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‘Ring Out These Bells’ from ‘Jethro Tull: The String Quartets': Exclusive Premiere

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Here’s an exclusive advance look at Ian Anderson‘s imaginative upcoming classical project, Jethro Tull: The String Quartets. The Yuletide-themed of “Ring Out, Solstice Bells,” which you can watch above, now features an updated arrangement by John O’Hara and the title “Ring Out These Bells.”

“This new string quartet version captures the spirit of the original recording,” Anderson tells Ultimate Classic Rock, “but with a really authentic Christmas classical interpretation with the flute – and a bit of the vocal sections of the familiar version. I can just feel the mistletoe quivering in anticipation of a quick kiss and no tell.”

Elsewhere, the Carducci String Quartet helps oversee the transformation of “Aqualung” as “Aquafugue,” while “Locomotive Breath” becomes “Loco” with the addition of a cadenza inspired by key Jethro Tull influence J.S. Bach. Anderson is featured on his familiar flute for “most of the tracks,” and – as with “Ring Out These Bells” – contributes occasional vocals, according to his official web site.

Though now a familiar presence each December on classic-rock playlists, “Ring Out, Solstice Bells” took a winding path toward inclusion on Jethro Tull’s 1977 album Songs From the Wood.

The song was written “as a reference to the winter solstice pagan festival and the latter-day transplanted Christian notional birth of the Biblical Jesus – but then the record company thought that we should release it as a Christmas single,” Anderson adds. “After a futile attempt to record a simpler, catchier version, we reverted to the original recording. It was released just too late to make the Top 10 charts in time for Christmas, but it has remained a radio play staple in the radio playlists for Christmas ever since.”

Jethro Tull: The String Quartets is available with “Ring Out These Bells” as an instant download via iTunes now. Pre-ordering for the physical release, which is due on March 24 from BMG/The End Records, is also already underway.

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