The earth-worshipping revelry of 1977's frisky Songs from the Wood was far removed from the heavyweight progressive rock of Jethro Tull's early years. Taking a leaf from the book of Steeleye Span, Songs from the Wood is bright and festive as it mines a rich, green seam of ancient British folklore for inspiration. By marrying the characters ("Jack in the Green") and traditions of the old religion's ritual calendar ("Ring Out Solstice Bells" was an unlikely Christmas hit) to their eccentricity and half-imagined interpretations of British traditional music, Tull came up with one of their albums. This collection unintentionally beseeches the concrete-jungle-dwelling set to retreat to the countryside. With tin-whistles, peppy acoustic guitar, medieval twists and turns, much May Day gaiety and debauchery, and even the odd touch of prog, Songs from the Wood still sounds bewitching in the 21st century. --Kevin Maidment
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mwreview | Northern California, USA | 03/31/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As the title indicates, this album, along with Heavy Horses, is the "outdoorsy", free frolic through the woods side of Tull. It definitely offers a different sound from their earlier bluesy material and the classic gems like Aqualung and Thick as a Brick. The music on this album is as complex as their classic material but has a fun, frolicky quality. "Songs From the Wood" proved to be one of Tull's trademark anthems, but my favorites are the free spirited "Jack-in-the-Green" and "The Whistler." "Velvet Green" is an intoxicating number about a handsome country man ("a young girl's fancy and an old maid's dream"-lyrics used in reverse on the previous album Too Old To Rock 'n Roll) who seduces a girl to sneak out. The song is beautiful in a disturbing way. "Cup of Wonder" is elevated by incredible piano riffs. "Pibroch" is 8:37 and has the heaviest electric guitar sound of all the tracks. The only song I do not enjoy is "Ring Out, Solstice Bells." The timing always bugs me, especially the clapping at the beginning. I usually skip this track. In sum, Songs From the Wood is a very rich sounding album with more depth than Heavy Horses, which I also recommend."