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18 April 1970

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Of the new wave of British rock acts that have received acclaim in America, Jethro Tull stand out as the only band whose work potential has not been based on their instrumental ability.

Beck, Cream, Ten Years After and Zeppelin have all risen on the technique and adulation of their lead guitarists. Clapton, Alvin Lee and Jimmy Page have always been the frontmen of their respective groups and their popularity is reflected in their group's success.

Jethro however have gained their following mainly on the strength of Ian Anderson's appearance and antics rather than his or the rest of the group's musical prowess.

"Audiences have thought Jethro Tull are great on stage, Ian is really incredible and the music is OKAY," said guitarist Martin Barre prior to Jethro's American tour this week. "What we want them to say now is that the music is incredible ... and that we're something to watch as well.

"That's why this next tour of America is going to be so important to us. It'll be like starting again, we'll be using new material and that means it'll be starting cold. Audiences will have to get familiar with all the new numbers which we'll be using more or less for the next year.

"We'll still include a couple of the numbers that we used to do and there'll be about three numbers from the new album Benefit which is out next week, I think. Two of them are kind of heavy numbers and there's an acoustic number 'Sossity' which Ian and I do on acoustic guitars amplified through the p.a.

"The numbers are taking more listening to now and they're lasting for about eight minutes. We were worried that that might be too long and the people would get restless but we've done a couple of concerts in Germany and it worked well.

"The music is more controlled. Before we used to use a lot of equipment on stage, now we've made the p.a. bigger and we've got a sound engineer who's got eight channels to play with to do the mix and to get the sound levels right."

Because of the amount of work Jethro Tull have, it has taken the group nearly nine months to complete the new album on which they use piano and organ to add to their sound.

"Two of the tracks we recorded nine months ago. Because of the work we've had to do it was a matter of recording a track here and a track there. In the end we had to cancel a concert tour of Germany to finish the album off.

"It's difficult to cancel out of a tour. Not because of the money but because it's important to us to play to new people. I enjoy playing on stage but it's hard to play again after being in the studios for a long time, you tend to feel nervous and unsure when you go back on stage.

"We're starting to record another album now because it'll probably take nine months again to complete it. The next album will probably be released around Christmas.

"Everything we record now will be for an album. There'll be no songs recorded especially for a single and in that way there'll be no pressure on us to have something completed for a single release. Singles and Radio One were a failure for us even though the last single reached number three.

"The idea of us putting out a single was for Radio One to play it a lot and for other people to buy it than those who already buy our records. But it was the same people who bought the album that were buying the single. 'Witches Promise' and 'Teacher' reached number three but it dropped that week which means that the young kids and the mums and dads who keep records in the charts weren't buying it."

Most of this year Jethro will spend in the States and they won't be appearing in Britain until the end of the year when they hope to be at a musical peak.

"To last a long time, which is what we want to do, you have to be successful. But not successful in just terms of money or tours or publicity. It's a matter of personal satisfaction to us to be good musicians because that's what we are — musicians. And if you believe in yourself and what you are saying, it doesn't matter what people say."



Note: "Two of the tracks we recorded nine months ago ..." — 'Singing All Day' and 'Sweet Dream' were recorded 31 August 1969. 'Play In Time' was recorded the following day, 1 September 1969. The b-side '17' was recorded 11 September 1969, with a further recording session on 14 September 1969. Information courtesy of Glenn Cornick.

Photo shows Ian and Glenn taking a seat on stage during Martin's solo with Clive, probably from the Royal Albert Hall, 1 October 1969.

Thanks to Laufi for this article