I was never too interested in Jethro Tull when I was a kid for some reason, even though I had friends who swore by them. Okay, sure those friends were into Kansas and Rush, granted, but still we had enough in common that I took their opinions seriously. Something about Tull’s classical/rock/baroque sound (flute, you must admit, isn’t a very rockin’ instrument to have on everything) just turned me off immediately – no, scratch that. It didn’t so much turn me off as it just didn’t intrigue me whatsoever. I mean, my brother had a 2-disc Tull collection one bedroom away from mine and I wasn’t even curious enough to borrow it once. Later on, their reputation as the band that made a whole album out of one song was enough to keep me at arm’s length, at least long enough that I never heard an entire album played from front to back – although statistics probably lean towards me having heard all of Aqualung at one time or another. So frankly it’s with a bit of surprise that I find a decent amount of enjoyment within The Very Best of Jethro Tull. I only recognized three or four of the song titles on the back cover (and that’s counting “Aqualung”) but upon listening I find most of music immediately familiar, and pleasantly so. Perhaps it’s the judicious editing that eases my listening experience, paring the bloat so endemic to classical/rock hybrids of the ‘70s and getting to the point. Perhaps it’s the comfort of recognizable music in an easily digestible package. Perhaps Jethro Tull just produced better work than I would have thought likely. I’m not going to be running out to buy up the Tull catalog or anything else anytime soon, but the Very Best Of comp serves my needs quite well and will probably remain in my collection for at least the near future.
–Aaron J. Poehler (Chrysalis/Capitol)