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January 1974

(or a ton of quaaludues)

(In the October issue of CREEM, a beleaguered writer was so frustrated in trying to review the latest Jethro Tull album that he assigned it to the readers instead: "We don't care whether you like Jethro Tull or not ... But we're sure that you have at least as much to say about J.T. and P.P. as any snootful rock critic. So in as few words as possible, please tell the rest of our readers, (a) Why are Jethro Tull, and (b) What is Passion Play about?" The reviews which follow constitute the response to that cry for help. -- Ed.)

Anderson and crew have constructed the first true rock and roll concept album. The LP consists of only one song (filling both sides) which tells the story of the search, by a rock and roll singer (cleverly disguised as a rabbit), for the ultimate rock riff (disguised as a pair of glasses) with the help of some supposed superstars (disguised as other woodland creatures). The singer soon finds that he had the riff all along and these other superstars were pretentious fakes. Anderson builds this theme up slowly, but after about 45 minutes into the song, the rock and roll hits you like a ton of quaaludes.

Ken Kirby
Pittsburgh, Pa.

A Passion Play is about a dead ballerina lying in an empty opera-house while the janitor sits in the can with his pants down and his mop leaning against the wall. A Passion Play is about a wilted rose lying on a green lawn that stretches forever with a hornet buzzing around it looking for something to sting.

By the way, is the rumor true that A P.P. is Jethro Tull's retiring statement? I doubt it: I'm sure they'll come up with some more albums that we must buy and listen to though we're not sure what we're listening to.

Dr. Elmo
(don't print the real name or address, I don't want my house beezilbombed)

It's as good as the Bible, objectively speaking. It's better than the Bible, subjectively speaking, but then what is GOOD and what is BAD — which is exactly what the story deals with. "Tough are the souls that tread the knife's edge." That thin line between good and bad, that single thread of existence which Anderson has so desperately tried to understand and perform. If you don't understand, no explanation is possible. If you do understand, of course, no explanation is necessary.

I feel so much compassion for Ian Anderson. His strength, his attitude, his will TO BE. He is a daily uplifting for my system-drunk environment.

What is Passion Play about? The world of I AM. Of death in life ("Everyone's saved, we're in the grave, see you there for afternoon tea"). The ballerina is undoubtedly symbolical of the devil, the most beautiful and precious angel of all, "fallen from grace, fell with mine angels from a far better place, offering services for the saving of face." 'The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles' is about the different religions we encounter and how our victory can only be given by ourselves.

I could go on and on, but the story here is too detailed to explain if you don't understand. A few certain lines sum it up, "those who have ears to hear, let them hear." Know these things — Beware the Anti-Christ, watch interpretations, be nothing, and be honest. I love you.

No One
Pasadena, Texas

What is Passion Play about? To figure out Passion Play is a tedious task indeed. In my opinion, it deals with the passions of Jesus Christ, death, life after death and rebirth into life all in one long piece, just as the masterpiece Thick As A Brick was one year ago. It starts off when Jesus is being crucified on the cross, as the lyrics read; "And so I'm dead ... And with a howl across the sand I go escorted by a band of gentlemen in leather bound" — that sort of explains Jesus carrying his cross. Now comes the part where Jesus is going to be nailed to the cross, as the lyrics read: "Feeling unwound? ... Step into the viewing room!"

The second half of Passion Play is really hard to understand, because it is very confusing. To really explain this you must know about religion and also be Ian Anderson's brain.

Seacaucus, N.J.

Music is not supposed to be easy to listen to, and Tull plays music.

Jim Tripson
Grimsville, Fla.

What the hell do you mean, why are Jethro Tull? Why are Iggy and the Stooges? Have you ever tried to sit down and figure out the subtle points of view suggested in Raw Power? To answer your second question, I don't know what Passion Play is, but then again what is Six Wives of Henry VIII? I think the only one who knows what A Passion Play is, is Ian Anderson himself.

Jay Andersen
Lynchburg, Va.

Number One: As to why are Jethro Tull, I'm sure no one knows; and if the band ever tried to figure that one out, it would undoubtedly rename itself "Ian Anderson," as he is the only person in the band who says anything (too much!).

Number Two: What is Passion Play about? Simple: Repetition.

Susan Smith
Sterling Heights, Mi.

Concerning this new "Jethro Tull" effort, I sincerely wish you would not refer to this present aggregation as Jethro Tull. I know that Glenn Cornick, Clive Bunker and Mick Abrahams would be as insulted as I am myself. The genuine Jethro Tull died a death in mid-1970 after a bunch of singles, two and a half albums and many live performances of the finest music which defied classification. This other band continues to put out lifeless music, a diluted version of what once was. I regret having to live in the past, but the present is such a drag.

Ian D. Moreland
Berkeley, Calif.

It sounds like Frank Zappa without trombones, that's not good. Sounds intellectual, arty, tired, unhappy, sounds bad. Jethro Tull never made a fun record, now they've made Passion Play. It's no fun. If you listen to it you're gonna be unhappy because that's Jethro Tull's purpose, to make you unhappy. Ian Anderson doesn't like you, he doesn't mind if you buy his records though. I don't like Ian Anderson, I like fun music.

Chester the Conger Eel
Memphis, Tn.