What does it sound like?:
A belated appearance for the 50th anniversary of this album that was originally released in 1970, which of course had already been given the Steven Wilson treatment in the previous 2013 reissue. This release updates that three disc version into a huge four cd/two dvd set including two live shows, and pleasingly brings it into line with the book format used for the later reissues in the series. This was something of a transitional album for Tull, coming between the R&B influenced Stand Up and the career defining Aqualung set, which with its combination of acoustic arrangements and Marin Barre’s heavy guitar sound, characterised the next sequence of albums in the band’s catalogue. Indeed, it’s the forward looking tracks that have aged the best here, while the songs that hark back to the sound of Stand Up come across as more dated. Fans will know the original album well of course, so I won’t get into too much detail on that, especially as this is the same Wilson remix from the earlier edition. Among the bonus tracks from the 69-70 period come the excellent Sweet Dream, The Witch’s Promise and both versions of Teacher, but the stand out is a nine minute early version of My God (which also shows up on the two live sets), which of course was to become one of the highlights of the following year’s Aqualung album. The aforementioned live shows are from 1970 appearances in Tanglewood and Chicago, the former getting a Steven Wilson remix and also appearing in previously unavailable video form on the second of the two dvds, while the latter is a mono mix from the front of house desk. Both these shows have been available for a while on those grey market FM broadcast cds, but presumably their sound is inferior to the versions included here even if the content seems to be identical. They are both decent shows, capturing the band just beginning to spread their wings creatively, although they are still grappling somewhat with their new sound and direction. The dvds also contain of course the usual surround mixes of the material in the main set for those with the equipment to enjoy them. As ever, the package includes a first class booklet which provides a hundred pages of background information on the album, telling you all you could ever need to know about its recording, and maintaining the very high standard previously set in this series.
What does it all *mean*?
My Tull period is pretty much encompassed by the run of albums from Aqualung to Broadsword, so I wouldn’t necessarily put this one in my top picks of their essential work, but nonetheless it’s an excellent and comprehensive summation of where the band were at in that still relatively early phase of their career, and of course it’s been as painstakingly and meticulously put together as all the other sets in this superb series.
Goes well with…
Anticipating next year’s bumper Broadsword set, which it seems may be the final one in the cycle.
Might suit people who like…
All things Tull!