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A Right Old Thrash
on 6 December 2004
Hard to believe, but back in 1970 Jethro Tull were the band that everybody at the festival wanted to see, and it was Jimi Hendrix who got shunted out of the headline spot to accommodate them on the closing day. Ian Anderson, the bug-eyed hippie tramp going berserk with a flute. What was he on? There was no one quite like him, then or even now, 34 years down the line.
This is more or less the set that would establish Tull in America later that same year, laying the ground for Aqualung's release the next and prog rock dominion thereafter. So, none of your fiddly time signatures or folksy foot-tappers here: this is a right old thrash, and it may be a surprise to some that they ever made quite this amount of noise. It's tight enough, but the band plays with real abandon, the powerhouse bashing of double kick-drummer Clive Bunker driving them on at a furious pace. Anderson's acoustic instruments hold up well, but John Evan's grand piano sounds more like an upright coming from a pub several doors away. And My God, there's an awful lot of noodling, with solos from everyone, Glenn Cornick included. Those were the days: plenty of time for pee breaks.
Of course, the festival was a complete shambles throughout, so it's a pity that a lot of Ian Anderson's hilarious onstage patter ("Tear down a fence and win a plastic ball") has been edited from this release. It would have been far better served as a document of the event keeping his quips and sparing us much of the jamming, as Martin Barre must surely concur.
An absolute must for fans and historians alike nonetheless. Thing is though, how much of Murray Lerner's film of the Tull set is there still in existence? Can we have that out on DVD next, please?