Tullica Archives

May 22, 2002

Jethro Tull - Living With the Past

Even though they have been one of my favorite bands for many years, I didn't have very high expectations of Living with the Past, their latest live album. Their 1999 studio album,, hadn't exactly set me on fire, and the last concert I'd been to had been, frankly, a bit on the dull side. Well, I must have caught them on an off night, because this live album, the bulk of which was recorded just a few months later, features the Tull I've loved all those years: a tight, dynamic rock group delivering classy songs with great instrumental skill and passion. Sure, singer Ian Anderson's voice is the worse for wear, but on this record, he really makes the most of what he's got, and on those long-standing live staples that he is the most confident with, songs like Aqualung and Locomotive Breath, he overcomes his limitations, helped by the vibes from his audience (I've observed this phenomenon in concert as well). Martin Barre's guitar is outstanding (as always, only more so) and for the first time in their history, they've managed to create a live CD with decent production value. Feel the power!
The tracklisting includes those classic songs that they just have to play, but also some lesser-known chestnuts such as Roots to Branches from "long before September 11", as Ian Anderson puts it, and Jack in the Green, from 1977's pastoral Songs from the Wood album. Most of the material is drawn from a concert in London in Novermber 2001, but it has been fleshed out with additional material such as a few acoustic sessions (including sterling recordings of Life's a Long Song and Wond'ring Aloud with a string quartet, and three tracks from a long-unavailable 1989 radio session. The DVD edition has a slightly different track selection. Since I don't have a DVD player, I can't comment on that.

(Depending on where you are, you may prefer to get the CD and/or DVD from Amazon UK.)

This is a backdated entry from before this weblog was started. It was originally posted on Since posting the review, I have got a DVD player and the DVD. I can't say I like the DVD as much as I like the CD - there is far too much post-production on the DVD. In their attempts to make it more than just a live registration, Ian Anderson and the DVD's producers have managed to make it far less. It's worth having for "Budapest" though.

March 1, 2004

Lines join in faint discord as the Stormwatch brews

Currently listening to: Stormwatch and A by Jethro Tull. These are the remastered editions. Both bear the logo of hate but I bought them anyway, because they are still very attractive to me as a long-standing Tullie overall.
Buyer Beware though: both albums had tracking errors on my Diskman. The DVD player can cope with them fine.

Stormwatch is the last of a trio of folky-sounding albums, but it's much darker than its predecessors. Ian Anderson played much of the bass guitarhimself and I love his angular approach to the instrument. It doesn't sound like any other bassist I know. All the other instrumental playing is excellent. However, the record is let down by the songwriting, which doesn't have the fluency of Tull's best efforts.

A, which I already had an original release CD of, is a much more interesting album musically. The arrival of three new musicians gave the group more of an edge, and the sound was unmistakably fresh and new. The apocalyptic tone of "Protect and Survive" and "Fylingdale Flyer" fit the mood of the time very well, and these songs still stand today. Unlike Stormwatch, A has no bonus tracks, but instead has a bonus DVD containing the long-unavailable "Slipstream" video.
What's annoying about all concert recordings from Tull is Anderson's tendency to a) tinker with the recording in the studio, re-doing much of the vocals, and b) in the case of videos, the misguided urge to make them "more than just a concert registration", which leads to the interpolation of staged video fragments, recordings from other sources and the use of cheesy effects. Living With The Past was marred by this, but the problem, if anything, was worse with Slipstream, where the concert footage is rudely interrupted by a music video set to "Sweet Dream" off the Bursting Out album, and another one of the then-current band performing a cheesy mime act to "Too Old to Rock'n'Roll, Too Young To Die", recorded five years earlier by a different line-up of the group. On the up side, the concert footage itself is excellent, and one other video, for "Fylingdale Flyer" is actually moderately interesting. The package as a whole is more than satisfying.

November 17, 2004

Speaking of droning on...

Funny how a drum solo could seem fleeting in 1970. Funnier still how time flies except when you're listening to that same drum solo 34 years later.
--Ian Anderson, in the sleeve notes to Live at the Isle of Wight 1970. I won't be buying this one until it becomes a lot cheaper, but I thought I'd let the Tullies in my readership know it's out.

April 18, 2005

Jethro Tull remasters: Broadsword, Under Wraps, Crest

The Jethro Tull remaster program has now hit the 1980s! The latest batch consists of 1982's The Broadsword and the Beast, 1984's Under Wraps and 1987's Crest of a Knave.

In the new notes, Ian Anderson says this about Under Wraps:

To most Tull fans, the idea of us sounding like a cross between The Police and Thomas Dolby was a little bit of a stretch in credibity. The fact was, we did it rather well.

Damn right they did. Of course, Tull fans bought it but hated it, and the people who would have been interested in the music on offer didn't buy it because it was a Jethro Tull album. Anderson was also embroiled with the record company, Chrysalis, at the time, so promotion left a lot to be desired (more on that in a separate post). But the album was really rather good, as a piece of 1980s electro-rock. The songs, dealing lyrically with human relationships as seen through the prism of spy story concepts*) have a dark, mysterious feel to them which is well-complemented by the cool, clinical sounds of the synthesizers and the uncharacteristically cerebral, fusion-esque guitar work by Martin Barre. Anderson did some innovative work with the drum machines as well, freeing the playing from the limitations of a human drummer with only two arms, two feet and limited ability to separate the movements of his limbs. And the tunes are memorable. One to try out if you like the music of the 1980s, even if Tull's other music leaves you cold.

Continue reading "Jethro Tull remasters: Broadsword, Under Wraps, Crest" »

July 6, 2005

Ian Anderson Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull

And suddenly, without any fanfare, there was a new Ian Anderson solo album. Or is it a new Jethro Tull album? Some people will wonder, as the name "Jethro Tull" is prominently traded on.

It's a solo album. It's a live concert recording of Ian Anderson with his new band and the Frankfurt Philharmonic Orchestra, playing a mix of tracks from three of Anderson's four solo albums and Jethro Tull classics. Having just been paid by my biggest client, I snapped it up and gave it a few spins.

Continue reading "Ian Anderson Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull" »

September 21, 2005

Jethro Tull: Aqualung Live

(Note: All album links in this post go to Amazon UK. )
I've got several albums in the review queue, but I'm going to do this one first, for two reasons:
1. My referrals indicate that there are a lot of people interested in reading about new Jethro Tull releases, possibly because the band's official website dropped the ball on Ian Anderson Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull. This album is still being announced as a future release even though I could buy it in July. It's a future release in the US but not in Europe.
2. This new live album is a limited edition in Europe, so for the benefit of the people searching for info on Orchestral Jethro Tull I want to mention it in case it sells out before they've heard of it. Fans in the US will be able to get it as a freebie if they buy tickets for concerts taking place this Fall.

Aqualung Live is a live recreation of Jethro Tull's best-known album Aqualung, recorded as part of XM Radio's "Then Again" series. Royalties from the European release go to various charities for the homeless.

Continue reading "Jethro Tull: Aqualung Live" »

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Waffle in the Tullica category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

ShinyDisk Watch is the previous category.

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