What does it sound like?:
One of the more controversial albums in the Tull canon is the next to receive the deluxe edition treatment, presumably having originally been destined for a release on its fortieth anniversary last year before Covid intervened. It certainly marked quite a departure from the sound of previous albums, a more electronic influenced affair after the folk rock trilogy that immediately preceded it. This can partly be explained by the fact that this was originally not intended as a band album at all, Ian Anderson proposing its release as a solo project. Alas, the paymasters at the record company were having none of it and insisted it be a Jethro Tull album, which presented something of a problem as the Stormwatch line up had already disbanded. To resolve matters, in addition to the faithful Martin Barre, Eddie Jobson was recruited into the ranks, while Dave Pegg, who had joined the band for the last tour, finally made his studio debut. Musically, the record is something of a curate’s egg, Fylingdale Flyer probably being the pick of the bunch, although Black Sunday and Crossfire are decent enough efforts, and The Pine Marten’s Jig worked well in a live setting. Working John, Working Joe appeared as a demo on the deluxe Heavy Horses release, but is here in its finished form, along with a different take that’s included as one of the five bonus tracks. The album has, need I say, been remixed by Steven Wilson, who also remixed the live set on cds 2 and 3. Tull were still a huge draw in the US, and this set from the LA Sports Arena recorded later in 1980 is split about fifty fifty between the new album and the old crowd pleasers. It’s a good show of that era, but the pace lags in the middle with rather too much emphasis on somewhat self-indulgent instrumental showcases for various band members. There are two audio only dvds with the usual plethora of 5.1 mixes etc, while the third dvd has the Slipstream video, which combines live footage from the same gig with specially created videos for four songs, three older ones plus one from this album – it has to be said that while it’s interesting to view them again, these are somewhat ‘of their time’ now! As usual, the package is completed by an excellent 100 page book with contributions from Anderson, Barre and Wilson, which is a very interesting and illuminating read, and is at times more entertaining than some of the music on offer. I don’t think this would be in the top ten Tull records for many fans, but as always this is a superbly put together package that comprehensively rounds up this album. Full marks for effort then, but perhaps rather less so for the music on offer!
What does it all *mean*?
Hopefully Broadsword will follow next, which should provide far richer pickings, especially with the amount of songs that didn’t make the cut for what was perhaps the last great Tull album before their long decline.
Goes well with…
Pondering on what the upcoming The Zealot Gene album may sound like.
Might suit people who like…
Tull’s other releases in this first class series of deluxe reissues, and perhaps Anderson’s later solo efforts TAAB2 and Homo Erraticus.