Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull are an English rock band that released twenty studio albums between 1968 and 1999. They are best known for the classic rock evergreens “Aqualung,” “Bourée,” “Bungle In the Jungle,” “Living In the Past,” and “Locomotive Breath.” Their style encompasses blues, folk, hard rock, electronic and orchestral music. Singer Ian Anderson distinguished himself among rock frontmen as a flute soloist. 

Jethro Tull formed in Luton amid the late-sixties blues-rock boom. Their original lineup consisted of Anderson, guitarist Mick Abrahams, bassist Glenn Cornick, and drummer Clive Bunker. After their 1968 debut This Was, Abrahams left and formed Blodwyn Pig. Tull hired guitarist Martin Barre and made the 1969/70 albums Stand Up and Benefit and had hits with “Love Story,” “Living In the Past,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Witch’s Promise,” and “Teacher.”

Cornick cleared out for Anderson’s friend Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and Tull added keyboardist John Evan for the 1971 release Aqualung, a worldwide breakthrough with their signature title-song. The arrival of drummer Barriemore Barlow ushered the lineup that made the 1972/73 concept albums Thick As a Brick and A Passion Play, both composed of album-length song suites.

Anderson steered Jethro Tull in a folksier direction for the 1974/75 albums War Child and Minstrel In the Gallery, a personal set with strings conducted by Dave Palmer, who joined as a second keyboardist for their tour behind the 1976 album Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!, their first with bassist John Glascock. Anderson’s folkloric interests peaked on the 1977 release Songs from the Wood and its 1978/79 followups Heavy Horses and Stormwatch, all comprised of brisk acoustic numbers.

After the demise of the seventies lineup, Anderson retained Barre and hired bassist Dave Pegg and keyboardist Eddie Jobson for the 1980 release A, a modernistic set conceived as a solo album. In 1982, the lineup of Anderson, Barre, Pegg, keyboardist Peter-John Vettese, and drummer Gerry Conway recorded The Broadsword and the Beast, an intended double-album with a theatrical stage show.

Anderson debuted as a solo artist with the 1983 release Walk Into Light and used the Broadsword lineup (minus Conway) for the high-tech 1984 album Under Wraps. A three-year gap preceded Jethro Tull’s sixteenth studio album Crest of a Knave, the 1988 Grammy winner for Best Hard Rock–Metal Performance.

Members: Ian Anderson (vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, harmonica, mandolin), Mick Abrahams (electric guitar, 1967-68), Glenn Cornick (bass, 1967-70), Clive Bunker (drums, 1967-71), Tony Iommi (electric guitar, 1968), Martin Barre (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, recorder, 1968-2011), John Evan (piano, organ, synthesizer, 1971-80), Jeffrey Hammond (bass, alto recorder, 1971-75), Barriemore Barlow (drums, 1971-80), John Glascock (bass, 1975-79), David Palmer (saxophone, keyboards, orchestral arrangements, 1977-79), Dave Pegg (bass, mandolin, 1979-95), Mark Craney (drums, 1980-81), Eddie Jobson (violin, 1980-81), Peter-John Vettese (keyboards, 1982-89), Gerry Conway (drums, 1981-83), Doane Perry (drums, 1984-91, 1994-2014)


Background

The roots of Jethro Tull trace to a mid-sixties beat group called The Blades, which featured drummer Barrie Barlow and three Blackpool schoolmates: guitarist Ian Anderson (b. Aug. 10, 1947, Dunfermline, Scotland), bassist Jeffrey Hammond, and keyboardist John Evan. They evolved into the John Evan Smash, an R&B sextet that played the Northern clubs for several years with a set comprised of Motown covers.

In early 1967, Hammond cleared out for bassist Glenn Cornick. Soon after, guitarist Mick Abrahams joined the Smash, which now based itself in Luton. Abrahams hailed from The Toggery, a Manchester beat group with (future Sad Cafe) vocalist Paul Young. Later that same year, the Smash imploded.

Anderson, Abrahams, and Cornick decided to form a new band. They initially had trouble getting rebooked at the same venues, so they gigged incognito under assorted monikers (Navy Blue, Ian Henderson’s Bag o’ Nails, Candy Coloured Rain). On the first concert where they actually impressed the club manager, they were billed as Jethro Tull. The name, selected by their booking agent (an avid history buff), was taken from an 18th century agriculturalist.

Jethro Tull gained steady live work in the winter of 1968, including opening slots at London’s Marquee Club for blues rockers Black Cat Bones (1/16/68), Savoy Brown (2/2), and the Spirit of John Morgan (2/16).


1968: Jethro Toe – “Sunshine Day”

Jethro Tull issued their first single, “Sunshine Day” (b/w “Aeroplane”), on MGM in February 1968. Their name was misspelled Jethro Toe on this release, purportedly so the label wouldn’t have to pay the band royalties.

Anderson, inhibited by his average guitar skills, took up flute because few other rock bands at the time used the instrument. This ensured that he wouldn’t yield frontman status to Abrahams. In live performances, Anderson played solos on one leg: a posture that helps flutists ensure proper grasp and breathing for the instrument. The posture — along with his trademark beard and large winter overcoat — was emblematic of his Fagin-like demeanor.

On February 28, Jethro Tull appeared at the Falmer House in University of Sussex for the Field Day Dance, where they played second on the bill between The Attack and headliners Fairport Convention. That spring, Tull played support slots at the Marquee for the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation (3/15), Fleetwood Mac (3/29), The Who (4/23), and Taste (5/17). On May 25, Tull opened for The Koobas at the Farmers Inn in Bradford. Tull first headlined the Marquee on June 28 with openers Tramline.

On June 29, Jethro Tull appeared at Hyde Park as part of the Midsummer High Weekend, a free concert event with sets by the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, The Nice, Pink Floyd, Roy Harper, and Tyrannosaurus Rex. They commenced sessions on their first album at Sound Techniques, Chelsea, London, with producer–manager Terry Ellis.

On August 11, Jethro Tull drew a standing ovation at the National Jazz and Blues Festival, a three-day event with sets by Chicken Shack, Deep Purple, Eclection, Jeff Beck Group, Joe Cocker, John Mayall, Mike Westbrook, Ten Years After, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Don Rendell & Ian Carr Quintet, The Herd, Incredible String Band, Spencer Davis Group, Timebox, and Traffic.

In September, Tull headlined at the Marquee over East of Eden (9/3) and Love Sculpture (9/20). On the 29th, they appeared at Fairfield Hall for the Croydon Gala along with David Ackles, Spooky Tooth, Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger & Trinity.


This Was

Jethro Tull released their first album, This Was, in October 1968 on Island (UK) and Reprise (US). It contains ten songs, including five Anderson originals: “My Sunday Feeling,” “Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine for You,” “Move on Alone,” “It’s Breaking Me Up,” and “A Song for Jeffrey,” the first of three songs named in honor of Smash bassist Hammond (a future Tull member).

This Was also features the Anderson–Abrahams co-write “Beggar’s Farm,” plus four instrumentals: “Serenade to a Cuckoo” (Roland Kirk), “Dharma for One” (Anderson–Bunker), “Cat’s Squirrel” (trad.), and the group-composed “Round.”

Anderson and Ellis conceived the album’s gatefold cover, which sports a colored pic of the band as old men with a pack of dogs (front) and an olive-monochrome group shot with the name and title in red all-caps (back). The inner-spread has a distorted color live image of Tull. Island copies don’t list the name or title on front but Reprise copies place the name in white above Abrahams’ head.

Island lifted “A Song for Jeffrey” as Jethro Tull’s second single, backed with “One for John Gee.” This Was reached No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart.

On October 15, Jethro Tull played Royal Albert Hall, London, as part of a charitable concert in aid of students from Czechoslovakia who wished to stay in Britain following the Soviet invasion of Prague. The event, hosted by DJ John Peel, featured sets by Family, Blonde On Blonde, July, Spooky Tooth (promoting It’s All About), and several recurring festival colleagues.


“Love Story”, Abrahams’ Exit

On November 29, 1968, Jethro Tull issued their third single, the non-album “Love Story” (b/w “A Christmas Song”). Sessions occurred the prior month at Morgan. “Love Story” is an aggressive, uptempo rocker with a distorted riff (in A minor) and a shifting wah-wah bridge (D–G–C… B–G–B…) with drop-out flute–percussion breaks. This is the last Tull side with Abrahams, who was unaware of the session for “A Christmas Song,” an anti-yuletide folk tune in 3/4 that features Anderson unaccompanied on mandolin until the orchestrated, marching-drum final moments.

Abrahams left Jethro Tull to form Blodwyn Pig, which made the 1969/70 Island albums Ahead Rings Out and Getting to This. Tull auditioned several guitarists, including Nice co-founder Davy O’List (later of Jet) and soon-to-be Black Sabbath mainstay Tony Iommi, who appeared with Tull in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, a long-vaulted concert film with The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Taj Mahal.

Just before Christmas, Anderson hired ex-Penny Peeps guitarist Martin Barre, who remained with Jethro Tull for the next 43 years. The lineup of Anderson, Barre, Cornick, and Bunker made its live debut on December 30 at the Winter Gardens in Penzance.


1969: First US Tour

On January 9–10, Jethro Tull opened back-to-back shows for Jimi Hendrix in Stockholm, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Jethro Tull commenced their first tour of the United States, where they opened for Blood, Sweat & Tears on consecutive nights (Jan. 24–25) at the Fillmore East in New York City. On February 1–2, they supported Spirit at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, Mich. Tull’s Feb–March dates included headline slots over Rotary Connection (2/9/69: Labor Temple, Minneapolis), Silver Apples (2/13–15: Boston Tea Party), and multi-act bills with Led Zeppelin and Vanilla Fudge (2/7–8: Kinetic Playground, Chicago), Jeff Beck and Mountain (3/1: Roller Rink, Alexandria, Va.), Linn County and AB Skhy (3/23: The Sound Factory, Sacramento), and Zephyr and Goose Creek Symphony (3/28–29: Aquarius Theatre, Phoenix).


“Living In the Past”

In May 1969, Jethro Tull issued the non-album single “Living In the Past” (b/w “Driving Song”), both written and recorded during their US tour that spring. With its stately 5/4 precision and angular vocal melody, “Living In the Past” reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Its lyrics concern Anderson’s detachment from the radical ethos of the hippie movement. (Midge Ure covered the song on his 1985 solo album The Gift.)

Jethro Tull embarked on a May UK tour with Ten Years After and Scottish psychsters Clouds that included shows in Manchester (5/6: Free Trade Hall), Bristol (5/9: Colton Hall), Newcastle (5/14: City Hall), and Birmingham (5/15: Town Hall). On May 23, Tull supported Fleetwood Mac at Grosmont Wood Barn in Abergaveney, Wales. After a show in Coventry, Tull did a late-month swing through Ireland with shows in Dublin, Belfast, and Cork. On June 12, they headlined over Hard Meat at the Locarno in Hull.

On Saturday, June 21, Jethro Tull appeared at Devonshire Downs in Northridge, California, for the Newport Pop Festival, a three-day event with sets by Hendrix, Buddy Miles, Chamber Brothers, The Flock, Ike & Tina Turner, Lee Michaels, Love, Marvin Gaye, and Steppenwolf. In late July, Tull played three straight nights at the Boston Tea Party, where they headlined over Free.


Stand Up

Jethro Tull’s second album, Stand Up, was first issued in the UK on July 25, 1969, with Island’s orange bullseye pink label. In the US and other parts of the world, it appeared that September on Reprise.

Stand Up contains nine Anderson originals, including “Nothing Is Easy,” “For a Thousand Mothers,” and “Back to the Family.” Side one contains “Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square,” Tull’s second titular reference to Jeffrey Hammond.

The instrumental “Bourée” is an adaptation of Bourree in E minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, transposed here to Dm. Island lifted the track as a single (b/w “Fat Man”). It reached No. 5 on the Dutch MegaCharts.

On assorted tracks, Anderson plays Hammond organ, piano, mandolin, balalaika, and mouth organ, in addition to flute and acoustic guitar. Barre, credited here by his full name Martin Lancelot Barre, adds flute on “Jeffrey” and “Reasons for Waiting,” which features string arrangements by David Palmer, who would later join the band.

Stand Up was co-produced by Anderson and Ellis at London’s Morgan Studios with engineer Andy Johns, who also worked on 1969 albums by Spooky Tooth (Spooky Two), Renaissance (Renaissance), and Jack Bruce (Songs for a Tailor).

Original Stand Up vinyl copies are housed in a gatefold sleeve with a standup-cutout of the band on the innerfold. The woodcut artwork was done by carver/sculptor James Grashow, who did similar covers for Catfish (Get Down), Ramsey Lewis (Golden Hits), and Tom Rush (Ladies Love Outlaws).

Stand Up reached No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart, No. 2 in the Netherlands, No. 5 in Germany, No. 12 in Australia, and No. 20 in the United States and Canada.


“Sweet Dreams”, “The Witch’s Promise”

On October 3, 1969, Jethro Tull issued the non-album single “Sweet Dreams” (b/w “17”). It was their first release on Chrysalis Records, formed by Ellis and Chris Wright, partners in the Ellis Wright Agency. In France, the single appeared on Island (as in most European territories) in a sleeve with a concert shot of Anderson smoking.

Palmer arranged string and brass on “Sweet Dreams,” the product of an August session. Tull promoted the single with an 18-date UK tour with Savoy Brown and Terry Reid. The song reached No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart. “17,” a subsequent rarity, was the first product of their September–February sessions at Morgan that would account for their next album.

Jethro Tull’s next product from the fall–winter sessions was their January 1970 single “The Witch’s Promise” (b/w “Teacher”). In the UK, where both tracks remained unique to this release, the single hit No. 4 (and No. 6 in Ireland).

That winter, Tull did multiple dates in Denmark and Sweden and played their first shows in Finland (1/19/70: Kulttuuritalo, Helsinki) and Germany (2/21–22: Jahrhunderthale, Frankfurt).


Benefit

Jethro Tull’s third album, Benefit, appeared on April 20, 1970, on Chrysalis, their UK label for all albums henceforth. It features 10 Anderson originals, including “Nothing to Say,” “For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me,” “Play in Time,” and “Sossity; You’re a Woman.” Chrysalis–Island paired “Inside” and “Alive and Well and Living In” as a single.

Benefit, an Anderson–Ellis production, was engineered by recent Morgan Studios hiree Robin Black, a soundman on Blodywn Pig’s debut Ahead Rings Out and 1970 titles by Donovan, Edwards Hand, Keef Hartley Band, Red Dirt, and Supertramp (self titled).

Though housed in a single sleeve, the Benefit cover references the prior album’s artwork with a picture of standup cutouts of each member. The photographer, Ruan O’Lochlainn, later earned visual credits with Man (Back Into the Future), The Stranglers (Black and White), and the Andy Fraser Band.

Benefit appeared on US Reprise on May 1, 1970, with an altered tracklist that bumps “Alive and Well and Living In,” moves “Inside” to side one, and adds “Teacher” (different mix to the single) on side two.

During the Benefit sessions, Jethro Tull welcomed keyboardist John Evan, their bandleader from the pre-Tull days. Though only credited here as a guest musician, he joined officially right afterward and remained with Tull for the entire seventies. Benefit is the final album with Cornick, who Tull dismissed after the accompanying tour. He surfaced the following year in Wild Turkey and later played in Paris with (ex-Fleetwood Mac) singer Bob Welch.


1971: Aqualung

Jethro Tull released their fourth album, Aqualung, in March 1971 on Chrysalis (UK), Island (Europe), and Reprise (North American, Oceania). Anderson co-wrote lyrics to the title-track with his then-wife Jennie, who drew inspiration from her photography of tramps on the Thames Embankment. The song’s opening riff (D–G–B–C–C#–C in the key of G) is distinguished by an augmented third, or tri-tone (C# over G). Side two is subtitled My God. Though not released as a single, “Aqualung” became their signature song.

Sessions took place at Island and Morgan Studios between June 1970 and February 1971. They recorded a longer “Wond’ring Again” (4:11) with Cornick, who was replaced as sessions advanced by Smash bassist Jeffrey Hammond, by now the titular subject of three Tull songs. He modified his surname to Hammond-Hammond as an ode to his mother, whose maiden name was the same as his father’s surname.

The engineer on Aqualung, John Burns, also worked on 1970/71 titles by Claire Hamill, Clouds, and T2 (It’ll All Work Out in Boomland) and later engineered titles by Capability Brown, Genesis (Foxtrot, Wind & Wuthering), Hanson (Now Hear This), and Trapeze.

Aqualung is housed in a gatefold with artwork by Burton Silverman, whose paintings portray two tramps (outer-gates) and Jethro Tull frolicking inside a cathedral (inner-gates). Silverman, known for his impressionist depictions of everyday people, was paid $1,500 for the art. The two outer-gate canvases were later stolen from Chrysalis headquarters during a robbery.

Aqualung reached No. 3 in Australia and Canada, No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart, and No. 7 on the Billboard 200. “Aqualung” and “Locomotive Breath” are evergreens of FM classic rock stations.


Life Is a Long Song

In September 1971, Jethro Tull released the extended play Life Is a Long Song. The acoustic title-track is essentially a double-a-side with “Up The Pool.” Those and the three b-sides — “Doctor Bogenbroom,” “From Later,” and “Nursie” — were recorded in May 1971 at Sound Techniques, London.

Palmer arranged the Anderson–Ellis-produced EP, which was co-engineered by John Wood (Al Stewart, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Pentangle, Sandy Denny) and This Was soundman Vic Gamm (Dr. Strangely Strange, Fuchsia, Mick SoftleySynanthesia, Trees).

Life Is a Long Song is the first Tull release by the lineup of Anderson, Barre, Evan, Hammond-Hammond, and onetime Smash drummer Barrie “Barriemore” Barlow, who replaced Bunker immediately after sessions wrapped on Aqualung. Tull retained this lineup for the next four studio albums.

After a lengthy break from the music scene, Bunker reappeared on 1978/79 albums by Generation X, Gordon Giltrap, Steve Hillage, and Steve Howe. He teamed with bassist John G. Perry (Gringo, Caravan, Quantum Jump), saxophonist Jack Lancaster (Blodwyn Pig, Pacific Drift) and guitarist–singer Mick Rogers (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) in Aviator, which issued the 1979/80 albums Aviator and Turbulence on EMI Harvest.


1972: Thick As a Brick

Jethro Tull released their fifth album, Thick as a Brick, in March 1972 on Reprise (North America, New Zealand) and Chrysalis (everywhere else). It consists of one continuous song suite, spread across two sides.

The lyrics are attributed to Gerald Bostock, a fictional eight-year-old boy. According to the cover, designed as a mock newspaper (The St. Cleves Chronicle), Bostock won a poetry contest with his epic “Thick as a Brick” (a slang term for thick-headed people). Officials revoked the prize in light of public outcry over the poem’s alleged offensive content. Amid the controversy, Bostock becomes the subject of insanity speculation and a bogus paternity suit. Anderson (the actual writer) decides to set the boy’s poem to music.

Sessions took place in December 1971 at Morgan Studios, where Anderson composed the album part-by-part over a two-week period. Thick as a Brick was engineered by Benefit soundman Robin Black, who worked on 1971 albums by Ian Matthews, Gerry Rafferty (Can I Have My Money Back?), Pink Floyd (Meddle), Egg (The Polite Force), and the Woods Band.

Anderson plays violin, trumpet, saxophone, and accordion in addition to flute and acoustic guitar on Thick As a Brick. Further additions include lute (Barre) and harpsichord (Evan).

Thick As a Brick reached No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart, No. 4 in Germany, No. 3 in the Netherlands and Norway, and No. 1 in Australia, Canada, and the US.


Living In the Past

In June 1972, Chrysalis issued Living In the Past, a double-album mostly comprised of non-album sides and unreleased material. The first record contains both sides of their 1968–70 singles “Love Story,” “Living in the Past,” and “The Witch’s Promise,” plus the 1969 a-side “Sweet Dream.” It also features two unreleased tracks (“Singing All Day,” “Just Trying to Be”) and a song apiece from This Was (“A Song for Jeffrey”), Stand Up (“Bourée”), and Benefit (“Inside”). 

Side three contains two numbers from Jethro Tull’s November 4, 1970, show at Carnegie Hall: “By Kind Permission Of” (10:07) and “Dharma for One” (9:55). Both songs appear in their full versions (the former segued from “With You There To Help Me”) on the two-disc archival release Live at Carnegie Hall 1970.

Side four contains the Cornick version of “Wond’ring Again” and all five tracks from Life Is a Long Song, plus the Aqualung staple “Locomotive Breath.”

In the US, Living In the Past appeared in October 1972 on Reprise. This version replaces “Locomotive Breath” with “Hymn 43” and swaps “Inside” for “Alive and Well and Living In,” a track omitted from stateside copies of Benefit.

Living In the Past is housed in a thick gatefold sleeve, designed like a photo album in embossed burgundy with gold text and trim. It contains a 12-page booklet with more than 50 group and member pics.


1973: A Passion Play

Jethro Tull released their sixth studio album, A Passion Play, in July 1973 on Chrysalis and Reprise. It consists of one 45-minute piece of music divided into four acts (with sub-parts) and a spoken word interlude, “The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles.” Original copies come with a mock Linwell Theatre Programme that fictional actor bios and credits, which identify the author as Rena Sanderone (an anagram of “Eean Anderrson,” a phonetic variant of Ian Anderson.

The plot concerns a deceased central character (identified in the program as Ronnie Pilgrim) who rejects the afterlife after finding neither heaven or hell to his liking.

A Passion Play was recorded quickly in March 1973 in a series of all-night sessions at Morgan. Its conception followed an aborted creative undertaking in September 1972 at the Château d’Hérouville studios in Hérouville, France, where Jethro Tull recorded three sides worth of new material for a proposed double album. They abandoned that project due to unsavory conditions at the château. The lost recordings passed into folklore as the “Chateau d’Isaster” tapes. One track (“Hare”) was inserted into A Passion Play while another (“Critique Oblique”) was revised for the album. (The château tapes would finally appear on the 1993 double-CD Nightcap.)

Black engineered A Passion Play in succession with 1973 albums by Alice Cooper, Laurie Styvers, Lou Reed, Spirogyra (Bells, Boots and Shambles), and Three Man Army.

This Was photographer Brian Ward is credited with the album’s visuals, which shows a ballerina impaled on a palace stage (front) and posing in a third arabesque (back). The lyrical inner-gates (blue over white) have the name and title on ribbons and a faint comedy–tragedy backdrop. London firm CCS designed the cover along with 1973 album visuals for Free (Heartbreaker), Brian Eno (Here Come the Warm Jets), and Roxy Music (For Your Pleasure).

A Passion Play reached No. 1 in the United States and Canada, No. 4 in Denmark, and No. 5 in Austria, Germany, and Norway.


1974: War Child

Jethro Tull released their seventh album, War Child, in October 1974 on Chrysalis worldwide. It features eight new songs and two tracks salvaged from the château sessions: “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day” and “Only Solitaire.”

War Child was conceived as a double-album soundtrack for a proposed movie about a teenage girl who meets God, St. Peter, and Lucifer in the afterlife. The intended movie, set to star English comedic actor Leonard Rossiter, was ultimately cancelled.

The eight new songs were recorded between December 1973 and February 1974 at Morgan. Outtakes for the planned second record include “Paradise Steakhouse,” “Rainbow Blues,” “Glory Row,” “Good Godmother,” “Saturation,” “Quartet,” “Mime Sequence,” “Sea Lion II,” and “Tomorrow was Today.”

Black engineered War Dance in succession with albums by Cat Stevens, Sailor, Sparks (Propaganda), and Steeleye Span. This was Tull’s final Anderson–Ellis production.

War Dance is housed in a single sleeve designed by Shirtsleeve Studio. It shows a photo-negative of Anderson superimposed on a nighttime pan-down view of Melbourne. The back cover shows Jethro Tull cavorting among actors and dancers, including Anderson’s future wife Shona Learoyd.

Chrysalis lifted “Bungle In the Jungle” as a single (b/w “Back-Door Angels”). It reached No. 4 in Canada and No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100. “Skating Away” appeared as a second single (b/w “Sealion”). War Dance reached No. 9 in Australia, No. 3 in Canada, and No. 2 on the Billboard 200.


1975: Minstrel In the Gallery

Jethro Tull released their eighth album, Minstrel in the Gallery, in September 1975 on Chrysalis. It features three normal-length songs (“Cold Wind to Valhalla,” “Requiem,” “One White Duck / 010 = Nothing at All”) and two longer numbers, “Black Satin Dancer” and the title track, a rare Anderson–Barre co-write. Side two is largely consumed by the four-part suite “Baker St. Muse” (16:39).

Minstrel in the Gallery is the first of four Tull studio albums produced exclusively by Anderson. Sessions occurred between May 15 and June 7, 1975, in Monte Carlo, Monaco on the Maison Rouge Mobile Studio, a portable facility co-constructed by Black, who engineered the album in succession with albums by Joan Armatrading, Mallard, Murray Head (Say It Ain’t So), and Sahara.

Jethro Tull recorded most of their parts in one take. Palmer conducted a five-piece string section that included violinist Elizabeth Edwards and Rita Eddowes — both of the New Symphonia, which recently collaborated with Caravan — and cellist Katherine Thulborn, a onetime member of Keith Tippett‘s 50-piece experimental big band Centipede.

Minstrel in the Gallery sports artwork credited to illustrator Joe Garnett and graphic designer Ron Kriss, who also collaborated on visuals for Bloodrock and Spirit. The sepia cover image is based on a print by 19th century British lithographer Joseph Nash. It depicts a Tull-like band in baroque garb performing on the balcony of a palace lobby as jesters and revelers frolic on the ground floor.

Chrysalis issued a four-minute edit of “Minstrel in the Gallery” as a single, backed with the non-album “Summerday Sands.” The album reached No. 7 in Austria and the US, No. 8 in Denmark, and went Top 20 in the UK, Australia, France, and Germany.

Jethro Tull toured North America during the second half of 1975, playing fifty-four shows between July 24 (Vancouver) and November 2 (Athens). After the tour, Hammond-Hammond resigned to his first love, painting. Tull hired bassist John Glascock, a veteran of multiple Uriah Heep precursors (The Gods, Head Machine, Toe Fat) who played on the 1972 Chicken Shack album Imagination Lady. Most recently, he recorded three albums with the British–American flamenco–glam group Carmen.

Meanwhile, Chrysalis issued M.U. – The Best of Jethro Tull, comprised of early favorites (“Nothing is Easy,” “Fat Man,” “Living in the Past”), recent songs (“Bungle in the Jungle,” “Skating Away”), alternate mixes of big hits (“Teacher,” “Aqualung,” “Locomotive Breath”), and the War Child leftover “Rainbow Blues,” plus edits of Thick As a Brick (edit #1: first three minutes) and A Passion Play (edit #8: the “Overseer Overture” section). The initials stand for musicians union, a dig at Tull’s ever-changing lineup.


1976: Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die! 

Jethro Tull released their ninth album, Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!, in April 1976 on Chrysalis. Its concept centers on Ray Lomas, an aging fifties-style rocker who falls on lean times. He enters a quiz show and wins but slips into a coma after a near-fatal motorcycle crash. When he awakes, his style of rock is once again fashionable.

Sessions took place between November 1975 and January 1976 in Monte Carlo and Brussels on the Maison Rouge Mobile Studio. Black engineered TOtRnRTYtD in succession with titles by Black Sabbath, session bassist Herbie Flowers (Hungry Wolf, Rumplestiltskin, Sky), and the collaboration of folksters June Tabor & Maddy Prior (Silly Sisters). The assistant engineers, Peter Smith and Trevor White, also worked on the 1976 self-titled album by Charisma instrumental rockers Automatic Fine Tuning.

Jethro Tull cut several outtakes during the TOtRnRTYtD sessions, including “Salamander’s Rag Time,” “Commercial Traveller,” “Strip Cartoon,” and two versions (acoustic and orchestral) of “A Small Cigar.”

Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die! is housed in an orange, illustrated gatefold designed by Michael Farrell, who also designed visuals for Argent (Nexus), Bandit, Jigsaw, Gary Moore (Grinding Stone), and Streetwalkers. The inner-gates feature a 36-panel comic that chronicles the Lomas story. The comic artist, David Gibbons, later illustrated the DC miniseries Watchmen.

Jethro Tull released “Too Old to Rock N’ Roll: Too Young to Die” as the album’s only single, backed with the War Child leftover “Rainbow Blues.” The title came to Anderson during a turbulent flight over the US, where he thought the plane might crash.


Too Old to Rock N’ Roll Tour

After seven years of orchestral service, David Palmer joined Jethro Tull for the tour behind Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll. It commenced on May 1, 1976, in Brussels and included shows in Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Rotterdam, Frankfurt, Zurich, Barcelona, and Madrid.

The US leg began on July 15 in Providence, RI. Tull topped multiple stateside bills with Robin Trower and Rory Gallagher (promoting his Roger Glover-produced sixth solo studio album Calling Card). Notable four-act engagements included shows with Derringer (7/25/76: Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Mich.), Todd Rundgren (8/8: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.), and Starcastle (8/15: Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles). The last act (promoting their recent Epic release Starcastle) joined Tull, Trower, Gallagher, and two additional acts — Camel (promoting Moonmadness) and Electric Light Orchestra — for an August 16 show at Balboa Stadium in San Diego.


Ring Out, Solstice Bells

On November 26, 1976, Jethro Tull released their second extended-play, Ring Out, Solstice Bells. It features the titular carol and two tracks dating from Hammond-Hammond’s tenure (“March, the Mad Scientist,” “Pan Dance”), plus “A Christmas Song” from the pre-Barre era. “Pan Dance” features the Minstrel string section. “March, the Mad Scientist” is a duet between Anderson (acoustic guitar, electric piano) and Jeffrey (string bass).

“Ring Out, Solstice Bells” has since become an English yuletide evergreen. Tull rerecorded the 7/8 song in 4/4 at the insistence of Chrysalis, which then green-lighted the original version. Its holiday release previewed a new album that was underway at Morgan Studios, London.


1977: Songs from the Wood

Jethro Tull released their tenth album, Songs from the Wood, in February 1977 on Chrysalis. It features “Ring Out” and eight new Anderson originals, some with unspecified input from Barre and Palmer.

Musically, the album embraces folk rock with acoustic–orchestral arrangements, medieval flourishes, and foresty lyrical vignettes. This marked their first use of portative pipe organ.

Anderson’s newfound rustic interests were inspired by his recent purchase of a farm estate in rural Buckinghamshire and his reading of Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, a 1973 book on British folklore by English historian Russell Ash.

Sessions occurred between September 14 and November 16, 1976, at Morgan, where Black and White co-engineered Songs from the Wood ahead of the debut album by hard rockers Quartz. A third engineer, Martin Moss (credited here as “Thing Moss”), worked on concurrent albums by Greenslade keyboardist Dave Greenslade (Cactus Choir) and the second effort by symphonic rockers The Enid (Aerie Faerie Nonsense).

An extra from the Wood sessions, “Dark Ages,” finally appeared on the album’s 40th anniversary reissue, where it’s retitled “Old Aces Die Hard” to avoid confusion with Tull’s 1979 song “Dark Ages.”

Songs from the Wood is housed in a single sleeve (standard henceforth on Tull studio albums) with a paint-enhanced photo of Anderson, clad in hunting gear, squatting at a forest campfire with his black Belgian Sheppard. The “painting” is credited to one Jay L. Lee. On the back cover, a tree trunk is upcycled with a phonograph needle that “plays” over the grain spiral. Between the titles and credits is a quote of the title-track’s third verse and bridge:

Let me bring you all things refined
Galliards and lute songs served in chilling ale
Greeting well-met fellow, hail
I am the wind to fill your sail
I am the cross to take your nail
A singer of these ageless times
With kitchen prose and gutter rhymes

That last line inspired the tagline below the nameplate on the front cover: “JETHRO TULL with kitchen prose, gutter rhymes and divers.”

Chrysalis issued “The Whistler” as the album’s second a-side, backed with the TOtRnRTYtD leftover “Strip Cartoon.” In New Zealand, “Songs from the Wood” appeared on 7″ (b/w “Jack-in-the-Green”).

Songs from the Wood reached No. 8 in the US, Norway, Denmark, and No. 9 in Canada. The album also went Top 20 in the UK, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands.


1978: Heavy Horses

Jethro Tull released their eleventh album, Heavy Horses, in April 1978 on Chrysalis. It features nine originals where Tull refine the newfound folk approach of Songs from the Wood. Though Anderson is credited as the sole writer on all tracks, Barre co-wrote “No Lullaby” and “Heavy Horses” and Palmer composed the bridge to “… And the Mouse Police Never Sleeps,” a song inspired by Ian’s cat Mistletoe. His dog Lupus inspired “Rover.”

Anderson drew from literary sources for the tracks “One Brown Mouse” and “Moths.” The former was inspired by “To a Mouse,” a 1785 poem by Scottish bard Robert Burns. On the album’s 30th anniversary reissue, Ian affixed the first stanza from that poem to “One Brown Mouse” with an added reference (“But a mouse is a mouse, for all that”) to Burns’ 1795 egalitarian song “A Man’s a Man for A’ That.” On “Moths,” Anderson took inspiration from The Naïve and Sentimental Lover, a 1971 semi-autobiographical hedonist tale by Irish novelist John le Carré.

Jethro Tull recorded Heavy Horses piecemeal between May 1977 and January 1978 at Maison Rouge Studio, a newly built and self-customized facility in Fulham, London. Maison, which Anderson owned and operated for the ensuing six years, found an early non-Tull client in Darryl Way, the onetime violinist of Curved Air and Wolf. Way, who booked Maison for his 1978 Island release Concerto for Electric Violin, guests on “Acres Wild” and “Heavy Horses.” Black engineered Horses in succession with Concerto and the self-titled album by Band of Joy, the reformed Brumbeat blues stalwarts once fronted by a young Robert Plant.

Heavy Horses is housed in a textured cover designed as an olive-green picture frame with gold detail. The front shows Anderson in agrarian attire walking two horses. The photographer, James Cotier, is also credited on The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies, a 1978 concept album by Mandalaband, the brainchild of composer and noted Egyptologist David Rohl. On original pressings of Heavy Horses, the cover contains the final verse of the title-track:

Bring me a wheel of oaken wood
A rein of polished leather
A Heavy Horse and a tumbling sky
Brewing heavy weather

Shona, who Anderson married in 1976, photographed Jethro Tull for the back cover, where the tuxedo-clad band are grouped around an antique desk in a wood-walled room.

Chrysalis lifted “Moths” as a single, backed with the oldie “Life Is a Long Song” in lieu of the intended b-side, “Beltrane,” a leftover from the SftW sessions that surfaced a decade later on the box set 20 Years of Jethro Tull, which also contains the Horses leftover “Living in These Hard Times.”

Heavy Horses reached No. 4 in Germany and went Top 20 in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Norway, and Austria.


Bursting Out

Jethro Tull kicked off their Heavy Horses tour on May 1, 1978, at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. The initial UK leg comprised eight shows, including a two-night stand (May 7–8) at London’s Rainbow Theatre and a three-night engagement (May 9–11) at the Hammersmith Odeon. They embarked on a Continental leg with a May 13 show at The Hague, followed by a show at Brussels’ Vorst Nationaal and a 15-date tour of Germany. On May 28, they played the Festhalle in Bern, Switzerland. The spring tour ended with June 4–5 touchdowns in Manchester and Birmingham.

Tull’s first live album, Bursting Out, appeared in September 1978 on Chrysalis. It contains 93 minutes of their May 28 Festhalle show with an introduction by Montreux Jazz Festival founder Claude Nobs. Across four sides, they perform two songs from Heavy Horses (“No Lullaby,” “One Brown Mouse”); three apiece from Songs from the Wood (“Jack in the Green,” “Hunting Girl,” the title-track) and Aqualung (“Locomotive Breath,” “Aqualung,” “Cross-Eyed Mary”); one each from War Child (“Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day”) and Stand Up (“A New Day Yesterday”); the title tracks from Minstrel in the Gallery and Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll; a 12-minute version of Thick as a Brick; and the early non-album favorite “Sweet Dream.”

Bursting Out also features four instrumental performances, including Barre’s brief “Quatrain,” the Barre–Barlow “Conundrum,” and the light music standard “The Dambusters March” by early 20th century English composer Eric Coates. Side two contains the medley “Flute Solo Improvisation–God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen–Bouree,” the second part an Anderson-arranged traditional.

The Bern show was recorded on the La Maison Rouge mobile, also used for 1977/78 live albums by Gentle Giant, Thin Lizzy, and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. Bursting Out is housed in a gatefold with black-framed concert pics.

Jethro Tull promoted the album with an October–November 1978 North American tour that included a two-night bill with Uriah Heep (10/17–18/78: Cobo Hall, Detroit) and three-night engagements at Madison Square Garden (10/8–9,11) and the Long Beach Auditorium (11/15–17).

In October 1978, Jethro Tull released “A Stitch in Time,” a standalone a-side backed with the Bursting Out version of “Sweet Dream.” Chrysalis limited this release to the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Oceania.

All of Tull (barring Evan) appear on Woman In the Wings, the 1978 debut solo album by Maddy Prior. Anderson co-produced the album with Palmer and Black. Shona sings backing vocals on the track “Catseyes.” Elsewhere, Barlow, Glascock, and Palmer played with Jon Lord on the Chrysalis release Commercial Road, the 1979 fourth solo studio album by onetime Pisces guitarist–singer Richard Digance.


1979: Stormwatch

Jethro Tull released their twelfth studio album, Stormwatch, in September 1979 on Chrysalis. It contains eight new vocal numbers with lyrics inspired by the Isle of Skye in Scotland, where Anderson purchased property and established a salmon farming business. Each sided closes with an instrumental: “Warm Sporran” and “Elegy,” a Palmer composition based on the 13th century Latin standard “Dies irae.” This album completes Tull’s late-seventies folk trilogy that started with Songs from the Wood.

Stormwatch contains multiple lyrical and titular references to Skye, including “Dun Ringill,” about the Iron Age fort on the Strathaird peninsula that functioned for several centuries as the seat of Clan MacKinnon, one of seven medieval power clans of the Scottish highlands. “Old Ghosts” is about the graveyard in Kilmarie, the burial site of Clan MacKinnon members. “Warm Sporran” refers to a pouch worn with kilts by Gaelic men.

Stormwatch contains two epics: “Dark Ages” and “Flying Dutchman,” about the 18th century nautical legend of the ghost ship that forever roams the seas; its appearance a portent of doom for witnesses. Other songs concern the constellation of Orion and Anderson’s skepticism about deep-sea drilling (“North Sea Oil”).

Sessions for the album first began in August 1978, between Tull’s European and North American tours. When they returned, they salvaged only one song from the July sessions (“Something’s On the Move”) and proceeded with new material. Meanwhile, Anderson was commissioned to write music for the Scottish ballet The Water’s Edge, which also involved Barre and Palmer. Themes from the project were recycled in the tracks “Elegy” and “Dark Ages.”

Stormwatch was mostly recorded between February and July 1979 at Anderson’s Maison Rogue Studios, which was also used for 1979 albums by Rory Gallagher, Renaissance (Azure d’Or), and Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks. At times when Maison was booked, Tull used Morgan and Townhouse Studios. Black engineered Stormwatch with Leigh Mantle, who produced the 1979 Polydor release Down to Earth, the fourth studio album by Rainbow and the only one with vocalist Graham Bonnet.

Glascock, who Ritchie Blackmore recently praised as one of rock’s finest bassists, only completed three tracks during the spring sessions: “Orion,” “Flying Dutchman,” and “Elegy.” Anderson — concerned about Glascock’s heart condition and its effect on his playing — dismissed John from the project and played bass himself on the remaining tracks. Two months after Stormwatch hit shelves, Glascock succumbed to his illness in November 1979 at age 28.

Artist David Jackson painted the Storwatch cover, which depicts Anderson looking through binoculars at the North Sea with reflections of a ship and lightning bolts in the lenses. The bottom center features lines from the final verse of “Dun Ringill”:

Lines joint in faint discord and the Stormwatch brews
a concert of kings as the white sea snaps
at the heels of a soft prayer
whispered

The back cover shows a giant polar bear breaking through an iceberg and stomping on snow-covered arctic bases. Jackson’s art also appears on Gold Plated, the 1976 breakthrough album by Climax Blues Band (“Couldn’t Get It Right”). The lyrical inner-sleeves superimpose Ian’s gloves and binoculars against an arctic blue background. Chrysalis Art Director Peter Wagg is also credited, having worked on 1977–79 label titles by Frankie Miller, Generation X (self-titled), Split Enz (Dizrythmia), and Trevor Rabin.

Two extras from the Stormwatch sessions, “Kelpie” and “Crossword,” appear on the 20 Years box. A third, “Broadford Bazaar,” appears on Nightcap. The 40th anniversary edition of Stormwatch collects all three with additional leftovers, including “Urban Apocalypse,” “Man of God,” “The Lyricon Blues,” and Palmer’s adaptation of “King Henry’s Madrigal,” which first appeared on a 1979 maxi-single with “Home,” “Warm Sporran,” and “Ring Out, Solstice Bells.”

Stormwatch reached No. 8 in Germany and went Top 20 in Australia, Canada, and Norway. The album’s single, “North Sea Oil” (b/w “Elegy”), has a picture sleeve with Anderson boating the North Sea in camouflage garb.


Lineup Change, Dave Pegg Joins

For the Stormwatch tour, Anderson hired bassist Dave Pegg, a longtime member of Fairport Convention. Pegg emerged in the mid-sixties Brumbeat scene, where he first recorded with The Ugly’s, a band fronted by Steve Gibbons with ties to The Move and The Idle Race. He joined Fairport for their 1970 release Full House and stayed for the duration of the seventies amid session work with Harvey Andrews, John Martyn, Mick Greenwood, Mike HeronNick Drake (Bryter Layter), and Richard Thompson.

Jethro Tull promoted Stormwatch with a North American tour, starting with an October 2, 1979, show at Jacksonville Coliseum. They played three shows in Canada and thirty-six in the US with swings through the Northeast, Midwest, Deep South, and California, where they finished on November 18 at Oakland Coliseum.

They toured Europe in March–April 1980 with touch-downs in Brussels, Drammen, Dijon, Stockholm, The Hague, Zurich, West Berlin, and thirteen cities in West Germany. They wrapped the tour with shows at the Glasgow and Manchester Apollo’s and a five-night engagement (April 10–14) at the Hammersmith Odeon. These were the final shows with Barriemore Barlow, John Evan, and David Palmer, who left Jethro Tull that spring.

Barlow played on Seeds of Change, the 1980 debut solo album by Kansas keyboardist Kerry Livgren. He then formed Tandori Cassette, a new wave band with bassist Charles Tumahai (Mississippi, Be-Bop Deluxe), keyboardist Ronnie Leahy (Stone the Crows), and guitarist Zal Cleminson (Tear Gas, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Nazareth). Tandori’s one single, the Fixx-like “Angel Talk” (b/w “Third World Briefcases”), appeared in 1982 on self-press Ika Records. In 1983, Barlow backed Robert Plant on the singer’s second solo album The Principle of Moments. He played on subsequent eighties albums by Yngwie J. Malmsteen, John Miles, and Jimmy Page.

Evan and Palmer recorded as Tallis, a project that grew from a 1977 Maison Rouge session that produced the track “Pachelbel Canon.” In early 1981, they recorded a full album of keyboard-laden classical–rock that finally appeared in 2021 as In Alia Musica Spero on A New Day Records. Palmer also played on Interrupted Journey, the 1983 debut of Verity, the namesake band of guitarist John Verity (Argent, Phoenix, Charlie).

In May 1980, Anderson started work on his proposed debut solo album. He retained Barre and Pegg and hired American drummer Mark Craney, who played on the Jean Luc-Ponty albums Imaginary Voyage and Civilized Evil and backed Gino Vannelli on the singer’s 1978 release Brother to Brother. Anderson also enlisted violinist–keyboardist Eddie Jobson, who deputized Way in Curved Air (for the 1973 album Air Cut) and replaced Eno in Roxy Music for their 1973–75 albums Stranded, Country Life, and Siren. After a stint with Frank Zappa, Jobson teamed with King Crimson and Soft Machine alumni in the supergroup UK.

Anderson and his band completed the album in three weeks (May 16–June 6, 1980) with sessions at Maison Rouge Studios and the Maison Rouge Mobile. Chrysalis green-lighted the album on the condition that it bear the Jethro Tull name.


1980: A

Jethro Tull released their thirteenth studio album, A, on August 29, 1980, on Chrysalis. It features nine Anderson originals with a modernist electro-rock edge: a change reflected in the lyrics, which deal with news events, technology, and Cold War strife.

“Crossfire” deals with the six-day siege of the Iranian embassy in London, which occurred just before the album’s recording sessions. “Fylingdale Flyer,” a reference to RAF Fylingdales (the UK’s ballistic missile defense), concerns a nuclear false alert. Other songs deal with survival in Eastern war zones (“Protect and Survive”), advanced Japanese technology (“Batteries Not Included”), and high-performance automobiles (“4.W.D. (Low Ratio)”). On the album’s epic, “Black Friday,” Anderson flees a city under siege as pandemonium ensues. The album closes with “An Further On,” a tribute to Glascock.

Jobson plays keyboards and synthesizer, plus electric violin on “The Pine Marten’s Jig,” a flute-laden folk instrumental in compound time (5/8 + 6/8) with Pegg on mandolin. Anderson produced A with Black, who engineered the album with Mantle. The title comes from Anderson’s last initial, which was used to mark the tapes initially intended as his first solo album.

Anderson conceived the album cover, where the band are illuminated behind a control board as a hot pink square-encased A lights up the sky and bathes them in red. On the back cover, the awe-struck band (clad in white radiation suits) approach the mysterious object. The photographer, John Shaw, employed similar space-age visuals on 1979/80 albums by Barclay James Harvest, Bruford (One of a Kind), Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (Angel Station), and Wings.

The theme of the back cover, where Tull exit a truck, extends to the 7″ picture sleeve of “Working John, Working Joe,” where the white-uniformed band exit a helicopter in similar shock. On European pressings, “Fylingdale Flyer” is the a-side.

A reached the Austrian and Norwegian Top 10’s and went Top 30 in the UK, US, and Germany.


The A Tour

Jethro Tull kicked off a US tour behind A with an October 4, 1980, show in Salisbury, Maryland. The five-week tour covered thirty-six venues, including an Oct. 15 show at Ohio’s Richfield Coliseum with openers Whitesnake. They wrapped the stateside trek with a two-night stand (Nov. 11–12) at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, followed by a twofer back home at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

On February 1, 1981, Tull embarked on a three-week Continental tour with two shows each in Benelux, France, Sweden, and fifteen in Germany. This marked the end of Craney and Jobson’s involvement.

Craney plays on two tracks (“Oo Sha Sha,” “Poor City”) on the 1981 self-titled album by PhD, the duo of Scottish singer Jim Diamond (Bandit) and session keyboardist Tony Hymas (Chris de Burgh, Duncan Browne, Peter Doyle, Ray Russell). In 1985, Craney rejoined Vannelli’s backing band and played on the third album by Canadian rockers Headpins.

Jobson nearly joined Yes for their 1983 comeback behind 90125; he appears in the video to “Owners of the Lonely Heart.” That year, he made his solo debut with The Green Album, co-credited to his backing band Zinc with (onetime Gentle Giant) guitarist Gary Green.


1981: Slipstream (video)

In July 1981, Jethro Tull entered the home-video market with Slipstream, a combination of concert footage and video clips. The footage is from their November 1980 showcase at LA Sport Arena, where they perform “Black Sunday,” “Songs from the Wood,” “Heavy Horses,” “Skating Away,” “Aqualung,” and “Locomotive Breath.” In the introduction, Anderson (in his Aqualung character) awakes at the edge of the world, where he takes his hobo cart but gets disoriented by three pink orbs. The cart rolls over the edge and explodes, then a palace appears in the distance: the site of the concert.

The introduction was directed by David Mallet, noted for his work with Peter Gabriel (“Games Without Frontiers”) and the video clips to singles from the 1979/80 David Bowie albums Lodger (“Boys Keep Swinging,” “DJ,” “Look Back In Anger”) and Scary Monsters (“Ashes to Ashes,” “Fashion”). Mallet’s signature mix of infrared, monochrome, and color imagery is used in Anderson’s acting interludes and the music video to “Dun Ringill.”

Slipstream also includes videos to “Fylingdale Flyer” and the earlier songs “Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Sweet Dream,” where Anderson plays Dracula and faces down his Aqualung character inside a cathedral, where ballerinas and zombie usherettes line the proceedings. The “Sweet Dream” clip received moderate rotation on MTV during the channel’s first year of broadcast.

Slipstream appeared on VHS, Laserdisc, and the short-lived CED (capacitance electronic disc) format. Its release plugged market demand during 1981, the first calendar year of Jethro Tull’s existence with no new studio album.

For the new Tull lineup, Anderson retained Barre and Pegg and invited Group 87 drummer Terry Bozzio, a Jobson colleague who backed Zappa and played on the second UK album Danger Money. Though tempted, Bozzio declined because his new band, Missing Persons, was on the verge of a deal.

Anderson instead hired drummer Gerry Conway, a veteran of the folk-rock scene (Eclection, Fotheringay) with credits on albums by Keith Christmas, Jonathan Kelly, Magna Carta, Mike D’Abo, Shelagh McDonald, and most of Cat Stevens seventies output. Through an ad in Melody Maker, Anderson found Peter-John Vettese, a keyboardist and electronics programmer from Scotland who cut an album with A&M recording artists R.A.F. Sessions for the new Jethro Tull album took place in late 1981 at Maison Rouge Studios.


1982: The Broadsword and the Beast

Jethro Tull released their fourteenth studio album, The Broadsword and the Beast, in April 1982 on Chrysalis. It features ten originals by Anderson with unspecified contributions from Vettese, who plays piano and keyboards and sings backing vocals along with Pegg, who plays mandolin and bass. The album is split (like Aqualung) into subtitled sides: Beastie and Broadsword, each considered options for a mononymic album title before Tull decided to incorporate both words. Musically, the album weds the folk arrangements of Songs from the Wood with the electronic textures of A.

The Broadsword and the Beast is the first Jethro Tull album with an outside producer: Paul Samwell-Smith, the onetime Yardbirds bassist who produced seventies Island Records sides by Carly Simon, Murray Head, and Cat Stevens. Black engineered Broadsword with Mantle, who also worked on 1982/83 albums by Elkie Brooks and UFO.

Anderson conceived Broadsword as a double-album. Additional songs from the 1981/82 sessions include “Down at the End of Your Road,” “I’m Your Gun,” “Jack-a-Lynn,” “Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow,” “Mayhem, Maybe,” “Motoreyes,” “Overhang,” “Rhythm in Gold,” and “Too Many Too” (released on 20 Years) and “Crew Nights,” “The Curse,” “Commons Brawl,” “No Step,” “Drive On the Young Side of Life,” and “Lights Out” (released on Nightcap).

The album’s title inspired the front and back cover art by UK-based American illustrator Iain McCraig and calligrapher Jim Gibson. It depicts Anderson as a winged, caped, hooded goblin (Bestie) standing with a broadsword on a raging sea that spills over from a wooden frame. The cover has numerous details, such as a masted ship (back left) and multiple wing eyes. The frame has medium-relief etchings of Barre, Pegg, Conway, and Vettese. At its top center is a plate engraved with the band name and album title. The runic symbols along the frame are the opening words of “Broadsword” in the Cirth script of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fiction. On the back cover, the song titles and credits appear on the masts behind the ship’s dragon figurehead. McCraig later became a character designer for the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Chrysalis lifted “Broadsword” as a single in Europe (b/w “Fallen On Hard Times”). In the UK and US, the sides were reversed. UK pressings include a 7″ picture disc that appropriates the album’s front and back covers.

The Broadsword and the Beast reached No. 10 in Canada and went Top 20 in the US, Australia, Germany, Austria, and Norway.

Jethro Tull launched the Broadsword tour on April 1, 1982, in Oslo. They played forty-one European shows through May 29, including fifteen dates in Germany, six in France, five in Italy, three in Spain, and six in the UK. On July 21, they played a three-song set as part of the Prince’s Trust Rock Gala at London’s Dominion Theatre. Phil Collins deputized Conway for the occasion, where Tull performed “Pussy Willow,” “Jack-in-the-Green,” and “Watching Me, Watching You.”

Tull’s 1982 shows are noted for their theatrics, including a puppeted life-size replica of the Bestie goblin. They performed on stages designed like the decks of pirate ships, where a costumed Anderson wielded a broadsword during the album’s numbers. In September, they launched a six-week North American tour with shows in New England, Montreal, the Midwest, the South, and California.


1983: Ian Anderson Solo

In November 1983, Anderson debuted as a solo artist with the Chrysalis release Walk Into Light. He plays flute, guitar, and bass on the album and shares keyboard duties (piano, synthesizer) with Vettese, who co-wrote half the songs: “Fly By Night,” “Made in England,” “Trains,” “User-Friendly,” and “Different Germany.” Anderson self-produced and engineered the album, which features electronic drums and expands on Tull’s recent fusion of folk and modernist arrangements.

Sessions took place during spring–summer 1983. Anderson conceived the cover: a grayscale image with filmstrip overlay, photographed by Martyn Goddard, who also has visual credits on eighties albums by Ali Thomson (Take a Little Rhythm), The Comast Angels, The Jam (Sound Affects), Patrick Moraz (Time Code), UB40, and Wham! Concurrently, Vettese played keyboards on Bite, the third album by Scottish popsters Altered Images.

Vettese appears on the back cover of Walk Into Light, which spawned the single “Fly By Night” (b/w “End Game”) with a picture-sleeve variation of the grayscale–filmstrip design. Anderson and Vettese mimed the song on a purple-neon studio set for an episode of The Leo Sayer Show, the pop singer‘s music variety program that aired for one season on BBC Two.

Anderson, backed with the current Tull lineup, made one 1983 concert appearance as part of the Rock Classic Night, a November 15 event at the Atlas Circus venue in Munich, where they performed “Fly by Night,” “Made in England,” and “Fat Man.” Ian, short-haired and blazer-clad, introduced the set by saying “I must also thank my friends in Jethro Tull for turning out in very low wages… to help play the stuff that I couldn’t play in the first place anyway.” The Atlas rendition of “Fat Man” includes an extended flute–percussion solo where Anderson does free-form vocal improv.

The sound of Walk Into Light presaged the upcoming Jethro Tull project, recorded by the four-piece lineup of Anderson, Barre, Pegg, and Vettese. For the new album, Anderson built a home studio near Radnage, Buckinghamshire, and sold off Maison Rouge, which was subsequently used for 1984 albums by Bronski Beat, Marillion, Mezzoforte, Public Image Ltd., Shriekback, and Snowy White.


1984: Under Wraps

Jethro Tull released their fifteenth studio album, Under Wraps, in September 1984 on Chrysalis. It’s their first album since This Was comprised largely of joint-written material. Anderson and Vettese co-wrote five songs: “Later, That Same Evening,” “Saboteur,” “Radio Free Moscow,” “Heat,” and “Apogee.” Barre was a third writer on two numbers: “Nobody’s Car” and “Paparazzi.”

Anderson lone-wrote “Lap of Luxury,” “European Legacy,” and both versions of the title-track, arranged as an electronic dance-rocker (#1) and an acoustic ballad (#2). In Anderson’s words on the liner notes to the 20th anniversary reissue, the songs deal with “spies, secrecy, and subterfuge.”

Under Wraps was the first Jethro Tull album released simultaneously on vinyl and compact disc. The CD contains four extra tracks: the Anderson–Vettese numbers “General Crossing,” “Astronomy,” “Tundra,” and “Automotive Engineering.” The last three songs appeared on vinyl as part of a UK double-pack version of the “Lap of Luxury” single; also released as a regular 7″ (b/w “Astronomy”).

Under Wraps features cover photography by Trevor Key. It shows a silhouetted woman lying under wraps next to a blue-white symbol (front) and a close-up of the symbol — a T inside a square U, encased in mirroring L’s — on back. Key’s credits extend to the early Virgin era with cover visuals for Egg and Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge). Recently, he did sleeves for Midge Ure, New Order, Section 25, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The Under Wraps sleeve design is attributed to Chrysalis Art Director John Pasche, also credited on Walk Into Light and 1983/84 sleeves for Greg Lake, Ultravox, and the Michael Schenker Group.

For the Under Wraps tour, Anderson hired Doane Perry, an American drummer who first recorded with jazz-rockers Baird Hersey & The Year of the Ear and cut an album apiece with Maxus and The Rivits, a new wave band with singer Jess Roden. Recently, he played on albums by Lou Reed, Laura Branigan, and shared drum duties with Brian Glascock (John’s brother) on For You and Me, a 1982 small-press release by Randy Steven, an associate of Bill Champlin.

Jethro Tull kicked off the tour on August 30, 1984, at Caird Hall in Dundee, Scotland. They played nine UK shows, including a three-night engagement (Sept. 7–9) at the Hammersmith Odeon. Tull performed multiple nights in Spain, France, and one-nighters in Stockholm, Copenhagen, the Hague, and Brussels. After a nine-city German leg and a Zurich showcase, they did an October–November tour of North America with five shows in Canada and twenty-six in the states, including a Northwest swing (Nov. 17–19) through Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.

At each show, roadies swept the floors and surveyed the crowds before Anderson came out and freed the band and their instruments, all covered in wraps. The tour put vocal strain on Anderson, who persisted against doctor’s orders. The tour wrapped with a five-night December leg in Australia, bookended by shows at the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Centre.

Portions of their 9/9/84 show later appeared on Live at Hammersmith ’84, a 42-minute disc with renditions of three recent numbers (“Under Wraps #1,” “Later, That Same Evening,” “Pussy Willow”), plus “Hunting Girl,” a nine-minute “Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and the oldies “Living in the Past” and “Locomotive Breath,” performed as both a short instrumental and an extended showstopper.


1985: A Classic Case

In February 1985, A Classic Case (The Music of Jethro Tull) appeared on RCA Red Seal, the classical division of RCA Victor. It consists of instrumental arrangements of Tull classics, performed between the band and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Palmer. The album features ten numbers, including their 1969–72 hits plus “War Child,” “Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and solo numbers by Palmer (“Elegy”) and Anderson (“Fly by Night”) as well as a medley of “Teacher,” “Bungle In the Jungle,” “Rainbow Blues,” and “Locomotive Breath.” Sessions took place in mid-1984 with the Under Wraps lineup, just prior to Perry’s arrival.

Anderson spent much of 1985 recovering from throat surgery, a procedure that impacted his vocal range. Jethro Tull’s only live appearance that year occurred on March 16 at the International Congress Centrum in Berlin as part of an event marking the 300th birthday of German baroque classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Jobson joined the band for the occasion, where Tull performed “Black Sunday” and “Hunting Girl.”

In 1986–87, Anderson focused on his Strathaird farming and fishing business, which — according to an MTV interview segment with VJ Mark Goodman — involved some of the world’s most expensive smoked salmon.

Jethro Tull emerged for one week of concert appearances in mid-1986, including a June 28 show at Milton Keynes Bowl with Gary Moore, Magnum, Mama’s Boys, and headliners Marillion. After shows in Tel Aviv (6/30: Yarkon Park), Budapest (7/2: MKT Stadium), and Denmark (7/4: Ringe), Tull played back-to-back sets at Out In The Green ’86, a German festival with events at Inselwiese, Dinkelsbühl (7/5: with Status Quo, Rory Gallagher, Lee Aaron, Nazareth, and Magnum) and the Freilichtbühne Loreley, St. Goarshausen (7/6: with the same lineup, plus Graham Parker & The Shot and Jason Bonham’s Virginia Wolf).


1987: Crest of a Knave

Jethro Tull released their sixteenth studio album, Crest of a Knave, in September 1987 on Chrysalis. The LP version contains seven tracks, including “Budapest,” a ten-minute epic inspired by a backstage encounter with a female fan during their ’86 show in Hungary. “Farm on the Freeway” deals with the agrarian plight in light of globalism. “Mountain Men” concerns the horrors of combat and its devastation on families back home.

Musically, Crest infuses contemporary hard rock with nuances of Love Over Gold era Dire Straits. The bookend tracks, “Steel Monkey” and “Raising Steam,” wrap the high-tech sound of Under Wraps with newfound stridency from Barre, the dominant player on this album, which appeared simultaneously on compact disc with two additional tracks, “Dogs in the Midwinter” and “The Waking Edge.”

Crest of a Knave is a band-produced effort, recorded in early 1987 at Black Barn Studios in Dunsborough Park. Jethro Tull are identified here as Anderson, Barre, and Pegg, who joint-engineered the album with Black and Tim Matyear, a soundman on late-eighties titles by the reformed Fairport Convention. Despite Perry’s status as Tull’s ongoing drummer, he plays on only two tracks: “Farm on the Freeway” and “Raising Steam.” Conway plays on the rest apart from “Steel Monkey” and “Budapest,” which feature programmed drums by Anderson, who also adds keyboards and Synclavier on select passages. Fairport’s Ric Sanders plays violin on “Mountain Men.”

Stephen Taylor, an associate of producer Rupert Hine, remixed “Steel Monkey,” which Chrysalis issued as a single. In the video, the band (clad in trench coats and fedoras) perform in the dark interiors and open edges of a building under construction. Intermittently, their faces project on the window facades of neighboring skyscrapers. Through he doen’t play on the track, Perry mimes in the video.

Crest of a Knave sports coat-of-arms cover art by Andrew Stewart Jamieson, a specialist in medieval-style heraldry. The picture sleeve for “Steel Monkey” shows figurines of the three wise monkeys (gold) beside a flexing, constuction-helmeted fourth monkey (silver).

Crest of a Knave went Top 10 in Germany and Switzerland; Top 20 in the UK and Austria; and Top 40 in Sweden, Canada, and the US, where it was certified Gold by the RIAA. In February 1989, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock–Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental; beating out …And Justice for All by Metallica. Controversy ensued over Tull’s inclusion in the category, which Chrysalis lampooned with a Billboard ad stating “The flute is a heavy, metal instrument!”


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1 thought on “Jethro Tull

  1. Original intro: “Jethro Tull was an English rock band that was active from the late 1960s to the early 2010s. During the 20th century, the band released 20 studio albums.
    The band was most prolific between 1968 and 1984, evolving from their roots in folk-rock and blues-rock to embrace symphonic and electronic elements. Throughout its existence, the mainstays of Jethro Tull were founder/frontman Ian Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre, who played with the band from the second album onward.” – 2017

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