The Jethro Tull version of the Classic Masters series is a rather sneakily assembled collection, as it is the same exact track listing as the 1998 U.K. compilation, Through the Years, only with a different title and album cover artwork. The main purpose of releases in the Classic Masters series is to introduce newcomers of a band to 12 of their key tracks, and if you're looking at the Jethro Tull edition from this standpoint, it fails miserably. The only tracks here that reside on classic rock radio are "Living in the Past" and "Locomotive Breath," both of which are included here in subpar live renditions (especially when compared to the original studio versions), while a few oft-overlooked album tracks from the early '70s are included as well "("Wind Up,"" "Dharma for One"). But too many latter-day selections take up precious space (where "Aqualung" and "Teacher" should be), like "Budapest," and "Rare and Previous Chain." If you were a major Tull fan during their commercial/creative peak (the '70s), lost track of the band during the '80s (who didn't?), and are looking to sample some of the group's latter-day tracks (but like a security blanket, want the comfort of a few trusty old nuggets present), Classic Masters is a worthy purchase. But if you're a newcomer looking for a definitive Tull compilation, either the double-disc The Best of Jethro Tull, or the streamlined single-disc Very Best of Jethro Tull, are the way to go.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato