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27 September 1969

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The Melody Maker Pop Poll results last week revealed a hefty swing to the progressively musical groups and singers although this was to be guessed at anyway looking back over the changes in the music scene of the past couple of years.

One group who did well in both British and International sections of the poll were Jethro. Their last single 'Living In The Past' was featured in both sections' singles placings and the group was voted second most popular British group and in the Brightest Hope ratings.

It's certainly been a good year for the Tull. 'Living In The Past' having been a big hit and, perhaps more important, their second album Stand Up high in the album chat, the group look set for an even better 12 months ahead. They are currently working on a third album and a new single, 'Sweet Dream', is due out on October 3.

"It's a good song, more in keeping with what people imagine us to be,"

said Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson over lunch in a Fleet Street pub, where his long hair and casual appearance caused raised eyebrows among the short-back-and-sides and grey suits of the 'normals'.

"It has a good guitar solo from Martin Barre, and judicious use of horns and strings. There's a very delicate blend of strings, horns, two electric guitars and a 12-string guitar, all playing a tight pattern. It's nice to use extra instrumentation properly. The flute makes a brief appearance, but there is much more vocal."

The new album will be wider instrumentally as far as the group are concerned. Martin Barre will be heard on flute, drummer Clive Bunker will probably use glockenspiel and various types of drums, "and I'm learning piano, organ, balalaika and guitar," added Ian, who has already been seen playing mandolin on 'I Don't Want To be A Fat Man'.

Although they are getting into other instruments, the group don't want to make too much of it, particularly on their live appearances. There are obvious difficulties that prevent this anyway.

"There's the danger that if you play all these instruments on stage, people will say 'Yah boo, multi-instrumentalists'. We don't really play these instruments but we play the desired thing given time enough for rehearsal.

"I'd hate to add a piano or organ; I want to learn them anyway, and if we had a proper musician I'd have no reason to learn. We have a sufficiently large enough variety of things to use. The only things we can't play are the violins and cellos. Everything we play we have complete control over."

The group have been busy with tours both in Britain and America and have another British tour, with Savoy Brown and Terry Reid, coming up.

"There's too many live gigs," grinned Ian. "People don't understand what America means to groups to have to play there, even with six or seven months allocated, you have to play every day to cover the ground."

While some groups prefer American studios to record in, Jethro Tull are happy to cut their sides in British studios.

"We don't want to record in America. We've got good studios here."

The demand for the personal appearances of Jethro Tull in Britain has made it impractical for them to play small clubs any longer and they now go out on concert tours instead. Ian thinks that this allows more people to see them at any one time and added,

"The people in America are worse off. They only see us once a year usually, wherever we play."

The recording side of the Jethro Tull working life is one that Ian has thought hard and deep about and believes there is more production in their records, particularly singles, than in most records, a side of recording that he sees as not having enough time spent on it. Of the group's singles, Ian said:

"We aim at the commercial market but not to sell-out musically. It's much harder to write for a single because certain requirements have to be taken into account. When you write an album you can just write the songs, but with the single you've got to confine yourself to three or four minutes. It takes a lot more conscious effort because you must still apply musical principles. I would imagine people who write for Engelbert or Tom Jones must have an even harder job because they've got to think of style — we don't worry about style."



Melody Maker Poll Results — Best Group

1. The Beatles
2. Jethro Tull
3. The Rolling Stones
4. Fleetwood Mac
5. Cream
6. Pink Floyd
7. Family
8. Fairport Convention
9. The Who