Jethro Tull – Benefit (1970)

FrontCover1Benefit is the third album by Jethro Tull, released in April 1970. It was the first Tull album to include pianist and organist John Evan – though he was not yet a permanent member of the group – and the last to include bass guitarist Glenn Cornick. Recorded in a better studio than the previous albums, the band could experiment new tecniques. “To Cry you a Song” and “Teacher” became notorious for the stage shows and radio frequencies.

Anderson has said that Benefit is a much darker album than the predecessor Stand Up for the pressures of an extensive tour in U.S. couple with frustrations with the music business.

Martin Barre said that compared to previous albums, Benefit was a lot easier to create. He attributed this to the success of Stand Up, which allowed the musicians more freedom and artistic latitude.

Bassist Glenn Cornick stated that the intention on the making of the album was to let a more “live-r” feeling to the music, saying that: “I felt the last one sounded like a group of session musicians performing various songs. It was pretty cold”.

JethroTullLive1970Additionally, Benefit saw the band incorporate more advanced studio techniques. These included back-tracking (flute and piano tracks on “With You There to Help Me”), and manipulating the tape speed (guitar on “Play in Time”). In a 1970 interview, Anderson noted that the addition of pianist/organist John Evan effectively changed the band’s style: “John has added a new dimension musically and I can write more freely now. In fact, anything is possible with him at the keyboard”.

Ian Anderson said that Benefit was a ‘guitar riff’ album, and noted that it was recorded in a year when artists like Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin were becoming more riff-oriented than in the past. Anderson also noted that Benefit is “a rather dark and stark album, and although it has a few songs on it that are rather okay, I don’t think it has the breadth, variety or detail that Stand Up has. But it was an evolution in terms of the band playing as ‘a band.'”. Overall, Anderson considered the album “a natural part of the group’s evolution”

Benefit’ music style can be exemplified by “To Cry You a Song”, as Martin Barre put it: “The influence for that song was Blind Faith’s ‘Had To Cry Today,’ although you couldn’t compare the two; nothing was stolen […]. The riff crossed over the bar in a couple of places and Ian and I each played guitars on the backing tracks. It was more or less live in the studio with a couple of overdubs and a solo, Ian played my Gibson SG and I played a Les Paul on it”.

PromoPic1Critics were generally unimpressed with Benefit. Rolling Stone called the album “lame and dumb”. Disc & Music Echo, on the other hand, was also unimpressed, but recognized the band quality: “This album doesn’t advance by such a drastic leap as Stand Up did from This Was. It’s more like the Jethro Tull we’ve seen and heard for the past year. It seems to be a remarkably long album, and shows what an exciting group this is. Exciting because they can have quite long guitar breaks and still retain a very tight and together sound”. AllMusic review came more benevolent and accepting the album’ style. Bruce Eder state that: “Most of the songs on Benefit display pleasant, delectably folk-like melodies attached to downbeat, slightly gloomy, but dazzlingly complex lyrics, with Barre’s guitar adding enough wattage to keep the hard rock listeners very interested. ‘To Cry You a Song’, ‘Son’, and ‘For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me’ all defined Tull’s future sound: Barre’s amp cranked up to ten (especially on ‘Son’), coming in above Anderson’s acoustic strumming, a few unexpected changes in tempo, and Anderson spouting lyrics filled with dense, seemingly profound imagery and statements.”

Benefit was the first million record seller from Jethro Tull. The album reached No. 3 in the UK album charts; No. 11 in the US and No. 2 in Norway.

Ian Anderson (vocals, guitar, flute, keyboards)
Martin Barre (guitar)
Clive Bunker (drums)
Glenn Cornick (bass, organ)
John Evan (keyboards)
David Palmer (Orchestral arrengements)

01. With You There To Help Me  6.15
02. Nothing To Say 5.10
03. Alive And Well And Living In 2.43
04. Son 2.48
05. For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me 3.47
06. To Cry You A Song 6.09
07. A Time For Everything? 2.42
08. Inside 3.38
09. Play In Time 3.44
10. Sossity; You’re A Woman 4.31
11. Singing All Day 3.07
12. Witch’s Promise 3.52
13. Just Trying To Be 1.37
14. Teacher (Original U.K Mix) 3.49

All songs written By Ian Anderson


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