Jethro Tull Boxed Stets
10 December 2016 Recommends
Jethro Tull Boxed Sets
Jethro Tull originally started off as a band ploughing that peculiarly English furrow, The British Blues Boom of the late sixties. The band’s first album This was released in 1968 was like many other Blues rock albums released in that year, well not quite. The band really did have that something special which will no doubt become apparent when that album gets the super deluxe treatment in due course. So far, the band have enjoyed the delights of their audio and in some cases visual archive being opened by Steven Wilson who has transformed the catalogue into boxed sets of some beauty and magnificence.
Stand Up is the most recent release from the band in the series of boxed sets overseen by Steven Wilson who has gone through the albums and remixed them for 5.1 Stereo. These boxed sets really are the definitive editions of the albums so far released. Stand Up was the bands second album and first to feature long time guitarist martin Barre. This album saw the band moving away in some haste from the blues boom which was just as well because that genre was by the time of Stand Up’s release in the summer of 1969 on the way out.
In this box, you get the original album and sessions recorded round the time of the album so in essence some of the alternate takes and sessions not present on the original album. These included Living In The Past and versions of Bouree and Driving Song. There are also tracks culled from the BBC sessions the band undertook around the release of the album. On the DVD disc, you get the 5.1 DTS remix along with two songs filmed live in Sweden in January 1969. Absolute gold dust because really this footage was filmed at the very start of the life of this line up and captures the band rather nicely at the time and To Be Sad Is A Mad Way To Be and back To The Family are welcome additions to the Tull video archive.
The final disc contains the live show from Sweden in audio format from the second show and also a bonus from the first show with To Be Sad Is A Mad Way To Be with different lyrics no less. Finally we get the mono mix of both sides of the single Living In The past and a couple of radio promo spots.
Inside of course is the usual booklet containing n all the info you could ever want about what Jethro Tull were getting up to in 1969 with plenty of previously unseen photos and to add the final touch we also have the Stand Up replica from the original album. Quite an achievement for a reissue then but really these Jethro Tull reissues are not just reissues banged out to cash in. There has been a great deal of love and affection poured into these boxed sets by both Steven Wilson and of course Ian Anderson
Aqualung was probably the first Jethro Tull album many of us got on our continuing voyage of discovery withy Ian Anderson and the boys. It was certainly a huge seller when it was released in 1971. This landmark album was in the main recorded at Island Studios at the same time Led Zeppelin were recording their untitled fourth album as Ian Anderson once told me. The contents of this box Comprises an 11-track remastered CD album [a Steven Wilson stereo remix] and a 16-track CD of associated 1970 & 1971 recordings. Also includes a 21-track audio DVD featuring 5.1 DTS & DD Mixes and a 27-track audio/video DVD along with an 80-page booklet. All housed in a hardback book style picture sleeve.
Of course, the sleeve has always given the impression that Ian Anderson is the model on the cover which again over the years has found at pains to explain it was never meant to depict the singer. He’s not standing on one leg for a start. In all seriousness the artwork is Iconic but the contents of the album really are incredible. More so when you consider new bassist Jeffrey Hammond had only just joined the band and literally learned to play the bass for the sessions. There are some fans who would argue that Aqualung was the best album the band had recorded to that point in their career and also, they would never better it. Well of course that is all subjective but among Tull fans this is certainly one album that repeatedly finds favour with the fan base. Disc one contains the album featuring such classic Tull tracks as Aqualung, Cross Eyed Mary, Wind Up, My God and Locomotive Breath. Many people will tell you it is a concept album but the reality is a few songs could may be termed as themed but there is no real concept as Ian Anderson would tell you. Disc two contains the associated recordings including the Life Is A Long Song EP and another stereo remix from Steven Wilson.
All the remixes and flat transfers are then to be found in the two remaining DVD discs along with the promo film for Life’s A Long Song. If there is one Jethro Tull box that you want to dip your toe in the water with, then this boxed set of Aqualung is probably the best place to start.
Thick As A Brick is at the opposite end of the spectrum if Aqualung is the first box to dive into. This album which was originally released in 1972 contained just two tracks and came housed in a mock-up of a newspaper (The St Cleve Chronicle to be precise) All the music and words were composed by a genius Gerald Bostock who of course was Ian Anderson, You did know that didn’t you? Well anyway this was a grand concept with of course Ian Anderson’s tongue firmly planted in his cheek. Just one problem everyone went on to think it really was a serious conceptual work. Musically of course it was an incredible album and contains some of the bands finest ensemble playing throughout
Just two discs in this repackaged version of the Tull classic. You get a CD with the whole album remixed by Steven Wilson and a DVD containing a new stereo remix and the 5.1DTS surround sound mix. There is also a radio promo tagged on to the end. No mocked-up newspaper to wrap this set up in but the box is styled as all the others are in the series like a book and the text inside is incredibly informative and engaging. Thick As A Brick often tops the polls in top Prog album and concept but reading the book you get the feeling that Ian Andersons original concept was a little less serious than many would say. For the hardened Tull fan and there are more than a few then this album will be the one they want.
A Passion Play The follow up to Thick As A Brick was not received as well as its more illustrious predecessor Like its predecessor, Thick As A Brick, it is a concept album the theme being the spiritual journey of one man in the afterlife. An interesting concept for sure and perhaps a tricky sell although it did incredibly well in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic reaching the top twenty in the UK and made number 1 in the American Billboard charts. Ian Anderson is quite philosophical about A Passion Paly and the reception it got from many of the critics. “We were due a good kicking really and with A Passion Play we got it”
The contents of this box really are a treasure trove for the Jethro Tull fan who immediately went out and bought the original album in 1973. Two CDs and two DVDs CD one contains the original album remixed by Steven Wilson and CD two contains the abandoned sessions that forced Ian Anderson to completely re think and write a new album which would become A Passion Play. The legendary Chateau D’Isaster tapes recorded in France at the Chateau D’Herouville actually sound really good in the cold light of day and it is interesting to note that the original idea for the album would not have been the grand concept that A Passion Play became. The DVDs while containing the usual 5.1 remixes also feature the short film which was shown as part of the live Jethro Tull show to promote A Passion Play. The band did seem rather enamoured of the film format as we shall see in further releases
Contents include digitally remastered and expanded four-disc (two CDs + two DVD-As) case-bound book edition including the original album, earlier Chateau D’Herouville sessions and two DVD-As containing 5.1 surround sound mixes of these recordings by Steven Wilson. A Passion Play was the sixth studio album by Jethro Tull and while the band toured the album for a lengthy period throughout 1973 the critics barbs began to bite and later in the year the band announced its retirement form live shows……… Well not quite because the announcement was made by the management rather than the band which left Ian Anderson to clean up the mess. Of course, the band continued as the wonderfully complete text contained in the box explains and Jethro Tull would live to fight another day with War Child their next album
War Child, the album which followed the erroneous “Retirement” press release was an entirely different album to the bands previous two albums. This was a collection of songs rather than one long concept as Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play were. There was another problem however. Film!
Yep in their wisdom the band decided that they wanted to make a film and war Child was what remained of the planned soundtrack for the film. Much more was recorded for this album although it was tightly arranged music that did not feature many of the members of Jethro Tull. It was originally meant to be a double album with a mix of the Tull songs that made up the eventual album and incidental music for the film. The band however could not find threw backing for the film hence the album Was paired back to a ten-track rock album. On this boxed set however you can now actually hear the full recordings reinstated which includes the orchestral music recprded for the original film soundtrack.
What you get here is DVD 1 (Audio & Video): Contains: WarChild remixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and 96/24 PCM stereo. A flat transfer from the original 1974 LP master at 96/24 PCM stereo. A flat transfer of the original 1974 Quad LP (with additionally Glory Row & March, The Mad Scientist) at 5.1 (4.0) DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound. Video clips of a Montreux photo session and press conference on 11th January 1974 and The Third Hoorah promo footage with remixed stereo audio. DVD 2 (Audio): Contains: An additional eleven group recordings from the WarChild sessions and later, including 3 previously unreleased tracks, and 4 orchestral recordings from the WarChild sessions mixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and 96/24 PCM stereo. Six additional orchestral recordings (five previously unreleased) mixed by Robin Black in 1974, now in 96/24 PCM stereo. Listening to the full concept as it were it makes you wonder what a film would have been like. Sadly no footage was ever shot so you will have to imagine what it was like but musically speaking the soundtrack as it is turned out very well.
Minstrel In The Gallery was the follow up album to war Child and again another standard format rock album. A number of things were different for this album however as it was recorded outside the UK using the newly commissioned Maison Rouge mobile studio which was owned by Ian Anderson. This album was the last album to feature Jeffrey Hammond who had told Ian Anderson when he joined for the Aqualung sessions in 1970 that he would do the job for five years and true to his word once the tour to promote Minstrel In The Gallery was over he hung up his bass and burned his striped stage outfits………
Musically Ian Anderson sees Minstrel In The Gallery as more a singer songwriter album than a Tull album although that isn’t to say that as a Tull album Minstrel isn’t a great album, it is. Just not really like too many of the previous Jethro Tull albums in the bands catalogue
Disc One contains the original album, as ever remixed by Steven Wilson. You also get outtakes from the sessions in the form of various takes and a trio of BBC sessions from the period. Disc t=Two is of real interest to the Jethro Tull fan base as it finds the band in a live situation in Pareis during the tour to promote Minstrel In The Gallery and a fine performance it is too.
The DVDs contain the by now obligatory 5,1 remixes and some salvaged video footage of the band performing the title track of the album live in Paris. Sadly, this is all that could be salvaged but it certainly makes another worthy addiction to the Jethro Tull video archive. So once again another era of Jethro Tull ends with the leaving of Jeffrey Hammond but the replacement wasn’t too far away as John Glascock was recruited from the support act on the tour as explained in the extensive notes in this box. We will hear more about John Glascock in the next in the series of Jethro Tull boxed sets….. Too Old To Rock n Roll, Too Young To Die.
Too Old To Rock n Roll Too Young To Die once again started out as something quite different to the album that many thought it was. This time it was meant to be the basis of a stage show which as once again the band could not find the financial backing reverted to a traditional rock album.
The concept is a valid one in terms of story board and perhaps foretold the coming of punk some nine months following the release of this album. In terms of sound the addition of John Glascock saw no noticeable difference in the overall sound of the band. A well-chosen replacement then. The story which was portrayed on the cover in comic strip format was the story of an old rocker who strangely bore an uncanny resemblance to Ian Anderson. Once again Ian Anderson explained that it really was not the original idea but once presented with it decided to run with it. Essentially the main character Ray Lomas wins money and becomes a rock star but tries committing suicide and is left in a coma for years only to re awaken and find that his style and fashion sense are once again hip. The message being that music styles go in and out of fashion and if you stick around and persevere you will be successful again. Well that is how I remember seeing it at the time.
Packed with loads of extras this box will certainly appeal to the long-time fan as in addition to the Steven remixes you also get the re-recorded album which was used as the soundtrack for the TV special which was filmed around the release of the original album plus the TV special which is incredible watching again as I certainly remember it from the original broadcast. So, Too Old To Rock n Roll, Too Young To Die? Well not really as Ian Anderson proved with Jethro Tull many times over the years and still proves when he records and releases solo albums and tours to promote them and the Jethro Tull catalogue or as he calls it repertoire.