Jethro Tull: Benefit (The 50th Anniversary Enhanced Edition) (Rhino) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, January 19th, 2022  

Jethro Tull

Benefit (The 50th Anniversary Enhanced Edition)

Rhino

Jan 11, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Jethro Tull’s third album, 1970’s Benefit, was a transitional record that bridged from ’69’s successful Stand Up to their major breakthrough with ’71’s Aqualung. While its wattage may be lower compared to the high-profile days ahead with their next several releases, this 4-CD/2-DVD 50th Anniversary Enhanced Edition provides a multi-faceted experience that well serves to give Benefit its due while immersing the listener in all aspects of the record.

Though it just missed the U.S. Top 10, Benefit became Jethro Tull’s first million-seller. Seen as a darker work compared to Stand Up, Benefit reflects lead singer/flautist Ian Anderson’s songwriting evolution in songs such as “Son” toward the weighty themes to come on the following year’s Aqualung. Steven Wilson’s stereo remix makes the album well worth revisiting, bringing clarity to the dynamics of the band’s interplay in tracks such as the opening “With You There to Help Me.” As a side note, that track’s backwards flute brought some humor to their stage show, as Anderson would turn his back to the audience to play the opening notes. Also, the inclusion of John Evan on Benefit led to the first keyboards on a Jethro Tull album, after which Evan continued as a permanent member for a decade while adding a key dimension of color and depth to the band’s sound.

This collection includes a CD and DVD of Jethro Tull’s July 1970 performance at the Tanglewood Music Festival (remixed by Wilson), where they shared a bill with headliner The Who and It’s a Beautiful Day. Onstage at what was otherwise typically a classical music venue, Jethro Tull blasted out of the gate for their set with the opening “Nothing Is Easy,” making it instantly clear what a tight unit they were at that point. While the show naturally focuses on their first three albums, the inclusion of “My God” gives a taste of the Aqualung album to come. There’s also a CD of a fine 1970 Chicago show, with Anderson telling the audience that, with the addition of a Council Bluffs, Nebraska show (“They shall get five weary souls”), Chicago wouldn’t get the jubilation of a tour-ending performance, though the band delivered on his promise to give all.

The collection is rounded out with numerous associated recordings, including original mono and stereo singles mixes, stereo compilation album remixes, two original U.S. radio spots, and an audio DVD that offers multiple versions of the album and additional tracks. Also included on the CDs are versions of “Teacher,” which was issued in the U.K. only as a B-side to “The Witch’s Promise” but substituted in place of “Alive and Well and Living In” in an alternate take on the U.S. release of Benefit. Along with the set’s 100-page book, this 50th Anniversary Enhanced Edition of Benefit explores and underscores the importance of this period in Jethro Tull’s development in a year that saw them perform at the Isle of Wight Festival before an estimated crowd of 600,000. (www.jethrotull.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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