Wednesday, 17 June 2015

"Living In The Past" by JETHRO TULL (1997 Mobile Fidelity Ultradisc-2 Original Mastering Recording 2CD Remasters With Both US and UK LP Track Lists) - A Review By Mark Barry...

"…And Above You…There's No Other…"

In 2015 fans of the 2LP compilation set “Living In The Past” find themselves sandwiched between a Ford Anglia and a Rolls Royce (no offence to Anglia owners). This double is still the one hole in Jethro Tull’s catalogue from those classic years as yet untouched by the magical knob-twiddling genius of Steve Wilson. You can buy it in only two versions - a horrible truncated single-disc from way back in 1990 with yuck sound - or this - the uber-expensive but uber-desirable Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 2CD remaster (now deleted and very costly). Some history is needed to explain…

The 2LP set "Living In The Past" was first issued in July 1972 in the UK on Chrysalis CJT 1 and October 1972 in the USA on Chrysalis 2CH 1035 - both originals sporting hardback book sleeves with 12 pages of colour shots inside. The set's title reflected what was within - a ragbag of previously released album tracks bolstered up with new live and studio songs, rare single sides and their non-album flips. This 2CD version pans out as follows...

Released Stateside in September 1997 on Mobile Fidelity UDCD 2708 (Barcode 015775470828) — this 'full' 2CD version is an audiophile issue - an ORIGINAL MASTER RECORDING housed in a card wrap with two gold ULTRADISC-2 CDs in two separate lift-lock CD cases inside. The detached oversized booklet slotted in beside the CDs replicates entirely the packaging and liner notes of the original double vinyl album - right down to the book texture feel of the front and rear sleeve. Nice touches it has to be said and the oversized nature of the booklet makes it a far better read that standard CD jewel case fare. However, the liner notes get some details wrong which need clarifying...
Disc 1 (42:55 minutes):
1. Song For Jeffrey [Side 1]
2. Love Story 
3. Christmas Song
4. Living In The Past 
5. Driving Song 
6. Bouree
7. Sweet Dream [Side 2]
8. Sing All Day 
9. Teacher 
10. Witch’s Promise 
11. Inside 
12. Alive And Well And Living In 
13. Just Trying To Be 

Although the original double vinyl album had twelve songs on both sides of the pond - you will notice that Disc 1 has 13 tracks and not 12. The reason for the extra song is that, "Inside" (from the "Benefit" LP) appeared as track 5 on Side 2 of the original UK issue - but the US variant replaced that track with "Alive And Well And Living In" (another "Benefit" track in the UK and the B-side to the UK 7" single of "Inside"). Both have been included on this 2CD set for completeness. Tracks 1 to 11 and 13 make up the 12 tracks of Side 1 and 2 of the original UK double album using strict sequencing - the US variant is sequenced using Tracks 1 to 10 with 12 and 13.

Disc 2 (45:35 minutes):
1. By Kind Permission Of [Side 3 - Both 1 and 2 Are Live]
2. Dharma For One 
3. Wond’ring Aloud [Side 4]
4. Hymn 43
5. Locomotive Breath 
6. Life Is A Long Song 
7. Up The Pool 
8. Dr. Bogenbroom 
9. From Later 
10. Nursie 
Like Disc 1 - Disc 2 also has an extra track. Track 5 is "Locomotive Breath" from the "Aqualung" LP - it appeared as Track 2 on Side 4 of the original UK issue. However, the US variant replaced this with another cut from "Aqualung" - "Hymn 43" - again both tracks are included on the Mobile Fidelity issue for completeness. Tracks 1 to 3 and 5 to 10 make up the 9 tracks of Side 3 and 4 of the original UK double album using strict sequencing - Tracks 1 to 4 and 6 to 10 for the US variant.

To confuse matters further - the ok-sounding official 1990 EMI release of "Living In The Past" on CD is a truncated single this US-only Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab issue is the only way to get the full double in one place - and more importantly - with great sound.

Speaking of which - when I compare "Locomotive Breath" and "Hymn 43" on the 1996 "Aqualung" remaster to these MF versions - the difference couldn't be more marked. As every Tull fan knows the early "Aqualung" remaster was one of the worst and dullest of issues - these MF versions leap out of the speakers - although I’d have to say that Wilson’s 2011 remaster now has the edge. As the recordings vary from 1968 to 1971, the sound does so too, but the Mobile issue still excels on them all - especially the beautiful acoustic turns "Just Trying To Be” and "Up The 'Pool". In fact - excepting the excessive two live tracks, which took up all of Side 3, it's amazing how well the whole set holds together - even to this day. I’ve always loved the way this double-album plays - it works. Lyrics from “Love Story” title this review…

If you’re not bothered about owning the two Live cuts "By Kind Permission Of" and "Dharma For One" - then eagle-eyed fans will know that with the quality reissues of “Stand Up”, “Benefit” and “Aqualung” - you can sequence Steve Wilson remasters of all the key studio tracks. But the bottom line is that if you want really great sound ‘and’ the full compliment - then this now deleted Mobile Fidelity 2CD set is the only place to get it. It’s just such a damn shame that in 2015 - it costs so bloody much. Time for a Super Deluxe Edition of “Living In The Past” methinks - and what a mouth-watering (and wallet-depleting) thought that is…

PS: see also my reviews for JETHRO TULL’s "This Was: Collector's Edition", "Benefit" and "Aqualung: 40th Anniversary Edition" in Original and Reissue Forms...

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