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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jethro Tull

Aqualung Live

Review by Lorraine Kay

When Lee Abrams of Rock Radio approached lead vocalist of Ian Anderson recently about doing a live recording of "Aqualung" as part of an XM Radio series, he wasn't excited about doing the project "But the notion of re-recording the Aqualung album began to exert its charm," he said, "especially since some of the songs had never been performed since the days when they were recorded back in January 1971. And, of course, the current band line-up apart from Martin and me, were babes-in-arms; or even more embryonic in the case of bassist, Jon Noyce, when the original was made. And to do this in front of a small invited audience of fans picked from the replies to our web-site invitation gave an added impetus."


Meeting at the high-tech XM Radio complex in Washington to record, "A quick sound check in the performance studio was effected before ushering in the audience of some 40-odd folks who were to be subjected to an hour of very familiar but close-up-in-your-face music," remembers Anderson, "performed straight through with just two retakes - one when Martin had a technical glitch with a guitar lead in 'Slipstream' and another when Andrew Giddings mysteriously stumbled over the piano intro to 'Locomotive Breath', which he must have played more than a thousand times by then. Probably had something to do with the proximity of the audience, the strength of the XM coffee and the horrible realization that he wasn't getting paid for the job."
And all the while drummer Doane Perry was "bashing the bongos in a specially soundproofed drum booth but with the doors left partly open so we could hear him playing acoustically and see him, more or less, through the gap. The rest of us played through a small PA system to feed some semblance of audio balance to the assembled family gathering. Like being in your living room, really, but with the record player cranked up to 11."

The line-up this time around is Ian Anderson on Flute, vocals, acoustic guitar; Martin Barre on Electric guitar; Doane Perry on Drums and percussion; Andrew Giddings on Piano, Organ and keyboards and Jonathan Noyce on Bass guitar.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Aqualung
This song just gets better with age. Even without a full drum kit, Doane Perry pulls this one off well, with the help of the rest of Tull the song is still edgy and still rocks.
Crosseyed Mary
Another hit from the original album, still powerfully rock and roll, it is hard to believe it was recorded live in the small intimate studio concert.
Cheap Day Return
This is a little acoustic ditty, just over a minute long that has seldom been heard live.
Mother Goose
Reminiscent of the Celtic minstrel folk songs of the renaissance this acoustic tune is (in the words of Ian Anderson) "whimsical, nonsensical and slightly surrealistic."
Wond'ring Aloud
A ballad, "WA" shows off Giddings fingering on piano, along side of Anderson's acoustic guitar licks.
Up To Me
Strong Tull trademark licks combined on keys, flute and guitar dominate this lively rocker.
My God
Dark and mysterious, this one has a hint of jazz flowing from Anderson's flute.
Hymn 43
This track moves quickly, but it is unmistakably Tull. The strong war drums in the background drive this whimsical Celtish one home as it resolves in a rowdy conclusion on flute and boogie piano and Barre's rock and roll electric guitar licks.
Slipstream
This light and brief track is less than a minute long, but has a lot to say, if you take the time to listen to the easy lyrics.
Locomotive Breath
This blues influenced power track has been one of Tull's bigger hits over the years and remains so on this album. Even with the restrictions of the small live concert this one still has all the punch of the original studio version.
Wind-Up
This wind-up song - being the last song on the CD - starts out slow, but about halfway through they pump up the volume and the tempo to heavy rock and roll level before dropping back to a softer - more intimate levels of both.
Patter
There is about eight minutes of patter by the band members with the audience about each of the songs and recording the original album.
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