What does it sound like?:
Jethro Tull’s standard setting series of reissues continues with this, the fortieth anniversary release of 1978’s Heavy Horses, again put together in conjunction with Steven Wilson and Jakko Jakszyk.
This time we get a three cd, two dvd package, again accompanied by an excellent book containing pretty much all you could ever want to know about the recording and touring of the album.
As usual, the first cd is devoted to Wilson’s remix of the album, accompanied by a further nine ‘associated recordings’ from around the same time, seven of which are previously unreleased. The centrepieces of the album have always been the title track and No Lullaby, and here Wilson has separated the individual parts, delivering an impressive clarity, and removing some of the murk from the original recordings, not just on Anderson’s vocals, but also on Martin Barre’s guitar parts. Indeed, throughout the album, Wilson has performed a delicate balancing act of broadening the spectrum of sounds while remaining faithful to the parameters of the source recordings, and in doing so has revealed some musical gems previously hidden in the depths of the original album. One or two of the songs are perhaps a little lightweight when heard again after a number of years, but overall the album holds its own as the central pillar of the band’s folk rock trilogy. The extra material includes a cracking Beltane, an early version of Jack-A-Lynn, the TV theme Botanic Man and the long awaited appearance of Horse Hoeing Husbandry, but there’s no place surprisingly for Broadford Bazaar, which appeared on the 2003 reissue – maybe next time.
The second and third discs, mixed by Jakko Jakszyk, comprise an entire concert recorded in 1978 in Switzerland. Parts of this performance formed the basis of the subsequent Bursting Out live set, but the sound again has been significantly buffed up, capturing the band in full flow and at the height of their powers.
The various 5.1 mixes of all the music are carried on the two dvds, (and they sound fantastic by the way), along with a couple of promo videos, and the no strings version of Rover which doesn’t appear on the cd.
By turn whimsical, wistful and nostalgic, this is another first class addition to this excellent continuing series of reissues of the Tull back catalogue.
What does it all *mean*?
Presumably next year will see the reissue in similar format of the Stormwatch album, which not only marked the conclusion of this superb trilogy, but also, for me, the end of the band’s imperial period. Thereafter there were to be, with one or two exceptions, a number of increasingly patchy albums throughout the next two decades.
Goes well with…
A ploughman’s lunch.
Might suit people who like…
Tull, folk, prog.