Jethro Tull - Aqualung Live
“When Tull leader Ian Anderson was offered the chance to re-record the album by US radio station XM he and the band took to the task with relish. This recording, which includes the Tull signature tune 'Locomotive Breath' also features exclusive insights into this and the original recording from Ian and Martin Barre, the guitarist who played on the original also. This is a must have for all Tull fans and the first 5,000 copies will be numbered, enhancing their collectability. The band will be donating all their royalties from this release to help a number of charities for the homeless.”
I have been a casual fan of this band for a few years, having a very good 'best of' album, and their 'Thick as a Brick' album. I haven't heard a lot of the songs from the original Aqualung before, bar around 4 of the 11, and I've never heard/seen any live performances from the Tull, so my review shall be judging this CD purely upon it's musical merits as it sounds, not as it sounds in contrast to past recordings of these songs.
The Tull are a fantastic progressive folk band, and Ian Anderson, to me at least, is a fantastic musician for whom I have an incredible amount of respect for the music he's made, his vocals and flute playing have astounded me from the moment I first ever heard his band's music, and this CD shows that even 34 years after this album was first released to great commercial success, Anderson and co. can still work absolute magic. The music sounds fresh, and there seems to be some improvised sections in some instrumental sections, to add variation for those already familiar with the material (the flute solo in 'my God' is especially powerful). Anderson's voice still sounds pretty strong, which is surprising considering his age (other similar singers from the era, such as Focus' Thjis Van Leer have shown on recent live albums that their voice simply isn't as strong anymore); Anderson's is certainly not perfect, but it's not painful to listen to. The sound quality of this live CD is great, and the music is constantly crisp, and the only crowd sounds that have been left in the final product are applause in-between songs, and laughter in jokey parts. Every instrument is played well, and although it adds nothing particularly new or amazing to the original songs, it's still highly enjoyable, and as it's a charity record, not a cash-in release, there is no reason to be harsh in judging it. The last few tracks on the album are full of stuff from Anderson and Barre to give fans info about the album, and different versions of some sections of the album.
Overall, it's a very nice, enjoyable CD, particularly if you're already a Tull fan. It's probably not the very best place to begin if you're new to them, the 'very best of JT' album is probably best in that respect, but then again the band will be playing a lot of Aqualung on their upcoming Aqualung 35th anniversary tour next year, so you may want to sample this CD of new versions to familiarise yourself with the material. It's limited edition - get it whilst you can!