Well here is something I know about as my very good mate Dave Pegg played bass/mandolin in this organization from 1979-1995. If you like Aqualung and care about sound quality, then by all means pick up Aqualung Live which was recorded for a studio audience in 2005. The best sounding studio version IMO is on the latest Chrysalis remasters.
I've been a huge Tull fan since their beginning in the '60's, which kind of dates me I guess. Oh well.
Anyway, I thought your post was sort of unexpected after I read the first line. If you're just discovering the group and are not familiar with their discography, then shouldn't you maybe get some opinions on their different phases and albums first? You seem to be looking for sound quality without first exploring their music to determine what you might subsequently like to buy. Do that first, then look for the best available master/remaster. Or maybe you've done this and I just misread your intention.
My Tull collection is almost entirely vinyl, so I'm not familiar with any digital remasters. I can't help you there, but I might refer you to the Tull website. It will have their discography. You should also be able to link into some dedicated Tull discussion boards for further questions from people more familiar with the CD releases.
It's certainly a no brainer to start with Aqualung though.
In terms of Jethro Tull, in my opinion, nothing is better than Stand Up and Benefit, in any form. Thick as a Brick is a very good concept album with exceptional musicianship and writing. Aqualung is a great album for catchy tunes as well as muscianship.
The whole catalog has been remastered. The albums you mentioned all sound great, but the gold DCC Aqualung is supposed to be better than the current remastered version.
The early Tull catalog was remastered about 5 years ago and the CD's sound pretty good. The best Tull albums are the first 5.
Thick as a Brick
Also worth owning is the compilation Living In the Past.
Rar and Tgrishman have my vote-
Stand Up is one of the best Rock/jazz LPs of all time.
Benefit is second.
I used to see these guys whenever they played NY or Boston starting with Aqualung and up through the Stormwatch tour. I think that the place to start understanding Tull is not Tull at all, but Rashaan Roland Kirk, the primary influence on Ian Anderson's flute playing. The over blowing, the talking, the very structure of the solos all add up to Anderson channeling Kirk. So, the real place to start is Kirk's album, "I Talk With The Spirits" on Mercury/Limelight LM/LS86008. Listen to the first track, "Seranade To A Cukoo" now it's time to put on "Bouree" by Tull. Eureka! It all comes into clear focus. I would then work through "This Was" and "Stand Up" followed by "Benefit". It's too bad that you can't see the stage show for "Thick As A Brick" as it is a master stroke, visually, at least, their high water mark, and clearly conceived as an audio/visual experience.
The Chrysalis remaster of Thick as a Brick sounds excellent; strangely, the remaster of Aqualung sounds like there are pillows over the speakers. Go figure.
Aqualung will probably never sound good since it was recorded badly. Heavy Horses is one of the best sounding albums as is Crest of A Knave, Broadsword and Stand Up. The MoFi releases are better than the new remasters, at least the ones I have are.
Well all of you have beaten me to it.. same comments on Stand Up, Benefit, and the RRK flute comment by Viridian.
I have 'em all on vinyl so I couldn't tell you what to buy on CD..
Crest of the Knave , man I am telling you Crest of the Knave!
I have nearly every album on either vinyl, cd or both, can't even remember the sonics since I haven't listened to them in so long. Happy to see this posted, have to include them in this weekend's listening sessions. Its all good, although the earlier the better for me. The critics nearly always hated them, used to call them Jethro Dull. It may have been Ian Anderson pissing off the press, he reportedly had a condescending attitude towards them.
Also saw them live back in 73, just after Passion Play was released, great concert. Ian Anderson was a madman on stage, a menacing presence. I remember pre-concert, this huge projection screen with the dancer from the cover of the Passion Play album. The lights in the house up, talking to friends, whatever, look up at the screen and you swear the dancer moved. You then watch the screen and the dancer moves just the slightest perceptable bit, over a period of fifteen, twenty minutes each movement slowly picks up in pace until just prior to them coming out on stage the dancer is moving in real time. Probably doesn't sound all that impressive, but having smoked a lot of that sweet stuff made it strangely surreal.
Something of interest:
I saw Tull live in a small auditorium in Frankfurt, Germany. This was like Feb or March 1970. The audience was about 70% US soldiers (me being one) and 30% German. Tull was fantastic and the Americans were clapping, yelling carrying on and smoking Mary Jane. The Germans displayed only polite applause.
Viridian is right.
I was lucky to have seen Tull when Stand Up was released- they opened for Blind Faith. D. and Bonnie on the same bill (which became Derek and The Dominoes.
Of course, the real treat was seeing Rhassan Roland Kirk on a beautiful sunny day on the U f O campus in Eugene. I though UFOs brought him and his band down to me.
Then (now I'm really bragging) about 20 years later I met Ken Kesey and mentioned the Hoo-Hah Festival which featured Rhassan, and, was put together by Kesey. He told me I was the only person he had ever met who was there!!!
I usually don't get into the vinyl/cd debate but what the hell.
IF you listen to any Tull album and any Tull CD, you will find out for yourself why there is a vinyl revival.
No contest. I spun Stand Up and Living in the Past, and Aqualung all in the past couple of weeks.
I bought a few cds of Tull over the years, Heck pay for postage and I will send you them as the vinyl is so superior it is laughable.
I am serious, email off line and I will send you my tull on cd.
Oh my...I read this thread and just chuckled :)
Jethro Tull concerts were always the most wonderful party with most wonderful friendly audiences.
On one occasion, the opening band was "Steeleye Span" and THEY were awesome. In fact, they were SO good that the entire audience who came to see Tull didn't want them to close their set. Finally Tull comes out, plays like madmen, and the encores were BOTH bands together on stage.
That concert went on and on for hours and NO ONE left.
One of the best experiences I ever had.
Oh yeah...IMHO Benefit is my favorite of their albums :)
Stormwatch & The Broadsword and the Beast are great cd's! The early stuff, same opinion as most. And I second Crest of the Knave.
i would have to agree about aqualung evaluations; this was a poorly recorded piece of music so the remastering can only accomplish so much. I do have a remastered, do not know the year, it has an interview track along with a version of lick your fingers clean.
the aqualung mini lp cd from japan is about as good as its gonna get.
I agree with those who commented that the first 5 records are all really good and after that....
But it's funny to see all these comments about Tull live without any mention of the sheer volume. I saw the Thick As A Brick tour when it hit Nassau, NY and, to this day, my main memory is that IA's flute at that spl was actually painful.
Crest of a Knave is great musically, Ian's singing was purposely dumbed down so that he could get through the live performances after having gone through some vocal problems in the mid-80's. Sonically the best studio album IMO is The Jethro Tull Christmas Album. If you liked Songs from the Wood, you are sure to enjoy this.
Up to Passion Play, all great. "Best" 3 are first 3. Ian can't sing anymore. All his vocals are "clipped" and no longer fluid. It's tragic. He was so darn great. Still has a wicked sense of humour though.
What you mean up to PP? Passion Play is great.
OK, OK. Up to (and including).
And that's my favorite band. I've been to pretty much every show in Phila. area since the early 90s, his solo with an orchestra included.
The last year's 40th Anniversary Tour show was the best by far.
As to their recordings- I can't name a bad album, maybe with the exclusion of "A" and "Under Wraps".
They are all different musically, and even the "weakest ones" are so much superior to other bands best output.
I consider Anderson one of the greatest contemporary musicians. Can't even put him squarely into the rock category. He's so much more, than that.
Sound wise- I feel "Christmas Album" is one of the best.
One strange thing- every time I see good vinyl copy of "Living in the Past", I can hardly stop myself from buying it, just like Bruce Willis in "Conspiracy Theory".
It's funny how many Tull fans say that "A" and "Under Wraps" are not among their favourites.
If you're familiar with "jazz" Tull and "blues" Tull and "rock" Tull and "folk" Tull, then "electronic" Tull is a bit unexpected and wasn't welcome by many fans. It reminds me of Neil Young when he came out with "Tron". However, in my view, the ability to pull off many different styles of music is an indication of creativity that goes beyond those who simply keep putting out "more of the same" with each album. And since I mentioned him, Neil Young is like Jethro Tull in having put out music in many different styles.
And on the topic of "Under Wraps", I saw an interview with Martin Barre where he said that "Under Wraps" is his favourite Tull album. Go figure. If anybody would have been able to preduct that, I'd like to borrow that person's insight to help me pick some winning lottery numbers!
Mr. Barre also says in an interview on his website that Tull don't play anything from "Passion Play" because it's one of the least favourite albums amongst Tull fans.
I agree with you on Anderson's creativity and his versatility. I don't think "A" and "Under Wraps" are inferior musically, it's just not my taste now.
Back when they just came out, I did like them both. Now, that 80s sound is a thing of the past for me.
I love his solo stuff, especially "Rupi's Dance".
"A" may not be the best but that tour on DVD is awesome! Not sound quality wise...but the band as a whole was great. Not the Mr. Anderson ever had anything BUT great players with him. The newer DVD is VERY well recorded...it's just too bad Ian's voice is about gone.
This band has been through so many phases that it is hard to pick. But i must agree that i have an affinity for the earliest 5 albums. I own every Tull album available. I have found something to really enjoy on every one and then some.
Regarding Martin Barre's comment about Passion Play...that guy has a strange sense of humor as well and i would never take anything at face value with these guys. I've seen recent DVD interviews with Barre where he seemed so reserved and polite and then just recently (two years ago) saw them here in Reading, PA just before they recorded the Live Aqualung album. Let me tell ya that guy was possesed and a different chap altogether then you see in those DVD interviews. I was at the front of the stage an he was awesome. What a great concert that was at this rather small place and hearing them play songs from Aqualung that they have NEVER ever played live since it was recorded. I was in heaven. BUY em all! ; ) I did get the new remastered CD's since my turntable days are behind me. Some are better then others but the early stuff is pretty good. I always loved Minstrel in the Gallery for instance and War Child as some of the post Benefit offerings that were good to these ears. And then even much further down the road is Dot Com and Roots to Branches. Also i really have enjoyed Nightcap!
Anyway you have much Tull to get caught up on if you like the sound of this band : ) ENJOY .... i have for 33 years now.
>>Mr. Barre also says in an interview on his website that Tull don't play anything from "Passion Play" because it's one of the least favourite albums amongst Tull fans.<<
I have most of the albums (including the first 8), saw them 4 times between 1970-1973, and think "Passion Play" is a terribly disjointed uninteresting album.
I have the Gold and the Chrysalis 25th or 30th Anniversary Remastered CD's.
I listened to them both yesterday.
They both sound pretty good to me.
Hmmmn...I may sell one on Ebay...
Are any Tull enthusiasts also fans of Faiport Convention? Lots of cross pollination between these two musical organizations. FC members who have recorded with Tull include Dave Pegg (bass/mandolin), Martin Allcock (keys), Dave Mattacks (drums), Gerry Conway (drums and Ric Sanders (violin).
I'm not all that familiar with Fairport Convention music, but I do like Richard Thompson, and find many similarities b/w him and Anderson, as composers
Yes, i have about 6 Fairport Convention remasters that i picked up last year along with some Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny.
Lieg and Lief is a fantastic Fairport album to start with in my opinion if you have never heard them before.
Liege and Lief is terrific.
I really enjoy the last five Fairport studio releases starting with 1997's appropriately named Who Knows where the Time Goes through 2007's Sense of Occasion. These are all exceptionally well recorded with production values and arrangements that are light years beyond Liege and Lief. L&L is no doubt a groudbreaking work which charted the course for almost 40 years now. I had the good fortune of seeing the entire album performed live with that version of Fairport (included Richard Thompson with singer Chris While standing in for the late Sandy Denny) at the band's annual summer festival in 2007 (Fairport's Cropredy Convention). Coincidentally, Jethro Tull performed later on the same evening.
Yes. I have lots of Fairport.
BTW, I very much enjoy Tull's live 1992 release entitled A Little Light Music. Stripped down (mostly acoustic) arrangements with the Fairport rhythm section of Dave Pegg (bass/mandolin) and Dave Mattacks (drums). A high quality recording with a somewhat distant perspective.
Agree with most of you about vinyl bettering CD and how good Stand Up and Benefit are, but you need to hear Songs From the Wood on Chrysalis.--Mrmitch
My favorites are "Stand Up", "Thick as a Brick", "Songs From the Wood" and "Aqualung".
"Minstrel in the Gallery" is OK.
"Passion Play" never held my interest.
Vinyl still tends to best CD with Tull in general in my collection.
Try www.progarchives.com for all the info you'll ever need on Tull or any other acts related to Progressive Rock Music.
I have been a huge fan for a long time.Aqualung is my least favorite,probably because it is the most played on the radio.
I love Stand Up and Benefit(phase 1).I like War Child and Aqua Lung,but Thick as a Brick(phase 2)best.Passion Play is just strange (but I still like it).Minstrel in the Gallery is superb playing a the beginning of phase 3.Too Old to Rock and Roll was one of the best concerts I have ever seen and is in many ways a complete departure from Minstrel and the soon after coming "English folk" records with Songs from the Wood,Heavy Horses.Storm Watch was still more brilliance.
Tull's brilliance has continued on and on for years and seems to be continuing.
sorry for being so long winded.
The Jethro Tull Christmas album marks a return to the sound of the acoustic folk idiom that was popular from 1975-1979 (Songs from the Wood thru Stormwatch). Although Ian has lost his vocal range of 30 years ago, JT was never a vocal band IMO.
I have now purchased the original CD for Aqualung and the new "remastered CD" and I've never been so disappointed. While I really enjoy the music, (it is one of my favorite albums) these recordings are abominations! I've rarely heard such a compressed, nasty sounding piece of crap. It is hard to believe the master tapes were recorded so poorly. If I were the producer, I'd be ashamed to put my name on it! You wonder if Ian Anderson ever listened to the recording himself? I also own the LP from long ago, but don't remember if it sounded any better.
Is there a version that is actually reoorded well?
How about the Japanese versions?
This CD should be played for all prospective record producers as one of the worst examples of the recording art.
Very disappointed. I'd be afraid to waste my money again on any of Anderson's stuff.
There is a live cd version of Aqualung for a benefit. It is in a white cover. They are alternative versions with only Ian Anderson and Martin Barre from the original group (They have been the group for over 20 years). It is much better than the original/remastered cd. Also a budget EXTENDED PLAY from Jethro Tull is available at Wal mart with songs from Aqualung with very good sound. Usaually you can get it for $5 or 6 bucks.
The same can be said of Springsteen. I love the music, I just can't listen to it on anything other than a automotive system and even then.......
By the way I agree w/ you on the Aqualung remaster. Also when I checked the dr database pointed to by Mapman's link, it appears that CD is rated as acceptable. That certainly doesn't agree with what I've heard.
Have "Benefit" on vinyl and "Stand Up" on CD...haven't heard the alternative format for either but enjoy the music on each of these very much. To my mind these two (followed by "Aqualung") are the best of the Tull releases. I remember when Aqualung first came out and how popular it was. I especially enjoy the reverb-heavy flute intro to "Cross Eyed Mary". Personally, I found subsequent Tull releases kind of boring (don't mean to offend). A bit off-topic but I'm posting mainly to ask if anyone else had ever read a comment by Ian Anderson that he (the band?) despised "Benefit". My recollection is it wasn't the recording they wanted to do; they were forced into it by the producer/record company. Might have the details a bit confused. Anyone else read that opinion by Anderson? Regardless, I find it a very magical recording.
The DR databas site is very interesting, but I suspect the summary level measurements being done to quantify dynamic range alone are insufficient to determine the overall sound quality.
It is the shame one can't return a disc because it is unplayable because of poor sound quality. That would be the only way that the record companies would get the message to not produce junk.
I agree about Springsteen too. There are artists whose music I will never purchase again because, "Once bitten twice shy"!
A couple of reviews of the Japanese mini LP version of Aqualung on Amazon warn would be purchasers to save their money too.
I will look into the "live" version of Aqualung.
Strangely enough a friend owns s CD I believe is called 'Original Masters' sounds great. I see it was remastered by Steve Hoffman. That's why it sounds so good.
However this shows there was nothing the matter with the original master tapes, but just a crappy remastering/transfering to CD job done by Chrysalis.
What a shame!