Jethro Tull - Songs From The Wood(40th Anniversary edition) [Crysalis - 2017]Here we have another classy & deluxe reissue from Crysalis label of a classic 1970ís Jethro Tull album. This times itís 1977ís Songs From The Wood, which stands sonically as one of the more formal prog rock albums from the band- but of course, with that distinctively playful & clever Tull touches.
As weíve come to expect from these Crysalis reissues this is another definitive & bonus packed release- as with the other releases in the series it comes in form of an undersized A5 hardback book. With three CDís, Two DVDís, and a glossy hundred page book. These reissues really are the gold standard of the reissue market, and really give youíd every thing you'd need or want from an album.
Songs from the Wood was the 10th album from the band, and as its title suggests itís the bands' tribute to British folklore & British folk music- all filtered through a heady, at times tuneful & epic blend of prog, folk-rock, hard rock, and 70ís pop rock. The forty-one-minute album takes in nine tracks, and for the most part, the tracks are kept fairly concise & focused- by prog standards, with all but one of the tracks falling between two & six minutes.
As mentioned in my introduction this is one of the more formal 70ís prog sounding albums from the band, and this is down to more pronounced use & weave of synthesizers present through much of album. But as this is Tull Itís not just as simple, or standard as a run of a mill prog album. We get Ian Andersonís wordy & clever lyrics, his flute playing- this is added to by shifting & darting composition that takes in traditional male folk singing, along with traditional folk & more quirky instrumentation such as pipe organ, mandolin, lute, Wislse, Marimba, Naqareh, Tabor, & Glockenspiel. All mixed with the regular rock instrumentation such as guitar, bass, piano, organ, and drums.
I guess youíd say as a whole album does a clever act of balancing both memorable & concise songcraft, with creative genre blend & quirky instrumental detail. As Tull albums go, Iíd say itís certainly one of their more instant & approachable - yet there is depth & richness, which reward repeat listening.
The first disc takes in the albums original nine tracks- and like all of these reissues series, these are giving a great new stereo remix by Steven Wilson, which really opens up the layered depth of the album. The first discs remaining eight tracks are take in associated recordings- like unreleased tracks, different takes, and single mixes.
The other two CDís feature two shows from the bands 1977 Songs From The Wood tour- each disc takes in eleven tracks and each set find the band in fine form, bringing together tracks from Song From The Woods, older album tracks, and a few great improvisations. Both sets get a new stereo mix by Jakko Jakszyk, and once again this gives both a nice balance to the material.
The first DVD takes in a 5.1 audio of the album, along with a selection of other mixes. The second DVD takes in an almost two hours long live show from the Songs From The Wood tour. This is a real highlight of the release, as it shows the band firing on all cylinders, with Anderson as a great & flamboyant front man. One of the highlights of this set is barnstorming version of the "Aqualung" track.
As weíve come to expect from this series- the book is packed with both loads of glossy & colorful pictures, which go from promotional shots, live stills, studio pics, poster artwork & promotion material. As well as a selection of great write-ups & articles- these are often fairly lengthy- these go from a 50-page piece about the album, its production, and the band around the time. Stories behind each track from Ian Anderson. Full lyrics. A lengthy discussion of the legends, myths, and historical facts related to the songs. Chronology of dates relating to the album. Studio chat, etc.
All told this is another great, great reissue in this series of Jethro Tull albums. And it would be a great starting point for anyone new to the band, as the album both highlights the memorable & creative side of the band.Roger Batty