CD Rock Review

Jethro Tull: The Country Set, a 40th Anniversary Edition for Songs

Title: Songs from the Wood

Label: Chrysalis

When Songs From The Wood appeared on the scene, the band had not long complete internal changes with the leaving of long time bassist, Jeffery Hammond-Hammond the year before and the joining of John Glascock who would then appear on the LP, Too Old to Rock’n’Roll: Too Young to Die and the Christmas EP, Ring Out, Solstice Bells. The title song of that EP would actually appear on this album that hit the streets in 1977.

Bands sometimes talk a project that was truly ‘together’. That is, everyone pulls in the same direction, ideas flow, everyone is happy. That was Tull on Songs From The Wood. It was also an honest-to-goodness album of original songs as opposed to an interpretation from another project: a play or somesuch. Past LPs from the previous few years had derived from such events.

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Songs was also a ‘pleasing’ album. Pleasing in terms of being aesthetically charming, that is, while the folk-centric core of the project provided a sense of cultural purity (in its best sense) that added a simplicity and sensitivity that was most appealing. It would also be the band’s last album before punk rock hit the UK ears and Tull found themselves thrown into an artistic turmoil along with many other prog rock groups of the period. But that is a wholly different story.

Here, the combination of delicate folk (along with a range of beautiful harmonies) and raucous rock provided an essence of what the band was. In fact, that sense of revelation seemed to be present from the band’s principal members too, witness the name of the group on the front cover: Jethro Tull With Kitchen Prose, Gutter Rhymes and Divers Songs from the Wood. A band name turned almost into a manifesto. The songs, Hunting Girl and Velvet Green, almost seem to epitomise the content. 0190295847876-Jethro-Tull-SFTW-3D-Medium

The new edition of the album is a joy for fans. Mastering is forceful, not bright, yet levels are pushed.  Presented in a hardbook book format cover, the first disc of the set contains the Steven Wilson remix (that guy is everywhere – he’ll be remixing Rice Krispies next) of the original studio album plus the previously unreleased Old Aces Die Hard and Working John, Working Joe. CDs two and three in the box form 22 live tracks, remixed to stereo by Jakko Jakszyk and jiggled into a single set from the Songs From The Wood Tour via Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA (6 December 1977) and Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, USA (21 November 1977).

DVD 1 contains 5.1 DTS, AC3 Dolby Digital Stereo Surround and 24bit/96kHz/24 LPCM stereo versions of the Steven Wilson remix and rarities.

The final disc includes video from the Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland on 21 November 1977 mixed to 16bit/48kHz stereo LPCM and 5.1 DTS, AC3 Dolby Digital surround by Jakko Jakszyk.

A 96-page book includes words from Martin Webb, Ian Anderson and assistant engineer Trevor White.

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