Songs from the Wood

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Songs from the Wood
Jethro Tull Songs from the Wood.jpg
Studio album by Jethro Tull
Released 11 February 1977
Recorded Autumn 1976 at Morgan Studios, London and Maison Rouge Mobile
Genre Progressive folk, progressive rock
Length 41:22
Label Chrysalis
Producer Ian Anderson
Jethro Tull chronology
Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die!
Songs from the Wood
Repeat – The Best of Jethro Tull – Vol II
Singles from
Songs from the Wood
  1. "Ring Out, Solstice Bells"
    Released: December 3, 1976
  2. "The Whistler"
    Released: February 11, 1977
  3. "Songs from the Wood"
    Released: 1977

Songs from the Wood is the tenth studio album by Jethro Tull, released February 1977. The album signalled a new direction for the band who turned to celebrating British pagan folklore and the countryside life in a wide-ranging folk rock style which combined traditional instruments and melodies with hard rock drums and electric guitars.[1]

The album is considered to be the first of a trio of folk rock albums: Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses (1978) and Stormwatch (1979).[2] On the album cover appears an extended title line: "Jethro Tull—with kitchen prose, gutter rhymes and divers—Songs from the Wood." The title track of the album contain two of these phrases in its lyrics.

The UK music-paper adverts read: "Jethro Tull present 'Songs From The Wood'. A new album of Old Magic. Songs From The Wood. It's inspired by the thought that perhaps nature isn't as gentle as we'd like to believe. And it takes as its theme the natural and supernatural inhabitants of the woodlands of old England. Warm and friendly, harsh and bitter by turns, it includes 'Ring Out Solstice Bells' as well as Tull's new single 'The Whistler' and seven other songs. Find a quiet spot and listen to it soon."

The 2003 remastered edition includes a pair of bonus tracks, featuring a live rendition of "Velvet Green."


The album was recorded right after the tour of the previous album, Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! (1976), and demonstrated the desire of Anderson to change the musical style of the band, since he was meeting and even producing music from the folk rock scene - for Steeleye Span, he produced the album Now We Are Six. Also, as Anderson said: "After Too Old to Rock and Roll, we returned to England, and I settled down, got married and bought a home. It gave me an opportunity to evaluate and reflect upon the cultural and historical significance of making that commitment to English residency."[3] Being this the first Jethro Tull album to feature keyboardist David Palmer as an official band member, their music gained complexity and variety, with more instruments being played and a sound that derives from Palmer's classical leanings and the strong presence of Martin Barre's electric guitar. Both Palmer and Barre are credited for contributing material to the album.

The song, "Jack-in-the-Green," features Ian Anderson on all the instruments.

Musical style and themes[edit]

Filled with imagery from medieval Britain (especially in the "Jack-in-the-Green," "Cup of Wonder," and "Ring Out Solstice Bells" lyrics), and ornamental folk arrangement (as in "Velvet Green" and "Fire at Midnight"), or the experimentalism of "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)" where Martin Barre's guitar simulates bagpipes,[2] the album is a departure from the hard rock of earlier Jethro Tull material, though it still retained some of the band's older sound. The album highlights the band at its most playful and due to its lush production and more noticeable use of keyboards is perhaps one of the band's most obviously progressive rock oriented releases.[4]

The descriptive term "folk music" has been dismissed by Anderson and Barre as not relevant to the album. Folk has a strong connotation of American singer-songwriters performing activist songs in coffeehouses, whereas Songs from the Wood was composed and performed as a tribute to the UK.[5] Anderson said that the album was "for all the band members... a reaffirmation of our Britishness."[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
NME (Very favourable)[6]
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Sputnik Music 4/5 stars[7]

Songs from the Wood was the first Tull album to receive unambiguously positive reviews since the time of Living in the Past (1972). AllMusic called the album: "the prettiest record Jethro Tull released at least since Thick as a Brick."[8] In the Heavy Horses (1978) review by the Rolling Stone magazine, it is recalled that Songs from the Wood "may well have been the group's best record ever."[9]

The album reached No. 8 on the Billboard album chart, making it the last top ten album for the band in the US. The song "The Whistler" was the only song to chart as a single in the United States, peaking at No. 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1977. The album peaked at No. 13 on the UK Albums Chart.[10]

Songs From the Wood was included in the list The 100 Greatest Prog Albums Of All Time by ProgMagazine at number 76.[11]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Ian Anderson with additional material by Martin Barre and David Palmer

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Songs from the Wood"   4:52
2. "Jack-in-the-Green"   2:27
3. "Cup of Wonder"   4:30
4. "Hunting Girl"   5:11
5. "Ring Out, Solstice Bells"   3:43
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Velvet Green"   6:03
7. "The Whistler"   3:30
8. "Pibroch (Cap In Hand)"   8:35
9. "Fire at Midnight"   2:26


Jethro Tull
Additional personnel
  • Robin Black – sound engineering
  • Thing Moss and Trevor White – assistant engineers
  • Keith Howard – wood-cutter
  • Jay L. Lee – front cover painting
  • Shirt Sleeve Studio – back cover


  1. ^ a b Eder, Bruce. Album review Jethro Tull Songs from the Wood at AllMusic. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Jethro Tull: keeping the folk fires burning - Classic Rock". Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  3. ^ a b "Jethro Tull Press: Guitar World, September 1999". Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  4. ^ "Songs from the Wood". 1977-02-11. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  5. ^ Nollen, Scott Allen (2001). Jethro Tull: A History of the Band, 1968–2001. McFarland. p. 121. ISBN 9780786411016. 
  6. ^ "Jethro Tull Press: NME, 5 March 1977". 1977-03-05. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  7. ^ "Jethro Tull - Songs from the Wood (album review 2)". 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  8. ^ Bruce Eder. "Songs from the Wood - Jethro Tull | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  9. ^ Bloom, Michael (1978-09-21). "Jethro Tull Heavy Horses Album Review". Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  10. ^ "UK chart history Jethro Tull Songs from the Wood". Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ (1977). "Songs from the Wood liner notes". In Songs from the Wood [Album cover]. Chrysalis.

External links[edit]