A is the 13th studio album by Jethro Tull. It was released on 29 August 1980 in the U.K. and 1 September of the same year in the United States. The album was recorded in the summer of 1980 using Maison Rouge Mobile and Maison Rouge Studios in Fulham, London. Eddie Jobson guested on the album, playing keyboards and electric violin. The album was produced by Ian Anderson and Robin Black.
A was recorded as an intended Ian Anderson solo album before Tull's record label, Chrysalis, asked that it become credited to the group to help the label get through overall slow record sales. This is the reason for the album's title, as the tapes were marked "A" for "Anderson". It is noted for its more synthesiser-based sound, a fact which creates controversy among many of the band's fans. On the other hand, it features a folk-influenced piece "The Pine Marten's Jig".
A features a dramatically different line-up of Tull from the band's previous album, Stormwatch (1979). Former keyboardist John Evan and organist David Palmer were de facto fired from the group, and former bassist John Glascock died soon after the recording of Stormwatch, which caused drummer Barriemore Barlow to leave the band in depression.
The only members of Tull to appear on both Stormwatch (1979) and A (1980) are Ian Anderson and Martin Barre. This is also the bassist Dave Pegg's first appearance on a Tull record but he became a member of the band already in 1979, replacing John Glascock on tour. Conflicting reasons have been given for the line-up change. Anderson has stated that he wanted to take the band in a different direction from the folk rock and progressive rock of the 1970s. Barriemore Barlow was unhappy with the direction the band was taking and later stated that he would have left anyway. However, biographer David Rees reports in his book Minstrels in the Gallery: A History of Jethro Tull (2001) that Anderson had never intended to replace the 'classic' Tull lineup with the musicians who recorded A, but was forced by Chrysalis Records, which had decided to release his 'solo' album under the name Jethro Tull. This claim was further evidenced by Anderson's note in the 2003 re-release of the album.