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"'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).
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".
Jethro Tull was a unique phenomenon in popular music history. Their mix of hard rock; folk melodies; blues licks; surreal, impossibly dense lyrics; and overall profundity defied easy analysis, but that didn't dissuade fans from giving them 11 gold and five platinum albums…
This celebration of Jethro Tull’s tenth album follows a similar pattern to previous reissues, with the first disc containing a Steven Wilson remix followed by some ‘associated recordings’ including the previously unreleased Old Aces Die Hard and Working John, Working Joe. CDs two and three offer 22 track live tracks, recorded on the Songs From The Wood Tour across two American dates, (Boston on 6 December 1977 and Maryland on 21 November 1977). These unheard tracks have been remixed to stereo by Jakko Jakszyk and are completely unheard.
As with all of the releases in the Extended Versions series, the 2006 Jethro Tull edition is a set of latter-day live renditions of some of the group's best-known classics – which have all been previously released. And as with most Tull releases after, say, 1980, the performances and production here are exceedingly clean-sounding – in other words, the bite of their classic early-'70s period is nowhere to be found. What you get instead are pretty blah versions of such classics as "Aqualung," "Locomotive Breath," and "Living in the Past." But it's always a gas to hear such lesser-known Tull tunes as "Fat Man" and "Nothing Is Easy," both of which are included here, while a truncated version of "Thick as a Brick" (which still clocks in at over nine minutes) is a rare point where the group truly sounds inspired.