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Archive for September 7th, 2011

No Longer Wond’ring Aloud: Details Finally Arrive For “Aqualung” Super-Deluxe Box

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The super-deluxe parade continues.

We first reported on the 40th anniversary box set of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung back on June 3, and now we can thank our pals at MusicTAP for revealing details of the set’s rather overwhelming contents!  On October 31 in the U.K., EMI will unveil the 2-CD/1-LP/1 DVD/1 BD Aqualung box set alongside a 2-CD distillation, housed in a digipak and containing a 48-page booklet.  Amazon isn’t currently showing an American release date, though a domestic arrival is expected shortly after the U.K. date.

Aqualung remains the all-time sales champion for British band Jethro Tull.  One of the very first albums recorded at Island Studios, it marked a departure for Jethro Tull’s original, heavier sound, with a track listing of primarily acoustic songs.  Bandleader, flautist and chief songwriter Ian Anderson, though, was at his most inspired.  Anderson divided the album into two suites entitled Aqualung and My God, one to each side of the LP.  Clearly the offstage turmoil facing the band and its line-up didn’t hold back Anderson’s prolific creativity.  The album was keyboardist John Evan’s first as a full-fledged member, first with new bassist Jeffrey Hammond, and last with Clive Bunker playing drums.  Upon its release, it went Top Ten in both the U.K. and America, hitting No. 4 and No. 7, respectively.  In many respects, the original LP defied categorization.  Anderson commented, “I always said at the time that this is not a concept album; this is just an album of varied songs of varied instrumentation and intensity in which three or four are the kind of keynote pieces for the album but it doesn’t make it a concept album.”  The actual concept album would come the next year, with 1972’s Thick as a Brick, and its nearly 45-minute single song album (split into two sides on vinyl, of course)!

In his own way, Anderson was commenting on English society of the day as much as, say, Ray Davies.  His lyrics featured pointed commentary on religion (“My God”, “Hymn 43” and “Wind Up”) but he also indulged a whimsical side (“Mother Goose”), and a contemplative one (“Wond’ring Aloud”).  With varying tempi and feel, Aqualung successfully mixed both gritty rock and more “highbrow” experimentation into an album that still sounds like no other, even today.  What has been added to make this the definitive Aqualung?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 7, 2011 at 13:43

Posted in Box Sets, Jethro Tull, News

Listen to the Music of the Night: “Phantom” Box Coming to the U.K.

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Two decades after The Beatles ushered in the first British Invasion, the Brits were back.  This time, they had their sights set on Broadway, traditionally home to one of America’s great indigenous art forms, the musical.  The British Invasion of the 1980s saw the work of American musical theatre legends like Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Cy Coleman and John Kander and Fred Ebb take a seeming back seat to lavish spectaculars imported from London, often with iconic logos and some kind of special effect sure to keep the tourists talking: Cats (a flying tire!), Les Miserables (a turntable!), Miss Saigon (a helicopter!) and of course, The Phantom of the Opera (a crashing chandelier!).  Well, of course, those musicals haven’t endured solely on the strength of special effects or eye-popping ad campaigns alone.  But despite record-breaking runs, only one still lights The Great White Way today. 

The Phantom of the Opera opened in the West End of London on October 9, 1986 and on Broadway on January 26, 1988.  Earlier this year, it became the longest-running production in Broadway history.  (The top three spots on that list all belong to British imports of that era, with Cats and Les Miserables still No. 2 and No. 3.  The still-running 1998 revival of Chicago holds No. 4, with A Chorus Line rounding out the Top 5.)  So while Phantom has the lead over Chicago on that list, it’s following in the footsteps of that musical as only the second musical to have a comprehensive box set (shall we call it a Super Deluxe Edition, in recent parlance?) dedicated to it.  The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Celebration, due on October 3 in the United Kingdom from Really Useful Records, Polydor and Universal U.K., is a 4-CD/1-DVD set chronicling the musical from its conception to its 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies

Hit the jump to enter the Phantom’s lair and find out what’s included on the 25th Anniversary Celebration box, with a full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 7, 2011 at 09:20