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


Jethro Tull

Prog Folk

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4 stars Sporting the cover of the CD/DVD set is a very strange looking Ian Anderson with a typically normally looking Martin Barre. Anderson looks like he is getting ready to do something perverted with his flute again. Glad to know 31 years on nothing much has changed in that respect.

Live At Madison Square Garden (CD/DVD) is one of several live Jethro Tull DVD's that have become available over the last few years. I am glad that I didn't miss this one because it's a real gem. It contains a 93 minute concert recording in 5.1 DTS (96/24) surround sound (+Dolby Digital 5.1 & LPCM 2.0) and within all of that is 50 minutes of video footage from the groundbreaking (an often over used term in music but in this case true) of an international broadcast via satellite on October 9, 1978. The CD is a 78 minute edited stereo version of the concert. The only difference in tracks between the two is the "Bagpipe Intro" on the DVD and obviously the visual impact of a live Jethro Tull performance that is so strikingly brought to life again.

The camera work is typical from the 70's, the usual pulling in and out in an annoying way but other than that it is a quality video in an astounding 5.1 surround sound bringing it to present day specs in respect to auditory pleasures. The CD's sound is very good as well sounding full and crisp in stereo.

I never saw JT during this time period and wish I did. I have seen them three times now in 00's and with each passing year Anderson's voice deteriorates, which is normal I would think after performing for over 40 years. In any event I would still go see them live at the drop of a hat because they are as sharp as ever musically and Ian is always very entertaining.

In 1978 JT were in their prime with presenting tracks from period albums like War Child, Minstrel In The Gallery, Too Old Too Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young Too Die!, Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses. Not to mention the multitude of legendary releases prior to that. Their performances never lacked substance or moments of exhilaration. With all of that great material to draw that from it is no wonder. This performance is exceptional and the reproduction in sound and vision is really extraordinary when you take all points into consideration. I actually did not expect it to be that good but was also disappointed how it ended so abruptly like someone pulled the plug (gremlins in the sat com). No doubt this was due to many factors of the day that came into play which I am sure would not be a concern with today's technologies. The booklet is rather skimpy yet an adequate overview. This would not be a suitable addition for a casual rock fan's collection but a must for hardcore JT fans like yours truly.

Highlights include some incredible solo takes from Barre and innovative flute playing from Anderson. A typically superb Jethro Tull performance after all is said and done. It would have been a nicer package to treasure if there were some interviews with the band members and bonus treats that I have become so spoiled in expecting but I love this band and this reminded of why. Even though they could of done so much more (and maybe they still will) with the presentation and packaging of this important event it is easy to forgive all the inadequacies when you simply love the music and it brings you so much joy.

3.5/5 Stars

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck

Report this review (#246208)
Posted Sunday, October 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
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!

Report this review (#257410)
Posted Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The famous Jethro Tull at Madison Square Garden in 1978. One of their most intristing shows from their career and the most well known, is a real treat for the watchers and listners aswell. Well, the DVD beggins with only audio tracks over some pictures of the band , first 3 tracks Sweet dream , One brown mouse and Heavy horses, then the DVD truly beggins with Thick as brick. The prestation of the band is faultless as always both on stage and in studio . Very nice job and a real entertainer Ian Anderson, who fill the stage with every move and every flute note he plays. The rest of the musicians shines, Martin Barre is a real guitar hero and an unique musician. So, a pleasent DVD, good solid concert from JT career, but the DVd is nothing like an essentil to view, at least for me.3.5 rounded to 4, because I like JT a lot, one of my fav bands ever, and for version of No Lullaby who sounds brilliantly here and with Barriemore Barlow behind the drums at the highest level, not to mention the rest of the musicians.
Report this review (#259204)
Posted Monday, January 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This DVD/CD package is an absolute must have for any Jethro Tull fan; finally a concert DVD from the classic 1970s period and the closest thing possible to having a video version of Tull's seminal live album `Bursting Out.'

The set comes in a fantastic shiny Digipak containing a booklet with photos and linear notes from Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson himself as well as manager Terry Ellis. Now for the interesting part; the original broadcast only features 50 minutes of recorded footage, but Jethro Tull played an hour and a half long concert so the cd contains a 78 minute long version of the concert (with all the dead air and segments without music edited out) while the DVD contains the full video concert, plus seven audio only bonus tracks and you can choose to either `play all,' or `play video only.' Perhaps this was an inelegant solution but considering the fact that the rest of the concert wasn't filmed it seems to me the best solution available given the circumstances.

It also seems pertinent to mention that there are a few visual hiccups and one audio problem owing to the nature of the very old satellite broadcast from which the concert is taken but this are few and far between, easily forgivable and do not hamper your overall enjoyment of the show. The people putting the DVD together took every care to restore as much of the concert to as high a standard as possible without damaging the music and it shows.

Now with all that out of the way, it seems about time to discuss the concert. And what a concert it is, `On Fire,' scarcely describes just how energetic and captivating the Tull performance is, bringing the songs to life in ways the album versions hint at, adding proggy intros (Including a bit of Pibroch (Cap In Hand)) to `Sweet Dream,' and `Songs From The Wood,' and sticking extended jam sessions to the end of 'No Lullaby,' and `Locomotive Breath,' and adding a flair and energy to every single piece that justifies why fans have been crying out for live material from this era for so long. The band even have two uncredited jam sessions including a `Conundrum,' style piece with full Drum solo after the first performance of `Locomotive Breath,' and `God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,' with a full band jam session after `No Lullaby.'

Ian's voice is magnificent and he rips through different styles from the soft `One Brown Mouse,' to the deep `My God,' with no trouble at all, and special mention must go to the absolutely storming rendition of `Thick as a Brick,' which is absolutely gigantic, if you had your doubts about the DVD they'll have been erased by the time the drums kick in.

That's not to say that Ian is the only one going above and beyond the call of duty, Martin Barre absolutely murders his guitar during the solos on `No Lullaby,' `Aqualung,' and `Locomotive Breathe,' while Barriemore Barlow rolls and flails his way across the drum kit like a madman at times, while always maintaining a precise and complicated beat that'd leave many other drummers scratching their heads.

When I first saw this package I was worried it would be some poor quality bootleg slapped together with compressed audio, blurry pixilated video and a terrible box and as it turns out nothing could be further from the truth, this is a fantastic package with excellently mixed audio (really clear mix, all elements be they guitar leads, kick drum, piano, xylophone or Mr. Anderson vocals are audible and either clear or punchy where appropriate) as great a job on the video as could be done with the source material (It looks better on my HDTV than even some of the stuff on Tull's `Jack in the Green,' and all of their `Slipstream,' DVDs) and a classy Digipak style box to house it all in.

Best of all; the CD/DVD package isn't going for a stupid high price either, so if you want a Jethro Tull DVD from the 70s you can sigh in relief knowing you won't be ripped off either monetarily or in terms of quality.

Report this review (#278829)
Posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars This Madison Square Gardens concert footage was one of the few to choose from the second era (or line-up) of Tull despite the absence of John Glascock, but extremely well replaced by Tony Williams (not the jazz icon). The choice range from the Hippodrome, another concert footage I remember seeing back in those years or this Madison DVD, but all of them are vastly superior to the much tampered-with Slipstream, which anyway dates from the next Tull era.

This release incorporates the full show at MSG, the first song starting the set on the sound and illustration (since the broadcast was to start later. Both Sweet Dream and Heavy Horses are well played as the band checks the PA's capacities, because they are about to set the planet on fire with the broadcast shown in 17 countries. The exit and comeback for the beginning, and soon attack TAAB, making a wild rendition but as you'll guess not the full version. The band is in top form, Anderson his usual self, Barre answer present as usual. Evans gives us a fine performance with a good presence on stage, especially compared to the almost invisible Palmer. One of the things that strikes much is how superb the 5.1 sound is and how well we hear all involved, particularly Williams' bass, even if the cameras never gives a shot at him or his instrument. Among the highlights is a wild Aqualung and the following extended Locomotive Breath (the broadcast misses the last two minutes or so), both filled with delightful surprises. Once the broadcast over, the concert goes on, especially with the set-ending medley of My God/Cross Eyed Mary (excellent as well), before encoring oddly enough with Locomotive Breath, already done in the set, but maybe the bassist had not been able to learn more Tull tunes in the emergency.

A bit uselessly, a Cd has been included bringing only the sonic part only, and actually shortened to fit the 80 mins limit, which means that they edited te intro of the broadcast and the band intro itself (both justified), but also, the encore, a second run of Locomotive Breath, which is not vital either. I much prefer this MSG performance over the Hippodome of the year before and I like it almost as much as the Isle Of Wight Festival release.

Report this review (#279772)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Review Permalink

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