Jethro Tull | A Passion Play: An Extended Performance (Chrysalis)

cd jethro-tullWith 30 tracks, this is a long listen, but the musical journey is a good one. 

 

40th Anniversary Edition

2014 is a year of many a musical anniversary; included in that list is Jethro Tull. On July 23, 1973, the band released their most ambitious project to date, A Passion Play. The album went to number one on the U.S. charts, while only reaching number 13 in the U.K., the band’s home.

A Passion Play was the second concept album for the band. The first, the previously released Thick as a Brick, was more of a spoof of the whole concept album idea. However, with A Passion Play, the band took the idea much more seriously, and made the album the story of a man’s challenges with the afterlife. Upon initial release, the critics seriously panned the album. The bad press even resulted in then-manager Terry Ellis announcing to the press that Jethro Tull would cease all live performances, which was untrue. By the time the lies were cleared up, most critics had jumped on the bad-press bandwagon.

For An Extended Performance, the entire album has been given a new stereo remix courtesy of Steven Wilson. Sporting four discs in total, the package includes the album, as well as the Chateau D’Herouville sessions presented in their entirity. The DVDs contain the intro and outros used on the 1973 tour for the album, as well as the video clips for “The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles.” DVD 2 hosts The Chateau Sessions presented in 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital AC3.

With 30 tracks, this is a long listen, but the musical journey is a good one. The album starts with “Lifebeats/Prelude,” working into “The Silver Cord,” a song depicting one entering the afterlife. Act 2 consists of a melody of songettes, including “Re-Assuring Tune,” “Memory Bank,” and “Critique Oblique,” songs about finding dissatisfaction with both Heaven and Hell. With the new stereo 5.1 mix, the production is crisp and clean. Combining awesome tempo changes and Ian Anderson’s virtuoso fluting, this is an amazing album. Musically tight and theater-elegant, it truly shows the high level of talent that makes Jethro Tull who they are.

An 80-page booklet sets this package off quite nicely, topping off reproductions of the original Linwell Theatre programme, an extensive article by Martin Webb about the making of the album, interviews with the band from 1973, and much, much more. This collection is stunning, a collection-topper for all Jethro Tull fans.

Of special note: While later released on War Child, hit single “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day” is also included here, as it was on the initial release of the album. A | Marc Farr

About Marc Farr 244 Articles
Marc Farr is the Live Music & Assignments Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. He's so invaluable to us, we've nicknamed him Mr. Music. Reach out if you have coverage ideas! "I know it's only rock and roll...but I like it!"
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