By Bob Nalbandian

The Very Best Of

I thought Chrysalis Records was dead and buried. Apparently they came up from the ashes to release a 20 song historical CD of [what Ian and the boys consider] the very best of Jethro Tull. The CD does contain many of Tull's brilliant tunes from yesteryear, notably the metal classics "Locomotive Breath," "A New Day Yesterday," "A Song For Jeffrey," and "Minstrel In The Gallery," as well as some of their matchless gems "Living In The Past," "Sweet Dream," "Bungle In The Jungle," "Aqualung," "Thick As A Brick," and "Too Old To Rock'n'Roll: Too Young to Die."

What makes Jethro Tull so unique and interesting is the fact that their music encompasses so many different musical and cultural styles. The CD captures the entire history of Tull from their humble beginnings in the late '60s through and beyond the new millennium. That's over a 40 year time span, think about it! Jethro Tull was truly a groundbreaking rock band and easily one of the most diverse and original bands around, but rarely did they ever get the credit or notoriety as heavyweights like The Stones, The Beatles or The Who. Jethro Tull was mocked when they won a Grammy back in '91 for 'best metal band.' This was understandable in a way, considering the band have not released any albums in the past two decades that can remotely be considered as 'metal.' But, take a listen to a few of Tull's groundbreaking metal classics from the late '60s/early '70s, like "Nothing Is Easy," "Hymn 43," "Cross-eyed Mary," "The Teacher," [songs I wish were included here] and the aforementioned "Minstrel In the Gallery," "Locomotive Breath," and "A New Day Yesterday," you would surely hear riffs that even Metallica could not emulate. A great package for the long-time Tull fan, but if you're looking for a package including some of Jethro's metal classics, you're better off checking out their earlier works like the 2 CD set of Living In The Past.

Fires At Midnight

Blackmore's Night features (in my opinion) the most brilliant guitar player in the world, Ritchie Blackmore, and his soul-mate/vocalist Candice Night. 16 classical, acoustic songs are included on this disc, each displaying unparalleled Blackmore fret-work. Although, far from the metallic sounds of Purple and Rainbow, Fires At Midnight contains some of Ritchie's best acoustic work as well as heart-felt, spiritual vocals from Candice. She sounds much stronger here than on the two previous Blackmore's Night CDs. My favorites are "I Still Remember," a great song with that rich, undeniable Blackmore guitar tone, "The Storm," with its great middle-eastern flare, and the beautiful guitar instrumentals; "Fayre Thee Well" and "Praetorius (Courante)." The music is diverse and inspiring, many of the songs showing a strong Renaissance/Celtic influence, including "Home Again" and "Crowning Of The King" [reminding me a tad of Rainbow's "Temple Of The King"]. Other songs, such as "The Times They Are A Changing," sound reminiscent of'60s 'peace and love' ballads, showing a hint of Sonny & Cher. Whether you're a fan of Blackmore, or just enjoy great guitar music, this is one record you should not be without.

Shockwaves CD Reviews Issue 5 Page 3