Jethro Tull-Living with the Past (2002)

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Released 12-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet-12pp
Menu Animation & Audio
Music Video-Blind Eye
Music Video-John Barleycorn
Gallery-Photo
Featurette-Tull Talk
Outtakes
Featurette-DVT - The Public Announcement Film
Music Video-My Sunday Feeling
Featurette-Beside Myself (3)
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 107:59 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Chris Loughlin
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Ian Anderson
Martin Barre
Doane Perry
Andrew Giddings
Jonathan Noyce
Mick Abrahams
Glenn Cornick
Clive Bunker
Brian Thomas
Justine Tomlinson
Malcolm Henderson
Juliet Tomlinson
James Duncan
Case Click
RPI $34.95 Music Ian Anderson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 1967 a new group began performing. Their agent/manager suggested calling the group Jethro Tull. Ian Anderson thought the name sounded cool, and agreed. He has since admitted that he was not paying attention in school when they were studying history, so he didn't realise that Jethro Tull was the name of a man who invented a seed drill (this is a piece of agricultural machinery, and does not involve strange uses of a Black and Decker). Had he known this, there might not have been a group called Jethro Tull, and the world would have been a poorer place.

    It is a scary thing to realise that now, in 2002, Ian Anderson has been standing on one leg, playing flute, and singing strange (and often vulgar) lyrics for 35 years. He has a lot less hair now, and he's a bit heavier around the middle, but he seems to draw on an inexhaustible supply of energy on stage. Apparently Jethro Tull have performed almost 3000 concerts in those 35 years - that's an average of a concert every 4 days... And they have released an album most years, as well as touring (OK, there was that patch from 1996 to 1998 without an album, but that's the only break of more than one year without one).

    My personal first experience of Jethro Tull came in 1977, but they'd been performing for ten years by then. The first new album that I bought was Songs From the Wood - an awesome introduction to the group, and some of their best work (my opinion - your mileage may vary). Then came Heavy Horses, which really struck a chord in me - that triggered an exploration of their past albums. There's a wide expanse of musical territory there - even more so now, so many years later.

    Although Ian Anderson is the front man, the singer, the credited composer of all of the songs, the most memorable thing about the group, and a truly charismatic gentleman, he is not Jethro Tull by himself. He's the only person to have been in every incarnation of the group (Martin Barre comes close, though, having been in the group for all but the first year of its existence). But Jethro Tull is definitely a group performance (witness Ian Anderson's solo efforts), with a huge repertoire of music.

    When I first heard of this disc, I misheard the title - I thought it was "Living In the Past". That's understandable: Living in the Past was an early album (1972). I thought I was in for some scratchy old footage, probably black-and-white, shot in poor conditions in 1972. I had misheard, though. This is Living With the Past. This is recent stuff - most (if not all) of the footage was shot in 2001, and the copyright date on the disc is 2002.

    This is a hybrid programme - part concert video, part documentary, part excuse for Ian Anderson to have some fun. The main piece on this disc is 108 minutes long - it's mostly concert footage of Jethro Tull performing (must I say "live"? They are unlikely to perform dead, except possibly for tax reasons). Interspersed between songs are short grabs of interview footage - these are really interesting, focussing mostly on the other members of the group, and an articulate lot they are (no Spinal Tap members here). It could have been even better if they'd adopted a format like John Farnham's Thirty Three and a Third, in which the interviews and music can be viewed separately or interspersed. Ah, well, a missed opportunity...

    The main concert numbers are somewhat afflicted with music-video disease. This is a condition that makes otherwise sane directors feel that they must change camera shot every few seconds or they will die. I do wish they wouldn't. To make matters worse, there's also the urge to play with the box-of-tricks - make everything go funny colours (or black-and-white), or go all grainy. And they are cutting together footage from multiple concerts, so the settings change, too. It's not horrendous, but I would have rather that they had simply filmed the one concert. At least they stuck to the one recording of each song, so the music is unaffected, but it means the footage from other concerts doesn't always display perfect audio sync.

    Of note is that this performance of A New Yesterday is different from the one I'm used to, but nonetheless still quite effective.

    Not all the numbers are taken from the concerts, though. There are two numbers (Wond'ring Aloud and Life's A Long Song) recorded in a large living room (Ian's, apparently) with a string quartet (anystringgoes) - these are beautiful, and provide some light relief to the hard driving rock of other numbers (Hunt by Numbers and Locomotive Breath, for example). We also get a couple of numbers (Someday the Sun Won't Shine For You, A Song for Jeffrey) from the first Jethro Tull line-up (the only one without Martin Barre) - apparently they re-united in a small pub for the first time in over 30 years - nice stuff. There are some interesting inserts in Jack in the Green and Roots to Branches - you'll see what I mean.

    It doesn't really matter when you started listening to Jethro Tull - you'll find songs you know in this selection. They've included material from the entire span of their career.

    You like Jethro Tull? Especially live? Go get this disc. You want it - you just don't realise it yet.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. My Sunday Feeling
2. Cross Eyed Mary
3. Roots to Branches
4. Someday the Sun Won't Shine For You
5. Jack in the Green
6. Thick as a Brick
7. Wond'ring Aloud
8. Sweet Dream
9. Hunt by Numbers
10. Bouree (instrumental)
11. A Song for Jeffrey
12. The Water Carrier
13. A New Day Yesterday
14. Life is a Long Song
15. Budapest
16. New Jig (instrumental)
17. Aqualung
18. Locomotive Breath
19. Living In the Past
20. Protect and Survive (instrumental)
21. Cheerio

Transfer Quality

Video

    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. That's the intended ratio, so we can't complain.

    The picture is quite variable. When the director is not messing around, the image is clear and sharp and richly detailed. At those moments, there's pretty good shadow detail (unusual for stage lighting!). There is no unintentional low-level noise. However, be prepared for the director's whimsy - the picture goes all cutesy sepia for the songs from the original group, goes all interlaced at moments, and so forth. No, I don't like that stuff - fortunately it doesn't mess up the music.

    Colour is, when the director restrains himself, bright and cheerful. Stage lighting gives things odd colours at times, but these are faithfully captured. There are moments when the picture goes all strange - don't worry about your player, just mutter under your breath about directors and artistic pretensions...

    I saw no unintentional film artefacts. There's aliasing (absolutely impossible to avoid with stringed instruments, mike stands, and so forth), but it never gets distracting. There's a moment of moire, but no significant background shimmer. Making allowances for the director, this is a superb transfer.

    There are no subtitles. That's a pity - I like having subtitles for the song lyrics.

    The disc is single sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 69:48, and it's excellent - not quite imperceptible, but close, and it's placed between songs (yay!).

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is a bit of a disappointment - I was expecting a 5.1 mix, perhaps even dts. It's not. It's a 2.0 mix, and it's not even PCM - it's Dolby Digital, at 192 kbps. That's a real shame. It rises above its limits, though - especially if you crank it up a bit (I only went 5dB up, because of the time of night - you could happily go 10dB, or more...)

    The singing is as clear as Ian Anderson ever gets - lyrics are readily discerned. There are no audio sync problems caused by disc mastering or manufacturing problems. There are visible audio sync glitches, but they occur mostly in the footage cut in from concerts other than the central one - they've done an excellent job of cutting the footage in, but it is inevitable that there'll be slight difference in performances - I wasn't bothered by it.

    The music was captured on site using digital recording equipment. There was no fragile magnetic tape involved, so there was no possibility of tape hiss, wow, or flutter - love this new technology!

    Your subwoofer and surrounds can take the night off - this is a straight stereo recording. If you leave your Prologic decoder on, your centre channel might get the common signal. If you have enabled bass management, then your sub may get something to do from redirected bass. My front channel speakers are capable of handling substantial bass, so my sub gets only LFE channel - it switched itself off. That's not to say that this soundtrack lacks bass - it's got plenty.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menus are lightly animated, with decent slices of music behind them.

Collaborations / Bonus Tracks

Photo Gallery (2:56)

    Not really a photo gallery - this is a slowly changing montage of still photos with music (Budapest).

Tull Talk (4:17)

    Various interview grabs presented one after another - interesting enough, but the interview footage during the concert is better.

Outtakes (2:48)

    Mostly outtakes from Ian Anderson's public announcement (see next) - he suggests that two thirds of the population of the US is affected by DVT; I consider that a slight overestimate...

DVT Public Announcement (0:28)

    Ian Anderson's contribution to the cause.

Bonus Track (3:54)

    My Sunday Feeling - another track by the original line-up, obviously filmed at the same time as the others, but not included in the concert for some reason or other. This one looks more black-and-white than sepia, and I prefer this look (my apologies to the director's artistic soul).

Virtual Ticket Window (2:38 x 3)

    An interesting extra - you can choose to watch a decent-sized chunk of Beside Myself from any of three viewpoints - up the back of the dress circle, front row of the stalls, or the wings. This should have been presented as a multi-angle piece, but it isn't - it's just three separate pieces. My personal theory (I have no justification for this) is that these were going to be chopped together in some peripatetic manner by the director, but he was knocked unconscious first (hey, I can hope!).

Booklet

    A 12 page booklet containing 1713 words with Ian Anderson - entertaining as well as informative. It also lists the musicians involved, and other useful details. Much better than the average booklet.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc is described as identical - it has the same extras, is also 2.0 and even has the same cover.

Summary

    A definite must for any Jethro Tull collection.

    The video quality is very good, when the director lets it be.

    The audio quality is quite good, considering it's Dolby Digital 2.0

    The extras are plentiful and interesting, but not particularly long.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, July 22, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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