Jethro Tull

Nothing Is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 [DVD]

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Perhaps the most interesting and insightful of the individual films to come out of Murray Lerner's footage shot at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, Nothing Is Easy is also the most ambitious. Jumping between the 1970 events and a rather droll-humored Ian Anderson recalling the events from 2004, the film gives a lot more than an excellent account of the band's music and stage presentation of that era. We also get a close-up look at the threats of violence and hooliganism that lay beneath the peace-and-love rhetoric of the later-'60s counterculture, as the band finds itself caught in the midst of a confrontation between festival organizers trying to retake control of one sliver of the venue, and attendees -- most of whom crashed the gate -- refusing to cooperate and threatening mayhem. Surprisingly, it all holds together as cinema verite, band retrospective, social commentary, and concert movie, right down to the 15-minute Clive Bunker drum solo. Anderson also gets to explain a few aspects of the band's performing history, such as the mistake printed in a press review that led him to start trying to play the flute standing on one leg. The music holds up well as representative of the band's early sound, and also captures them in transition introducing a new song, "My God," at this performance, which marked their first serious push into progressive rock -- and Anderson's banter in the opening of the song, as he tries to tune up his acoustic guitar, is still very funny, as is his 2004 explanation for the banter. The whole piece is as essential for any Tull fan as any compilation album ever issued, and will prove enlightening to non-fans as well, about more than just the group's history. The full-frame (1.33-to-1) image is in excellent shape, and the sound is good and loud; support materials on the DVD include an array of still photos.

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