War Child (album)

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For other uses, see War Child (disambiguation).
War Child
Studio album by Jethro Tull
Released 14 October 1974 (US)
26 October 1974 (UK)
Recorded December 1973-February 1974 at Morgan Studios, London (except tracks 6 and 8: September 1972)
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock[1]
Length 39:21
Label Chrysalis
Producer Ian Anderson
Jethro Tull chronology
A Passion Play
War Child
Minstrel in the Gallery
Singles from
War Child
  1. "Bungle in the Jungle"
    Released: 1974
  2. "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day"
    Released: 1974

War Child is the seventh studio album by Jethro Tull, released in October 1974. It was released almost one-and-a-half years after the release of A Passion Play. The turmoil over the critics of the last album and the supposed disbanding of the band surrounds the production of War Child, which obliged the band to do press conferences and explain the next plans for Jethro Tull.[2][3][4]


Much of the music derived from past recording sessions of the band. "Only Solitaire" and "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day" were left over from the summer 1972 writing sessions for what was to have been the follow-up to Thick as a Brick (1972). The basic tracks and lead vocals for those two songs were recorded during September 1972 sessions in France. "Bungle in the Jungle" also shares some elements with material recorded in September 1972. Ian Anderson told Songfacts: "It was actually late '72 or early '73 when I was in Paris recording an album that never got released, although one or two of the tracks made it out in 1974, but that was at a time when I was writing an album that was exploring people, the human condition, through analogies with the animal kingdom.".[5] "Two Fingers" is a rearrangement of "Lick Your Fingers Clean", a track from the Aqualung (1971) recording sessions that was not included on that album's original release.


Originally meant to accompany a film project (the album was planned as a double-album set), it was reinstated as a ten-song, single-length rock album after failed attempts to find a major movie studio to finance the film.[6] The "War Child" movie was written as a metaphysical black comedy concerning a teenage girl in the afterlife, meeting characters based on God, St. Peter and Lucifer portrayed as if shrewd businessmen. Notable British actor Leonard Rossiter was to have been featured, Margot Fonteyn was to have choreographed, while Monty Python veteran John Cleese was pencilled in as a "humour consultant".


The front cover is a composite photograph featuring a positive color print of Melbourne at night, and a negative print of a studio photo of lead singer Ian Anderson. The back cover of the album contains images of people, including the five members of the band, friends, wives, girlfriends, Chrysalis Records staff, and manager Terry Ellis, all related to the song titles. Anderson's personal touring assistant (and future wife) Shona Learoyd appears as a ringmaster, while Terry Ellis appears as a leopard skin-clad, umbrella-waving aggressive businessman.

Music style and themes[edit]

The album prominently features David Palmer’s string orchestration across an eclectic musical set, with the band members, as the two predecessor albums, playing a multitude of instruments. The music is lighter and more whimsical than the dark A Passion Play, with hints of comedy in the lyrics and the music' structure. Although, the lyrics still unleash lashing critiques of established society (as in "Queen and Country" and "Bungle in the Jungle"), religion ("Two Fingers") and critics ("Only Solitaire").[7]


Tracks slated to accompany the film such as "Quartet" and "Warchild Waltz" were unearthed and released across several Tull compilations, and finally all of them appeared on the 2002 CD reissue.

In 2014, commemorating the 40th anniversary of War Child, a limited edition in a three-disc package's remixed by Steven Wilson called War Child: The 40th Anniversary Theatre Edition was released. It contains unreleased tracks, like War Child II, a promo video of "The Third Hoorah", the orchestral pieces that were originally written for the film project, a script synopsis of it and annotations track by track of Ian Anderson.[8][9]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[10]
Džuboks (mixed)[11]
Rolling Stone (unfavourable)[12]
Sputnik Music 2.5/5 [13]

1974 Rolling Stone review continues very harsh on Jethro Tull, as in A Passion Play: "Each handcrafted track comes chock-full of schmaltz, strings, tootie-fruitti sound effects and flute toots to boot, not to mention Anderson's warbling lyricism.", concluding, the reviewer said: "Remember: Tull rhymes with dull." [12] AllMusic review, by Bruce Eder, recognize the quality of the album and the musicians, but stated that: "[War Child] never made the impression of its predecessors, however, as it was a return to standard-length songs following two epic-length pieces. It was inevitable that the material would lack power, if only because the opportunity for development that gave Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play some of their power."[14]

War Child went Gold in the U.S., were it peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard pop albums chart. On the other hand, the sales decreased in U.K., where it reached No. 14. In Norway it reached No. 8.


  • "Rainbow Blues" was covered by Blackmore's Night, former Deep Purple's guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's band. The song was released on their 2003 album Ghost of a Rose. Blackmore's Night also performed the song live.

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Ian Anderson.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "War Child"   4:35
2. "Queen and Country"   3:00
3. "Ladies"   3:17
4. "Back-Door Angels"   5:30
5. "Sealion"   3:37
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day"   4:09
7. "Bungle in the Jungle"   3:35
8. "Only Solitaire"   1:38
9. "The Third Hoorah"   4:49
10. "Two Fingers"   5:11


Jethro Tull
Additional personnel


  1. ^ Bruce Eder. "War Child - Jethro Tull | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  2. ^ "Jethro Tull Press: Circus Raves, November 1974". Tullpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  3. ^ "Jethro Tull Press: Melody Maker, 7 December 1974". Tullpress.com. 1974-12-07. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  4. ^ "Jethro Tull Press: LA Times, 22 December 1974". Tullpress.com. 1974-12-22. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  5. ^ "Bungle in the Jungle". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 17 October 2009. 
  6. ^ "Surprise - The Abandoned "War Child" Movie Outline". Archived from the original on 2006-03-18. 
  7. ^ "War Child". Jethrotull.com. 1974-10-14. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  8. ^ repeat repeat off. "Jethro Tull stream The Orchestral War Child Theme - Prog". Prog.teamrock.com. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  9. ^ "Jethro Tull ‘War Child’ 40th anniversary remix". StevenWilsonHQ.com. 2014-09-29. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  10. ^ Allmusic review
  11. ^ Konjović, Slobodan. "Jethro Tull – War Child". Džuboks (in Serbian) (Gornji Milanovac: Dečje novine) (6 (second series)): 24. 
  12. ^ a b "Jethro Tull Press: Rolling Stone, 19 December 1974". Tullpress.com. 1974-12-19. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  13. ^ "Jethro Tull - War Child (album review )". Sputnikmusic.com. 2006-03-16. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  14. ^ Bruce Eder. "War Child - Jethro Tull | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 

External links[edit]