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Classic Album Reviews: Jethro Tull | Living With the Past / Bad Company | Merchants of Cool

Some ’70s-era golden-agers revisit their golden oldies on these live outings.

This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Why do classic rockers love putting out live albums? 1) They don’t have to write a bunch of new songs; 2) They don’t have to blow a lot of dough on studio time; 3) All those cheering fans stroke their egos enough to make them think they’ve still got it, even if they haven’t had a hit since disco ruled the world.

The latest two golden-agers to revisit their golden oldies are ’70s icons Jethro Tull and Bad Company — or at least what legally passes for them these days. Both deliver what you’d expect: Flamingo-legged flutist Ian Anderson leads his latest Tull lineup through capable but uninspired versions of Aqualung, Locomotive Breath, Living in the Past and the like on Living With the Past, while Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke plod and lumber their way through Can’t Get Enough, Feel Like Makin’ Love, Rock Steady, Ready for Love and more with their revamped Bad Co. on Merchants of Cool. To reward the faithful — and perhaps make room in his garage — Anderson includes some acoustic home recordings, reunion jams and dressing-room tomfoolery from the late ’80s. To justify their continued existence, Bad Co. tack on a couple of very forgettable and inessential new studio tracks. “Don’t play my music on MTV,” warns Rodgers on one of the new cuts. No worries, dude.