September 30th, 2014
Steve Wilson is a very busy man. He somehow has time to record a new solo album in between bouts of remastering and remixing classic albums by other artists. Wilson has tweaked a number of classic albums by prog bands such as King Crimson, Yes, and Jethro Tull plus Nonsuch by XTC. Next on the docket are Songs from the Big Chair by Tears for Fears and Tull’s War Child.
I have to admit to being surprised by the Tears for Fears remix but War Child was expected as Wilson has been working his through Tull’s catalog starting with Benefit. However, the amount of previously unreleased material from the War Child era was surprising. I suppose it shouldn’t be, though. The liner notes to Nightcap made it sound as if Tull’s vault’s had been thoroughly plundered and, aside from a couple songs that Ian Anderson loathed, everything else in the archives had been released. Yet a couple of tracks emerged as Tull’s remastered back catalog was reissued and fans knew of various songs still in the vaults.
While this reissue will come in single CD and vinyl formats featuring Wilson’s stereo remix of the original album, it’s the 2-CD/2-DVD version that is of particular interest. Here’s the tracklisting:
2. Queen and Country
4. Back-door Angels
6. Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day
7. Bungle in the Jungle
8. Only Solitaire
9. The Third Hoorah
10. Two Fingers
Disc Two – The Second Act: Associated Recordings
1. Paradise Steakhouse
3. Good Godmother*
4. SeaLion II
6. WarChild II*
7. Tomorrow Was Today*
8. Glory Row
9. March, The Mad Scientist
10. Rainbow Blues
11. Pan Dance
WarChild Orchestral Recordings
12. The Orchestral WarChild Theme*
13. The Third Hoorah (Orchestral Version)*
14. Mime Sequence*
15. Field Dance (Conway Hall Version)*
16. Waltz Of The Angels (Conway Hall Version)
17. The Beach (Part I) (Morgan Master Recording)*
18. The Beach (Part II) (Morgan Master Recording)*
19. Waltz Of The Angels (Morgan Demo Recording)*
20. The Beach (Morgan Demo Recording)*
21. Field Dance (Morgan Demo Recording)*
* Previously Unreleased
DVD 1 (Audio & Video)
* WarChild remixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and 96/24 PCM stereo.
* A flat transfer from the original 1974 LP master at 96/24 PCM stereo.
* A flat transfer of the original 1974 Quad LP (with additionally Glory Row & March, The Mad Scientist) at 5.1 (4.0) DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound.
* Video clips of a Montreux photosession and press conference on 11th January 1974 and The Third Hoorah promo footage with remixed stereo audio.
DVD 2 (Audio)
* An additional eleven group recordings from the WarChild sessions and later, including 3 previously unreleased tracks, and 4 orchestral recordings from the WarChild sessions mixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and 96/24 PCM stereo.
* Six additional orchestral recordings (five previously unreleased) mixed by Robin Black in 1974, now in 96/24 PCM stereo.
I’d never heard of “Good Godmother” nor of “War Child II” which is an alternate take of the title track. Most surprising is “Tomorrow Was Today” which is a song that dates back to the Thick as a Brick era. It was played live in late 1971 and early 1972 as part of a medley with “Hymn 43″ and “Nothing Is Easy”. After a studio version failed to appear on Wilson’s TAAB remaster, I figured that the song was never recorded. Apparently Tull were in a rather atavistic mood at this point as “Solitaire” and “Skating Away (On the Thin Ice of the New Day)” were plucked the from the Chateau D’Isaster sessions and the unused Aqualung-era tune “Lick Your Fingers Clean” was re-recorded as “Two Fingers”.
Plus there’s all that orchestral music for the War Child film which was never made. “Waltz of the Angels” appeared on the 2002 remaster of the album as “War Child Waltz” and the song was used as intro music for some of the band’s concerts in 1974. There is a photo of what I think is an acetate featuring “The Beach” and “Mime Sequence” circulating so we knew there was more of the film score to be had.
The liner notes should be interesting. I look forward to finding out if Wilson was able to discover the provenance of “Saturation”. In the liner notes to 20 Years of Jethro Tull, it says something like “recorded for no good reason at a studio no one can recall”. I also hope that “Paradise Steakhouse” is explained because I’ve wondered just what the hell that song was about since I first heard it. Is it the preferred eatery of those in the afterlife? Plus I am keen to read a full account of the War Child movie and perhaps ascertain how the songs fit in, if they do.
This release raises some questions for Tull fans. Is Wilson going to remix/remaster any more Tull albums? If so, is Minstrel in the Gallery next? Personally, I’d love to hear a 5.1 mix of “Velvet Green” and find myself in the middle of a whirlwind of whistles, portative organ, nakers, and glockenspiel. And just how much more unreleased material is in the vaults? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a fairly substantial cache of Broadsword and the Beast-era material that still hasn’t seen the light of day even though 15 outtakes have already been released. We know there’s at least one song called “Dinosaur”.
The CD and digital download version of this edition of War Child are due on 24 November while vinyl aficionados will have to wait until next year on 13 January.