20 Years of Jethro Tull Box Set

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Keith V, Jan 20, 2020.

  1. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    I got into Jethro Tull around 1989 by way of a few tapes a friend of mine loaned me, The Aqualung album, Thick as a Brick and Living in the Past cassettes, and The 20 Years of box set on vinyl.
    Over the past few years I’ve acquired the CDs of that set sold separately in various places. Recently I’ve been on a bit of a Jethro Tull kick because of the release of the Stormwatch set. The new remixes and everything on the latest deluxe sets are really nice but I’ve been left cold thinking that maybe I just don’t like them anymore. Anyway I put in the 20 years box set the other day edit helped me remember why I liked them. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s just a better variety, I don’t know.
    Anyway I started this thread so we can talk about that box set.
    Enjoy.
     
  2. tootull

    tootull Cats are on the upgrade

    Location:
    Canada
  3. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ

    Nice. Thank you
     
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  4. Jack

    Jack It’s alright, in fact it’s a gas

    Seeing the band on their Aqualung, TAAB and Passion Play tours at the old Boston Garden are some of my best concert memories.
     
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  5. SJB

    SJB Beloved Parasitic Nuisance

    Location:
    Maryland
    The 20 Years box came out just as I was getting into the band; I had only heard a handful of their albums and a compilation or two, and didn't yet know the group's convoluted history.

    At first, I could only find it on cassette, but I had just bought my first CD player so I held out until I could purchase the set on CD.

    I was bowled over. I liked the variety and the sequencing of the set - sorted into categories rather than just a straight chronology. (Although, on CD, that sequencing was a bit muddled, as the set was formatted with five LPs in mind.)

    I loved the booklet that came with it, which gave me the first real history of the group that I had encountered. (This was pre-Internet, whippersnappers, so sometimes it could take a while to find information that is now seconds away on your phone which is also a movie camera.)

    Most of the box has now been recycled as bonus tracks, and maybe 80% of what remains is from the 1982 and 1987 tours, somewhat diminished in impact because, in 1982, Peter Vettese's synth sounds weren't always ideally suited to the 70s material, and in 1987, Ian's voice was shot. The 1968-69 BBC recordings are now available in their entirety, and with many more tracks, supplanting the box set versions which were edited and partially obscured by voiceovers. The only 1970s track that remains exclusive to the box is a remix of "Moths" of uncertain vintage. (Paradoxically enough, I'm not counting the count-in to "Grace" because the track itself is the standard album version.) The box was also the first release of "Velvet Green" live from 1977's Sight and Sound broadcast. That version was recycled as a Songs from the Wood bonus track in 2004 or so; I'm not sure whether it remains in print, because the more recent Wilson set used a different recording from the same tour.

    So at this point, the actual 20 Years box isn't all that important to me. But the idea of it, and the first memories of it, I continue to cherish. It set a very high bar for box sets, arguably not surpassed until Steven Wilson's recent reissue work (which, of course, includes what is, for me, Jethro Tull's greatest era).
     
  6. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    it definitely holds up, especially when you’re in a Jethro mood but don’t know what to put on.
    I hate to say it but if something like The Very Best of Jethro Tull existed in 1989, I may have not dug further like I did. This box was great for both the casual fan and the die hard.
     
  7. SJB

    SJB Beloved Parasitic Nuisance

    Location:
    Maryland
    The box definitely fills a different niche than a "best of" compilation. It seems to have been intended as a surprise for hardcore fans who may have thought they had everything. (In that sense, I cheated by acquiring it before I had most of the core catalog.)

    And then Ian (and Steven Wilson) surprised us again. Well done, gents.

    I don't expect a third act. I have to suspect that the barrel is now well and truly scraped, with no more big surprises from 1968-1979 (although I'd welcome more live releases from that period if they come up).
     
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  8. Neonbeam

    Neonbeam All Art Was Once Contemporary

    Location:
    Planet Earth
    That box was one of the first examples of what has become de rigueur today. Back then it was super amazing because there simply weren't that many career spanning "deluxe" sets around - remember this was even before Bowies "Sound & Vision" campaign.

    Needless to say it was out of my price range but a friend - the biggest Tull fan in our class - managed to convince his parents to get it for him - vinyl - for his birthday. Back then it was a big deal.

    I never owned it but was always fascinated by it. The book, the thematically sequenced discs, the rarities. All very nice!


    In the day & age of "50 Anniversaries" this "20 Years" thing sounds almost innocent. Maybe I should get it....
     
  9. sleepjar

    sleepjar Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    I've been into Tull since the early 70's, and bought this box when it was released. Thought it was great at the time, and love it to this day! A phenomenal career retrospective.

    Three things I loved the most about it: It was the first time I'd ever heard the Chateau D'Isaster tapes, which became a staple of my Tull canon, the numerous "flawed gems", especially those left off Broadsword, including perhaps one of the greatest tracks ever left off an album (Jack-A-Lynn), and the live version of Dun Ringill, which remains my favorite version ever of one of my favorite Tull songs.
     
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  10. Hootsmon

    Hootsmon Forum Resident

    Location:
    clackmannanshire
    Picked this up from the library a couple of years after it came out. For me it was a terrific introduction to the band.
     
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  11. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    As an interesting aside, when I had a record player I used to love side 8.
     
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  12. Al Gator

    Al Gator You can call me Al

    As a fan it remains one of my favorite box sets. Three discs, each of them thematically chosen. Even the hits were in different versions than were commonly available on the albums at the time. I wish more box sets would follow this example.
     
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  13. DaveJ

    DaveJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    Been with Tull since their first appearance in the NME and the Love Story 45. Having bought all the albums and singles as they were released I was less than impressed with the box. To my ears, the original albums / singles were (are) great.
    I thought that the 20yrs box was ok but I wanted the full stereo 17. I could never see past the ridiculous 3 minute edit.
     
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  14. ribors

    ribors Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    I didn't get into Tull until the late 90's, but when I did I jumped in head first and soaked up any Tull I could get my hands on. When I stumbled across this set, it was a wonder. The booklet itself was also probably the first in depth reading I had of the history of the band and the discs themselves were amazing. I think I had listened to most though not quite all their albums by the time I picked up my copy and I was floored to discover there was such a high quality of unreleased and rare tracks by the band that weren't on the albums themselves.

    One thing I thought was odd was that it didn't include any tracks from A... not that it should necessarily have included a bunch, but I believe that's the only album that wasn't represented on the box set. At the time I believe A was the only Tull album that I hadn't heard yet and I remember that being a strange coincidence - that I didn't get even a glimpse of what was from that era. Not a big deal, but it stands out for me because of where I was in my Tull discovery back then.

    I probably haven't listened to the set in years since so much has been reissued on the Steve Wilson sets, but maybe now's the time to give it another listen, especially the live content much of which hasn't been re-released.

    Fast forward to the 25 Years set and I thought that was a complete let down. The remixes and re-recordings were dreadful IMO, the only thing really worthwhile to me was the Carnegie Hall concert... the other live disc I just never got into it. Nightcap, by comparison, was much better and felt more like a followup to 20 Years than what we got in the 25 Years box. But I digress...
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
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  15. JakeKlas

    JakeKlas Impatiently waiting for an 8-track revival

    Location:
    United States
    I loved this box set and, unlike the article author, I thought the live material was great. In particular, the live version of Living in the Past is my favorite version of that song. Love it when it kicks into overdrive about halfway through. Also enjoyed a nod to Black Sunday in Locomotive Breath.

    To say those versions are “a pale shadow” already gets my vote for the silliest thing I’ll read this week... and it’s only Monday, but I’m pretty confident.

    I love it when bands, in a live situation, give you the core song, then take it to a different place or stretch it out a bit.

    And, as has been mentioned, boxes like this were gold with all the unreleased studio or live material.
     
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  16. tootull

    tootull Cats are on the upgrade

    Location:
    Canada
  17. tootull

    tootull Cats are on the upgrade

    Location:
    Canada
  18. Terry

    Terry Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee
    Show off
     
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  19. lucan_g

    lucan_g Forum Resident

    Best box set I've ever heard -- IMHO.

    It was a landmark treasure trove of eye-opening music at the time. No greatest-hits recycling on this one -- it was really mind-blowing to hear all this incredible music. I bought it on vinyl. And then I bought it on CD. And I still love it.
     
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  20. newelectricmuse

    newelectricmuse charm, strangeness and quark

    Location:
    London
    Yes! I have this too!
     
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  21. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    What do they edit out of Part of the Machine?
     
  22. newelectricmuse

    newelectricmuse charm, strangeness and quark

    Location:
    London
    I first bought it on cassette and the five themes worked really well on five tapes. I later got it on CD as well, where the themes didn't work quite as well over three discs. Now we've got a bit blasé about rare and previously unreleased tracks being dusted off, but at the time it was a revelation. It set a benchmark for how to present a box set.
     
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  23. A great box set. I snatched-up the CD version as soon as I heard Part Of The Machine on the radio and learned that it was included as part of a new box set. There are still a few tracks on it that make it essential.
    Motoreyes -a great outtake from Broadsword, found only here
    Part Of The Machine -better dynamics than the bonus track released on the remastered 'Crest'
    Coronach -Ian's last great vocal IMO -terrific song!
    Farm On The Freeway (live) -very good performance
    Pibroch (pee break) Black Satin Dancer (live) -Martin shines
     
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  24. DrProgQuest

    DrProgQuest Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seahaven Island
    I have never looked closely at the contents ever since the book box sets started coming out. Is there anything on either the 20th or 25th boxes that has not been released on these big box sets, ie still unique only to those early boxes?
     
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  25. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ

    and more
     
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