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Here we have another release under the earMUSIC Classics banner - Jethro Tull’s ‘Living With The Past’, previously issued in CD and DVD+CD editions a few years back. Billed as another “deluxe Collector’s edition”, it warrants the label a little more than other earMUSIC Classics albums released concurrently with this, as the chunkier 3-panel digipak that houses the 2 discs feels a little more “deluxe”, albeit still quite basic… as is the accompanying booklet.

For the CD, fan favourites, both rocked up and gentler acousto-centric numbers are included in the tracklist that showcase the band’s rich history of rocky, proggy, folky output… with a touch of blues thrown into the back-end of the tracklist. Material has been culled from a number of different sources, so it’s something of a mish-mash of live stuff, rather than a complete Tull show. The first eleven tracks are from a show recorded at Hammersmith Apollo on 25th November 2001; a sole song from a Paris gig on 22nd October 1999; a couple of tracks from an ‘Acoustic Session in a Stately Home’, January 2002; a trio of numbers from ‘The Zurich Dressing Room Tapes’ on 13th October 1989; a couple from a ‘2 Meter Session’ Dutch radio/TV show; one song from the ‘Class of ‘68’ Reunion’ that took place in Jan 2002; and an encore that’s lifted from the Hammersmith show. While expectations might be of a patchy listening experience due to the multi-sourced recordings, it actually holds together and works ever so well, with enough of a tracklist fluidity to provide an enjoyable overview of the variety of sounds and styles Tull have brought to the table over the years. Ian Anderson’s calming, smooth vocals are a joy throughout - most palatable at these currently tumultuous and anxious times with the global pandemic.

As for the DVD, there are another twenty one live tracks, lifted from shows during their 2001 tours in the UK and US. There’s a degree of overlap with the CD tracklist, although also some variation. There’s 107 minutes of fragmented performance footage of varying quality, interspersed with interview clips, backstage footage, snippets of video clips and other random bits and bobs. A far from cohesive programme, but it’s an engaging watch nonetheless. Bonus material includes further live tracks and interviews, as well as ‘The Virtual Ticket Window’, which is basically the opportunity to watch the same track, ‘Beside Myself’ from three different positions in the Hammersmith Apollo - ‘sit upstairs in row z’; ‘sit in front of the stalls’; ‘sneak into the wings’. Gimmicky, and is merely three different unedited camera angles. The bitrate is respectable enough for this DVD and, considering the SD limitations of the format, which are exacerbated through some of the footage’s rough and ready nature, it looks not too bad at all in this HD and UDH era… if you adjust your expectations accordingly.

I have to admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve listened to any Tull and, as I’ve realised by reconnecting with their music here, it’s easy to forget just how much of a seminal band they were and what an immense fucking influence they had on the compositional sways of countless bands that followed in their footsteps. I’m sure a large proportion of their fanbase already own this from its original release, although it provides a nice enough retrospective of Tull’s output. Very enjoyable indeed.
earMUSIC Classics
Review by Mark Holmes
20th March 2020
CD: 1) Intro; 2) My Sunday Feeling; 3) Roots to Branches; 4) Jack in the Green; 5) The Habareno Reel; 6) Sweet Dream; 7) In the Grip of Stronger Stuff; 8) Aquaung; 9) Locomotive Breath; 10) Living in the Past; 11) Protect and Survive; 12) Nothing is Easy; 13) Wond'ring Aloud; 14) Life is a Long Song
15) A Christmas Song; 16) Cheap Day Return
17) Mother Goose; 18) Dot Com; 19) Fat Man; 20) Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You; 21) Cheerio
DVD: 21 live tracks + bonus content
"... it’s easy to forget just how much of a seminal band they were and what an immense fucking influence they had on the compositional sways of countless bands that followed in their footsteps."