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Music Review: Jethro Tull – Living With The Past: DVD + CD Collectors’ Edition

Jethro Tull has been around almost as long as I’ve been collecting music — and that is a long time. They have issued twenty studio albums since their 1968 debut, This Was, and I've stuck with them through thick and thin, playing such classics as Aqualung, Thick As A Brick, Songs From The Wood, and Heavy Horses every so often. They also remain a popular concert attraction over four decades into their career.

Living With The Past: DVD + CD Collectors' Edition is an enhanced and upgraded version of the 2002 release. While the original release comprised only the DVD, a CD has now been added and, while some of the tracks are the same, there is enough new material to please any Tull fan.

Ian Anderson and Martin Barre remain the foundation of the group. Anderson’s flute playing may be a tad more sedate than in his prime but his skills have improved dramatically over the years. His voice has also aged well and he is still able to sing songs that were written decades ago. Barre is one of the great underappreciated guitarists of the last forty years and he is in fine form here. The 2002 line-up was rounded out by drummer Doane Perry, bassist Jonathan Noyce, and keyboardist Andrew Giddings.

The concert footage was taken from the band's British and American tours of 2001. Famous songs such as “Locomotive Breath,” “Aqualung,” “Thick As A Brick,” and “Cross Eyed Mary” are presented alongside such obscure gems as “Roots To Branches” and “Jack In The Green.”

Two issues need to be noted concerning the DVD portion of this set. The tracks are taken from different shows so there is not a continuous flow to the concert footage. Also, there are interviews interspersed between the songs, which I find interesting but others may consider off-putting .

There are several interesting bonus tracks, among them a 2001 performance of Ian Anderson performing with Fairport Convention and one from a year earlier with Uriah Heep. The most historic track is a performance of “My Sunday Feeling” by the original 1968 Tull line-up of Anderson, guitarist Mick Abrahams, bass player Glenn Cornick, and drummer Clive Bunker.

The CD begins with 11 cuts taken from their November 2001 performance at the Hammersmith Apollo Theater and, as such, it has more of a true concert feel to it. Other highlights include performances of “A Christmas Song,” “Cheap Day Returns,” and “Mother Goose” from some dressing room tapes in 1989 plus “Dot Com” and “Fat Man” from 1999.

If you already own the DVD portion of this set then you will have to decide if the additional material is worth the price. However, if you do not own the DVD or are a fan of Jethro Tull then this release is essential.

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