Finally, Jethro Tull's memorable set at the famed Isle of Wight festival in 1970 has been given the proper CD treatment. The festival that year was the UK's answer to Woodstock, and a good 600,000+ showed up for the three day event, with Jethro Tull and then Jimi Hendrix closing the festivities. Tull's set was a solid 60-minutes of raw, majestic, bluesy hard rock, as the band had yet to grow into their progressive, and later folk rock leanings. Most of the material is from the first three albums, so you get muscular numbers like the blues based "My Sunday Feeling", the intricate hard rock of "To Cry You a Song", the classical "Bouree", and the almost heavy metal stomp of "Dharma For One", complete with an amazing drum solo from Clive Bunker.
Some observations-first, the show sounds spectacular. All of the instruments, except for Glen Cornick's overly distorted bass guitar (not that this is a bad thing) are crystal clear. Martin Barre's guitar work is raw and jagged, meaty on the rhythm parts, biting on the leads. Just check out his raging licks on the medley "We Used to Know/For a Thousand Mothers" for a prime example of the man's killer tone and raw technique. Ian Anderson's vocals at this point in time were top notch, and he was just coming into his own as a pure showman, wailing on his flute like a man possesed during "Nothing is Easy" and an early version of "My God", a song that had yet to be released on the soon to be classic Aqualung album. Here it's given a royal, heavy treatment, but you could see they were still in the process of tweaking the song a bit. John Even adds plenty of piano and organ throughout, and gets a solo spot on "With You There to Help Me" to boot.
Those who own the Jethro Tull 25th Anniversary Box Set have heard the Carnegie Hall Concert from the same tour, which has a pretty much identical set list. Although the Carnegie Hall show was perhaps more refined, the raw power of Tull at the Isle of Wight needs to be heard in all its unbridled glory. It's as if the band were none too happy with relenting the closing set to Jimi Hendrix and delivered a power punch of a performance.
Eagle Rock Entertainment has done a great job with this release. The mastering is wonderful, and the lengthy booklet has some great commentary from Ian Anderson, plus loads of live pictures from the festival.
1) My Sunday Feeling
2) My God
3) With You There to Help Me
4) To Cry You a Song
6) Dharma For One
7) Nothing is Easy
8) Medley: We Used to Know/For a Thousand Mothers