Recorded in December 2005 in Mannheim, Germany with the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt Orchestra (conducted by John O'Hara), Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson leads the charge through 2CD's of past and present Tull classics as well as a few solo favorites, once again following a popular trend of mixing rock with classical music. Of course, there's no doubt that the music of Jethro Tull would be a perfect fit for this format, and the resulting set is a lot of fun, offering up varying versions of the songs we all know and love.
My first question when checking this package out was why Ian didn't bring along the rest of the Tull band to record this CD with the orchestra? In my opinion that would have been the right thing to do, as some folks might see this as Ian feeling he is Jethro Tull and doesn't need the rest of the band to do something like this. I'm sure in theory that might be the case, but it might have been more of a statement to have the actual Jethro Tull full band record this with the orchestra, much like Yes did with their Symphonic Live recently. However, in saying that, this is still a very enjoyable album, and like I mentioned earlier the arrangements of the songs have been mixed up a bit to allow for a different flavor of these pieces, which might have been Anderson's reasoning to record this without the rest of Tull, to get a different take on these classic songs.
As you can see by the track list below, there are plenty of classic songs here, as well as some of the holiday tunes that Tull have recorded, which ironically are some of the more charming renditions here, especially "We Five Kings" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman". However, tunes like "Living in the Past", "Life's a Long Song", "Bouree", and especially "My God" seem made for an orchestra, and the latter is one of the most powerful renditions of the song you will ever hear, as is "Budapest", which gets royal treatment here.
Joining Ian and the Orchestra are drummer James Duncan, bassist David Goodier, keyboard & accordion player John O'Hara (who also is the conductor), and guitarist Florian Opahle. They form a fine unit, and while they may not be Tull, these musicians certainly have a handle on these songs and work well with the Orchestra.
This is recommended stuff for Tull fans, as well as Ian Anderson's recent forays into the world of classical music. Hopefull we can see some new Jethro Tull music in 2006, but in the meantime here's some live, alternate renditions of Tull classics done up by leader Anderson & Co. to keep us busy in the meantime.
2. Calliandra Shade
3. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day
4. Up The Pool
5. We Five Kings
6. Life Is A long Song
7. In The Grip Of Stronger Stuff
8. Wond'ring Aloud
9. Griminelli's Lament
10. Cheap Day Return
11. Mother Goose
13. Boris Dancing
14. Living In The Past
3. God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen
4. My God
6. Locomotive Breath