Benefit (The 50th Anniversary Enhanced Edition) – Jethro Tull
Near enough a decade in the waiting and now it’s finally arrived at last and boy am I glad to see this one get the book treatment at long last. Jethro Tull’s third album Benefit from 1970 has always been one of the bands TOP ALBUMS! in my book so to speak and I cannot believe it’s taken this long to come in a book or Mediabook as with the other 12 albums that have been released in these splendid packages so far. I was aware it was due to be released this year having seen an interview with Steve Wilson last year saying that it had been repackaged.
I say repackaged because Wilson did do the 5.1 mix of the album back in 2013 and it was released in that year with the title of A Collectors Edition as you can see in the picture above. You can also see how bad it looked stacked up against some of the other editions in the picture below and no doubt it’s been crying out to get done.
A couple of things stand out straight away with this latest edition. The first is that it’s been re-titled the Enhanced Edition and secondly that it comes with twice as many discs as how it was packaged before in the Collectors Edition. Many of the other Mediabook editions were also released on their 40th Anniversary were as this is the second reissue along with This Was to be rereleased on its 50th Anniversary even though it’s a year late.
Benefit is pretty much a solid album and most certainly one of my GOTO! albums of the band and I am sure for many Tull fans it would be likewise for them too. It’s a very well-produced album and in terms of its production is much better than Aqualung and for many years it also sounded to me like it was released after that iconic album of the band. It was not until Wilson got his hands on the master tapes in 2015 and remixed Aqualung that it started to speak to me a lot more.
But even so over the many years, I have certainly played Benefit more times than Stand Up and Aqualung. I’ve most likely played it more times than Thick As A Brick which is my personal favourite album of the band. Now the album comes with a few more extras in relation to the way it was packaged back in 2013 and it gives you something more to sink your teeth into. But before we take a look at what extra goodies are here let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.
Packaging & Artwork…
As with all these Mediabooks they come in the form of a quality cardboard hardback book with plenty of informative reading content for you to get your teeth into and this one comes with a 100-page book. Besides the informative information you also get some GREAT! quality photographs of the band other music-related items such as pictures of flyers, posters and the actual master tape boxes. Unlike the way it was packaged back in 2013, this one comes with 6 discs instead of 3 and you certainly get your money’s worth with these rather splendid packages.
I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon UK on the 2nd of October for £32.32 and got a refund of £5.21 and only paid £27.11 in the end. Although I did even do better than that because for some reason it got delayed, well at least that is what I thought because it never arrived on Friday the day of its release. By the following Wednesday it still never arrived so I phoned them up and they had to send me out a replacement as it got lost in transit.
They did tell me should the other copy turn up I could keep it and exactly a week after its release both copies arrived as you can see in the picture above. So I got more than my money’s worth and the other one I shall leave in its cellophane and sell it at a later date after it is gone out of circulation. If it becomes as sort after as some of the others I have I shall more than BENEFIT! from it 😊😊😊.
Benefit (50th Anniversary Enhanced Edition) In Review…
Jethro Tull’s third album Benefit was originally scheduled to be released on the 24th of April 1970. The UK release that is. Though it was most likely released on the 1st of May of the same year. The album contained 10 tracks and had an overall playing time of 42 minutes. The album was released in the US slightly earlier on the 20th of April and there was a reason for it which I shall divulge in a bit. Although the US release contained the same amount of tracks it did come with a slightly different playlist though that still happens even today and is nothing unusual.
Although the album did not do quite as well as its predecessor Stand Up by reaching the number 1 spot in the UK album charts it did manage to reach number 3. It also managed to peak at number 11 in the US and there was a significant reason why the album was released in America first. Apparently, the album was also the very first Jethro Tull million-selling record.
Although the band had already dipped their toe to test the water in the American market a year earlier they had not quite broken into it and they wanted to make sure they did. On their first tour, they were more of a support act touring in support of Led Zeppelin and other acts. It was now time to see how much of an impact they would make as the main act so to speak.
Benefit was the album that John Evan became an official member of the band and even though he was a session player on Stand Up and had known Ian Anderson for quite a while and had played with him in the John Evan Band. It still took a lot of persuading for Anderson to get him to join the group. Like Jeffrey Hammond (who later joined the group) he too had his mindset on doing something else and wanted to go off to further educate himself at college on Science. I suppose he could have been March the mad scientist and instead he chose to be the Hare who lost his spectacles so to speak 😊😊😊.
According to Anderson, it was having a keyboard player that added another dimension and gave the band more freedom and scope to change the direction in their music which no doubt it certainly did not long after especially by 1972 with their Thick As A Brick album.
Just as one new member joins the band an old one departs and this was the last album that Glen Cornick appeared on. It’s not exactly clear why he left or was fired from the band some say it was down to his lifestyle outside the band with his partying that Anderson disliked and it was left to the bands manager Terry Ellis to give him his marching orders. My personal belief is that Anderson got rid of Cornick to make way for his best friend Jeffrey Hammond.
However, there were no hard feelings on Cornick’s part and the next band he went on to form Wild Turkey with the likes of drummer John Weathers & Gary Pickford-Hopkins also went on to support Jethro Tull. Weathers as many will know went on to join Gentle Giant and Hopkins went on to sing alongside Ashley Holt in Rick Wakeman’s first-ever English Rock Ensemble and featured on his albums Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. To be honest I prefered his voice to Holt’s who was more of an operatic singer.
Benefit was the first of many Jethro Tull albums to be engineered by Robin Black. Like the bands previous album Stand Up it too was recorded at Morgan Studios in London. Other Tull albums that Black engineered at the same studios during the 70’s were A Passion Play, Warchild and Songs From The Wood.
The Enhanced 50th Anniversary Mediabook or Box Set of Benefit was officially released on the 5th of November 2021. As I mentioned in my introduction this edition does come with 3 extra discs in relation to the Collectors Edition that was released back in 2013. So let’s now take a look at the contents.
The Package Contents.
One of the first things you always get with a package like this is a well-detailed book that always makes an interesting read. Having all the Mediabook Editions I find the books that come with these packages a valued source of information especially for a reviewer like myself. The very fact that Ian Anderson and other band members along with much of the crew involved in the band have contributed to them are what make these packages so special and so far I have yet to come across anything that gives you this much detail about an album and the time it was made.
In the book, you will find an extensive article written by Martin Webb on the recording and touring of the album. Another couple of interesting articles by sound Engineer Robin Black and the bands manager Terry Ellis who share their experiences working with the band. All the lyrics to the songs as well as annotations of them by Ian Anderson, Martin Barre & Clive Bunker. Joshua White talks about the lighting and video shooting at one of the concerts plus working with Billy Graham. Steven Wilson discusses the mixing of both the album and one of the live concerts and you get a recording and touring chronology along with rare photos and other memorabilia.
If like myself you have the Collectors Edition of Benefit regarding the 2 CD’s and 1 DVD that came in that package they are more or less the same as we have here apart from a few extra bonus tracks. With this new Enhanced Edition, you get an extra 2 CD’s and 1 DVD and these discs include a couple of live concerts which is perhaps the reason why they are calling this the Enhanced Edition. So let’s now take a look at the 6 discs.
The first CD contains the 2013 stereo remix of the album done by Steven Wilson. It also contains a further 7 tracks and these are also stereo remixes by Wilson and are some of the associated recordings that were written and recorded around the same time frame as the original album. The extra tracks you get are as follows: “Singing All Day“, “Sweet Dream“, “17“, “Teacher (UK Single Version)“, “Teacher (US Album Version)“, “My God (Early Version)” and “Just Trying To Be (Early Version)“.
The final two tracks here were not included on the Collectors Edition and these are early outtakes and earlier versions of a couple of the songs that found their way onto the 1971 Aqualung album that they were working on around the time.
The second CD continues with the associated recordings only these are all original recordings and not remixed by Wilson. A few other bonus tracks have been added in relation to the Collectors Edition which only had 16 tracks. The Enhanced Edition has 21 tracks although most of what you get is the same they have sort of reshuffled them around and placed them in better order by placing them into 3 sections. Although the fact that they have included both mono and stereo mixes makes this disc pretty much repetitive.
First up we have the original 1969 – 1970 Single Mono mixes and the tracklist is as follows: “Singing All Day“, “Sweet Dream“, “17“, “The Witch’s Promise“, “Teacher (UK Single Version)“, “Teacher (US Album Version)“, “Inside“, “Alive and Well and Living In“, “A Time for Everything?“.
Next up we have the original 1969 – 1970 Single Stereo mixes and the tracklist is as follows: “Sweet Dream“, “17“, “The Witch’s Promise“, “Teacher (UK Single Version)“.
Finally, we have the 1971 Stereo Compilation Album remixes and original Mono US Radio Spots. Apart from a couple of Radio Spots, these are the tracks that were not included on the Collectors Edition. The tracklist is as follows: “Singing All Day“, “Sweet Dream“, “17“, “The Witch’s Promise“, “Teacher (US Album Version)“, “Benefit AM Radio Spot #1” and “Benefit AM Radio Spot #2“.
In reality, the first couple of discs offer you way less bonus material than the extra amount of tracks suggest and that is basically down to everything being repeated over and over. Much of the bonus material you do get did end up on the 1972 compilation album Living In The Past and the only unreleased material over the first two discs that were previously unreleased would have been the early versions of “My God” and “Just Trying To Be” on the first disc.
The following couple of CD’s are what make this package Enhanced in relation to the Collectors Edition and the 3rd disc contains the first of two concerts and here we have the band on their American Tour and it captures the band playing live at the Tanglewood on the 7th of July 1970. This particular performance was part of Bill Graham’s Filmore at the Tanglewood and was headlined by The Who.
The concert was recorded on 8-track by Fedco Audio Labs engineered by Eddie Kramer and a recording truck was set up to make the recordings to which Graham wanted to be recorded despite not having any rights. Over the years many bootlegs of this concert have appeared although this recording is way more superior and has Steven Wilson at the helm of remixing it.
It’s very much a quality recording that captures the band where they were still very much learning their craft of putting on a good live show and like many bands back in those days, they would often be there fiddling about tuning up their instruments. Though I will say Anderson has always had the gift of the gab to put the audience at ease by talking to them whilst doing so. Although Anderson would admit himself he was still learning how to do that back in these early days.
As far as I can make out you do get the whole show here and this particular disc comes with 8 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 69 minutes 14 seconds. Oddly enough the band get the tuning out of the way right at the beginning and along with Anderson babbling away to the audience that is all you get on the first track.
The band soon get into the swing of things as they burst into one of the more popular songs from their previous album “Nothing Is Easy” and although they do a cracking job of it you can hear that they were perhaps a bit looser in relation to later on or even some of their other shows around the same time. You then get an extended version of “My God” which eventually found its way onto the album that was to follow Aqualung and it’s perhaps not that unusual to the many performances of this one where Anderson extends it with a long flute solo.
For me personally, there are a couple of things that let this performance down a bit and the first of those is the lack of material they play from their latest album Benefit at the time they play at the show. The only song they do play from it is up next “With You There to Help Me / By Kind Permission Of” and it’s followed as you can see by an improvised piece written and played by John Evan to which Anderson contributes a bit of flute too.
Although the first of them is not a bad performance I do also find it quite loose down to Evan playing it on the piano instead of having the twin guitars as it does on the studio version. Quite a few of the songs on Benefit were played with both Barre and Anderson on electric guitars which gave it a sort of Wishbone Ash twin guitar sound and that element is really missing by trying to use the piano to emulate it.
“Dharma for One” as always gives Clive Bunker a chance to have a good bash on the drums with its extended drum solo and as much as I love Bunker’s skills on the drums this is perhaps not one of the best performances of this song that’s for sure. To be honest I would have prefered if they did a couple of other songs from their debut album instead like “A Song For Jeffrey” and Beggars Farm” for example and they would have filled the twelve and half minutes you get here much better I feel.
Speaking about ways to fill the space better is really my other gripe with this concert’s set-list and even the classic song “We Used To Know” get’s cut short to make way for Martin Barre’s almost 16-minute guitar solo which is not the best. They finally round it all off with another song from their previous album “For a Thousand Mothers“.
Overall, despite some of the negative points, I pointed out here this is still by far a very good concert and moment in time that has been very well captured. The audio quality is excellent and like I mentioned much more superior in relation to the many bootlegs that are out there that come with very poor sound and even the sounds breaks up in some places. My advice is to chuck those things in the bin and get this.
The fourth and final CD in the package gives you another live concert and here the band are captured at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Illinois on the 16th of August 1970. The recording was engineered by John Burns and what we have here is a Mono source that has been taken directly from the Soundboard at the Aragon Ballroom.
In total, you get 11 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 75 minutes, 12 seconds and as it came from the same tour the set-list runs along with much of the same material. Although there are a few changes and at least there are 3 tracks from what was their new album at the time and despite it only being in Mono, I do prefer this concert in relation to the one done at the Tanglewood.
Most of the changes have been put in from the start and after a tune-up, the band burst into one of the older songs from their debut album “My Sunday Feeling” and knock it out of the ballpark. The two minute shorter version of “My God” sounds better for it in my opinion and then they roll out one after the other 3 songs from the Benefit album and it’s obvious that at this show the album is getting better treatment. The first of them is “To Cry You A Song” and is followed by “With You There To Help Me” which once again they roll into Evan’s improv “By Kind Permission Of“.
Although I love both of the electric songs from the album the one I personally loved to see is “Sossity: You’re A Woman“. Though unfortunately it’s not the whole of the song and they have sandwiched another fine song “Reasons For Waiting” in the middle of it. It is a very good performance though and features just Anderson on vocals and acoustic guitar and Evan on the organ. I also think that “To Cry You A Song” worked much better than “With You There To Help Me” by Evan’s using an organ instead of a piano.
The rest of the show they roll out “Nothing Is Easy“, “Dharma For One“, “We Used To Know“, “Guitar Instrumental” and end it off once again with “For A Thousand Mothers” all of which were included in the Tanglewood set-list. Only here I do think they are better performed especially Bunker’s drum solo on “Dharma For One” and Barre’s guitar solo is a lot shorter.
Overall, although being only in Mono this concert does not have the sound quality of the Tanglewood show but nevertheless, the quality is still good. I think one of the major reasons I prefer this concert over the one at Tanglewood is not just down to the better performance but it feels more like a proper set-list of songs rather than extensive guitar and drum solo’s to pass the time so to speak.
The first of the DVD’s is dedicated to the album Benefit and its associated tracks. It not only contains the 2013 Stereo and Surround mixes done by Steven Wilson but also the flat transfer of the original album and all are mostly in high-resolution audio formats. The main menu (as seen above) gives you the choice of which mix to choose and is your pathway to a fuller menu with more options.
The menu above caters for the Steve Wilson mixes and from here you can simply play the album, select a specific track or change the audio options. It also contains a bonus section with extra tracks. Unlike the main menu, it does not have to load to another screen for each of the options.
As you can see by the screen above by selecting the track menu a box simply pops up to display the album tracks. This is so much better than having to wait for another screen to load and is faster and more efficient.
The Audio options above basically will give you the best there is for both Stereo and Surround offering you 96/24 LPCM Stereo and DTS 96/24 5.1 Surround sound. The weakest link is the Dolby Digital Surround mix and these days even Steve Wilson has done away with this weak format.
The extra tracks give you a total of 5 bonus tracks from the associated recordings although the last couple of tracks is of the same song. The good thing about these is that you also get the option to listen to them in 5.1 as with the rest of the main album and that’s always a winner for surround FREAKS! such as myself.
The good thing about all these new Jethro Tull Editions is that they also come with the original mix of the album so for those die-hard purist freaks you cannot really complain here and these packages offer you a lot more besides. So let’s now take a look at that side of the DVD.
As you can see from the menu of the original album that it not only gives you the UK version but also the US version and like the other menu a box pops up to display the tracklist without having to load to another screen. There are no audio options here but you do get the full quality high resolution of the album in 96/24 LPCM Stereo.
The two select track options display the tracklist of both the UK and US versions and here you can plainly see that “A Time For Everything? was not included with the US version and likewise “Teacher” was not included with the UK version.
The extra track menu only gives you 3 bonus tracks unlike the Wilson mixes and I think it’s a shame that they never included “The Witch’s Promise” like they have done here with the Wilson mixes as I would have loved a 5.1 version of that. It may have been that the multitrack tapes for it were not available.
Unlike the way some of the other DVD’s have been done in the Tull series this one does not come with a Slideshow whilst playing the album. Instead, it just displays the album cover and the only thing that changes as it goes along is the track name as you can see in the picture above.
The second DVD’s menu is a bit more straightforward and only has 3 options to choose from “Play Concert”, “Track Select” and “Audio Select”. As you can see from the menu above it contains the same live concert that is on the 3rd CD. Only here we have the actual film footage of the concert and it comes with a running time of 83 minutes instead of 69 minutes 14 seconds that’s on the CD. However, the setlist is exactly the same as you can see in the “Track Select” menu below.
The extra 13 minutes or so is not really noticeable and is most likely taken up by the credits sort of thing. The last 8 minutes or so of the film footage is also missing and those last few minutes are in audio-only with still pictures put to it.
The audio menu (above) gives you the choice of 3 audio formats to choose from all mixed by Steven Wilson and by default it’s set to LPCM Stereo with a rate of 48/16 and it runs along at 1.5Mbps. The couple of 5.1 surround mixes offers you the choice of DTS 48/24 748Kbps and the standard Dolby Digital 48/24 448Kbps.
As far as I make out I am not sure anything has been done regarding restoring the picture but I will say that the picture quality is a lot better than any of the uploads of this concert I have seen on Youtube and those things with how the picture and audio break up I personally could not watch. they are inferior to what you get on this DVD.
The Stereo & Surround Mixes.
Anybody who has been buying these new Jethro Tull Mediabook Editions should, without doubt, recognise the top quality job Steven Wilson has done on them in the audio department whether it be in stereo or surround. Being the surround FREAK! I am, having Benefit in 5.1 is a must for me and no way does the surround mix disappoint and it will bring out a lot more than the stereo mix and is the clear winner in my book. I would also give it a 10 out of 10.
The live concert on the second DVD was always going to present Wilson with a problem and all he could really do with it was the best he can. Personally as expected it’s not going to bring out the dynamics and an awful lot in relation to the studio recordings on the first DVD. So don’t get expecting something spectacular. It is of good sound quality though but the stereo mix of this old concert in my opinion is just as good and perhaps better and worthy of 8 out of 10. Whereas the surround mix I would give a 6 out of 10 and that is, in reality, the most you could really expect to get out of an old live recording like this.
Musicians & Credits…
All Songs Written by Ian Anderson. Produced by Ian Anderson. Exceutive Producer Terry Ellis. Recording Engineer Robin Black. Recorded at Morgan Studios (Studio 2) London, from the 1st September 1969 – 15th March 1970. Cover Design by Terry Ellis & Ruan O’Lochlainn. Graphic Presentation by Ken Reilly. Artwork by Phil Smee at Waldo’s Design & Dream Emporium. Photography by Herb Green, Claude Delorme, Charles Everest, Marshall Bohlin, George-Albert Kracht, Rosanna Oliver-Black, Lasse Hoile, Martin Webb & Amalie Rothschild. Surround & New Stereo Mixes by Steven Wilson. CD Mastering & DVD Authoring by Ray Shulman at Isonic.
Ian Anderson: Vocals – Acoustic & Electric Guitar – Flute – Balalaika – Keyboards.
Martin Barre: Electric Guitar.
John Evan: Piano – Organ.
Glen Cornick: Bass Guitar – Hammond Organ (Uncredited).
Clive Blunker: Drums – Percussion.
David Palmer: Orchestral Arrangements.
The Album Tracks In Review…
Benefit is more of a powerful electric album in relation to the first two albums and even Aqualung that followed it. There is also some really GREAT! progression here too and it’s an album that the band had more difficulty trying to present its material live on the stage. I would even say it’s quite a heavy rock album that’s almost verging on the lines of Black Sabbath with how some of the material is driven along. I would go as far as to say (having read the book that comes with this package) that it’s an album that Ian Anderson has ignored and to be quite frank some of the things he came out with tell me that he does not know this album at all even though he wrote it 😊😊😊.
Anderson himself places this album in the bottom third of the Jethro Tull catalogue, unlike Martin Barre who like myself would place it in the top third. Some of the things in this book simply do not add up and the hardest thing I find hard to get to grips with is that they more or less went in the studio and played the album live, yet on the stage what little they did play from this album was about as loose as you could get and never really spoke to me like the studio versions.
Benefit is a very well and even over-produced album much more so than Aqualung ever was and it’s perhaps down to the many overdubs and being more experimental in the studio was why Anderson ignored the biggest majority of it simply because it was too hard to pull off in a live performance. One of the other reasons for his dislike of the album was that it was more heavy guitar riffed along with the likes of many other rock bands at the time.
To show you just how ignorant Anderson is to this album and how he does not know an awful great deal about it. One of the things he mentioned in the book is that many of the tracks never had flute on which was another reason why he disliked a lot of it. So let’s now go through the album tracks and see if he was right or wrong.
Track 1. With You There To Help Me.
The opening song is a song about absence and looking back at things you probably could have done back then with someone’s help that you could not really do today. Well at least that’s the gist I get from it but there are several other ways you could look at it. It’s a very well put together song that has a lot thrown into it in particular on the musical side of things and contains very well constructed chords that string it all together. Martin Barre described it as quite complex and complicated to play back in those days. Glen Cornick thought it was one of the best songs Anderson had ever written and the band did enjoy playing it live.
I personally don’t think it’s the best song Anderson ever wrote and I certainly do not think the song really worked live like it did on the studio album. Basically, because you need two guitarists to pull it off and there is a lot more going on in the studio version than any live version of it. There is even more flute in the studio version including a backward flute that was done for fun with the use of effects.
“With You There to Help Me” is one of three songs on the album that were constructed in more or less the same manner. They are all more complex than anything you will find on Aqualung and contain far more progression. It’s most likely down to that reason why I always felt that this album came after Aqualung simply because it’s an album where you can see how well the band have come along and progressed. The most complex thing on Aqualung is most likely the piano intro that John Evan wrote and played for the introduction of “Locomotive Breath“.
Track 2. Nothing To Say.
This is the second song on the album that runs along the same ground as the opening track regarding its progression and is Barre’s personal favourite track on the album. The song was originally structured on the acoustic guitar by Anderson and once again it features both Anderson and Barre on electric guitars. It’s also a song that Barre wanted to be included in the set to play live but Anderson never liked it (most likely because he never played the flute on it) so it got pushed to one side like many of the songs on the album.
Although the song is entitled “Nothing To Say” every time I hear Anderson sing this song it sounds like he’s singing “Nothing To See” and I am pretty sure he is singing the word “See” by mistake. I quite like the lyrics to this song and I feel they are a lot better than the opening track. Though there is nothing on this album I dislike and every track in my opinion is as good as each other.
Track 3. Alive and Well and Living In.
Lots of lovely flute on this one yet for some reason Anderson describes it in the book as CRAP! with annoying jazzy flute phrases. In all honesty, if that is what he thinks of this song he must think the same for some of the songs on Stand Up. The way this song is structured does remind me quite a lot of the material that was on that previous album as well especially with how it’s all ended off with a rather nice instrumental acoustic bit of melancholy.
The lyrical content is based on a broken-down relationship hence how both are alone and living somewhere else at the end of it all. They are obviously alive and well and did not end up living in squaller so to speak 😊😊😊. I quite like the way that the song has been given both a verse and a chorus for him and her.
There is no doubt that besides getting to grips with how to speak to an audience that Anderson was also finding his voice around this period and it stands out very well on this song along with his flute. Evan’s piano features strongly on this track and it’s very much led by it. I also feel the piano works well doing so on this particular song whereas on the live version of “With You There to Help Me” it does not cut the mustard or work at all for my ears.
This song was also left off the US version and replaced with “Teacher” and even though I am very much alive and living in the UK I actually had to buy this album twice on vinyl back in the 70’s to get this song. The first pressing I brought had “Teacher” on both sides of the album and it not only replaced this song but also “Inside” on the second side of the album. The same thing happened back then when I brought Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection. That had “Amoreena” on both sides and was missing “Son Of My Father” on side one.
Track 4. Son.
Like the previous song, this is also both electric and acoustic-only this one bursts straight into the action and is a bit more power-driven. The acoustic section is very much a bridge that has been sandwiched between the power-driven sections and rather than work its way into it, it very much fades out to introduce it sort of thing. It’s perhaps not the smoothest of transitions though the transition works very well.
Martin Barre describes this song as very Un-Tull with an almost BEATLE ESC! midsection. you could say the rest of the song has more of a rough, raw and ready approach to it all. The lyrical content is pertaining to the relationship between a father and son and the advice the father often gives to his son. It’s also another song that contains no flute.
Track 5. For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me.
One of the two full acoustic songs on the album and both of them are classics in my opinion and as good as anything on the album Stand Up. Once again there is no flute here but it does not need one and Anderson and Barre’s work on the acoustic guitars works a treat. It’s a very well constructed song and the third of a trilogy of songs written for Jeffery although the lyrical content is more based around the astronaut Michael Collins who with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first to land on the moon back in 1969.
Track 6. “To Cry You a Song”.
Just as side one opens up with an electrifying song so did side two of the album and this is another song that went down well at their live shows. It’s very much on the same par with the opening two tracks on the album for its intensity and the way it rocks hard. According to Anderson, the lyrics are based around the time he spent away on tour and his longing to get back home to London, England to cry you a song so to speak. Barre recalls how the band Mountain who were supporting them at the time loved the song and how it’s got a similar riff and feel to a song from the Blind Faith one-off album they made back in 1969.
I certainly think it’s a strong song and amongst the many GREAT! songs that can be found on this album. It is yet another song that does not have a flute in it. But some songs just rock better without one and this is one of Glen Cornick’s best rock songs that could only be beaten by “A New Day Yesterday” as he described it in the book. Clive bunker described it as a great song he could thrash out on his drum kit and one the audience enjoyed too.
Track 7. A Time for Everything?
This next song has plenty of flute and happens to be the shortest track on the album. It’s very much a song that is constructed around the guitar and flute and the fact that Anderson and Barre are more or less playing the same lead lines throughout the entire song on the guitar and flute would mean they would need another rhythm guitarist to perform it live.
Barre does describe the song as complex and not for live consumption. Whereas I personally think that it’s really more overproduced than actually complex. I suppose lyrically the song is pertaining to how there is no time for everything, well not in our short lifespan anyway.
Track 8. Inside.
This next song was in fact the only single release from the UK album and it was released about a week before the release of the album here in the UK on the 24th April 1970. It was also later released in the US on Reprise Records and both had “Alive and Well and Living In” as the B-Side. Although the single failed to chart in both countries.
Anderson expresses the song as being cheerful, warm and optimistic and I would certainly go along with that. He also recalls the quality recording of his vocals to which he used a very old Neumann valve condenser mic to record his voice. It is without a doubt what I would call a Tull classic song that features not only flute but a balalaika and a very dominant bass line to which Cornick played from the top of his head and was proud of.
Track 9. Play in Time.
This is a song where the flute sounds just as heavy as the guitar and it’s my personal favourite track on the album and totally ROCKS! For Anderson to even say there was not enough flute on this album he is so wrong and on this particular song his flute not only plays the guitar riff with the guitar but also plays the lead lines note for note with the guitar which is most likely why the song is called “Play in Time”. There is in fact 6 tracks out of the 10 on this album that have flute on.
One of the fondest memories about this track, in particular, is that I actually got one of my best mates to buy this album back in the 70’s when I brought it. It was down to the reverse effects and how well they were panned in stereo that made him buy it. Both me and my mate were always fascinated about stereo and how certain things can be panned to have a certain effect and he never even liked Jethro Tull because he never liked Anderson’s voice and was not into folky kind of singers.
Oddly enough although the album was recorded in studio 2 at Morgan Studios. The reverse guitar effects were actually done at Olympic Studios and the good thing about this new mix is that you can now hear them panned across 5 channels instead of 2 with the surround mix and it still blows my brains out 😊😊😊.
Track 10. Sossity; You’re a Woman.
The other acoustic classic song on the album and is also amongst my personal favourite tracks on the album. The acoustic arrangement was done by Barre and both he and Anderson are working wonders on their acoustic guitars. It’s a very well structured song musically though the lyrical content might be rather odd with the made-up woman’s name Anderson chose. However, it does blend in well with society and is the perfect way to round off what I would describe as a very solid album.
Summary & Conclusion…
To sum up my review of Benefit by Jethro Tull. I think the best way I could describe the album and how well it stands out as an album, is that it’s a bit like the differences between Led Zeppelin II and III and is quite a belting all-out rock album with some GREAT! progression and a couple of really GREAT! acoustic songs are included along the way. However, in terms of classic songs Benefit does not really stand out like that Zeppelin album which has quite a few classic songs on it. Though that’s not to say it does not have the same amount of good songs and for the life of me I could not name one single bad track on the whole album and it is a very solid album.
What makes Jethro Tull stand out from many other bands is their diversity especially with how they never really stuck to one genre and many of their albums from 1968 – 1978 can cover a wide range of styles. For example, if you want something with a bit more blues and jazz in it you would turn to the bands first two albums This Was and Stand Up.
If you wanted something on the PROG! side of things you would turn to Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play. For Folk-Rock you only have to go to Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses and the albums Aqualung, Minstrel In The Gallery and Too Old To Rock N’ Roll, Too Young To Die were a combination of both rock and folk.
Warchild was perhaps the mixed bag out of that lot and apart from its self-titled track and “Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of A New Day” you could say it was made up with some of the scrag ends or scraps of Anderson’s writing. Whereas Benefit was really the standout rock album of the bunch of albums that were written across those couple of decades.
One of the albums that certainly was not made up of scrag ends or scraps was the compilation album Living In The Past. It was a double album worth of material that Anderson had written around 1968 – 1971, most of which never wound up on any album. According to Glen Cornick, all the time the band were on tour and he bumped into Anderson he always had an acoustic guitar on him.
Even though Living in The Past was put together out of all the surplus material Anderson had written over those years it’s very much to me is one of the only compilation albums that feels and flows like a normal album. In my book, it’s the best compilation album that has ever been put together because it offers the listener mostly something they would not have had unless they brought all the singles. It’s very much an album that displays some of the best folk songs Anderson has written including a superb extended version of “Wondering Aloud“.
To conclude my review of Benefit and this new Enhanced Edition of it. Unlike Mr Anderson. It’s an album that would definitely be in my top third of Tull albums one that is certainly a must for any Tull fan and an album they should have in their collection. This particular new edition gives you an extra couple of live concerts over the Collectors Edition from 2013. Though the real winner is the book it comes with and the way it’s packaged.
When it comes to how many artists have repackaged their albums into box sets over the last few years. The biggest majority of them have been done with GREED! charging you well over the odds of what the package is worth. Many of which are more than twice the price of these Jethro Tull Mediabook Editions. I can honestly say there is no greed involved here and these are by far the best box sets that have ever been put together and are BANG! on for the BUCK!
When it comes to rock albums Benefit is certainly the one that shines and stands out as a rock album over every album in the Tull discography and my personal highlights from it are as follows: “With You There To Help Me“, “Nothing To Say“, “To Cry You A Song“, “Play In Time” and “Sossity; You’re A Woman“.
It Rocks For Your Benefit…
The CD Tracklisting is as follows:
CD 1. (2013 New Mixes & Associated Recordings)
01. With You There To Help Me. 6:20.
02. Nothing To Say. 5:20.
03. Alive And Well And Living In. 2:47.
04. Son. 2:53.
05. For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me. 3:55.
06. To Cry You A Song. 6:15.
07. A Time For Everything?. 2:44.
08. Inside. 3:50.
09. Play In Time. 3:55.
10. Sossity; You’re A Woman. 4:38.
11. Singing All Day #. 3:09.
12. 17 #. 6:22.
13. Teacher (UK Single Version) #. 4:59.
14. Teacher (US Album Version) #. 4:08.
15. My God (Early Version) #. 9:07.
16. Just Trying To Be #. 1:39.
CD 2. (Original Mixes Associated Recordings)
01. Singing All Day #. 3:03.
02. Sweet Dream #. 4:02.
03. 17 #. 6:11.
04. The Witch’s Promise #. 3:56.
05. Teacher (UK Single Version) #. 4:52.
06. Teacher (US Album Version). 3:57.
07. Inside #. 2:39.
08. Alive And Well And Living In #. 2:46.
09. A Time For Vereything? #. 2:43.
10. Sweet Dream (Original Stereo Version) #. 4:03.
11. 17 (Original Stereo Version) #. 5:31.
12. The Witch’s Promise (Original Stereo Version) #. 3:50.
13. Teacher (UK Single Version) (Original Stereo Version) #. 4:39.
14. The Witch’s Promise #. 3:50.
15. Teacher (US Album Version) (Original Stereo Version) #. 3:56.
16. Singing All Day (1971 Stereo Remix) #. 3:07.
17. Sweet Dream (1971 Stereo Remix) #. 4:04.
18. The Witch’s Promise (1971 Stereo Remix) #. 3:51.
19. Teacher (US Album Version) #. 4:17.
20. Benefit AM Radio Spot 1 #. 1:03.
21. Benefit FM Radio Spot 2 #. 1:02.
Disc 3. (Live At Tanglewood 1970)
01. Introduction and Tuning. 1:42.
02. Nothing Is Easy. 6:05.
03. My God (Including Flute Solo). 11:50.
04. With You There to Help Me / By Kind Permission Of. 12:59.
05. Dharma for One (Including Drum Solo). 12:36.
06. We Used to Know. 3:21.
07. Guitar Instrumental. 15:47.
08. For a Thousand Mothers. 4:54.
Disc 4. (Live In Chicago 1970)
01. Introduction and Tuning. 1:23.
02. My Sunday Feeling. 4:49.
03. My God (Including Flute Solo). 10:45.
04. To Cry You A Song. 5:49.
05. With You There To Help Me / By Kind Permission Of. 13:04.
06. Sossity: You’re A Woman / Reasons For Waiting. 6:00.
07. Nothing Is Easy. 6:24.
08. Dharma For One (Incl. Drum Solo). 14:06.
09. We Used To Know. 3:16.
10. Guitar Instrumental. 5:39.
11. For A Thousand Mothers. 3:57.