Various Artists

To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales

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It's been said that the only reason to cover a song is to reinterpret it, rearrange it, rethink it, rework it, and make it your own. While there is validity in that summation, especially if the revamped song is to be memorable, one can pay sufficient homage to an artist without completely overhauling the original work. Such is the case with this collection of songs. It appears as though many of these artists' main objective was to sound as much like Jethro Tull as possible. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, although Trent Garner's determined effort to mimic Ian Anderson's every sneer, growl, grunt, and groan seems gratuitous and patronizing. Too bad the representation of music here doesn't form a more comprehensive overview of Jethro Tull's golden age. With the exception of Echolyn's "One Brown Mouse" and Robert Berry's "Minstrel in the Gallery," no selection ventured beyond 1971's Aqualung (Living in the Past, while released in 1972, is comprised of earlier recordings). Didn't Tull exert a bit more influence with albums like War Child, the underrated Too Old to Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young to Die!, and the masterful Songs from the Wood, not to mention what is perhaps their defining moment, Thick as a Brick? Original members Mick Abrahams, Glen Cornick, and Clive Bunker appear on six of the 14 tracks, which partly explains the preponderance of early material. John Wetton performs with them on "Nothing Is Easy," Robbie Steinhardt on "New Day Yesterday," and Glenn Hughes on the title cut; all fine renditions, but none wanders too far from the plantation. Wolfstone's contribution fared no better. Expecting their trademark blast of Highland energy, a lackluster interpretation of "Teacher" was submitted in its stead. Why didn't they perform as a band rather than three Wolfstone members being paired with and encumbered by the grandfatherly trio and their nostalgic "this is the only way we know how to play" approach? Highlights are Tempest's "Locomotive Breath" and Charlie Musselwhite and Derek Trucks' sizzling "Cat's Squirrel" -- both true to form but each possessing a sense of purpose a notch higher than the others. All in all, this is a fitting tribute to Ian Anderson and company. None of the selections calls undue attention to itself but rather reflects, quite accurately, the type of music Jethro Tull created.

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