The Second Disc

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Steven Wilson Has “Passion” For Jethro Tull’s “Play” With New Box Set

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Jethro Tull - Passion Play Contents

Jethro Tull continues its series of deluxe reissues with producer/engineer Steven Wilson on July 1 with the release of the (slightly belated) 40th anniversary edition of 1973’s A Passion Play.  Following the reissues of Aqualung, Thick as a Brick and Benefit, the deluxe A Passion Play: An Extended Performance will include 2 CDs and 2 DVDs – containing new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes of the original album and previously unreleased material – along with an 80-page book.  As with Thick as a Brick, the set is priced affordably; as of this date, it’s available for pre-order at a cost of less than 30 dollars.

A Passion Play was the band’s sixth album, and arrived on the heels of the U.S. chart-topping Thick as a Brick.  Whereas that album featured one lengthy, continuous composition (split on two sides of vinyl, of course), A Passion Play featured separate songs, though the original LP did not identify them.  Part I occupied Side One of the LP, with Part II on Side Two.  The same line-up as Thick as a Brick played on its follow-up: Ian Anderson on flute, acoustic guitar and saxophone, Martin Barre on guitar, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond on bass, Barriemore Barlow on drums and John Evans on keyboards.

The quintet began work at Château d’Hérouville.  The studio, located near Paris, was the Honky Château of Elton John fame, and was also utilized by artists from Cat Stevens to Pink Floyd.   Yet the band found that it was not the ideal setting to bring their new album to life.  Despite recording roughly an hour of music, the band was dissatisfied with both the studio’s technology and its living accommodations.  The group returned home to the U.K. where work began on an all-new set of songs and recordings.

Recorded in a whirlwind of activity before the band was set to begin a new tour, A Passion Play was composed (primarily by Ian Anderson) to explore the notion that choices might still be faced in the afterlife.   Taking the form of a four-act play, it began with the character of Ronnie Pilgrim’s death and funeral (which he attended in spectral form) and followed him through the afterlife, to Heaven, Hell and beyond.  Par for the Tull course, it combined poetry and rock, and melded rock, jazz, and folk sensibilities into an intricate whole.  Though it didn’t meet with critical acclaim at the time, the prog-rock opus followed Thick as a Brick to the top of the U.S. charts upon its release in July 1973.

After the jump: more details on what to expect from the new box set, plus the full track listing and pre-order links!

The upcoming 2CD/2DVD set is packaged in a casebound book format featuring both the original album and earlier Château d’Hérouville sessions in brand-new stereo and surround mixes from acclaimed producer-engineer Steven Wilson.  An 80-page booklet accompanies the set, and includes an extensive article by Martin Webb on the preparation and recording of the album and the abortive sessions that preceded it.  Wilson contributes his reflections on mixing the recordings, and other recollections are shared by The Rev. Godfrey Pilchard and Chris Amson.  A 1973 tour chronicle rounds out the offerings in the extensive booklet.

A Passion Play will also be available in a gatefold heavyweight vinyl edition containing Wilson’s new stereo mix of the original album and a 24-page book with Wilson and Pilchard’s notes.  A Passion Play: An Extended Performance is due in stores on July 1 from Chrysalis/Rhino.  You can peruse the track listing and pre-order below!

Jethro Tull, A Passion Play: An Extended Performance (Chrysalis CHR 1040, 1973 – reissued Chrysalis/Rhino, 2014)

Box Set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Vinyl LP (New Stereo Mix of Original Album Only): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

CD 1 – A Passion Play (Steven Wilson stereo mix):

  1. Lifebeats/Prelude
  2. The Silver Cord
  3. Re-Assuring Tune
  4. Memory Bank
  5. Best Friends
  6. Critique Oblique
  7. Forest Dance #1
  8. The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles
  9. Forest Dance #2
  10. The Foot Of Our Stairs (with 2 extra verses found on end of multi-track reel)
  11. Overseer Overture.
  12. Flight From Lucifer
  13. 10.08 to Paddington
  14. Magus Perde
  15. Epilogue

CD 2 – The Chateau d’Herouville Sessions (Steven Wilson stereo mix):

  1. The Big Top
  2. Scenario
  3. Audition
  4. Skating Away
  5. Sailor
  6. No Rehearsal
  7. Left Right
  8. Solitaire
  9. Critique Oblique (Part I)
  10. Critique Oblique (Part II)
  11. Animelee (1st Dance) [Instrumental]
  12. Animelee (2nd Dance) [Instrumental]
  13. Law Of The Bungle (Part I)
  14. Tiger
  15. Law Of The Bungle (Part II)

DVD 1 (Audio & Video):

  • A Passion Play mixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and PCM 96/24 PCM stereo;
  • A flat transfer from the original master at PCM 96/24 stereo;
  • Video clips of The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles, and intro and outro film footage used in the Passion Play tour of 1973.

DVD 2 (Audio only):

  • Contains The Chateau d’Herouville Sessions mixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and PCM 96/24 PCM stereo.


Written by Joe Marchese

June 18, 2014 at 09:25

6 Responses

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  1. Can’t wait for this!


    June 18, 2014 at 11:43

  2. You know, I wish I could just buy EVERY deluxe from every band that I like.

    But I can’t. 😦

    I would love to hear the 5.1 of this. I understand Steven Wilson is one of the best.


    June 18, 2014 at 17:30

  3. This is a must have. Can’t wait to hear it!


    June 18, 2014 at 19:23

  4. Ian Anderson has been a busy man recently, with the recent TAAB 1 & 2 box sets, his new solo album and
    know the “icing” on the cake A.P.P. in all its glory can’t wait.

    peter chrisp

    June 19, 2014 at 02:58

  5. I’m really excited for this release. I’ve heard that Ian Anderson wanted to mix down some of the saxophones that permeate “A Passion Play,” but Wilson tends to be very much a purist with his mixes. I also understand that the new “Chateau” mix will not include flute overdubs that Ian added in 1993 for the “Nightcap” CD

    I wonder how far Wilson will go into the ca-Tull-og. “Songs from the Wood” is probably the most popular of the remaining ’70s Tull albums, but I’d love to see an expanded “Minstrel in the Gallery.” As far as bonus material, the band recorded a BBC session, from which only a few song fragments have been released. Even more tantalizing, there’s a recording of a 1975 concert in Paris – the only bits that have come out are a couple of minutes of “Minstrel” on video, and audio of the “Critique Oblique” section of “A Passion Play.” I really hope more of that tape comes out, because it’s the only professional-quality live recording (and film) of the band from Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond’s tenure.

    Steve Bruun

    June 19, 2014 at 21:11

  6. Steve i would not blame you i am really looking forward to A Passion Play in all its glory, it may have been their most underrated album at that time but to have a special edition will be amazing. As i look through the track listing there a number of tracks that were on the “Nightcap” album. Let’s not forget the new live album due in August entitled “Ian Anderson Live In Iceland” which will include T.A.A.B part 1 & 2 on a number of formats.

    peter chrisp

    June 21, 2014 at 11:23

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