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12 October 1968
JETHRO TULL: "WE'RE REALLY HUMAN ..."
How does a group get the name Jethro Tull? The original Jethro Tull was a major force in the pioneering of agricultural improvement during the early eighteenth century. The present Jethro Tull is one of the most exciting of today's new groups. Because of the connotations of the original Jethro Tull, it is not surprising that the group appear on stage looking like four agricultural workers.
Because of his appearance, Ian Anderson has a few troubles.
"Just because we have long hair, people associate us with drugs. We get guys in the street coming up to us and asking for 'a charge'. The thing is we don't know what they mean, so we pretend to know what it is about although we don't want to. I'm trying to find a flat. I can ring and arrange everything but when I go to see the people they say the place has gone just because I have long hair. If people talk to us for a few moments they realize that we are really human and normal.
"I don't agree with people taking drugs or stimulants. They should be themselves without having to resort to those sort of things. In fact I don't even drink."
It's true about Ian not imbibing. I arranged to meet him in a certain hostelry only to be told that he would prefer a coffee bar. So over many cups of coffee he laid it on me.
"I suppose we play a sort of progressive blues with a bit of jazz if the group has to be labelled (said Ian). But basically we play what we feel. I think there only two kinds of music — you either improvise or you play the same thing each time. We improvise. Next year Jethro Tull might be playing something entirely different to what we play today."
Part of Jethro Tull's stage act is Ian's long coat.
"I started wearing it when we played a club last winter. It was very cold (complains Ian), so I found this coat and it's been with me ever since. Sometimes I don't feel like wearing it, but I suppose it has become a sort of trademark for us. Some people think we are always zany on stage but then we play to the audience. Other times we might feel belligerent so we play accordingly."
On stage Ian Anderson appears the complete extrovert — but really he is a good showman. Off-stage Ian is quiet and rather erudite. Don't let anyone think he is an absolute loon.
However there is comedy to be found in Jethro Tull. Mick Abrahams (who is lead guitarist also plays nine-string guitar and sings) told me about his hobby.
"It started off when I had a sausage which had been left for about three or four days. It went very hard, so I hollowed part of it out and put a clockwork motor in it. My idea was to race it. But the cat caught it and ate it. So I want to get in touch with anyone who's a clockwork sausage fan." (Record Mirror readers please note!)
Ian Henderson [sic] talked about the psychedelic scene.
"We played a club once and the people there tried to do this 'light show'. Quite honestly it was a waste of time. There were a few feeble attempts at the club simply because it was considered to be the 'in thing'. We don't need to have that sort of thing going for us. It might be alright for some groups but not for us."
If you are looking for real excitement in pop music, make a point of seeing Jethro Tull. Listen to their debut album on Island called This Was. It contains some of the group's stage highlights like 'Serenade To A Cuckoo' and 'Dharma For One'. If you can't get to see the group — get to buy the LP. It's the next best thing.