The String Quartets
Reviewed by: Jane Roser
At the tail end of 2015, Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson toured the U.S. with an innovative rock opera which took a thought provoking look at the band’s namesake (eighteenth century British agriculturalist Jethro Tull). Fans loved it and clamored for more, while Anderson felt he could re-imagine his classic song catalog even further and does so with this orchestral album.
Featuring new arrangements of twelve Tull songs including “Aqualung”, “Living In The Past” and “Bungle In The Jungle”, The String Quartets pairs Anderson with The Carducci String Quartet and delves beyond the surface to find depth and complexity while breathing fresh life into the classics we grew up with. Changing the song titles slightly to give them more flair, “Locomotive Breath” has become simply “Loco” while “Aqualung” is now “Aquafugue” (in dictionary terms a fugue is a musical composition based on several themes and enunciated by more than one voice, gradually building into a complex form by interweaving several parts).
Anderson’s keyboardist John O’Hara arranged and orchestrated the songs while Anderson plays flute and provides vocals on several (but not all) tracks. Adding to the haunting intimacy is the fact that the album was recorded in the crypt of Worcester Cathedral and St. Kenelm’s Church, both located in England. The songs Tull made popular as mainstream rock are still recognizable, but have become almost cozy. They’re still, however, the good friends we know and love.
The String Quartets adds yet another chapter to Tull’s catalog of musical masterpieces-here’s hoping it’s not the last.