"This is my favorite straight forward bluesy, rock, trippy Tull album. I listened to Benefit the most probably in the 70's (my teenage years), although I loved Stand Up, Aqualung, Thick as a Brick, Minstrel in the Gallery And Songs from the Wood about as much. Tull was one of my top bands then (and now) and I really feel that these albums are some of the best Rock has to offer. Benefit, as the best song-oriented album from the blues/rock stretch in my opinion, really stands out as the gelling of the Tull sound. Martin Barre found his confidence and ran with it while Ian Anderson really picked up the complexity level of his many contributions. Glenn Cornick's bass playing is outstanding and represents some of the best of the era, although this was his last gig with Tull. John Evan joins the band here and adds to the more layered quality and strangely seems to be the glue that binds that classic Tull sound. Other members seem to feed off of the new energy! Benefit feels to me very brooding and powerful...the psychedelic atmoshere is at a peak here as well. I am trying to describe why this album is one of the greats of all time to me, but words do little to describe the powerful emotional impact I feel for this one, for whatever reason...crank it up and feel for yourself! The Extra tracks are a great addition (Teacher was on the original American album) and the sound quality is at a new high. This is an essential recording of the era and a truly great bargain, although lyrics should have been included as well as better track notes (I like it better than Aqualung - newbies could begin here with confidence). Enjoy!!!"
Still retains enough of the edginess and eccentricity
loce_the_wizard | Lilburn, GA USA | 07/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Benefit" remains my favorite Jethro Tull recording, likely for all the wrong reasons. First, this was the first session where Ian Anderson and his band mates embraced folk music over the blues-tinged sound of their earlier work. Next, Martin Barre sounds engaged, determined, and focused on guitar, and his strong effort here keeps the music well grounded (something that is a failing on some Tull recordings in my opinion). Third, John Evan's returns to the fold and adds some stellar work on keyboards that greatly enrichs the sound. Fourth, I liked Glen Cornick's bass lines better than those by any other Tull bass player. Fifth, Ian Anderson crafted some of his best lyrics for "Benefit," avoiding the ornate and tiring style on both his later and subsequent Jethro Tull recordings. Sixth, Mr. Anderson plays some inspired flute and contributes some excellent acoustic guitar that meshes wonderfully with Mr. Barre's amped up electric guitar. This recording still retains enough of the edginess and eccentricity that caused Jethro Tull to stand out during the band's early years and that caught my ear way back when. I would recommend getting the remastered CD more for the improved sound quality than the bonus tracks (which aren't bad though)."
"And awake to a new day of living"
mwreview | Northern California, USA | 04/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My review is on the un-remastered version of Benefit which is the one that I own. For some reason, Amazon includes the same reviews for this album under both the remastered and unremastered CDs even though there is definitely a difference between the two. Looking at the extra tracks on the remastered CD, I see no reason to spend my money on another copy of Benefit since I already have the bonus tracks on either Living in the Past or the 20th Anniversary boxed set. From reading the other reviews, the "UK version" of "Teacher" isn't anything special either. Also, why is "Sossity" and "You're a Woman" listed as two separate tracks? I'll stay with my CD copy of Benefit, thank you.Now, as to the album itself, after putting my top JT albums list together for Amazon, I decided that Benefit is my favorite Tull record. I enjoy this one (and even Stand Up) even more than Aqualung. For the most part, Benefit is brilliant from start to finish. The only weakness is "To Cry You A Song", which is overly repetitive at times and, unfortunately, is the longest track on the album at 6:09. I tolerate that track, though, because the rest of the album is so awesome. "With You There To Help Me" hooked me right away. It is an innovative number which brilliantly balances the edge between art and noise. "Son" is a sarcastic, humorous track about a young man's estrangement from a stereotypical strict father (using all those fatherly clichés). One gets the idea of what Ian Anderson's relationship with his pop was like when listening to the angry lyrics. Every time I hear "Don't talk like that I'm you're old man" I have to chuckle. "Sossity; You're A Woman" is a soothing ending to the album. "Teacher" is probably the most well-known song from Benefit, being included on the US release and on M.U. The Best of Jethro Tull. Although it is one of the first tracks I ever heard from Tull and I love it, it is really in the middle of the pack in terms of the top songs on Benefit. My favorite is "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey, and Me." Certain parts of this song are too wonderful for words. If your Jethro Tull collection starts with Aqualung, make sure you get their earlier albums Stand Up and this brilliant work. And, since you will probably be hooked on Tull's music and will be buying up their back catalog anyway, don't worry about getting the remastered CD, as you'll get the "bonus tracks" elsewhere."
Solid Tull - Strictly Non-Commercial
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 04/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am fortunate to not have the more recently re-mastered version of this CD, if I am to believe the comments of other reviewers. Regardless of other comments, this CD is among the best of Jethro Tull's music, showing elements of progressive rock, rock, jazz and folk.The CD kicks off with "With You There to Help Me". The opening flute and harmonized vocal are pure folk or blues, but when the bass guitar and lead guitar slowly increase their participation in the song, it becomes folk-rock. The harmonized vocals that are lead-ins to each verse are awesome. The riffs are very characteristic of Tull. Ian Anderson's vocals were so down-to-earth and fresh in 1970. The bizarre stylings of Anderson's flute are without equal, and they are used very effectively in this song. Near the end of the song the flute trades off with the lead guitar in a style that is unique to Tull."Nothing to Say" is less layered than the first cut, and has a more basic and raw sound. The music is pure rock with a harder edge than track 1. As usual though, the Tull sound is distinctive and unique.The third song has more of the Renaissance sound that is often associated with Jethro Tull. "Inside" is a LOVE song, if you can believe it. It may not sound like a love song, but it is about getting a house and settling down. Lots of flute and vocals, nearly pop, but with the classic Tull sound that is nearly impossible to pin down as one particular category of music.On the next song, "Son", a flavor of progressive is felt more strongly than on the earlier songs. However, before dismissing any of these songs as other than progressive, recall that this album was recorded in 1970, when progressive rock had yet to be truly defined. This song starts out as rock, a youth protest song. Then it transitions to the son's point of view, all mellow and laid back.I haven't decided whether "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me" is a lament that Ian Anderson didn't get to go on a moon walk, or whether he is lamenting the expenditure of time and money it took to get to the moon. The middle verse seems to be envious, but the surrounding verses seem a bit more satirical. Regardless of the meaning, solid song, good rock beat."To Cry You a Song" is a rock song that relies on impressionistic imagery rather than comprehendible lyrics. No matter, the solid rock beat and the sound of the words carry the song. Perhaps Ian Anderson was taking lessons from Jon Anderson regarding the use of word sounds rather than meaning to form lyrics."A Time for Everything" is much more straight forward. It's a song about thinking you have time for everything, when in fact if you waste time, you have time for nothing. An amazing lesson from a group of guys that were very young in 1970.The next song is a standard for Tull, recognized by Tull fans everywhere. "Teacher" is a story about lessons learned in ways other than the classroom; solid rock with enough unusual elements to be borderline progressive. Anderson's flute is a key part of this song.Sooner or later Tull has to talk to the audience. "Play in Time" is Tull, and especially Ian Anderson, talking to his audience. The song says that while he's trying to find a style, he's also trying to reach people with his music. Are you listening? This song is another rocking number; and that flute.The last song is great. The song seems to be more about society, and the constraints of society, versus the story about the singer and Sossity that the song initially seems to be. The song appears to say that society tries to make people conform to a norm, putting up appearances for appearance's sake, and because of the way society behaves, it behaves as a woman. The style is mellow and laid back, a very strong folk-renaissance sound (though I've sometimes had a hard time defining exactly what that means, which means it's likely sort of progressive).The music here is Jethro Tull at their non-commercial, classic, best. The sound has a raw exuberance to it. The lyrics run from plain to completely cryptic. The music goes from a hard-edged rock to acoustic folk. In short, this is the Tull we remember from their incredibly creative early days. If you are a fan of Tull's early music, this CD is a must have. If you object to the later release with the "extras" on it, look for the previous version without. Awesome music worth 5 stars."
For the Benefit of All Who Care to Listen....
Minstrel | Los Gatos, CA USA | 02/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Benefit marks the third and the last album of the early formative period of Jethro Tull. (The collection Living in the Past, released a couple of years later, is also from this period.) While the band's music has continually changed during this period, Benefit feels more a leap-forward than a gradual evolution. Much of the album sounds startlingly modern and experimental (particularly, Time For Everything, Play in Time) and must have sounded more so at the time of its release. The music is intricate and multi-layered, and yet somehow natural and organic, a feat that is well demonstrated in the opening song, With You There to Help Me. The crescendo of flute, keys, guitars (both acoustic and electric) and vocals is so carefully crafted, that one marvels at the cohesiveness of the piece. Yet, there is nothing gratuitous about it, with every note seeming to serve some higher aesthetic purpose. The use of instrumentation to convey texture and meaning to the song is indeed a novel aspect of the album. For instance, the introduction of the electric guitar in the otherwise acoustic Alive And Well and Living In provides a gritty feel to the song and serves to awaken the listener to the true import of the lyrics. But, the real revelation is Ian's voice and vocalizations. At times, stentorian and impassioned (Son, Nothing To Say) and, at times, tender and caring (Inside, For Michael Collins, Sossity), he bravely soars over the instrumentation and takes melodic centre stage. His lyrical themes do not depart significantly from previous material and, typically, focus on personal issues of life and love; however, the lyrics are more poetic and hint at the kind of imagery that Ian will turn to more in future work. Benefit may lack the kind of individual masterpieces (except, perhaps, To Cry You a Song, which I don't much care for) that find everlasting life in "greatest-of" compilations or in live sets, but don't let this mislead you. This is THE album where Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson find their niche. Listen to it carefully, and you will see why Aqualung, Thick as a Brick and Passion Play had to happen."