Review Summary: This is a great live work. One of my favourite live album of the 70’s.
“Bursting Out” is the debut live album of Jethro Tull and was released in 1978. The line up on the album is Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, John Evan, John Glascock, Barriemore Barlow and David Palmer.
Jethro Tull always was a very curious, typical and different band. They were formed in Luton, Bedfordshire, England, in 1967. Despite they had released their debut studio album “This Was” in 1968, for unknown and extremely inexplicable reasons, Ian Anderson decided not to issue an official live album of the band during the early heyday of the group. That meant that the post "Aqualung" live tour, the much lauded "Thick As A Brick" live tour, and basically everything from 1967 to 1978 went completely undocumented in terms of live material. And we are talking about nothing less than ten studio albums of Jethro Tull. Well, at least officially. However, I know there are nice some live snippets here and there.
So, the definitive Jethro Tull’s sextet of Anderson, Barre, Glascock, Barlow, Evan and Palmer, finally unleashed a real live album to their fans in 1978. After a decade of existence, a large back catalogue of songs has mushroomed from which the band presented a hugely varied set list, night after night. As one of the finest live recordings ever, “Bursting Out” radiates a sonorous trapezoidal portrait of a different era, accurately capturing a zenith blip in Jethro Tull’s annals.
“Bursting Out” is a double live album. It was recorded at several locations, during the European tour between May and June 1978, when they presented their eleventh and last studio album, at time, “Heavy Horses” released in the same year. As the specific recording dates and locations aren’t credited, there isn’t a certainty where each track was recorded. However, the linear notes and stage introduction indicate that at least some tracks were recorded at the Bern Festhalle in Switzerland, in 25 May 1978. Originally, the CD was released in a single disc version with three tracks deleted, “Quatrain”, “Sweet Dream” and “Conundrum”, because they couldn’t fit in only one CD. In 2004, the full original record was re-released as a digitally remastered 2-CD set. This is my version. So, this is the version I’ll review.
Jethro Tull made a diversified, great and interesting choice to the album. The band presents a cross-section of pieces in a great mood that documents almost their entire career up to that point. Of “Heavy Horses” we have “No Lullaby” and “One Brown Mouse”. Of “War Child” we have “Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day”. Of “Songs From The Wood” we have “Jack In The Green”, “Hunting Girl” and “Songs From The Wood”. Still, the version of “Songs From The Hood” is a small live version of the original track. Of “Stand Up” we have “Bourée” and “A New Day Yesterday”. But these two tracks are only two live short versions of the original tracks. Of “Too Old To Rock’n’Roll: Too Young To Die” we have the title track. Of “Aqualung” we have “Cross-Eyed Mary”, “Locomotive Breath” and “Aqualung”. Of “Thick As A Brick” we have a short but a very good version from that amazing and memorable studio album. Of “Minstrel In The Gallery” we have a small version, but with a very attractive performance, of the first track of that album.
But beyond those tracks, Jethro Tull performed some other very interesting tracks. “Sweet Dream”, is a live version of the 1969 UK’s single hit and that was included only on the remastered version of “Stand Up”, as a bonus track. “Flute Improvisation/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/Bourée”, is typically a virtuoso and astonishing flute improvisation by Anderson, incorporating small samples from “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Bourée”. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, is the rendition of the classic English traditional Christmas carol song that was recorded on “The Jethro Tull Christmas Album”. “Conundrum”, is an excellent instrumental interlude with a Barriemore Barlow’s drum solo, so typical on the live albums of the 70’s. “Quatrain”, is another excellent instrumental interlude and it’s the smallest track on the album. “The Dambusters March/Medley”, is a very interesting form to close the album. It’s a Jethro Tull’s typical way, to transform a serious piece of music, playing it in a very comic way, and getting a good final effect with it, really.
Conclusion: “Bursting Out” features a very dynamic live performance from the line up that many Jethro Tull’s fans consider comprising the golden musical era of the group. The sound of “Bursting Out” is remarkably good, and the repertoire included on it, is very solid and very representative of the group’s history until that time, which gave to the band a certain arena rock status among other bands. The tendency on this album is to play it very loud and very hard, which is a way of making the original studio themes sounding a bit different and in a very nice way. “Bursting Out” is a great live album from the 70’s with all the ingredients that a live album must have. It includes a good, solid and representative musical repertoire from the band, and most of all, the live versions of the songs are all played well and in some cases they’re brilliant and even better than the originals. So, “Bursting Out” is a Jethro Tull’s live masterpiece.
Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)