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NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS
14 June 1969
JETHRO TULL? HE'S REALLY FANTASTIC says Cliff
Hairies meet the Mohairs
Down at Top Of The Pops last week, Cliff was seen deep in conversation with Ian Anderson, the shaggy leader of Jethro Tull. After Eric Clapton's praise of Hank Marvin, I wondered if the music of Cliff and the now departed Shadows and the underground might not be the poles apart that they seem.
"I think Jethro Tull are fantastic," Cliff enthused. "I really do, they have so much talent. But the term 'underground' still baffles me. I think of it as meaning a group without a hit, but that may be a little unfair. Jethro Tull were underground but they were just waiting for the right song and the right time. Now, it won't be long before they are up and above ground.
"I once did a charity concert at the Royal Festival Hall with Traffic. Now I really rated their records, and Stevie Winwood is really good, but they let me down that night. They couldn't get their record sound across on stage, and they had no act to make up for that deficiency. I don't suppose groups like Jethro Tull and Blind Faith like to be called entertainers, or in show business, but whether they like it or not, they are. While they are all very good musicians, they don't seem to bother about anything visual, and in the long run, you've got to have that as well."
* * *
CLIFF? HE'S A NICE BLOKE
Jethro's Ian Anderson tells Nick Logan
It was a happening full of such promise — the expeditionary forces of the Underground, represented by Jethro Tull and Chicken Shack, launching into the heart of enemy territory and storming that great bastion of the pop establishment 'Top Of The Pops'. An equal-footing confrontation between hairies and mohairs just had to be a sight to set the senses reeling and one not to be missed.
True, it was one up for the hairies as Ian Anderson would so succulently put it, but it all evolved into such a quaintly tame affair. Even the provocative sight of Ian at his hairiest and wildest couldn't raise more than the odd eyebrow or two among the terrible blasé chappies of the BBC. And later in the afternoon it appeared that the other side, outnumbered man to man but bravely represented by Cliff Richard and Tommy Roe, were actually welcoming the opposition.
"Ho ho, this'll get them going," I thought to myself as I engineered a confrontation between Cliff and Ian Anderson. Now for the fireworks.
"Are you the leader of this Tull group?" asked Cliff as the two politely shook hands. "I didn't know if Jethro Tull was the name of the group or one person."
Not only was there not a solitary verbal left hook in hearing, but there was no getting them apart as the smart-suited one and the woolly-vested one became immersed in conversation about, of all things, records and music.
"He's a nice bloke," said Ian after a retreating camera eventually scuttled their conversation. But there was more to come. When Jethro Tull got up on stage and did the run-through of their 'Living In The Past' hit, all heads turning to wonder at Ian's wild cavorting and eye-popping, there was Cliff on the opposite stage bouncing along with the rhythms and actually singing parts of the song.
I had arrived at Lime Grove with the Chicken Shack entourage and set off looking for Ian, who had apparently disappeared. "He's in the control room listening to the violins," someone suggested helpfully as I made my way along corridors dodging assorted Shacks and Tulls as I went. But Ian was nowhere to be seen. Many minutes were spent traipsing back and forward from studio to dressing room to canteen and I gradually became aware of Jethro's bass guitarist Glenn Cornick mysteriously appearing in every place I visited, grinning like a cat and taking a great delight in my plight.
On about the seventh trip Ian suddenly appeared in the middle of the studio and I dragged him, lead guitarist Martin Barre and the still-grinning Glenn back to the canteen for a chat.
How did Ian think the group's Underground followers would react at the sight of Jethro Tull on Top Of The Pops?
"I hope they will say 'Oh goody, Jethro's on Top Of The Pops, sock it to 'em Jethro',"
answered Ian, rolling his eyes madly and with an extravagant throw of the head pouncing teeth-bared on an unsuspecting bar of Kit Kat.
"Even if they don't like the tune, this is a strike for our side," he continued, demolishing the whole bar with one more bite. "And it's really nice to be on the inside. It's nice to be doing your little bit to improve the state of things. It's much better than just being Underground and saying nasty things about Top Of The Pops."
Now that Ian's realised his ambition of appearing on the nation's No.1 pop show his next aim is to be compare on 'Saturday Night At The London Palladium', though he was a little brought down when I told him it wasn't on any more. Shortly to follow the group's 'Living In The Past', which incidentally was recorded in New York at enormous expense, is their second album titled Stand Up, not the least interesting facet of which is the novel sleeve which when opened reveals stand-up cut-outs of the group. It's like those children's books or birthday cards.
"It's taken the artist a great deal of time to achieve," said Ian, observing drily: "and it'll probably fall to bits after ten minutes.
"The LP itself is a good one," he continued modestly. "There are no virtuosos, no ten minute long solos and no improvisation unless necessary. It is difficult to resist all that sometimes in the current fad of jamming."
On the way back to the dressing room Ian told me that his mother liked the last article I did on him — he thought it made him sound respectable, it seems — and that she still collects all his press cuttings. Apparently his family, who live in Blackpool, were all set to see Jethro Tull on the Manchester gig of their recent tour but Ian refused to play if they came along.
"It would have been terribly embarrassing,"
he winced. Early Tull followers will be sad to know that the first famous Anderson overcoat was lost in Chicago on the group's U.S. tour but will be pleased that Ian still has in his possession the trousers he's worn on every gig since they started eighteen months ago.
"I've only had them washed twice," said Ian proudly, holding them up to view. "They've actually gone rotten and you can poke your finger through the material. Every time I come off stage they are literally soaked, just like they've been in a bucket of water. And they smell incredibly. It drives everyone away."
As he was removing a very presentable pair of brown leather trousers to put on these awful monstrosities it did pass my mind to wonder why he didn't throw them away. He must have anticipated my question.
"Basically I am a very clean person," he observed. "I bathe and I wash my hair. It derives really from a desire to push things to their limits."
Note: the vast majority of the Cliff Richard interview has been omitted.
Top picture: performing 'Living In The Past' on Top of The Pops, 5 June 1969.
Second picture: Ian meets Cliff.
Many thanks to Glenn Cornick for this article