The concept of the digitally remastered reissue has been a marketing staple for many years now, but it’s only relatively recently that the box set complete with the ubiquitous hi-res copy and/or the 5:1 surround version has competed for your hard-earned. The reason for their success is fairly obvious when the subtitles are often words such as “40th Anniversary edition”, etc. Simply put, folks that first walked out of Our Price with the latest LP under their Patchouli scented Afghan coat are now a house owning expensively hi-fi’d up middle-class management type with a spare couple of quid at their disposal.
Also, limitations of the original vinyl transfers can now be improved upon by returning to the master tapes, digitised, analysed, and ultimately re-sold with fresh new packaging with new information and essays in book-sized sleeve notes.
That is exactly what Jethro Tull has been doing with its copious output and now their twelfth album, Stormwatch, has been polished up by the master of all things remastery, Steven Wilson. He’s been responsible for many gentlemen of a certain age loosening their money belt and, as a rule, they’ve all been worth it.
The last album to feature the so-called classic line-up, Stormwatch is the third in what is considered the trilogy of rural influenced LP’s. However, Stormwatch bears little resemblance to Songs from the Wood or Heavy Horses in the ploughed field, Barbour jacketed, and country myth stakes as it has a greater industrial feel, where such track titles as North Sea Oil immediately summon the cold and spray of the UK’s wave strewn salty border.
In fact, there might even be noticed a certain lack of cohesion with the music here, not that its a problem as losing the “theme” merely makes a more varied set of songs. Orion is about the young Ian Anderson’s sky-gazing, whereas proggy Dark Ages says what it is. Other highlights are instrumental Warm Sporran and the short and sweet Dun Ringill.
Of course, of real interest is that Barriemore Barlow, John Evan, and David Palmer never recorded with the Tull again, and bouncy but poorly bass player, John Glascock, passed away half-way through the recording. This, therefore, marked the end of one line-up and the start of a new era when the proposed Anderson solo project became A.
Anyway, back to the package. The box set is the size of a novel and contains six discs, all audio, with the more nerdy sample rates on the DVD format as well as the 5:1 surround mix which never fails to impress, even if my friend’s set up was hellishly bassy, but there’s no denying the quality of Steven Wilson’s genius – the separation of the various instrumentation is astounding.
However, for us mere mortals with middle-aged hearing, another reason to purchase is the two CDs of live material from a Dutch concert in 1980. By now, Fairport Convention’s tall bassist, Dave Pegg, had been measured for his tweeds and had perfectly fitted in to be a paid band member for the next fifteen years. Slight audio limitations aside, the concert is unique with the line-up never to be repeated after this tour.
A disc of “associated recordings” fills another disc and although some of the tracks were part of the last time Stormwatch was remastered (Crossword and A Stitch in Time, for example) the previously unreleased material like an earlier (and longer) version of Dark Ages and Urban Apocalypse more than make up for the doubling up, and of course they’ve all now been Wilsonified..
If you like this album, then getting this excellently formatted conglomeration is a no brainer, and an investment too? The Songs from the Wood 40th birthday bash is now £180 on eBay!
Disc One: Steven Wilson Remix of Original Album
01. North Sea Oil (3:11)
02. Orion (3:58)
03. Home (2:45)
04. Dark Ages (9:14)
05. Warm Sporran (3:35)
06. Something’s on the Move (4:27)
07. Old Ghosts (4:23)
08. Dun Ringill (2:42)
09. Flying Dutchman (7:45)
10. Elegy (3:34)
Disc Two: Associated Recordings
* Previously Unreleased versions
01. Crossword (3:37)
02. Dark Ages (early version)* (11:55)
03. Kelpie (3:35)
04. Dun Ringill (early version)* (2:43)
05. A Stitch in Time (4:28)
06. A Single Man* (2:40)
07. Broadford Bazaar (3:46)
08. King Henry’s Madrigal (3:01)
09. Orion (full version)* (9:14)
10. Urban Apocalypse* (4:46)
11. The Lyricon Blues (5:16)
12. Man of God* (6:33)
13. Rock Instrumental (unfinished master)* (3:34)
14. Prelude to a Storm* (2:30)
15. Sweet Dream (live) (4:39)
CD Three: Live at Congreßgebouw, Den Haag (First Half)
01. Intro (1:54)
02. Dark Ages (8:30)
03. Home (2:53)
04. Orion (5:03)
05. Dun Ringill (2:41)
06. Elegy (3:55)
07. Old Ghosts (3:08)
08. Something’s on the Move (4:24)
09. Aqualung (9:55)
10. Peggy’s Pub (2:57)
11. Jack-in-the-Green (3:16)
12. King Henry’s Madrigal/Drum Solo (5:50)
13. Heavy Horses (6:10)
CD Four: Live at Congreßgebouw, Den Haag (Second Half)
01. Flute Solo (incl. Bourée/Soirée/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/Kelpie) (7:56)
02. Keyboard Duet (Bach’s Prelude in Cm from the Well-Tempered Clavier 1) (1:24)
03. Songs from the Wood (4:36)
04. Hunting Girl (5:11)
05. Jams O’Donnel’s Jigs (3:31)
06. Thick as a Brick (7:30)
07. Too Old to Rock’n’Roll: Too Young to Die! (3:10)
08. Cross-Eyed Mary (3:22)
09. Guitar Solo (2:28)
10. Minstrel in the Gallery (2:57)
11. Locomotive Breath (4:01)
12. Dambusters March (2:45)
[Live at Congreßgebouw – previously unreleased]
DVD One (Audio Only)
Contains Stormwatch album mixed to 5.1 DTS & AC3 Dolby Digital and a flat transfer of original 1979 mix at 96/24 LPCM stereo
DVD Two (Audio Only)
Contains 13 associated recordings mixed to 5.1 DTS & AC3 Dolby Digital and 15 associated recordings mixed to 96/24 LPCM stereo and 5 original mixes at 96/24 LPCM stereo.
Ian Anderson – Vocals, Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Bass
Martin Barre – Electric & Classical Guitars, Mandolin
John Evan – Piano, Organ
David Palmer – Synthesizer, Portative Organ, Orchestral Arrangements
John Glascock – Bass, Vocals (tracks 2,9 & 10)
Barriemore Barlow – Drums, Percussion
Francis Wilson (TV Weatherman) – Spoken Voice (tracks 1 & 8)
Dave Pegg – Bass (on Kelpie, King Henry’s Madrigal and live tracks)
Record Label: Chrysalis
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 18th October 2019