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Jethro Tull - Nightcap CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.64 | 157 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars When I saw this release, I was kind of sceptic. Unrealeased tapes for me means : danger ! FYI, I have recently reviewed "Time Vaults" for VDGG which was also made of "unrealeased" material and a total bunch of crap. So, what will the Tull propose with this one ?

The first CD contains the project for a new album and was recorded in France in 1973. Ian explains the project on the liner notes. I quote :

"This collection of hitherto unreleased recordings is now available at the request of the many hard-core Tull fans who have learned, over the years, of the existence of the material. Most of the sessions for past studio albums have produced an extra song or two surplus to requirements. Sometimes these pieces failed to make it on to a record because they were too similar to one of their brothers and sisters : sometimes, as the ear may just detect, because they were too different !

The infamous 1973 recording at the Chateau d'Hérouville, near Paris, were never completed due to ill-health, technical and production problems, and the sudden decision of the band to return to the U.K. from temporary and ill-advised tax exile. Rather than continue with the Chateau Tapes, we decided to begin again with a virtually new work which quickly became the more down-beat and contraversial "A Passion Play".

So, here we have it. Not a cup of tea for everyone, but a slightly dizzy night cap for old friends in need of that last dram before laying down their heads to dream of what might have been". Ian Anderson (September 1993).

Sorry to have been exhaustive, but I found quite interesting to type (no copy and paste here) this entire explanation to provide you a good background for this work. Who, better than Ian, could do this ?

So, back to the music now. When I listened to the first two tracks my fears were confirmed : IMO, I was again confronted with poor stuff and only released to make money. But I was (hopefully) completely wrong. Both for the music as well as for their financial interest in this project.

There are some good and interesting numbers on both discs. It is normal I guess, that some parts will be included in "A Passion Play" which will replace the Chateau d'Hérouville's project. It is definitely noticeable during : "Tiger Toon", "Law Of The Bungle" (part one and two). Part two is really great : strong melody, powerfull band and very good fluting. Who can complain ? With "Look At The Animals" : the Kangaroo & the Pussy Cat are present; but not yet a sign for the Hare... (you know, the one who lost his spectacles). "Critique Oblique" is the longest number and as well very much an inspiration for APP as such. Scarry, rocking, fluting. In one word : great. "Post Last" has nothing to do with the opener. It is again a very strong number (one more). The atmosphere is quite similar to the previous track (same influence for APP : this one being end of part I). "Scenario" is an acoustic and average number. "Audition" and "No Rehearsal" are again, very good numbers.

So the Tull will abandon the "Chateau D'Hérouville" 's project but not really (almost half of it will be taken over or have a deep influence on APP). The sequencing will be different from the one featured here.

The intro for "Left right" is a bit weird and poor, but after one minute we get another strong Tull song. Hard rocking, somewhat heavy even. But not too much. Lots of fluting again and a solid rythmic work. Barre is very present as well (he's probably the one who brought the heavy side to this piece of music). "Only solitaire" will be taken as such on "War Child". This little acoustic piece is quite childish in its melody and not really my cup of tea.

Disc I, might well be worth four stars, really.

Disc II is a collection of unreleased or rare tracks (at the time). I don't know why they are not chronologically presented here. So, I did the work to re-order them as they were written and I will quickly review them as such.

We have three tracks from 1974 : "Paradise Steakhouse", " Sealion II", "Quartet". All of them will be available on "War Child" remastered. Only the latter one is poor.

One track from 1975 : "A Small Cigar". Available as bonus track on "Too Old...". A really emotional and acoustic number. Fantastic singing from Ian (I mentioned this already in my review for the album I think).

Another from 1978 : "Broadford Bazzar" : available as a bonus on "Heavy Horses". Not the best one, frankly. This acoustic and mellow song is rather insipid. Press forward.

Lots of numbers from 1981. They are still not available elsewhere (to my knowledge). "Crew Nights" could have fit perfectly on "Broadsword" and is a very pleasant one. "The Curse" is more pop oriented, more electronic (if you see what I mean : "A" is not far away). Still, it should have been a highlight on "A" would it have been included there. "Commons Brawl" : has a hard intro, but then turns into a quite "pastoral" track. A bit electro pop oriented as well. Not great, not bad. "No Step" is somewhat weak. No real melody. Repetitive. A bit dull. "Drive On The Young Side Of Life" on the contrary is very nice. A classic Tull work that could have been released easily on "Broadsword" as well : hard-rock oriented (again) but in line with this good album ("Broadsword", I mean). "Lights Out" is reminiscent to Dire Straits. There will be a lot more like this but much later in the Tull career. This has been noticed in "Crest" but much more in "Catfish Rising".

"Man Of Principle" was written in 1988. It is not a great track. Press forward again.

From 1989, we get the very good "Hard Liner" : great to sublime guitar work (I mean it). A fantastic and catchy melody. I don't understand it did not make "Rock Island" (not even as a bonus track).

Four tracks are dated from 1990. "Piece Of Cake" : is not really mine (Dire Strait is back again). As I have said in my review for "Catfish Rising" I have nothing against Dire Straits. On the contrary they have written some classics of the rock history and at times I spin one of their early work but why should the Tull sound so much as them ? "Silver River Turning" is another very good one (it seems that the Tull is alterning good and average number here). Good riff and slow-paced, hard rocking. There is even an aerial passage in the middle of the song. Quite interesting. "Rosa" is a bit blues oriented and rather average. "I Don't Want To Be Me" is a rock ballad which will not enter the Hall Of Fame of the rock music. Not too bad a track but not really good either.

Disc II is not so great as Disc I. It does not have the same historical value. A lot will be released in the meantime as bonus tracks and the other ones are average to good songs. No highlights. If rated separately, I would say two stars.

So, the average is quite easy to calculate. Three stars for this good lost bunch of Tull songs. Thanks you guys to have released this !

So, we have been discussing the musical aspect. Let's talk a bit about about the financial one.

I thought that money was the first interest from the band. It was abolutely not.

One can read in the liner notes the following. I quote Ian :

"Lest anyone feel ('though understandably) that this bottom drawer collection is merely the exploitation of warty rejects to earn another miserable buck, I wish it ot be known that we have fought hard to keep the price of this set to lowest possible levels and that I am donating all songwrtting royalties accruing to me from this material to the charities listed below : "Balmain House, Home of Highland Music, Inverness, Scotland" (Ian is Scotish) and "The Animal Health Trust".

I take my hat's off !

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |


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