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Topic: Jethro Tull Return to archive
October 21st, 2005 06:28 AM
Ten Thousand Motels Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson knows his musical place

Knight Ridder Tribune
Oct 19,2005

Ian Anderson is a traditionalist. Sort of. Well, today he is, anyway.

The bounding, breathy and verbose Anderson didn't attain his cultlike stardom by toeing any obvious line. His 37-year-old charge, Jethro Tull, is one of the oddest rock ensembles to win a Grammy Award, much less have five platinum albums. What's a crazy-eyed, overly excitable flute player doing in a rock band, anyhow?

But the man is more straight-laced than most folks believe, especially about music. Jethro Tull's sound, for instance, is an amalgam of what Anderson grew up with as a child in Scotland and Blackpool, England: acoustic blues, folk, Big Band jazz and classical music. That the outfit's allowed different styles to dominate the others at various times during its history is part of the reason it's lasted so long.

But even though Anderson, 57, has played with a potpourri of musicians, from superskilled fusion-jazz cats and full classical orchestras to Russian and Indian folk ensembles, he firmly believes that sticking with what you grew up with is best.

"I think many of us are born with it, a sense of playing what you know," he says from Lowell, Mass., during a tour stop. "It's good that we fool around with other stuff, but to make a career out of it is kind of weird unless you're born into or are a living part of that musical culture. It's fine being kissing cousins and having respect for other styles, but you shouldn't be making musical babies together.

"At the end of it, it isn't a healthy thing to take as your own. It's not you. It's about respect and maintaining a purity of a form. It's very important that certain musical styles live on, and intermingling shouldn't ultimately result in the genetic pollution of a musical product."

Jethro Tull got its start as a London blues band in 1968 during the first British blues boom. Future Chrysalis Records founders Terry Ellis and Chris Wright, who then managed the band, tried to persuade Anderson to give up the flute so then-guitarist Mick Abrahams could become the focal point, but Anderson's onstage charisma precluded the move. The band opened for Pink Floyd that summer and was signed to Island Records.

Blues music, however, is now a no-no for Anderson based on his be-what-you-know reasoning. The former art student doesn't think he was disadvantaged enough to consider genuine blues a part of him.

He says he's considered doing a blues album, though. "But I've considered becoming a race car driver, an astronaut and a gynecologist, too," he says. "I'd probably have a lot of fun doing it, and I could probably find some good people who could prop me up. But there's a sense of unease, being a middle-class white boy, because the music has to do with a heritage and a culture that, while I have some feeling for it, I'm not authenticated for it."

He has a similar outlook on the technology of music, which he believes hasn't changed much in the last 50 years save for three key inventions: the electric guitar, the synthesizer and digital recording. Though he keeps Jethro Tull's entire live performance history on a fancy flash drive in his flute case, his attitude toward technical innovation is testy.

"I noticed in some music magazine an expensive piece of software that would write lyrics for you," he said. "OK, it's not necessarily plagiarism, but it's unhealthy to a great degree. Technology is a good thing to use, but we can't become a slave to it. Then it becomes something very different and very nasty."

He keeps that memory drive handy so he can plan set lists according to city, though, ensuring that what Jethro Tull belts out in Houston Thursday night isn't nearly the same as when the group performed here last, or before that. That's another reason the band's survived as long as it has: live variety for its still-enthusiastic fan base. This time the shakeup includes violin prodigy Lucia Micarelli (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Josh Groban) as a featured guest in Tull itself.

"We go away with maybe 40 or 50 songs that we could play, and on any given night, we'll play 20 of them," he says. "We try to incorporate every era, and we try to give the audience a good picture of what Tull is and was.

"Touring is a huge logistical operation. It's not so disagreeable, but it's what we have to do to be a performer. If I were a gynecologist, I'd wake up every morning and pop my rubber gloves on. That's what they do, and this is what we do."

October 21st, 2005 09:01 AM
Candace Youngblood I really love old Jethro Tull.

I wonder if Ian paid a visit to Ti Jean while in Lowell.

October 21st, 2005 09:11 AM
Ten Thousand Motels
Candace Youngblood wrote:
I really love old Jethro Tull.

I wonder if Ian paid a visit to Ti Jean while in Lowell.

A freind of mine turned me on to Jethro Tull when I was in high school, about 1970 I guess. Shortly thereafter Aqualung came out, 71? 72? Anyway I guess that was their apex record.
October 21st, 2005 09:24 AM
Candace Youngblood I love "Aqualung", but "Stand Up" is my personal favorite.

I wonder how they are sounding these days? I've thought about seeing them a few times, but I always convince myself that it will suck.
October 21st, 2005 09:40 AM
Ten Thousand Motels
Candace Youngblood wrote:
I love "Aqualung", but "Stand Up" is my personal favorite.

I wonder how they are sounding these days? I've thought about seeing them a few times, but I always convince myself that it will suck.

From the reviews I've read in recent years you never know what your going to get with them. But I don't think anyone would ever regret going.
October 21st, 2005 02:25 PM
gimmekeef I never quite got the Tull thing...but many of my friends really liked them.For me too much flute...
October 21st, 2005 02:29 PM
mickmask "It's fine being kissing cousins and having respect for other styles, but you shouldn't be making musical babies together."

Great point!

...Oh..andI think he'd have made a great gynecologist...


[Edited by mickmask]
October 21st, 2005 02:32 PM
mickmask wrote:
"It's fine being kissing cousins and having respect for other styles, but you shouldn't be making musical babies together."

Great point!

...Oh..andI think he'd have made a great gynecologist...


[Edited by mickmask]

what a moment when they won the first MTV music award for heavy metal!
October 21st, 2005 02:48 PM
mickmask LOl...yeah, but that was for the plate in his head!

October 21st, 2005 02:51 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl I love early Jethro as a great blues-jazz-rock fusion band, I love the semi-progressive period, I love the actual period, Ian solo albums are also great.

Live is a fantastic band, Ian really knows how to manage stage-presence, he rocks

BTW, there's a space here at Rocks Off with cool Jethro stuff

Jethro @ Rocks Off

[Edited by VoodooChileInWOnderl]
October 21st, 2005 02:52 PM

October 21st, 2005 04:39 PM
MRD8 I've been a big Tull fan ever since I saw them on their first American tour in '69...I have an amazing quality proshot DVD from their concert in Lugano, Switzerland on July 7th, 2005...check out this great setlist:
AquaIntro, For A Thousand Mothers, Nothing Is Easy, Jack-In-The-Green, Serenade To A Cuckoo, Beggar's Farm, Boris Dancing, Weathercock, We Five Kings, Up To Me, Bourée, Mother Goose, Empty Café, Farm On The Freeway, Hymn 43, A New Day Yesterday, Budapest, Aqualung, Locomotive Breath, Protect And Survive, Cheerio. If you get a chance to see them near you take it!
October 21st, 2005 07:28 PM
Soldatti I love this band.
October 22nd, 2005 10:33 AM
Ten Thousand Motels Tull adds strings to complement flute
Violinist adds fresh sound -- and fresh look -- to rock legends

By Tom Labinski
Saturday, October 22, 2005

Jethro Tull's long history of defying convention continues.

For most Tull detractors -- and there are many -- it's near blasphemy that a flute player fronts a rock band. Those critics would have come unglued to see the 1988 Grammy winners for hard rock/heavy metal at the Backyard on Wednesday, now with a violin in the forefront for nearly half the show.

It probably unnerved a few diehard fans, too.

The latest surprise came in the form of Lucia Micarelli, a twentysomething, classically trained violinist who brought a burst of energy and, let's face it, a bit of visual relief to a band that has been around for nearly 40 years. During her on-again, off-again appearances, she also fit in quite well with the band, equally at home playing an excerpt from a Sibelius concerto as she was helping propel "Locomotive Breath," Tull's standard hard-charging encore.

Standing next to Ian Anderson as she played, while furiously attacking her violin and throwing her body into every note, it was almost like opening a time capsule to Jethro Tull's front man as he looked in 1968, wild hair flying as he somehow conjured up rock 'n' roll with the unlikeliest of instruments.

Micarelli also brought a sense of adventure to a band that has been almost militant in its refusal to play non-Ian Anderson songs, leading them through instrumental covers of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," "The Love Theme from The Godfather," and most successfully, Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir."

But for those who like the classic rock Tull style, there was plenty of that. The band played eight of the 11 songs from their seminal "Aqualung" album, and even dipped back to their debut album with "Beggar's Farm." In fact, "Budapest" was the only Jethro Tull song played that was written in the past 17 years.

It wasn't until the last stretch of the second set, beginning with a surprise jiglike version of the rarely played "Hymn 43," that lead guitarist Martin Barre was able to shine. Relegated to the sidelines for much of the show, Barre made up for lost time as he blazed the way down the stretch during "My God" and "Aqualung."

Perhaps a bit quieter than most Jethro Tull shows, it was still refreshing to see a band so long in the tooth still daring to be different.
October 22nd, 2005 03:38 PM
time is on my side I've always been a big fan even though, excluding Ian's solo albums (both Rupi's Dance and The Secret Language of Birds are great), there hasn't been anything of real quality released for well over two decades (one exception may be The Christmas Album but a lot of that is recycled).

First saw Tull in 1972 during their Thick as a Brick tour and what a simply incredible show it was!!!

Would have seen Tull on this tour but they played here the same night as the STONES. Oh well, hope to see them again on their next tour.
October 23rd, 2005 05:22 PM
Ten Thousand Motels
VoodooChileInWOnderl wrote:

Does this link work? I can't get anywhere with it.
October 23rd, 2005 05:30 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl The internal linw as right, but I don't know why it didn't work

Try again Jethro @ Rocks Off
October 23rd, 2005 05:31 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl LOL linw = link
October 23rd, 2005 05:43 PM
Ten Thousand Motels
VoodooChileInWOnderl wrote:
The internal linw as right, but I don't know why it didn't work

Try again Jethro @ Rocks Off

Yes, ok, thnx.
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