Sunday, July 30, 2017
PRRP 044 A Hush In The Play
Master Audience Reel > WAV > FLAC > Remastered and Re-Tracked > FLAC
Ian Anderson - Vocals, Guitar, Flute & Saxophone
Barriemore Barlow - Drums & Percussion
Martin Barre - Lead Guitars
John Evans - Keyboards
Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond - Bass Guitars
- A Passion Play -
01. Lifebeats 08:57
02. Prelude 02:25
03. The Silver Chord 04:24
04. Re-Assuring Tune 01:14
05. Memory Bank 04:32
06. Best Friends 04:35
07. Critique Oblique 05:15
08. Forest Dance #1 01:15
09. The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles 04:15
10. Forest Dance #2 01:43
11. The Foot Of Our Stairs 04:50
12. Overseer Overture 03:26
13. Flight From Lucifer 03:52
14. 10:08 From Paddington 01:06
15. Magus Perde 03:58
16. Epilogue 01:41
17. Thick As A Brick 17:07
18. Cross-Eyed Mary 04:09
01. No Rehearsal (segment) 02:12
02. Drum Solo (cut) 08:09
03. Instrumental 05:21
04. Maternity Ward 01:24
05. Aqualung 10:07
06. Band Introductions 01:35
07. Wind Up 13:05
08. Locomotive Breath 06:38
09. Wind Up Reprise 06:01
Notes on PRRP 044 A Hush In The Play:
And Now For Something Completely Different?
The year was 1972 and Jethro Tull was on a roll. “Aqualung” and “Thick As A Brick” had been very successful albums and the band was receiving the praise and attention that they deserved. The music press of yhe UK had been kind in their reviews and noted music journalist Chris Welch was even considered a good friend. So what was next? The Tull website describes it well.
“... work began in Switzerland (in August 1972), then studios in France (mostly to escape high British tax rates). Enough tracks to fill three sides of a double album were developed when technical problems in the studio, and band members' longing for home, caused all but four tracks to be scrapped (some of this material, like 'Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of A New Day,' would appear on 'War Child'). The dreadful experience lead Ian to dub the Chateau d'Herouville studio as the 'Chateau d'Isaster.' With only seventeen days left before the American tour, Ian wrote new material and vastly restructured some of the 'Chateau d'Isaster' ideas and the band recorded the 45-minute album, 'A Passion Play' ... Thematically, the concept album chronicles, as the title implies, a story of life and death, beginning with a recently deceased man viewing his own funeral, descending into purgatory and Hell, then reincarnated.” - J-Tull.com
This new album was tracked only as “part one” and “part two”, each taking up a full side of the original LP record. It was not until the 1998 release of the Gold Remaster version of 'A Passion Play” that the originally intended tracking of the show was known and used. From that listing, one can see that the only track to survive from the Chateau d'Herouville sessions and make it onto this album was the song “Critique Oblique”, though “Tiger Toon” was re-worked to produce the Passion Play's “Prelude”. The album was to rise to number one in the United States and number 13 in the UK, but not without a few bumps along the way.
The new tour with “A Passion Play” was supposed to begin on April 28th 1973 at the Wembley Empire Pool but this two-night booking was cancelled, despite sold out shows. Tull fans then looked to the start of the US tour for the first performance of the new material. On May 4th, the performance began in Evansville, Indiana with the opening “Lifebeats” but the accompanying film was not shown. Later in the show, the “Hare” film was shown out of context but broke down, as it did on May 30th in Toronto. The next night in Clemson, SC the equipment truck arrived late and so the soundcheck was performed in front of the audience. Since the show did not start until 10pm, “A Passion Play” was omitted from the set. The next night's show in Maryland was cancelled because the equipment truck broke down. Great confusion exists regarding the next 10 days in Tull history. Some claim that the band spent 4 days in Knoxville, TN rehearsing the new material, while others claim (with inconsistency) that Jethro Tull concerts were performed and attended. Finally, according to written account, “A Passion Play” was definitely performed in Hampton, VA on May 17th and Richmond, VA on May 18th.
After finishing the first leg of the American Tour, and in a move that defies logistical sanity, the band returned to the UK in June to play the two previously cancelled shows at the Empire Pool, June 22nd and 23rd, the only UK shows of the tour. As reported in Melody Maker on June 23rd, Tull's manager Terry Ellis admitted that all the proceeds from the two gigs would likely be used just to cover the cost of returning the equipment from the US and then flying it all back out again for the second leg of the American tour.
Once familiar with the material in the live setting, the band expected smooth sailing. “A Passion Play” was released in the UK on July 6th and was then released in the US on July 23rd, the day of this Oakland show. Audiences, who had understandably never heard the new material, seemed to receive it warmly. Sadly, the critics had other ideas. After playing three nights in Inglewood, CA (July 20-22), the Los Angeles Times printed these comments from Robert Hilburn:
“By the time Tull left the stage Sunday night, nearly 75,000 persons had paid upwards of $400,000 to see the British rock group ... I only hope they found the show more rewarding than I did. There were, to be sure, moments of high style and imagination, particularly in the use of film, but there were also some moments of extremely tedious music. While the group's stage antics at that time - highlighted by Anderson's flitting around like a wild-eyed, super-charged Captain Hook gone mad - and fire-breathing instrumental arrangements dominated by a sort of huff-and-puff flute sound - were among the most colorful in rock, there was a lack of strong, central focus to Anderson's lyrics that kept the group's music from realizing its full potential.
Things did, however, begin impressively at the Forum. Following a spirited set by Steeleye Span (a British group which has effectively merged traditional folk with modern electronics), the Tull portion of the evening began when a small white dot appeared on a movie screen at the rear of the stage. The dot flashed off and on in time with an amplified heartbeat. Slowly, the dot grew larger and larger. After several minutes it turned red, and a ballerina joined it on screen. At first, the dancer was lying motionless on her back. Slowly coming alive, she eventually leaped through a mirror in what was a stunning piece of film. At that instant, the screen was raised and the group came on stage to begin A Passion Play, a chiefly instrumental work that alternates, in typical Tull fashion, between gentle moments and sudden, dramatic bursts of power.
While it holds your attention for a while, its instrumental repetition and its un-arresting, inaccessible lyrics eventually undercut its impact. After 20 minutes, mercifully, the group gave way to another engaging Anderson film (The Hare). After the film, the group returned with another numbing 20 minutes of A Passion Play and then 15 minutes of Thick As A Brick. It then moved into some of the better known tunes from Aqualung. If there was ever any question about the rambling, disjointed nature of Anderson's longer works, the placement of these punchier, crisper, more concise pieces from Aqualung on the same show answered it. Anderson remains a talented, serious, imaginative artist, but his extended works need more easily identifiable, engaging themes and varied musical elements if they are to be worthy of the attention he wants for them.” R. Hilburn 24th July 1973
Chris Welch, attending the Empire Pool shows, describes other aspects of the show and adds his own commentary:
“... one and a half hours solid good music by Jethro Tull at the Empire Pool, Wembley, would have been sufficient to send home many more contented fans. Instead, an over-long over-produced marathon seriously impaired their impact - and their reputation ... The Passion Play which constituted the first part of the concert, and is the basis of their next album, was a disappointment ... (yet) Ian played soprano sax with a bug attachment, with considerable facility, which added a new tonal dimension to the band sound. Jeffery Hammond-Hammond their bass player charged around the stage in a suit and Panama hat, in a kind of Monty Python-ish silly walk that seemed a parody of the natural movements of a musician inspired by his music.
The piece continued unabated, and bearing in mind we haven't heard the album yet, seemed to take a considerable time to show any signs of cohesion. The structure had a kind of Elizabethan mode, with a plethora of changes that did not resolve into any satisfying or logical direction ... the lyrics or story of the Passion Play did not communicate one whit ... part of the play was taken up with a film (The Hare), filmed in colour featuring members of the group and a ballet company. This fell flat at first, greeted with yells of 'No substitute,' with which I was bound to agree, although a colleague who thought the whole show terrible, said the film was the best part, which at least shows how opinions can differ ...” C. Welch, Melody Maker 30th June 1973
Ian Anderson was not too pleased with the reviews of the new Tull material. There were even rumors of a plan to halt the tour and disband Jethro Tull permanently. Fortunately for Tull fans the band has continued well into the 21st century. Most serious Jethro Tull fans have a strong opinion of “A Passion Play”, either positive or negative but all will agree that it was a unique experience in the history of the band.
Now let's move on to this recording; July 23rd, 1973 in Oakland, California. The show is from the master tape and is almost complete. Sadly, only a segment of the song “No Rehearsal” was present and was tracked separately. This is a song created during the Chateau d'Herouville sessions which was played during live performances in 1973. The drum solo is also cut at the beginning and we chose not to patch it. At the beginning of the recording we have tracked the entire Passion Play using the originally intended listing provided by the band. Towards the end, if you listen closely to the extended instrumental section of “Wind-up” you will hear segments that clearly become “Minstrel in the Gallery” later on in 1975. Finally, Anderson ends the show with the ringing telephone which was a metaphor for the time.
Notes from the Re-Master
We began with a FLAC encoded, digitised copy of the master tape. With the first listen it was clear that the hiss level was excessive and reduced appreciation of the subtle aspects of the show. There were also many microphone bumps that needed to be removed or reduced as much as possible along with other clicks and pops. The complete show is here except for a truncated “No Rehearsal” and the incomplete beginning of the drum solo. We chose to leave those segments un-altered rather than patching them from another source. For a 1973 audience recording this is quite good quality. Still, the frequency response drops significantly above 7,500Hz. Tonality needed adjustment given midrange excesses and excessive high-bass frequencies. Because auto-record-level circuits were in play, there were a number of partial dropouts found requiring repair. There were other single channel partial dropouts that also needed repair.
The original master tracked the Passion Play section as a single track. We added tracking to reflect the full tracking intended by Jethro Tull at the time. We also adjusted other track points. Finally, analysis showed that speed correction was needed and was applied to the whole show.