Our Top 10 Jethro Tull Albums takes a look at a band that was first formed in the late 1960s in a town called Blackpool of the Lancashire coast in North West England. The band has been fronted for its entire existence by the extraordinary talents of songwriter and musicians Ian Anderson and Martin Barre. The band has gone through various lineup changes over the years but key players besides Anderson and Barre in the band during the 1970s period consisted of Jeffrey Hammond, John Evan and Barriemore Barlow. There were many other members that came and went though the band’s next 40 plus years. Ian Anderson who has always been the voice and heart of Jethro Tull is the only remaining member of the original group that still performs occasionally. Without Anderson there is no Jethro Tull.
Jethro Tull released their first album in 1968 entitled This Was. It was an album that sounded incredibly fresh in 1968. Ian Anderson virtuoso flute playing in a progressive rock setting along with brilliant songwriting and performances by all members of the band especially Martin Barre set the toe for one of the most original and inspirational bands to capture the fandom of rock fans for the next fifty years.
Our Top 10 Jethro Tull albums is a subjective listing of our favorite Jethro Tull Albums that we believe should serve as a starting point for young fans just discovering the band.
# 10 – Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!
We open up out top 10 Jethro Tull albums list with the album Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die! The album was released in 1976. When bands like Jethro Tull release a series of amazing ground breaking album, critics are just salivating at the chance to finally find an album that they can rip to shreds. This was was the one they did it to. And of course everyone goes along with it. Well they were all so wrong. While Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die! may not be as groundbreaking or progressive as the band’s previous albums, it was a record filled with great songs and hooks. This one will always be one of our favorite Jethro Tull albums.
# 9 -This Was
The classic Jethro Tull album This Was was the band’ debut album released in 1968. At time of release the band consisted of Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Glenn Cornick and Clive Bunker. This was the only album to feature Mick Abrahams on guitar who was very influential in the albums musical direction and sound. This is in essence a very historic album that defined the origins of the band. Standout tracks included “A Song for Jeffrey,” “Beggars Farm,” and “My Sunday Feeling.”
# 8 – Songs From The Wood
The classic Jethro Tull album Songs From The Wood was released in 1977. There were many changes happening in the music business in 1977. It was a phenomenal year for music with the released of bug selling albums like Pink Floyd’s Animals, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Queen’s News Of The World, Billy Joel’s The Stranger and so many more. In a year like that it’s easy for albums to get lost. Just how brilliant Songs From The Wood was may actually have been overlooked back then. That’s a shames because its a real special record with incredible songs like The Whistler, and Songs From The Wood.
# 7 – A Passion Play
Do you feel like listening to an album with no breaks in between the music? An album in which one piece of music flows wonderfully into the next. Jethro Tull’s concept album A Passion Play stands among one of their best. The album was released in 1973. It was the band’s sixth album. While the album did receive some harsh reviews from critics, fans loved the record helping it reach the number one spot on the Billboard’s top 100 albums charts in 1973.
# 6 – Crest of a Knave
Jethro Tull’s Crest of a Knave album is the most recent Jethro Tull album to make this list. Recent is a relative term in Rock and Roll history. Crest of a Knave was released in 1990. Issued during the CD Revolution, the album sounded great. It was one of the better sounding CDs initially released. However it wasn’t all about sound. The album’s first two cuts “Steel Monkey,” and “Farm on the Freeway,” were absolutely killer. These were great rock and roll songs that sounded phenomenal. Side one’s closing tune “Said she was a Dancer,” was another highlight on the album. Easily the best Jethro Tull album released during their post 70s period. At least in our opinion.
# 5 – War Child
The next five Jethro Tull albums are hard to put in any sort of order because they’re all such brilliant records. Masterpieces in their own right. Jethro Tull’s War Child album was released in 1974. War Child contained one of the biggest hits of their career in the song “Bungle in the Jungle.” Sadly, there tends to be this progressive rock snobbery among some fans and critics that if a progressive rock band has a big hit, the song must not be that worthwhile. Well be that as it may, the song “Bungle in the Jungle,” was a top 20 hit in the United States. The album also contained a big-time Jethro Tull favorite entitled “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of A Brand New Day.” The album War Child also depicts our favorite Jethro Tull album cover
# 4 – Benefit
Continuing with our top 10 Jethro Tull albums we turn to the great record Benefit. The Jethro Tull album benefit was released in the spring of 1970. This was an album in which guitarist Martin Barre really shined. Of course Martin Barre shined on every Jethro Tull album, but there was just something a little extra special about this one. Some of the greatest guitar work we’ve ever heard from the band stems from the Benefit album. One of Jethro Tull fans all-time favorite Jethro Tull albums.
# 3 – Aqualung
How many times have you sung the words “sitting on a park bench,” and then played a little air guitar right after it. It doesn’t get more classic rock than Jethro Tull’s incredible song “Locomotive Breath.” Jethro Tull’s 1971 album Aqualung put these guys on the map permanently. The album was loaded with soon to be Jethro Tull classics including the title track “Aqualung,” “Cross Eyed Mary,” “Hymn 43,” and of course the legendary song “Locomotive Breath.”
# 2 – Stand Up
In 1969 Jethro Tull released the album Stand Up. It was the band’s follow up to their debut album This Was in 1968. Stand-up was the first Jethro Tull album to feature the band’s new guitarist Martin Barre. The addition of Martin Barre to the band on their second album helped define the Jethro Tull sound on every studio album ever released from that point on. Stand Up was a brilliant album. Every track on the record was smoking. Released in a incredible vinyl package that featured an actual cardboard stand up when you opened the album, Jethro Tull had basically arrived on the scene turning heads and blowing people’s minds.
# 1 – Thick As A Brick
Coming in at number one on our top 10 Jethro Tull albums list is the album that most Jethro Tull fans pick as their favorite. The Jethro Tull album Thick As A Brick was released in 1972. The album is a concept record which contains two tracks placing one on each side of the album. On , side one is “Thick as A Brick Part 1,” and on side two is “Thick as A Brick Part 1,”
Thick As A Brick stands as one of the Hallmarks of progressive rock music. If one wanted to define style and genre of progressive rock music in all its characteristics all one would have to di is play the Thick As A Brick album.