Lee Speaks About Music… #6

Songs From The Wood – 40th Anniversary Edition – The Country Set – Jethro Tull

0190295847876-Jethro-Tull-SFTW-Medium

Introduction…

It’s that time of the year again and time for another superb re-release of another classic Jethro Tull album. This one being the bands 10th studio album “Songs From The Wood” originally released back in 1977. This is actually the 8th album to be released in the form of an hardbound book and is one very tasty package worth its weight in gold.

These particular 40th Anniversary Hardbound Book Edition packages started back in 2012 when the 1972 album “Thick As A Brick” was given the 5.1 treatment. Although  Ian Anderson has been releasing the albums that followed it each year in this 40th anniversary hardbound book series and he subsequently re-released the 4 albums that came before it in 5.1. He has also been re-releasing those in the hardbound book series as well, and so far only the albums “This Was” from 1968 and “Benefit” from 1970  have not been given this new packaging treatment, and I am hoping he does do them both in the near future.

I pre-ordered this super package on Amazon about 2 months before its release date, and it arrived through my letterbox on the day of its release on the 19th of May. It’s always best to pre-order these releases especially as the price varies a lot between each of the 8 albums that have been released so far in this hardbound book series. This one I got for £19.15 and the longer you leave it, the chances are you will end up paying a lot more money for them. The previous one that was released was the 1969 album “Stand Up” which I never had on pre-order and ended up paying £27 for it. Some of the earlier ones I got for as little as £14.

Packaging & Contents…

The packaging is supremely done and the hardbound book is of real high quality with it’s thick cardboard and plastic mounts to hold the discs. Inside there is a 96 page book telling you about the time period the album was made and produced. It’s very informative and all the band members as well as many of the other crew who were involved with it’s recording have their say about it all, and not just Ian Anderson.

Having read it myself I found it well interesting that the opening harmonies for the title track were all done by Anderson himself on the studio album. But what was even more interesting was the fact that every time they performed the song live, even though it appeared that the rest of the band members were joining in on the harmonies, it was a tape recording being played in the background with Ian’s original harmonies on it and they was only miming.

Inside the book you will find 5 discs. 3 CD’s & 2 DVD’s.  The 1st CD contains the original albums 9 tracks plus 8 bonus tracks all remixed by Steven Wilson and has a playing time of 76 minutes. 47 seconds. The other 2 CD’s contain a just under 2 hour live concert they did back on the 21st of November 1977 at the Capital Centre in Landover. Maryland Washington USA mixed by Jakko Jakszyk. Disc 2 has a playing time of 52:02 and Disc 3 a playing time of 59:44. The audio quality is superb especially from a concert done back in 1977 and the quality is just as good as the double live album Bursting Out which was released back in 1978.

The 1st DVD is the audio disc that contains the album plus some of the bonus tracks mixed in 5.1 by Steven Wilson. It also contains a lossless stereo mix of the original album and some of the tracks done with a Quadraphonic mix. It also displays high resolution pictures from the book on your TV screen as it plays along.

The 2nd DVD contains the full concert at the Capital Centre in Landover on the 21st of November 1977. The actual concert was filmed on Video Tape so the picture quality is never gonna be as good with today’s HD technology, but never the less Jakko Jakszyk as done a great job in restoring the picture in the best way he could, and I have to say regarding the sound quality which he as also mixed in 5.1 its really superb and nothing like these old concerts you get from this decade of the 70’s where they state it’s DTS 5.1 sound quality, and it’s nothing more than a piss poor job been done on them that its not even worth switching on the Hi-Fi to play the damn things.

I have noticed many reviews on Amazon already stating that the picture quality is bootleg quality. But its nothing of the sort and is better than any bootleg. It’s just old footage and I think too many people have forgotten already what an old TV looks like :)))))))). Though what I will say is that whoever the cameraman was who shot the film at the time, was not very good and mainly focuses on Ian Anderson, and can be all over the place at times. There also as been a load of video FX applied to some of the footage too.

The concert was originally filmed by a TV Crew and was streamed live in America at the same time it was being played, and the original video managed to find its way to Ian Anderson and had been left stored for decades. It gives you a more detailed description of it in the book.

Also included on the 2nd DVD are two videos. One of which is rare footage of the band doing Beethoven’s Ninth and the promotional video of The Whistler which was made for the single release. It’s pretty hard for me to take pictures of this package to be able to show you what the package is really like being as its in the form of an hardbound book. So I have shot a short video of myself showing it to you here:

Fond Memories…

Songs From The Wood is an album I brought on vinyl on it’s release back in 1977. it was actually the very first brand new album I brought of Jethro Tull and would of cost around £3 back in those days. Though I did have the albums Benefit and the double compilation album Living In the Past a year before, to which I brought 2nd hand off a mate who was hard up for cash at the time. I can even remember losing a fiver to my brother around his house at the time too. It was over the Lute contribution by Martin Barre to which I said there was not one on the album. Silly me especially as at the time the album was back at my house and I had no way of checking it out before hand :)))))))))))) He used to get a lot of his information from reading guitar magazines back then.

I was also into a lot of folk rock around this time too with bands like Fairport Convention. Pentangle and Steeleye Span to name a few, and upon hearing this album for the first time it instantly spoke very heavily to me. There is no doubt the album Songs From The Wood is in every way a solid folk rock album which also contains the elements of progressive rock along its path which makes it stand out so well.

I also knew at the time that prior to the release of this album Ian Anderson had not long produced the album Now We Are Six for Steeleye Span which may have influenced him more to go down this road with the album Songs From The Wood. Plus the fact that he had just moved out into the country and brought himself a farm at the time I had also read myself in magazines such as the Melody Maker I used to buy back in those days.

It was this very album of Jethro Tull that made me from then on backtrack the bands back catalogue and buy them all, and have been buying their albums ever since and became a big fan of everything they did, even though some of their later material never spoke to me as well as the albums they done back in the 70’s.

I can even remember an interview with Dave Pegg the bass player of Fairport Convention from when he joined the band for the 1980 album A. Stating that he thought both the albums Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses were much more better folk rock albums than what Fairport Convention was doing at the time. Though I took pity on him that when he joined them cause they was no longer doing folk rock at all to which would of suited him more as well I think.

The Main Album Review…

For the 1977 album Songs From The Wood the band recruited a 6th member to its already strong line up of Ian Anderson. Martin Barre. John Evan. John Glascock and Barriemore Barlow. Though David Palmer had been working for years alongside Ian Anderson helping him out with all the orchestral arrangements, and contributed to the band by playing additional instruments on certain album tracks. Ian decided to make him an official band member to play additional keyboards for them.

It was also the first album that other members of the band got writing credits other than Ian Anderson who as a rule solely wrote all the bands material. Both Martin Barre and   David Palmer received songwriting royalties for their contributions to the writing. It was also the first of 3 intended albums Ian Anderson had planned to do in this more folk rock style.

The album kicks off with the self titled album track Songs From The Wood. Ian’s vocal line of him chanting the words of the songs title and chorus, are backed up with very clever well constructed harmonies all done by Ian himself, sprinkled with a touch of glockenspiel here and there from Barrimore and Ian’s flute and acoustic guitar certainly make am enchanting entrance before the rest of the band come into play in raising the game and power to the song.

It’s an absolute classic well written song that could quite easily grab the top favourite spot of the album, it certainly has all the right elements with its catchy melody lines and hook that grabs you instantly, but this is far from your average album and very much one solid one when it comes down to the material that’s upon it over its 9 original tracks.

The 2nd song on the album Jack In the Green is another classic song that features solely Ian Anderson on his own singing and playing an array of  instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, flute, bass as well as percussion. All so skilfully done too and its a beautiful fine folk ballad of a song about a mysterious elf in the woods.

Cup Of Wonder without a doubt could easily take the top fave spot on the album for its lyrical content alone, but not only is its lyrical content strong, the music is also very cleverly well constructed. Ian’s lyrics have always been strong  The lyrics to this one are based around Christianity and Paganism and in many ways the album is almost like a concept album in that it’s based around religious beliefs and myths.

The instrumentation to the song is very well arranged and its quite a complex song to play. The keyboards are blended in superbly along with the acoustic guitars and John Glascock’s bass line is very dominant and stands out very well. Funny enough he even reminds of Dave Pegg on this one and both are extremely great bass players. it really is a terrific song and certainly a contender for my personal fave on the album.

Next up we have the more heavier and more rock based track of the album Hunting Girl which is a song that more or less fuses rock with medieval elements, particularly with the melody lines from the keyboards and flute. Martin’s electric guitar is very much the rock element here and it’s perhaps in many ways been the most popular song on the album that seems to get played at the bands live shows more times than any other of the songs from it.

The lyrics are very traditional folk based in the way that there is a bit of hanky panky going on :))))))))))))))  with its storyline. Very much the same kind of thing lyrically you would get with songs like “Bonny Black Hare” by Fairport Convention and “The Astrologer” by Gryphon to name a couple of old traditional folk songs, only they are set to more fitting acoustic music and this one maybe overstepping the mark with it’s genre of folk rock and using those elements to try and make it work. Never the less it’s another really great song.

Ring Out, Solstice Bells is more of a traditional folk Christmas song. Though the winter solstice can be on the 21st and 22nd of December it’s not exactly intended to be perceived as Christmas but with all the Christian festivities going on around this time make it very well fitting for the occasion. Bells are always used for many Christmas songs and there is no shortage of them here too.

The song itself was released back in December 1976 in the form of a Christmas EP single which included 3 other older written songs of Ian’s and once again got him back on Top Of The Pops. The fact that the song had a traditional folk feel about it, was the reason why it got included on the album. It’s another very well written song and great track that works very well for being on the album.

The 6th track on the album Velvet Green is a pure classic that shows the sheer brilliance of just what this band is capable of playing and writing. The way the song is constructed and it’s arrangement with the instrumentation is a fine piece of art. For many this classic may very well be the best track on the album and for me personally its also mine now though it was not years ago.

The song itself as a great medieval feel about it and starts off with David Palmer playing a portative pipe organ the he had built by Mander in London. It’s design was based around a pipe organ that was built in 1684 by Georg Haas of Bautzen in Eastern Germany. Here is a picture of the portative pipe organ Dave had built:

Portative Pipe Organ                              Mander Portative Pipe Organ

It’s housed in solid oak, with the pipes inside a glass cabinet the keys are made of ivory. It looks more of an antique and is hardly the instrument that is built to be taken on the road for gigging, though Dave did cart it around to many of the bands shows back in the 70’s. He even carted it to the 1978 show they put on at Madison Square Garden’s in New York to which somebody suggested that they should paint it black to match the stage setting. David’s reply to that idea was “over my dead body” :))))))))))))

The very fact that the instrument does have ivory keys means that these days it’s not even permitted to take to America not even to play a live show as they did back in those days.

Not only did the melody line Dave played on it give the song its medieval feel, but the instrument itself is well apt for such music too. Accompany that with harpsichord, mandolin, lute and whistles and you have the perfect ensemble to create such music with and the other instrumentation gives it that more progressive approach to which no doubt this fine song has all those magical elements and it’s a superbly well crafted piece of work.

The Whistler is the 2nd of the 2 songs that was written well before the album and was included on the album. The song was released as a single earlier in the same year on the 11th February 1977. Only 7 of the albums tracks were really new material written for the album Songs From The Wood.

Once again the song is very well apt to be included on the album and fits in like a glove. It’s another one of those songs that features very impressive harmonies from Ian Anderson and some very complex whistle playing done on two of them in different keys making it even harder to switch from one to the other for a live performance.

The song as a very fast tempo and the acoustic guitar also features heavily in the song  and is superbly recorded capturing the instrument with every great detail. Some excellent touches on the lead lines on the electric guitar by Martin Barre and a very tight close nit back line from John’s bass and Barrimore’s drums and percussion and even the glockenspiel from him rings out very well and it really is another superb song.

The 8th track on the album Pilbroch (Cap In Hand) features Martin Barre very heavily on the electric guitar, even to the extent of him making it sound like bagpipes by reversing some of the parts in it for effect. Its the longest track on the album weighing in at some 8 minutes and 45 seconds. The song itself is very well structured with some lovely chord progression and transitional changes which also has a superb keyboard section in it.

It’s very much got a Scottish traditional feel about it, but is perhaps more accustomed to progressive rock with it’s diversity and directional changes. It’s another superb song that contributes to making the album so good, and is one of those songs that seem to be over in no time at all, leaving you wanting more. Funny enough when I first heard this album all those years back, this used to be my favourite track on the album and over the years I have had and enjoyed the album, my opinion has since then changed.

The albums ends off superbly with a lovely ballad of a song entitled Fire At Midnight it’s also the shortest track on the album, and perhaps the picture depicts the albums front cover with Ian sitting around the open fire. It’s very much a love song about writing a love song with great lyrics, done in great traditional folk tradition with it’s fine instrumentation throughout. Making one superb folk rock album throughout its entirety.

Summary Of The Original Album…

The original album Songs From The Wood contains 9 tracks over a playing time of 41 minutes 21 seconds. It’s the first of a trilogy of albums Ian Anderson decided to do in the style of progressive folk rock and it an outstanding body of work with all material written for it. Every track upon it is without a shred of a doubt, is sheer class and in it’s genre of music, there is no doubt this album is legendary and stands up amongst the best in its field.

It’s an album that stands its test of time and can still be immensely enjoyed just as many of the Jethro Tull albums still can be as well from this decade. In many ways both the albums Songs from The Wood and Heavy Horses could quite of easily worked as a double album with the class material that was written for both of them, and them both being in the same genre of progressive rock folk. For me personally the 3rd album in the trilogy of albums Stormwatch was never in the same league or field as it’s predecessors and lets the trilogy down a bit too.

01. Sngs From The Wood. 4:55.
02. Jack In The Green. 2:31.
03. Cup Of Wonder. 4:34.
04. Hunting Girl. 5:10.
05. Ring Out, Solstice Bells. 3:48.
06. Velvet Green. 6:05.
07. The Whistler. 3:31.
08. Pibroch (Cap In hand). 8:35.
09. Fire At Midnight. 2:27.

Lee’s Overall Score rating 10/10.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

The Bonus Tracks Review…

Almost every new re-release of an album comes with bonus tracks these days and regarding whether it’s a really good thing and them thinking you are getting more material crammed on it for your money, it’s not always the case. Especially if I was to make my review of this album (or any album for that matter) including the bonus material in the same review as the original album tracks. It would be bound to be losing some very important points for its overall score.

I am not saying I do not like bonus tracks, but I do prefer the old album time slot of around the 40 minute mark rather than a CD with an hour or more of material on it. I would much sooner they would put them on another disc and leave the original album as it was made in the first place in tact on the one disc.

The first of the 8 bonus tracks is something of a rare find and I certainly do not think it as ever seen the light of day as many of the bonus tracks would find their way on various other compilation box sets and other Jethro Tull albums.

According to Ian he found it in a box labelled with the title of “Dark Ages” he also mentions that it had a smidgen of some lyrical content of “Living In These Hard Times” which was a bonus track for the album Heavy Horses he put out awhile ago. Seeing as there was already a song entitled “Dark Ages” on the 1979 album Stormwatch he had to give it another title.

it was around the time that Lemmy of Motorhead had died last year when he was sorting out the bonus material for this new release, and he thought of his biggest hit which was the “Ace Of Spades” so he decided to call it Old Aces Die Hard.

Old Aces Die Hard as it is now called is some 8 minutes and 41 seconds long. its quite a well constructed song, it also appears to be complete and far from any demo track. My personal opinion is that it sounds like something that was done a couple of years later for the album Stormwatch and it could quite of easily been an early version of the song “Dark Ages” it certainly does not sound like it was made when they did the Songs From The Wood album and although it’s a great bonus track to have, but personally it’s not in the same class or league as the material that was written for this album.

The next bonus track up is and early version of Working John, Working Joe to which eventually found its way on the 1980 album A. The reason why it’s on this release is that Ian claims that he may have wrote and recorded it for a “B” Side of a single around the same time he was working on this album in 1977. I dare say it will find its way on the future re-release of the A album if he decides to go as far as that with these new Hardbound Book Editions.

The 3rd bonus track of the 8 is another version of “Ring Out, Solstice Bells” which was produced by Mike Batt of The Wombles fame. This is another bonus track that has never seen the light of day before either, and how it all came about was the record company thought it would be a good idea to release it as a single, but he wanted the band to redo it in 4/4 time rather than the original 7/4 time score it was done in.

The band wanted nothing to do with it at first, but Ian persuaded them to go along with it for the fun. After they had finished redoing the song again, it was decided that to suit it as more of a Christmas song it would be better to change the title to “Magic Bells” and even the words to the chorus for it as well. In the end the band got their own way and the original record got released instead. So now after 4 decades Magic Bells as finally materialised and been released with this box set.

Next up is the unedited version of Songs From The Wood which was previously released on the 1993 25th Anniversary Box Set. Not that much of a difference at all if the truth be told, but however if you never noticed originally that Ian sings the 2nd verse twice (to which I never to be honest) that is only real difference. Then we get another unedited version of Fire At Midnight which is a lot more of a noticeable difference with the intro on the drums which sort of raises the tempo of the song before it’s actually started. It was actually the original version of the song to which Ian edited out the intro for the album release.

Following that we have the early version of One Brown Mouse which was also previously released, and originally wrote back in 1976. it was also included in the previous hardbound book package of Too Old To Rock “n” Roll Too Young To Die and the fact that Ian had only just found the multi track tape of it whilst sorting out the material for this package is why it’s on here as well. So now we have the Steven Wilson’s mix of it.

The same goes for the 7th bonus track Strip Cartoon which has found it’s way on many compilations of Jethro Tull albums and was also put on the “B” Side of The Whistler to which is the 8th and final bonus track on the album and the US single version of it.

I have always liked Strip Cartoon and it’s one of those songs you can instantly tell came from that time period of 1976 when they done the album Too Old To Rock “n” Roll Too Young To Die and in my personal opinion it should of been included on the original album instead of being left out. It really is a class well written song.

Summary Of The Bonus Tracks…

Has with many bonus tracks that are put onto albums there can be some good and bad points about them. Many could be even seen as gap fillers especially in the case of them already being released on previous albums. But you can also find some real gems which is a real good thing.

For me personally the most worthy addition out of the 8 bonus tracks we have here would have to be the “Old Aces Die Hard” not that the other tracks are not interesting enough, but the biggest majority have been previously released. But I can see the point in them being placed in a package such as this, as they very much relate to around the time this particular album was made.

To be honest I myself will very rarely play the bonus tracks and only really do when I first get the album and the odd few times afterwards. But 90% of the time I will always stop the album after the last track of the original album is finished, and as I pointed out earlier. I would much better prefer them on a separate album or CD.

They also would get more of a listen too, as I would treat them as another album. A perfect example would be how the band Marillion put all their “B” Sides onto an album and that really makes a superb album well worthy of buying.

10. Old Aces Die Hard (Previously Unreleased). 8:41.
11. Working John, Working Joe (Previously Unreleased). 5:11.
12. Magic Bells (Ring Out, Solstice Bells). 3:25.
13. Songs From The Wood (Unedited Master). 4:53.
14. Fire At Midnight (Unedited Master). 2:35.
15. One Brown Mouse (Early Version – New Mix). 3:35.
16. Strip Cartoon. 3:19.
17. The Whistler (Original 1977 USA Stereo Mix). 3:32.

Lee’s Overall Bonus Tracks Score Rating 5/10

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

The Bonus CD’s 2 & 3 & DVD 2 Review…

CD’s 2 & 3.

The other 2 CD’s in the package contain the almost 2 hour audio of the live concert they did on the 21st of November 1977 at the Capital Centre in Landover Maryland Washington USA. of their Songs From The Wood Tour.

The set list of songs is very strong and contains 4 out of the 9 songs from their latest album Songs From The Wood which had only just been released earlier on in the same month on the 3rd November.

I do not think there would of been a doubt that the self titled track of the album would be 1 of the 4 they played and it’s great that they did the whole of song too, instead of the mini version that was on the bands first ever live album Bursting Out which was released back in 1978..

Jack In The Green is another great song that is featured too and is actually a better live recording I think than what it was on the Bursting Out album. Hunting Girl is another of the 4 and, that was bound to be featured I guess, simply because it gets played live more than any song from the album. But its a massive bonus that they also done my favourite of the album Velvet Green and they play it superbly live too..

There are 22 tracks over the 2 CD’s and as well as those already mentioned from the new album at the time, there is an array of classics and the show even kicks off with one with Wondering Aloud. it’s also great to see To Cry You A Song  from the Benefit album here, and that they also play the whole of Minstrel In The Gallery too.

The 22 tracks over the 2 discs are as follows:

Disc 1. 1. Wond’ring Aloud. 2. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day. 3. Jack-In-The-Green. 4. Thick As A Brick. 5. Songs From The Wood. 6.Instrumental. 7. Drum Solo Improvisation. 8. To Cry You A Song. 9. A New Day Yesterday. 10. Flute Solo Improvisation interpolating – God Rest Ye Gentlemen/Bourée. 11. Living In The Past/ A New Day Yesterday (reprise).

Disc 2. 1. Velvet Green. 2. Hunting Girl. 3.Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young To Die. 4. Minstrel In The Gallery. 5. Cross-Eyed Mary. 6.Aqualung. 7.Instrumental Improvisation. 8.Wind-Up. 9.Back Door Angels / Guitar Improvisation /Wind Up (reprise). 10. Locomotive Breath. 11. Land Of Hope And Glory / Improvisation / Back Door Angels (reprise).

DVD 2

The 2nd DVD in the package contains the same live set list as what’s on CD’s 2 & 3 but also comes with the actual film footage which back then was filmed by a television crew with a video camera as it was being broadcast live and shown on TV live at the time the band was playing.

The picture quality is pretty much OK especially as this was filmed onto video tape and not proper film, so I amazed it has survived all these years. The only real bad thing about the film footage is that the cameramen who filmed the show where not very good at capturing all the angles of the band live on stage and half the time most of the other band members apart from Ian Anderson are out of the shot.

No doubt it’s perhaps more of a nostalgic piece of footage. But is completely watchable and nowhere near as nostalgic or as bad as the footage of the 2 extra videos that are included in the other bonus features on the 2nd DVD.

The sound quality of both the CD’s and the DVD Video is very good and although the picture quality is not as good as the Live at Madison Square Garden 1978 DVD that was released in 2009 (which is only really down to them having better cameramen at that concert) the sound quality on this 1977 concert wipes the floor with it, and it even has a proper well good 5.1 mix of it as well to which that 1978 concert states it’s got a 5.1 mix but is totally dreadful and a piss poor quality job was done with that mix.

But there as been a lot of hard work and a bit of magic that has been put into restoring this concert footage so well, and not everything you are hearing is from the same concert shot on video tape at the Capital Centre in Landover on the 21st November 1977.

Luckily enough around the time of doing the Songs From The Wood Tour. Ian Anderson took with him a Tascam 80-8 Track Reel To Reel Multi Recorder for doing some test recordings for a possible live album. The audio from the video cameras recording the live show were never gonna be good enough quality to release in the first place, as all the audio was in mono and was very poor.

But the first reel of tape from Ian’s recording of that concert at the Capital Centre in Landover went missing and could not be located. It contained the audio for the songs “Wond’ring Aloud”. “Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day”. “Jack-In-The-Green” and “Thick As A Brick” so they had to use the audio from a later show of the same tour which was played at Boston Gardens on the 6th December 1977.

But this is why this concert sounds so good in relation to a lot of old shows from back then, and it was left to Jakko Jakszyk who had the painstaking job of syncing it all together. Though he never did it on his own and called upon an old friend, childhood hero, and master musician Ray Shulman of the prog rock band Gentle Giant who works a lot in this field these days and gave up playing many moons ago now.

The video footage also has some glitches which is something that could not be fixed unfortunately. But it is still very watchable and really great to see that something has been done with it for all us to see after all these years.

Other Bonus Features

The 2nd DVD also comes with 2 extra videos. Beethoven’s Ninth which was from the same concert at the Capital Centre and also contains the audio from the original video tape, because the reels on Ian’s reel to reel were being changed over at the time, and was not able to capture the audio. Hence the reason why the sound quality is poor and only in mono.

The other video is the promo they made for the single release of The Whistler. Once again the audio is not that good on quality, but both videos are more of a nostalgic piece of the bands history and worthy to see here as extras.

Summary Of CD’s 2 & 3 & DVD 2…

Both the CD’s and the 2nd DVD that come with this marvellous package are outstanding bonus material to have, making the whole package really great value for the buck. The fact that material such as this still exists certainly make it a must for all Tull fans to own.

For me personally when it comes down to live concerts having the actual film footage of the concert is a must for me, and I prefer all live concerts done like this rather than just having an audio recording on a CD or vinyl album.

As a rule when I buy concerts on Blu Ray and DVD I will even buy the ones that come without the CD’s at a cheaper price to which some do offer you that option. But for the price of this package the CD’s are more or less free when you weigh up just what your getting for the money here.

Being a surround sound freak myself 5.1 mixes will play a big part in what I spend my money on these days, and for me there is a lot more quality and value in its media than any conventional stereo recording. The fact that even this concert as a quality 5.1 mix done on it by Jakko Jakszyk is a massive bonus personally for me and adds to making this package amazing value for the money.

Lee’s Overall Of CD’s 2 & 3 & DVD 2 Rating 8/10

——————————————————————————————————————————————

The 5.1 Mix Of Songs From The Wood Review…

DVD 1

The 1st DVD contains the 5.1 new mix of the album done by Steven Wilson. The albums 9 tracks have an high quality DTS 96K 24 Bit recording of them. 5 of the associated bonus tracks come with an AC3 standard 5.1 mix. They are “Old Aces Die Hard”. “Working John, Working Joe”. “Magic Bells (Ring Out The Solstice Bells)”. “One Brown Mouse” and “Strip Cartoon”. Both of the unedited versions of “Songs From The Wood” and “Fire At Midnight” are in stereo only.

There is also a 96K 24 Bit Lossless Stereo Mix of the original 9 tracks of the album as well as 4 of the original tracks that come with a 96K 24 Bit Quadraphonic Mix which are “Songs From The Wood”. “Jack In The Green”. “Velvet Green” and “The Whistler”.

Steve is no stranger to the world of 5.1 mixes, and not only has he done many of the other 5.1 mixes in this new book edition series of the Jethro Tull albums, but as done so for many other classic bands too.

Although I am not a fan of Steve’s own music, I sincerely take my hat off to the guy for his work he does on 5.1 mixes, and the mix he has done for the album Songs From The Wood is purely breathtaking and fantastic in every detail, and the album sounds stunning for it, leaving the stereo mix with no way of competing with it for sound quality.

The fact they are also including a DTS 96k 24 Bit audio tracks on all these new Jethro Tull box sets certainly raises the game for such a media as DVD. Bringing you near enough the same high quality that you will find on SACD’s and Blu Ray audio discs. Its something all artists should consider doing especially when using DVD media to put there music onto.

Summary Of The 5.1 Mix Of Songs From The Wood…

Being a surround freak myself there is no doubt that Steve Wilson has done a purely fantastic job with the 5.1 mixes. When it comes down to careful consideration of doing such a mix without going overboard and how he’s managed to bring out every fine detail of the music he has been presented with. He has managed to pay careful consideration to all the instrumentation and placement of them in the field, giving you a well balanced and very well detailed mix in stunning high quality.

Over the years my personal experience of listening to 5.1 mixes is that there is no doubt this format when mixed right simply leaves stereo behind, giving you a much more satisfying quality experience of listening to music. Because of it’s separation factor it gives you a lot more detail regarding everything that has been put into the mix, and brings it out a lot more for you to be able to hear everything.

There are quite a few great sound engineers and producers who can produce some outstanding 5.1 mixes, and although Steve is perhaps not the greatest who works in this field, he does have a great reputation to be able to take on such a task on in the first place, and I would very much put him up there with the many greats who are capable of doing such tremendous work in this magical world of 5.1, and the mix he has done on this album definitely ticks all the right boxes.

Lee’s Overall 5.1 Mix Rating 10/10.

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Conclusion…

Overall the so called Country Set 40th Anniversary Hardbound Book Edition box set is outstanding value for the money and surely a must for every Jethro Tull fan out there I would of thought. For me personally, even the fact that I have had this album for 40 years, this is by far the best thing I have seen released this year. For the price of 20 bucks you could not ask for anything more with what your getting here. The very fact that your getting a 96 page book. 3 CD’s and 2 DVD’s is like your getting it for the price you would of paid back in 1977.

The presentation and the quality of this package is very hard to beat at this low price point, and trust me, it will not be as low as this for long either, with how I have seen the prices soar way above it and even into silly ridiculous prices on some of the older packages in this remarkable book edition series of re-releases of classic Jethro Tull albums.

The album Songs From The Wood as always been an outstanding Jethro Tull album for me personally and one of the bands finest without a doubt, and on a final note I would just like to say that now it’s even more outstanding for it’s 5.1 treatment and this is without a doubt the best mix of the album by far.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Album: 10/10

The Bonus Tracks: 5/10

The 5.1 Mix: 10/10

The DVD’s & Other Features: 8/10

The Packaging: 10/10

.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music… #6

  1. I have to confess, that I don’t know this album at all, I just really know “Aqualung” and “Stand up”, but your review made my mouth water and I plan to give it a listen. But classic Stereo is enough for me …

    Liked by 1 person

    • No doubt this is well worthy of getting even just the stereo CD on it’s own without the need for having a package like this. I dare say you can even get it off Amazon for as little as £5 and if you like both Stand Up and Aqualung.to which both of those albums are musically different. I am sure you will like this album too. Personally I think Songs From The Wood is better than both those albums and contains more complexed musical structures in relation to them. No doubt there is the element of prog rock in there and its fused with folk rock. The material is very strong, very cleverly structured and written. The band had progressed a lot more since making those albums and Songs From The Wood is in every way in the same league and class of those 2 albums too. Nobody makes music as good as this yhese days and they would have an hard job in trying to so as well :)))))))))))))))))

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s