on their 20th anniversary box set probably says it all.
It is very eighties as it contains a lot of synthesizers and keyboards providing the foundation for the music, which is not really what I want to hear from the mind of Ian Anderson.
The only truly interesting track is the instrumental “The Pine Marten’s Jig,” which is out of place as it looks back to their folk sound. “Crossfire” and “Fylingdale Flyer” at least have some interesting rhythms and some well layered vocal harmonies but nothing else rises above the average.
A has been safely tucked away and it is doubtful if it will ever see the light of day again. This one is for only real hard core fans of the group.
Article first published as on Blogcritics.org