Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die!

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Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die!
Studio album by Jethro Tull
Released 23 April 1976 (UK)
17 May 1976 (US)
Recorded December 1975 at Radio Monte Carlo by the Maison Rouge Mobile Studio
Genre Progressive rock, folk rock, hard rock, blues rock
Length 42:26
Label Chrysalis
Producer Ian Anderson
Jethro Tull chronology
M.U. - The Best of Jethro Tull
Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die!
Songs from the Wood
Singles from
Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die!
  1. "Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die!"
    Released: 1976
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[2]

Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! (1976) is the ninth studio album released by British band Jethro Tull. It is widely considered a concept album. The remastered 2002 CD version contains two bonus tracks that were cut from the original LP, "Small Cigar" and "Strip Cartoon". This is the first Tull album to feature John Glascock on bass and backing vocals.

The song "Big Dipper" references the Big Dipper roller coaster in Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Origins and concept[edit]

The original idea for the album was to be a rock musical, similar to the Kinks' mid-1970s outputs e.g., Preservation Act 1 (1973), Preservation Act 2 (1974) and Schoolboys in Disgrace (1975). It would follow an ageing and retired rock star named Ray Lomas as he wins money on a decadent quiz show, but finds that society has changed so much that, with no one left like him any more, he has no way of enjoying his money the way he did in the 1950s. He then decides to commit suicide via motorcycle crash but fails and lands himself in a hospital in a coma for an undetermined amount of time.

When he awakes he discovers society has changed again, and his style of dress and music are now popular again. In addition, the advanced medicine he is treated with after disfiguring his face and damaging his body in the crash makes him twenty years younger. He has become an overnight sensation with the young kids who now try to dress and act like him.

However, much of this story is only explained in a cartoon strip included with the album (drawn by Dave Gibbons). The actual score of the album does not follow the strip exactly, leaving out details or, in some cases, changing the plot.

Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson has always said this album was not meant to be autobiographical of him as an ageing songwriter, since he was young at the time. He says the point of the album was to illustrate how his style of music may go out of popularity with every other fashion and fad, but he is determined that if he sticks to it, everything comes back around and the style will rise again.[3]

Ian Anderson explains that the concept came from the turmoil of the rise of punk movement, although "some members of the press took the album as our attempt to 'get with' the punks. But in fact we were really trying to point out that this business is cyclic, and that if you stick around long enough, you do come into fashion again."[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die!, as an album, had lower sales than the preceding album Minstrel in the Gallery and following album Songs from the Wood. It reached Nº 14 in the United States, Nº 25 in Britain, Nº 10 in Austria, Nº 10 in Norway, and Nº 27 in Sweden. It was Jethro Tull's only album of the 70's not to achieve Gold certification.

The critics were almost unanimously agreed that this was a weak album from Jethro Tull. Rolling Stone wrote that "Ian Anderson should stick to music, because he most definitely is not a storyteller". Although the same review praised the guitar playing of Martin Barre.[5]

Chris Welch, from Melody Maker, continued the negativity, writing "I long for the beat of Barriemore Barlow to break free, or the guitar of Martin Barre to swoop".[6]

AllMusic's review called the album "one of the minor efforts in the [Jethro Tull] catalogue".[7]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Ian Anderson

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Quizz Kid"   5:09
2. "Crazed Institution"   4:48
3. "Salamander"   2:51
4. "Taxi Grab"   3:54
5. "From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser"   4:09
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Bad-Eyed and Loveless"   2:12
2. "Big Dipper"   3:35
3. "Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die"   5:44
4. "Pied Piper"   4:32
5. "The Chequered Flag (Dead or Alive)"   5:32
  • "A Small Cigar" originally appeared on the 1993 album Nightcap.


Additional personnel

Orchestrations by David Palmer. Orchestra conducted by David Palmer.

External links[edit]