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Jethro Tull - Nightcap CD (album) cover

NIGHTCAP

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.63 | 155 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A parallel universe, and all for a good cause

This out-takes album covering the period from 1973 to 1991 contains work from the sessions which ultimately led to "A Passion play" plus later material, some of which saw the light of day in different formats on other albums. The collection is in two distinct parts. CD1, subtitled "The Chateau d'Isaster Tapes", was recorded in France in 1973, between the release of "Thick as a Brick" and "A Passion Play", while CD2 is a more eclectic gathering of tracks omitted from the various Tull albums released up to 1991.

Taking "The Chateau d'Isaster Tapes" first, this is a real lost gem of a collection. It would appear the reason they were not seen through to an official release at the time was in part an emotional one, with the band temporarily disbanding on their return from France where they were tax exiles. In some ways, these recordings are a bit of a tease. While they are largely complete in themselves, they come across at times as disjointed in this context. Some additional dubbing (mainly flute) was added around 1991, but these are essentially the tracks as they were originally laid down. Although some of the music found its way onto "A passion play", (mainly the latter tracks on disc 1 here) "War child", and Minstrel in the gallery" in different guises, these recordings have much more in common with "Thick as a brick". The performances have all the qualities which made TAAB such an essential album. Indeed, had this project been followed through, the whole history of Jethro Tull as a major prog band could have been radically different. Instead of the lacklustre "A passion play", which lead to Tull moving away from truly progressive works, they could so easily have created a follow up album which matched, or dare I say exceeded their finest hour.

The similarities with "Thick as a brick" are such that in some ways the tracks mirror the way Mike Oldfield reworked "Tubular Bells" on "Tubular Bells 2". The excellent "Law of the bungle" is an example of this, as is the softer "Scenario", which echoes the "Do you believe in the day" section of TAAB.

CD2 is a different story, but is nonetheless interesting and worthy of investigation. I would suggest though that it is really for collectors and fans only. Here we have a collection of disconnected tracks from the 1970s through to the early 90's, which were omitted from the albums for which they were intended for a variety of reasons (The albums concerned were "Rock Island," "Catfish Rising", "Broadsword And The Beast" and "Too Old To Rock And Roll.."). Some were too similar to other tracks already on the albums, while others were considered too radically different to the other tracks. What is undeniable though is that these tracks are in many cases equal to, and occasionally superior to, those tracks which were selected. "A small cigar" is interesting, as it was apparently dropped by Anderson because of its pro-smoking implications! Other highlights of this set include the lighter "Broadford bazaar" and the classically (Bach) based "Man of principle".

While the ever present Ian Anderson appears on all tracks and Martin Barre only misses a couple, the consistency of the first disc is notably absent. This can be attributed in part to the line up changes the band experienced over the period, and perhaps more significantly to Anderson's enforced change of vocal style during the 1980's as a result of illness.

In order to emphasise the fact that this release was a reaction to demand from fans, and not a money making exercise, Ian Anderson insisted that it be sold at the "lowest price possible", and donated the royalties to two charities.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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