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This was a stopgap album between studio releases Thick as a Brick (1972) and A Passion Play (1973). It also served to capitalize on the band's surge in popularity in the United States following the release of their fourth album Aqualung, which was Tull's first US top 10 album.
Most reviewers have made the same comment regarding the content change between the original LP and the CD release. The mistake they make is based on the error that is made in the "consumer note" on the CD. Yes, two tracks were deleted from the original vinyl: "Bouree" (leaving no tracks from their sophomore effort Stand Up) and "Teacher" (leaving only "Inside" from their third album Benefit). But there was a third track deleted from the original vinyl. Track-2 on Side-4 was "Locomotive Breath." [I know this because I still have my vinyl copy from 1972. Also missing is the 14-page color insert, which has been reduced to two pages with the CD reissue and only a fraction of the more than 50 photos in the original.] One other difference should be noted between the two track listings. The original vinyl release did NOT include "Hymn 43." [Note: The Gold CD issue of Living in the Past includes all 23 tracks, so you get the combined LP/CD track listing. But it's going to cost you enough extra that it would make more sense to simply buy the individual albums.]
With that said, Living in the past is essential classic period Jethro Tull to warrant its purchase even if you own the individual albums. Many of these tracks were non-album singles, B-sides and live tracks. "Love Story" was Tull's first UK hit (#29, 1969), followed by "Living in the Past" (#3, 1969), "Sweet Dream" (#7, 1969), "Witches Promise" (#4, 1970) and "Life Is a Long Song" (#11, 1971). Tull's first charting US single would be "Hymn 43" (#91, 1971), and their first Top 40 hit would be when "Living in the Past" hit No. 11 three years after its release in England. The two live tracks on the disc are from a 1970 Carnegie Hall performance: "By Kind Permission of" and "Dharma for One."
When all is said and done, even if you own the first four studio albums this is an essential album to complete the history of Jethro Tull's first four years. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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on February 24, 2000
The above rating is not for the album as it was originally released. It is for the frustrating way it has been issued and reissued on CD.
When it first came out on CD, time constraints caused three tracks to be dropped: Teacher, Bouree, and Alive And Well and Living In.
Then it was remastered and the latter track was included. Though Teacher and Bouree were still dropped.
Then Mobile Fidelity stepped in, thankfully and did the CD right. They added all of the songs that were on this in all of its various incarnations (US version, UK version, British version, album version, etc.). In other words, it became a double CD and added Teacher, Bouree, and Locomotive Breath.
The booklet simulated the leather feel of the album cover and was chock full of photos. Unfortunately Mofi went adios, and so did Chrysalis learn anything from this? No! Instead, we get the same old CD with the missing tracks, though remastered.
Suggestion: find the gold disc and buy it! Pay the extra price! It is well worth it. Maybe Chrysalis will take the hint and restore this superb album back to the way it should be.
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on September 14, 1999
This was originally both a retrospective and a collection of outtakes. It was released to allow Jethro Tull to fulfill its contractual obligations when Ian Anderson was unable to finish composing "A Passion Play" on time. It included one cut from each of Jethro Tull's first four records ("Song For Jeffrey" from "This Was", "Bourree" from "Standup", "Teacher" from "Benefit", and "Hymn 43" from "Aqualung"), a live version of "Dharma For One", a live improvisation, "By Kind Permission Of" (in which John Evans plays a bit of Beethoven's Apassionata piano sonata), and many previously unreleased Ian Anderson songs. (Here "Inside" from "Benefit" has been substituted for "Teacher" and "Bourree". I'd prefer all these redundant recordings be removed--I want them in their proper places.) Its was unprecendented that such a motley collection should have become so popular. ("Living in the Past" was Jethro Tull's first hit single. It is ingenuous and compelling, though its quintuple-meter ostinato rhythm--bass, drums, vocal melody--obviously derives from Paul Desmond's "Take Five", possibly by way of Lalo Schriffin's theme from "Mission Impossible".) Goes to show what high standards the group had then that they could have considered these songs unworthy.
Also recommended (for one-legged flautists as well): PENTATONIC SCALES FOR THE JAZZ ROCK KEYBOARDIST by Jeff Burns.
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on November 6, 2010
This ain't the first time, either.

Look at the 'official' review written by an Amazon staff writer. The presumed expert tells us " Living in the Past does an excellent job of revealing Tull's achievements and limitations", LIMITATIONS, no less. I understand everyone has opinions, but why even hire someone who's going cast aspersions on the album write the opening review for it?

It's soaked in bias. Do we even get any substantiation on these claims: evidence, arguments, observations? Nope. Tull, it appears, is just a mediocre band and LITP reveals this. Besides, watch out, the album is filled with "pretensions" and one of their best songs, the title track, is mere "lighter fare" (even though it was compared to Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" upon its release). Again, no backing up.

It is hardly a cult opinion to see Tull as a major player in the development of rock, and if the Amazon Man cannot fathom this, or missed out on the culture, why are his words up there at all? It's easy to be gratuitously critical when you're out of your depth or don't understand your obligations.

Drop this ignoramus, Amazon, and get someone who has bothered with an education.
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"Living in the Past" is a hodgepodge of old English-only singles, EP sides, album tracks and a couple of live cuts representing a retrospective of the group's earliest instantiations. The album was released after the group's first commercial success with the "Aqualung" album and covers three distinct periods in Tull's history. First there was the psychedelic blues period represented by "A Song for Jeffrey" and "Love Story." Then Mick Abrahams was replaced by Martin Lancelot Barre and Tull was off into the world of heavy rock as evidenced by "Driving Song" and "Singing All Day." The Jethro Tull marked by Ian Anderson's distinctive flute and guitar work came into being when his old schoolmate John Evan joined for the "Benefit" sessions. Evan's keyboard work allowed Tull to do ballads like "Just Trying to Be" and "Wond'ring Again" and then switch gears to a real rocker like "Teacher" with relative ease (However, because of "time restrictions" that track and "Bouree" are not included on the CD version, which is amazing since they are two of the four best songs on the album--go figure). The two live cuts on "Living in the Past"--"By Kind Permission Of" and "Dharma For One"--feature Anderson and Barre exploring their instruments in featured segments that improve upon the original versions of each song. After this point in the group's history the final two original members of Tull were jettisoned in favor of Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and Barriemore Barlow, giving Anderson a handpicked group of musicians who would follow his Pied Piper lead. "Living in the Past" is ultimately an ironic title because with "Aqualung" and "Thick as a Brick," Jethro Tull were going in a very different direction musically. It is probably not a surprise that the most popular songs on the album, "Christmas Song" and the title track, are among those that best anticipate what would become the group's distinctive sound. The best thing about this album is that it saves you from having to buy all of Jethro Tull's albums before "Aqualung." Oh, and did I mention they left two of the best songs on the record off of the CD?
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on November 19, 1999
I have to agree with the reviewer from Croyden. these "cast-offs" are really exceptional and this is probably my favorite Tull album. Some of the songs have definitely risen to the cream of the Tull repetoire, such as Christmas Song, Life is a Long Song, Witches Promise, Sweet Dream. My personal favorite is Up the 'Pool with the line, "sunbaked stranded starfish..." anyway there is a preponderance of acoustic numbers on this album and I have always felt that is where Jethro Tull is at their best. There really aren't any duds on this album and you can put the disc on and listen all the way through. Lyrics and arrangements are really interesting and there just isnt anything quite like this. Wish the band put out more of this kind of stuff.
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This album fills in holes in Jethro Tull's early music, including tracks not a part of their earlier albums, and commercially adding more music at a time Tull was riding high on the success of 1971s "Aqualung". While some reviewers advise that you need not buy Tull's earliest recordings if you have "Living in the Past", I have all those recordings as well and do not believe this CD replaces them. Further, "Teacher" and "Bouree" were left off the CD due to time constraints (the CD is near the limit at over 75 minutes long). Both "Teacher" and "Bouree" are worth having, and there is other music on the earlier CDs worth having as well.
This CD offers a range of music, from hard rockers to mellow folk and Tull's signature renaissance-flavored folk and rock. "Living in the Past" offers a jazz-like piece with Ian Anderson's flute prominently displaced. It was the range of music Tull played that has always made Tull hard to fit into a particular genre. While they are often classified as hard rock because of songs like "Teacher" and "Sweet Dreams", as well as most of "Aqualung" and "War Child", Tull more likely fits into a genre of their own as they play music of all types, and they seem to do so in a pattern of their own.
Like the true artists that they are, Jethro Tull created music as they felt moved to create. The result is creative and interesting music, often satirical, nearly always at least good. It may be tempting to think that in retrospect that some of the music on this CD indicated that Jethro Tull was moving in a harder rock direction. Possibly. However, as music from CDs such as "Minstrel in the Gallery" and "Songs from the Wood" indicates, Tull's style has always been eclectic, with hard rock being only one of their numerous styles.
This collection is a great introduction to a group that refuses standard classification, and has only been recognized as one of music's greats in the last few years. While this CD is now hard to find, I recommend this CD highly if you can find it, and you've liked what you've heard of Jethro Tull's non-commercial music.
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on May 22, 2015
A solid effort, but some filler, and some songs missing from the original album. Jethro Tull is a great band to listen to live, and most people who like the studio efforts would be better off getting the two great hits. But if you really like Jethro Tull and would like something off the beaten track (unless you already have Minstrel In The Gallery) then grab this up and enjoy some great tunes.
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on December 14, 1999
For those who like the acoustic side of Jethro Tull, I highly recommend "Living In The Past," which I consider a very underrated collection of songs. Acoustic numbers like "Nursie," "Christmas Song" and "Wond'ring Again" are some of Ian Anderson's best work. Not quite the classic that "Aqualung" was, but I think any Tull fan should have this one.
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on January 10, 2008
...floating in the air, while sequestered on his isle. From the first selection, Song for Jeffrey, all the way through to the last, this double LP was the Most Favored Album in the Christmas season of 1972. That said, why should anyone obtain such an artifact at this late date?

This may well be one of the best collections of one of the best forms that British Blues-Folk-Prog-Rock ever took, by perhaps the best group of musicians, led by guiding light and founder Ian Anderson. This release, as always, leaves off "Bouree" and "Teacher", whilest including "Inside", which I swear was not on my vinyl copy. I wore the eight-track out.

Ian Anderson's Voice, lyricism, and musicianship are unparallelled in rock history, he who cranelike played flute on one foot. What a performer, and what a band. John Evans, the keyboardist, gets room to stretch out through classical and jazzy live performance at Carnegie(By kind permission of), and the entire band shows us its stuff at the same venue in "Dharma for One". I had never heard Erik Satie, Debussy, and Mozart so well entwined.

Songs such as "Sweet Dreams" and "Witch's Promise" are something like songtrack items for that precise moment in history, if you were alive then. They also are absolutely unlike anything you have ever heard by anyone else, played better, and played towards a seeming purpose--forceful music. "Singing All Day" and "Alive and Well And Living In" are mood pieces that also serve as templates for us early seventies post-hippies, our thinking, our manner, the aural scenery of our lives. Tinged slightly psychedelic, always, like some folk song, hymn, or piece of classical music you have heard somewhere, and then on to something more.

Martin Barre was at this time a new member, and his guitar chops stretch out great in "Bogenbroom" and "Hymn 43", which was taken from Aqualung. AT the time, you see, people didn't know quite what to think of this insanely great blues-based rock riffer, and why would they put live stuff, outtaken songs, and hits from other albums all on the same record?

Well, it's a sampler. Yummy. Probably one of the greatest albums of all time, since the dissolution of the Beatles, Clapton's heroin and alcohol addiction, Hendrix vomit/death, and the Stones decision to record in a muggy basement in a French villa Keith owned. (I am speaking of what was happening at that time)

You absolutely can't go wrong buying this, but you should go ahead, genuflect to the mighty power of capitalism, and buy Benefit and Stand Up. Then cut your own original Living in the Past Mix with itunes, and just sit and LISTEN>>>>Man!!!
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