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14 February 1970

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During the summer of 1968 Jethro Tull, a strange group of musicians named after an agrarian pioneer, emerged out of the underground at Sunbury to become one of the top rock bands in the world.

Since that debut at the National Jazz and Blues Festival, Martin Barre has replaced guitarist Mick Abrahams in Jethro who have found commercial success with 'Living In The Past', 'Sweet Dream', their album 'Stand Up' and their current single 'Witch's Promise'.

Jethro's Sunbury success overawed the band whose members disappeared to the safety of their own homes those eighteen months ago. It is a move they would like to repeat today. Martin Barre explained:

"We'll be spending six months of this year in America which is a thought that honestly depresses me. At the beginning of the year just to go over there was exciting and to play there was such a big thing — now I don't think any of us is looking forward to going over there.

"Everything starts to get on top of you, the way things have happened we've got no time to do anything ourselves and now our personal lives are suffering. I'm going through a stage of depression. We all want to buy houses where you can just sit down with your girl friend and be on your own. That's very important to me.

"We haven't stopped working this past year. It's like a conveyor belt thing, making records, going through America, it's endless but we haven't the time to get off the conveyor belt. Our schedule is so tight.

I don't think our personalities have changed because you try and retain some part of you that's still sane. Things more personal to us are becoming more important but it's frustrating when you don't have time to do things on your own.

"What I'd really like to do at the moment is just to play in Britain because it's my home, it's nothing patriotic or anything, it's just that I'd like to do a concert tour and be able to go home every night."

Playing is still important to the members of Jethro — Clive Bunker, Glenn Cornick, Ian Anderson and Barre — and they've retained their enthusiasm for it as they wish to develop as musicians.

"We're very basic musicians but we are improving technique-wise and as long as Ian keeps writing as he is now, I can't foresee anything but improvement. We still enjoy playing very much. Our individual techniques have improved and we're now feeling the need to play fresh things.

"That's why I think we'll stay together for some time because apart from Ian I don't think any of us are capable of doing anything individually but we are improving together. Maybe in a couple of years' time when I'm more of a reasonable musician I'd like to play with other people and do something different but we've got a lot of different things to do as far as Jethro is concerned.

"We haven't gone half as far as we can go, you can only be as big as your music is good and we've got a long way to go as Jethro Tull yet."

Perhaps the main criticism of Jethro's music is that the sound of Ian's flute is too dominating. Martin was talking during a break in the recording of the group's third album 'Benefit' which he says reflects their current use of the flute.

"We have got away from the sound of the flute and haven't used it a lot on the album. In fact Ian's playing more guitar than flute, we're only using the flute when we feel that a song needs the atmosphere of the flute.

"Some of the instruments we're playing now are difficult to use on stage especially in the big auditoriums. You can just about get away with a piano but it's difficult to get a good sound. I also play mandolin and flute and Ian plays the piano but generally on stage it's down to the guitars."

For Jethro it's still down to their individual brand of music, produced under high pressure during this, their most successful year. It's a long way from Sunbury.