The legendary 1970 Isle of Wight festival is sometimes thought of as England's Woodstock. Alongside such strange bedfellows as Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, and Tiny Tim, Jethro Tull put on a raucous, energetic stage performance captured here on NOTHING IS EASY. Even through their loudly amplified, festival-sized sound, the true Tull hallmarks are here, including Ian Anderson's haunting, minstrel-esque flute lines ("Bouree") and folky, acoustic guitar-driven compositions, which touch on weighty themes ("My God").
There is an energetic raggedness to the playing here that seems strangely out of keeping with the meticulous, art-rock constructions usually associated with Tull. But the raw, churning energy works creates magic charm, with Martin Barre's crunching electric guitar and Clive Bunker's thunderous drumming surging to the fore. In fact, Tull are at their best in this performance on "Dharma for One," which merges blasts of hard-hitting rock noise with Anderson's incantatory vocals and lyrical ruminations on intellectual and spiritual themes. In addition to capturing Jethro Tull's contribution to the Isle of Wight festival for posterity, NOTHING IS EASY is a vivid snapshot of one of the '70s most revered prog-rock bands in their fiery youth.