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20 December 1969
JETHRO TAKE OVER AMERICA
LOS ANGELES — Jethro Tull with their third concert tour have successfully taken over America. Somehow, going into the Seventies, it is reassuring to find a group of the calibre of the Tull pushing the gates apart.
On stage at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles [26 November] Jethro Tull was fantastic, garnering encore applause and a standing ovation. Anderson was in rare form and proved himself to be the most visual entertainer since Mick Jagger. However, while Jagger manages to play his sexuality for laughs, Anderson keeps everything dead serious. The result is a stage performance that borders on the obscene.
Anderson talked about his stage act just before the first concert date.
"That's something that is thrust upon us by instrumentation, by the way we have to play to get across to the people. It isn't a purely musical effect. My style on stage wasn't initially thought out and planned, it's something that happens as a result of the music we're playing. I mean I write songs now with obviously that sort of thing in mind: the way I will perform them. The sound is pretty much in keeping with my behaviour on stage. The two things are very much related to each other and dependent on each other.
"I couldn't play without behaving the way I do and I couldn't behave the way I do without playing at the same time. So, it's a fairly natural thing. It's natural as much as working on stage in front of lots of people is a natural state of things.
"It's not an act. It's not a stage act because James Brown does a stage act. It's nothing like that. It's just an extension of my character, a particular side of my character which doesn't make its presence felt at any other time than on stage. Because I do it on stage and I don't have to do it anywhere else. Before I started to play music I used to be like that, but I'm not like that any more; I can be sort of nice and placid and lazy and all that. It's really funny. I work out that sort of physical thing on stage."
Anderson while on stage was less than complimentary about former Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams, stating that
"he'll be playing 'Cat's Squirrel' till the cows come home."
Anderson, off stage, was equally unimpressed with the American music scene.
"I haven't really seen anything in America that has been very inspired, I must admit. It's probably to do with my musical tastes: I don't go for any of this country and western lark at all, which rules out Bob Dylan and all those kind of pleasant easy-going groups. I don't really go for that sort of thing.
"Blood, Sweat and Tears are a good band ... I don't care whether you like them or not, they're a good band. I haven't seen anything that equals the better English groups, but that's because I've been in England playing for more than a year and we've played with a lot of groups, whereas here I've only seen the people we've played with really."
Unlike Led Zeppelin, Anderson states that he will never record in America again. He hated the whole experience.
"It's difficult to generalise about studios in America because I've only been to three of them, but those three were pretty rotten. There's no reason to try and spend 12 or 14 hours of which you're going to have to spend at least four getting used to the studio and the engineer and how it works. Also in England the studio musicians are much better. I think it's probably because they're more in touch with playing their music and taking it seriously which tends to make for a better working relationship.
"You know, they're very difficult to work with, they're probably not as friendly as American studio musicians, but they produce a better end product if you can get through to them. They're all very 'la-de-da' and sort of musically a bit snobbish, but if you can impress them with your personality you can tell them to shut up when you want them to shut up and get on with it when you want them to get on with it and they usually do."
It would be hard to imagine anyone anywhere Ian Anderson couldn't impress with his personality.
Many thanks to Glenn Cornick for this article