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Jethro Tull

Live at Hammersmith ’84

Review by Scott Prinzing

Originally recorded live on September 9 for broadcast on the BBC Radio One on December 27, 1984, this CD wasn’t released until 1990.  It was part of a four-album series, The Friday Rock Show Sessions, along with live sets by Gillan, Samson and Ten Years After.  At just under 45 minutes, the biggest disappointment here is that is wasn’t the full show.  “Nobody’s Car” and “Pussy Willow” from this show were included on the 25th Anniversary Box Set.  Other songs performed but not included here were: “Aqualung,” “The Clasp” and “Thick as a Brick.”  This is recommended for the Tull completest.  It’s an enjoyable disc, but the first live album, Live! Bursting Out! is the essential one.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Locomotive Breath (Instrumental)

After a quirky, electronic intro, this classic song kicks in with a metallic edginess that brings it into the 1980s.  Keyboardist Peter-John Vettese brings in a more symphonic touch than the original version.  It’s an interesting way to start the show.

Hunting Girl
Segueing into one of the greatest Tull songs of all, Songs from the Woods’ “Hunting Girl” gets a faithful rendering as Doane Perry does a fine job recreating Barriemore Barlow’s masterful drum part.  There is something missing in the delivery just a hair; kind of like Alan White’s delivery of Bill Bruford’s drum parts on Yes songs: technically accurate, but slightly rigid.
Under Wraps
The title track of the album Tull was touring for presents the synth-heavy sound that they had most recently created (sans a live drummer in the studio).  Ironically, guitarist Martin Barre has referred to Under Wraps as his favorite Tull album to record.  The arrangement of what is titled on the studio release as “Under Wraps #1” (as opposed to the acoustic, version #2 that was performed on subsequent tours) is certainly intricate and the guitar is more prominent than most folks’ memory of the album might recall.
Later, That Same Evening
We are presented with even more irony here, as Barre plays keyboards on this tune, one that is a harbinger of Anderson’s first true solo outing.  While “A” was recorded as a solo work, the label pressured Anderson to release it as a Tull album.  Walk into Light was a collaboration with Vettese.
Pussy Willow
Drawing from the previous album, is one song that should get more airing.  Broadsword and the Beast introduced Vettese and the more prominent synth sound, but there is plenty of flute and mandolin here, making it a great bridge between the more acoustic-heavy prog folk of the three previous albums and Under Wraps.
Living in the Past
It’s a bit ironic that this and the set closer remain two of Tull’s best known songs, while Anderson has continued to progress forward with each album he’s been involved with.  It’s played more true to form than the intro instrumental version of “Locomotive Breath” was.  It does stretch out a bit towards the end with a more symphonic take that is a shade of things to come with the next album, A Classic Case of Tull.  It’s a rather effective blending of the old and new.
Locomotive Breath
The familiar bluesy piano intro sends the audience into knowing cheers before the whole band kicks in.  This is probably the most-performed Tull song other than “Aqualung,” but it never gets old.  Vettese pounds the piano keys while slipping shots of strings for good measure.  Barre’s guitar has a more of a metal edge bite than the original, but Anderson’s flute is the signature to all that is Tull.  As with the rest of the older material, the ending develops the original themes to great effect.
Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll
Anderson asks for the rare audience participation on this definitely not-autobiographical anthem.  It’s played pretty straight, with Vettese’s keys supplying all the strings from the original arrangement.  He does take a lengthy honky-tonk piano solo toward the end before a three-minute prog-fest that builds to a climax at the end.  It closes with the intro/ending of “Thick as a Brick.”

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