Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jethro Tull

@ Wiki
Jethro Tull are a British Rock band that formed in 1967-1968. Their music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of front man Ian Anderson. Initially playing blues rock with an experimental flavour, they have, over the years, incorporated elements of classical, folk and 'ethnic' musics, jazz and art rock. Eclectic influences, diverse instrumentation, and often elaborate song construction led them to be labelled as an archetypal "progressive rock" band.

1963–1967: Origins
Ian Anderson's first band, started in 1963 in Blackpool, was known as The Blades. It had developed by 1966 into a seven-piece white soul band called the John Evan Band (later the John Evan Smash), named for pianist/drummer John Evans, who dropped the final "s" from his name to make it sound less ordinary. At this point, Barriemore Barlow was the band's drummer, as he would later be for Tull itself.

The band moved to the London area in search of more bookings, basing themselves in nearby Luton. However, money remained short and within days of the move most of the band quit and headed back North, leaving Anderson and bassist Glenn Cornick to join forces with blues guitarist Mick Abrahams and his friend, drummer Clive Bunker, both from the Luton-based band "McGregor's Engine". At first, the new band had trouble getting repeat bookings and they took to changing their name frequently to continue playing the London club circuit. Band names were often supplied by the staff of their booking agents, one of whom, a history buff, eventually christened them Jethro Tull after the 18th-century agriculturist who invented the seed drill. This name stuck simply by virtue of the fact that they were using it the first time a club manager (namely, John Gee of the Marquee Club, London) liked their show enough to invite them to return. They were signed to the blossoming Ellis-Wright agency, and became the third band managed by the soon-to-be Chrysalis empire.

1968: Progressive Blues
After an unsuccessful single produced by Derek Lawrence (an Abrahams-penned pop tune called "Sunshine Day" on which the band's name was misspelled "Jethro Toe", making it a collector's item), they released the bluesy album This Was in 1968. Accompanying music written by Anderson and Abrahams was the traditional arrangement "Cat's Squirrel", which highlighted Abraham's blues-rock style. The Rahsaan Roland Kirk-penned jazz piece "Serenade to a Cuckoo" gave Anderson a showcase for his growing talents on the flute, an instrument which he started learning to play only half a year before the release of the album. The overall sound of the group at this time was described in the Record Mirror by Anderson in 1968 as "a sort of progressive blues with a bit of jazz".

Following this album, Abrahams left, forming his own band, Blodwyn Pig. There were a number of reasons for his departure: he was a blues purist, while Anderson wanted to branch out into other forms of music; Abrahams and Cornick did not get along; and Abrahams was unwilling to travel internationally or play more than three nights a week, while the others wanted to be successful by playing as often as possible and building an international fan base.

Earth/Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi took on guitar duties for a short time after the departure of Abrahams, appearing in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (in which the group mimed "A Song For Jeffrey") in 1968, but returned to Earth/Black Sabbath after the performance. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Bruce Eder @ Allmusic
Jethro Tull was a unique phenomenon in popular music history. Their mix of hard rock; folk melodies; blues licks; surreal, impossibly dense lyrics; and overall profundity defied easy analysis, but that didn't dissuade fans from giving them 11 gold and five platinum albums. At the same time, critics rarely took them seriously, and they were off the cutting edge of popular music since the end of the 1970s. But no record store in the country would want to be without multiple copies of each of their most popular albums (Benefit, Aqualung, Thick as a Brick, Living in the Past), or their various best-of compilations, and few would knowingly ignore their newest releases. Of their contemporaries, only Yes could claim a similar degree of success, and Yes endured several major shifts in sound and membership in reaching the 1990s, while Tull remained remarkably stable over the same period. As co-founded and led by wildman-flautist-guitarist-singer-songwriter Ian Anderson, the group carved a place all its own in popular music.

Tull had its roots in the British blues boom of the late '60s. Anderson (b. Aug. 10, 1947, Edinburgh, Scotland) had moved to Blackpool when he was 12. His first band was called the Blades, named after James Bond's club, with Michael Stephens on guitar, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (b. July 30, 1946) on bass and John Evans (b. Mar. 28, 1948) on drums, playing a mix of jazzy blues and soulful dance music on the northern club circuit. In 1965, they changed their name to the John Evan Band (Evan having dropped the "s" in his name at Hammond's suggestion) and later the John Evan Smash. By the end of 1967, Glenn Cornick (b. Apr. 24, 1947, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England) had replaced Hammond-Hammond on bass. The group moved to Luton in order to be closer to London, the center of the British blues boom, and the band began to fall apart, when Anderson and Cornick met guitarist/singer Mick Abrahams (b. Apr. 7, 1943, Luton, Bedfordshire, England) and drummer Clive Bunker (b. Dec. 12, 1946), who had previously played together in the Toggery Five and were now members of a local blues band called McGregor's Engine.

In December of 1967, the four of them agreed to form a new group. They began playing two shows a week, trying out different names, including Navy Blue and Bag of Blues. One of the names that they used, Jethro Tull, borrowed from an 18th-century farmer/inventor, proved popular and memorable, and it stuck. In January of 1968, they cut a rather derivative pop-folk single called "Sunshine Day," released by MGM Records (under the misprinted name Jethro Toe) the following month. The single went nowhere, but the group managed to land a residency at the Marquee Club in London, where they became very popular.

Early on, they had to face a problem of image and configuration, however. In the late spring of 1968, managers Terry Ellis and Chris Wright (who later founded Chrysalis Records) first broached the idea that Anderson give up playing the flute, and to allow Mick Abrahams to take center stage. At the time, a lot of blues enthusiasts didn't accept wind instruments at all, especially the flute, as seminal to the sound they were looking for, and as a group struggling for success and recognition, Jethro Tull was just a little too strange in that regard. Abrahams was a hardcore blues enthusiast who idolized British blues godfather Alexis Korner, and he was pushing for a more traditional band configuration, which would've put him and his guitar out front. As it turned out, they were both right. Abrahams' blues sensibilities were impeccable, but the audience for British blues by itself couldn't elevate Jethro Tull any higher than being a top club act. Anderson's antics on-stage, jumping around in a ragged overcoat and standing on one leg while playing the flute, and his use of folk sources as well as blues and jazz, gave the band the potential to grab a bigger audience and some much-needed press attention.

They opened for Pink Floyd on June 29, 1968, at the first free rock festival in London's Hyde Park, and in August they were the hit of the Sunbury Jazz & Blues Festival in Sunbury-on-Thames. By the end of the summer, they had a recording contract with Island Records. The resulting album, This Was, was issued in November. By this time, Anderson was the dominant member of the group on-stage, and at the end of the month Abrahams exited the band. The group went through two hastily recruited and rejected replacements, future Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi (who was in Tull for a week, just long enough to show up in their appearance on the Rolling Stones' Rock 'N Roll Circus extravaganza), and Davy O'List, the former guitarist with the Nice. Finally, Martin Barre (b. Nov. 17, 1946), a former architecture student, was the choice for a permanent replacement.

It wasn't until April of 1969 that This Was got a U.S. release. Ironically, the first small wave of American Jethro Tull fans were admiring a group whose sound had already changed radically; in May of 1969, Barre's first recording with the group, "Living in the Past," reached the British number three spot and the group made its debut on Top of the Pops performing the song. The group played a number of festivals that summer, including the Newport Jazz Festival. Their next album, Stand Up, with all of its material (except "Bouree," which was composed by Johann Sebastian Bach) written by Ian Anderson, reached the number one spot in England the next month. Stand Up also contained the first orchestrated track by Tull, "Reasons for Waiting," which featured strings arranged by David Palmer, a Royal Academy of Music graduate and theatrical conductor who had arranged horns on one track from This Was. Palmer would play an increasingly large role in subsequent albums, and finally join the group officially in 1977.

Meanwhile, "Sweet Dream," issued in November, rose to number seven in England, and was the group's first release on Wright and Ellis' newly formed Chrysalis label. Their next single, "The Witch's Promise," got to number four in England in January of 1970. The group's next album, Benefit, marked their last look back at the blues, and also the presence of Anderson's longtime friend and former bandmate John Evan -- who had long since given up the drums in favor of keyboards -- on piano and organ. Benefit reached the number three spot in England, but, much more important, it ascended to number 11 in America, and its songs, including "Teacher" and "Sossity, You're A Woman," formed a key part of Tull's stage repertory. In early July of 1970, the group shared a bill with Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, and Johnny Winter at the Atlanta Pop Festival in Byron, GA, before 200,000 people.

By the following December, after another U.S. tour, Cornick had decided to leave the group, and was replaced on bass by Anderson's childhood friend Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond. Early the following year, they began working on what would prove to be, for many fans, the group's magnum opus, Aqualung. Anderson's writing had been moving in a more serious direction since the group's second album, but it was with Aqualung that he found the lyrical voice he'd been seeking. Suddenly, he was singing about the relationship between man and God, and the manner in which -- in his view -- organized religion separated them. The blues influences were muted almost to non-existence, but the hard rock passages were searing and the folk influences provided a refreshing contrast. That the album was a unified whole impressed the more serious critics, while the kids were content to play air guitar to Martin Barre's high-speed breaks. And everybody, college prog rock mavens and high-school time-servers alike, seemed to identify with the theme of alienation that lay behind the music.

Aqualung reached number seven in America and number four in England, and was accompanied by a hugely successful American tour. Bunker quit the band to get married, and was replaced by Anderson's old John Evan Smash bandmate Barriemore Barlow (b. Sept. 10, 1949). Late in 1971, they began work on their next album, Thick as a Brick. Structurally more ambitious than Aqualung, and supported by an elaborately designed jacket in the form of a newspaper, this record was essentially one long song steeped in surreal imagery, social commentary, and Anderson's newly solidified image as a wildman-sage. Released in England during April of 1972, Thick as a Brick got as high as the number five spot, but when it came out in America a month later, it hit the number one spot, making it the first Jethro Tull album to achieve greater popularity in American than in England. In June of 1972, in response to steadily rising demand for the group's work, Chrysalis Records released Living in the Past, a collection of tracks from their various singles and British EPs, early albums, and a Carnegie Hall show, packaged like an old-style 78 rpm album in a book that opened up.

At this point, it seemed as though Jethro Tull could do no wrong, and for the fans that was true. For the critics, however, the group's string ran out in July of 1973 with the release of A Passion Play. The piece was another extended song, running the length of the album, this time steeped in fantasy and religious imagery far denser than Aqualung; it was divided at the end of one side of the album and the beginning of the other by an A.A. Milne-style story called "The Hare That Lost His Spectacles." This time, the critics were hostile toward Anderson and the group, attacking the album for its obscure lyrical references and excessive length. Despite these criticisms, the album reached number one in America (yielding a number eight single edited from the extended piece) and number 13 in England. The real venom, however, didn't start to flow until the group went on tour that summer. By this time, their sets ran to two-and-a-half hours, and included not only the new album done in its entirety ("The Hare That Lost His Spectacles" being a film presentation in the middle of the show), but Thick As a Brick and the most popular of the group's songs off of Aqualung and their earlier albums. Anderson was apparently unprepared for the searing reviews that started appearing, and also took the American rock press too seriously. In the midst of a sell-out U.S. tour, he threatened to cancel all upcoming concerts and return to England. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, especially once he recognized that the shows were completely sold out and audiences were ecstatic, and the tour continued without interruption.

It was 16 months until the group's next album, War Child -- conceived as part of a film project that never materialized -- was released, in November of 1974. The expectations surrounding the album gave it pre-order sales sufficient to get it certified gold upon release, and it was also Tull's last platinum album, reaching number two in America and number 14 in England. The dominant theme of War Child seemed to be violence, though the music's trappings heavily featured Palmer's orchestrations, rivaling Barre's electric guitar breaks for attention. In any case, the public seemed to respond well to the group's return to conventional length songs, with "Bungle in the Jungle" reaching number 11 in America. Tull's successful concert tour behind this album had them augmented by a string quartet.

During this period, Anderson became involved with producing an album by Steeleye Span, a folk-rock group that was also signed to Chrysalis, and who had opened for Tull on one of their American tours. Their music slowly begun influencing Anderson's songwriting over the next several years, as the folk influence grew in prominence, a process that was redoubled when he took up a rural residence during the mid-'70s. The next Tull album, Minstrel in the Gallery, showed up ten months later, in September of 1975, reaching number seven in the United States. This time, the dominant theme was Elizabethan minstrelsy, within an electric rock and English folk context. The tracks included a 17-minute suite that recalled the group's earlier album-length epic songs, but the album's success was rather more limited. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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@ Rolling Stone
Jethro Tull isn't his name, of course, but it might as well be. At the mere mention of this venerable British art-rock outfit, most people flash on the image of flute-wielding Tull frontman Ian Anderson. This Was and Stand Up, both from 1969, present the group as jazz- and folk-influenced progressives; Anderson's rasping, meldodramatic style of play takes off from Rahsaan Roland Kirk's multireed explorations. Guitarist Martin Barre contributes heavy, hooky riffs to accompany Anderson's burgeoning songwriting voice on Stand Up. And then, Tull clicked with young American audiences.

Aqualung combines heaving melodies and moralistic liberal diatribes against church and state: You know the rest. Thanks to 20 years of radio rotation, heavy-handed manifestos like "Aqualung" and "Wind Up" rank right up there with "Stairway to Heaven" on the overfamiliarity meter. Living in the Past, which ably documents Tull to this point, is recommended over the later compilations.

The immediate success of Aqualung spurred Anderson to indulge his artistic whims, resulting in two challenging, wildly experimental, and occasionally obtuse theatrical concept albums: Thick as a Brick and Passion Play. After that strategy backfired, Jethro Tull returned to traditional song structure on War Child and the acoustic-flavored Minstrel in the Gallery. Things were never quite the same again, though. After the excessively snide 1976 hit "Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young to Die!," Tull retreated into a sylvan glade of arty Elizabethan folk-rock. This latter-day approach is best captured on the lovely, smoke-flavored Songs From the Wood and A, on which former members of Fairport Convention and Roxy Music add crucial support. After releasing a pair of electronic stinkers (Walk Into Light and Under Wraps) in the '80s, Anderson retired the Tull moniker for several years. The 1988 box-set retrospective (20 Years of Jethro Tull) is representative, but mighty tough for the average listener to wade through. Jethro Tull released the folkish Crest of a Knave in 1987; from then on, Anderson retreated into a prosaic formula that obliterated most of the pastoral passages and tricky time signatures in favor of shorter songs that rocked in surprisingly conventional ways. Anderson's darkly sarcastic sense of humor and the band's tight instrumental combustion has made Tull an exhilarating live experience to this day -- long after its records ceased to hold much interest for anyone but hard-core fans. (M.C./E.L.) =>>>>>>>>>>>

From 2004's The New Rolling Stone Album Guide

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@ Mystrands
Jethro Tull was formed in Luton, England, in 1967 when Ian Anderson (b. 10 August 1947, Edinburgh, Scotland; vocals/flute) and Glenn Cornick (b. 24 April 1947, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England; bass), members of a visiting Blackpool blues group, John Evan's Smash, became acquainted with Mick Abrahams (b. 7 April 1943, Luton, Bedfordshire, England; guitar/vocals) and Clive Bunker (b. 12 December 1946, Blackpool, Lancashire, England; drums), Abrahams' colleague in local attraction McGregor's Engine, completed the original line-up which made its debut in March the following year with "Sunshine Day". This commercially minded single, erroneously credited to Jethro Toe, merely hinted at developments about to unfold. A residency at London's famed Marquee club and a sensational appearance at that summer's Sunbury Blues Festival confirmed a growing reputation, while "A Song For Jeffrey', the quartet's first release for the Island Records, introduced a more representative sound. Abrahams" rolling blues licks and Anderson's distinctive, stylized voice combined expertly on This Was - for many Jethro Tull's finest collection. Although the material itself was derivative, the band's approach was highly exciting, with Anderson's propulsive flute playing, modelled on jazzman Rahsaan Roland Kirk, particularly effective.

The album reached the UK Top 10, largely on the strength of Jethro Tull's live reputation in which the singer played an ever-increasing role. His exaggerated gestures, long, wiry hair, ragged coat and distinctive, one-legged stance cultivated a compulsive stage personality to the extent that, for many spectators, Jethro Tull was the name of this extrovert frontman and the other musicians merely his underlings. This impression gained credence through the band's internal ructions. Mick Abrahams left in November 1968 and formed Blodwyn Pig. When future Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi proved incompatible, Martin Barre (b. 17 November 1946) joined the band for Stand Up, their excellent chart-topping second album. The band was then augmented by John Evan (b. 28 March 1948; keyboards), the first of Anderson's Blackpool associates to be invited into the line-up. Benefit, the last outwardly blues-based album, duly followed and this period was also marked by the band's three UK Top 10 singles, "Living In The Past", "Sweet Dream" (both 1969) and "The Witch's Promise" (1970). Cornick then quit to form Wild Turkey and Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (b. 30 July 1946), already a legend in Tull's lexicon through their debut single, "Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square" and "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me", was brought in for Aqualung. Possibly the group's best-known work, this ambitious concept album featured Anderson's musings on organized religion and contained several tracks that remained long-standing favourites, including "My God" and "Locomotive Breath".

Clive Bunker, the last original member, bar Anderson, left in May 1971. A further John Evan-era acolyte, Barriemore Barlow (b. 10 September 1949), replaced him as Jethro Tull entered its most controversial period. Although Thick As A Brick topped the US chart and reached number 5 in the UK, critics began questioning Anderson's reliance on obtuse concepts. However, if muted for this release, the press reviled A Passion Play, damning it as pretentious, impenetrable and the product of an egotist and his neophytes. Such rancour obviously hurt. Anderson retorted by announcing an indefinite retirement, but continued success in America, where the album became Jethro Tull's second chart-topper, doubtless appeased his anger. War Child, a US number 2, failed to chart in the UK, although Minstrel In The Gallery proved more popular. Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll, Too Young To Die marked the departure of Hammond-Hammond in favour of John Glascock (b. 1953, London, England, d. 17 November 1979), formerly of the Gods, Toe Fat and Chicken Shack. Subsequent releases, Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses, reflected a more pastoral sound as Anderson abandoned the gauche approach marking many of their predecessors. David Palmer, who orchestrated each Jethro Tull album, bar their debut, was added as a second keyboards player as the band embarked on another highly successful phase, culminating in November 1978 when a concert at New York's Madison Square Garden was simultaneously broadcast around the world by satellite. However, Glascock's premature death in 1979 during heart surgery ushered in a period of uncertainty, culminating in an internal realignment.

In 1980 Anderson began a projected solo album, retaining Barre and new bass player Dave Pegg (b. 2 November 1947, Birmingham, England, ex-Fairport Convention), but adding Eddie Jobson (ex-Curved Air and Roxy Music; keyboards) and Marc Craney (drums). Long-time cohorts Barlow, Evan and Palmer were left to pursue their individual paths. The finished product, A, was ultimately issued under the Jethro Tull banner and introduced a productive period that saw two more band selections, plus Anderson's solo effort, Walk Into Light, issued within a two-year period.

Since the mid-80s, Jethro Tull have continued to record and perform live, albeit on a lesser scale, using a nucleus of Anderson, Barre and Pegg. Catfish Rising in 1991, although a disappointing album, was a return to their blues roots. Roots To Branches and the terribly named J-Tull.Dot.Com purveyed the standard Jethro Tull progressive rock, full of complicated time changes, and fiddly new age and Arabian intros and codas. Squire Anderson has also become a renowned entrepreneur, owning tracts of land on the west coast of Scotland and the highly successful Strathaird Salmon processing plant. Longstanding member Palmer had a sex-change operation and changed his name to Dee Palmer in 2003. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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The Home Of - The Jethro Tull Archive
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