Jethro Tull – Stand Up
My first concert was Jethro Tull, in 1999. To be honest, it wasn’t a great concert, but regardless Jethro Tull has always been a favorite of mine. Not only do I consider them a great classic rock band, but my tendency to champion them has steadily increased as I’ve grown fearful that they might not get the posterity that they deserve. Sure, people still remember Jethro Tull, but not like they remember the Zeppelins or the Floyds, or even the Whos and Creams. And I really wish that wasn’t the case, because there are few bands with as unique and gem-filled an output as Tull had in the 60s and 70s.
Anyway, what I remember the most from the concert is Ian Anderson’s explaining that 1999 marked the 30th anniversary of one of their classic albums, 1969’s Stand Up. Appropriately, a larger-than-usual portion of the set was devoted to revisiting songs from that album. At the time I was probably only familiar with the Aqualung album and a handful of other classic rock radio staples, but as I’ve dug deeper into their legacy over the years, Stand Up has certainly earned its place in my opinion as one of their seminal works.
Stand Up is Jethro Tull’s 2nd album, and it marks a substantial leap over its predecessor in terms of songwriting, cohesion, and overall craft. Like many, many British bands of the mid-late 60s, Jethro Tull started as a blues band, and their debut, 1968’s This Was, was an assured but safe indication of these roots. By the time they got to putting out its follow-up, Tull emerged as a band far more equipped with the diversity of influence that would later define them as blues/jazz/folk/prog/metal minstrels of the highest order. They may never have been as heavy as Black Sabbath, as proggy as Yes, or as Canterbury as whoever the hell played Canterbury, but they developed a sound that payed equal homage to each, and emerged as undeniably Tull. While later masterpieces like Aqualung, Thick as a Brick, and Minstrel in the Gallery would show this development at its highest fruition, Stand Up is a fully satisfying and incredibly exciting indication that this band knew exactly where it wanted to go.
And while it didn’t achieve the colossal grandeur of those later albums, and perhaps doesn’t feel like an “Album” in quite the same sense, I think that Stand Up actually benefits from working more as a collection of songs. All-out rockers “A New Day Yesterday” and “Nothing’s Easy”, jazzy numbers like “Jeffrey Goes to Leceister Square” and the Bach rehash “Bouree”, the ballads “Look Into the Sun” and “We Used to Know”, and the unparalleled acoustic cartoonery of “Fat Man”; these songs might not coalesce into some great, unified vision, but maybe Stand Up is the perfect occasion to appreciate that level of candour.
So by now we’re well past the album’s 30th anniversary, and although it doesn’t look like any special editions or anything are coming out to commemorate the 45th, isn’t it the perfect day for your own little Jethro Tull remembrance ceremony? You’ll be happy you did….
Listen to it on spotify