First Album Review - Jethro Tull: Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die

Jethro Tull: Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die

 

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Jethro Tull: Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die

 

Jethro Tull: Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die

 

Released: 1976
Version: CHR-1111 (Canada)

Tracklist:

Side 1

1. Prelude

2. Quiz Kid

3. Crazed Institution

4. Salamander

5. Taxi Grab

6. From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser

Side 2

1. Bad-Eyed and Loveless

2. Big Dipper

3. Too Old to Rock N Roll: Too Young to Die!

4. Pied Piper

5. The Chequered Flag (Dead or Alive)

Full Disclosure: I’ve loved Jethro Tull since the 70’s and would definitely consider myself a fan. Saw them in concert in Ottawa at the National Centre for the Arts a decade or so ago. Have multiple copies of Thick as a Brick and Aqualung, but have never heard Benefit and do not own a copy… Yet.

The Setting: Saturday… The first Saturday of the season with snow. A midday listen. Just getting ready to head out for the day.

The Review: Based on a summary review of reviews online, the reception this album received was definitely mixed. Some loved it while others had no time for it as Benjamin Miler, an Amazon reviewer, writes,

“Jethro Tull from 1971-1979 had a pretty stable lineup, mostly it was just bassists that changed through the years. On this album, Too Old To Rock N Roll features new bassist John Glascock… 

Didn't change the band's sound one bit, this album would've still sounded exactly the same had Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond played on this album. In fact musically, this album really sounds like a pale retread of Minstrel in the Gallery, the music here too is heavily orchestrated. But whereas Minstrel had a more medieval feel to it, this one is simply full of generic rockers and boring ballads. Plus not to mention you sure don't hear much of John Evan here, just him on piano and electric piano, it's like he really didn't put much in to this album. 

It's a concept album about Ray Lomas, an ageing rocker who is unable to change with the times and wonders if he is now irrelevant. This could've been easily Ian Anderson, since the comic book-type artwork on the LP shows that Ray does look somewhat like Anderson. This album did come out in 1976 when music trends were beginning to take place in England by the burgeoning punk rock scene which was to threaten such bands as Tull. Also it could be the reputation the band had in the previous years, and Anderson was wondering if he can still keep his reputation with his fans and was able to deliver the goods. Unfortunately he didn't deliver here. Well, let's examine the songs: The first three songs aren't bad, "Quizz Kid", "Crazed Institution", and "Salamander". "Salamander" actually sounds like a rehash of "Cold Wind To Valhalla", so if you like that song, chances are you'll like this. "Taxi Grab" is just a rather lame rocker, rather generic with nothing really special…

In fact it was their worst seller at that point, and in fact here in the US, while it still hit the Top 40 album charts, did not go gold. Ian Anderson knew the disaster he presented us with this album, and the next year's Songs From the Wood was such a vast improvement over this one that it's as much a class as the old Aqualung, Thick as a Brick, and A Passion Play. As for Too Old To Rock N Roll, it was painfully obvious that the band really became quite stale by that time, and because of this, this is recommended to diehard Tull fans only.”

Whatever dude. I thought it was lovely within the context I was listening which was afterall, a Saturday Morning.

The album opens with a prelude and then Quizz Kid… No issues here. In my opinion, the Tull sound has always been one of extremes—from the intense (Aqualung) to the gentle acoustic (Wondring’ Aloud). Side one ends with “From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser” and it is these soft and surprising moments that tend to stick with me the longest.

To put it in context, Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die arrived after a string of creative triumphs for the band and is wedged between Minstrel of the Gallery and the very down-to-earth Songs of the Woods. At this time, Jethro Tull was releasing an album yearly, from 1968’s This Was all the way to 1980’s A and count 33 LP’s to their credit.

 

A few of Tull’s better-known album covers

A few of Tull’s better-known album covers….

 

Side two is features the title track of course, but here it just sounds…better. Perhaps it’s because it’s nestled within the other tracks providing a type of context. The product values on this album are admirable at least when compared to the M.U. ‘best of’ albums that I find sound thick and muddy. (Maybe I just have bad copies)?

 

Jethro Tull: Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die

 

 

Jethro Tull: Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die

 

Jethro Tull: Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die

 

FYI, a Record Store Day edition has also been released of this album which captures a live concert initially recorded for a British TV show in 1975, and is pressed on black 180 gram vinyl.

 

Jethro Tull: Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die

The Record Day Release,printed on 180g black vinyl

 

Tull’s musicianship shines through and throughout this album. Complex, thoughtful, funny, sad and disillusionment, all the major emotions are on display here, Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die does it all and does it surprisingly well.

Not so much a party album, but rich and warm and kinda perfect piece for a Saturday morning. Not sure how I missed it all these years, but glad to have discovered it today. I highly recommend giving it a listen and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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