Late-'70s folkloric Tull gets a makeover then takes a step too far
A digitally enhanced reissue (with unreleased track and live excerpt) of Tull’s finest hour?when they took the Good Life route and got shit on their boots back on the land?Songs From The Wood is where Ian Anderson’s finger-in-the-ear vocalising always belonged. The hey-nonny affectations grate a little (this was issued just after “Anarchy In The UK”), but there’s no doubting the band’s ability to combine awesomely complex time signatures and effete fife-tabor-mandolin-and-bells effects while rocking out. One of prog’s most accomplished statements.
Unfortunately, the new digital version of the ’78 Tull vintage Heavy Horses that tried to replicate the success of Wood and its ultra-stylised Fairportisms, smacks of corporate opportunism. The humdrum tunes of old bluesy Tull get the Merrie England treatment, but despite some of the most breathtaking group dynamics in prog (“No Lullaby”), it’s all a bit faux. Think Morrismen and jousting tournaments and you’re almost there. And the string arrangements suck.