Jethro Tull

ARTICLE ABOUT Jethro Tull FROM New Musical Express, June 5, 1976

This one feels like one of the longest articles I have printed on this blog ever. I hope you enjoy this interview with one of rock`s most mysterious men. Actually, for a while in my youth, I was thinking the same as a lot of other people did; that Ian Anderson was the person named Jethro Tull. I guess the name combined with the strong image of seeing him one-legged with his flute made the brain do these connections.
These days Mr. Anderson is still performing live in concert as “Jethro Tull performed by Ian Anderson”. As I am writing this he is preparing for a small tour of Germany before going to the US in November. Catch them if you can!

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Anderson`s Passion

Ian Anderson tells more than he usually does…
By Tony Stewart

A music business tradition is that Rock Superstars don`t usually telephone journalists.
“Hello. This is Ian Anderson,” said the voice on the line, instantly breaking protocol. “I believe you`ve been trying to arrange an interview with me through my record company`s press office.”
Indeed. But progress had been slow. Following Anderson`s appearances on the Old Grey Whistle Test and Supersonic during March, he`d agreed, through his PR, to talk exclusively to New Musical Express. But – furiously busy, working on the Jethro Tull Television Special with Mike Mansfield, rehearsing for Europe, and doing a foreign press and radio promotional trip – he`d been unable to allocate time for the interview.
The waiting game continued, and it was decided he would only be available after the Tull Euro Tour, which began early in May. With 13 concerts in eight countries, that meant he wouldn`t return to Britain until the end of the month.
But in Brussels, as Anderson explained during the call, he`d received a copy of Melody Maker which carried an unfavourable review of the new album, “Too Old To Rock `N` Roll: Too Young To Die.” Because he believed at least 10,000 people would avoid the set as a result of the criticism, his immediate reaction was to invite an MM staffman over to Europe.
Despite a reluctance to have the British press on the tour at all, he said he believed this tactic would allow him an opportunity to answer the critique, defend the recording, perhaps direct people`s interest towards it and so regain lost ground.

He was blowing out our exclusive. But being courteously concerned enough to tell me why.
“Sorry to rob you of a first Jethro Tull,” he said. “Whatever that may be worth.”
However, he did make it clear that this writer and a photographer would now be welcome to join the tour, if we wished. All the facilities and co-operation we required for an interview would be provided, and his major consolatory gesture would be to let us view the new stage act. A treat which apparently wouldn`t be afforded to our competitors.
“It`s not good for me to be calling the papers,” he admitted. “It`s just a silly thing. I get upset when an album comes out and it`s given a downer.
“Anyway,” he concluded, “I`ll have to get back to my breakfast.”
The telephone conversation seemed only to add credence to the general impression of Anderson`s paranoia: the Mad Hatter of British Rock.
After all, few major artists publicly confess to such acute sensitivity to critical opinion, and you may recall that in `73 Anderson, smarting with indignation went the whole hog by withdrawing Jethro Tull from the public arena following adverse notices for the “A Passion Play” album.
In retrospect it could be construed as a publicity gambit, because there was no loss in continuity of their recorded work, an album a year. But at the time the forfeiture only served to exacerbate his relationship with the press. And it was interpreted, in one instance, as “an unprecedented fit of pettiness and paranoia.”

And even when the band returned to live work a year later Anderson was once again declaring troubled opinions of the papers, being quoted as saying, “Criticism ought first of all be beneficial to the artist.”
He seemed to be the type of man who tore music papers into squares, for use in the lavatory in place of Delsey rolls.
Finding the real Ian Anderson is a difficult task.
The search is confounded by the fact that he doesn`t socialise in the business, apparently has few close friends with the possible exceptions of Captain Beefheart and Roy Harper, and never turns up at London clubs like Dingwalls, The Speakeasy or The Marquee to busk or booze. Therefore there`s little gossip or rumour enshrouding him.
Opinions, nonetheless, are formed even if of a speculative nature.
Some people who claim to have come in close contact with him describe Anderson as a beer swilling, jovial lecher who surrounds himself with sexy, young pretties. Others consider him to be a serious, intelligent, articulate musician, his head screwed on tight, but with an effusive tendency to talk the legs off a centipede.
And a small faction of disrespectful people contemptuously dismiss him as an arrogant pseudo-intellectual, so conceited that he can`t differentiate between what`s good and bad in his own music.
Also, magazine features on him have lacked consistent – never mind unanimous – character profiles, although various of his pet subjects have emerged: Beefheart and Harper, his musical aspirations, his concern about Jethro Tull intergroup relationships, his cinematic and theatrical ambitions, a fancy to adopt the nickname Jet (a term coined by some misguided fan who believed IA was Mr. Jethro Tull) and more recently the British tax laws.

Perhaps the common factor evident in most of these articles is his apparent eloquence and natural ability to express himself succinctly, with various degrees of ornamentation, and an astute awareness of the Good Controversial Quote. Reading between the lines you can often detect the canny manner in which he manipulates the interviewer.
For certain, he isn`t a dumbo. But still he remains an enigma.
And that`s basically why Pennie Smith and I accompanied by Chrysalis`s PR, have accepted the invitation, and are now wiping our feet in the lobby of Barcelona`s Princess Sofia Hotel, and being presented to Ian Anderson. The rest of Tull, who`ve just registered, having arrived from Switzerland, hover briefly in the background and then disappear quickly without being introduced.
Jethro Tull are back on the road with a new stage act based around material from the new album, “Too Old To Rock `n` Roll: Too Young To Die” with a new bass player called John Glascock and a temporary member in David Palmer, the arranger who`s worked with the band since their early days, playing keyboards alongside John Evan. Tomorrow`s concert will be the last but one of the European tour which closes in Madrid.
First impressions of Anderson are immediate.
He`s surprisingly slighter in physique than photographs suggest, to the point of seeming vulnerable. He`s politely mild-mannered and softly spoken. And he`s incredibly scruffy, wearing a black leather biker`s jacket, and soiled black jeans. His hair is a wild frizz, and the early stages of a beard dirtily shades his face.
More opinions are formed over the evening while we dine and drink together.

Wary, but not totally intolerant of the press, particularly NME who he feels have been particularly unkind to him over the last three years, it`s soon apparent that the social evening is indeed an acceptable method of familiarising ourselves with each other, but also an opportunity for Anderson to discover my attitudes towards him.
Yes, he`s sussing me out.
After being grilled by the Spanish press (who ask if he`s bisexual or if he`s made love to Henry Kissinger – really), we move into the hotel restaurant, and chat idly over the meal. Guardedly, Anderson is polite. He maintains a distance, and his only spontaneous action is to studiously and repeatedly sniff his steak, and then finally jerk a piece from his mouth, declaring loudly that it`s dogshit!
Just cutting into her meat, Pennie grimaces, swallows hard and pushes the plate to the side.
We all relax more, discussing music, which eventually leads to a fairly heated, but good natured, argument. “Am I winning on points?” He turns and asks PR man Briggsy.
In the bar he discloses more about himself.
That he has unpleasant memories of Tull`s early days, when they all earned £12.50 a week, with the exception of Mick Abrahams who received £15 on the grounds that he had to give money to his Mum. He talks about throwing Park Drive ciggies and lollipops to audiences, and realised he`d made it when he could afford to buy a packet of ten Bensons. He relates stories about collapsing on stage at the Fillmore East and arriving on early American tours to find their equipment smashed in transit.
Laughing now (time has dulled the original hardship) he reveals that by 1970 Tull were £90,000 into debt.

Although music is his consummate interest, he`s also interested in moto cross, reads five national dailies, and Spy books, and talks at length about a fascination for fire arms. He hogs the oratory stand and lacks humour.
It seemed natural to crack an amusing question: Did you get into guns from reading Spy books or after seeing the reviews of “A Passion Play.” But he ignores the comment.
The atmosphere`s less formal, with Anderson more at ease. But still faintly detached – cordial without feigning an air of backslapping ribaldry. Obviously he doesn`t want to be whitewashed or made to appear as something he isn`t. Nor does he wish to be unfairly tarred and feathered by a journalist.
The consequence of all this is that he raises a virtually inpenetrable protective shield of assured, calm, professional diffidence.
Clearly we`re not going to catch him fumbling some Latin honey, picking his nose or bum burping in public.
“I started to enjoy Jethro Tull after I`d made the decision not to quit, which was about 1970.
“Up until that point it had been financially very dissatisfying because of the huge debt we`d incurred as a band, due to the cost of equipment, and trucking and aeroplane flights to get us to tours that didn`t make any money.”
Anderson and I are seated in the hotel lounge the next day, having in the morning tramped round the Ossa motorbike factory on the outskirts of Barcelona. Our introductory meeting last night had finished around 2 am. I`d gone to bed, while Jet and David Palmer had gone to a room, ostensibly to write an ad jingle for Debenhams.

Because Anderson had voiced surprisingly unpleasant recollections of Tull`s early period, it seemed natural to ask when he started to like his role, if at all. He answers instantly, speaking well and fluently.
“On a musical level it was dissatisfying 50 per cent of the time, because we were still living under the shadow of our public origins as a blues group. And everything we did that deviated from that obvious link with the blues, felt like an act of alienation towards the people who established the group through their buying of records and attendance of concerts.
“That`s a very simplistic way to say suddenly, at some point, it changed. I don`t think it was an overnight thing.
“But I do remember there being a tour of America where I did come back and say: That`s it. I`ve done my bit. I`ve done my National Service. I probably owe a fortune in tax. Time to knock it on the head and be a record company executive, or manage a group, or whatever retired musos are supposed to do.
“When you actually have to weigh up the alternatives they`re not good.
“I mean, it lurked in the back of my mind probably for a good few years that music was possibly a thing to do for fun, on a sort of amateur level. But you must remember I`d been brought up to believe that it was absolutely necessary for one`s mental and ultimately physical well-being to have a career; a profession.
“For a profession, the door was open as far as the business side of the Business was concerned. I`d always thought, perhaps, that would ultimately be what I would do.”
He pauses, collecting his thoughts.

“Strangely enough, I actually think I now have a sufficiently wide-working knowledge of the business to do a better job than most at anything other than the real legal and contractual side of things, which I really don`t understand.
“To an extent, I can probably do a better job than most of the people in the business do, on all the different fronts. Whether it`s in terms of PR. management, A & R. Or,” he adds cynically, “whatever thing it is they all do.”
Self-assured, he`s aware of his capabilities, but speaks simply and without arrogance.
“Some of the better record companies have presumably got wise to the fact they have to offer a more comprehensive service to the artist, in terms of providing PR and management advice – you know, arranging for abortions and venereal disease cures.
“I think there is that need for the 24-hour-a-day sort of father figure who doesn`t actually get on stage. Somebody who has that small degree of objectivity as to what`s going on.. who`s just being able to act as a pillar to some kind of reality as far as the group`s concerned.
“Because a bunch of guys who get up on stage and play guitars and wear silly clothes and have the audience wetting their pants, are bound to go a bit crazy. And most of them do.
“Really. I`ve met very few people in the music business who I didn`t think were really dangerously lunatic. Mostly the people who`re actually involved in the creative aspect of it strike me as being clearly crackers.”
Do you consider yourself crackers?
“No. Not at all. I don`t think many people do.

“The only thing people can accuse me of is being a little bit too clever for my own good. Possessing just a little bit too much knowledge and too much awareness of what`s going on. And that frightens them. Sometimes it`s levelled, not directly but in their own minds, as some sort of accusation that perhaps I can`t be a true serious musician or performer, because I`m too aware of what`s going on around the business. And that it`s not good for the artist to know these things.
“I think that, by and large, it probably isn`t good. But I have a mental capacity for holding in, and occasionally utilising that information without letting it rule my life. Or, I hope, without letting it get in the way of the music.
“I would feel distinctly nervous after this number of years if I didn`t know anything about the business, and I was still being an active muso. I would be terrified now if I didn`t know something about International tax law and internal account procedures within the record company.
“I`d be paranoid.
“And I`d probably be broke, instead of thankfully having a bit of capital tucked away which is allowing me to further my private musical aims, when and where they occur.”
By now it`s possible to see Anderson, the interviewee, more accurately. He`s an eloquent speaker who is so much at ease that it`s hard to imagine he is so sensitive of the press. But you also notice traces of unconscious dogmatism, and his qualifying words of doubt amount to spurious objectivity.

After almost four hours of taped interview over three sessions, as well as off-tape conversations which are invariably concerned with our respective attitudes to music, there will be a clearer portrait of Anderson, the person.
Even now, as he entertainingly talks about the bad old days, and how they`re misrepresented by people as being atmospherically healthy periods, he can`t resist commentating on Tull now, revealing a view that smacks of his pessimistic vulnerability.
For instance when he says he would like to see The Rolling Stones…
“I`d be interested,” he qualifies, “to see how my reaction towards their current concert performance would vary with your average, jaded journalistic view – because that`s what the journalistic view has been on this tour so far. Their reviews have not been terribly good.
“Just as ours probably won`t be terribly good, and Elton John`s weren`t terribly good last time he was around, when he played with The Beach Boys. He didn`t make it, but the Beach Boys were lovely. Because they (the writers) hadn`t seen them before.”
He is not, it appears, beyond throwing an occasional dart of cynicism too.
Anderson`s a sly old fox. You never really know if he`s setting you up, again manipulating the interview for his own benefit. At the moment he`s being reserved, serious and rarely excitedly animated. He consciously attempts to be unpredictable, as he`ll admit. Which could, of course, be the essence of his protective shield.
Now you see me. Now you don`t.
He talks of his and Tull`s popularity being based on reputation. It`s the reason why they continue to tour triumphant, as the European dates have so far proved.

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“Knowing how it works, the reputation or whatever,” he elaborates, “you still want to screw it a little bit as a muso. You want to get up there and do something that is at odds with what people expect of you. You have to do that. There`s a small spark of the rebel that continues to exist.
“At this point in time my rebellious nature is brought forth in actually talking a large amount of common sense and telling a large amount of truth about a business which is full of hype and petty sort of stardom trips. From the highest Rock Star, right down to the lowliest cub reporter on the New Musical Excess. Haha!
“I`m being glib and sort of rude,” he observes, “but you know what I mean. There`s a lot of things going on that I find absolutely irrelevent to the music business.”
Similarly, naming the album “Too Old To Rock`n`Roll: Too Young To Die” was, to an extent, an act of defiance – and one which also serves the dual purpose of again illustrating Anderson`s awareness of press animosity, or simply his own recurring nightmare.
“The title,” he explains, “openly invites all sort of attack on the music contained therein, and I really don`t mind because it was going to happen anyway.
“The first two or three interviews I did here yesterday in Spain were the first ones I`d done in two weeks, and the second or third, if not the first question, was: Are you too old to rock `n` roll? Is that what you`re saying in this record?
“It`s great,” he laughs.

“Everybody in the record company, from the office boy on, must have looked at the proofs for the album cover with dread, and probably thought when they saw the title; `O Christ. He`s really going to get some stick over this one.`
“Strangely, certainly in the British papers, they haven`t done that… number on the headline. I thought at least one of them would.
“It said, `Not A Ray Of Light` instead. Which is very intelligent, very clever,” he comments sarcastically, the title being an obvious pun on the central character`s name, Ray Lomas.
Conversation then pivots to his pronouncements on Taxation. He feels the papers have been irresponsible to unquestioningly print exaggerated declarations by Rock Stars about how much they`d pay to the British Government if they weren`t Tax exiles. His complaint is that all Major Names are saddled with accusations that they`re both greedy and unpatriotic.
“So you can understand,” he concludes, “that I get a bit annoyed when the customs man thinks I`m living in the Bahamas and just coming in for the football game. Or can you?”
Back to music:
“There are some of us who, believe it or not, have a basic respect for what being a muso`s all about. Like, I`m glad to be working – although we enjoy the hotels and we enjoy travelling first class, and who the hell wouldn`t?
“There is that basic ingrained sort of thing: Glad to be treading the boards, having a dressing room, I`m very grateful for all that.”
It figures we`re going to enter into a lengthy discussion about the press.

But – at this point you may feel Anderson has been allowed to wriggle off the hook too easily. Why, for instance, permit him to complain about tax misconceptions when he hasn`t even announced plans to play Britain? And, if you`re particularly astute and conversant with tax law, you may be wondering whether the only reason for his recent decision to live again in England is because he was married in March, and the British system of taxation is now more favourable to him than the American.
But, I must quickly add, I didn`t think of this, and it was he who did the explaining: Apparently, getting married means he pays more tax.
“I`m prepared to give away all that kind of bread I could be earning by saying: I don`t want to be a slave to the money rules,” he says forcefully. “If I want to get married I`ll damn well get married. I don`t care what it`s costing me.
“You can appreciate that I`m not about to bend music for the same reasons. And I would not be happy to go and live somewhere else and try and conduct a musical life in an environment that I was not at home in.
“So there are many reasons why I stay in England, not the least important being loyalty. Silly as it may sound, trivial as it may sound, that comes up reasonably high on the list for me.
“I`m British, and for a while now I`ve been making a good living by playing British music. It`s British Music!”
Sure, Ian. But how about putting it on view in Britain if you feel so strongly. Unfortunately I was remiss in not putting that point. I was more concerned about discovering whether or not he`s as paranoid about the press as he appears to be.
Certainly he admits sensitivity.

“But I`ve had a very consistent number of bounder kind of reviews and comments. In England it goes back to `Benefit` and onwards. We started getting good shows and bad reviews. At the time I thought: Well, next time probably everybody`ll like it.
“… Whereas in the public mind we`re still worth going to see at a gig, and maybe its still worth buying our records but we don`t qualify as the much-loved or much-respected Big World Group.”
That is the rub, you see.
And he than cites an instance of this when an American periodical published a Group Stature Poll, based on concert ticket returns. Jethro Tull were placed 29th. Anderson claims the poll was compiled at a time unfavourable to the group because they hadn`t been touring a lot.
“But if you averaged it out over a few years,” he explains, “in terms of actual concert ticket sales. I think we`d be very high… I think if we weren`t number one we`d certainly be in the top three.
“Nobody`s interested in that.”
But in the next breath he adds, curiously: “I`m not really interested in it that much, and I couldn`t even tell my mother that was the case. She wouldn`t believe me. She`d think I was trying to say: Look Mum, don`t worry about what you read in the English papers, coz some people love us, somewhere.
“Coz, I mean she feels like I`m washed up, I`ve had it, nobody buys the records anymore, doesn`t get to number one…”
Yeah, Rock Stars` Mums are sensitive too. Jeff Beck`s mother once dropped me a note of reprimand following a critical review of mine.
“Well, I mean Christ,” he answers. “That`s what Mums are for, isn`t it?”
But does it really matter that the press don`t give you your just deserts?
“It obviously matters on a personal level, because you actually feel there`s been a lot of instances where that sort of criticism has been unjust – in my book a little unfair, because it`s not explained.”

When we break for lunch the subject is still the same.
Then an hour or so later we resume the interview by linking Anderson`s views on the press to his music.
Does it change his approach? On “War Child,” for instance, there are several references to “A Passion Play,” and perhaps the album had been structured to fall in with what he considered popular/review taste.
“No, strangely enough.
“Lyrically `Passion Play` was about the possibility of what happens to someone who dies. What happens to the spirit, or whatever, and the possibility of an after-life; in terms of being confronted still with a choice between good and evil, rather than the conventional Christian belief: If you`re a good guy then you go to heaven as soon as you cross the other side.
“I was asking: What happens if you still have to make that choice?
“It`s not a question of whatever you do here and now sets the course for which way you go Up There. Suppose when you die you still have to make choices – rather like the Buddists believe – in different plains of existence.
“I was pursuing that sort of an idea, rather haphazzardly.”
Of course that theme was developed into a movie idea – remember, it was listed as one reason why Tull were retiring from live appearances in `73, and Anderson started to write the music.
Economically it was a large-scale venture, and caught in a deluge of Rock Star movies like Tommy and Bowie`s work on The Man Who Fell To Earth, he thought it better to shelve the project. The music then formed the greater part of “War Child.”
That seems to me to be even more evidence that “Child” was essentially a more direct approach to the same theme as “Play.”

“Well yes, I mean it was,” acquieses Anderson. But the references are somewhat oblique because… the movie was a real black and white. It was a real movie script.”
More ammo for the connection – with Anderson smarting under the critical attack received for “A Passion Play” – was what appeared to be a crystalisation of his thoughts on the press within the context of “Only Solitaire”:
“The critics falling over to tell
themselves he`s boring and
really not an awful lot of fun.
Well, who the hell can he be
when he`s never had V.D.,
and he doesn`t even sit on
toilet-seats?”
“O that one!” He laughs loudly, for the first time really animated. “I`ll tell you about that. Listen!
“That song and `Skating Away` were both recorded in the Chateau D`Heroville in the period between `Thick As A Brick` and `Passion Play`. I mean, before `Passion Play`, after…”
Yes, I`ve got it.
“… And those two songs were inserted into the `War Child` album as the two acoustic things, which were otherwise lacking. Coz the rest of the album was fairly electric and arranged more heavy. In fact, those two stemmed,” he continues, his Northern accent emerging more strongly than before now the formality is relaxed, “from a different session altogether. A year different.
“But yes, that was a precocious and very small answer to some criticism that we`d had, up until then.”

All I can do is muse that it`s amazing what interpretations can be given to songs, especially with the advantage, or hindrance, of hindsight.
For instance, artistically Tull`s first three albums were, with the exception of the production for “This Was”, excellent. Their fourth, “Aqualung”, cracked them as a world band, but the following two (“Thick As A Brick” and “A Passion Play”), because of their depth and lyrical obscurity almost totally bemused me.
Personally they suggested a certain degree of arrogance, where Tull had been successful and were therefore indulging themselves in concept works.
“Mmm. Yeah, I mean…”
Anderson responds, searching for words and exhaling a smoke screen.
“You`re absolutely right in as much as it was definitely indulging the group experience of playing together. But one thing which hasn`t really been made apparent, although I know I`ve said this on many occasions, is that `Thick As A Brick` and `Passion Play` were very much, out of the whole Jethro Tull saga, the two albums where the group corporately were responsible for the arrangements and a lot of the shape to the music.
“It`s certainly an indulgence on the part of the group. But I don`t think it was because we`d made it and we thought we could do anything, something really indulgent, and get away with it.
“It was the fact that, having made it, we thought better try and come up with something to justify, you know ha, what we`re supposed to be. Especially in America, because after `Aqualung` we were suddenly very, very established there.
“And we all felt, I think, a great deal of pressure to sort of make some real mark. Make some real positive contribution to the pop music of then.”

As he pauses you suddenly realise he`s once again sombre, the Northern-ness in his voice quelled.
“Ironic, isn`t it? That those two were number one albums in America?”
Perhaps his sneer is only in my imagination.
Quarter of an hour later, another subject broached, Anderson excuses himself. He has to travel to the gig for a soundcheck. We follow later.
They play a 5000 seater hall, just outside Barcelona, where the band have been encamped since the late afternoon.
Anderson`s alone in the dressing room, tuning his flute, while just next door drummer Barriemore Barlow talks, jokes and laughs with the support act, John Miles and his band. Outside in the corridor, cluttered with transit cases and bits `n` pieces of sound systems, Martin Barre sits quietly talking with John Glascock.
Round the bend, John Evan and his wife huddle cosily together – the missus unexpectedly turning up in the middle of the night. Close to them is a special banquetting room, tables laid out with food by the tour`s catering lady. It`s empty.
Perhaps they see enough of each other on the road, but the only occasion you witness them all together is on stage. And it`s a pretty powerful spectacle.
Jet adopts the leery posture of the Madcap Minstrel, dressed in medieval fashion. Wearing a multi-coloured patched Bolero, covering a satin shirt; blue and mauve tights; riding boots with ballet rehearsal sock turned over the top. And of course his credentials are packed neatly in… The Cod Piece!
Evan wears an Ariel-white pilot`s suit, shoulder flashes too. Glascock could have fallen from French aristocracy, ornamented in a wide rimmed red hat, and matching trousers. Sombrely Barre displays his natty, but conservative, tan corduroy trousers and waist coat. While Barlow is content to sit behind a blue perspex double Ludwig, with Palmer, hatted, studiously perched behind a string synthesiser and electric piano to the right of the stage.
Musically the show is considerably more dazzling and entertaining.
There`s precision, professionalism (yeah, the keyword round Tull), excitement and an emphasis more on the show content than any distracting visual extravaganza.

Before we each catch our respective planes, him to Madrid, me to London, we once again occupy the hotel lounge. He`s relaxed, jovial even – perhaps the natural reaction having performed a successful gig, this time before members of the British press.
Lyrical meaning, significance and translation is again the central theme of conversation, discussed at length and even tracing the religious aspect of his writing back to “Christmas Song”, the B-side of Tull`s single “Love Story”.
Another instance of completely misunderstanding his work, he asserts, is my interpretation of the new album being a personal statement by Anderson under the superficial guise of the cartoon strip featuring Ray Lomas.
IA claims the album was the result of a theatrical production he wrote, based on an actual person called Ray Lomas, and which he hoped to present on stage with Adam Faith taking the leading role. Faith was unavailable and once again Jethro Tull were presented with the structure for an album, the hand-me-downs of another independent idea of Anderson`s. Any pointed lyrical association, he seems to infer, is merely coincidental.
But certain songs fit him like a motorcycle jacket.
“Well, he replies rationally, “I suppose they do.
“But if they fit me, they must also fit pretty well every other rock `n` roll singer. They must fit everybody who`s been going for five or six years. They must look on today`s current output of the new generation of pop music with a certain disdain. With a certain kind of, haha, disappointment really.
“Because I don`t see any new Who`s, Rolling Stones, or Led Zeppelins on the horizon.”
But don`t the words of “The Chequered Flag” have more personal pertinence, I persist.
“The deaf composer completes his final score.
He`ll never hear his sweet encore…
Isn`t it grand to be playing to the
stand, dead or alive”

Is Anderson retiring? That`s how it struck me.
“Oooo, definitely not. It`s actually the antithesis of `Too Old To Rock `N` Roll…`”
“The `Too Old…` song, the title, was actually spawned in a moment of depression. At one point on an American tour  I`d been really down after a duff gig that was probably my fault, and thought: I`m really passed all this. Why should  I be travelling another 500 miles to another town. Let me off at the roundabout.
Whereas `The Chequered Flag` is lyrically more like `Bungle In The Jungle` (“War Child”). It`s accepting the sort of hardness of life, and saying: Well, it`s hell. But it`s all worth it, getting out there and doing it.”
Three days with him, at work and in play, and you can`t help but wonder just how close you are to discovering the real Ian Anderson. He ensures the promised amenities are provided, politically concerns himself with our well being. But still he remains a cool, wary distance.
Simply, you`re not admitted into the camp and no excuses are given or expected. The atmosphere being, the NME Axeman cometh, fend him off. And even the band keep dutifully out of our way.
“Obviously it`s not that they`re paranoid,” Anderson delights in explaining. “But they think: Well, the bloke from the NME, the Enemy, is here. Hahaha. It could be something good for the group or it might be terrible. We better keep out of the way and let them get on with it.”
Has he too been on the defensive?
“Very little. Not while the tape recorder`s been on anyway”.
Our farewells, significantly, are probably as formal as when we were first introduced.
“I won`t say that I look forward to the article,” Anderson says as a final gesture, smiling knowingly. “But…”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Doobie Brothers, Jesse Winchester, Richard Thompson, David Bowie, The Meters, John Miles, Tom Waits, Hall & Oates.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

 

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ARTICLE ABOUT Jethro Tull (Ian Anderson) FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 1, 1975

A very nice interview done by the very famous music journalist Cameron Crowe. He has later built a successful career in directing and/or writing screenplays for films. So this one should be read by more people than only Tull fans, if not only to clarify who this Jethro Tull guy is? Is it Ian Anderson? Enjoy!

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The Ian Anderson Interview

By Cameron Crowe

For the past three years Ian Anderson has proved a nemesis for most journalists. Interview requests have been invariably nixed by the Tull organisation. On this warm Los Angeles afternoon, however, the eve of Tull’s first American tour in almost two years,  26-year-old Anderson has decided to talk.
Sipping beer and shopping for motor-cycles via a frostily air-conditioned limousine, he explained his strategy. “Better I do an interview now, before the tour, than do it later and have to answer the criticism.”
You mentioned earlier that you didn’t want to discuss the actual meaning of your compositions, particularly not “Passion Play” or “War Child”.
I just don’t want to start people off on trying to figure out what this newest album means in relation to “Passion Play” and the movie idea. They all relate. I just don’t want to have to start explaining.
I do know, believe it or not, but there’s no need for a big intellectual analysis. I’d rather the people just listened to the last two Tull albums as pieces of music.

You seem a bit defensive. Were you as deeply affected by the recent Tull criticism us we’re led to believe?
Oh, very much so. I’d be less than human if my blood didn’t boil when some punk kid writer — hardly out of his nappies -has the gall to say our music is bad or unimaginative.
I find the use of unqualified, brutal adjectives such as those totally irresponsible. Journalists are a terribly destructive lot.
Last year, the pop papers descended upon not only Jethro Tull but on a few other groups — and most of it had to do with their unwillingness to give interviews every six months.
In a small country like Britain, it’s hard to get out of meeting that quota without causing bad feelings. But really, after six months, there’s not much to say that you didn’t say six months before.
I mean, I quite accept that an important album has to be reviewed whether the critic likes it or not, but they should at least offer some criticism. I’ve had a lot of adverse criticism which has ultimately been good for me. Actually, I’ve always thought of Jethro as a live band anyway. We sell records as souvenirs.
When people offer criticism as a sort of entertainment de signed to shock or be brutal or cynical or aggressive … that’s repulsive. I know that the last few records have been difficult to listen to the first ten times around.

This new one, so I’m told, is a lot more accessible. That’s just the luck of the draw, because in actual fact, the music isn’t any more simple than it’s been in the past. Some of it is, but most of it isn’t.
The lyrics are more obscure than anything I’ve ever written. But apparently they sound straightforward to other people. That’s very, very interesting, but also distinctly worrying to me. I don’t know if I like the idea of having made an album people think is easy listening.
They’ll think “Oooooh, this is a great rock record” and that’ll be the only conclusion they’ll draw from it. But it isn’t as simple as it appears.
I’m a little worried that people will accidentally think “War Child” is a return to a style we’ve already covered.
I can’t help it if some of the songs are catchy.

Why haven’t you done any interviews over the past three years? Are you claiming you had nothing new to say?
That’s right. If I was into loud and fervent discussions of politics or whatever, maybe I would have had something to talk about. Musically, I felt I had said it all. I don’t like to talk about very much other than the music because that’s — believe it or not — pretty well all I do. I spent at least an hour last night trying to convince somebody at a radio station here in L.A. that I don’t have any hobbies. I have no spare time. I usually don’t know what day it is. In the rare case that I do have a spare evening, I spend it watching the news. That’s my idea of a night off. But this radio guy was sure I was lying.
My recreation comes entirely within a musical framework. Going into a studio and touring is a recreational thing for me. Especially touring. It’s fun! Air conditioned motorcars, nice air planes, a Bloody Mary every morning after I wake up, scrambled eggs and bacon, coffee and toast … I don’t have any of that at home.
My life has become an easy going, fun existence. I love recording, rehearsing, writing, playing and setting up a tour. That’s really what I do all year. That’s what I’ve been doing the last year and-a-half since our previous American tour. I haven’t stopped playing music except for one weekend when we split up.

At what point in your life did you realise this is how you wanted to spend your days ?
When I was 15 or 16 I suppose. But I wanted then to do what I’m doing now. I didn’t want to do the things that come in between. The starving, the exasperation and so on.
I wanted to earn a stable living and simply survive as a musician. That simple ambition has not really changed. I don’t have any real desire to reach any lofty goals, it’s just that I don’t want to stop until I’m really ready. Which is something that  I can’t foresee at the moment.

What is the story behind your “retirement” announcement last year?
I’d been working very hard and was feeling a bit sorry for myself. After touring America alone 19 times, not counting Europe, Britain and everywhere else, I thought we had to switch off the motor.
It was time to take stock of the situation, and I think that’s something most groups probably do more frequently than they let on.
In our case, since we’re so busy, it was necessary to formalise taking that rest.
If you actually say “I really want to stop” to your manager and your agents and all those people, they realise you’re not joking. Plus we were talking about doing a movie, so it seemed like a good idea to use that as an explanation. At least we weren’t going to vegetate or live in vast country estates with servants and carriages or whatever it is people imagine British rock stars do.
In the end, the period when we were stopped was something ridiculous like two days. It seems like a big thing to say, but for two days the group did not exist. It was the first time in five years that I could say “I am not part of the thing called Jethro Tull.”
For two days that was an amazing, free feeling. Then I knew it was time to work again. Though we had no definite plans about touring, we started to write a lot of different kinds of music and lay the groundwork for the ‘WarChild’ movie.

Of the music we were making, some would inevitably come out in the new album, some would be thrown away, and some was just not the sort of thing we could release under the Jethro Tull name. People would run out and buy it without listening to it, take it home and probably be very disappointed because it was radically different from what they expected.
I don’t mind disappointing people from time to time. I don’t like to trade too much on previous success. But also I don’t want to take advantage of people and pour something down their throats that they couldn’t possibly enjoy. We’ve made a lot of music that people could not possibly have enjoyed.
For ten months we rehearsed and recorded and simply played together for the fun of it, without really having this big thing hanging over us. We knew we’d have enough material for a group album out of that. I put a lot of work into writing a 70-page synopsis of a screenplay, a fairly detailed thing.

Will there ever be a film from you?
I suppose so. One of the reasons we went out and did the English tour was to decide whether or not we were going to go ahead and do the movie … whether we should take another year of my life and preclude any tours or public appearances of any sort.
We had to decide whether we were going to go ahead and make a movie or go back on the road. The best way to make that decision was to go ahead and see how the concerts felt.
Obviously, we chose to go back out on the road. I enjoy touring … that’s my only real motivation. I don’t have many possessions these days — just a really nice suitcase and some guitars and instruments that I’m very fond of. That’s it. I don’t even have any money.
For tax reasons, it all ends up in companies. I don’t have a swimming pool or house. Well, I actually I did buy a house last year, but I’ve never lived in it. It’s empty. I put it on the market again straightaway after I bought it. I realised I didn’t want to own a house or pretend that I did.

Where do you live now?
In an apartment in London at the moment. But I’ve decided to ditch that. I’m going to stay in hotels for a year or so. I want to write some more music, and I do that better in hotels than I do in something I’m pretending is my home. There’s all these constant reminders, like dirty coffee cups in the sink and ashes on the floor and you pick up the phone and ask for room service in vain. You’ve got to go out and eat in a restaurant, which is usually expensive and tedious.
Or you have to hire someone to cook for you, which means having to establish a relationship with a servant on one hand or a mistress or wife on the other.
That also makes life for me a bit complicated, because I’m totally irresponsible with women so it seems. I think they’ve decided that. I think they all know that now. I don’t know … what the hell. Next question.

Do you have many friends?
Only the members of the group, their wives and families and my own family to some extent. The people that I work with day-to-day are the people that I mix with socially I don’t really have any need of much else. I don’t feel the need to go out to building sites and make friends with Irishmen or anything.
It doesn’t seem necessary. Although if I met one in a pub, there’d be every chance that we’d get married or something, who knows. I don’t have much involvement with anyone else who plays music, because I don’t see them. I don’t think it’s very easy to make real friends with other musicians. We’re all a bit paranoid. Musicians tend to be doctors for each other, psychiatrists I suppose.
I know a couple of musicians, like Captain Beefheart and Roy Harper, and there’s that sort of a relationship there. It becomes very, very heavy, very, very quickly and I don’t think it does you any good in the long run. I feel a bit wary of it because we’d all end up talking about the musical desperation that we suffer from.
But may be it’s only me. Obviously when you’re playing music all the time you go through an awful lot of frustration in trying to create a certain sound and being unable to do it a lot of the time.
I mean musicians are nice guys and all that, but we’re all too much the same. Too much the same.

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How much do you cater to your audience?
We are totally incapable of playing something that we don’t like. To play a song or a style of music that we did not enjoy would be an act of prostitution. So far there’s been a lucky coincidence that the songs we like doing are the songs people like listening to.
I’m glad the older songs that we play on stage now tend to be the ones that the people want most to hear. Which just goes to show that they all have a very good taste. If I had to worry about maintaining my success, it would be very uncomfortable.
That’s why I live week-to-week. I don’t worry about selling a million records or selling out tours. I just think about making records that appeal to me. That’s enough.
No matter how much the stage act has changed over the years, you’ve always ended Tull concerts on a very low, acoustic note. Why?
What we do at the end of a show is very important. If we were to build the momentum up to a frenzied peak and then split, the kids are gonna break a window or punch a policeman. I always like to take it downright at the end so that it’s a very anti-climactic point to finish on and there’s no way that you can come on after that and do any more. The audience knows that. So when we play an encore and it lasts 35 minutes, that is the end and there is no way that there could be any more. That is it. So you can throw the house lights on and stop the clapping straightaway. Everyone leaves the theatre quietly with a good, calm feeling.

Would you agree that “Aqualung” was the Tull album that put the band over the top?
I think that’s a rather simplistic way of looking at it, if you’ll forgive me saying so. I really believe that most of the success of the group has come from the fact that we’ve played a hell of a lot. That particular album I don’t dislike, but it’s certainly not our best. “Aqualung” just puts a signpost on a certain point in time. Tull had arrived. A lot of people began to know the name.
People started thinking I was Jethro Tull: “Hey Tull. Hey man. Hey Jethro. Hey Jet.”
I once got called “Jet”, which I thought was quite attractive, I must admit.
It wasn’t by a girl unfortunately it was by a rather diseased-looking young gentleman from one of the Southern states. I, however, disowned the name because it would have been unfair to the others to presume for a moment that people calling me ‘Jethro Tull’ was anything other than a misguided attempt to indicate friendliness.
It’s a name which rightfully belongs to all five of us. I’m the only survivor from the original group, but we all get paid the same money.
We all have the same stake in it, we all have the same share of the expenses.
So I don’t really like it too much if people think I’m Jethro Tull. It’s funny, but I worry that the rest of the guys will get to feel that they’re a group behind me. That’s not the case. The case is that I’m the unfortunate singer stuck in front of them.

Why have you gone back to conventional song lengths with “War Child”?
There’s so much material, so much of a backlog and so many songs that we’ve recorded — especially when you include the new album — that it’s impossible in the two hours of a concert to play more than a bit of this and a bit of that. The last couple of years, half of the concert has been taken up with a complete piece of music like “Thick As A Brick” or “Passion Play”.
If we had done another album like that, we would have been in the absurd position of playing a whole new album as a piece, then having a hour left to play what … I mean … how?
It would be terrible to be so selective as to have to choose this at the expense of that, when you would really like to do both. We’re in the situation now of playing ten minute bits from “Passion Play” and “Thick As A Brick”. That doesn’t have nearly as much excitement as it did when we performed the entire piece. It’s very unsatisfactory to play ten minute shreds. It would be unbearable to think we would have had to hack yet another album to bits only a year after it had been done. So we came back to working on a loose concept, but with individual songs that would stand on their own.
A year or two from now we’ll be able to play parts from this new album and they’re going to sound whole in themselves.

Was it a major decision to extend the initial concept of “Thick As A Brick” into a full-length piece?
Yeah. I’ll tell you the story behind that one. I was on the road — in the middle of a tour as usual — and I started writing something for the next album. I began with the lyrics actually, and the song was going to be called ‘Thick As A Brick’. Somehow I just didn’t finish the song until I got to the end. I just forgot to stop I suppose. It was funny because in the beginning I just thought it was going to be a longer song.
After about 10 minutes worth of music, I knew it was going to be quite a long song and I sort of thought, “Well Christ. 10 minutes. That’s half a side of an album, I might as well make it a whole side.” Then having got to the end of side one, I still hadn’t finished. I went on and did the rest.
It was a satisfying thing to do. When we came to do the album afterwards, we went away and started recording separate songs again. But the excitement of working that way wasn’t there anymore, so we scrapped all that stuff. We had done three sides of a double album and threw out the whole thing. I went back and just took one little bit of it and expanded that into “Passion Play”.
I enjoyed the experience of working in that way. I’m very sad that it’s been proved necessary to have to work in conventional song lengths again.

You’ve said before that “Stand Up” put off some of the band’s early following. Were you nervous about the direction you saw that album taking?
We knew it was a good direction to go in, but we were just a bit nervous that some of the people who bought the first album might think that the second album was blatantly commercial sounding.
To a lot of other people, commercial would probably be the last word that would be applicable. Better would be “weird”. To us, we thought it was maybe a bit too commercial. The same feeling I also have about the new album. I like an album that’s difficult to listen to. I like to have to sit down and really work into the music.
A listener should make that effort. I don’t like music that kind of unconsciously gets your foot tapping. That’s musak. I could write that kind of music, but it’s just too easy . That’s using music as a tactical weapon to sell records. I think it’s important for the listener to feel that an effort has been made, that he has actually contributed in some way to the enjoyment of the music.
The only trick that I use when I play are used to try and help the audience want to make the effort. I admit to doing that. I try to entice the audience into wanting to listen. As opposed to saying “Hey what a groovy concert! Great to be in Atlanta! Boogie!” I get worried if an audience freaks out from the first note on. If they do that, I will ruthlessly destroy that moment for them.
I do not want them to enjoy the concert on that level. It’s too easy to create instant pandemonium. Anyone of a dozen groups can walk on stage and cause that to happen. I will rudely interrupt sequences of behaviour which become very predictable. Which is why at a Jethro Tull concert, you find scuba-divers and rabbits walking on stage. They’re meant to disturb people. To break up the flow that is so predictable at a concert.

What are Tull’s plans for the future? Indefinite touring?
Well, having just ended a five year period of playing together, we’ve now stopped and started another five year period of whatever. I imagine you’re right, an arbitrarily lengthy period of touring.
When we make a movie, it will slot into this new five year thing, rather than being like a sudden departure from the first. From the next album onwards, we’re going to be making a visual programme to go with the music. It won’t be pictures of the group playing the music, it will probably be very abstract and very much the sort of thing that you can watch as many times as you can listen to it without getting bored. Our albums will continue to come out as sound albums, in stereo and quadrophonic, but there will also be a visual supplement available. I’m very interested in the possibilities of the videodisc. I’m constantly pushing at the record company to get behind this, to start getting involved. I wish they’d try and make the consumer aware that there is an incoming market, which is very real.

Does your production work with Steeleye Span indicate anymore outside producing?
No. It’s just that they asked me to do it. They’d done abominably and got halfway through the album (“Now We Are Six”) when they started to get very worried.
They wanted someone to help, someone to give them a bit of direction, a bit of order at the sessions, someone to mix it who would take all the responsibility of finishing the record.
None of them is actually leading the group, they all chip in ideas and nothing really happens if you just leave them alone. I was very hesitant about doing it, because I don’t like telling anyone how they should play their music. I don’t like being involved in anyone else’s music.
However, I felt that at least I could be objective about their music. I have a sympathy for it. It’s very English, very traditional. I respect them for what they do and I like some of the things they do very much. But I wouldn’t like to do it again.

With any group?
With any group. It wears you down. I went in to rehearse our music during the day and then down to do their sessions at night. So it was like living our music and their music in one day, with only three or four hours sleep in between. It was ridiculous, not to mention very confusing. Their music is so different from ours that it made me every day a schizoid wreck.
Are you tired of Jethro Tull? Bored with the image?
I’m not exactly tired of it, but I’m not thrilled. If it’s convenient for people to think of me as a one-legged flute player, then fine.
I think that most people are aware that I don’t stand on one leg all the time and I don’t just play the flute. I play saxophone and guitar more than I play the flute.
I actually find the flute a little bit tedious. It has its limitations, being a monophonic instrument. You can only play one note at a time. It become very pedestrian unless you’re completely versed in the instrument, which I’m not. I can play well enough for people to think I’m good at it, so the object of that exercise was achieved a long time ago.

Scary full-page ad from Strawbs!

Scary full-page ad from Strawbs!

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Lowell George (Little Feat), Alan Hull (Lindisfarne), Kiss, Doobie Brothers, Marc Bolan, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, John McLaughlin, The Soft Machine, Bob Pegg, Little Milton, Ian Bairnson (Pilot).

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Jethro Tull FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, JANUARY 19, 1974

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your  own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

I haven`t printed any articles about Jethro Tull before. Time to rectify that! Have a nice read.

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Jethro and the amoebic surge…

Passion Play, the critics and beyond… Nick Logan pursues Jethro to an Alpine impasse

There are few bands more intrinsically British than Jethro Tull.
Sure, we`ve heard all those stories of how they`ve spent the past five years jet-hopping around the world, working their asses off in Europe, America, Japan, Wembley and all stations to Betelgeuse, pausing only to change Y-fronts in the Old Country. But didn`t we know all the time that they were really running an Army and Navy surplus store in Kentish Town and rerouting postcards and phony progress reports from the Santa Monica Lyceum and the Tokyo Hardrock?

Not so mes amis, I`m here to tell you: that wacky nine legged eccentric known collectively as Jethro Tull is indeed the globe-trotting cosmopolitan that the group`s travel agent`s bank balance would have us believe.
Why, aren`t we here now in wealthy cosmopolitan Switzerland watching Ian Anderson, Monsieur J. Tull incarnate, hob-nobbing with the Mayoralty of elegant Montreux – if not in fluent Francais – at least as if to the manner born. A strange sight indeed. Blackpool Baroque cheek-to-cheeking with Chalet Chic. Well I`ll go to the foot of our stairs.
But wait. There must be more to this than meets the eye…

Montreux is where J. Tull set down their nine feet when they snuck out of the U.K. back in 1972, using this strategically placed mountain-fringed resort as a centre of European operations for six months of that year.
In fact, they formed such a strong attachment for the place that, when they played a gig in the Swiss capital of Zurich last year, the band declared the event a benefit concert with proceeds to go to “the youth of Montreux.”
Something else came out of those six months in Montreux however, for here was planned and conceived the musical tractatus (henceforth known as “A Passion Play”) that united the critics of the Western World with a solidarity not witnessed since the release of “Grand Funk 1”.

Anyway, here we are in Montreux, in the restaurant of the Eurohotel, with Lake Geneva and the snow-topped Alps providing the backdrop for the presentation to the Vice-Mayor of the concert cheque for 50,000 Swiss Francs (approximately 6 1/2 grand).
A noble gesture in a business more noted for its gestures than its nobility…And also a useful occasion for the putting straight of a few things that need straightening out, which explains why Chrysalis Records have invited the press of Europe to congregate here to watch.
Or, as Tull manager Terry Ellis put it when the presentation ceremony was complete and the assembly prepared for the real event – the press conference:
“We`ve asked you here to clear up the confusion that seems to have followed the group`s decision to retire from concerts at the end of last year, to clear up any misunderstandings that the group might have split up.”

Fair enough, you might say. So what`s been going on?
Plenty, says Ian Anderson, hair shorter and swept back from an almost Pharaoesque beard.
The clatter of coffee cups is stilled.
To be specific, they`ve been making two albums – recording in London. One a group album, the other the soundtrack for the upcoming J. Tull feature film “War Child”.
No gigs planned at the moment, he says non-committedly, but they are certainly not ruled out when work on the film permits.

And of the film: “We have, for at least two years, been looking for a movie situation that we could use to get into something more subtle than the group can achieve on stage.”
The script, says Anderson when pressed further, is based on a story of his, and features two main actors apart from himself and the group. They play the parts of God and the Devil in a story that concerns “the Heaven and Hell around us.”
Wasn`t Anderson originally cast in the role of God?
Not I, says he, handling the occasion with customary aplomb. That was a misprint.
“I think Jethro have possibly been the hardest-working live group over the last five years. Not just in America but all over the world.

“And we have to play large halls most of the time. When we had the opportunity to play England last year, we chose to do two shows at Wembley rather than play lots of smaller halls over the country. We did that so we could play the show we had been playing in America, using all the lights and a lot of equipment, and generally keeping the show up to the standard it was in America.
“Unfortunately that standard doesn`t seem to have been well-received.”
Uhmm. Does one detect Mr. Anderson`s gaze turning on the small but cuddly British press contingent?
“The thing that annoyed me was that people seemed to dismiss it casually (“A Passion Play”) – whereas it was a record that took a lot of time to make and needed time to listen to. It didn`t seem that critics were prepared to take that time.
“Personally I think the music on the last album was our best-written, best-conceived – and possibly our most commercial as well – but it maybe wasn`t too easy to get into first time around.

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“I do feel,” continues Anderson against the rattle of coffee cups and the stare of TV lights, “that music ought to require the same effort from the listener as it does from the musician who plays it.
“Obviously that`s a very broad statement. It maybe doesn`t apply to people who play funky music – when they just stand there and get it on, and the audience can reciprocate at the same level. But musicians who play more structured music, or lyrics with more depth…then that requires greater attention.”
Doesn`t it require explanation as well?
“In some cases it may be very good to explain it beforehand. But I rather like the idea of offering the individual the opportunity to read into things what they will…people listen in different states of consciousness and they will, whatever you say, make their own interpretations. I would far rather put the ball firmly in their court and say, right we`ve done our bit – now, here you are.

“People seemed to object to the fact that they actually had to sit down and listen to it more than once, and to qualify the statements of their criticism – they seemed unwilling to do that to a large extent. They would rather dismiss it in a few words, which I do find unfair.
“It certainly doesn`t reward me in any way whatsoever for months of work. It`s not a very constructive criticism. Criticism ought first of all to be beneficial to the artist.
“Unfortunately criticism tends to be aimed at the audience rather than the artist and, even more unfortunately, seems to have an effect on what the public might believe, might buy, or might come to see. Because very often they seem to have no other source to turn to other than what they might read in the papers.”

At which point Terry Ellis cuts in: “If the group felt that the audience hadn`t enjoyed what they did, then I don`t think they`d be upset by any kind of criticism they got from the press. After all, they create for their audience, and if their audience doesn`t like it then that is a genuine cause for concern.”
The decision to stop touring, however, affects the audience, not the press.

Ian Anderson: “Absolutely, but that was just one of the reasons given in the press statement we made at the time – the fact that we were disappointed, hurt, by the criticism we received in the press. People do read and take notice of what is written in the papers, and it`s a little bit worrying to know that you`re going out there on stage having to face some sort of… y`know, it`s just not normal any more.
“Criticism aimed at a specific piece of music is fine if it`s constructive to the artist. I find nothing constructive in what I read, and I can only assume that it would have adversely affected public opinion if we`d have carried on this year doing odd tours in between making the movie.
“But there were other reasons, the biggest of those being that we`ve been working non-stop for five years, making records and playing tours, and for a couple of years now we have wanted the chance to do something different.”

When Terry Ellis called time-out and the assembly splintered into smaller groups, I talked to Anderson in the bar and asked him if he felt Jethro wasn`t too self-contained, too insular a unit to allow any kind of criticism through.
“Insular, yes, but we always have been, and if we`re worth anything at all, I think it`s because of that, because we keep so much to ourselves. None of us really have any social involvements outside the group…”
But doesn`t that cut off possible channels of constructive criticism from outside?
“Well, I think a lot of that criticism comes through in those brief seconds on stage when you pick out a couple of faces in the audience, y`know – or from people who write letters. In the past I`ve had really horrible letters, but I`ve never had any horrible letters about the new album. Not one bad letter.”

Among the critics who gave “A Passion Play” a unanimous roasting, there must however have been some people who genuinely felt that a fine band was misusing its talent. Or taking the wrong direction.
Would you listen to them?
“There`s no such thing as a wrong direction. There is only one direction you can take – because each album is a mirror image of how the band is thinking at the time.”
Accepted. But would he listen to that criticism?
“I would listen and discuss the thing endlessly, y`know. I would discuss it endlessly with Terry or with any of the people in the office – and they have every cause, for commercial reasons, to say, if warranted, `Look we`re a bit worried about this…
“I would listen to any critic who qualified the statements he made. But with `A Passion Play` there was more than usual adverse criticism which wasn`t qualified, which simply exhibited the attitude: `Well, okay, Tull have done their sort of epic “Thick As A Brick” thing. They`ve got that out of their system and we don`t want to go through that again.`

“What those people don`t know is that we made three sides of a double album during the time we were in Montreux, three sides of a double album which was just songs, y`know. But it didn`t have this great amoebic surge, this growth thing that playing an extended piece has.
“I think `Passion Play` was so much better than `Thick As A Brick` in musical terms, lyrically and so on. But if it`s not an accessible album, I still don`t think it warrants the kind of criticism that says, `This is clearly not a good piece of music` (derisory) – or that it waffles, or that the lyrics are obscure or whatever…”

“What pisses me off,” said Anderson later as we discussed wider areas of press criticism over coffee, “is that the next album returns closer to songs, and everybody`s going to think it was a calculated move on our part because of what happened to `Passion Play`.”
C`est la vie, mes amis.

A nice ad from Rod and the guys..

A nice ad from Rod and the guys..

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ian Hunter, Alex Harvey, John Lennon, The Kinks, Bryan Ferry, Leo Sayer, Bob Dylan, ELP, Carlos Santana.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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