Those two ideas set my mind in motion not to jump back to 1972 but to jump ahead 40 years to have a completely new look at something connected to today’s world and realize the culmination of somebody’s life. Gerald Bostock, closely to age 50 in 2012, is someone who clearly had many possibilities in life, and I tried to think of what he might have become. I decided to make it a concept album and explore the intervention, chances, and changes in direction between people in their formative years that result in who they are today. I might not be the person I am today if I had made other decisions throughout my life. It’s something lots of people in their middle age or older may consider in their own lives. But it’s a notion that works at both ends, because I also remember being a 14-year-old thinking very, very hard about what I wanted to do with my life.
What do I think of digital music? At least today’s highly compressed MP3s are of higher quality than cassettes. You have to bugger about with your stereo mixes in order to compress the shit out of them and put top-end limiters everywhere to try and squeeze the thing onto a vinyl record, let alone cope with the saturation that you’d get on cassette. Plus the lack of hi-fi, since most cassettes didn’t even play much back around anything above 6 or 7K; it just wasn’t there. So it’s a great relief, really, that we moved into the CD age. I would say that a decent MP3 other than its smallest file size is pretty good, certainly compared to vinyl records and to cassettes back in the ’70s. Your average MP3 is a better audio-fidelity way to listen to music, even though it is a highly compressed version of the original 24-bit WAV files that are the actual masters.
In the case of taking out the original Aqualung and Thick as a Brick masters and encoding them as 96kHz/24-bit WAV files, the tapes had to, of course, be baked first to have them in a reasonably playable condition. But technology is always changing and the way that we listen to music is always changing, isn’t it?
[Editor’s note: This is when I submit 1975’s Minstrel in the Gallery as the next Jethro Tull album I’d like to see Steven Wilson mix in 5.1, with such made-for-expansion songs like the title track, “Cold Wind in Valhalla,” and “Baker St. Muse.”]
Wow.... Even scarier than that, the last time I saw Steven Wilson, I was spending my time trying to talk him out of his desire to remix A Passion Play in 5.1. But I think Minstrel would probably amuse him. Well, Songs from the Wood would be the one I would probably throw at him and say, “Oh, why don’t you have a go at this one?”
The bad news is that if the relatively young Steven Wilson has to wait for the 40th anniversary of Songs from the Wood, there’s a relative bit of a downside in that it’s another 5 years from now. Steven Wilson’s ears will probably not be reliable enough to do the job then, because his new drummer [Marco Minnemann] is one of the loudest drummers I’ve heard. I told Steven, “You’ve got to get this guy to turn down onstage.” [chuckles]
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