Top positive review
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Wonderful, generous reissue with lots of extras including 2 hour concert video, 5.1 mix, high-res and more
on 20 May 2017
This review refers to the 40th Anniversary "The Country Set" edition, released in May 2017.
This generous package is a fine example of how to do a deluxe reissue of a classic album. There is a lot packed in here, all presented in a compact hardback book case.
Now, to the details. There are three CDs and two DVDs. The first CD is a 2017 remix of Songs from the Wood by the remarkable Steve Wilson, musician and prog rock enthusiast as well as an audio engineer. I love the remix, which has more clarity and much richer bass than the original. I also appreciate that full dynamics are preserved; you may find it slightly “quieter” than your existing CD, but just turn the volume up to appreciate it!
You also get 7 outtakes; I am just getting to know these but they are far from filler. Old Aces Die Hard is a highlight, nearly 9 minutes and really good, rejected because its theme is too dark according to the notes. And the US single mix of The Whistler.
Next comes a complete November 1977 concert at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland USA. Well, the first four tracks from a Boston concert a few weeks later but it hardly matters. A great concert; haven’t decided yet whether I prefer it to Bursting Out from the 1978 tour but it is excellent.
There is also a video of the November 1977 concert at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland USA. There is quite a story here. The concert was not filmed with the intention of ever releasing it, but rather for showing the live performance on a big screen, as is commonplace today in larger venues (18,000 seats in this case). It was also recorded to 8-track audio tape for a possible live album. The video is essentially a marriage of the two, technically tricky as they do not synch exactly. However the challenge was even greater for the first four tracks, where the audio tapes are missing. Audio was available from Boston though. Jakko Jakszyk (himself a musician with King Crimson) managed to blend all these sources, using various techniques, with impressive results. Considering the date, the video quality is good and the complete concert a 2-hour treat for Tull fans.
The other DVD has more treats: a new 5.1 mix of the album and outtakes, a flat high-res (96/24) transfer of the original mix, and a quad mix of four tracks (Songs from the Wood, Jack-in-the-Green, Velvet Green and The Whistler), which I presume is from back in the day.
The book is great too. 96 pages in all, with the first 51 pages giving the full story of the release, interviews with band members and colour photos. Then you get Ian Anderson notes on all the tracks, including the outtakes. Then lyrics to all the tracks, including the outtakes. Then some notes from Jakszyk on the video editing, and notes on the DVD from Don Needham.
Wonderful reissue for Tull fans at a very reasonable price. If only more deluxe sets were done this way!