I actually know people who consider the dividing line between the great Jethro Tull albums from the ones that they considered not to be up to par as the one between Benefit and Aqualung. With four decades of hindsight standing between now and then, I find this to be a rather astonishing thought for consideration given how revered Aqualung became. But this is besides the point because Glen Cornick did not play bass on Aqualung. However, he did play bass on This Was, Stand Up and Benefit. He can also be heard and seen on the DVD and CD releases for Nothing Is Easy: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970.
Without getting lost in any arguments over dividing lines among fans over what are the greatest albums Ian Anderson developed for Jethro Tull, there can be no doubting that This Was, Stand Up & Benefit created a standard by which Anderson was going to have to build upon. It was going to be up to listeners to decide whether he kept that standard or not.
When you consider how unique an approach Anderson was taking a Rock band in using a flute as a lead instrument in a Blues format on the first album (This Was) and then expanding into Rock, Jazz and British Isles music traditions for the following albums, you had to really be careful not to stomp all over the lead instrument.
Glen Cornick is never going to be remembered as a household name, but Tull fans will always greatly admire that he drove a band with a unique sound and that to be a part of the framework of what Anderson was attempting to create required equal parts muscle and and equal parts gentleness.
Honestly, I’m almost frightened to think of how much more different it could have been had songs like “A Song For Jeffrey”, “Bouree”, “Nothing Is Easy” and “Living In The Past”, among others, would have been had he not been the one who helped to craft the bass lines for Anderson.
The three above-mentioned albums came drifting out of the room of my two older brothers in the ’70s and I dug them. Back in the Fall of 1972, the bass lines of Cornick grabbed a hold of me and took me to a place where I wished I could always stay in. “Living In The Past” explained the culture I was coming through and how bruised we all were (even though the song was actually recorded in 1969) and lucky to have survived the ride. The song also took me to a place of comfort where I always wanted to stay. The song continues to inform me of the world I live in and I wish I could still get to that place I want to go to when things get too heavy. Thanks to Glen Cornick, at least I have an idea of what the bliss is that I’m looking for. I heard it in that sound.