Lee Speaks About Music… #188

The Red Planet (CD/DVD Edition) – Rick Wakeman


This is going to be a short review because I have already reviewed the album last year and this is merely an update of this year’s reissue of The Red Planet by Rick Wakeman reissued by Madfish Records. I actually brought the CD Edition that Madfish Records put out on 28th of August last year and my reason for not opting to go for the CD/DVD Edition that was released on the R&D Media label on the 19th of June last year was down to it’s ridiculous price. I did also stress how disappointed I was in the way that it was put out on Rick’s Extortionate Emporium and you can find my review of the album here: https://leespeaksoutaboutmusic.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/lee-speaks-about-music-161/

Granted that R&D Media release was a Limited Edition but as much as a surround FREAK! I am, I do draw the line when it comes to being ripped off and no way was I paying £35 plus postage & packing for a CD/DVD package like that. Sometimes it pays to hold on and this new reissue of the CD/DVD package by Madfish Records was released on the 21st of May this year and cost less than a third of the price. I pre-ordered it from Amazon UK a month earlier and it arrived on the day of its release and was at a much more respectable price of £11.99. To be honest that’s quite a bargain and I genuinely think that the R&D Limited Edition should have cost no more than £18.99.

The beauty about this package is that you also never had to wait several months for the DVD to arrive as you did with the R&D Limited Edition. However, all is not how it appears to be and it takes me back to how the original Limited Edition was first advertised on Rick’s Emporium. In this review I am going to focus on the DVD that comes with it but before I go any further let’s take a look at how it’s been packaged.


Well as you can see unlike the CD Edition that Madfish released last year this new release comes in a 3-panel cardboard Digipak instead of a standard plastic Jewel Case. The booklet however has only 16-pages instead of the 20-page booklet that came with the CD Edition but still manages to cram in most of the same informative information and pictures and contains all the usual linear production and credits notes.

The only thing this package does not come with is the popup sleeve (as seen above) that you got with the R&D Limited Edition. Though I would be damned if I would pay the extra £25 it cost for that edition and as far as I can make out that is the only difference between the edition we have here and that one. Overall, it’s a very neat and tidy package and a much better presentation in relation to the CD Edition.

Like I mentioned earlier this is only going to be a quick review as I have already reviewed the album and the only incentive for me to buy the album again was for the 5.1 mix on the DVD. So let’s now take a look at the DVD.


The DVD’s main menu looks sharp and as pristine as blu ray when upscaled to which most blu ray players can do an excellent job of. The navigation is straightforward and simple enough and it comes with four options to choose from “Play”. “Track Selection”. “Audio Options” and “Extras”.

The “Track Selection” menu functions like most typical DVD’s where you have to load to another screen and this one is a bit on the slow side in making its transition and takes about 5 seconds. The other notable thing about this menu is that it does appear to look blurred in relation to all the other menus and this could have been down to an error by using a lesser resolution picture or it was the intention to make it look on the heated side of things.

The “Audio Options” menu gives you the choice of 3 soundtracks and by default, it’s set to 96K/24Bit PCM Stereo at 1.5Mbps. The DTS 5.1 mix also comes with the same high resolution but runs at a higher rate at 4.6Mbps. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is more of a standard resolution at 48K and runs at a much lower rate at 448Kbps.

The “Extras” menu contains the bonus material and here we have Rick talking about the recording of the Red Planet and some of the promotional films of which I will go into more detail in a bit. The bonus material comes with an overall playing time of 70 minutes, 46 seconds and the audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 48K at 192Kbps.

The good thing about the DVD is that it displays a different picture along with the title for all 8 tracks (as seen above). However in comparison to how things were done back in the early 2000’s it could be seen as a bit mediocre. But it’s nice to have something to look at whilst listening to the music and with how technology has moved on and we have HD and even 4K images to look at so I cannot complain and overall quite a good job has been done here.

All Is Not How It Appears To Be…

If you read my original review of the album you will gather at how I had a go at the original release and how everything was not how it appeared to be at first. For example within the first week that the Limited CD/DVD Edition showed up for preorder on Rick’s Emporium around March or earlier last year it was advertised that it came with a 5.1 mix of the album. A week or so later the 5.1 side of things had been removed and Rick announced on his own website that the DVD does not contain a 5.1 mix.

I know for a fact that the R&D Limited Edition CD/DVD did not come with a 5.1 mix because a mate of mine brought it and that’s how I also knew it cost £37 with the postage & packing. He also had to wait for the DVD to arrive and when it did arrive in October last year he phoned me up to tell me how disappointed he was that it never came with one. There are several things I pointed out about that release and all pointed to GREED! This is why I called it “Rick Wakeman’s Extortionate Emporium”.

I also pointed out in my earlier review how the vinyl editions of the Madfish release in August last year were pressed onto 140gram vinyl instead of 180gram and how it looked like Rick was cutting corners with the release to save on the money. However, this could also be down to the shortage of vinyl and this does happen from time to time and was the reason I gave up on vinyl years ago.

It does however make Rick look like a bit of a cheapskate and it also seems to look like he’s at it again with this new CD/DVD Edition that was released on Madfish records in May this year and like a sucker, I fell for it. Though thankfully it only cost me £11.99.

As I have already mentioned my incentive to buy music these days is for the Surround mix and that is why I will even go out of my way to buy an album like this again. However once again all is not how it appears to be especially by looking at the way this new release was advertised which follows:

“May 2021, sees Madfish releasing a new 2 disc version of the album as a CD + DVD format which will feature the original album on CD and the DVD will showcase the album in glorious 5.1 surround Sound and Hi-res stereo audio (PCM Stereo @ 24-bit 96kHz / Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround @ 24-bit 48kHz / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround @ 24-bit 96kHz) plus 3 mini promo films and a 70 minute documentary of “The Making Of The Red Planet”, presented in a digipak with a 16 page colour booklet”.

To be honest with an advertisement like that it’s easy to see how one can easily get roped in and for surround FREAKS! such as myself they might even get excited about it. Even the specs regarding the 5.1 mix that I posted with the screenshots I took of the DVD very much match up to this advertisement. Yet when I played the DVD I was just as disappointed that my mate was last year.

To be perfectly honest when I played the 5.1 mix I was wondering how to give it a rating because it certainly was not leaping at me with excitement or giving me an immersive experience. I then played the high-res stereo mix and was quite blown away by that and thought it was a much better mix. It was then I started to have a read in the booklet to find out who had done the 5.1 mix and it never even mentioned it in there. But then I noticed this on the back cover.

As you can plainly see the advertisement was a complete farce and no multitrack tapes were even used to do a 5.1 mix and all you are getting is a simulated 5.1 Upmix or Psudio mix to which you could achieve the same results without software simply by playing the CD on your AV Reciever using any of the Upmix facilities such as Dolby Prologic XX, Neo 6, 7-Channel Stereo and so on.

This is not the first time that some of Rick’s albums have been advertised with surround mixes making it look like they were mixed from the original master tapes over the past decade. For example, back in 2015, I purchased the Deluxe Edition of The Six Wives Of Henry VIII because it supposedly came with a Quadrophonic mix mixed from the original multitrack tapes. To be honest I was more disappointed with that release than what we have here and no way was it a Quadrophonic mix. As one reviewer on the tube pointed out who completely analyzed the recording stated:

“This is not Quadrophonic and furthermore I don’t know what the hell it is but a complete mess” 😊😊😊.

Now in some respects, you might expect it from an older release but with a new release, this should never be the case. It’s easy to say that it was down to the record company and throw the blame on them. But surely Rick Wakeman would have had the sense to oversee the release and all that was being done with it. He always posts on his Youtube channel regularly these days keeping you up to date with what he is doing and never once have I seen him stick his hands up and say sorry guys the record or advertising company made a mistake.

Stereo & Surround Mixes.
The mixes were done by Erik Jordan and assisted by Toby Wood and at a guess, I would say they neither had the 5.1 software to be able to do a 5.1 mix in the first place, and they would not have a clue how to do one either. The high-res stereo mix is excellent and would easily get 10 out of 10. The so-called 5.1 mixes even though they are only Upmixes sonically sound Ok! However, it will not give you the immersive experience that a real 5.1 mix will give you so in terms of a rating it only gets 5 out of 10.

Bonus Material.
Having looked at the main feature on the DVD and being somewhat disappointed with the whole shenanigans of how things have been done in the way of false advertising and having no 5.1 mix which is why I brought the thing in the first place. I found the bonus material just as disappointing. This is so unprofessional and not what I expected at all, even the footage they used they could not even be arsed to edit it to make it look any better.

Before the album was released last year I happened to watch Rick’s Tube channel and got to see him talk about the new album and how everything was progressing along. You also got to see some of the animations that was put to the music and band members such as guitarist Dave Colquhoun and bassist Lee Pomeroy show you some of the techniques they used with their instruments and how they went about recording them in their own little studio setups at home.

There was a total of around 15 – 18 video clips that were uploaded to his channel over the few months the album was being put together too which some were less than a minute. Others could stretch out between 2 – 9 minutes and these are the same video clips that make up the extra bonus material you get here. Each clip has a short intro and they have just left it in instead of editing it out to make it look more like an interview or discussion was going on with the footage. Something better than this should have been done with it and to leave the footage as it was is just pure laziness on their part.

Summary & Conclusion…

To sum up and conclude my review of this latest reissue of the CD/DVD Edition of The Red Planet released by Madfish Records earlier this year. I think it’s plain to see that not everything went to plan with how Rick Wakeman intended the album to be put out in the first place. When I look at the animation that was put to the music in the bonus section I am pretty sure that Rick may have had every intention to do the same thing he did with the 5.1 DVD release of Out There back in 2003 by accompanying the music with animated footage to run along in sequence.

Granted due to the outspread of Covid things got delayed but in reality that should have given him more time to work things out properly but instead it appears that he’s cut corners with the release of this album to get it out there. Nevertheless there is no reason why this latest reissue could not have been given a 5.1 mix but at the end of the day I suppose once again its down to cost and its a shame because it is a very good album and deserved much better treatment.

It could be that Rick left it in the hands of Madfish Records to put out this release but to go out and blatantly falsely advertise it in the way in which they did, I simply cannot ignore and it appears that Wakeman’s latest releases are like doing dodgy deals with Del Trotter of Only Fools and Horses 😊😊😊. Furthermore when you put bonus material on a DVD one would expect to see something you have not already seen and the way that section of the DVD has been compiled and unedited is so unprofessional.

However, that’s not to say everything about this new reissue is a shambles and in comparison to the so-called expanded edition that Esoteric Recordings released of Jon Anderson’s debut album Olias Of Sunhillow I reviewed last month. This is a much better recording and even though the 5.1 Upmix is not worth bothering with the high-resolution stereo mix does bring out a lot more than the CD and the so-called 5.1 mix.

At the end of the day, there is still a certain amount of quality you get with this release but it’s not for surround FREAKS! like myself. However, if you are also into high-resolution stereo mixes that is the only way I would recommend this release and with how it’s all neatly packaged and its low price point of £11.99 I still think you are getting a good deal but perhaps not a bargain after all without the 5.1 mix.

A Trotters Independent Trading Release…

Packaging Rating Score. 10/10.
Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.
5.1 Upmix Rating Score. 5/10.
Stereo Mix Rating Score. 10/10.
Bonus Material Rating Score 2/10
Album Rating Score. 7.5/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #187

Still Thick As A Brick – The Refelction Club



Well, this is a turn up for the books and just like how Ian Anderson has been repackaging his back catalogue of music it comes in a book. I am sure all Jethro Tull fans will remember their 1972 iconic concept album Thick As A Brick. He even did a sequel under his own name back in 2012 with TAAB2. Well, now the saga continues with Still Thick As A Brick only not by Anderson or Tull but by an entirely new band that goes by the name of The Reflection Club. Many might very well regard this as plagiarism although I would not entirely call it that because just like what Rob Reed did for Mike Oldfield with his Sanctuary series this is all original material and I have to say done with sheer BRILLIANCE! That much that I could easily make this my favourite album of the year.

I stumbled upon this release via a review by Bryan Morey on the Progarchy website and thank him sincerely for his review and heads up for putting me onto the album. Thick As A Brick has always been my personal favourite album by Jethro Tull although I have many favourite albums by the band especially from 1969 – 1978. What you are getting here is something that very much replicates the band, Jethro Tull, down to a tee from that early period and I would even go as far as to say that this could easily be mistaken for a long lost Tull album that came out of that magic decade with how well it’s been done.

So just who are these people that make up this band? And where do they come from? Well before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as ever.

Packaging & Artwork…

Well as can see in the picture above they have gone out of their way to release this album in the same formula of a book that Ian Anderson has been doing with the 40th and 50th Anniversary Editions of the back catalogue of the Jethro Tull discography. Although both are quality packages and the discs come in hardback books. There are quite a few differences and the first would be that the book we have here is slimmer than what you get with the Tull packages. The other difference is how the discs are stored as you can see below.

The discs in the JT package are stored in quality plastic trays with hubs that make it easy to retrieve the discs. Whereas this package comes with the discs stored in a die-cut slip pocket in the front and back of the book and they can be buggers to get at and try and retrieve them.

The book itself tries to throw in some humour in a similar vein to what Ian Anderson and the rest of the band did with the album cover back in 1972. There is a bit of tongue and cheek going on here, however, whereas the articles in Thick As A Brick were quite hilarious and PYTHON ESC! I find it hard to find anything remotely funny here at all. Maybe it’s a German thing 😊😊😊.

The book does however provide some detailed informative content regarding the band and how the album came about and comes with all the usual linear production notes, lyrics and other articles and photographs. To be honest the book you get here does also come with near enough as many pages as what you get with the Tull packages. But for some reason, they have duplicated the contents that make up the book twice as seen in the picture above. For example, the first 16-pages are in small print and they have used a further 70-pages to display exactly the same content in larger print. For the life of me, I cannot see why they did this and maybe once again this is a German thing 😊😊😊.

Overall it is however a very good quality package and even at its price point of under £20, you are getting good value for the buck considering it comes with a CD & DVD with a 5.1 mix of the album. I ordered my copy from Amazon and paid £19.66 for it and it’s still available around that price or slightly cheaper today.

It was also released on blue coloured 180gram vinyl in a Limited Edition package of 500 copies to which you also got the CD & DVD and the book in the form of a newspaper. Sold at a bargain price too considering all you are getting here and it was priced at €30 from the bands website.

Unlike all those involved in putting all the content into Jethro Tull’s Thick As Brick back in 1972 the design we have here was all done by one man Lutz Meinert, who happens to be the guy behind the project and who wrote all the material on the album. Overall, I think he has done a very good job even if there is a German thing about it 😊😊😊.

The Album In Review…

Still Thick As A Brick by The Reflection Club was released on the 3rd of March 2021. The album contains 11 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 47 minutes, 38 seconds. Just like the 1972 album Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull, it runs along the lines of a concept album. The way the album has been presented in the form of a newspaper or magazine called Rellington Stone instead of the St. Cleve Chronicle also suggests certain things are being replicated. Although the story we have here is poles apart from the story that Ian Anderson wrote about the fictional character Gerald Bostock and in no way is it a continuation of that story. It’s an album that is done more in the way of a tribute to that classic album more than anything else and perhaps could be seen as a labour of love.

Everything about the album we have here is highly original written material and was conceived by the multi-instrumentalist, musician and songwriter Lutz Meinert. Although it was going to take a lot more than himself to pull off a project like this and I believe he assembled the other members that make up The Reflection Club back in 2017. Meinert himself is from Berlin, Germany and is no stranger to working on other projects and collaborating with other musicians. Back in 2011 he put together another one of his studio projects and formed the Psychedelic/Space Rock band Margin and released one album under this project name.

Psychedelic Teatime is perhaps an album that is more along the lines of Pink Floyd with the material he wrote for it. Even the PROGMATIC! band Gong springs to mind with the title he chose here. I did take the liberty to listen to this album on the Tube but it was not my cup of tea. It did not speak to me like Floyd whereas what we have with this new project of his says everything about Jethro Tull back in the early 70’s and I guess that is down to other quality musicians he has onboard with him here, especially the singer who is English and is in a Tull tribute band who go by the name of The Jethro Tull Experience.

To be honest I have never heard of this tribute band though you can see why Paul Forrest would fit in a band like this with his voice which is as close as you could get to Anderson’s voice back in the early 70’s. He also plays acoustic guitar and flute in the band which are all part of Anderson’s attributes. Although it is his voice that is more predominantly utilised for this album and taking care of the flute side of things we have American flautist Ulla Harmuth. She really can play the flute although missing are the other characteristics that Anderson applies to the flute such as vocal breathing, grunts and snarls. I would also say that it is really only those characteristics that differentiate this album from it sounding like a long lost Tull album from the 70’s.

The final musician who makes up the lineup is also from Germany and he is Nils Conrad who contributes electric guitar to the album. All the other instruments such as the keyboards, bass and drums are played by Meinert himself and there is also quite a few additional musicians and voices that also contribute to making up the album which I will go into later. There is even a whole football team that contributes to it although like many of the guests who appear on the album there does seem to be a spoof going on here 😊😊😊.

The album is very much a studio project were the main core members of the band recorded their parts at their home studio’s. Like many musicians today, they have their own little studio setups at home and its not as if they met up with each other and internationally collaborated via contact from their homes. The final mixing and mastering of stereo and 5.1 surround sound was done by Lutz Meinert at Imago-Studio, Berlin.

I will go into the album tracks on the CD later in the “Album Tracks” section of my review. But first, let’s take a look at the DVD that comes with the package which was another one of my incentives to buy the album.

The DVD.

The DVD’s main menu looks quite pristine and as sharp as a Blu Ray. Looking at the photo they have used you would think that more than somebody has had a bad day at the office 😊😊😊. The navigation runs quite smooth and it’s easy to navigate your way along with the 4 choices of “Play Album”. “Track Select”. “Audio Setup” and “Subtitles For Lyrics”.

The “Track Select” menu displays all the 11 album tracks on one page and although you do have to load a page to get to it the transition is quite quick and smooth. I quite like the way they have done things here by using a different picture for this menu.

The “Audio Setup” menu gives you a choice of three soundtracks the PCM Stereo mix has the highest resolution of 96K/24Bit at 4.5Mbps. The DTS 5.1 mix comes with a 48k/24Bit resolution at 754Kbps. Whilst the Dolby Digital mix is 48K at 448Kbps. Even though the stereo mix has been given more priority in the resolution department it is still possible to get better results with both the 5.1 mixes down to the separation.

It also comes with subtitles which is good for those who want to follow the concept story and get to know what it’s all about. The “Subtitles” menu gives the choice of five different languages English, Deutch, French, Spanish and Italian. By default is set to none.

The other good thing is that it comes with an array of pictures for you to feast your eyes on whilst listening to the album. I say an array of pictures and it would be impossible to count them but there could be at least a thousand if not more. The pictures portray the concept of the album and run along in sequence to the story, they are all high-quality HD snaps. Overall, quite an impressive job has been done putting it all together and a quality job has been done here.

Picture & Audio Quality.

Everything regarding the DVD was done by Lutz Meinert and I have to say he has done a quality job all around here. The pictures he has used are all high-quality HD pictures and when playing this DVD on a Blu Ray player you would not tell the difference between the picture quality of both formats. Although that is obviously down to the Blu Ray player upscaling the picture and many players can do a really good job of it and give DVD’s that pristine sharpness and quality that you would get with a 1080p Blu Ray.

Regarding the audio quality, I think it’s fair to say that not only does Meinert have a good vision to do the job he did so well with the video side of things, but he also has a good ear. I would even go as far as to say a very good one too because although most engineers have no problem mixing stereo. 5.1 surround mixes tend to be the hardest thing to do for many engineers and I will say that this guy also has the right ear and know how to do them well. I am not saying he’s in Steve Wilson’s league when it comes to doing surround mixes, but overall he has done quite a very good job here with both the stereo and surround mixes and I would even give the surround mix an 8.5 out of 10. It does give you a very good immersive experience.

Musicians & Credits…

All tracks were composed, arranged and produced by Lutz Meinert. Together with George Boston he also wrote all the lyrics. Published by Madvedge Records. Recorded sometime between 2017 – 2021. Mixed & Mastered by Lutz Meinert at Imago Studio Berlin, Germany. Album Design by Lutz Meinert. 5.1 Surround Mix by Lutz Meinert.

Lutz Meinert: Piano – Organ – Harpsichord – Vibraphone – Glockenspiel – Electric & Double Bass – Drums & Percussion & Occasional Background Vocals.
Paul Forrest: Lead Vocals – Acoustic Guitar – Flute (Track 2).
Nils Conrad: Electric Guitar.
Ulla Harmuth: Flute (Except Track 2).

Guest Musicians:
The Rellington Resort Orchestra, conducted by Laura Palmer.
Vanessa Wiltshire: – Solo Violin (Tracks 6 & 10).
The Little Indian Restaurant Ensemble – Sitar and Percussion.
The Bagpipe Club Willy Scotty – Bagpipes and Piccolo Flutes.
The Rellington Football Club – Shouts and Insane Noise.

The Album Tracks In Review…

The whole concept and idea behind Still Thick As A Brick was done by Lutz Meinert and to some degree, there are some similarities between his fictional story and Ian Anderson’s. For example the spoof idea of how Gerald Bostock wrote the lyrics he has used the same initials and claimed that George Boston co-wrote the lyrics with him. I would also stick my neck out and say that the “Guest Musicians” listed above is entirely a spoof and all the instrumentation and sounds in that section are all part of his own production work.

Like Anderson’s idea, the story is based around the fictional character who wrote it, only here it’s set in a fictional town called Rellington. It deals with Boston’s busy life of work, finance, women, drugs, and many of the issues we deal with in our complex modern world sort of thing. Another similarity is that the album was released on the 3rd of March as was the original album some 49 years ago. Although the album is split into 11 tracks or parts it does run along seamlessly and portrays the story very well so let’s now dive into the album.

Track 1. Part 1: Prelude.

The opening introduction sounds nothing like Tull at first and the orchestral section to my ears sounds like the orchestration was played on the keyboards with the use of modelling soft synth software. The so-called Rellington Resort Orchestra directed by Laura Palmer is a spoof and neither does the town or resort exist. As far as I can make out Laura Palmer is a fictional character from the American TV series Twin Peaks. The soundtrack from the series also has a theme of the same name. One of the other things that tell me it’s a spoof is the way it’s worded as “Directed” by her and not “Conducted”.

I have to confess that I am not that keen on this orchestrated opening and it’s not in league with some of the skilful orchestral arrangements David Palmer did for Jethro Tull that used a real orchestra. Though I will say Lutz Meinert has done a very good job and it does more or less sound like a real orchestra and to be fair it’s not as if Meinert would be in the same financial situation as Anderson to hire an orchestra so it’s perhaps understandable.

It is only a short 2-minute piece and things start to sound more like Tull around the 1.5-minute mark when he brings in the Hammond at first then the drums and bass right at the very end to tailspin into the next track. Ulla Harmuth also contributes some fine flute to it as well and those are the only two musicians on this opening piece.

Track 2. Part 2: Time Out.

As soon as this track opens up there is no doubt that the album now sounds like you are listening to a Jethro Tull album from the 70’s. It’s really down to one man and this particular track features Paul Forrest using all three of Anderson’s attributes which are his voice, acoustic guitar and this is the only track he also plays the flute on as well. It is without any doubt the best track on the album and is the main theme of the album with how it reoccurs in other parts as it runs along.

I am pretty sure that if Meinert would have released this track as a single this album would be selling like hotcakes. It’s a shame really because as it stands I don’t think the album is getting enough recognition and that would really be down to the very few who have heard it. However, you can get to hear it on Bandcamp along with the next four tracks that come after it so it gives you a good idea of how the album flows.

This song actually puts me in mind of the album Passion Play rather than Thick As A Brick which is most likely down to the melody played on the acoustic guitar. I can also imagine it being on Warchild and coming into play after the words “Would you like a cup of tea dear” on the intro of that album.

Time Out” really is a very well written and arranged song and even the string arrangement done by Meinert sits in well here. Nils Conrad also lends support to the song though he is perhaps more utilised as the album progresses along. This is my personal favourite track on the album and merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 3. Part 3: Years on the Fast Track.

This is the first track on the album to feature all four musicians although Forrest’s voice only comes into play in the dying last few seconds for it to tailspin into the next track so this is very much more of an instrumental track. No doubt the Hammond organ puts you in mind of TAAB but I quite like how well Meinert’s bassline stands out so well on this track. Conrad gets to do more with his electric guitar and plays some fine lead lines and embellishes the main theme of the previous track towards the end. Harmuth’s flute also plays a fine contribution here too. It’s a piece that very much picks up the pace of the album and they all do a GRAND! job of it.

Track 4. Part 4: Rellington Town.

This next song is the longest track on the album and another of my personal favourite tracks on the album. Forrest is back with his Anderson voice and acoustic guitar and here he is accompanied by Harmuth on flute and all 4 musicians do another TOP JOB! here. There is some fine progression in this song with how it develops and it does put you in mind of Jethro Tull. In this part, George Boston is reflecting on some of the finer points of the fictional town he grew up in.

As Rellington Town does not exist I decided to use a picture of a town that very much exists namely Wellington Town. Even though the song is some 6 minutes, 17 seconds long it does seem to be over in no time. I guess that is really down to how good the song is and this is very much one of the highlights of the album along with “Time Out“.

Track 5. Part 5: The Club Of Hopeful Pinions.

If there is a track on this album that sounds like it’s been lifted from TAAB this is definitely it, although it has been done in their own way you do however get the feel of that classic Tull album with all that’s been done here. The combination of electric and acoustic guitars work very well throughout and Harmuth’s flute is well utilised in the lengthy solo and once again all 4 musicians are firing on all cylinders. It’s very much another highlight on the album and a GREAT ONE!

Track 6. Part 6: The Forary Of The Sharks.

This next track is one of two tracks on the album that features Vanessa Wiltshire supposedly on solo violin and once again this is a spoof and the idea of how Meinert came up with the name was most likely by seeing the top violinist Vanessa-Mae appear in the Wiltshire Gazette. A solo violin or violin solo is perhaps one of the hardest sounds to emulate with a keyboard and to be honest if there is one in this song I cannot hear it. There are some strings around the 4:24 mark though they are a combination of strings and not a solo violin on its own.

This is the only video of a full song from the album that Meinert has uploaded on the bands Tube channel and this gives you an idea of how well he has synchronised each clip to run along with the story. You will also notice that every now and then he does put clips of the instrumentation used and you can see for yourself where the so-called solo violin comes into play. Although he has also edited this video to display the album promotion in parts too.

There is even a Sitar amongst the pictures just before the string section and it’s obvious that it’s not played by The Little Indian Restaurant Ensemble which is another spoof. Though even in my research I could not find anything regarding how he come up with the name and my guess is that perhaps like Anderson Indian restaurants may have curried his brain 😊😊😊.

Track 7. Part 7: Sentimental Depreciation.

This is another fine song that utilises not just Forrest’s voice but his acoustic guitar. The other thing that is notable here is that there is indeed a solo violin and to my ears it does sound like one. There is obviously an error regarding the couple of tracks Wiltshire’s violin is alledged to be played on. To be honest with how real it sounds it even has me thinking if she is part of a spoof. However, I am still gonna stick my neck out and say that it is a spoof 😊😊😊.

This is another GREAT! track on the album to which is mostly acoustic and the reoccurring theme of “Time Out” is brought back into play once again. It also features some fine vibes and piano from Meinert and Conrad gets to fly out another fine solo on the electric at the end to round it all off.

Track 8. Part 8: Nervesoothers.

This next song ticks over at a steady relaxing pace and perhaps a soothing pace to calm the nerves as the title might suggest sort of thing. Ulla Harmuth is back in the fold with her flute and musically this song is very much acoustically driven along by the piano, vibes, double bass and drums and there was no need for Conrad’s electric guitar. Forest gets to stretch out his lungs a bit more than Anderson on this song too.

Track 9. Part 9: The Great Dance Around The Golden Calf.

The pace is brought back to the fold and this one is very much guitar-driven and Conrad’s services are very much required and things are hotting up over these next couple of tracks. I quite like Meinert’s pumping dominant bassline and he works in the keyboards and drums very well too. Harmuth also contributes some excellent flute work to and the services of the so-called Little Indian Restaurant Ensemble are also banging it out on the kettle drums. They are all pretty much cooking on gas and doing a GRAND! job.

Track 10. Part 10: Bedlam.

The bedlam in question happens to be at a football match and this is where the so-called Rellington Football Club are utilised with their shouts and insane noise. The song itself is a bit like a game of two halves with how the transition comes into play at the halfway point sort of thing. There are quite a few transitions and bags of progression throughout and this is, even more, hotter than the previous track with all that’s been put into it and they are all on fire.

There are flashes throughout that remind you of the original TAAB especially the hammond organ and I like how Meinert has combined it with the harpsichord as well. Conrad gets to fly out another TASTY! guitar solo and the so-called Vanessa Wiltshire throws in a bit of violin. This is quite a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT! and another of the album’s highlights.

Track 11. Part 11: Look Across The Sea.

Everything is brought down smoothly and Meinert’s piano trickles out the waves of the sea with a nice little flourish on the keys. The so-called Willy Scotty Bagpipe Club comes nicely into play with the bagpipes and piccolo flutes and I have no idea where he got the bagpipes from but they do sound 100% real to my ears and even more impressive is the military roll on the snare drum that accompanies them.

Once again the theme from the opening song “Time Out” gets nicely replenished with Conrad’s electric guitar and it all nicely fizzles out to allow Forrest to come in with his acoustic guitar in the way of a reprise of the main song and end it all off in the same style that Anderson did on the original album more or less. It’s the perfect way to put the album to bed and I have to say it’s one hell of a satisfying album.

Summary & Conclusion…

To sum up Still Thick As A Brick by The Reflection Club. What we have here is an album that has obviously taken some time to put it all together and one that has very well skillfully been woven together. It’s very much a labour of love and all four musicians have done a stellar job on it. It does without doubt sound like a long lost Jethro Tull album from the early 70’s and no doubt Paul Forrest’s voice does have Ian Anderson’s characteristics and without that this album and the way it’s been tributed to the band would not have really worked.

The material is all highly original and in no way could you really accuse it of plagiarism though no doubt some die-hard Tull fans might. In all honestly, I personally think this album is better than the last couple of Tull albums I reviewed Stormwatch and “A” with how it’s been put together and my personal highlights from the album are “Time Out“. “Rellington Town“. “The Club Of Hopeful Pinions” and “Bedlam“. Although this is really an album you will get more pleasure out of by playing it in its entirety and it’s been very well stitched seamlessly together.

In conclusion of my review of this GREAT! album I very much think this album will appeal to many Tull fans and whether you are adventuring through the mind of Gerald Bostock or George Boston I am sure you will enjoy the ride. The production standards speak for themself and it even comes with a 5.1 mix that I am sure will delight surround FREAKS! such as myself and give them a well-pleasing immersive experience. I personally think it’s the PROG! album of the year so far and one that will be very hard to beat.

It’s been very well presented with the package it comes in and is well worthy of every penny and is bang on for the buck or in this case it may even be “Book”. It will be interesting to see what Lutz Meinert is planning for his next project. Hopefully, it will be another Tull album but for now, I highly recommend you check this album out. Here is the official album trailer that was put out.

Not One You Want To Sit Out…

The CD Tracklisting is as follows:

01. Part 1: Prelude. 2:00.
02. Part 2: Time Out. 4:03.
03. Part 3: Years On The Fast Track. 3:30.
04. Part 4: Rellington Town. 6:17.
05. Part 5: The Club Of Hopeful Pinions. 3:47.
06. Part 6: The Forary Of The Sharks. 5:45.
07. Part 7: Sentimental Depreciation. 5:19.
08. Part 8: Nervesoothers. 3:09.
09. Part 9: The Great Dance Around The Golden Calf. 3:36.
10. Part 10: Bedlam. 5:48.
11. Part 11: Look Across The Sea. 4:24.

The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10.
The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.
The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 8.5/10.
The Album Rating Score. 9/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #186

A (40th Anniversary La Mode Edition) – Jethro Tull



Well, it’s been well over a year since the release of the Force 10 Edition of Stormwatch and one was not quite sure if Ian Anderson was going to continue re-releasing the Jethro Tull discography in these rather splendid Book Edition Box Sets. A lot of the delay of everything was obviously down to Covid 19 and I was well pleased when I heard back in February this year that the series was continuing and that the bands 40th Anniversary of their 13th studio album “A” was to be released in April this year. It was also even better news to hear from the words of Steven Wilson in an interview that the bands 3rd album Benefit is finally being repackaged and getting the same book treatment. Hopefully, we should see that surface sometime later in the year.

I myself have been collecting these book editions ever since it all started with Thick As A Brick back in 2012 and have them all. That particular package only came with a CD and DVD unlike the other Book Editions that followed the series and like many of these splendid editions, they have gone out of circulation or out of print and are selling for silly money. These days it’s no surprise to see that particular first edition in the series selling for over £400. Like all the editions in the series I pre-order them as soon as I hear they are coming out months in advance from Amazon and have saved quite a fortune by doing so. Three of them cost me no more than £14 including that very first edition.

The good news is that the Jethro Tull Discography is continuing to be re-released in the form of these Book Anniversary Editions. However, the sad news is that Steven Wilson is no longer going to be doing the new mixes and this is the final one he has been involved in. I have no idea who will be mixing the next album Broadsword and the Beast but I do know that it will be coming with 8 Discs. Many of the editions in the series come with an array of extra bonus material and the biggest bonus for myself are the 5.1 surround mixes, and without Wilson, at the helm of the mixes I am going to be missing him tremendously because he has done a superb job on this series and for many other artists and bands in the past.

Just like the previous album Stormwatch which was the last album to feature the classic band line-up. “A” was an album that was never my cup of tea when it got released back in 1980. I thought the written material was quite weak on both albums and Ian Anderson was writing about different subject matters which never really sat in with his earlier writing on those albums from This Was to Heavy Horses.

Personally, for me it was not the changing of the band line-up that really mattered, it was more down to his writing and both of these albums regarding their material have very little to say to me. 40 years later the album Stormwatch still says very little to me and it was the Associated Recordings that really won me over with that box set and the book of course to which I love to read about what was going on back then. The books in all editions are certainly very interesting and play an integral part in why these packages really stand out in relation to many other box sets.

So after 41 years how does the album “A” speak to me today? I am pretty sure it was an album that the biggest majority of Tull fans never had the time of day for and it was never very well received upon its release. However, before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

The Packaging & Artwork…

As with all these packages, the discs come stored in a hardbound book and everything about these Book Editions is pure quality. Personally, this way of packaging a box set cannot be beaten and neither can its price point with what you get with these Tull Editions. They are also easy to store on the shelf along with your DVD’s and do not take up a ton of space like many other box sets do. I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon UK on the 17th of February and it arrived on the day of its release. It always pays to pre-order these things early and you will generally find you will save a bit of money too. This one I got for £31.49 which is excellent value for the buck.

The Artwork.
The albums cover concept was by Ian Anderson under the direction of Peter Wagg of Chrysalis Records. The band set off to Kidlington airport near Oxford in England with photographer John Shaw and Martyn Goddard. Additional photos including in this new edition were taken by Martyn Goddard, Brian Cooke, Carsten Bergmann, Martin Webb, Heather Woodruff and Lasse Hoile.

It appears that the band dressed up for the occasion and I have to admit that after all these years I never realised they were all inside an Airport Control Tower. The albums cover always gave me the impression that they were in a spaceship and they were trying to replicate something along the lines of Star Trek especially with the design of the “A” logo that was on their white boiler suits.

A (40th Anniversary A La Mode Edition) In Review…

The original album “A” by Jethro Tull was released on the 29th of August 1980 and contained 10 tracks spread over an overall playing time of just over 43 minutes. Although the album did manage to break into the Top 30 of the UK Album Charts and peaked at Number 25, it was met by a lot of criticism regarding the bands new line-up and how musically it sounded like a departure from the bands familiar style with its heavy use of synthesizers. It was perhaps nothing unusual for the 80’s because the biggest majority of bands were now churning out keyboard orientated music in that decade and was the new trend. It’s also perhaps the very reason that I myself detested that decade and did not take to this album at all.

The album “A” was released at a time when I myself had lost interest in Jethro Tull and that was really down to how disappointed I was with Stormwatch released in the previous year. I never even bothered buying the album at the time and it was my oldest brother who had brought it upon its release and having heard it I honestly thought they had lost the plot.

It was not until Crest Of A Knave was released in 1987 that I eventually got back into the band and that was an album that sparked up my interest in them once again. It was also the time I had brought a CD Player and started to replace my vinyl collection with CD’s and I did then buy “A” along with the rest of the Tull catalogue. Having played the album again back then I very much ranked the album as the worst Tull album ever. I still think it is in all honesty and it has to be the least played album in my Tull collection.

The album was originally intended to be an Ian Anderson solo album hence the title of “A” for Anderson. It was the record company that pushed for the album to be released under the name of Jethro Tull to which caused much of the controversy over the years regarding the breaking up of the previous band line-up. Many believed that it was Anderson who fired its previous members John Evan, David Palmer, and Barrie “Barriemore” Barlow but it was nothing of the sort and Anderson merely compiled a different bunch of musicians to work with him on his solo project. Barlow left on his own accord due to depression over the death of bassist John Glascock.

Much of the controversy was down to the press the Melody Maker, in particular, jumping the gun as usual and not exactly reporting the actual truth of the matter. Many of the band members were hurt by it including Anderson himself who immediately wrote to the members of the band explaining that this was a one-off thing and he had no intentions of splitting up the band. He even gave his own version of the truth in the press himself so you cannot really blame Anderson. However, he did admit that he should have stuck to his guns regarding it being a solo album and not have let his record company release the album under the bands name.

Regarding how good any musicians are in a band at the end of the day it’s really down to the songwriting and putting all the best musicians in the world in a band will not make a blind bit of difference unless you have something good to say with the written material.

Ian Anderson was very much at the core of the biggest majority of the material that is written for Jethro Tull and as with the previous album the lyrical content was diverting away from fantasy folklore and was taking in other subject matter such as the cold war. I think that was part of the reason why the folk trilogy of albums never worked and the latter of the three was well out of context. So let’s now take a look at the contents and see if they are in context and marry up to make something more out of this package.

The Package Contents…

Jethro Tull A 3D Packshot

A (A La Mode) by Jethro Tull was released on the 16th April 2021 and because of the current pandemic, it was released a year later than its actual 40th Anniversary. My copy arrived on the day of its release and as with all of these Book Edition Box Sets they come with an array of bonus features and this one I personally do not think disappoints one bit in that department.

This one like the previous package comes with 6 discs although instead of 4 CD’s and 2 DVD’s we have 3 CD’s and 3 DVD’s. It also comes with a 104-page book that is rammed with information of around the time that album was made. The “La Mode” is perhaps more associated with the song “Aqualung” but did feature in the Slipstream video that came with the Deluxe Edition of the album back in 2004. So let’s now dive in a take a GANDER! at the content.

The Book.
In the book, you get an extensive article by Engineer Martin Webb on the recording and touring of the album, with contributions from Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, Dave Pegg and Eddie Jobson. Lyrics for the album plus a track by track annotation by Ian Anderson. Mark Craney interviewed in 1989 by Doane Perry. Interviews with Steven Wilson on the mixing and the art director and Slipstream executive producer Peter Wragg. A recording and touring chronology and rare photos and memorabilia.

CD 1.
The first CD comes with the original 10 album tracks plus 5 Associated tracks that were recorded around the same time the album was made. All 15 tracks have been newly mixed by Steven Wilson and it comes with an overall playing time of 62 minutes, 58 seconds. The original album tracks I will go into deeper later on in my review and I will just focus on the extra bonus tracks we get here for now.

To be honest there is very little here with the bonus content and this is nothing in comparison to the array of extra tracks that came with the Force 10 Edition of Stormwatch and many other Editions in this series of re-issues from the Tull back catalogue of their discography.

The other thing about the 5 extra tracks you get here is that they offer very little in the way of unreleased material even though the first 4 of them are unreleased. For example, you get an extended version of “Crossfire” that has been extended by 34 seconds. The song is only really 15 seconds longer and that is the guitar and drum intro that was either added or cut from the final mix. The remaining 19 seconds are really down to this version being slightly slower.

You get a Take 4 Demo of “Working John, Working Joe” and the difference here is that Eddie Jobson’s keyboards are not on it and they never got put on till Take 5. You also get all 39 seconds of an instrumental version of “Cheerio” to which Anderson later wrote a few words for it and included it on The Broadsword And The Beast album.

Also included here is the instrumental introduction that Eddie Jobson wrote for the Slipstream video and the only real unreleased track you perhaps have never heard is another instrumental piece written by Anderson entitled “Coruisk“. This is perhaps the best out of the bunch here and was inspired by Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Sky which was close to where Anderson was living and working at that time.

CD’s 2 & 3.
The other two CD’s captures the band in support of the album Live At The LA Sports Arena to which they ended off their North American leg of the tour by playing two concerts at the venue on the 11th & 12th of November 1980. The band played a total of 35 concerts on that tour to which Whitesnake was the support act at a good few of them including both nights that were captured here.

The band returned to England to play 2 nights at The Royal Albert Hall, London on the 20th & 21st of November and then embarked on their European Tour in the following year playing a further 20 shows.

The two CD’s pretty much capture the whole concert and in total both discs combined have a running time of 1 hour 48 minutes and you get a total of 20 tracks of which 18 of them came from the second show they played at the arena. Both “Protect And Survive” and “Bungle In The Jungle” on the 2nd CD was taken from the first show played at the arena on the 11th of November.

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena

The LA Sports Arena is also known as the LA Memorial Sports Arena was opened by Vice President Richard Nixon on July the 4th 1959 and was not only the home of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team but others as well. Over the years it’s held many other sports events and many artists and bands have played at the venue including the likes of Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Micahel Jackson, The Grateful Dead, Madonna and so on. The venue itself no longer exists and was demolished in 2016 and Springsteen was the last artist to play there and performed three sell-out concerts earlier in the same year it was demolished.

Once again Steve Wilson is at the helm of the mix and considering this is the final job he’s doing for Ian Anderson in the series of the Tull discography he has really gone to town on it. No doubt bootlegs of this concert exist out there and have done for many years but those would be way inferior to the quality job done here on the concert.

The concert itself does feature 7 out of the 10 songs from the album along with other Tull classics mixed in the set-list and even though I am not so much of a fan of material from “A” I do think they do a bit more justice to the tracks live and this is quite an enjoyable concert to listen to and can be further enjoyed on one of the DVD’s in this package as Wilson also did a 5.1 mix of it. So let’s now take a look at the DVD content.

DVD 1.

The first DVD is dedicated to the studio album “A” and it comes with quite a stylish main menu that even looks pristine on DVD. It’s easy to navigate your way along and it works on a flash system whereby clicking on any of the options will simply present you with a transitional wipe to display the content. It’s quite fast and smooth too even though another screen displays the content.

The album is the main feature and as you can see they are all Steven Wilson 2020 remixes. You can simply hit “Play” to play the album or can select any track from the album by hitting “Track Select” on the main menu and as you can also see on the screen above you do only get the album tracks in this section and none of the associated recordings.

You may also want to select the “Audio Select” before hitting “Play” and here we have a choice of 3 audio soundtracks and by default, it’s set to the high-res LPCM Stereo mix of 96k/24bit. The DTS 5.1 Surround mix also comes with the same high resolution and is my prefered choice. Whilst the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is perhaps inferior to the other two options in that it’s 48k and runs along at 448kbps instead of 1.5Mbps. But nevertheless, it might give you more detail than the stereo mix due to its separation.

The second feature on the DVD is the Associated Recordings which are the same 5 bonus tracks you get on the first CD. Only here you have a better audio option although only 3 of the tracks have been given the 5.1 treatment by Steve Wilson though as with the main album feature you do have the same high-res options. The final bonus feature on the DVD is that it includes the original stereo mix of the album presented in the form of a flat transfer with once again a high-res format of LPCM 96k/24bit.

The other good thing about the DVD is that it displays some of the pictures that were taken at the time the album was made and they run along in the form of a Slideshow as you listen to the music. It also displays the track title as it runs along and overall, a good professional quality job has been done with the DVD presentation and its authoring and I certainly have no complaints here.

DVD 2.

The second DVD contains the Live At The LA Sports Arena concert from 1980 that is also on CD’s 2 & 3 and it is unfortunate that the concert is also in audio-only and there is no actual video footage of the concert. The live show was videotaped and some have expressed their own concern and disappointment into why it was not included. My guess is that like most video footage filmed on video camera’s back then it did not have the quality of 35mm film and putting it onto a DVD would only make it look worse and more nostalgic than anything else.

However, all is not lost here because once again Steve Wilson is at the helm of remixing the audio in Stereo and 5.1 and it also comes with the same audio options as the first DVD (as seen below). The DVD’s main menu is also quite stylish and pristine and functions in the same way and you also get a Slideshow of some of the pictures from the concert to look at whilst listening to the music.

One of the notable things about the audio menu above is that unlike the second and third CD’s which contains two songs (“Protect And Survive” and “Bungle In The Jungle“) recorded from the first night played at the venue. The DVD clearly shows that all the songs were recorded on the second and final night at the venue. This of course could very well be an error that was made when compiling the DVD and I don’t recall reading anything about it in the book.

Speaking of the book Steve Wilson does explain why he used those two songs from the first night and this following quote from the man himself in the book does tend to clarify that an error was made on this menu. “There were two consecutive nights recorded at LA, but with only two exceptions Ian selected the second-night performances, so in some places, I was able to lift parts from the first night to repair issues with the second”.

The two “Select Track” menus above show you the complete setlist of the live show and here you can see how they have weaved in the new material with some of the more familiar classic songs. There is no doubt the new lineup of the band was well in shape and into the swing of things by the time they got to play at the arena and like I mentioned earlier it is quite an enjoyable concert. Although I am not too keen on how they arranged or missed out on the intro of “Locomotive Breath” to suit Eric Jobson’s modern synth approach. However, he does fit in very well with his violin on “Heavy Horses” and it was nice to see “Bungle In The Jungle” in the setlist here.

DVD 3.

The final DVD in the package is entitled Slipstream and basically, this is a 57-minute Videogram that was put together by the Chrysalis Group and was originally released on VHS Video back in 1981. It was also released on DVD in and included in the 2004 Deluxe Edition reissue of “A” as I mentioned earlier. The video footage itself includes film shots from various locations in the studio, outside on the cliffs of The Seven Sisters in between Newhaven and Brighton in England and also quite a bit of the live footage from the concert they played at the LA Sports Arena. It was also filmed on video and film and put together with animation, special effects and library footage.

To be honest the only thing I have ever seen from this video before was the video they made of “Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll and Too Young To Die” to which the band members all dressed as old men and were miming to the original record. Basically, this was because like I mentioned earlier that this was put out at a time that I had lost interest in the band, and having seen it now I am quite blown away by what has been done here.

As you can see from the setlist menu above most of the Tull classics were chosen and it only includes a couple of songs from “A” and the best song from StormwatchDun Ringill” which is a delight to see here filmed on the cliffs of The Seven Sisters. Anderson puts on his acting skills and plays the part of the tramp that was written about in the classic song “Aqualung” and I have to say this has all been put together extremely well.

The picture quality is also quite good even though it’s only in 4:3 aspect ratio and I have to say considering this was made years ago it still holds up well today and this is very much my favourite inclusion in this package and I have watched it countless times now.

The other thing that makes me watch this video so many times is the 5.1 Surround Mix and I have no idea if the 2004 Deluxe Edition was given that treatment, but even if it did it would be nothing in comparison to the quality job Steve Wilson has done with it here and once again you get the choices of DTS 96k/24bit and Dolby Digital 48k/448kbps. It also comes with a Stereo mix that is 48k/24bit.

The Stereo & Surround Mixes.

Like I’ve already mentioned of how Steven Wilson has gone to town on the mixes in this package and he has done new Stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes on all three DVD’s that come with it. I would also say that the job he has done on all 3 DVD’s is outstanding and entice you to play them all more often. Although the album “A” has never really been my cup of tea there is no doubt that this mix is way superior and not only gives you a full immersive experience but has brought the album back to life.

Wilson was not keen on doing a 5.1 mix for the live concert at the LA Sports Arena and would rather work with studio albums. The thing that put him off is that the biggest majority of 5.1 mixes for live albums only really use reflections for use of capturing the atmosphere and put the audience in the rear speakers to give it that live experience. I know for a fact that many live 5.1 mixes can be disappointing by doing the same thing. However, for this mix, Wilson has broken the rules and decided to place some of the instrumentation in the rears to try and give the live recording more of an immersive experience and I have to say he’s done it bang on and it very much does give you an immersive experience and makes it much more enjoyable to listen to.

As for the Slipstream video, I think I may have already expressed how good that is and Wilson really has done TOP NOTCH! work on all the Stereo and Surround mixes in this package and I would even go as far as to say that if like myself “A” was not your cup of tea with all you have in this edition I certainly would not think twice about buying it.

Musicians & Credits…


All songs were written by Ian Anderson with additional music material from Eddie Jobson, Arranged by Jethro Tull. Recorded between the 16th of May to the 9th of June 1980 at Maison Rouge Studios Fulham. London and at Ian Anderson’s home with the use of the Maison Rouge Mobile. Originally Produced by Ian Anderson & Robin Black (this edition by Ian Anderson). Sound Engineers Robin Black & Leigh Mantle. Cover Concept by Ian Anderson. Art Direction by Peter Wagg. Original Photography by John Shaw (this edition with additional photos by Martyn Goddard, Brian Cooke, Carsten Bergmann, Martin Webb, Heather Woodruff and Lasse Hoile. New Surround & Stereo Mixes by Steven Wilson. Research & Project Co-Ordination by Tim Chacksfield. Sleeve Notes & Additional Research by Martin Webb. Audio Research & Assitance by Don Needham. CD Master & DVD Authoring by Ray Shulman at Isonic.

Ian Anderson: Vocals – Flute.
Martin Barre: Guitar.
Dave Pegg: Bass – Mandolin.
Mark Craney: Drums.

Special Guest.
Eddie Jobson: Keyboards – Electric Violin.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

The bands 13th studio album was recorded between the 16th of May to the 9th of June 1980 and once again at Maison Rouge Studios Fulham, London and at Ian Anderson’s home with the use of the Maison Rouge Mobile. The only existing band member besides Anderson from the previous lineup was Martin Barre although Dave Pegg had already played with the band on their tour of the Stormwatch album and was very much brought in due to the death of John Glascock in the previous year. Eddie Jobson only appeared on the album as a guest basically because having left the band UK he wanted to concentrate on working on his own solo career and did not want to be tied to a band, it was also he who brought in Mark Craney to complete the new band lineup.

I have to admit that when I look at the material that was written for this album and several other albums to come from the band I am well surprised that Dave Pegg stuck it out for so long with the band. I can almost picture his face in shock horror and disbelief with the material he was presented to play on this album and it is completely different to what he played with Fairport Convention. I bet he wished they were doing something more along the lines of the material that was written for Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses which was more or less the same folk-rock style Fairport had been playing way before Tull in the first place.

Although there is one track on the album that may have been tailor-made for Pegg although much of it is very much synth-driven and you could say it personifies what the 80’s was all about with its keyboard orientated music. But let’s take a closer look at the album tracks now to see how it all pans out.

Track 1. Crossfire.

This was very much a song that was inspired by the events that took place at the same time the band were recording the album and it was when the S.A.S. sieged in on the Iranian Embassy in London who were holding hostages in the place. The event was broadcast live on TV as it was happening and it was Anderson’s wife Shona who dashed into the studio at the time to tell them all to watch the TV.

There is no doubt that Anderson put the lyrics we have here very well into context regarding the events that happened at the siege and perhaps used the viewpoint of Police Constable Trevor Lock who was a Diplomatic Protection Group officer assigned to the embassy, who was overpowered by the gunmen and held with the other hostages. Even to the point of describing the high powered 9mm pistol that was made by John Moses Browning and issued to the S.A.S. Although I have to confess that I myself knew absolutely nothing about the words to this song till I did some research for this review.

I have to confess that it’s very rare I will take notice of the lyrics that were written for most PROG! songs and in general it is only singer-songwriter songs where the lyrics are more meaningful for me to take notice of. I would not say that this is a prog-rock song or a singer-songwriter song and the words were only put into context to try and describe this one event in a sort of an action way that you might see in a TV series like The Professionals as Anderson describes in the annotation of the lyrics you get in the book.

Perhaps one of the most confusing things for me about this song from years back is that I used to have a habit of placing the album cover where I could see it in full view whilst listening to the songs. To me, the album cover looks completely out of context with the song we have here and it’s more like something out of Star Trek as I mentioned earlier. However, you certainly do not have a problem hearing the lyrics with this new mix that Wilson has done and they do stand out more than back then.

Musically the song pumps its way along quite well with Dave Pegg’s dominant bassline and he really is a solid bass player who is capable of handling any genre of music methinks. With the way, everything else tends to revolve around the bassline it would not surprise me if Anderson wrote the song with the bass. The bass does appear to even add a bit of funk to how the song is driven along and Martin Barre’s guitar adds a touch of the rock element to it all.

Eddie Jobson’s synth is not so much overpowering here either and he puts in some nice touches on the piano too. Whilst Mark Craney’s drums hold everything together quite well and he adds some nice percussive fills here and there and Anderson’s delivery of the lyrics perhaps give it a bit of a folk edge to it. His flute also works quite well on this song too.

Overall, “Crossfire” is not a bad song and it is perhaps more of a verse and chorus rock song and one that tries to maintain some of the bands folk roots in one way or another. I certainly don’t think it’s got a patch on what the band were doing in the 70’s and it’s far from a Tull classic.

Track 2. Fylingdale Flyer.

Jobson is more involved in this next song and it is more synth driven and it perhaps has a sort of of Sci-Fi appraoch to it all which is most likely down to the subject matter which is based on Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station at Fylingdales Moor in Yorkshire which were set up in the 60’s during the cold war. You could say it was the source of Britain’s “four minute warning” of impending nuclear attack. I cannot say I am keen on the subject matter here or the song either.

Track 3. Working John, Working Joe.

This is a song that Anderson had in the can for a good few years and an earlier version of it was also included in the 40th Anniversary Edition of Songs From The Wood. The song was completely re-recorded for this album and some of the lyrics were revised for it. To be honest I think Anderson expresses the words better on the version we have here and this is another song on the album that is not synth-driven and allows the other instrumentation to work its way into the song.

I would also say that this song does have a slight touch of some of the folk traits that were given to their earlier period and this would be down to the use of the acoustic guitar and mandolin. However, as good as it is it’s not a song that is about to set the world on fire that’s for sure no matter what version you listen to.

Track 4. Black Sunday.

In terms of how the band rock things out “Black Sunday” is very much the most powerful track on the album and I would have suspected it to be most peoples favourite track on the album. It’s a song that Anderson wrote the words just before he was going away on tour and the lyrical content pertains to going out to work and upon returning wondering if one will find things the way they left them. He also does mention that it’s very rare he writes songs about his own reactions and feelings.

Trying to decipher the lyrics myself it does give me the impression that he was writing about how his marriage to Jennie Franks had broken up back in 1974. Whoever he was writing about the person had buggered off 😊😊😊. There are certainly enough words in the song and they are quite a mouthful to get out and express which is something that Anderson does do particularly very well on this song. I doubt he could do it today either.

The song is synth-driven though it’s not in the way keyboard orientated songs in the 80’s pop charts were done and much in the way that most rock and progrock songs are done with other members of the band having their say as well. To be honest, there were only two tracks on this album that I thought was any good years ago and I am not the kind of person who buys an album for two songs or really plays a few tracks from an album and in general, I always like to play the whole album. That is why this album gathered dust in the first place and I never rated it.

Black Sunday” is both strong musically and lyrically and is one of the two highlights on this album. It was certainly one of the more powerful songs that Anderson wrote back then and I suppose you would have to jump ahead to 1999 when they put out the Dot Com album to get something more powerful. “Minstrel In The Gallery” was perhaps their most powerful song before the song we have here though in terms of classic songs from the Tull discography that song from 1975 is one hell of a classic and so was the album of the same title.

Track 5. Protect and Survive.

Another song written about current affairs at the time and back then the government were handing out leaflets with some information on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. There is not a lot you can do really and you might as well put a bag over your head 😊😊😊. But as Anderson describes in his annotation of the lyrics it was better than doing nothing. This is Martin Barre’s favourite track on the album and I can perhaps see why because it’s another song that is not synth-driven and I have to admit with this new mix by Wilson you can hear all the instrumentation far more clearly and it sounds way better for it.

Pegg’s bass work on this one is quite outstanding and I like how Jobson is matching Anderson’s flute note for note on the violin in the intro, break and outro sections. There are synths also in the song and they are even more evident with the transitional change that comes into play between the 2:10 – 2:40 mark. Even a vocoder is used too and it is this change I personally feel is a bit weird and not fitting to the song which is why it’s not my cup of tea so to speak.

Track 6. Batteries Not Included.

The next song is heavily keyboard orientated and the subject matter is perhaps commonly associated with children and their toys at Christmas time. It’s quite an uptempo song that has a certain amount of adrenalin throughout it and it also features Anderson young son at the time James wondering where the batteries are to play with his toys. I think the lyrical content is quite good and there is even a dark sinister side to the ending of the story Anderson wrote here. However, this is another song that is not my cup of tea.

Track 7. Uniform.

This is another of the better tracks on the album though the lyrics can be on the repetitive side. Here Jobson’s violin skills are very well put to good use and it’s not a keyboard orientated song. Pegg’s bass is also dominant here too and they all pretty much do a GRAND! job here. I must admit I never liked this song originally and it must be down to Wilson’s mix that it speaks a bit more to me today.

Track 8. 4.W.D. (Low Ratio).

Another song that musically is not too bad though the lyrical content is about as repetitive as you can get and it is that side of things that really let it down perhaps. It does however feature some fine guitar work from Barre including a nice solo in the break section. Anderson’s flute fits very well here too and they are all doing a good job of it.

Track 9. The Pine Marten’s Jig.

I mentioned earlier that there was a piece on this album that was tailor-made for Dave Pegg and the only instrumental track on the album is more or less the same sort of thing that Pegg was doing with Fairport Convention. It’s the most complex piece on the album and it took them a lot of rehearsing to pull it off live on stage.

Speaking of live performances one of the best performances I saw them do was around 1982 – 1984 with Peter Vettese on keyboards and you could really see how complex this piece is to play on that live performance. The funny thing is that this is not a keyboard orientated song and Jobson plays mainly violin on it, yet for some reason, I prefered that live performance with Vettese.

Incidentally, a Marten is an animal a bit like a Meerkat and can be found in places like Canada in the woodlands. I suppose in some ways they can get a bit JIGGY with it and this happens to be my personal favourite track on the album and merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 10. And Further On.

The final song on the album sounds much better to me today than I remember and once again it’s perhaps down to Wilson’s mix and you really can hear everything in the mix and it’s more defined and refined so to speak. It even speaks a lot more to me today than it ever did and now the album has more than a couple highlights. Although the song is keyboard-based it is very much written from the piano side of things and the other keyboards give it more of a CINEMATIC! and THEMATIC! feel and approach.

It is quite different to the other tracks on the album and is more along the lines of Scottish Celtic music and more reminiscent of the material we saw on the next album Broadsword and The Beast. Because it’s also a fine ballad of a song it puts me in mind of how the album Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die! was rounded off with another fine ballad entitled “The Chequered Flag (Dead or Alive)“. Unlike myself, many people do not like that album for some reason but that song is very much quality songwriting from Anderson and as concept albums go it’s done proper which is more than I could ever say for Stormwatch which was well out of context.

And Further On” does sound a bit out of place on an album like this and it might have been better utilised as the final track on the next album instead of “Cheerio“. Pegg’s bass guitar melds and bends its way into shape on this song with its delicious tone and Barre’s solo adds nicely to it all as well and it’s not a song that will set the world on fire a quality job has been done on it.

Summary & Conclusion…

To sum up and conclude my review of the La Mode Edition of “A” by Jethro Tull. What makes this package work so well is the extra content you get and not so much the fact that Ian Anderson still had his voice back then which I dare say may very well be the reason for people to buy this album. “A” is perhaps an album that was liked more by those who had just got into Jethro Tull in the way of an introduction rather than those like myself who had been into the bands music many years beforehand and it was an album that caused a lot of controversy upon its release.

To say that the album was completely keyboard orientated (like most bands and artists were doing at the time in the charts in the 80’s) I would not say it was and when you look back at the previous incarnation of the band they even had two keyboard players. However, despite them having two keyboard players in their previous line up the music was never synth-driven and that is the major difference between the album we have here and what was done before it.

Even though the music is written by Ian Anderson and Eddie Jobson only appears as a guest. Jobson does tend to have the most input in how many of the songs on the album run along and he does appear to have more of the driving force of the way this album flows. That is perhaps my real gripe with it and the keyboards have very much taken centre stage on a good few of the songs and gone are most of the acoustic elements that worked so well in the past.

So what do I think of “A” after 41 years? Well, the album certainly sounds a lot better thanks to Steve Wilson’s 5.1 mix though my mind has not changed regarding the written material on the album and it still remains my least favourite Tull album. But on the positive side and once again thanks to Wilson. there are a couple of more songs I enjoy now and It might not gather as much dust as it did before and I might stick it on a bit more often 😊😊😊.

Though personally for me what makes this edition stand out is the extra bonus content you get on the other two DVD’s that come in the package. I enjoy both the live concert and the Slipstream video much more and that is down to them having quality written material that came from the bands earlier output. My personal highlights from the album are “Black Sunday“. “The Pine Marten’s Jig” and “And Further On“.

You don’t have to like the album “A” to get something out of this package and for those like myself who never took to the album (which I would have thought were the majority of older Tull fans back then) there is much more to this package with the book and the extra two DVD’s and I don’t think it will disappoint any Tull fan at the end of the day. This is why I highly recommend it.

Couldn’t Come Soon Enough

The CD Tracklisting is as follows:

CD 1. (2020 New Mixes & Associated Recordings)
01. Crossfire. 4:05.
02. Fylingdale Flyer. 4:35.
03. Working John, Working Joe. 5:07.
04. Black Sunday. 6:42.
05. Protect And Survive. 3:37.
06. Batteries Not Included. 3:51.
07. Uniform. 3:33.
08. 4.W.D. (Low Ratio). 3:44.
09. The Pine Marten’s Jig. 3:25.
10. And Further On. 4:25.
11. Crossfire [Extended Version] #. 4:39.
12. Working John, Working Joe [Take 4] #. 5:16.
13. Cheerio [Early Version] #. 0:39.
14. Coruisk #. 6:29.
15. Slipstream Introduction #. 2:51.

CD 2. (Live At The LA Sports Arena, 1980 Part 1)
01. Slipstream Introduction. 2:59.
02. Black Sunday. 7:07.
03. Crossfire. 3:59.
04. Songs From The Wood. 4:51.
05. Hunting Girl. 6:04.
06. The Pine Marten’s Jig. 3:43.
07. Working John, Working Joe. 4:17.
08. Heavy Horses. 7:29.
09. Musicians Introductions. 1:55.
10. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day. 3:28.
11. Instrumental (inc flute solo). 6:16.

Disc 3. (Live At The LA Sports Arena, 1980 Part 2)
01. Trio Instrumental. 5:08.
02. Keyboard Solo. 7:58.
03. Batteries Not Included. 4:14.
04. Uniform (Incl. Drum Solo). 6:48.
05. Protect And Survive (Incl. Violin Solo). 6:24.
06. Bungle In The Jungle. 5:31.
07. Encore Intro (Guitar And Bass Instrumental). 3:01.
08. Aqualung. 9:48.
09. Locomotive Breath (Instrumental) / Black Sunday (Reprise). 7:02.

The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10
The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10
The CD Bonus Material Rating Score. 2/10
The DVD Bonus Material Rating Score. 10/10
The New Stereo Mix Rating Score. 10/10
The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 10/10
The Original Album Rating Score. 4/10

Lee Speaks About Music… #185

BTO 1 & 2 – Bachman-Turner Overdrive



Well, this is another fine example of what Michael J. Dutton is doing with his Vocalion series and he has chosen another couple of fine albums to remaster and presented them together on a Hybrid SACD giving you superb value for the buck. Two albums for the price of one and not only that they also come with the original Quadrophonic mixes which I am sure will delight many Surround FREAK! enthusiasts like myself. We saw the same thing done with Deodato’s first two albums I reviewed not so long ago and you do get sheer quality at a very respectable and bargain price to which is really GREAT! to find and why I have a lot of admiration for this record company of his.

This time he is introducing us to the world of Bachman-Turner Overdrive or BTO which is the abbreviation most commonly used when talking about this fine Canadian band who very much like to ROCK! things out in their own style. There is no doubt they do have their own distinctive style and originality and this is a band I got into back in the 70’s not so long after the release of their third album Not Fragile which is perhaps regarded as their finest album and no doubt many will remember the hit single released from that album “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” that catapulted their success and made people take more notice of the band.

BTO are a band that really progressed as they went along with each album and I actually brought all their albums right up until the point that they decided to knock it all on the head around 1984. My first real introduction to the band apart from hearing that widely known hit single of theirs was with their first couple of albums and I do remember getting them from one of these music catalogues known as Britania Records and I am pretty sure I only brought the albums because they were either half price or were free when you purchase so many albums from the catalogue. I used to take care of my own business regarding how I went about building up my record collection back in those days and BTO were certainly taking care of their own business by the time they released their second album so to speak.

I would not say that BTO were one of the GREATEST! rock bands but there was a certain amount of soul that went into their own particular rock style that said enough to me to like them and give them credit where it was due. They have certainly done enough for me to want to buy all their albums and unlike most bands, they did manage to stick to their own original style that they started out with which was something I admire them for. Before I go any further about this fine Canadian band let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

Packaging & Artwork…

The SACD comes in a standard plastic Jewel Case which is perhaps a bit outdated these days in relation to Digpaks but nevertheless, it keeps the disc well protected. It comes with an 8-page booklet that provides you with some useful informative information in an essay written by David Zimmerman. It also comes with the usual linear and credits and a couple of pictures. I purchased my copy from the Dutton Vocalion website for £11.99 they do charge an extra £2 for postage and packing but even at £13.99 inclusive of postage it’s still excellent value.  

The artwork for BTO’s debut album was designed by the bands drummer Rob Bachman and the inside of the cover was done by Joe Kotleba. It also used photos taken by Tom Zamiar & Ed Caraeff and both albums were done under the Art Direction of Jim Ladwig. One of the downsides in a package like this where two albums come together is that you do not get to see much of the cover design due to both albums covers being put together.

The bands second album was designed by John Youssi with the use of photographs taken by Dave Roels. I quite like Rob Bachman’s cog design the better of the two and it was also utilised for the bands logo. It was also sculptured by Parviz Sadighian.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive In Brief History…

Bachman-Turner Overdrive was initially put together by singer/guitarist Randy Bachman after he left the psychedelic pop-rock band The Guess Who to form the band Brave Belt with singer/keyboardist Chad Allan who was also a former member of the previous band and had left a few years earlier. He also decided to rope in a couple of his brothers and make it a family affair Robbie Bachman (drums) and Gary Bachman who was merely acting as the bands manager at the time back in Winnipeg, Canada 1971.

Brave Belt

The band got a record deal with Reprise Records and even though their self-titled debut album never sold that well their record label still wanted them to go on tour. As the band never had a bassist Randy played bass on their debut album and it was Neil Young who recommended C. F. “Fred” Turner to them and he not only joined the band for the tour but also became a full-time member of the band and also became their lead singer. It was also Young who got them the deal with Reprise.

It was after the making of the bands second album and during the tour of it that Allan left the band and another of Randy’s brothers Tim Bachman was brought in as a second guitarist although their record label was far from impressed and dropped them. Brave Belt was going nowhere and the only minor success came from the single release of “Crazy Arms, Crazy Eyes” from their 1971 debut album which was penned by Randy and it managed to break into the top 40 of the Canadian charts and peaked at number 35.

Although dropped from the Reprise label, the Brave Belt II lineup of (C. F. Turner with Randy, Tim and Robbie Bachman) never gave up and recorded new demo songs for what was going to be Brave Belt’s third album. They also got a new manager and it was the manager that convinced them to change their name to which they eventually settled on the name Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

It was also this current lineup of the band that went on to make their first two albums that we have here, although much of the bands success really came from the second incarnation of the band when guitarist Blair Thornton replaced  Tim Bachman and the rest is history. Well, almost and we shall learn more about the bands history in my review of both albums we have here.

The Albums In Review…

There are a few similarities between this Vocalion release of Bachman-Turner Overdrive and the Deodato release and it’s not just down to them being relatively short enough albums to fit two of them onto one SACD. The other similarities are that they both made two albums in the same year 1973 and surprisingly both albums got to have Quadrophonic mixes although they certainly were not mixed or released in 1973. However, they did surface on LP in Japan in 1975 and are extremely hard to get hold of these days. We shall learn more about how the Quad mixes came to be later but once again thanks to Michael J. Dutton we can now get to hear them in Quad to which he has remastered and released these two albums in January this year.

Because I have two albums to get through I shall briefly run through the album tracks rather than go into more detail like I do in most of my reviews, but try and keep a focus on the main points and features and include more of the bands history along the way. So let’s now jump straight into it their debut album.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Much of how Bachman-Turner Overdrive came about was really down to three people and a bit of luck was also needed for it to happen. Firstly it was their new manager Bruce Allen who not only suggested they change their name but had a company that booked almost every live venue in the city. He also went on to shepherd the careers of Canadian superstars Bryan Adams, Loverboy and Anne Murray. The bands bass player C.F. Turner was the one who came up with the new name and the word “Overdrive” was inspired by a trucker magazine of the same name he spotted in a diner during a tour stop. Randy Bachman was very much the driving force behind the band and the guy who pumped in the money from the estimated 90,000 dollars he had made from the royalties that came from the time he was with The Guess Who.

The Guess Who

Unlike Brave Belt that was really one of Randy Bachman’s failures and cost him more money paying the other members of the band and struggled to get enough or a decent gig to pay for it all. The Guess Who had much more success and Randy left the band at the most pivotal point after their album American Woman reached number 9 in the American Billboard charts. The single release of the same name from the album done even better and hit the number one spot in America. The album was their most successful album and stayed 55 weeks on the charts and went Gold status in sales.

I have just found out that Dutton Vocalion has reissued both the 1970 albums American Woman and Share the Land on a single Hybrid SACD and they too were given the Quad treatment. I shall be adding that to my collection later and Michael J. Dutton really is doing a GRAND! job at reviving such GREAT! music from the past and presenting it in quality at a bargain price.

Having emptied his own bank account to finance another set of recordings things were not going well trying to get a record label to take them on and they were turned down by A&M, Epic, Atlantic, Columbia, Asylum you name it. But this is where the bit of luck came in. They eventually landed a deal with Mercury Records one which Randy proclaimed as a pure stroke of luck. It was in April 1973, Charlie Fach of Mercury Records returned to his office after a trip to France to find a stack of unplayed demo tapes waiting on his desk. Wanting to start completely fresh, he took a trash can and slid all the tapes into it except one which missed the can and fell onto the floor.

As luck would have it was Randy’s and Fach happened to noticed Randy’s name on the can and remembered talking to him the previous year and had told him that if he ever put a demo together to send it to him. The other stroke of luck was that Mercury had just lost Uriah Heep and Rod Stewart to other record labels so they were looking for new acts to fill their books so to speak.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s debut album was released on the 17th of May 1973. The album contains 8 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 36 minutes, 51 seconds the album was originally titled Brave Belt III and it was the bands new record label that insisted they changed it. Although the album was not that well-received upon its release and it did not churn out a hit single it did pick up sales from the release of their second and third album and was certified Gold in the following year 1974.

The band recorded the album at RCA Studios in Toronto, Canada between 1972/73 and virtually every artist in Canada and from many other countries used the studio including the likes of Rush, Bob Seger, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Elvis Presley, Steely Dan, Joe Walsh and many, many more.

The album was produced by Randy Bachman and he had recording engineers Dave Slagter and Mark Smith at his helm. The Studio operated under the name from 1954 – 1979 and was sold onto McClear Place Studios. These days like most studios they no longer exist and the building that once stood at 225 Mutual Street was unfortunately demolished.

Musicians & Credits…

Produced by Randy Bachman. (Tracks 4,5 & 7) Written by Randy Bachman. (Tracks 1,3 & 8) Written by CF. Turner. (Track 2) Written by Randy Bachman, Rob Bachman & Kirk Kelly. (Track 6) Written by Tim Bachman & Randy Bachman. Recorded at RCA Studios Toronto, Canada sometime between 1972/73. Recording Engineers Dave Slagter and Mark Smith. Mastered by Tom “Curly” Ruff. Cover Design & Band Logo by Rob Bachman. Inner Cover Design by Joe Kotleba. Cover Sculpture by Parviz Sadighian. Art Direction by Jim Ladwig. Photography by Ed Caraeff & Tom Zamiar. Original Quadrophonic Mix by Mark Smith in 1974 at Sound City Studios, Los Angeles, USA. Remastered Stereo & Quadrophonic Mixes by Michael J. Dutton in 2021.

Randy Bachman: Lead Guitar – Lead Vocals (Tracks 5 & 7) – Backing Vocals.
Tim Bachman: Rhythm Guitar – Lead Vocals (Tracks 5 & 6) – Backing Vocals.
CF. Turner: Bass Guitar – Lead Vocals (Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 & 8) – Backing Vocals.
Robbie Bachman: Drums & Percussion.

Additional Musicians.
Barry Keane: Congos (Track 3).

There is no doubt Bachman-Turner Overdrive had their own approach to rock music and even incorporated some jazzy touches to it, even the way their guitars were driven had their own unique sound that made them stand out from other rock bands. CF. Turner’s soulful voice with a gravelly edge also played its role in distinguishing them from other acts and Randy Bachman’s guitar skills were no mean feat.

Although the album never produced a hit single it was not for the want of not trying and two of the tracks from the album were released as singles. The first of which was the albums opening track “Gimme Your Money Please” which managed to reach number 45 in the Canadian charts. Although to gain further recognition they were really looking for something to spread them further afield which is something the 3rd track on the album “Blue Collar” did. Unfortunately, it only made number 68 in the American Billboard charts but done better in their own country reaching number 21. As the song was over 6 minutes it was edited down 4 minutes for the single release.

Blue Collar” is the standout track on the album and the only track on this album that incorporates some of the more familiar jazz attributes that the band went on to do a bit more often as they progressed along. The song’s title and lyrical content refer to a class of workers who couldn’t wear white collar shirts to work due to the type of labour which would soil a white shirt. It was also commonly used in referring to job positions.

Strangely enough, the second-longest song on the album “Hold Back The Water” was used for the B-Side and was edited down to near enough half of its original length this is my second favourite track on the album and like the A-Side features some superb guitar work from Randy Bachman. The first three songs on the album are my personal highlights from it though both “Little Gandy Dancer” and “Don’t Get Yourself in Trouble” are quite good songs and the first of them was used for the B-Side of “Gimme Your Money Please“. The remaining tracks “Stayed Awake All Night“. “Down and Out Man” and “Thank You for the Feelin” are perhaps the mediocre side of the album though nevertheless they still have the ability to rock out in their own formidable style.

Overall, Bachman-Truner Overdrive’s debut album is a half-decent album that has the ability to drive along in a satisfying enough way, it’s even an album you could stick on in your car whilst cruising along and take some pleasure from doing so. There is nothing remotely bad here and thanks to Michael J. Dutton you can get even more pleasure out of it with the Quadrophonic mIx. My personal highlights of the album are as follows: “Gimme Your Money Please“. “Hold Back The Water“. “Blue Collar“. “Little Gandy Dancer” and “Don’t Get Yourself in Trouble“.

The album tracklisting is as follows: 1. Gimme Your Money Please. 4:43. 2. Hold Back The Water. 5:08. 3. Blue Collar. 6:11. 4. Little Gandy Dancer. 4:24. 5. Stayed Awake All Night. 4:09. 6. Down and Out Man. 3:14. 7. Don’t Get Yourself in Trouble. 4:55. 8. Thank You for the Feelin. 4:07.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 6/10.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive II

It was not long after the release of their debut album that the band were back in the studio to record their second album it was not unusual for many bands back in those days to churn out more than one album in a year. The band travelled to the States to record the material for their second album and the recording took place at Kaye-Smith Studios in Seatle, Washington during the months of September and October 1973. The album once again consisted of 8 tracks and was spread over an overall playing time of 39 minutes and was released at the end of the year in December 1973.

Kaye-Smith Studios

Kaye-Smith Studios or Enterprises was originally founded by Lester Smith and actor Danny Kaye who decided on a joint adventure of setting up a recording studio for film and music production. It was set up in 1973 and during the 70’s it was utilised by local advertisers for television commercials and many musicians such as Steve Miller, Johnny Mathis, The O’Jays, The Beach Boys, Elton John, Heart and many more. 

In 1979 the studio changed hands to Steve and Debbie Lawson and was re-launched as Steve Lawson Productions, then in 1991 Ann and Nancy Wilson of the band Heart brought the studio and renamed it Bad Animals after their 1987 album of the same name. They had the studio up until 1997 and many more artists recorded their albums at the studios including the likes of Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Queensrÿche, Foo Fighters, Aerosmith and so on. The sisters sold it back the Lawson’s to which they renamed Studio X. 

In October 2017, the studio was purchased for $21.6 million by Skanska, which plans to build a 346-unit multifamily tower with ground-floor retail in the building. Studio X decided to move its location in October 2018 and was managed by Reed Ruddy. In the same year Alice In Chains recorded their album Rainier Fog at the new location and that was the last album recorded at the studio.

Musicians & Credits…

Bachman-Turner Overdrive II

Produced by Randy Bachman. (Tracks 2 & 8) Written by Randy Bachman. (Tracks 3 & 5) Written by CF. Turner. (Track 7) Written by Tim Bachman. (Track 4) by Randy Bachman & CF. Turner. (Track 1) By Randy Bachman & Tim Bachman, (Track 6) by Randy Bachman & Rob Bachman. Recorded at Kaye-Smith Studios in Seattle, Washington, USA sometime between September & October 1973. Recording Engineer Buzz Richmond. Assistant Engineer Mark Stirling. Mastered by Tom “Curly” Ruff. Cover Design by John Youssi. Art Direction by Jim Ladwig. Photography by Dave Roels. Original Quadrophonic Mix by Mark Smith in 1974 at Sound City Studios, Los Angeles, USA. Remastered Stereo & Quadrophonic Mixes by Michael J. Dutton in 2021.

Randy Bachman: Lead Guitar – Lead Vocals (Tracks 2, 6 & 8) – Backing Vocals.
Tim Bachman: Rhythm Guitar – Lead Vocals (Tracks 1 & 7) – Backing Vocals.
CF. Turner: Bass Guitar – Lead Vocals (Tracks 3, 4 & 5) – Backing Vocals.
Robbie Bachman: Drums & Percussion.

Additional Musicians.
Norman Durkee: Piano (Track 8).

The material that was written for the bands second album continues in much of the same vein as their debut album only the couple of singles that were released from the album did do much better. “Let It Ride” for example managed to peak at number 23 in the American Billboard charts and became their first song to break it into the top 40. It also reached number 3 in the Canadian charts but it was “Takin’ Care of Business” that was to become one of BTO’s most enduring and well-known songs peaking at number 12 in the American Billboard charts and managed to stay inside the top 100 for 20 weeks which was longer than any other BTO single. Likewise, it also hit number 3 in the Canadian charts.

The song became more or less the bands anthem and it was a song that Randy had worked on back in his days with The Guess Who. The song originally had the working title of “White Collar Worker” it was whilst he was driving into Vancouver, British Columbia for a gig and listening to the radio when he heard local DJ Daryl B’s catchphrase “We’re takin’ care of business” that made him change the title and the lyrics. The song features Norman Durkee on piano who was recording commercials at the time in the next studio when sound engineer Buzz Richmond asked him if he would throw some piano on the song.

It is one of the better songs on the album though I personally don’t think it’s as good as “Blue Collar” from their debut album. Although there is another song on this album that is done in the same vein as that song with its jazzy textures and that is “Welcome Home” which is my personal favourite track on this album. This is where the band can be a bit more adventurous and diverse in relation to many other rock bands and that is what I like about this band. It’s also another song that was penned entirely by Randy.

Other fine songs on the album are the opening track “Blown” which features some GREAT! slide playing by Randy and it’s brought out even more so on the Quad mix. “Tramp” is an excellent display of songwriting and they are well in the swing of things on this one. “Stonegates“, “Give It Time” and “I Don’t Have to Hide” are perhaps on the more mediocre side of things but you can still easily rock along to them.

Overall, BTO’s second album is very much on equal par with their debut album and there is nothing remotely bad along its path. I don’t think any of these albums are on par with what was to come from the band but both albums are worthy of having in your collection. My personal highlights from the album are “Welcome Home“,”Blown“, “Takin’ Care of Business” and “Tramp“. 

The album tracklisting is as follows: 1. Blown. 4:20. 2. Welcome Home. 5:32. 3. Stonegates. 5:36. 4. Let It Ride. 4:25. 5. Give It Time. 5:41. 6. Tramp. 4:05. 7. I Don’t Have to Hide. 4:24. 8. Takin’ Care of Business. 4:54.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 6/10.

Summary & Conclusion…

Bachman-Truner Overdrive are a band that brings along another flavour to rock music by doing things their own way, their albums did get better as they went along but there is still enough on their first two albums to make them worthy of getting and their music still stands out well today. With the two albums you are getting 76 minutes, 22 seconds of good music and considering you are getting two albums for the price of one you are getting amazing value for the buck all thanks to Michael Dutton who has once again remastered both the stereo and quad mixes from the original multitrack tapes.

Speaking of the Quad mix it was not until Autumn in the following year of 1974 that both of these albums were mixed in Quadrophonic along with their third album Not Fragile to which were done at Sound City Studios and engineered by Mark Smith. It was down to the studio having just been fitted with new quadrophonic equipment that he was able to do the quad mixes for all three of their albums and he was the first engineer at the studios to use the new quad facilities and do quad mixes.

Sound City Studios was set up back in 1969 by Joe Gottfried and Tom Skeeter and after a rough start, the studio became known as one of the most successful in popular music. Throughout the late twentieth century, the studio became known for its signature sound, especially in recording drums and live performances of rock bands. The premises it was set up in was previously a production factory of the English musical instrument manufacturer Vox.

Many artists such as Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bob Dylan, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Slayer, Rage Against the Machine and much more have recorded at the studio. The studio was originally set up with a state of the art recording console made by the English electronics engineer Rupert Neve which cost some $75,175 to which only 4 were made. The first song recorded on the console was performed by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks who was making their only album together at the time which led to an invitation for them to join Fleetwood Mac.

Neve 8028 Recording Console

The studio closed in 2011 and much of the gear was sold off. The vintage Neve 8028 Recording Console was purchased by Dave Grohl, former Nirvana drummer and current frontman of The Foo Fighters, who installed it in his Studio 606 in Northridge, California. In 2017 a partnership was formed between Sandy Skeeter (daughter of founder Tom Skeeter) and Olivier Chastan in order to reopen the studio. Sound City is now the home of two of just 11 surviving Helios Type 69 consoles and continues to use classic analogue recording techniques in many of its productions. While the control rooms received some upgrades, including Pro Tools, the main studio remains exactly as it was built in 1969.

They say a fool and his money are easily departed? However, you would be a fool not to part with your money in this case because this is as cheap as chips and the beauty about this release is that you can now hear the album in another light and get more of an immersive experience with the Quadrophonic mix.

Four-Wheel Quad Overdrive…

The Package Rating. 7/10.
The Price Point Rating. 10/10.
The Quad Mix Rating. 10/10.
The Stereo Mix Rating. 10/10.