The Upshot: One of the greatest albums of the Sixties gets the mega-mega-deluxe reissue treatment for CD and DVD geeks alike, and even the stray live bootleg aficionado.
BY UNCLE BLURT
Gather ‘round children, and ye shall hear, of Jethro Tull, and ’69, the year…
Although your ol’ Uncle was but a mere musical neophyte in 1969 and would not get to see England’s Jethro Tull until 1971 during the band’s groundbreaking Aqualung tour, rest assured I was already well-versed in all things Tull by the time of sophomore album Stand Up, released via Reprise in America in September ’69, and a month prior in the U.K., on Island.
Like tens of thousands of other Stateside fans, I was duly mesmerized by the LP’s artistic manifestations, from the heady collision of straight-up, harp/heavy guitar blooze (opening track “A New Day Yesterday”), tantalizingly textured trad Brit-folk (“Look Into the Sun,” which certainly was not out of place in the context of other Island artists such as Traffic, Fairport Convention, and Nick Drake), adapted classical compositions (“Bouree,” originally by Bach, here a flute showcase for extemporaneous frontman Ian Anderson), and unabashed Prog (the shape-shifting “For a Thousand Mothers”); to the album’s fascinating—and no doubt expensive—gatefold sleeve design, that featured cover artist James Grashow’s bandmember renditions folded in as pop-up characters when the sleeve was folded out; and even to the media-reported theatrical leanings that Anderson & Co. were increasingly embracing for live performances, what with their wildly hirsute, wooly-woodsmen persona. Anderson’s trademark codpiece had not yet made its appearance in concert, but the flautist/singer himself was already giving jazzman Roland Kirk and Russian ballet maverick Vaslav Nijinksy visual kudos via his one-legged antics at the mic.
Stand Up has been reissued countless times in the past, notably a 2001 expanded remaster that served fans well, both sonically and collectible-wise, what with the inclusion of four bonus tracks. So for some, the appeal of this new two-CD, one-DVD reissue will chiefly reside in the inclusion of a deluxe book (it truly is gorgeous, boasting an early history of the band, track annotations from Anderson himself, and firsthand reports from ’69, penned by an NME scribe), and a powerful live concert recorded at Stockholm’s venerable Konserthuset in January of ’69 (how powerful? they were opening for Jimi Hendrix, so the Tull-men had to be more than just merely on their game). Also included is a previously unreleased recording of the aforementioned “Bouree,” along with a few other bonus tracks not on the original album; although they’ve surfaced on previous reissues, it’s still nice to have them all under one musical roof.
It should be duly noted, however, that studio maestro Steven Wilson has remixed the entire original album for this “Elevated Edition,” so Tull trainspotters will no doubt thrill to the opportunity to debate, anew, the myriad sonic nuances, nooks, hooks, hobbit-holes and crannies afforded by contemporary studio technology compared to a decade and a half ago.
In one sense, the Swedish show is the main draw here—it’s been bootlegged extensively, but never with sound quality this superior—and Tull fans get an additional treat by way of film footage of a pair of that show’s songs, which can also be found readily on YouTube but, once again, not this pristine. Those clips are on the DVD, and it should also be duly noted that the DVD includes, in addition to sundry goodies such as interviews with artist Grashow, rare photos and a tribute to original, late, Tull bassist Glenn Cornick (raise your hand if you, as did I, get to see Cornick perform in his post-Tull band, Wild Turkey), audio disclosures.
It includes Stand Up “remixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and 96/24 LPCM stereo” (whew!); a “flat transfer of the original 1969 stereo master tapes” and “a flat transfer of the original 1969 mono and stereo mixes of ‘Living in the Past’ and ‘Driving Song’” (the latter two are among the CD bonus tracks, by the way). If you have the studio gear and the geekery to go with it, hell, go for it, fellow Tull fanatics! Me, I have only my battered-but-trusty Thorens turntable and aging Sony CD and DVD players, so I wouldn’t know DTS from DDT, but hey, it’s nice to know that everyone out here in Tull territory can scratch their Tull itch (with a flute, natch) anytime and in any format we desire.
DOWNLOAD: Don’t get me started. YOU start with the original album—it’s one of the greatest albums of the Sixties—and work your way forward.