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Jethro Tull - Living With the Past CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull

Prog Folk

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I knew TULL for the first time when I was in Grade 9 (I think) thru my brother, Henky, who brought home the "War Child" cassette - and the leftover of C60 cassette was occupied with Genesis "From Genesis to Revelation". I sounds strange? Well, in fact I knew Genesis before with a Nursery Cryme album, actually. "Bungle in The Jungle" blew me away with its unique flute work and rhythm section. The singing style of Ian sounds unique as well. The more I spin the cassette, my taste grew with the music and I started to explore all albums of TULL and really amazed with "A Passion Play" and "Thick As A Brick". Wonderful albums!

Having listened to the band's music in decades, I have never seen any video of the band. When I saw this CD in local CD store, I was interested to buy because I was so anxious to know about how wild the band on stage. (When I got the live set "Bursting Out" decades ago, I always imagined how wonderful seeing the band alive - well, I mean through a video not seeing them "thru my eyes" on stage). But, when I looked the back cover, it's a PAL video system and not NTSC which is common in my country. So, I did not buy it. Couple months later I got a message from my friend thru my mobile that he bought the DVD of this band with PAL version and the picture was really great. So, I decided to return to the local CD store. What a lucky guy! I got the other version of the DVD, i.e. complete with the audio CD of the show with insignificant price different. So, I bought it .Yeah .. TULL is now at my hand!

I was surprised with the quality of this DVD: excellent! The picture and the sound quality are fantastic! More importantly, I love the performance of the band on stage. They are all grand pas but they play their music with passion. Ian Anderson does sing and plays flute with energetic movement on stage. It's a fantastic show! Well, as my personal taste, actually I like the live stage filmed without any narration or interruption between tracks. In this DVD, I find that. But it's OK as I just consider this DVD as documentary anyway. In fact, I got the CD (with some songs are not featured). But in another way, the interviews with band members are interesting also as you would know the musicians' experience with the band.

One of the interesting shots is when there are two songs that was performed "unplugged" in a stately home with a string orchestra: violin, cellos. Ian uses his acoustic guitar while singing. He and the string quartet perform "Wond'ring Aloud" , "Life is a Long Song". I also love the "Thick As A Brick" (edited) was performed nicely. I actually do not like the "edited" version of TAAB, that's why I never interested to buy Tull's the Best because I'm sure TAAB has been edited. I really want to see the band performs the whole Thick As A Brick in its entirety. That will be an adrenalin- exploding experience for me!

I also like when "Bouree" is performed on stage. The performance is really top notch! The bass guitar solo is funny and an interesting act. Overall, the band plays their classic excellently, like "My Sunday Feeling", "Crossed-Eyed Mary", "Jack In The Green", "A Song for Jeffrey", "Aqualung", "Locomotive Breath", "Living In The Past" etc. and the stuffs from later album "Hunt By Numbers" (Dot Com album) and "Roots To Branches" (album title). The other interesting part is the interview with TULL fans. Well, this is an excellent addition to any prog collection. Highly recommended. Keep on progging!

Progressively yours,

GW - Indonesia

Report this review (#34145)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Informative but partial overview of Tull carreer, based around a concert filmed in Brussels (I believe) mixed with some footage of the original line-up reformation. That concert was as good as any to film and show your typical Jethro Tull concert of the 90's and now.

The tracks done that night are for the majority pre 80's stuff but ranges also to the more recent albums such as Roots to Branches (easily the best Tull studio album since Heavy Horses) and even .Com. Most classic songs are rearraranged to meet new requirements but are never de-natured, mostly staying true to the original but providing an enjoyable alternative.

The tracks from the original line-up are a bit of an anecdote and do not provide the expected shivers down the spine. There are two acoustic tracks filmed in a salon with a string quintet or quartet also interupting the concert sequence, while beautiful buit also anecdotical.

Still worth a view but I am waiting for the DVD of the Bursting Out era, that I once saw on TV around the end of the 70's.

Report this review (#34147)
Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars First of all add another "half star" at least, then you can start reasoning about it: naturally this is another immortal band from the UK, whose recent production has not been regarded just as much remarkable as the original solid (and "sold-out" as well) works belonging to their early progressive folk/rock blues era;nevertheless the DVD-a partial video collection regarding their long career, taken from a successful concert dated 2002- is their typical connection with the past, not including a lot of hit-singles. In fact, if you think of a few excellent albums like "Thick as a Brick" or "Aqualung" (these latter represented by their classic title tracks and of course "Locomotive Breath" too, the hit-single of the past)- except on a few other classics always played live ("Crossed-Eyed Mary" for instance or also "A Song For Jeffrey", quite unusual... ), you can not find any "diverse" song ...moreover there isn't any particular predilection for the recent albums (where is "Crest of a knave" for example?!?), even though you can watch them performing "Roots to Branches". Well the old classics could become tiring at the end, above all if they don't like to include some less famous albums of the seventies into their next concerts, in the future (I think for instance of the complex and sometimes unbearable "A Passion Play" (1973) or "Minstrel in the Gallery" (1975), passing anyway through the following "Songs from the wood" dated 1977, which for me is another important work). However, especially if you consider the original music program presented at their famous gig at Hammersmith Apollo Concert, you can not say that your're watching something new, but nevermind-cause nowadays the band is always welcome with such a great hospitality received by a wide crowd (otherwise today, july, 9 2005,at the moment of my review, J.T are going to perform another concert- enriched with some classics- at Estival Jazz in Lugano-Switzerland- ...not to be missed once again by so many European people, certainly enthusiastic)... but coming back to the present DVD-instead I don't know whether the present DVD is essential or not; however the quality of its picture is excellent and the sound quality as at the end -as usual- make your own choice!
Report this review (#38947)
Posted Saturday, July 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Excellent concert DVD? Sorry folks, I simply can't agree.

I've been a Tull fan for decades but I first saw them live a couple of years ago (in the same incarnation that appears here) and I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. It's true that Ian Anderson didn't have much of a voice, but the band played well, the jokes were good, and most of all I was amazed how beautiful and pure Ian's flute sounded live. Any defects in the performance were outweighed by the fact that I finally got my chance to see Jethro Tull.

But to see the same band perform, time after time, on my little screen at home, with a lead vocalist who hardly reaches any high notes? No, that's just too painful. I love the songs in their original incarnation too much. Would YOU go and listen to Cecilia Bartoli or Placido Domingo if they'd lost the power to use their main instrument?

Well, rock fans apparently think differently from classical music buffs. They just want to be with their favourite stars, no matter what condition those stars happen to be in. Just look at the many thousands who stream to Bob Dylan concerts each year, even though Dylan now produces little more than a croak. What do his fans care? Just to be with the great man is a kind of blessing. The sound engineer will turn up the volume and give the remnants of that voice some echo...

LIVING WITH THE PAST mainly consists of JT classics from the 1960s and 1970s, and if such is the case, surely the home listener expects ALL of these to be performed in the best possible way. But in fact the singing is below par throughout, and whenever Ian FAILS to reach a high note, he pulls a face, as if in apology... I find it grotesque. Saddest of all are the performances of two of the most beautiful acoustic tunes in the JT canon, which have been recorded in a country house with Ian and pianist Andrew Giddings being accompanied by a string quartet. Even though these performances are completely spoiled by the vocals (for me, at least), Ian still sees the need to conduct the chamber musicians with a few proprietary and totally superfluous gestures, as if he wants to emphasize, yet again, that he's the one in control.

On the positive side, let me stress that Martin Barre and keyboardist Andrew Giddings sound superb throughout. Prog enthusiasts will undoubtedly enjoy the extended tracks, particularly 'Thick as a Brick' (in an excellent 'condensed' version) and 'Budapest', both of which contain delightful contributions from the entire band. I don't know the studio recording of the ominous-sounding 'Roots to Branches', so its performance sounds excellent to me. I'm not particularly fond of Doane Perry's drumming (which sounds rather 'boxy' and always seems to be behind the rest of the band) and I certainly don't enjoy staring at a bassist who insists on wearing shades.

The two performances by the original 1968 line-up are one of the highlights of the DVD. Guitarist Mick Abrahams is not given much of a chance to shine, but it's fun to see Clive Bunker on drums and especially Glenn Cornick on bass: the latter plays with exactly the same abandon, and the same happy smile on his face, as on the Isle of Wight concert of 1970. That, at least, really made my day.

Two and half stars, I guess...

Report this review (#157007)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Jethro Tull - Living in the Past (2002)

Jethro Tull is a band that has never convinced me fully. I understand the genius of Thick as a Brick, I like the folkish Songs from the Wood, the songwriting on Heavy Horses and I can even enjoy eighties output Stormwatch (with my favorite Jethro-song; Flying Dutchman). But non of these albums I can listen to with my full attention without loosing it. The recordings of the band just don't seem to work for me. A more confronting and 'in-your-room, in-your-face' sound might have changed quite a lot.

One does however have to admit that they survived the eighties, the nineties and are still successfully active today. This dvd-set is a live recording of a 2002 concert with song- material from throughout their long career. Crossed-Eyed Mary, Jack in the Green, Thick as a Brick (part of), Aqualung and Locomotive Breath are present on the track-list. Most other tracks are from more recent albums. Most of them are good with nice instrumental sections, but the real complexity of Jethro's progressive folk is gone. Still there is deep layer of sophisticated musicianship that amazes me. As if the band has never screamed to let people here how complex there music really was!

The sound of the band is good. Drums and bass sound modern and more direct than on older recordings and the keys still have that classic sound! The guitars sound thick and warm and they rock like they should! The flutes of Anderson are however the best achievement of the amplification-department of the band. The slight reverb and the amazing warm sound of the instrument is delightful. The acoustic guitars of Anderson sound good as well. The only problem here are the less confronting vocals. Anderson never sings a false note, he never makes a mistake, but the sound of his vocals is just less warm and diverse. This has always been a problem for the band, but on this live-set it really becomes something that lowers the quality of the experience.

The filming of the concert is good. The light-show is nice and the performance is good, though the band looks to professional. Just playing the music perfectly doesn't make a great live show! Anderson is however very involved and his flamboyant flute style hasn't aged. I dislike the interviews between the songs, they should have made a section for interviews and continues live concert (or at least an option for this).

One great addition is the fully acoustic song with a string section in the second halve of the movies. This song was recorded elsewhere, but it's nice to see Anderson play in this setting. Furthermore there are three blues-rock songs with an ex-Tull guitarist, recorded in a nostalgic mood. This is also an interesting addition, but I would rather have seen this as an extra on the dvd. The material is very bluesy and has little folk or prog influences.

Conclusion. A I said earlier, Jethro survived throughout their start in the late sixties. The band proves to be able to play an good live-concert even in the 21th century. The band sounds professional, the songs are played without changing them to this 'modern era' and some of the newer songs are good. The bonus material is interesting for fans. Still the dvd doesn't fully convince me of this bands musical vision. A reward of three stars is however the least I can give for this nice document that will be very worthwhile for fans of the band and the progressive folk genre. Good show!

Report this review (#288296)
Posted Saturday, June 26, 2010 | Review Permalink

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