- Jethro Tull : Jack In The Green (Live In Germany 1970-1993)
Yes, this is indeed the second Tull review from me in less than four months, having previously reviewed Live In Montreux 2003 (to which I gave a review that boiled down to "patchily excellent"). However, there are two major differences with this new release. First, Ian Anderson looked younger in 2003 than he did in 1982, which is a really neat trick when you think about it. Secondly, this DVD is simply excellent, with no reservations attached.
Taken from five different German television broadcasts, this trip through Tull history manages to show the band during almost every stage of their career, from the scruffy hippies of 1970 playing in a fluid and jazzy style, to the more bombastic rock of the early 1980s, and finally, the more keyboard-dominated style of the 1990s. The only phase missing is the over-the-top mid-1970s, which sadly means Ian Anderson’s huge red codpiece and the near naked dancers are M.I.A., but that’s a minor quibble as there is a wealth of great music to enjoy.
The only two constants of the ever-changing Tull lineup are Ian Anderson one of the great front men in rock history and guitarist Martin Barre, but despite the shifting rotation of players, the tightness of the playing never wavers. By taking music from a 20 year span, this DVD demonstrates, in a way that a complete concert never could, is just how diverse a range of music goes into what makes Tull sound like they do. Unlike most prog-leaning bands who play rock with classical touches, Anderson and company use not only Baroque touches but also English folk and American blues (sometimes all in the same song) to end up with a sound that is quite unique. Highlights include an intense “Nothing is Easy” from 1970 with a visibly ticked off Anderson, perhaps demonstrating his reputation as a stern taskmaster, stopping and restarting the song after about a minute (and audibly achieving his desired tightness the second go-round), a stunning “Aqualung->Locomotive Breath” from 1982 that contains so many changes in time signature it seems impossible that the band could execute them so perfectly, a “Thick as a Brick” from 1986 that features a wonderful bass solo from Dave Pegg, on loan from seminal Brit folk-rockers Fairport Convention (while current Fairport drummer Gerry Conway mans the skins yes, the folky bits were especially strong for that tour), and a soulful “ So Much Trouble” from 1993 with Anderson wailing on harmonica.
The sound is excellent throughout, and while the picture quality is a little marred in places by typical 1980s videotape bleed, the actual camerawork is much better than you’d expect from a TV production, so there are no overall complaints. This one's a must have for Tull fans and a perfect place to start for newcomers.