DVD Review: JETHRO TULL – Around The World Live

Jethro Tull - Around The World Live

Eagle Vision EREDV982 (4-disc/Book)

One of the “strange decisions in rock” in recent years has been that of Ian Anderson to seemingly cast off his first lieutenant: Martin Lancelot Barre.  It seems that his trusty cohort since 1969 hasn’t really had  a proper explanation either but – as time goes on – it is evidently more permanent than we may have suspected.

The first major post-Barre project is ‘Thick As A Brick’ – the updated version is the subject of Anderson’s appearance on 30 June at the Royal Albert Hall – and there is talk already of  a new Tull album next year but without the long-serving guitarist.

This makes this 4 DVD/Book set all the more poignant and the 2005 Swiss gig almost writes a line under the band’s more recent history.  This collection also highlights the gently revolving door of musicians over a 40 year period – 28 in all.  Perhaps ironically the faithful Barre remains the one constant at Ian’s side.

But 30 years earlier, the 1976 Tampa concert (approx. 1 hour) reiterates Anderson’s dominant role in proceedings and throughout much of the gig there is little footage of the rest of the band.  We learn (in the somewhat laboured explanation in the accompanying book) that this is because it is taken from video that was shot purely for large screen projection at the gig.

There have been several historical collections of Tull’s music over the years but this compilation of purely video material with an extended essay is a first.  Inevitably there is duplication and a setlist that always includes the hardy perennials from 1971′s ‘Aqualung’.

Joel McIver’s essay sticks fairly rigidly to charting the musical development of the band from the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival and much of what he writes is fairly subjective (and disposable) although spiced with comments from Anderson to provide continuity and some insight.

Perhaps contributions from other band members and associates would have added a bit more colour and depth to this commentary.  Given that McIver’s essay was completed in March of this year it is somewhat unforgiveable that Barre’s current absence is not more fully explored.

Disc 2 includes a previously unseen 60 minute set from Santiago in Chile in 1996 along with 1980s German TV footage whilst Discs 3 and 4 include excerpts from gigs in Holland (1999 including a 14 minute interview), England (2001) and Switzerland (Montreux, 2003) with a particularly fine version of ‘Living In The Past’.  The collection is rounded off with a full-length 2005 Lugano gig filmed by Swiss TV that has never been commercially available.  Although the last time I looked the full concert was on YouTube.

What we should all be thankful for is that enough varied footage has emerged as by his own admission Anderson doesn’t like cameras or cameramen.  The 1980 Munich TV concert (45 mins) is interspersed with an interview with a pipe-puffing Anderson which, if anything, highlights he has always been a bit impatient with interviewers too.  In addition, it seems that throughout the band’s earlier career there has been a reluctance from management to film complete performances.

This is a reasonably priced collection which should be tempting for both Tullophiles and the more curious who may wish to catch up with the band’s visual history.  The hardcore should be warned that there is some recycling from previous releases including 2008′s ‘Jack In The Green’.

The conspicuous absence of a BBC ‘Sight And Sound’ concert from 1977 and also footage from the band’s appearance at High Voltage Festival in 2011 filmed in HD by Sky Arts, suggests that this visual compilation may not be the definitive version.  ****

Review by David Randall

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