Jethro Tull - A [La Carte] 40th Anniversary Edition
Yep; Steven Wilson has been at it again, rummaging through Ian Anderson’s master tapes. Always a bit of an “odd” album for me this one. After playing through many a copy of Living In the Past, this was the 1st Tull I bought as new: and talk about your “square pegs and round holes”. it just didn’t seem like the same band, aside from voice, flute and guitar; which of course it wasn’t, though not for the reasons sensationally reported in the music press, of mass firings and walk-outs.
“A” was first and foremost intended by Anderson as a solo project; with Anderson drafting in Eddie Jobson on keys and on recommendation Mark Craney on drums. And this is partly why the songs have a more contemporary “urban” rather than the more eco-friendly pastoral numbers predominating since Songs from The Woods. However, to fill the sound-void, Martin Barre and bona-fide new boy Dave Pegg we invited to sit in. (Pegg joined Tull after Fairport Convention folded in 1979 and was invited to join for the Stormwatch tour following the premature death of John Glasscock). The result was maybe not the best Tull album, but a far cry from their worst, so label Chrysalis wanted it as a band rather than solo release.
With the much changed line-up, it was Melody Maker who jumped and ran with the sensationally incorrect story about band sackings - the facts were, Barrie Barlow had already given notice after Stormwatch and Dave [Dee] Palmer and John Evans had wanted time-out to pursue other music directions so in fact, Tull was on hiatus at the time and it was too late to pull everybody back.
Anyway, not to chew too much on old wounds and histries - is it any good. Well yes it is. Black Sunday was an instant classic, so I’m surprised the impressive but weaker Fylingdale Flyer and Working John, Working Joe tracks were the singles. Probably down to the original recording, but the re-working hasn’t lifted the overall sound that much for the album. However, the Live show from LA recorded on the last night of North American tour for A is absolutely superb. I’ve yet to check out the re-working of the “long-form” video, Slipstream - a while since I’ve seen it; but was suprised to read in the book that it’s from the company that went on to give us so many of the Cirque Du Soleil shows.
Edit: The 5.1 surround sound mix is outstanding! Okay, the technical aspect of the visuals are showing their age, but overall it’s not that dated though you can clearly see the band weren’t comfortable “muffing” the studio stuff where the live segments, the only record of the A Tour are pretty good despite camera limitations of the time.
All those who believe in psychokenesis raise my hand........