JETHRO TULL-STAND UP AND AQUALUNG BOX SETS.

JETHRO TULL-STAND UP AND AQUALUNG BOX SETS.

When Jethro Tull were formed in December 1967, little did they realise that this was the beginning of a adventure that would last five decades.  Jethro went on to release thirty-eight studio albums. This includes their debut album This Was.

Just fifteen months after they were first formed, Jethro Tull released This Was in February 1969. It reached number ten in Britain and sixty-two in America. For a relatively new group, this regarded as a success. 

Seven months later, Jethro Tull released their sophomore album Stand Up in September 1969. It reached number one Britain and gave Jethro Tull their first gold disc in America. Commercially Stand Up was a landmark album, and taste of what was in store for Jethro Tull in the future.

The commercial success continued when Jethro Tull released their third album, Benefit in April 1970. It followed in the footsteps of Stand Up, and was certified gold in America. This would pale in comparison compared to the success of their fourth album, Aqualung.

Jethro Tull released Aqualung in March 1971. Aqualung sold three million copies in America, and was certified triple platinum. This surpassed the success of their three previous albums. Not only was Aqualung was the most successful album of their career, but it marked the coming of age of Jethro Tull.  It became classic album, and regarded as one of the most important albums of Jethro Tull’s career.

Aqualung is one of two Jethro Tull box sets that were recently released as box sets by Chrysalis. The first is Stand Up-The Elevated Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition which was remixed by Steven Wilson. It’s part of a two CD and one DVD set. Meanwhile, Aqualung-40th Anniversary Adapted Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition is a two CD and two DVD set.. Both Stand Up and Aqualung were important albums in the long and illustrious career of Jethro Tull.

The origins of Jethro Tull can be traced to Blackpool, in 1962, That’s when Ian Anderson formed his first group Blades. Originally a four piece, featuring Ian Anderson on vocals and harmonica, they became a quintet in 1963 and sextet in 1964. By that time, they were a blue eyed soul band. After three years, the band decided to head to London.

Having moved to London, the band split-up within a short time. Just Ian Anderson and bassist Glen McCornick were left. This proved a blessing in disguise. They were soon joined by blues guitarist Mick Abrahams and drummer Clive Bunker. This was the lineup that featured on their debut album This Was. That was still to come.

Before that, the band had to settle on a name. Various names were tried. Then someone at a booking agent christened them Jethro Tull, after the eighteenth century agriculturalist. Not long after that, Ian Anderson acquired his first flute.

Up until then, Ian Anderson played just harmonica and was trying to learn to play the guitar. He realized wasn’t a great guitarist though. So, decided the world had enough mediocre guitarists, decided to expand his musical horizons. So he bought his flute. Little did he realize this would be one of Jethro Tull’s trademarks. After a couple of weeks, Ian had picked up the basics of the flute. He was learning as he played. Not long after this, Jethro Tull released their debut single.

Sunshine Day was penned by Mick Abrahams, with Derek Lawrence producing the single. On its release, the single was credited to Jethro Toe. It seemed thing weren’t going right for Jethro Tull. The single wasn’t a commercial success and failed to chart. Despite this disappointment, thing got better when they released their debut album This Was.

This Was.

Recording of This Was took place at Sound Techniques in London. The sessions began on 13th June 1968, and finished on 23rd August 1968. Unlike later albums, Jethro Tull recorded This Was on a tight budget. Only £1,200 was spent recording Jethro Tull’s debut album This Was. This money would soon be recouped when This Was released.

Having released their debut album This Was in 25th October 1968, it reached number ten in the UK. This Was was well received by critics. They were won over by Jethro Tull’s fusion of blues rock, R&B and jazz. This lead to This Was being launched at the Marquee Club. 

Jethro Tull were only the third band to launch their debut album at the Marquee Club. The other two were The Rolling Stones and The Who. Both were now amongst the biggest bands in the world. They had certainly conquered America. So would Jethro Tull.

When This was released in the US on 3rd February 1969, it reached just number sixty-two in the US Billboard. This was seen as a success by Island Records in Britain and Reprise in America. Jethro Tull had made inroads into the most lucrative music market in the world. It was a successful start to Jethro Tull’s career, which was about to enter a period where critical acclaim and commercial success were almost ever-present. However, there was a twist in the tale.

Prior to the recording of Stand Up, Jethro Tull’s sophomore album, Mick Abrahams left the band. Mick and Ian Anderson disagreed over the future direction of Jethro Tull. The problem was, Mick wanted Jethro Tull to stick with blues rock. Ian Anderson realised there was no real future in blues rock. He wanted to take Jethro Tull in different directions, exploring a variety of musical genres. So Mick left Jethro Tull and was replaced by Michael Barre. Neither Mick nor Michael realised  that Jethro Tull’s sophomore album Stand Up would be a game changer for the band.

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Stand Up-The Elevated Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition.

Following the departure of Mick Abrahams, who was replaced by Michael Barre work began on Jethro Tull’s sophomore album. It would be very different to This Was. 

Stand Up was a much more eclectic album. Ian Anderson, who was now the primary songwriter, penned nine of the ten tracks. He drew inspiration from everything from blues rock, Celtic, classical, folk and rock. The ten tracks became Stand Up, which was recorded over three months in 1969.

Recording of Stand Up took place at Morgan Studios and Olympic Studios. The sessions began at Morgan Studios on the 17th April 1969. Unlike many bands in the late sixties, Jethro Tull were a disciplined and organised band. Each morning, they arrived at the studios around 9am, and would work until 5pm. By then, they would worked on at least one, but more likely two songs. This disciplined and organised approach worked. Before long, the early sessions produced A New Day Yesterday, Back To The Family, Fat Man and Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square. Everything was going well until April 24th, when Jethro Tull were told that Morgan Studios was double booked.

Olympic Studios was free, so Jethro Tull made the journey to South London. It was well worthwhile, with Jethro Tull recording Bourée during their brief stay at Olympic Studios. The next day, April 25th, Jethro Tull returned to Morgan Studios.

Recording continued through to May 1969. Stand Up was almost finished. Three months later, Jethro Tull briefly reconvened at Morgan Studios in August 1969. Soon, Stand Up was ready for release in September 1969. Before that, critics had their say on Stand Up.

Before the release of Stand Up in September 1969, reviews of the album were positive. The musicianship and production were praised. So were Ian Anderson’s lyrics. Some of the songs dealt with his relationship with his parents. Especially on Back To The Family and For A Thousand Mothers. Other songs, including Fat Man and Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square, are best described as observational poetry. Then on We Used To Know, Ian Anderson remembers the early days of the band as they struggled to make a breakthrough. Ian Anderson it seemed, was already maturing as a songwriter. Meanwhile, Jethro Tull’s music was beginning to evolve.

Whilst there was still a blues rock sound on Stand Up, Jethro Tull were expanding their musical palette. Elements of Celtic, classical, folk and rock can be heard throughout the album. The blues rock of This Was, can be heard on A New Day Yesterday and Nothing Is Easy. Elsewhere, Jethro Tull stretch their legs musically. Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square combines elements of traditional Celtic with folk music. This folk sound features on Fat Man and Reasons For Waiting. However, on Bouree Back To The Family and Look Into The Sun Jethro Tull move towards folk rock. It’s combined with a more traditional rock sound on We Used To Know and  For A Thousand Mothers. This new and more eclectic sound struck a nerve with critics and record buyers.

On its release in September 1969, Stand Up reached number twenty in the US Billboard 200 Charts and number twenty in Britain. This resulted not just in the start of Jethro Tull’s first gold disc of their career and the beginning of a golden period in their career. 

The album that marked the beginning of this golden period was recently released as The Elevated Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition of Stand Up. Disc one features the original album remixed and remastered by Steven Wilson. He has remastered several Jethro Tull albums, and as usual, has done a good job. Stand Up certainly has’t become a victim of the loudness wars. However, remastering was only part of Steven Wilson remit.

Steven Wilson’s remixes result in a quite different album. His mix is larger, wider and has a more open sound the than original album. There’s a greater degree of separation, while some instruments sounding much clearer. That’s apparent from A New Yesterday, which is a taste of what’s to come. However, there lies a subject that will always provoke debate, remixing an entire album. Maybe the way to view The Elevated Edition isn’t as a replacement to an original copy, but something to complement it. 

Complimenting the remastered and remixed version of Stand Up on disc ore are six bonus tracks. This includes the 1969 single mono version of Living in the Past and the Morgan version of Bourée. There’s also four tracks recorded for a BBC Session, Bourée, A New Day Yesterday, Nothing Is Easy and Fat Man. These were likely recorded in June 1969, just as Jethro Tull were completing recording Stand Up. They’re welcome additions and complete disc one. 

Disc two features Jethro Tull in concert at the Stockholm Konserthurst, 9th January 1969. Other tracks include mono single versions of Living in the Past and Driving Song. The DVD features 5.1 surround mix, a flat transfer of the original stereo album, film footage and Jethro Tull live at the Stockholm Konserthurst,on 9th January 1969. However, by December 1969, Jethro Tull were about to record another album in this golden period, Benefit.

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Benefit.

Following the commercial success of Stand Up, Jethro Tull returned to the studio in December 1969. Ian Anderson had written ten new tracks. These ten tracks were recorded at Morgan Studios, London. For the first time, Ian Anderson was the sole producer of a Jethro Tull album. He started as he meant to go on, producing what would become a much more experimental, and darker album, Benefit. It was completed in January 1970 and release in April and May 1970.

Before the release of Benefit, the critics had their say. They remarked upon the much more experimental sound of Benefit. Ian Anderson had allowed Jethro Tull more freedom to express themselves. He also wanted Benefit to have a live sound. This shines through. So, does Benefit’s darker sound. This Ian Anderson claimed was because of the pressure of a forthcoming American tour, and his disillusionment with the business side of the music industry. However, this didn’t affect sales.

When Jethro Tull released Benefit in the America. It was released 20th April 1970, and reached number eleven in the US Billboard 200 Charts. This meant another gold disc for Jethro Tull. However, how would British record buyers react to Benefit?

Already, Jethro Tull were more popular in America, than in Britain. Stand Up, Jethro Tull’s previous album was more successful in America, than Britain. It seemed American record buyers “got” Jethro Tull more than their British counterparts. Benefit just reinforced this. Upon its release on May 1st 1970, Benefit reached number three in Britain. While there was no gold disc, Jethro Tull were on a roll, and about to release a classic album.

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Aqualung-40th Anniversary Adapted Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition.

By December 1970, Jethro Tull had just returned from their American tour. They were on a  gruelling schedule, where they recorded an album, then embarked upon long, exhausting tours. It wasn’t ideal, and already, Ian Anderson wasn’t enjoying the months away from home. He missed his friends and family. However, this was one of the downsides of being a member of one of the most successful rock bands in the world. So, while others were readying themselves for the forthcoming festive season, Ian Anderson and the rest of Jethro Tull were about to begin recording their fourth album, Aqualung.

Despite Jethro Tull’s gruelling touring schedule, Ian Anderson’s creativity hadn’t been stifled. Far from it. Ian returned with the lyrics to Jethro Tull’s most ambitious and cerebral album, Aqualung. It was a concept album that examined ”the distinction between religion and God.” This seemed an unlikely subject for an album, even a seventies concept album. However, Aqualung, which feature two new members, would transform Jethro Tull’s fortunes.

As Jethro Tull arrived at Island Studios in December 1970, two new members made their debut. Keyboardist John Evans and bassist Jeffrey Hammond were the latest recruits to Jethro Tull. Right through to February 1970, Jethro Tull recorded their most cerebral and philosophical album. Aqualung was produced by Ian Anderson and Terry Ellis. It was also their most successful album.

Once Aqualung was completed, neither Chrysalis in Britain, nor Reprise in America wasted time in releasing Jethro Tull’s fourth album. Given the subject matter, there must have been a some trepidation amongst the executives at Chrysalis and Reprise. After all, concept albums were controversial. However, what about a concept album that examined ”the distinction between religion and God?”

As copies of Aqualung were sent out to critics, executives at Chrysalis and Reprise awaited their reviews with baited breath. They need not have worried. Most of the reviews were positive. Reviews remarked upon the quality of the music, the standard of the musicianship and Ian Anderson’s lyrics. Many critics hailed Aqualung Jethro Tull’s finest album. It was certainly one of their most eclectic.

Throughout Aqualung, Jethro Tull combined progressive rock with folk, blues, hard rock and even psychedelia. The music features Jethro Tull at their most cerebral as they explore the distinction between religion and God. 

On Aqualung, Ian Anderson comes of age as a songwriter. Sometimes, his lyrics are introspective, other times, there’s irreverence to them. Both sides of Ian Anderson can be heard the case on My God, Hymn 43 and Wind-Up. Other times, the lyrics are observational and character based. An example is Cross-Eyed Mary, about a teenage prostitute and Aqualung which tells the story of an elderly homeless man. A couple of songs Ian Anderson based on his own experiences. This includes Cheap Day Return, which he based upon visiting his critically ill father. This song would become part of Aqualung, a classic and cerebral album. Aqualung was music for the mind, and music that critics and record buyers worldwide would embrace.

On the release of Aqualung on 19th March 1971, it reached number seven in the US Billboard 200, and was certified triple platinum. Across the Atlantic, Aqualung reached number four in Britain. Elsewhere, Aqualung reached number five in Germany, and was certified gold. In total, Aqualung sold over seven million copies. Forty-five years later, Aqualung 40th Anniversary Adapted Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition has been reissued by Chrysalis.

The 40th Anniversary Adapted Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition of Aqualung follows a similar formula to Stand Up. Disc one features a remastered and remixed version of the original album. Again, Steven Wilson appears to have taken great care with the remastering. It’s certainly not over loud and has a punchiness. Comparing the album to the 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition version, the remix version seems slightly larger and wider. There’s also a slightly more open sound than the 2011 remaster. This remix also benefits from a greater degree of separation, while some of the instruments much clearer. However, this remix won’t suit everyone, and just like the remix of Stand Up is bound to promote debate. That’s why the 40th Anniversary Adapted Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition of Aqualung should be seen as something to compliment the original album. It’s definitely not a replacement for the original album, which was how Jethro Tull intended the album to sound. Having said that, it’s a worthwhile addition to a collection and would make the perfect companion to the 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of Aqulung. 

There’s much more to the 40th Anniversary Adapted Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition of Aqualung than a remix of the original album. This includes disc two, which features sixteen “associated recordings” from 1970 and 1971. This includes alternate takes of Slipstream, an early version of My God, Wind Up and Up The ‘Pool. There’s also the original EP Stereo Mixes of Life is a Long Song, Up The ‘Pool, Dr. Bogenbroom, From Later and Nursie. Other songs includes include Lick Your Fingers Clean, Just Trying To Be, a version of Wondering Aloud recorded on 13th December 1970 and Take 2 of Slipstream. Some of the songs are work-in-progress, and it’s interesting to compare them to what they eventually became. Some of the songs never found their way onto Aqualung, This will make them an interesting musical document for fans of Jethro Tull. So will the two DVDs. 

DVD one features the Steven Wilson 5.1 surround and stereo mixes of the Aqualung, and associated recordings 1970-1971. In total, thirty-nine tracks feature on DVD one. This includes the “associated recordings” from 1970 and 1971. Then on DVD two, there’s flat transfer of the original album and EP, plus stereo and quadrophonic mixes. There’s also a promotional film of  Life Is A Long Song promotional film with new remixed stereo soundtrack. Both the flat transfer of the album and the quadraphonic mixes are interesting musical artefacts from a  musical point of view. They’re a fascinating insight into Aqualung, the album that transformed Jethro Tull. They were now one of the biggest rock bands in the world. 

For the two new members of Jethro Tull, this must have been hard to take in. Suddenly, they were part of a band who had just sold over seven million albums. This doesn’t happen often, even in the seventies, the heyday of the album. However, after the success of Aqualung, another member of Jethro Tull decided to call it a day.

Drummer Clive Bunker had been a member of Jethro Tull since the early days. He was part of the furniture, and replacing him wasn’t going to be easy. However, at least Clive Bunker had been able to enjoy what was the most successful album of Jethro Tull’s career, Aqualung. Following up Aqualung many critics said, wasn’t going to be easy.

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Jethro Tull returned in 1972 with their fifth Thick As A Brick on the 3rd March 1972. It reached number one in Britain and five in America, where it was certified gold. Following up Aqualung hadn’t been easy. However, the Jethro Tull success story continued.

It lasted five decades. During that period, Jethro Tull released thirty-eight studio albums, nine live albums and fifteen compilations. They sold over sixty million copies. That figure continues to rise with the release of reissues.

This includes The Elevated Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition of Stand Up which were both remixed by Steven Wilson and released by Chrysalis. Stand Up is a CD and one DVD set. The 40th Anniversary Adapted Edition-Remixed and Remastered Edition of Aqualung is a two CD and two DVD box sets. Both are released in book form, and feature lengthy, detailed and informative sleeve notes. They will tell the listener everything about Stand Up, which was Jethro Tull’s breakthrough album and their classic album Aqualung. It marked a coming of age for Jethro Tull, and was the most successful album of their long and illustrious career.

That’s why Chrysalis Stand Up and Aqualung were remastered and remixed by Jethro Tull. This has provoked debate among critics and music fans. Should any album, never mind a classic album be remixed? After all, surely the original album is how Jethro Tull meant Stand Up and Aqualung to be heard? If not, why wait so long to do something about it? Therefore, are the remixes of Stand Up and Aqualung purely a money making exercise, and yet another attempt to make music fans to buy copies of albums they already own? That may sound cynical. However, it’s what many music fans are saying about remixed albums. There is another point of view.

Many people, this critic included, welcome the remixed versions of Stand Up and Aqualung. They’re welcome additions, and  compliment the original albums. The remix brings new life to both albums, as Steven Wilson makes good use of 21st Century technology to give Stand Up and Aqualung a welcome makeover. Add to this, the release of myriad of different formats, bonus tracks and concerts, make Stand Up and Aqualung welcome additions to any music collection. They’re certainly not a replacement to the original version of Stand Up and Aqualung  and weren’t meant to be. Instead, they belong on a collection beside the original version Stand Up and Aqualung. This will allow the listener to compare and contrast the remixed versions of Stand Up and Aqualung, to the originals, which were two of the most important albums of Jethro Tull’s five decade career. 

JETHRO TULL-STAND UP AND AQUALUNG BOX SETS.

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