Jethro Tull – A=Live 1980 (Highland HL 640)

A=Live 1980 (Highland HL 640)

Checkerdome, St. Louis, MO – October 26th, 1980

(49:57):  Introduction, Songs From The Wood, Crossfire, Heavy Horses, Batteries Not Included, Protect And Survive, Bungle In The Jungle, Guitar Solo, Aqualung, Locomotive Breath/Solos/Black Sunday, Outroduction

The early 80’s were a strange time for the big progressive rock bands of the 1970’s.  Yes released Drama and were touring in a bizarre hybrid with The Buggles, Genesis released their first hook-laden #1 LP with Duke, and ELP just released the universally hated Love Beach under duress before disbanding.  But the strangest story belongs to Jethro Tull.  The A LP was originally supposed to be Ian Anderson’s first solo effort after ending the band.  After recruiting old friends Martin Barre and Dave Pegg along with prog-rock virtuoso Eddie Jobson, Chrysalis, the record company, released it as the new Jethro Tull LP much to Anderson’s dismay. 

It is under these circumstances that we can listen to this Highland release of the King Biscuit Flower Hour broadcast.  Taped at the Checkerdome in St. Louis and originally broadcast on March 3rd, 1981, the label have used a sterling copy of the tape.  Perhaps it is even the master as stated in the liner notes on the artwork.  Whatever the case this is a beauty of a release. 

This is the complete broadcast including the King Biscuit announcer but with the commercials thankfully cut.  It is a good balance between the better songs from A with classic Jethro Tull tunes.  The only gripe I have with the performance is that “Black Sunday”, the best tune from the LP, is not played in its entirety.  “Aqualung’ sounds very mellow in this recording, and “Locomotive Breath” begins in an almost ELP arrangement. 

“Protect And Survive” is the best of the new numbers played this evening along with the disco “Crossfire” (and, I admit, I like disco).  “Batteries Not Included”, however, is a stupid song.  Why is it that prog rock bands have to, it seems, write a song that has a cooing child in it?  Pink Floyd has “The Embryo” with giggling children, Yes has “Circus Of Heaven” with a child complaining about the lack of clowns, and Genesis has “Supper’s Ready” with children promising to rock a little snake.  This Jethro Tull song sounds like a Christmas advertisement.

The real star of the recording is Jobson who plays an amazing violin solo in both “Protect And Survive” and the final “Locomotive Breath/Black Sunday” medley.  It is a shame he is so underused by Tull in this recording.  But I say this is another great Highland product and highly recommended.   

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