Jethro Tull – Stand Up: Collectors Edition

January 01, 1970



As the ‘60s were becoming the ‘70s and countercultural
awareness was trickling down into even the tiniest and most out-of-the-way
‘burgs such as yours truly’s deep-South hometown, so-called “underground” UK
bands like Jethro Tull were the equivalent of a secret handshake: if you came
across someone who’d even heard of
Tull, you’d made a new friend. And so it was with the initial brace of Jethro
Tull LPs – 1968’s This Was, 1969’s Stand Up and 1970’s Benefit – which washed up on these shores like exotic talismans,
destined soon enough to earn widespread appeal in the wake of the massive
success of the fourth installment, 1971’s Aqualung. Supplementing the band’s efforts to develop a Stateside
fan following was Tull’s success in landing a series of U.S. tours that took
them to all corners of the country, even my neck of the woods; thanks to some
enlightened regional promoters, it was not uncommon, in fact, to see otherwise
obscure overseas acts on multi-band bills, and Tull apparently was a fave of
those promoters.


It wasn’t hard to see why: from the outset Tull was a
demonstrative, crowd-pleasing stage act, what with frontman Ian Anderson’s
flute-wielding, pop-eyed antics and penchant for playing his instrument while improbably
balanced on one leg. He cut quite a visual image, and wasn’t shy with the witty
repartee; his band of merrymen were no shrinking violets, either, and they were
equally adept at serving up psychedelic hard rock, nascent Prog with
neoclassical overtones, and more than a few strands of traditional British
folk. They could also change gears at a nanosecond’s notice, which is another
way of saying they could jam like motherfuckers. (Hold the drum solo, though,
lads…) Since those early days, there have been scores of releases and nearly as
many personnel changes, with Anderson
remaining the mad minstrel in the gallery who oversees it all; the band
continues to tour, and by all accounts is still a beloved musical institution.


(Anderson, in fact, is embarking upon an American solo tour
this week, taking a busman’s holiday from Tull, and you can read an exclusive
interview with him elsewhere on the BLURT site.)


Stand Up, then,
now arrives as one of EMI’s “Collectors Edition” titles, coming on the heels of
2008’s two-disc reissue of This Was.
Presumably Benefit will be the next
in the series of expanded titles; in the late ‘90s and the early ‘00s most of
the band’s back catalog was remastered and reissued with bonus tracks added to
each CD. The four tracks that were added to the 2001 remaster of Stand Up have been carried over to this
new version, but also appended are seven more bonus cuts (four BBC “Top Gear”
session recordings from ’69, a pair of decidedly oddball U.S. radio ads for the
album, and the mono single version of “Living In The Past”); a second CD
containing tracks from Tull’s Nov. 4, 1970 Carnegie Hall concert; and a DVD with
the complete, unedited Carnegie show (audio only) plus a 45 minute contemporary
video interview with Anderson discussing the album’s origins and the band’s
trajectory during 1969 and 1970.


One may question whether or not it was necessary to include
two versions of the live material; why not just slap the full concert onto two
CDs and be done with it, 5.1 surround sound for the DVD notwithstanding? That
aside, Tull fans will no doubt cheer finally having the Carnegie Hall show in
its entirety, particularly since it really shows what Jethro Tull could do when they wanted to stretch out. Most of the
cuts on the DVD are lengthened by at least a minute or two from their CD
counterparts, and in the case of the extended jam piece “Dharma For One,” what
was 13 ½ minutes on the CD becomes a full 23 minutes on the DVD – yes, you get
to hear the COMPLETE drum solo. As a crucial snapshot of the band at this
particular point in time, it’s an essential listen. Tull is heard performing
material from Stand Up and Benefit (one track, in fact, stitches
together, medley style, the dreamy-spooky “Sossity, You’re A Woman” from the
latter album with the elegant, choirlike “Reasons For Waiting” from the former)
as well as previewing “My God” – all 14 minutes’ worth – that would go on to
become a centerpiece tracks on Aqualung.


Stand Up, proper,
similarly offers a colorful portrait of a key incarnation of the band, having
at the time of its recording already begun transitioning from a hard-edged
British blues band into, with the replacement of original guitarist Mick
Abrahams by Martin Barre, a musical beast that was far more agile and
open-ended. First track “A New Day Yesterday,” with its bass-heavy, ominous
lope and twinned shards of guitar and harmonica, resembles early Tull, but with
the next two songs – the skittering Brit-folk of “Jeffrey Goes to Leicester
Square” and the flute-driven, Bach-meets-Roland Kirk instrumental “Bouree”
– it’s clear that the blues are only going to be one component of the band’s
sound from here on out. (Tull would soon add classically-trained keyboardist
John Evan to the lineup, too; he’s an integral player on the Carnegie Hall


Among the other highlights: “Fat Man,” powered by mandolins,
tablas and tambourine and boasting subtle call-and-response between Anderson and
Barre; the romantic, pastorally-tinged “Reasons for Waiting,” which would not
have been out of place on a Traffic album; and of course Tull anthem “Nothing
Is Easy,” a blazing display of ensemble agility, folding blues riffs and
Prog-informed time changes into a dynamic hard rock arrangement. In places the
album’s overall sound can come across as a tad dated (a couple of the songs
have Anderson’s vocals pushed weirdly into one channel), but any quibbles about
it being a period-specific release probably miss the point, because while Stand Up is far from the greatest title
in the band’s catalog, it absolutely holds its own and showcases several of
Tull’s greatest songs. Throw in the aforementioned bonus material – always nice
to hear FM mainstay “Living In The Past” again; “Sweet Dream,” originally a
non-album single, is another hard-rocking (with strings!) tour
de force
; and the BBC material, comprising four reworked Stand Up songs, is revealing in its
seamless consistency – and you’ve got a reissue that lives up to its potential
for aficionados and newcomers alike.


Oh, and in case any longtime fans are wondering: yes, when
you open the quad-fold CD digipak, miniatures of the four bandmembers pop up,
just like they did on the original gatefold sleeve of the 1969 LP.


DOWNLOAD: “Nothing Is Easy,” “Sweet Dream,” “Bouree” (BBC version), “Sossity You’re A
Woman”/”Reasons For Waiting” (live) FRED MILLS



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