VARIOUS ARTISTS -- To Cry You a Song... A Collection of Tull Tales (Magna Carta)

When you consider that Jethro Tull has been making music for almost 30 years, it should come as no surprise that someone would put together a tribute CD. Magna Carta seems to have made a name for itself these days as the label of choice for such projects, and most have been quite good. To Cry You a Song... rates as one of the better ones. Tull fans will take note of the musicians on six of the songs - Mick Abrahams (guitar), Clive Bunker (drums), and Glenn Cornick (bass). This marks the first time these musicians have worked together since the band's debut album. Longtime producer and engineer for the band, Robin Black, handled things in the recording studio.

One of the best things about this CD is that the songs aren't copied note for note. Several of the cuts have different arrangements. The disc starts off with an instrumental track written specifically for this tribute called "A Tull Tale", featuring Stan Johnson on flute. Containing pieces of "Bouree" and other Tull classics, it serves as an introduction to Magellan's excellent cover of "Aqualung". This one is interesting, to say the least. It starts with a lounge intro, then goes into an almost industrial/metal guitar sound on the verses. The guitar solo is played on a slightly different chord progression, but it works well.

The first track with the original band members (and one of the best on the CD) is John Wetton's rendition of "Nothing is Easy". This one may actually surpass the original. Phil Manzanera (ex-Roxy Music guitarist) and Ian McDonald (ex-King Crimson) both contribute fine performances on the song. Lief Sorbye (of Tempest) turns in a decent rendition of "Mother Goose". I was a bit put off by Sorbye's voice on this one at first, but the music is great. Later in the disc, Sorbye teams up with co-producer Robert Berry for a Celtic-based cover of "Minstrel in the Gallery". Berry has appeared on every Magna Carta tribute to date.

The second half of the disc is every bit as good as the first, perhaps even better. Sixteen-year-old slide guitar whiz, Derek Trucks, and harp legend Charlie Musselwhite serve up a cover of "Cat's Squirrel" that absolutely smokes. Kansas' violinist, Robby Steinhardt does an excellent job with his updated take on the bluesy classic "A New Day Yesterday". Keith Emerson slowed things down a bit on his instrumental version of "Living in the Past". Dave Pegg and his son, Matt (both Tull alumni), braved 'the flu' to record their heartfelt version of "Life's a Long Song".

To Cry You a Song... does an excellent job of commemorating the career of "the world's best known underground band", Jethro Tull.

In case you can't find To Cry You a Song... in your local record store, you can write to Magna Carta Records at 208 East 51st St., #1820, New York, NY 10022

© 1996 Steve Marshall