Living in the Past is a double album quasi-compilation collection by Jethro Tull which contains album tracks, outtakes, the “Life Is a Long Song” EP, and all of their singles non-lp tracks except “Aeroplane”, “Sunshine Day”, “One for John Gee”, “17″ and the original United Kingdom version of “Teacher” (the United States single version, included in the US version of Benefit, was included instead).
These tracks were all re-released on the "20 Years of Jethro Tull" boxed set in 1988, with the exception of “Aeroplane” and the UK version of “Teacher” as bonus tracks. The "Benefit" remaster CD booklet reports that the version of “Teacher” included is the UK mix, but it’s actually the same version appearing on this album; the song “17″ was shortened by 3 minutes compared to its original single version, which was eventually released on the 40th Anniversary edition of "Stand Up" in 2010. Many of the tracks only appeared as British releases before being compiled on "Living in the Past" for the first time in the American market.
The album was named after the single released in May 1969 and was released in an elaborate gatefold packaging that contained a large colour photo booklet with over 50 photos of the band – subsequent CD reissues contain only a fraction of these pictures.
Two songs, “By Kind Permission Of” and “Dharma for One,” were recorded live at Carnegie Hall.
“Love Story”, “Christmas Song”, “Living in the Past”, “Driving Song”, “Sweet Dream” and “Witches’ Promise” were originally released as mono singles, and were remixed for inclusion on the album. To date, of these only “Living in the Past” was released on CD on the above mentioned 40th Anniversary edition of "Stand Up."
Differences in the song selections between the US and the UK editions of the album resulted in several different track listings for newer CD versions. A 1994 CD reissue omits several songs from the original in order to reduce running time to fit the album on one disc (“Bourée” and “Teacher” are not present on either the US or the UK editions). However both countries’ versions do include “Inside”, which originally was only on the UK vinyl release. The US vinyl version has “Hymn 43″ in place of “Locomotive Breath” and omits “Inside” in favour of “Alive and Well and Living In”, previously unreleased in the US. On the American "Benefit" album this track was substituted by a re-recording of “Teacher”. A 1997 two-disc Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissue contains every song selected for the compilation.
The album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 charts and went gold not long after its release. The title track from the album became Tull’s first top 40 hit in the United States, reaching No. 11, a full three years after it performed well in Britain.
In the United States, "Living in the Past" was the first Jethro Tull album to appear on the Chrysalis Records label proper; while each of the band’s previous albums were marked as “a Chrysalis Production,” the albums were released by Warner Bros. Records‘ Reprise Records subsidiary. Interestingly, early U.S. editions of Living in the Past bore both a Chrysalis catalog number (2CH 1035) and a Reprise catalog number (2TS 2106). Warner/Reprise reissued Tull’s first five albums on the Chrysalis label (with Chrysalis catalog numbers) in late 1973, and would continue to distribute Chrysalis product in the U.S. until late 1976.
Since 2001, many of the singles and B-sides appear as bonus tracks on the expanded Jethro Tull CDs. The live versions of “By Kind Permission Of” and “Dharma for One” appear on the 40th Anniversary edition of "Stand Up", albeit in longer and slightly remixed versions. The 40th anniversary release of "Aqualung" contains “Wond’ring Again” (in a restored 7-minute version), as well as the “Life Is a Long Song” EP.
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