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Jethro Tull - Live At Madison Square Garden 1978 (DVD + CD) CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.36 | 103 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Well, here it is, this is the big one: the legendary Jethro Tull satellite broadcast from 1978. A concert DVD/CD set which includes much of the same material as BURSTING-OUT, but WITH moving images this time: who could ask for more?

I was never really convinced by earlier Jethro Tull concert releases on DVD. Concerts from the past few decades may have the clearest possible sound and sophisticated multi-angle camera work, but you just don't get the band's best line-up (featuring both John Evan and David Palmer on keyboards, and the imitable Barrie Barlowe on drums). The concert DVD from the Isle of Wight was fascinating but for some strange reason we hardly saw anything of Martin Barre, and to make things worse the DVD and the CD of the concert are only available separately.

With LIVE AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN Ian Anderson has gone one better. He's made CD and DVD of the concert available in a single packet, for the price of no more than one CD. It's the best kind of Christmas present a Tull fan could imagine. And what a concert this is! In my view, the "abbreviated edition" of THICK AS A BRICK alone is worth more than the price of entry. I've always preferred this shorter version to the original studio recording, and to see it played live by one of the most inventive 1970s bands at the top of their game, now THIS is what I call prog heaven.

No matter how much you might admire all the big-city-based music by the likes of Blondie, Television, the Clash and the Jam that was coming into fashion when LIVE AT MSG was originally broadcast (and no matter how suspicious you might be of the peculiar "back to the country" philosophy Jethro Tull was peddling at the time), these performances reveal, once and for all, that the Tull weren't pompous, and they certainly weren't a dinosaur: their music bursts with energy, playfulness and vitality, and furthermore it's more subtle and intricate than the wilful primitivism of the punks. I must admit I have my doubts about some of the "humour" in the show (John Evan makes for a lousy Harpo, for example) but it's fascinating to watch Ian Anderson's antics - they must have been visible even to those who sat at the very back of MSG!

Many of the tunes performed have been up on YouTube for a while, so most people who log into progarchives will probably know the filming for TV has a rather improvised air to it. Visually speaking, the broadcast is far less sophisticated than most of the performances in that renowned Led Zep double-DVD, but to me this didn't spoil the fun. What you see on the DVD is still far clearer than any snippets YouTube had to offer, and the remastered sound is many times more refined.

P.S. The bass in this concert is played by a certain Tony Williams, standing in for John Glascock. Williams must have rehearsed the music really well, since his playing is faultless and so vivid you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd been with the Tull from Day One!

fuxi | 4/5 |


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