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NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS
1 February 1969
JETHRO — THE NEW BREED
Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull belong to a new generation of British pop — beget by a new generation of thinking young people. It is a generation that was at school, or were teenage fans, when the Beatles and Stones were first infusing life into a tired scene. Now, having come of age, they are in the process of electing their own musical spokesmen to the pop hierarchy.
Jethro Tull, guided by young and musically aware managers in former students Terry Ellis and Chris Wright, are both a part of that generation and a musical product of it.
Twenty-one-year-old Ian Anderson is singer, flautist and spokesman for the Tull and just over a year or so ago he was still at college.
Ian's record collection consists of three LPs; his friendship with other people in the business runs to Family and Nice and not much further.
He is overawed by the Rolling Stones who invited the Tull onto its forthcoming Rock And Roll Circus TV special and rushed out to buy the "Beggar's Banquet without having heard it" just to have something by them to keep.
He tells of Mick's electrifying presence on stage, says the Stones are the "best blues group around" and talks with Northern unaffectedness of "that Jagger bloke" and "that Charlie fellar."
Brittle, unpretentious and highly quotable, Ian and his kind are what pop needs in the way of new blood, new ideas and fresh views.
On Tuesday last week half of Jethro Tull was to be found in a tiny dimly lit basement studio in Soho waiting for the other half to arrive to start rehearsing for the group's two-month American tour which began on Thursday.
Ian was amusing himself on an old upright piano that had seen better days, or centuries; drummer Clive Bunker sat on a chair with head bowed.
As Ian has said before, he is very conscious of the way he is quoted in the Press. It annoys him to read in print that he has said things like "groovy," "teenybopper" and "get it together" because he would not use such words.
But he himself doesn't make things easy for the journalist, adding as he does after each interview that he doesn't intend anything he's said to be taken seriously.
"I would hate to think that I was in a position to criticise and expect people to take note of what I say."
Ian, who talks quickly and at length on subjects that interest him, has a habit of inserting sudden bursts of inspired humour into the dialogue — but does it with a diffident deadpan expression that gives nothing away.
"I say everything with a smile," he says. But behind the hair that covers a good percentage of the face it is difficult to tell what the accompanying emotion is meant to be.
Apart from their distinctive form of music, the eccentric appearance and behaviour of Jethro Tull on stage holds great curiosity value and therefore good box office. Uninitiated audiences have been known to fear for their lives and persons on meetings with the group but, says Ian, that is changing now.
"At one time it used to be that people would look the other way because maybe they think you carry disease or you might inflict on them a mighty blow with a switch blade.
"It is nice now that people do come up and are not afraid to talk, to say hello and ask what you had for breakfast and what size socks you wear.
"Even the girls ... Six months ago it was predominantly boys. Girls would not come up and talk. It is nice to see that there are now some reasonable girls getting in on the underground thing.
"I don't mean the ones in long fur coats with wide trousers and smoking that stuff," he added with distaste.
"Not that sort of girl ... but plain ordinary girls working in shops and offices, typists and secretaries — they come and see the group and seem to like the music."
At that point Ian fell back from his stool against the piano causing it to jangle in protest. Clive raised his head for a second then promptly returned to his slumber.
Ian continued undaunted.
"You obviously get a kick out of bringing new sheep to the fold. Especially when they are 15-year-olds who would normally be listening to the crooners and the balladeers and that sort of Radio 1 scene.
"That is just an unhealthy influence on the whole scene. Musically it is gush; lyrically it is rubbish. I hate all this pseudo romantic-singing. There is nothing wrong with romantic songs but their way is not what it is all about.
"If you want romantic songs there is always Donovan and even the Stones, taking it right down to basics.
"But Engelbert Humperdinck — he is lyrically aware of bugger all. He and his kind are just unaware jokers serving no one except their bank accounts.
"It is up to the pop business to go out and make the public aware of the new music. The Family go out and put across sheer emotion. Those Long John whatsit people stand there and appear to he putting everything into it and really it is just stomach-turning gush."
Jethro Tull's second single, 'Love Story,' is currently making its way up the Chart and it pleases Ian to think of "little girlies leaping about over it."
He says in his own inimitable way:
"It is so much nicer for little girls to thrill themselves over Jagger, Keith Emerson of the Nice or Roger what's-his-name of Family than say one of the Bee Gees. They are like real people rather than sort of dressed up dolls.
"The Bee Gees are obviously a very good group. They write good music and nice tunes but I personally don't like listening to it.
"Think of someone else — Marmalade. They are the same sort of group. I actually like them. They play some nice tunes."
Ian has no objections to the music of groups like the Bee Gees, Marmalade, Herman's Hermits etc, though he may not like it personally. He stresses that he reserves the "gush category" for the balladeers only.
"I've been in cafes where youngish people actually put these records on," he says without a trace of a smile.
"It is not good music. It is not clever. It is not worth a cent musically. I've nothing against Engelbert and that Tom Jones. They might be nice fellars. But it really is pretty poor stuff.
"It would be nice if the underground people went out and bought Engelbert Humperdinck records because they actually liked them and it would be nice if Engelbert fans went out and bought underground records because they like them."
Thanks to Mike Wain for this article