Songs from the Wood

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Songs from the Wood
Jethro Tull Songs from the Wood.jpg
Studio album by
Released11 February 1977
Recorded14 September – 16 November 1976
StudioMorgan Studios, London
GenreFolk rock, progressive folk, progressive rock, hard rock
ProducerIan 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 (EP)"
    Released: 22 November 1976 [1]
  2. "The Whistler"
    Released: 11 February 1977
  3. "Songs from the Wood"
    Released: 19 May 1977 (Aus. and NZ) [2]

Songs from the Wood is the tenth studio album by British progressive rock band Jethro Tull, released on 11 February 1977 by Chrysalis Records. The album is considered to be the first of three folk rock albums released by the band at the end of the 1970s: Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses (1978) and Stormwatch (1979).[3]

Inspired by English pagan folklore and countryside living, the album signalled a stylistic change for the band, performing in a wide-ranging folk rock style which combined traditional instruments and melodies with hard rock drums and electric guitars, rooted in the band's complex progressive rock style.[4] The album was the first Jethro Tull album to include Dee Palmer as an official member of the band, who after eight years of serving as the band's orchestral arranger had joined as a second keyboardist in early 1976.

The album was well received by critics upon its initial release, who considered the album a return to form for the band after several poorly reviewed albums.


The band began recording on 14 September 1976, recording "Ring Out, Solstice Bells" and finished on 16 November 1976, finishing "Jack-in-the-Green". All tracks were recorded in Studio 2 of Morgan Studios (except "Jack-in-the-Green", recorded in Studio 3 with Anderson on all instruments), the same studio where the band had recorded the majority of their discography up to that point. The album marked a return for the band to recording in the UK after having recorded their previous two albums abroad in Monaco.

Compared to previous Jethro Tull albums, Songs From the Wood saw greater writing contributions from other members of the band besides Anderson, particularly from new keyboardist Dee Palmer and guitarist Martin Barre. Palmer wrote significant portions of several songs, including the title track, "Hunting Girl", "Velvet Green", "Ring Out, Solstice Bells" and "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)" and also introduced the portative pipe organ to the rest of the band, an instrument which became a major element of the album's classical folk sound.[5] The band made use of a variety of other instruments and recording techniques to contribute to the album's folk theme, including medieval-era percussion played by Barlow such as nakers and a tabor as well as a reverse echo guitar effect played by Barre on "Pibroch (Cap in Hand)" to imitate the sound of bagpipes. "Ring Out, Solstice Bells" was recorded with the intention of being a Christmas single. However Chrysalis Records disliked that the song was in 7/4 time and asked the band to re-record the song in the more common 4/4 time, a suggestion which Anderson said that the band "weren't particularly pleased with."[5] The band re-recorded the song, now re-titled "Magic Bells" at Lansdowne Studios with Mike Batt of The Wombles producing, however the decision was eventually made by Chrysalis to scrap the new version and release the original instead.[5] One song recorded during the sessions for the album was cut, initially titled "Dark Ages" (the same name of a different song later featured on the band's 1979 album Stormwatch), the track remained unreleased until 2017 when it was included on the 40th Anniversary "Country Set" edition of the album, where it was given the title "Old Aces Die Hard" by Anderson.[5]

The band have identified the writing and recording sessions for the album as being a high point in personal relations within the band. Anderson credited the familiar surroundings of Morgan Studios with creating "a more relaxed and harmonious atmosphere in the band" with drummer Barrie Barlow agreeing that "I think we were indeed more settled and happier to be home." Palmer recalled that "On every measure the whole of that album was recorded in an atmosphere of great camaraderie and joy... Everybody was friends, everybody was happy." The band held a wrap party upon completion of the album's mixing, described by Anderson as "one of the very few occasions when we did have a slightly triumphal celebration of the finished thing."[5]

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"), Songs From the Wood was a departure from the hard rock of earlier Jethro Tull material, though it still retained some of the band's older, progressive sound.

Anderson's inspiration to pursue folk was inspired by recent changes in his personal life; he had recently gotten married and purchased a farm estate in rural Buckinghamshire, giving him "an opportunity to evaluate and reflect upon the cultural and historical significance of making that commitment to English residency."[6] Anderson was also partly inspired by the book Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain which was given to him by Jethro Tull's then manager Jo Lustig in 1976. According to Anderson, the book "certainly gave me thoughts about the elements of characters and stories that played out in my songwriting on the Songs From the Wood album, which then carried on over to the Heavy Horses album and even beyond that into the Stormwatch album."[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[4]
NME(Very favourable)[8]
SputnikMusic4/5 stars[9]
Sea of Tranquility5/5 stars[10]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[11]

In a retrospective review, AllMusic called Songs from the Wood "the prettiest record Jethro Tull released at least since Thick as a Brick".[4] Paul Stump lauded the album in his History of Progressive Rock, saying that "the barbed, rickety grandeur that Tull had left behind with Benefit had been rebottled in punchy numbers with enough melodic contours to satisfy latterday FM-radio demands. Once again, the band's riffs are unremarkable, but counterpointed - such as with synthesizers playing off mandolin on the title track - and the impact is mesmerizing." He also praised the depth of the soundstage, the emphasis of the folk element in the lyrics, and the way riffs are shared around the instrumental ensemble.[12]

In 2014 Songs from the Wood was included in the list The 100 Greatest Prog Albums of All Time by Prog magazine at number 76.[13] In 2000 it was voted number 520 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[14]


Decades after its release as a single, "Ring Out Solstice Bells" is played as a Christmas song in the United Kingdom.[15] It has been featured in lists of classic and favorite Christmas songs.[16]

Members of the band have ranked the album highly in retrospect, with Anderson counting it as among his top five personal favorite Jethro Tull albums.[5]


Chart (1977) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[17] 26
Denmark[18] 8
Billboard 8
UK (Official Charts Company)[19][20] 13


Although the front cover carries no credit to the effect, the back cover features the credit "front cover painting by Jay L. Lee". In fact, it is a photo on which outlines, lines and contours have simply been drawn with a pen (see tree branches, the dog's snout and Anderson's boots), with paint only occasionally added over the photo (as in the fire). The fact that this is a photo and not a painting is backed up by several other similar photos from the same photo session, some of which were used in the programme for the British tour in 1977, as well as on the concert poster. The credit "painting by ..." is probably based on a typical trick by Ian Anderson, who likes to joke with his fans. "Painting by" could also only refer to the post-processing of the photo. The LP cover depicts Ian Anderson sitting on a campfire after a successful hunt with a dog and prey. Under the band name is the line with kitchen prose, gutter rhymes and divers, 'including the album title (ie: "Jethro Tull // with kitchen prose, gutter rhymes and divers // songs from the wood").

Track listing[edit]

1977 original release[edit]

All tracks are written by Ian Anderson with additional material by Martin Barre and Dee Palmer.

Side one
1."Songs from the Wood"4:52
3."Cup of Wonder"4:30
4."Hunting Girl"5:11
5."Ring Out, Solstice Bells"3:43
Side two
6."Velvet Green"6:03
7."The Whistler"3:30
8."Pibroch (Cap in Hand)"8:35
9."Fire at Midnight"2:26
Total length:41:17
2003 Bonus tracks
11."Velvet Green" (Live)5:56

2017 40th Anniversary The Country Set Deluxe Edition[edit]

On 17 May 2017 Jethro Tull released a five disc ‘bookset’ version of Songs from the Wood with a 96-page booklet that includes a track-by-track annotation of the album and its associated recordings by Ian Anderson. It is similar to the band's other 40th Anniversary reissues, with the first disc containing another Steven Wilson stereo remix followed by ‘associated recordings’ including the previously unreleased "Old Aces Die Hard" and "Working John, Working Joe." The second and third discs contain 22 previously unreleased live tracks, recorded on the American leg of their 1977 Songs From The Wood Tour, from 21 November (Landover, Maryland) and 6 December (Boston), remixed to stereo by Jakko Jakszyk. The set also includes DVDs.[21]

CD 1: Steven Wilson stereo remix of the album and associated recordings
1."Songs From The Wood"4:55
3."Cup Of Wonder"4:34
4."Hunting Girl"5:10
5."Ring Out, Solstice Bells"3:48
6."Velvet Green"6:05
7."The Whistler"3:31
8."Pibroch (Cap in Hand)"8:35
9."Fire at Midnight"2:27
10."Old Aces Die Hard (previously unreleased)"8:41
11."Working John, Working Joe (previously unreleased)"5:11
12."Magic Bells (Ring Out, Solstice Bells)"3:25
13."Songs From The Wood (unedited master)"4:53
14."Fire at Midnight (previously unreleased unedited master)"2:35
15."One Brown Mouse (early version)"3:35
16."Strip Cartoon"3:19
17."The Whistler (US Stereo Single Mix)"3:32
CD 2: Live in Concert 1977
1."Wond’ring Aloud"2:33
2."Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day"4:04
4."Thick As A Brick"13:15
5."Songs From The Wood"6:01
7."Drum Solo Improvisation"4:16
8."To Cry You A Song"2:33
9."A New Day Yesterday"2:54
10."Flute Solo Improvisation interpolating – God Rest Ye Gentlemen/Bourée"8:14
11."Living in the Past/ A New Day Yesterday (reprise)"2:32
CD 3: Live in Concert 1977
1."Velvet Green"6:26
2."Hunting Girl"5:39
3."Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young To Die"4:16
4."Minstrel in the Gallery"5:39
5."Cross-Eyed Mary"3:45
7."Instrumental Improvisation"3:31
9."Back Door Angels / Guitar Improvisation /Wind Up (reprise)"7:15
10."Locomotive Breath"5:47
11."Land Of Hope And Glory / Improvisation / Back Door Angels (reprise)"4:00
DVD 1: Steven Wilson 5.1 surround and stereo mixes and flat transfer of the original stereo and quadraphonic mixes of the album and selected associated recordings
1."Songs From The Wood (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"4:55
2."Jack-In-The-Green (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"2:32
3."Cup Of Wonder (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"4:34
4."Hunting Girl (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"5:10
5."Ring Out, Solstice Bells (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"3:48
6."Velvet Green (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"6:05
7."The Whistler (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"3:32
8."Pibroch (Cap in Hand) (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"8:36
9."Fire at Midnight (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"2:28
10."Old Aces Die Hard (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"8:41
11."Working John, Working Joe (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"5:12
12."Magic Bells (Ring Out, Solstice Bells) (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"3:25
13."Songs From The Wood (unedited master) (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"4:53
14."Fire at Midnight (unedited master) (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"2:36
15."One Brown Mouse (early version) (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"3:35
16."Strip Cartoon (Steven Wilson Remix in 96/24 PCM Stereo)"3:19
17."Songs From The Wood (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"4:55
18."Jack-In-The-Green (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"2:32
19."Cup Of Wonder (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"4:34
20."Hunting Girl (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"5:10
21."Ring Out, Solstice Bells (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"3:48
22."Velvet Green (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"6:05
23."The Whistler (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"3:32
24."Pibroch (Cap in Hand) (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"8:36
25."Fire at Midnight (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"2:28
26."Old Aces Die Hard (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"8:41
27."Working John, Working Joe (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"5:12
28."Magic Bells (Ring Out, Solstice Bells) (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"3:25
29."One Brown Mouse (early version) (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"3:34
30."Strip Cartoon (Steven Wilson DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Remix)"3:19
31."Songs From The Wood (96/24 PCM Flat Transfer – Original Stereo Master)"4:56
32."Jack-In-The-Green (96/24 PCM Flat Transfer – Original Stereo Master)"2:32
33."Cup Of Wonder (96/24 PCM Flat Transfer – Original Stereo Master)"4:34
34."Hunting Girl (96/24 PCM Flat Transfer – Original Stereo Master)"5:14
35."Ring Out, Solstice Bells (96/24 PCM Flat Transfer – Original Stereo Master)"3:50
36."Velvet Green (96/24 PCM Flat Transfer – Original Stereo Master)"6:05
37."The Whistler (96/24 PCM Flat Transfer – Original Stereo Master)"3:33
38."Pibroch (Cap in Hand) (96/24 PCM Flat Transfer – Original Stereo Master)"8:37
39."Fire at Midnight (96/24 PCM Flat Transfer – Original Stereo Master)"2:31
40."Songs From The Wood (Flat Transfer of Original Quad Master-DTS/DD 4.0 Surround)"4:56
41."Jack-In-The-Green (Flat Transfer of Original Quad Master-DTS/DD 4.0 Surround)"2:33
42."Velvet Green (Flat Transfer of Original Quad Master-DTS/DD 4.0 Surround)"6:08
43."The Whistler (Flat Transfer of Original Quad Master-DTS/DD 4.0 Surround)"3:34
DVD 2: Live at The Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, 21 November 1977
1."Wond’ring Aloud"2:35
2."Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day"4:18
4."Thick As A Brick"13:47
5."Songs From The Wood"6:04
6."Instrumental/Drum Solo Improvisation"6:44
7."To Cry You A Song"2:34
8."A New Day Yesterday"2:54
9."Flute Solo Improvisation interpolating – God Rest Ye Gentlemen/Bourée"8:15
10."Living in the Past/ A New Day Yesterday (reprise)"2:36
11."Velvet Green"6:26
12."Hunting Girl"5:49
13."Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young To Die"4:23
14."Minstrel in the Gallery"5:42
15."Cross-Eyed Mary"3:45
17."Instrumental Improvisation"3:34
19."Back Door Angels / Guitar Improvisation /Wind Up (reprise)"7:18
20."Locomotive Breath"6:20
21."Land Of Hope And Glory / Improvisation / Back Door Angels (reprise)"4:02
22."Beethoven's Ninth (with original audio)"3:20
23."The Whistler (promo footage)(mono)"3:37


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. ^ "Jethro Tull singles".
  2. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Jethro Tull - Songs From The Wood". Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  3. ^ Hughes, Rob (23 January 2015). "Jethro Tull: keeping the folk fires burning". Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Eder, Bruce. Jethro Tull – Songs from the Wood (1977) album review, credits & releases at AllMusic. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Webb, Martin (2017). "Let Me Bring You...". Songs From the Wood: 40th Anniversary Edition - The Country Set. Chrysalis Records.
  6. ^ Scapelliti, Christopher (September 1999). ""Tull Tales" article on Guitar World". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  7. ^ Martin Webb. Songs From the Wood 40th Anniversary Edition booklet. Chrysalis Records. p. 13.
  8. ^ Humphries, Patrick (5 March 1977). "Jethro Tull Press: Jethro Tull – Songs from the Wood (1977) album review on New Musical Express". Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Jethro Tull – Songs from the Wood (1977) album review by vanderb0b". 1 August 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  10. ^ Pettengill, Steve (2004). "Review: 'Jethro Tull: Songs from the Woods (remaster) – Sea of Tranquility – The Web Destination for Progressive Music!". Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  11. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  12. ^ Stump, Paul (1997). The Music's All that Matters: A History of Progressive Rock. Quartet Books Limited. p. 212. ISBN 0 7043 8036 6.
  13. ^ Kilroy, Hannah May; Ewing, Jerry (6 August 2014). "The 100 Greatest Prog Albums of All Time". Prog magazine. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015.
  14. ^ Larkin, Colin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 180. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  15. ^ Scott, Patrick (25 December 2014). "Which are the most Christmassy Christmas songs?". Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  16. ^ "The 30 best Christmas songs of all time, ranked". Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  17. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 155. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  18. ^ "Jethro Tull – "Songs from the Wood" song on Danish Charts". Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Worldwide album charts of Jethro Tull albums". Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  20. ^ "Official Charts Company of Jethro Tull – Songs from the Wood (1977) album". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  21. ^ Sinclair, Paul. "NEWS Jethro Tull / Songs From The Wood / 40th anniversary deluxe edition". Super Deluxe Edition. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  22. ^ Jethro Tull – Songs from the Wood (1977) album liner notes [Album cover]. Chrysalis.

External links[edit]