Mix meister Steven Wilson once again is back at the helm creating another surround experience for Jethro Tull fans. The 2016 2 CD /1 DVD Elevated Edition of Tull’s sophomore release “Stand Up” give fans an in-depth look at this incredible 1969 release.
The DVD contains the original album plus bonus tracks mixed in 5.1 surround and stereo, along with a 24-bit / 96-kHz flat transfer of the original stereo master tapes, and the original mono and stereo mixes of Living In The Past and Driving Song. Additionally, the DVD contains video of the band performing both “To Be Sad Is a Mad Way To Be” and “Back To the Family” live in January 1969.
CD 1 features the 2016 stereo mixes of the original album, plus four songs recorded at the BBC, and single mixes for Living In The Past and Driving Song. CD 2 captures Jethro Tull performing live in Sweden, where the band opened for Jimi Hendrix in January 1969. Recorded only a few weeks after Martin Barre joined the band, the concert includes songs from the band's debut in addition to two songs destined for Stand Up. Rounding out the disc are mono single mixes of Living In The Past and Driving Song, plus two radio spots promoting the album.
As always, I pick up these deluxe editions specifically for the 5.1 surround sound mixes. Available as both DTS 24/96 and Dolby Digital AC3, Wilson continues to deliver a pleasurable mix which finds Ian Anderson’s vocals placed in the front center channel with the decay falling to the remaining four mains. On balance this is a very clean remix, but let’s be clear up front that the source tapes are lacking dynamics and zing. No, I am not saying this mix and original recordings are overly compressed, rather I noticed the acoustic and electric guitars don’t cut through with the same impact one can hear on later day recordings. Simply put, they are smoother and less immediate on Stand Up.
On the other hand, I was recently asked about some of my favorite snare drum recordings, and there is a wonderful airiness and punch, along with warmth and fullness heard on the tracks containing a drum kit. However, while I am certain Wilson did the best he could, listeners will hear a kick drum that is completely stuffed with a blanket and thuds along, a very revealing recording technique common in that era. Yet, generally there is a lovely rawness to the overall sound of the drums, which carries over nicely to the rest of the band. Now, I am sure this raw energy is what many fans like myself keep coming back for. The driving force on Stand Up is the musicianship making this a truly fantastic release to have in multi-channel surround.
There are some nice touches to the 5.1 mix including the placement of the bass between the front and back channels on the left side on the track “Bourée.” Naturally second parts typically are placed behind the listener, and one may also notice the flute moving across the sound stage at various points. I feel that Wilson has stepped a bit out of the box and changed up his style just a bit for Stand Up.
The super bonus is the inclusion of the 5.1 mixes of “Living in the Past” along with “Driving Song,” and the Morgan version of “Bourée.” For modern day listeners, these additions extend this release and provide a fantastic perspective on these three songs.
For those seeking eye candy while listening to this classic album, there is plenty of it. An enormous collection of pictures are embedded and slowly change as each song is played on the Steven Wilson Remixes.
Now, while I always implore my readers to listen to the DTS and LPCM layers, ironically for those who are not equipped to play these, the Dolby Digital AC3 5.1 layer doesn’t sound half bad. I believe this is due to the original source material, but be assured that the DTS layer is much better, so yes upgrade when you can!
The LPCM stereo 24bit / 96kHz mix is very good, but I wouldn’t personally buy this deluxe version just to obtain that layer. Also for purists, there is a significant difference between the 1969 original mix and the new 2016 Wilson mixes. Most noticeable is the addition of reverb that adds depth to the mix, instead of the dry very direct sound heard on the classic version. Obviously I can’t tell you which to like better, but I will say changes like this do effect how listeners hear the album, know that the color has been changed.
It may be all of the extra tracks on the CD’s that draw you into this three disc set. Fans will find some really cool alternative versions and a very good concert recording to sift through. But still I believe the Stand Up Elevated Deluxe Edition is best suited for multi-channel enthusiasts, and Jethro Tull completests. As much as I love the music on this album, budget minded fans probably should start with the deluxe editions of Benefit, Aqualung, or Thick as a Brick. For those with unlimited funds, you will pick this up no matter what I say! Regardless of what your situation is, you’ll find this to be a very good listening experience.