If you put every disc that Jethro Tull has released into a CD player and hit the "random" button, the first hour of music might sound like Through the Years. It's likely that more thought was put into the selections here, but not much more. Chronological order be damned, this compilation starts with the live version of "Living in the Past" that appeared on A Little Light Music and ends with "Still Loving You Tonight" (from Catfish Rising, really). In between is a sampler that runs all over the place, uncovering some diamonds in the process. A method to this madness actually begins to take shape with "Dharma for One," which is followed by (in order) "Acres Wild," all ten wonderful minutes of "Budapest," "The Whistler," and "We Used to Know." Stylistically, these songs couldn't be more different, but they are eminently informed choices. So we're left to assume that Through the Years might represent one fan's favorite selections over the years; idiosyncratic, to be sure, but interesting all the same. This disc isn't likely to draw neophytes into Tull's unique musical world as well as M.U. or Repeat might, but it may prod fans of their "classic" material to check out some of the band's more recent releases. There is a measure of vindication in hearing "Rare and Precious Chain" from Roots to Branches or "Beastie" from Broadsword and the Beast played alongside more accepted hits like "The Whistler" and "Warchild." Although available in the U.S. only as a European import, Through the Years is actually less expensive than comparable U.S. releases (usually by a few simoleons). The sound quality is fine; not on a par with digitally remastered discs, but in line with the first round of CD reissues from the Tull catalog. This remains an inexpensive way to sample some of Jethro Tull's music and see what suits your tastes before buying the whole box of candies.
AllMusic Review by Dave Connolly