I was pretty skeptical myself of how this could be any good, not overly being all that fond of Christmas music myself; but was actually surprised to find that there was indeed a lot of worthwhile and interesting music on here, for example the album opener `Birthday Card At Christmas,’ is just a great little up tempo song with no sleigh bells or choirs and a good song besides, it would still be good if it were on either of their previous two albums Roots To Branches or Dot Com… and the same can be said for ‘Last Man To The Party.’
The music is all fairly pleasant and positive, and there aren’t that many heavy and driving rock tracks to be found but even so it still works surprisingly well as a new Jethro Tull record… yes the tracks are united in sound and lyrical themes, but so too were all the tracks on the band’s many concept albums so it isn’t as unnatural as it first seems.
In addition to the new material there are some reworkings of classic and rare material from different periods in Tull’s career, such as the late 60s track `A Christmas Song,’ the late 70’s tracks `Ring Solstice Bells,’ and `Weather Cock,’ as well as the early 80s `Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow,’ and early 90s track `Another Christmas Song,’ all of which are now connected by a shared vocal and production style on these re-recordings.
Overall; forget the whole Christmas thing for a second, if you enjoy Ian’s post-70’s voice, if you like Tull albums with a lot of flute work and instrumental quality then this is something worth at least a curiosity listen, I put it off for a few years too many and now regret doing so. Of course if you only like the band’s 60s and 70s output, maybe give this album a wide berth.
***If you can, try and get the re-released version that features an extra disc with an entire Christmas concert, Christmas At St. Bride’s 2008. An enjoyable and new way to hear Jethro Tull which features largely acoustic renditions of Tull music live inside a church (unusually with readings and choirs intact) that nicely pads out the set and adds more value for money.***