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One of the most complicated bands in many ways is the British band Jethro Tull.  They are complicated in their music, extremely complicated in their personnel, and almost mind bogglingly complicated in insofar as why I adore a limited set of their work and either care not a fig or actually dislike the rest.  I have such a love/hate relationship for any other band.

I do not understand why I feel this way, but I do.  At their best, they are superb.  When they are a bit off they are still better than most bands, but the material that I dislike is just awful, at least in my view.

This is why it has taken me so long to get started with this series.  I generally try to write about things that I have unambiguous feelings, usually bands that I really like.  Sometimes I write about horrible acts, like Ray Stevens, who really never did anything of real merit.  But to write about a band that can move me greatly with some material and with other material make me say, "What IS that?" is quite different.  Please bear with me!

The band has had at least 24 different members, which is a lot for a five person band.  This is not counting the other dozen or more incidental players here and there.   I am not even going to try to deconvolute all of the personnel changes, and this series will not be longer than four installments.  It is just too daunting a task to attempt.

The only constant in the band is the founder and leader, Ian Anderson.  Born 19470810 (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!, by the way, Mr. Anderson, since today is your 65th birthday), he has been the driving force since the rather arbitrary formation year of 1967.  The whole issue is quite murky, and anyone with inside expertise is invited to comment extensively.

Anderson seems to have formed a band called The Blades in the northwest part of England in 1962, but it never panned out well.  Interestingly, Jeffrey Hammond was the bass player for that band way back then, and actually was part of Tull years later.  It seems that the band were always in a constant state of flux.

The second longest current member is the guitar player, Martin Barre.  He joined the band in 1969 and is still with them.  He replaced Mick Abrahams who was the original guitarist from 1967.  This really gets confusing.

I am not a Tull historian, and I am sure that this is quite obvious by now.  Instead of trying to detail all of the personnel changes, let us just look at their early music.  I shall attempt to explain things as we look at that.

Their first single to be released was called "Sunshine Day" and was written by Abrahams.  Here it is.  Interestingly, due to a typo, the band were presented on the label as Jethro Toe!  It was released in the UK on 19680216 on MGM Records.  It failed to chart.

I could not find lyrics for this song.

This is not a really memorable song, but is not bad at all.  I like the guitar a lot.  Two things other than that stand out to me:  Anderson does not play flute on it, and he does sing.  Not a bad song.  But it seems to me that Abrahams was the band leader at the time.  Anderson would soon remedy that.

The band released an album, called This Was, on 19681025, on Island Records in the UK and Reprise in the US.  It charted at #10 in the UK and #62 in the US.  They were on their way!  By that time, Anderson had written or cowritten all but one of the songs, sort of pushing Abrahams out of the band.  Sure enough, he left after the release.

Here is the band lineup for that album:

Mick Abrahams (19430407 and still with us):  Vocals, guitar

Ian Anderson (19470810 and still with us):  Vocals, claghorn, flute, harmonica, mouth organ

Clive Bunker (19461230) and still with us):  Drums

Glenn Cornick (19470423 and still with us):  Bass

David Palmer (birth date unknown, but still with us):  French horn, orchestral arrangements

By the way, the album was produced by Terry Ellis, who went on to create the record label Chrysalis Music that was extremely influential in bringing new talent to the public.  It was a really good label whilst it lasted.  It still does, but Ellis sold his interest in it in 1985.

Here are a couple of songs from it, still not quite getting the Tull flavor, but getting closer.  The first one is "My Sunday Feeling", by Anderson.


My Sunday feeling is coming on over me.
My Sunday feeling is coming on over me,
Now that the night is over.
Got to clear my head so I can see.
Till I get to put together,
that old feeling won't let me be.

Won't somebody tell me where I laid my head last night?
Won't somebody tell me where I laid my head last night?
I really don't remember,
But with one more cigarette and I think I might.
Till I get to put together,
well that old feeling can't get me right.

Need some assistance, have you listened to what I said?
Need some assistance, have you listened to what I said?
Oh, I don't feel so good.
Need someone to help me to my bed.
Till I get to put together,
that old feeling is in my head.

We do hear the nascent Jethro Tull in this one, and it is not bad at all.  It is not polished, but not bad.

The second track that I have chosen to present is Anderson's "A Song for Jeffery", about Jeffrey Hammond, who would play bass guitar for Tull for a few years.  Hammond was the bass player for The Blades way back when.


Gonna lose my way tomorrow,
gonna give away my car.
I'd take you along with me,
but you would not go so far.
Don't see what I do not want to see,
you don't hear what I don't say.
Won't be what I don't want to be,
I continue in my way.

Don't see, see, see where I'm goin',
Don't see, see, see where I'm goin',
Don't see, see, see where I'm goin' to,
I don't want to.

Everyday I see the mornin' come on in the same old way.
I tell myself tomorrow brings me things I would not dream today.

With all of that said, it was probably "Living in the Past" that got Tull going.  Anderson wrote it, and it is likely the first single that really brought the full Tull sound to view.  It was released sometime in 1969 (better information would be appreciated) and is quite good.  By that time, Anderson was the undisputed leader of the band, and still is.  The Tull sound is fully fleshed out in this song.


Happy and I'm smiling,
walk a mile to drink your water.
You know I'd love to love you,
and above you there's no other.
We'll go walking out
while others shout of war's disaster.
Oh, we won't give in,
let's go living in the past.

Once I used to join in
every boy and girl was my friend.
Now there's revolution, but they don't know
what they're fighting.
Let us close out eyes;
outside their lives go on much faster.
Oh, we won't give in,
we'll keep living in the past.

The name of the song was also used as at the title for the compilation album that was released in 1972, and most people were not familiar with it until the album was on the market.  To this day, some folks think that it was one of their concept albums.  Interestingly, it is one of the few rock songs that uses 5/4 meter.

That single was also part of their second album, Stand Up, released 19690801 on Island and Reprise in the UK and the US, respectively.  That album was well received, and charted at #1 in the UK.  I have no data about the US chart position, so if you know please comment.  There were a couple of other songs of merit there as well, viz.:

The band membership had changed, with Martin Barre (19461117 and still with us) replacing Abrahams on guitar.

Here is "Stand Up".  By then, Anderson was writing all of the material.

It is now clear that Anderson was driving the bus.  I would have like to have ridden it then!

"Reasons for Waiting" is particularly poingant for me.  Those sound like real strings.


What a sight for my eyes to see you in sleep.
Could've startled the sunrise hearing you weep.
You're not seen, you're not heard
but I stand by my word.
Came a thousand miles
just to catch you while you're smiling.

What a day for laughter and walking at night.
Me following after, your hand holding tight.
And the memory stays clear with the song that you hear.
If I can but make the words awake the feeling.

What a reason for waiting and dreaming of dreams.
So here's hoping you've faith in impossible schemes,
that are born in the sigh of the wind blowing by
while the dimming light brings the end to a night of loving.

Their third album, Benefit, was released on 19700501 in the UK on Chrysalis, and on 19700420 in the US on Reprise.  It charted at #3 in the UK, but I have no data on its position in the US.  Anderson wrote all of the material, and also produced it.  He was by then the undisputed master of Jethro Tull, and the best was to come.  The band lineup was the same as for Stand Up.  Here are a couple of songs that I like very much.  The first is "Nothing to Say".


Everyday there's someone asking
what is there to do?
Should I love or should I fight
is it all the same to you?
No I say I have the answer
proven to be true,
But if I were to share it with you,
you would stand to gain
and I to lose.
Oh I couldn't bear it
so I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say.

Every morning pressure forming
all around my eyes.
Ceilings crash, the walls collapse,
broken by the lies
that your misfortune brought upon us
and I won't disguise them.
So don't ask me will I explain
I won't even begin to tell you why.
No, just because I have a name
well I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say.

Climb a tower of freedom,
paint your own deceiving sign.
It's not my power
to criticize or to ask you to be blind
To your own pressing problem
and the hate you must unwind.
So ask of me no answer
there is none that I could give
you wouldn't find.
I went your way ten years ago
and I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say.

Here is "To Cry You a Song".  The lyrics are included in the feed so I did not include them separately.

I know that this brief introduction is not nearly enough for hardcore Tull fans and I hope that readers will insert their favorite pieces in the comments.  The plan for next week is to examine Aqualung in its entirety.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Docudharma, and

firefly-dreaming

Originally posted to Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 05:58 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Protest Music.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 05:58:47 PM PDT

  •  The dog ate my "Tips and recs for (11+ / 0-)

    a complex band?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:01:23 PM PDT

    •  Folks, visiting calls. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slowbutsure, Brown Thrasher

      I shall be back for comments later.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:37:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Back for a while! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brown Thrasher

      Folks, once again this sorry series made the Recommended List!  I appreciate everyone who hit that button very much.

      Today has been wonderful for me.  I wrote a Rec List piece, finished my rare occasional installment for What's for Dinner? to be posted tomorrow, actually ate some food, and visited with my dear friend several times today and tonight, all of which ended in hugs and handholds.

      And tomorrow we take care of flea bathing the kitten, Jace, and spending even more time together.  Sometimes things just do not get much better.  20120810 was one of the happiest days of my life!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:33:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pretty Thick, Doc (6+ / 0-)

    will you get to the Brick?  :)

  •  My two faves: (7+ / 0-)

    Songs From The Wood
    Heavy Horses

    Nuff said. Aqualung is a close third.

  •  Thanks... I was not familiar with the (5+ / 0-)

    origins of Tull, although I am a fan.

    Tull played here in Mississippi in the early 70s, and on that trip guitarist Martin Barre met Julie Weems, a girl from Pearl.

    She must have been special, because he came back and married her...

    (And I think they are still together...  :-)

    "In other words, if we bust our butts, there's an even chance things will get better; and if we sit on our butts, there's a major chance things will go completely to hell". --- G2geek

    by Lorinda Pike on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:38:45 PM PDT

    •  I was not aware of that. (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for the nice catch!  Southern girls have a unique charm.  That is why I married one.  But it turns out, after more life experience, I have found that many kinds of people have their own charms.  Being raised in the south, they were just more identifiable to me.

      It turns out that it is the person, not the region whence that person comes, is the most important.  Please  note that I was gender nonspecific.  I can understand how people are attracted to specific individuals, regardless of gender.  Love should be transcendental of such little details, and true love IS.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:23:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of my favorite bands (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slowbutsure, Lorinda Pike, Translator

    Is there any truth to the story that the name Jethro Tull was settled upon when it was the one on the list they were working when they were asked to come back to play a second time?

    Is it also true that Tony Iommi played with them in the early days? There is a video of the Rock n'Roll Circus put on by the Stones that featured Jethro Tull playing 'Song for Jeffrey' that some maintain includes Tony I. It was pulled from Youtube due to copyright restrictions some time ago and I do not know if it was ever confirmed or denied definitively.

    Putting on the spectacles of science in expectation of finding an answer to everything looked at signifies inner blindness. -- J(ames) Frank Dobie

    by cactusflinthead on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:39:19 PM PDT

    •  Apparently so. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator, SherwoodB


      Earth and Jethro Tull
      Main article: Jethro Tull (band)
      Iommi, Butler, Ward and Osbourne renamed the band Earth in September 1968. They carried on under this moniker until December 1968 when Iommi briefly departed to join Jethro Tull. However after only one performance (an appearance on "The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus" in which the band mimed "A Song for Jeffrey", which Ian Anderson sang live), Iommi was back with Earth once more.
      Iommi on his brief working relationship with Jethro Tull vocalist Ian Anderson:
      I learned quite a lot from him, I must say. I learned that you have got to work at it. You have to rehearse. When I came back and I got the band (Earth) back together, I made sure that everybody was up early in the morning and rehearsing. I used to go and pick them up. I was the only one at the time that could drive. I used to have to drive the bloody van and get them up at quarter to nine every morning; which was, believe me, early for us then. I said to them, "This is how we have got to do it because this is how Jethro Tull did it." They had a schedule and they knew that they were going to work from this time till that time. I tried that with our band and we got into doing it. It worked. Instead of just strolling in at any hour, it made it more like we were saying, "Let’s do it!"
      Tony Iommi

      That is the same video that I mentioned in the first comment. Interesting quirk of meetings. Neat.

      Putting on the spectacles of science in expectation of finding an answer to everything looked at signifies inner blindness. -- J(ames) Frank Dobie

      by cactusflinthead on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:05:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and true to the second question (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, SherwoodB

        Reverting back to form I ask a question and then go look it up myself.

        How did you get the name Jethro Tull?

        Back in February, 1968, we had many different names which usually changed every week, since we were so bad that we had to pretend to be some new band in order to get re-booked in the clubs where we aspired to find fame and fortune. Our agent, who had studied History at college, came up with the name Jethro Tull (an eighteenth century English agricultural pioneer who invented the seed drill). That was the band name during the week in which London's famous Marquee Club offered us the Thursday night residency. So it stuck. Is it too late to change? I thought so.Jethro Tull FAQ

        Putting on the spectacles of science in expectation of finding an answer to everything looked at signifies inner blindness. -- J(ames) Frank Dobie

        by cactusflinthead on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:08:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Playing at the Marquee (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cactusflinthead

          was special.  The Who had a regular Tuesday night spot.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:42:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Or was it Thursday? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cactusflinthead

            No matter, every week for them.

            The Doctor and I went back to see them.  They enjoyed folks from the future and the past to congratulate them.  John and I went out for drinks.  This is fantasy, but a good one.

            What is NOT fantasy was The Girl finally saying the words tonight.

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

            I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

            by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 10:51:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  is it still there? (0+ / 0-)

              I might want to go see the Imperial War Museum and all the paraphernalia of what happened way back when, but to draw a pint where they made music, wellllll.... driver take me there!

              Putting on the spectacles of science in expectation of finding an answer to everything looked at signifies inner blindness. -- J(ames) Frank Dobie

              by cactusflinthead on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 12:23:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  The stories about the name itself (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cactusflinthead

      are plentiful, and I was not able to nail down one that was without question.  Your understanding is about as good as any, at least with the data that I could find.

      Yes, Iommi DID play with them, at least for one session and most likely more than that.  Records are spotty.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:26:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Back in the day (8+ / 0-)

    when Da Boys were in elementary school (early 2000s) and I was continuing their education in The Classics, I bought a CD of the Best of Tull, and had Locomotive Breath queued up to play when I started the car as I picked them up from school one day.

    They were gobsmacked.

    Best of Tull was demanded as the Drive Home From School soundtrack for several weeks.

    I, too, have a love-hate relationship with Tull.  When it's good, it's very, very good, but when it's not, it's just weird.

    I'm a Ripplearian: I don't know; don't really care; let there be songs to fill the air

    by Frankenoid on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:57:50 PM PDT

  •  Anderson in Asheville next month! (3+ / 0-)

    Have tickets to hear Ian play Thick As a Brick next month.

    Hard for me to choose a favorite -- tonight I'm going with "Skating Away On the Thin Ice of a New Day" from War Child

  •  Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi on his Tull days. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    You can see him on Tull's appearance on the Rolling Stone's rock and roll Circus, though he's just miming the guitar part.

    "The disturbing footage depicts piglets being drop kicked and swung by their hind legs. Sows are seen being kicked and shoved as they resist leaving their piglets."

    by Bush Bites on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:27:42 PM PDT

  •  A cover song on their debut album.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Dark UltraValia

    .....was Serenade to a Cuckoo by US jazz artist Roland Kirk

    "The disturbing footage depicts piglets being drop kicked and swung by their hind legs. Sows are seen being kicked and shoved as they resist leaving their piglets."

    by Bush Bites on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:33:28 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Doc (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Brown Thrasher

    I think I have a greater affinity for Tull than The Who or The Moody Blues.  I was only dimly aware of Tull before college, I'd worked a summer camp one year (71?) where one of the paid staff was nicknamed Tick and there was no shortage of Thick as a Tick references.

    At college (as a rare Texan in Oklahoma) I hung out with some new buddies from Tulsa who like me were engineering students.  They were big Tull fans.  Glen had worn tracks 2 & 4 of his Passion Play 8 track almost smooth.  We found out that Tull music, when played loud enough was a great redneck repellent.  Very useful in Oklahoma when you're surrounded by them.  Picked up my own records and tried to wear them out before I graduated.  Alas they're long gone now.

    And in another "You baby boomers ruined everything" thread with my son, he's still incensed that Jethro Tull won the first "heavy metal Grammy".  His opinion is that Metalica deserved that award, not some bunch of old hippies.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 08:14:16 PM PDT

    •  I have got to go! The Girl (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brown Thrasher

      and I are going to take care of Jace, the kitten, in the morning, and I need to be rested.  Everyone, please have a wonderful evening!  I love everyone!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 08:18:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For the first time, she (0+ / 0-)

        said the words, "I love you, David."  Twice!  Life is GOOD!

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 10:20:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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