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DISC & MUSIC ECHO
9 November 1968
HOW JETHRO TULL PLAN TO REPLACE KNIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOUR
With the coming of the 'permissive society', knights in shining armour on glossy white steeds had to apply to their local Labour Exchange for alternative employment, stars became just like you and me and 'entertainment' was a dirty word.
All of which, says Ian Anderson, is a gigantic drag — and he plans to do something about it. Ian is the wild man singer/flautist of Jethro Tull, the group whose splendid new album 'This Was' is selling in vast quantities and making them the talk of coffee-houses throughout the country.
"Sex has all been brought out into the open and now it's meaningless — just an enjoyable physical act," Ian declaims. "All the romance and mystique of love has been destroyed for my generation.
"Even ten years ago 25-year-olds believed in the knight in shining armour bit, but now it's all out in the open even the girls don't believe in it any more — which is a terrible scene."
The same loss of romance in love and sex also goes for the glamour of the star image — which Ian thinks has been destroyed by groups who desperately want to be ordinary.
"I often wonder about the whole 'star' bit. You read all these articles about people who say 'popular success hasn't changed ME' and then go on to say how much it HAS changed them!
"Entertainment is where it's at — I feel it's more important to get up onstage and entertain the people who've paid to see you than it is to play good music.
"To refuse to admit this, which a lot of groups do, is not owning up to yourself — it's all 'show business' whether you like it or not. There's a lot of good in the mystique of the star bit, but so many groups are trying to finish with it that all the romance and mystique has gone out of that as well — just like sex."
To see the group onstage is something of an experience — and definitely an entertaining one at that. Ian, hair and beard waving wildly, commonly wears an over-long overcoat and sings with much power when he's not blowing into his strongly-Roland Kirk-influenced flute.
Their music is really unclassifiable but relies more on the blues than anything else for a base.
"After all the pop experimenting in the last couple of years everyone's going back to the basics by forming blues bands. The last ten years of pop were all derived from rock 'n' roll — the next ten years will all be based on the blues."
Jethro Tull have only been formed for somewhat less than a year, but already they are widely-known as one of the most exciting live acts in the country.
But originally the music they were going to play was quite different.
Says Ian: "We used to blow around at home — in Blackpool — and we worked out this version of Bach's Eighth Sonata with a swinging, hard jazzy sound. It was great.
"Then I came down to London last Christmas — I'd never been away from home before, it was just like the yokel hitting the city with all his belongings in a knotted hankie at the end of a stick — and I heard the Nice, who are onto the same classical thing. So we had to work out something different."
Apart from two Roland Kirk favourites and a Cream number, most of 'This Was' was written by Ian and the group.
"There are some songs which you sit down and think 'I'll write a song' and they sometimes turn out okay.
"Then there are others which you just HAVE to write, and they are the real songs, the ones which are going to last for you personally. And it's very important to please yourself and not your manager or record producer."
* * *
[Album review in this same issue, p. 16]
Jethro Tull, we remember from our history books, was the man who invented the seed drill and somehow revolutionised the whole system of British agriculture about 300 years ago. There are some jolly exciting moments, too, on the first LP by the group of that name, 'This Was' (Island), plus brilliant flute, hard rhythms and strong songs. Live, Jethro Tull are one of our finest groups, but are somehow not quite together enough yet to be classed as great on record.
When they get themselves together more, we feel Jethro Tull will take a lot of beating.
[2 star review — 'Fair' — out of a possible 4]