This review goes out to Jonathan who asked me about a year ago for more Jethro Tull reviews! Here you go buddy, and Merry Christmas!
IAN ANDERSON & JETHRO TULL – “Ring Out Solstice Bells” (2004 R and M)
Although Ian Anderson had played seasonal music many times before, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album in 2003 was the band’s first full-blown Christmas disc. The following year, Anderson released an independent single from it called “Ring Out Solstice Bells”, with proceeds set to help a wild cat benefit that he supports. The track “Ring Out Solstice Bells” is an Anderson original, jaunty and gleeful. Jethro Tull’s signature enchanted acoustic sound is well suited to seasonal music, and the vibe is captured on a great original song that doesn’t annoy like other seasonal tunes often do.
The traditional “God Rest Ye Gentlemen” is a live version from 2004. It’s worth noting that even though Tull’s Christmas Album was reissued and expanded to include a live CD called Christmas at St. Bride’s 2008, these B-sides are from 2004. They are still exclusive only to this single. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” was arranged by Ian to be a jazzy and playful upbeat jam, virtually impossible to hate. It even goes menacingly electric before the ending. Then, from Aqualung is the brief “Slipstream”, also live from 2004. It is backed by lush keys.
The packaging for “Ring Out Solstice Bells” is pretty basic, just a single panel digipack. I do like the little touch of the inside cover doubling as a Christmas card. If you so wish, you could give this CD to a friend for Christmas, by inscribing their name under “To”, and your own where it says “From Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull and.” Of course no collector would do such a thing.