GARY PARKER – Original Jethro Tull – The Glory Years, 1968 – 1980

GARY PARKER – Original Jethro Tull – The Glory Years, 1968 – 1980

The legendary progressive folk rockers Jethro Tull hardly need any introduction; they have sold millions of records, toured the world more times than anyone cares to remember, and written some wildly exciting and influential music that still resonates with people to this very day. In other words, Tull reign supreme when it comes to eclectic, innovative, and atmospheric prog rock. What is even more exciting than some of their records is band’s history between 1968 and 1980, which is perfectly illustrated by Gary Parker’s riveting literary gem appropriately entitled “Original Jethro Tull – The Glory Years, 1968 – 1980”.

Parker’s account of the hugely captivating and intriguing Tull chronicle is marvelously presented and so well-written in places that it almost brought tears to my eyes when I read it. The most amazing thing about this near-flawless book is how incredibly balanced and nuanced it is. Every member of Jethro Tull has been interviewed on numerous occasions by the author himself and each musician is given a voice, which entails that different and thought-provoking perspectives on how things unfolded within the Tull camp are brought to life. Many of the stories contradict each other, but that is partly what makes for such a compelling read.

I especially loved reading about the early years in Blackpool and London as well as the conception and creation of the band’s first record “This Was”, but not a single chapter left anything to be desired and the author’s warm and reflective tone permeates every sentence. You can tell that Parker is a huge and passionate fan of the band, but he is definitely not oblivious to the fact that Tull wrote some lackluster songs from time to time and that their decision-making was, frankly speaking, horrendous at certain points in their long-running saga.

Apart from being utterly cohesive and coherent not to mention entertaining, “Original Jethro Tull” is also full of wit, charm, and a lovely sense of humor in places. That especially goes for the last chapter in which Parker reveals how he was initially introduced to the music of Tull and how they changed his perspective on music (or at least blew him away by means of their powerful live show back in the early 70s when supporting Led Zeppelin in the US). Great stuff!

“Original Jethro Tull” is rich in detail and atmosphere, which is to say that reading it feels like one is being transported back to the late 60s and 70s, which is an impressive feat by the author in and of itself. Everything flows together nicely, and every triumph, tragedy, album, tour, and line-up change is covered in great detail. For an in-depth study of Jethro Tull’s most important and vital years, look no further than this superb 190-page piece of work. Highly recommended for both fans of the band and lovers of prog rock in general.