What does it sound like?:
Finally, after what seems a very long wait, we have the deluxe edition of Stormwatch, the final instalment in Tull’s so-called folk rock trilogy of the late seventies. As you’d expect, it comes in the now familiar format, with 4 cds and two dvds, alongside the usual excellent informative book.
Originally released in 1979, this was the last album to feature Tull’s classic line up, and Steven Wilson’s remix really breathes new life into theses songs, making them sound vibrant and contemporary without sacrificing any of their original spirit. In fact, you could say that although the album hasn’t changed, it has certainly been improved. The second disc is the real treasure trove here though, showcasing a wide selection of top quality songs, some of which have appeared on previous rarities sets and as bonus tracks on reissues, but a good number of which are being heard for the very first time. It’s amazing just how prolific the band was at this time, and that they had the luxury of discarding completely finished pieces that didn’t fit in with the album’s themes of ecology and matters maritime, while others such as Kelpie were simply a victim of the time constraints of a vinyl lp. Stand outs are early attempts at Dark Ages and Dun Ringill, but the pivotal key piece, the jewel in the crown, is the full length version of Orion, now revealed in all its original nine minute glory. This is an absolute revelation, and it’s simply amazing to think it has been left languishing in the vaults for the last four decades. The third and fourth discs showcase an unreleased March 1980 show from Holland, recorded late in the Stormwatch tour and less than a month before this line up disintegrated. The show is heavy on songs from the album, with seven of its ten songs appearing, rather oddly all front loaded into the early part of proceedings. It’s an enjoyable show, with new boy Dave Pegg adding his own flavour to pieces such as Heavy Horses and Songs From The Wood. As usual, the dvds (audio only) offer, among other things. a surround sound mix of the album and its associated recordings, while the excellent booklet includes essays, interviews, lyrics (including alternate lines) and Ian Anderson’s thoughts on each song.
This set has been my ‘go to’ listening for the past month, and I can only say it definitely lives up to expectations, and more than matches the high standards set by previous releases in this series. Overall, it is one of the finest so far of these deluxe editions, and is an absolute bounty for fans, to whom I unreservedly recommend this.
What does it all *mean*?
I still think this a top ten rather than top five album in the Tull canon, but it is arguably the last classic album from the band’s most prolific and inspired era. From my point of view, this is the time when the gradual decline set in – it was pretty much all downhill from here over the next couple of decades, and I wonder what direction this series will take from here……
Goes well with…
A glass of fine malt by the fire on an autumn night, savouring the music while poring over the upcoming book.
Might suit people who like…