Jethro Tull | War Child: 40th Anniversary Theatre Edition (Chrysalis)

cd jethro-tull_copyAlthough War Child was originally planned as an ambitious film/soundtrack project, the film never saw the light of day.




Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Jethro Tull’s Warchild has been released in a four-disc set, complete with 80-page book, as well as the associated recordings and film footage. Although War Child was originally planned as an ambitious film/soundtrack project, the film never saw the light of day. However, the resulting album sported at least two hit singles in the U.S., “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day” and the classic rock favorite, “Bungle in the Jungle.”

Coming off the bad press surrounding its previously released concept album, A Passion Play, the band was looking to release two albums—one being more of an orchestral soundtrack for the film, the second being more of what Tull fans were expecting: a rock album. The band delivered just that and, contrary to the rumors of the time that the band would no longer be playing live shows, they toured behind the album.

Produced by Ian Anderson, the album was primarily written on the A Passion Play tour of 1973, with the orchestral album performed primarily by the band. Now remixed in 5.1 surround sound and stereo by Steven Wilson, War Child can enjoy new life.

The first disc sports the War Child album in its entirety. The first U.S. single, “Bungle in the Jungle,” which peaked at 12 on the January 1975 Billboard charts, is a tune about taking things at the expense of others. Taken from excerpts of songs from A Passion Play, such as “Tiger Toon” and “Law of the Jungle,” the song took off on both sides of the Atlantic. The second single, the mellower “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day” was also well received, and remains a classic rock radio staple to this day.

Also included here are excerpts of the press conference and photo session held in Montreux in January 1975. With orchestral parts written by David Palmer (now Dee Palmer), some of the material here is previously unreleased, and is available here for the first time. The booklet includes an extensive article by writer Martin Webb; a track by-track annotation by Ian Anderson; and a touring and recording chronology from November 1973 to April 1975.

This set is a gem, and a must have for any serious Tull fan. Beautifully packaged, and with the plethora of material it offers, it would be at home in any serious music fan’s collection. Many artists never see a 40th anniversary, so this set is a treat. B+ | Marc Farr

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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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