Jethro Tull (band)
||This article may be written from a fan's point of view, rather than a neutral point of view. (August 2014)|
Jethro Tull with the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt in June 2007
|Origin||Blackpool and Luton, England|
|Labels||Island, Reprise, Chrysalis, Eagle, Roadrunner, Fuel 2000|
|Associated acts||Fairport Convention, Lucia Micarelli, Steeleye Span, Blodwyn Pig, Wild Turkey, Carmen|
|Past members||See members|
Jethro Tull were a British rock group, formed in Luton, Bedfordshire, in December 1967. Initially playing experimental blues rock, they later incorporated elements of classical music, folk music, jazz, hard rock and art rock into their music. The band went through several personnel changes and has had more than 20 official members, but was always fronted by the vocals, acoustic guitar, and flute playing of Ian Anderson. Other important members included guitarist Martin Barre, who had been with the band since 1968 after replacing Mick Abrahams, drummer Doane Perry, and bassist Dave Pegg.
The group achieved commercial success in 1969 with the album Stand Up, which reached No. 1 in the UK charts, and toured regularly in the UK and the US. The musical style changed towards progressive rock with the albums Aqualung, Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play and folk rock with Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses. Jethro Tull have sold over 60 million albums worldwide, with 11 gold and five platinum albums among them. They have been described by Rolling Stone as "one of the most commercially successful and eccentric progressive rock bands".
The last works released as a group were in 2003, though the band continued to tour until 2011. In April 2014, Anderson stated that "Jethro Tull" as a band was no more, wanting to leave the legacy of the name as he continued his solo career.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Origins
- 1.2 Early years (1967–68)
- 1.3 Stand Up - Aqualung (1969–71)
- 1.4 Progressive Rock (1972–76)
- 1.5 Folk Rock (1977–79)
- 1.6 Jethro's "Big Split" and Electronic Rock (1980–84)
- 1.7 Ian, Barre, Pegg and Perry: the "hard rock" Tull (1987–94)
- 1.8 Roots to Branches and J-Tull.com: the world music influences (1995–00)
- 1.9 Live albums, World Tours and The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (2001–10)
- 1.10 Ian and Martin go solo. The end of Jethro Tull (2011–14)
- 2 Legacy
- 3 Musical Style
- 4 Members
- 5 Discography
- 6 References
- 7 Sources
- 8 External links
|Original logo||Present logo|
The origins of Jethro Tull can be traced back to Blackpool, where Anderson, Jeffrey Hammond and John Evans were at grammar school together. Anderson was born in Dunfermline, Scotland and grew up in Edinburgh before moving to Blackpool in January 1960. Evans had become a fan of the Beatles after seeing them play "Love Me Do" on Granada Television's Scene At 6:30. Though he was an accomplished pianist, he decided to take up the drums, as it was an instrument featured in the Beatles' line-up. Anderson had acquired a Spanish guitar and taught himself how to play it, and the pair decided to a form a band. The pair recruited Hammond on bass, who brought along his collection of blues records to listen to.
The group initially played as a three piece on local clubs and venues, before Evans became influenced by Georgie Fame and The Animals and decided to switch to organ, recruiting drummer Barrie Barlow and guitarist Mike Stevens from local band The Atlantics. By 1964 the band had recruited guitarist Chris Riley and developed into a seven-piece Blue-eyed soul band called the John Evan Band (later the John Evan Smash). Evans had shortened his surname to "Evan" at the insistence of Hammond, who thought it sounded better and more unusual. The group recruited Johnny Taylor as a booking agent and began to gig further afield around north west England, playing a mixture of blues and Motown covers. Hammond subsequently quit the band to go to art school. He was briefly replaced by Derek Ward, then by Glenn Cornick. Riley also quit and was replaced by Neil Smith. The group recorded three songs at Regent Sound Studios in Denmark Street, London in April 1967, and appeared at The Marquee club in June.
In November 1967, the band moved to the London area, basing themselves in Luton. They signed a management deal with Terry Ellis and Chris Wright and replaced Smith with guitarist Mick Abrahams, but quickly realised that supporting a 7-piece band was financially impractical, and the group split up. Anderson, Abrahams and Cornick decided to stay together, recruiting Abrahams' friend Clive Bunker on drums and becoming a British blues band. Cornick recalled that although Evan left, the band said he was welcome to rejoin at a later date. As the only member not having nearby family, Anderson lived in a bed-sit "on the verge of starvation" and worked as a cleaner for the Luton Ritz Cinema to pay the rent.
Early years (1967–68)
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, which included "Navy Blue", "Ian Henderson's Bag o' Nails" and "Candy Coloured Rain". Anderson recalled looking at a poster at a club and concluding that the band name he didn't recognise was his. Band names were often supplied by their booking agents' staff, one of whom, a history enthusiast, eventually christened them "Jethro Tull" after the 18th-century agriculturist. The name stuck because they happened to be using it the first time a club manager liked their show enough to invite them to return. They recorded a session with producer Derek Lawrence, which resulted in the single "Sunshine Day". The B-side, "Aeroplane" was an old John Evan Band track with the saxophones mixed out. It was released in February 1968 on MGM Records, miscredited to "Jethro Toe". Anderson has sinced questioned the misnomer as a way to avoid paying royalties. The more common version, with the name spelled correctly, is actually a counterfeit made in New York. Anderson met up with Hammond while in London and the two renewed their friendship, while Anderson moved into a bedsit in Chelsea with Evan. Hammond became the subject of several songs, beginning with their next single, "A Song For Jeffrey".
Because he was living in a cold bed-sit, Anderson bought a large overcoat to keep him warm, and, along with the flute, it became part of his early stage image. It was around this time that Anderson purchased a flute after becoming frustrated with his inability to play guitar as well as Abrahams, and because their managers thought he should remain a rhythm guitarist, with Abrahams becoming the front man.
"I didn't want to be just another third-rate guitar player who sounded like a bunch of other third-rate guitar players. I wanted to do something that was a bit more idiosyncratic, hence the switch to another instrument. When Jethro Tull began, I think I'd been playing the flute for about two weeks. It was a quick learning curve...literally every night I walked onstage was a flute lesson."
The group's first major break occurred at the National Jazz and Blues Festival at Sunbury-on-Thames in August 1968, where the band drew a rapturous reception and positive reviews in the music press. The band have since claimed the success at Sunbury was that their persistent touring had generated a grassroots following who had all assembled at the festival and encouraged the rest of the audience. Cornick recalled, "from that moment on, we were a big band."
The group recorded their first album, This Was between June and August 1968, and it was released in October, reaching number 10 in the charts. In addition to original material, the album included the traditional "Cat's Squirrel", which highlighted Abrahams' blues-rock style, while the Rahsaan Roland Kirk –penned jazz piece "Serenade to a Cuckoo" gave Anderson a showcase for his growing talents on the flute 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 the album's release, Abrahams left the band in December to form his own group, Blodwyn Pig. There were a number of reasons given for his departure. Abrahams realised that Ellis wanted Anderson to be the frontman and group leader, at the expense of himself, and realised he was unlikely to have the majority share in songwriting. Abrahams was a blues purist, while Anderson wanted to branch out into other forms of music; Abrahams was unwilling to travel internationally or play more than three nights a week. Abrahams himself described his reasons more succinctly: "I was fed up with all the nonsense, and I wanted to form a band like Blodwyn Pig."
The group tried several different replacements for Abrahams. The first was David O'List, who had recently left The Nice. After a week's rehearsal, O'List didn't show up and lost contact with the group. The next choice was Mick Taylor, who turned the group down because he felt his current gig with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers was a better deal. Following this, the group put an advertisement in Melody Maker which was answered by Tony Iommi. After a few rehearsals, the group appeared in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus on 11 December. The group performed "A Song for Jeffrey", but only Anderson's singing and flute was live; the rest was mimed. Iommi felt closer to his old band, Earth, so returned to Birmingham to rejoin them. However, his brief time in Jethro Tull instilled a strong work ethic into Iommi. Earth later became Black Sabbath, achieving great commercial success.
The next choice was Martin Barre, who had seen the band perform at Sunbury, and had been tried out at the same audition as Iommi. Barre arranged a second audition with Anderson, who showed him some new songs that were in a different style to the blues they had been recording. Anderson was impressed at Barre's technique, and offered him the job as the new guitarist. Barre played his first gig with Jethro Tull on 30 December 1968 at the Winter Gardens, Penzance.
Stand Up - Aqualung (1969–71)
You don't consciously change the direction of your music. It just happens naturally, so we were all shocked when the album [Stand Up] was released and people said, 'Oh, they're not playing blues anymore'. – Glenn Cornick
After Barre joined, the group did a few shows supporting Jimi Hendrix in Scandinavia, then set out on an extensive tour of the US, supporting Led Zeppelin and Vanilla Fudge. Having attracted a substantial live following, Ellis and Wright asked Anderson, who had become the dominant songwriter, to write a hit single. The result was "Living In The Past", which reached No. 3 in May, and resulted in an appearance on Top of the Pops. Although other so-called "serious" groups actively resisted issuing singles at the time, Jethro Tull felt a hit single was a positive move for the group, although not their main priority.
The next album was Stand Up, recorded during April and May. It was released in July, which reached No. 1 in the UK charts, the only one by the group to do so. Anderson had now established himself as the group's leader and songwriter, and wrote all of the material, aside from a jazzy rearrangement of J. S. Bach's Bourrée in E minor BWV 996 (fifth movement).  The album cover unfolded to a photo insert of the band attached to the covers like a pop-up book.
Immediately after releasing Stand Up, the group set off on their first headlining tour in the US, including an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival. Barre recalled, "It was really the turning point for Jethro Tull – for everything that we were to become and everything we were to inspire in others." The band was invited to play in the Woodstock Festival, but Anderson declined, being afraid that the band would be permanently typecast as hippies, only able to play one musical style.
By March 1970, Jethro Tull got offered to play in a 120,000-seat stadium, which the band refused, since the largest place they played so far had "only" 70,000 seats. Shortly afterwards, Evan rejoined the band. He had stayed in London since the John Evan Band broke up, living with Anderson, and began studying music at the University of London. The pair didn't see much of each other due to Jethro Tull's increasing workload, and Evan was reluctant to rejoin due to his studies, which gave him access to a free studio. He played as a session musician on the next album, Benefit, following which Anderson stated they needed somebody to play the keyboard parts on tour. His tutor eventually persuaded him that it was a good idea, and Evan formally joined. The new album incorporated more studio experiments, such as backward-recorded flute (on "With You There To Help Me") and piano, and sped-up guitar (on "Play in Time"). The album reached No. 4 in the UK and No. 10 in the US, and allowed the group to sell out 20,000-seat arenas, establishing themselves as a premier live act. In August, the band played to one of their largest audiences at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival. The band insisted on a full soundcheck early on Sunday morning, before performing later on that day.
The Isle of Wight appearance was followed by another US tour, following which Cornick left the band. He was keen to socialise on tour, while the other members became more reclusive and introverted. Cornick said he was fired by Anderson, while the band's official website said he was "invited to leave" by Ellis, but given full support and encouragement to form his own band. Cornick subsequently formed Wild Turkey, and Anderson invited Hammond to replace him, buying a new bass for this purpose. However, Hammond had not played an instrument since going to art school, and was chosen for his social compatibility in the band rather than any musical skills.
This line-up released Aqualung in 1971. The album was split into two sides, subtitled "Aqualung" and "My God", and featured Anderson's opinions about organised religion. Recording the album was problematic due to technical issues in the studio and Hammond's lack of musical skill. On "Locomotive Breath", Anderson recorded the backing track on his own, singing along to a hi-hat accompaniment, which the rest of the band recorded on top of later. The album was the first to reach the top ten in the US, reaching No. 7. would become the band's first to crack the US top ten, reaching No. 7 and selling over one million copies, earning it a gold disc by the RIAA in July 1971.
Progressive Rock (1972–76)
Because of the heavy touring schedule and his wish to spend more time with his family, drummer Bunker quit the group after the Aqualung album and was replaced by Barrie Barlow (who was rechristened "Barriemore" by Anderson) in early 1971. Barlow first recorded with the band for the EP Life Is a Long Song (five-track EP that made the top twenty) and made his first appearance on a Jethro Tull album with 1972's Thick as a Brick. Disagreeing with the assessment from some music critics that Aqualung (1971) had been a concept album, Ian Anderson decided to give them "the mother of all concept albums", including the preposterous idea that the lyrics had been written by an eight-year-old boy. The album consisted of a single track running 43:46 (an innovation previously unheard of in rock music) split over the two sides of the LP, with a number of movements melded together and some repeating themes. The first movement with its distinctive acoustic guitar riff received some airplay on rock stations at the time. Thick as a Brick was the first Tull album to reach number one on the (US) Billboard Pop Albums chart (the following year's A Passion Play being the only other). This album's quintet – Anderson, Barre, Evan, Hammond, and Barlow – lasted until the end of 1975, and was, in essence, a reunion of The Blades, with Barre being the only member of Jethro Tull who had not been in The Blades.
1972 also saw the release of Living in the Past, a double-album compilation of remixed singles, B-sides and outtakes (including the entirety of the Life Is a Long Song EP, which closes the album), with the third side recorded live in 1970 at New York's Carnegie Hall concert. With this album's release (being extremily successful both critically and in sales), the "Living in the Past" single gained popularity in the US, becoming the band's first Top 20 hit there (reaching No. 11). Also, combined the succes of albums and compilations, Jethro Tull was called by the New Musical Express as one of "Britain's most important and successful 2nd generation progressive bands".
In 1973, while in tax exile, the band attempted to produce a double album at France's Château d'Hérouville studios (something The Rolling Stones and Elton John among others were doing at the time), but supposedly they were unhappy with the quality of the recording studio and abandoned the effort, subsequently mocking the studio as the "Chateau d'Isaster". (An 11-minute excerpt was released on the 1988 20 Years of Jethro Tull boxed set, and the complete "Chateau d'Isaster Tapes" were finally released on the 1993 compilation Nightcap, with overdubbed flute lines where the vocal parts were missing.) They returned to England and Anderson rewrote, quickly recorded, and released A Passion Play (1973), another single-track concept album, with allegorical lyrics focusing on the afterlife. Just as "Thick as a Brick" had, A Passion Play contained instrumentation rather uncommon in rock music. The album also featured an interlude, "The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles", which was co-written (along with Anderson and Evan) and narrated by bassist Hammond. A Passion Play sold well but received generally poor reviews, including a particularly damning review of its live performance by Chris Welch of Melody Maker.
Even as the band's popularity with critics began to wane around this time, their popularity with the public remained strong, as evidenced by high sales of their follow-up album, 1974's War Child. Originally intended to be a companion piece for a film, it reached number two on the US Billboard charts and received some critical acclaim, and produced the radio mainstays "Bungle in the Jungle" and "Skating Away (On the Thin Ice of the New Day)". It also included a short acoustic song, "Only Solitaire", widely thought to be aimed at L.A. Times rock music critic Robert Hilburn, who wrote a harsh review of the Passion Play concerts at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. However, other War Child reviews (and later Anderson interviews) confirm the song came from the aborted 1973 "Chateau d'Isaster" compositions (thus pre-dating Hilburn's review), and is therefore aimed at music critics in general. The War Child tour also featured a female string quartet playing along with the group on the new material.
In 1975, the band released Minstrel in the Gallery, an album which resembled Aqualung (1971) in that it contrasted softer, acoustic-guitar-based pieces with lengthier, more bombastic works headlined by Barre's electric guitar. Written and recorded during Anderson's divorce from his first wife Jennie Franks, the album is characterised by introspective, cynical, and sometimes bitter lyrics. Critics gave it mixed reviews, but the album came to be acknowledged as one of the band's best by longtime Jethro Tull fans, even as it generally fell under the radar to listeners familiar only with Aqualung (1971). By this point Jethro Tull had been awarded six R.I.A.A. gold records for sales of Stand Up (1969), Aqualung (1971), Thick as a Brick (1972), Living in the Past (1972), A Passion Play (1973) and Minstrel in the Gallery (1975).
For the 1975 tour, David Palmer, who had long been the band's orchestra arranger, officially joined the band's stage show on keyboards and synthesisers. In February 1975 Jethro Tull sold out five nights at the 20,000-seat Los Angeles Forum, prompting Melody Maker to run the headline "Jethro – Now The World's Biggest Band?". After the tour, bassist Hammond quit the band to pursue painting – thus ending the Hammond-Hammond era. John Glascock, who earlier was playing with flamenco-rock band Carmen, a support band on the previous Jethro Tull tour, became the band's new bassist.
1976's Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! was another concept album, this time about the life of an ageing rocker (which Anderson insisted was not autobiographical). Anderson, still stinging from critical reviews, responded on Too Old... with more sharply barbed lyrics. John Glascock made his first appearance on a Jethro Tull album, contributing backing vocals along with strong bass lines, as can be heard in the track "Quizz Kid". David Palmer, becoming more and more integrated with the band and Anderson, recorded two tracks as guest musician, in addition to the already common orchestra arrangements he had provided for Jethro Tull since the first album.
For the 1976 tour, the shows quickly sold out and the venues continued to enlarge, so Jethro Tull became one of the first bands to use giant screens for stadium shows – nicknamed "Tull-A-Vision". Although Too old... did not sold as well as the other 1970's albums, the compilation M.U. - The Best of Jethro Tull, achieved Platinum Album in U.S. and Gold record in U.K.
A television special was recorded showing the development of the album's concept in a live show with the band (fully dressed in the most rock-hard-tongue-in-cheek outfits), but the programme was never officially released.
Folk Rock (1977–79)
At the end of the 1970s, Jethro Tull released a trio of folk rock albums, Songs from the Wood (1977), Heavy Horses (1978), and Stormwatch (1979). Songs from the Wood (1977) was the first Tull album to receive generally positive reviews since the release of Living in the Past (1972).
The band had long had ties to folk rockers Steeleye Span (Tull were the backing band on Steeleye Span front woman Maddy Prior's 1978 solo album Woman in the Wings as a way of repaying her for contributing vocals on the Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! album) and with Fairport Convention (Fairport members Dave Pegg, Martin Allcock, Dave Mattacks and Ric Sanders have all played with Tull at one point or another, as well as folk drummer Gerry Conway who became a Fairport member after playing with Tull). Although not formally considered a part of the folk rock movement (which had actually begun nearly a decade earlier with the advent of Fairport Convention), there was clearly an exchange of musical ideas among Tull and the folk rockers. By this time, Anderson had moved to a farm in the countryside, and his new bucolic lifestyle was clearly reflected on these albums, as in the title track of Heavy Horses (1978), a paean to draught horses.
About the albums' style, Ian Anderson said that the "cheerfulness" of Songs from the Wood contrasts with the "darkness" of Heavy Horses in the same way Stand Up contasts with Benefit. In other words, Anderson reflects: "When you're making an album every year, I think you do tend to oscillate between having feelings of cheerfulness followed by feelings of introspection. I think that's true of these two albums, and they do hang together as a pair."
The band continued to tour, and released a live double album in 1978, titled Bursting Out, which was recorded during the European leg of the Heavy Horses tour. During the US leg of this tour, John Glascock suffered health problems and was replaced by Anderson's friend and former Stealers Wheel bassist, Tony Williams.
Their third folk influenced album, Stormwatch, was released in 1979. Glascock, after having open heart surgery the previous year, died in his home of heart complications. Anderson completed the bass parts for the unfinished songs on the album, and Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention took the bass responsibilities for the Stormwatch tour.
Jethro's "Big Split" and Electronic Rock (1980–84)
Following the Stormwatch tour, Jethro Tull would undergo its largest line-up shuffle to date. Barrie Barlow, depressed and withdrawn after the death of his "closest friend" Glascock, quit the band soon after the tour ended. Moreover, Palmer and Evan found their futures in the band to be murky with Anderson's announcement that he wanted to work on a solo album. The two moved on to other projects, immediately including a collaboration that resulted in a classical-based pop/rock band called Tallis. Jethro Tull was left with Anderson (the only original member), Barre and Dave Pegg.
Tull's first album of the 1980s was intended to be Ian Anderson's first solo album. Anderson retained Barre on electric guitar and Pegg on bass, while adding Mark Craney on drums, and special guest keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson (ex–Roxy Music, Frank Zappa, Curved Air and UK, the last of which had opened for several shows on Tull's Stormwatch tour). Highlighted by the prominent use of synthesisers, it contrasted sharply with the established "Tull sound". After pressure from Chrysalis Records, Anderson decided to release it as a Jethro Tull album. Entitled A (taken from the labels on the master tapes for his scrapped solo album, marked simply "A" for "Anderson"), it was released in mid-1980.
In keeping with the mood of innovation surrounding the album, Jethro Tull made an early foray into the emerging genre of music video[original research?] with Slipstream, a film which takes place at London's Hammersmith Odeon (which was used for exterior scenes). However, the main concert footage was actually from an American performance in Los Angeles, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena (as heard on the Magic Piper ROIO), featuring the A line-up, filmed in November 1980. The video was directed by David Mallet, who has directed numerous music videos, including the pioneering "Ashes to Ashes" video for David Bowie. The electronic style of the album was even more pronounced in these live performances and was used to striking effect on some of the older songs, including "Locomotive Breath". The more familiar Jethro Tull sound was brought to the fore in an all-acoustic version of "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day" featuring Jobson on mandolin, Pegg on mandola and Craney on bass.
Jobson and Craney returned to their own work following the A Tour and Jethro Tull entered a period of revolving drummers: Gerry Conway, who left after deciding he couldn't be the one to replace Barlow, Phil Collins (as a fill-in for the recently departed Gerry Conway, played with the band at the first Prince's Trust concert in 1982), Paul Burgess (for the US leg of the Broadsword and the Beast tour, and who left to settle down with his family) and permanent drummer Doane Perry.
1981 was the first year in their career that the band did not release an album; however some recording sessions took place (Anderson, Barre, Pegg, and Conway, with Anderson playing the keyboards). Some of these tracks were released on the Nightcap compilation in 1993.
In 1982, Peter-John Vettese joined on keyboards, and the band returned to a somewhat folkier sound – albeit with synthesisers – for 1982's The Broadsword and the Beast. The ensuing concert tour for the album was well attended and the shows featured what was to be one of the group's last indulgences in full-dress theatricality: the stage was built to resemble a Viking longship and the band performed in faux-medieval regalia.
An Anderson solo album (which was in fact an Anderson-Vettese effort) appeared in 1983, in the form of the heavily electronic Walk into Light. Although the album featured electronic soundscapes and synthesiser voicings advanced for its time, as well as cerebral lyrics about the alienating effects of technology, the release failed to resonate with long-time fans or with new listeners. However, as with later solo efforts by Anderson and Barre, some of the Walk into Light songs, such as "Fly by Night", "Made in England" and "Different Germany", later made their way into Jethro Tull live sets.
In 1984, Jethro Tull released Under Wraps, a heavily electronic album with no "live" drummer and instead, as on Walk into Light, a drum-machine was used. Although the band were reportedly proud of the sound, the album was not well received, particularly in North America. However, the video for "Lap of Luxury" did manage to earn moderate rotation on the newly influential MTV music video channel. Also, the acoustic version of the title track, "Under Wraps 2", found some favour over the years and a live instrumental version of the song was included on the A Little Light Music concert CD of 1992. Some long-time Jethro Tull fans[who?] regard Under Wraps as one of the band's weaker efforts; however, Martin Barre considers it his favourite (the main riff from the song "Paparazzi" also became a regular part of live sets as a part of Barre's solo spots; however, these were the only parts of the album that remained in the live sets after the Under Wraps tour). As a result of the throat problems Anderson developed singing the demanding Under Wraps material on tour, Jethro Tull took a three-year break. Vettese quit the band after the tour, angry at critics for the bad reviews of BSATB, Walk into Light, and Under Wraps. During this hiatus, Anderson continued to oversee the salmon farm he had founded in 1978, although the single "Coronach" was released in the UK in 1986 after it was used as the theme tune for a Channel 4 television program called "Blood of the British".
Ian, Barre, Pegg and Perry: the "hard rock" Tull (1987–94)
Jethro Tull returned in 1987 with Crest of a Knave. With Vettese absent (Anderson contributed the synth programming) and the band relying more heavily on Barre's electric guitar than they had since the early 1970s, the album was a critical and commercial success. Shades of their earlier electronic excursions were still present, however, as three of the album's songs again utilised a drum machine, with Doane Perry and Gerry Conway sharing drum duties on the other tracks. Prior to the Crest of a Knave tour, keyboardist Don Airey (ex-Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne, Michael Schenker Group) joined the band.
The band won the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental, beating the favourite Metallica and their ...And Justice for All album. The award was particularly controversial as many did not consider Jethro Tull hard rock, much less heavy metal. On the advice of their manager, who told them they had no chance of winning, no one from the band attended the award ceremony. In response to the criticism they received over the award, their label, Chrysalis, took out an advertisement in a British music periodical with a picture of a flute lying amid a pile of iron re-bars and the line, "The flute is a heavy metal instrument." In response to an interview question about the controversy, Ian Anderson quipped, "Well, we do sometimes play our mandolins very loudly." In 2007, the win was named one of the ten biggest upsets in Grammy history by Entertainment Weekly In 1992, when Metallica finally won the Grammy in the category, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich joked, "First thing we're going to do is thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year," a play on a Grammy comment by Paul Simon some years before thanking Stevie Wonder for the same thing.
The style of Crest of a Knave (1987) has been compared to that of Dire Straits, in part because Anderson no longer seemed to have the vocal range he once possessed and preferred to use the lower registers, while Martin Barre's guitar sound apparently drifted towards Mark Knopfler's style. Two songs in particular – "Farm on the Freeway" and "Steel Monkey" – got heavy radio airplay. The album also contained the popular live song "Budapest", which depicts a backstage scene with a shy local female stagehand. Although "Budapest" was the longest song on that album (at just over ten minutes), "Mountain Men" became more famous in Europe, depicting a scene from World War II in Africa. Ian Anderson referred to the battles of El Alamein and the Falkland Islands, drawing historic parallels of the angst that women left behind by their warrior husbands might have felt:
died in the trenches at El Alamein,
died in the Falklands on TV
They toured this album with "The Not Quite the World, More the Here and There Tour". It was also the first time in the band's history, when it, even though rarely, had two electric guitar players on stage (Anderson played rhythm guitar).
1988 was notable for the release of 20 Years of Jethro Tull, a five-LP themed set (also released as a three-CD set, and as a truncated single CD version on 20 Years of Jethro Tull: Highlights) consisting largely of rarities and outtakes from throughout the band's history, as well as a variety of live and remastered tracks. It also included a booklet outlining the band's history in detail. Now out of print, it has become a collector's item, although many (but not all) of the outtakes have been included as bonus tracks on remastered releases of the band's studio albums.
Multi-instrumentalist Martin (Maart) Allcock, who as a member of Fairport Convention, had played as a guest with Tull at the Cropredy festival the previous year, joined the band mainly as keyboard player, starting with the 20th Anniversary tour (this may seem unremarkable, but multi-instrumentalist Allcock – proficient on all manner of stringed instruments with Fairport – had never previously played keyboards professionally with a band), replacing the departed Don Airey. For some numbers Allcock played the second electric guitar (Anderson reverted to playing acoustic), the last time that the band did this live.
In 1989, the band released Rock Island, which met with less commercial and critical success than Crest of a Knave (1987). The lead-off track, "Kissing Willie", featured bawdy double-entendre lyrics and over-the-top heavy metal riffing that seemed to take a satiric view of the group's recent Grammy award win. The song's accompanying video found difficulty in receiving airplay because of its sexual imagery. Although Rock Island was something of a miss for the group, a couple of fan favourites did emerge from the album. "Big Riff and Mando" reflects life on the road for the relentlessly touring musicians, giving a wry account of the theft of Barre's prized mandolin by a starstruck fan. "Another Christmas Song", an upbeat number celebrating the humanitarian spirit of the holiday season, stood out against the brooding and sombre mood of many of the songs on the album and was well received at concerts. It was re-recorded for the 2003 Jethro Tull Christmas Album release.
1991's Catfish Rising was a more solid album than Rock Island (1989). Despite being labelled as a "return to playing the blues", the album actually is marked by the generous use of mandolin and acoustic guitar and much less use of keyboards than any Tull album of the Eighties. Notable tracks included "Rocks on the Road", which highlighted gritty acoustic guitar work and hard-bitten lyrics about urban life and "Still Loving You Tonight", a bluesy, low-key ballad. Maart Allcock, who had played on the Catfish Rising tour, although not the album itself, quit the band at the end of the year to pursue solo work.
Roots to Branches and J-Tull.com: the world music influences (1995–00)
Following the 1992 tour (which included Fairport drummer Dave Mattacks and was documented with A Little Light Music, band's second official live album), Anderson relearned how to play the flute (after his daughter, who took up the flute classes at school, discovered that her father often used the wrong fingering) and began writing songs that heavily featured world music influences. However, the first Tull releases containing the "relearned" flute were the 25th Anniversary Box which, as well as the remixes of classic songs and unreleased live material, included a whole CD of old songs from the band's entire career recorded by the current line-up, and a "Nightcap" album containing unreleased studio material (mainly from the scrapped pre-Passion Play album), with multiple flute parts re-recorded.
Dave Pegg left the band, wishing to concentrate on Fairport Convention and not being keen on the world-music direction the band chose, and subsequently most of the bass on 1995's Roots to Branches album was performed by Steve Bailey (a widely recognised session bass player and friend of Doane Perry; Ian Anderson gave up being involved in the rhythm section arrangements on that record, leaving them completely to Bailey and Perry), before Pegg was replaced by bassist Jonathan Noyce.
Roots to Branches (1995) and 1999's J-Tull Dot Com were less rock-based than Crest of a Knave (1987) or Catfish Rising (1991). Songs on these albums reflect the musical influences of decades of performing all around the globe. In songs such as "Out of the Noise" and "Hot Mango Flush", Anderson paints vivid pictures of third-world street scenes. These albums reflected Anderson's coming to grips with being an old rocker, with songs such as the pensive "Another Harry's Bar", "Wicked Windows" (a meditation on reading glasses), and the gruff "Wounded, Old and Treacherous".
Live albums, World Tours and The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (2001–10)
In 2001, Anderson reunited with Cornick, Bunker and Abrahams for small pub dates. It was the first time the original four members had played together since 1968. "Living with the Past" includes a documentary that features the band on tour, in Britain and America, in 2001. It also has footage of the 2001 reunion of Jethro Tull's first line up filmed playing in a pub.
2003 saw the release of The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, a collection of traditional Christmas songs together with old and new Christmas songs written by Jethro Tull. The album became the band's biggest commercial success since the 1987 Crest of a Knave. An Ian Anderson live double album and DVD was released in 2005 called Ian Anderson Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull. In addition, a DVD entitled Nothing Is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 and a live album Aqualung Live (recorded in 2004) were released in 2005. Included on Nothing is Easy is footage from the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, considered to be a classic Jethro Tull performance.
2006 saw the release of a dual boxed set DVD "Collector's Edition", containing two DVDs – Nothing Is Easy and Living with the Past. Bassist Jon Noyce left the band in March 2006. Keyboardist Giddings quit the band in July 2006, citing constant touring allowing not enough time for family. They were replaced by David Goodier and John O'Hara respectively. In the following year it was released The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull, a 24-song set of Tull's and Ian Anderson's acoustic performances taken from various albums. Included are a new live acoustic version of "One Brown Mouse" and a live performance of the traditional song (attributed to Henry VIII), "Pastime with Good Company".
In September 2007, Jethro Tull released CD/DVD Live at Montreux 2003. The concert was recorded on 4 July 2003 and featured, among others, "Fat Man", "With You There to Help Me" and "Hunting Girl", with the longest unchanged line-up: Anderson, Barre, Perry, Noyce and Giddings.
Ian and Martin go solo. The end of Jethro Tull (2011–14)
During interviews in November 2011, Martin Barre stated that there were no current plans for future Jethro Tull work and he does not foresee any Tull concerts through 2013. In 2012, Barre assembled and toured with a group, billed as Martin Barre's New Day, which included Jonathan Noyce that played mostly Tull material.
On 30 January 2012, Anderson announced via the Jethro Tull website that Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock?, a followup to Thick as a Brick would be released on 2 April 2012. It is billed as an Ian Anderson solo album and not a Jethro Tull album. Thick as a Brick 2 had its world premiere on 14 April 2012 at Perth Concert Hall, Scotland, UK, kicking off an expected 18-month tour supporting both the original and new albums.
In November 2013, Anderson announced via the Jethro Tull website that a new album Homo Erraticus would be released in April 2014. This will be followed by tours in the UK and US, during which the album will be played in its entirety. Homo Erraticus will be a prog-rock concept album which, according to Anderson, "chronicles the weird imaginings of one Ernest T Parritt, as recaptured by the now middle-aged Gerald Bostock after a trip to Mathew Bunter's Old Library Bookshop in Linwell village. Bostock and Bunter came across this dusty, unpublished manuscript, written by local amateur historian Ernest T. Parritt, (1873–1928), and entitled Homo Britanicus Erraticus." Like "Thick as a Brick 2", "Homo Erraticus" is billed as an Ian Anderson solo album.
In an April 2014 interview following the release of Anderson's solo album Homo Erraticus, Anderson announced that from that point on, he would be releasing all his music under his own name. Anderson stated that Tull "kind of came more or less to an end during the last 10 years or so", and stated his preference "in my twilight years, to use my own name for the most part being composer of virtually all Tull songs and music since 1968".
Jethro Tull's music has been referenced in popular culture, appearing in movies, (The Anchorman, Almost Famous, Apollo 18) television series (The Simpsons, Breaking Bad, Supernatural, Life on Mars) and commercials.
Their influence on musicians includes Iron Maiden's Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson, Joe Bonamassa and folk doom metal band Blood Ceremony. Rush's Geddy Lee, for example, said about Jethro Tull: "I was a massive Tull fan from very young and they are one of the bands that I saw live in Toronto [...]and, I hope, that too reflects in Rush. I was mesmerised by Ian Anderson. His presentation was simply magical and he delivered it with such a sense of humour and great style. There really wasn't anyone else who looked or sounded quite like them and that holds true to this day. We saw it as a huge challenge to try and create something that can seem so dynamic onstage. They are probably best regarded as a live band although their series of albums around that period were exceptional" And Eddie Vedder also stated:"I'm a big fan of Jethro Tull, and I listen to this record every night before I go on stage!" – the album was Stand Up.
Bands who have covered songs from Jethro Tull include Iron Maiden, who recorded their own version of "Cross Eyed Mary" for the B-Side of The Trooper. The folk band Turisas recorded "Broadsword". Finnish heavy metal band Northern Kings recorded "Fallen on Hard Times". "Rainbow Blues" was covered by Blackmore's Night, former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's band. The song was released on their 2003 album Ghost of a Rose. The Ronnie James Dio band Elf, in 1972 played live versions "Aqualung" and "Cross Eyed Mary". Also in the seventies, the Italian band Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) played live a version of "My God" and "Bouree". In the Stoner Metal compilation Sucking the 70s, there are two covers of Jethro Tull songs: Cross-Eyed Mary and Hymn 43, from the bands Clutch and Alabama Thunderpussy, respectively. The Psychedelic band Acid Mothers Temple named their album Minstrel in the Galaxy after the Tull album, Minstrel in the Gallery.
In a September 1978 'Guitar Player' interview, Ritchie Blackmore praised all the band, calling their work masterpieces and Ian Anderson a genius. He go on and said "...John Glascock is a brilliant bass player, the best in the business in rock."
Two decades after their founding, the band earned the Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, Vocal or Instrumental for their Crest of a Knave (1987) album. The award was expected by critics to go to Metallica, and Jethro Tull did not attend the show.
In 1996, a tribute album to Jethro Tull was released, called "To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales" in which several artists participated: Magellan, Roy Harper, John Wetton, Lief Sorbye, Robert Berry, Echolyn, Charlie Musselwhite, Glenn Hughes, Robby Steinhardt, Wolfstone, Keith Emerson and ex-members Glenn Cornick, Clive Bunker, Mick Abrahams and Dave Pegg.
Martin Barre's signature solo on the 1971 Jethro Tull standard "Aqualung" was voted by the readers of Guitar Player magazine as one of the top rock guitar solos of all time. Also, in 2007, this solo was rated one of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos by Guitar World magazine. In addition, Martin earned the 25th best solo ever in the USA and 20th best solo ever in the UK.
Over the years, there have been a number of publications about Jethro Tull, some analysing their music style, others the lyrics and the band's history.
Jethro Tull's style of music is difficult to summarise in only one genre. The band played from blues, to progressive rock, from folk (as the "classic" folk or even Celtic) to Asian rhythms. Their sound is more associated with the flute style of Ian Anderson, in which he sings into the flute and uses the "flutter-tongue" technique and "overblowing" to achieve higher notes. Also, because of the several line-up changes, Jethro Tull's music is much characterised by their different members along the decades. In the beginning, for example, bassist Glenn Cornick imposed a strong kind of bass playing that characterised their sound, for example the solo in Bouree and the singles The Witch's Promise and Living in the Past, being essential to the bands style in the early years. John Evans was another musician with a strong presence: at first, he used his classical abilities to enhance the sound of Jethro Tull, for example in the intro of Locomotive Breath  and in With You There to Help Me and By Kind Permision Of. In the albums Thick as a Brick and Passion Play he played long solos and melodies that contributed to the greatness of these albums. The drummers of Jethro Tull – basically Clive Bunker, Barrie Barlow, Gerry Conway and Doane Perry – establish their unique sound through the band changing styles.
According to music critic Derek Anderson, the difficulty in categorising Jethro Tull's music may have limited its legacy with critics and listeners:
- "Between 1969 and 1979, nine of Jethro Tull's albums were certified gold. Aqualung, Jethro Tull's 1971 Magnus Opus, was certified triple-platinum. Sadly, Jethro Tull never received the recognition they deserved. After the advent of punk, critics and music lovers shied away from prog rock. Confessing to liking prog rock wasn't the done thing. It wasn't fashionable. Critics who previously had championed prog rock referred to groups like Jethro Tull as dinosaurs. Despite that, Jethro Tull gold discs kept coming. The reason for that was their music never stood still. It constantly evolved. Jethro Tull's music was groundbreaking, genre-melting and innovative."
- Following the departure of Mick Abrahams in 1968, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi briefly played guitar for Jethro Tull. The only recording of him with the band is on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (1968), although his guitar is not heard as all of the music (except Ian Anderson's vocals and flute) was dubbed in afterwards. It was a one-off performance, and Iommi returned to Black Sabbath (then called Earth) in January 1969.
- David O'List briefly played with Jethro Tull in 1968 after the expulsion of Abrahams.
- Genesis' Phil Collins was Jethro Tull's drummer for only one gig: the Prince's Trust Gala on 7 July 1982 at London's Dominion Theatre. During this time, Jethro Tull had the position of drummer to fill after the departure of drummer Mark Craney. Collins played on three songs, and two of them ("Jack in the Green" and "Pussy Willow") are on an official video release of the Prince's Trust Gala.
- Bassist Tony Williams filled in for part of a tour when John Glascock's health failed. He then returned to session playing.
- Bassist Matthew Pegg – Dave's son – is credited with playing bass on Catfish Rising (1991), when his bald father was "washing hair". He also filled in on several dates in the early 1990s. He is currently a session musician, and was also a permanent member of Procol Harum.
- Bassist Steve Bailey appeared on the Roots to Branches (1995) recording, due to Dave Pegg's scheduling conflicts and following departure from the band. He was never an official member of the band.
- Drummer James Duncan has frequently appeared with the band from 2006 forward, as well as on Anderson's solo tours. Surgery performed on Doan Perry required him to cease playing for some time, and while he has returned to the band, Duncan continues to play some shows. Duncan is Ian Anderson's son.
- Florian Opahle, a German guitarist who has played on Anderson's solo tours, as well as with Greg Lake, has recently filled in for Barre on occasion, most notably due to the latter's recuperation from surgery, and in 2009, his playing in "Excalibur: The Celtic Rock Opera".
- Mark Mondesir is a British drummer mostly noted for his jazz work. He drummed with Tull and Ian Anderson as a fill-in for James Duncan in 2009, who broke a shoulder whilst skiing.
- Guitarist Joe Bonamassa guested with Jethro Tull for the encore of their performance at High Voltage 2011.
- Scott Hammond, a British jazz drummer, replaced Mark Mondesir for Ian Anderson's 2011 concerts. Hammond continues to tour with Anderson in 2012, and he played on the new Anderson album, Thick as a Brick 2, which was released in April 2012. Hammond also filled in for Doane Perry during Jethro Tull's concerts in 2011.
- Since 2005, subsequently Lucia Micarelli, Ann Marie Calhoun and Anna Phoebe played violin regularly with the band.
- This Was (1968)
- Stand Up (1969)
- Benefit (1970)
- Aqualung (1971)
- Thick as a Brick (1972)
- A Passion Play (1973)
- War Child (1974)
- Minstrel in the Gallery (1975)
- Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! (1976)
- Songs from the Wood (1977)
- Heavy Horses (1978)
- Stormwatch (1979)
- A (1980)
- The Broadsword and the Beast (1982)
- Under Wraps (1984)
- Crest of a Knave (1987)
- Rock Island (1989)
- Catfish Rising (1991)
- Roots to Branches (1995)
- J-Tull Dot Com (1999)
- The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (2003)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jethro Tull.|
- Jethro Tull official website
- Jethro Tull discography at Discogs
- Tull Press – hundreds of original press articles, interviews, and photographs covering Jethro Tull from 1967 to 2001
- A Billion Hands – Join The Fight Against Terror and For A Better Tomorrow – Mumbai, 5 December 2008
- Penny Black Music Interview with Ian Anderson, published May 2010
- Works by or about Jethro Tull (band) in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Ian Anderson – Thick As a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock review on Prog-Sphere.com
- College Crier's Ian Anderson Interview
- Audio Interview segments with Ian Anderson from classicrockcentral.com
- Smolko, Tim. Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.