Jethro Tull

Live at Madison Square Garden [Video]

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Given the preponderance of packages that are billed as DVD/CDs (instead of the reverse) in 2009, it seems we've begun to shift our preferences in mediums to experience music -- or at least big record companies seem to think so. Usually, these DVD/CDs retrospective packages, although more often than not, the "live DVD" is issued before a CD of the same performance, or the CD is tossed in as an afterthought. This package by Jethro Tull, taken from a concert at Madison Square Garden in 1978, and simultaneously broadcast via satellite on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test, is a case in point. Both video and audio concerts are incomplete in individual ways. In the case of the DVD, the lack of visual for the entire concert is blamed on the network's time slot limits (and budgetary concerns for the rental of the satellite feed). The DVD commences with audio-only performances of the first three songs of the actual concert, with the only visual being a different, single still of frontman Ian Anderson in performance. The video aspect then begins with a typical '70s introduction of JT by the BBC, and then come the opening strands of a storming, 11-minute version of "Thick as a Brick." The band runs through a handful of other cuts including "Songs from the Wood." There is also a flute solo as part of "No Lullaby" that was most likely left off this package due to some unavoidable video and audio malfunction, so only a bit of it remains. Then comes "Aqualung" and a truncated version of "Locomotive Breath" (which ends partway through since it was officially the encore). The broadcast video ends, and we go back to the audio-only format for the remainder of the concert . This includes "Too Old to Rock and Roll: Too Young to Die," and a medley of "My God/Cross Eyed Mary," and finally the encore: a full-on version of "Locomotive Breath" with "Dambusters March" embedded within it. Therefore, though the concert is presented in its entirety, only about half of it can be seen on the DVD. The audio is terrific in 5.1, the band is on the money, but the presentation here is both puzzling and troubling. The CD, on the other hand, contains 77 minutes of the show -- though every track is represented and makes for a very fine JT live album. The opening BBC intro is left off, as well as the banter and band intro that appear on the DVD itself, so is much of Anderson's on-stage commentary. It does contain the proper track order, however, and it is also in 5.1. The band footage is certainly interesting and will appeal to hardcore fans of the vintage Tull, as will the package in its entirety, more than likely. But one has to wonder objectively whether this was all necessary and if there weren't another way to present this now-historic concert. The package also comes with a small booklet with liner notes by Anderson and Jethro Tull manager Terry Ellis. This is ultimately for completists only.