Two years on from the conceptual innovations of THICK AS A BRICK, Tull had learned how to crystallize the creativity of that prog-rock masterpiece and incorporate it into more traditional song structures. Thus, the songs here are full of daunting time signatures and dazzling feats of instrumental derring-do, but all in the context of shorter, more concise composition. There's also a darker edge to things here, as introduced by the tumultuous title cut.
War Child is the seventh studio album by Jethro Tull, released in October 1974.
Originally meant to accompany a film project (the album was planned as a double-album set), it was reinstated as a ten-song, single-length rock album after failed attempts to find a major movie studio to finance the film.
The "War Child" movie was written as a metaphysical black comedy concerning a teenage girl in the afterlife, meeting characters based on God, St. Peter and Lucifer portrayed as if shrewd businessmen. Notable British actor Leonard Rossiter was to have been featured, Margot Fonteyn was to have choreographed, while Monty Python veteran John Cleese was pencilled in as a "humour consultant".
"War Child"'s achievement is in its music: some of the richest in recent memory, the arrangements are consistently stunning in their execution, courting excess but impossibly balanced by admirable dexterity. Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that "Skating On The Thin Ice of The New Day" is one of my favorite songs (a musical epiphany, if you will).
Jethro Tull's first album, THIS WAS, recorded and released in 1968, shows a band that is a far cry from their better-known incarnation as a prog rock outfit in the late 1970s. Instead, Tull come across here as a solid and talented blues band with elements of jazz, folk, and psychedelia thrown in. The band's sound was heavily influenced by guitarist, singer, and songwriter Mick Abrahams, whose bluesy singing and leads distinguish this disc in Tull's discography. Frontman Ian Anderson also shines with tunes like "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You" and the excellent cover of Rashaan Roland Kirk's "Serenade to a Cuckoo."
This wonderful DVD is the same 95-minute-or-so concert from Jethro Tull's lead vocalist/songwriter and the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt that you'll find on the double-CD audio counterpart, 20 songs beginning with the five-piece band and expanding from there. The visuals are lovely – shots from above, fade ins, split screen, black-and-white footage superimposed on color – which makes the viewing quite appealing…