Artist: Jethro Tull

Thick as a Brick ~ Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull are a Grammy Award winning British rock group that formed in 1967-1968. Their music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of front man Ian Anderson. Initially playing blues rock with an experimental flavor, they have, over the years, incorporated elements of classical, folk and ‘ethnic’ musics, jazz and art rock.

During the early 1970s Jethro Tull went from a progressive blues band to one of the largest concert draws in the world. In concert, the band was known for theatricality and long medleys with brief instrumental interludes. While early Jethro Tull shows featured a manic Anderson with bushy hair and beard dressed in tattered overcoats and ragged clothes, as the band became bigger he moved towards varied costumes. This culminated with the War Child tour’s oversized codpiece and colorful costume.

Other band-members joined in the dress-up and developed stage personae. Bassist Glenn Cornick always appeared in vest and headband, while his successor Jeffrey Hammond eventually adopted a black-and-white diagonally-striped suit (and similarly striped bass guitar, electric guitar, and string bass). It was a ‘zebra look’, and at one point a two-manned zebra came out excreting ping pong balls into the audience while both performers moved forcefully around their stage areas. John Evan dressed in an all-white suit with a neck-scarf of scarlet with white polka-dots; described as a “sad clown” type with extremely oversized shoes, he joined in the theatrics by galumphing back and forth between Hammond Organ and grand piano (placed on opposite sides of the stage in the Thick as a Brick tour) or by such sight-gags as pulling out a flask and pretending to drink from it during a rest in the music. Barriemore Barlow’s stage attire was a crimson tank-top and matching runner’s shorts with rugby foot gear, and his solos were marked by smoke-machines and enormous drumsticks. Martin Barre was the island of calm amongst the madmen, with Anderson (and sometimes Evan) crowding him and making faces during his solos.

The band’s stage theatrics peaked during the Thick As A Brick tour, a performance distinguished by stage hands wearing the tan trench-coat/madras cap ensemble from the album art, extras in rabbit suits running across stage and an extended interlude during which Barre and Barlow entered a beach-tent onstage and swapped pants.

A Passion Play was planned to have a full-length film to go with the stage theatrics. However, from this effort, it seems that only a few excerpts have survived to be re-released on recent commemorative videos of the band, including the interlude “The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles.”

A similar multi-media effort had been planned for Too Old To Rock and Roll… but was not completed. Thereafter, the emphasis on theatrics was reduced but never eliminated. In 1982’s Broadsword and the Beast concerts, the entire stage was transformed into a Viking ship. Anderson often dressed as a country squire on tours in the late 1970s, with the rest of the band adopting the style during their folk phase. The A tour featured the same white jumpsuit uniforms worn by the band on the album cover. Certain routines from the 1970s have recently become ensconced in concerts, such as having a song interrupted by a phone call for an audience member (which Anderson now takes on a cell) and the climactic conclusion of shows including bombastic instrumentals and the giant balloons which Anderson would carry over his head and toss into the crowd.

Thick as a Brick

Thick as a Brick (1972) is a concept album by the British rock band Jethro Tull. Its lyrics are built around a poem written by a fictitious boy, “Gerald Bostock” a.k.a. “Little Milton” (Ian Anderson himself). The album featured only one song, lasting over 43 minutes. To accommodate the album on LP vinyl and cassette, the seamless track was split on both sides of the record.

While the previous album, Aqualung, stretched the band’s wings further from the blues of the first three albums, it was still basically mainstream rock. Band leader Ian Anderson was surprised by the critical reaction to the previous album Aqualung as a “concept album”, a label he has firmly rejected to this day. In an interview on In the Studio with Redbeard (which spotlighted Thick as a Brick), Ian Anderson’s response to the critics was “if the critics want a concept album we’ll give them a concept album and we’ll make it so bombastic and so over the top.” With Thick as a Brick, the band created an album deliberately integrated around one concept: a poem by an intelligent English boy about the trials of growing up. Beyond this, the album was a send-up of all pretentious “concept albums”. Anderson also stated in that interview that “the album was a spoof to the albums of Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer much like what the movie Airplane had been to Airport“.

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/jethro_tull-thick_as_a_brick.flv[/flv]

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.

My words but a whisper — your deafness a SHOUT.
I may make you feel but I can’t make you think.
Your sperm’s in the gutter — your love’s in the sink.
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away in
the tidal destruction
the moral melee.
The elastic retreat rings the close of play as the last wave uncovers
the newfangled way.
But your new shoes are worn at the heels and
your suntan does rapidly peel and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

And the love that I feel is so far away:
I’m a bad dream that I just had today — and you
shake your head and
say it’s a shame.

Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth.
Draw the lace and black curtains and shut out the whole truth.
Spin me down the long ages: let them sing the song.

See there!  A son is born — and we pronounce him fit to fight.
There are black-heads on his shoulders, and he pees himself in the night.
We’ll
make a man of him
put him to trade
teach him
to play Monopoly and
to sing in the rain.

The Poet and the painter casting shadows on the water —
as the sun plays on the infantry returning from the sea.
The do-er and the thinker: no allowance for the other —
as the failing light illuminates the mercenary’s creed.
The home fire burning: the kettle almost boiling —
but the master of the house is far away.
The horses stamping — their warm breath clouding
in the sharp and frosty morning of the day.
And the poet lifts his pen while the soldier sheaths his sword.

And the youngest of the family is moving with authority.
Building castles by the sea, he dares the tardy tide to wash them all aside.

The cattle quietly grazing at the grass down by the river
where the swelling mountain water moves onward to the sea:
the builder of the castles renews the age-old purpose
and contemplates the milking girl whose offer is his need.
The young men of the household have
all gone into service and
are not to be expected for a year.
The innocent young master — thoughts moving ever faster —
has formed the plan to change the man he seems.
And the poet sheaths his pen while the soldier lifts his sword.

And the oldest of the family is moving with authority.
Coming from across the sea, he challenges the son who puts him to the run.

What do you do when
the old man’s gone — do you want to be him?  And
your real self sings the song.
Do you want to free him?
No one to help you get up steam —
and the whirlpool turns you `way off-beam.

LATER.
I’ve come down from the upper class to mend your rotten ways.
My father was a man-of-power whom everyone obeyed.
So come on all you criminals!
I’ve got to put you straight just like I did with my old man —
twenty years too late.
Your bread and water’s going cold.
Your hair is too short and neat.
I’ll judge you all and make damn sure that no-one judges me.

You curl your toes in fun as you smile at everyone — you meet the stares.
You’re unaware that your doings aren’t done.
And you laugh most ruthlessly as you tell us what not to be.
But how are we supposed to see where we should run?
I see you shuffle in the courtroom with
your rings upon your fingers and
your downy little sidies and
your silver-buckle shoes.
Playing at the hard case, you follow the example of the comic-paper idol
who lets you bend the rules.

So!
Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won’t you rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super crooks
and show us all the way.
Well!  Make your will and testament. Won’t you?
Join your local government.
We’ll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.

You put your bet on number one and it comes up every time.
The other kids have all backed down and they put you first in line.
And so you finally ask yourself just how big you are —
and take your place in a wiser world of bigger motor cars.
And you wonder who to call on.

So!  Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you though?
They’re all resting down in Cornwall —
writing up their memoirs for a paper-back edition
of the Boy Scout Manual.

LATER.
See there!  A man born — and we pronounce him fit for peace.
There’s a load lifted from his shoulders with the discovery of his disease.
We’ll
take the child from him
put it to the test
teach it
to be a wise man
how to fool the rest.

QUOTE
We will be geared to the average rather than the exceptional
God is an overwhelming responsibility
we walked through the maternity ward and saw 218 babies wearing nylons
cats are on the upgrade
upgrade?  Hipgrave.  Oh, Mac.

LATER
In the clear white circles of morning wonder,
I take my place with the lord of the hills.
And the blue-eyed soldiers stand slightly discoloured (in neat little rows)
sporting canvas frills.
With their jock-straps pinching, they slouch to attention,
while queueing for sarnies at the office canteen.
Saying — how’s your granny and
good old Ernie: he coughed up a tenner on a premium bond win.

The legends (worded in the ancient tribal hymn) lie cradled
in the seagull’s call.
And all the promises they made are ground beneath the sadist’s fall.
The poet and the wise man stand behind the gun,
and signal for the crack of dawn.
Light the sun.

Do you believe in the day?  Do you?
Believe in the day!  The Dawn Creation of the Kings has begun.
Soft Venus (lonely maiden) brings the ageless one.
Do you believe in the day?
The fading hero has returned to the night — and fully pregnant with the day,
wise men endorse the poet’s sight.
Do you believe in the day?  Do you?  Believe in the day!

Let me tell you the tales of your life of
your love and the cut of the knife
the tireless oppression
the wisdom instilled
the desire to kill or be killed.
Let me sing of the losers who lie in the street as the last bus goes by.
The pavements ar empty: the gutters run red — while the fool
toasts his god in the sky.

So come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
Let me help you pick up your dead as the sins of the father are fed
with
the blood of the fools and
the thoughts of the wise and
from the pan under your bed.
Let me make you a present of song as
the wise man breaks wind and is gone while
the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose and
the nursery rhyme winds along.

So!  Come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
See!  The summer lightning casts its bolts upon you
and the hour of judgement draweth near.
Would you be
the fool stood in his suit of armour or
the wiser man who rushes clear.
So!  Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won’t your rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super-crooks and
show us all the way.
Well!  Make your will and testament.
Won’t you?  Join your local government.
We’ll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.
So!  Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you through?
They’re all resting down in Cornwall — writing up their memoirs
for a paper-back edition of the Boy Scout Manual.

OF COURSE
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

  • Audio from the 1972 album, Thick As A Brick:

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Aqualung – Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull are a British rock group formed in 1967. Their music is characterised by the lyrics, vocals and flute work of Ian Anderson, who has led the band since its founding, and guitarist Martin Barre, who has been with the band since 1969.

During the early 1970s Jethro Tull went from a progressive blues band to one of the largest concert draws in the world. In concert, the band was known for theatricality and long medleys with brief instrumental interludes. While early Jethro Tull shows featured a manic Anderson with bushy hair and beard dressed in tattered overcoats and ragged clothes, as the band became bigger he moved towards varied costumes. This culminated with the War Child tour’s oversized codpiece and colourful costume.

Other band members joined in the dress-up and developed stage personae. Bassist Glenn Cornick always appeared in vest and headband, while his successor Jeffrey Hammond eventually adopted a black-and-white diagonally-striped suit (and similarly striped bass guitar, electric guitar, and string bass). It was a ‘zebra look’, and at one point a two-manned zebra came out excreting ping pong balls into the audience while both performers moved forcefully around their stage areas. John Evan dressed in an all-white suit with a neck-scarf of scarlet with white polka-dots; described as a “sad clown” type with extremely oversized shoes, he joined in the theatrics by galumphing back and forth between Hammond Organ and grand piano (placed on opposite sides of the stage in the Thick as a Brick tour) or by such sight-gags as pulling out a flask and pretending to drink from it during a rest in the music. Barriemore Barlow’s stage attire was a crimson tank-top and matching runner’s shorts with rugby footgear, and his solos were marked by smoke-machines and enormous drumsticks. Martin Barre was the island of calm amongst the madmen, with Anderson (and sometimes Evan) crowding him and making faces during his solos.

The band’s stage theatrics peaked during the Thick As A Brick tour, a performance distinguished by stage hands wearing the tan trench-coat/madras cap ensemble from the album art, extras in rabbit suits running across stage and an extended interlude during which Barre and Barlow entered a beach-tent onstage and swapped pants.

The name, Jethro Tull

Ian explains: “I was not the author of the Jethro Tull name. The original Jethro Tull was an 18th century agriculturalist… he was also something of an inventor. He invented the seed drill. He built his first prototype seed drill from the foot pedals of his local church organ… when it was suggested as one of our weekly names for our band in its early days by our agent we said ‘ok, we’ll be Jethro Tull this week.’ The reason for all that was that we were not a terribly good group when we first started, and the only way we could get re-booked into the clubs we played at was to pretend to be somebody different every week… often we didn’t know who we were– the agent forgot to tell us– so we would arrive at some club, and we’d look down the list of bands playing… whichever one we’d never heard of before, we knew that must be us. The time we got asked back to the Marquee club we had to stick with the name we had that week, which happened to be Jethro Tull. It’s not a name I feel particularly wonderful about. I feel faintly embarrassed about it because it’s not an original name. It’s somebody else’s name.”

Aqualung

The original recording runs exactly for 6 minutes and 34 seconds, and with one of the most legendary chords in rock history, the first six notes of Aqualung may well demonstrate Anderson’s clear interest in Beethoven and his fifth symphony. Also, the song contains what might well be considered Martin Barre’s most stunning and melodic guitar solo in his entire career. Twenty years later after he laid down that solo, he said:

The only thing I can remember about cutting the solo is that Led Zeppelin was recording next door, and as I was playing it, Jimmy Page walked into the control room and waved to me. How I didn’t stop playing I don’t know, but I carried on somehow.

In an interview with Ian Anderson in the September 1999 Guitar World, he said:

Aqualung wasn’t a concept album, although a lot of people thought so. The idea came about from a photograph my wife at the time took of a tramp in London. I had feelings of guilt about the homeless, as well as fear and insecurity with people like that who seem a little scary. And I suppose all of that was combined with a slightly romanticized picture of the person who is homeless but yet a free spirit, who either won’t or can’t join in society’s prescribed formats.

So from that photograph and those sentiments, I began writing the words to ‘Aqualung.’ I can remember sitting in a hotel room in L.A., working out the chord structure for the verses. It’s quite a tortured tangle of chords, but it was meant to really drag you here and there and then set you down into the more gentle acoustic section of the song.

This is one of Jethro Tull’s most famous songs, but it was not released as a single. Ian Anderson explained why during an interview with Songfacts. He said:

“Because it was too long, it was too episodic, it starts off with a loud guitar riff and then goes into rather more laid back acoustic stuff. Led Zeppelin at the time, you know, they didn’t release any singles. It was album tracks. And radio sharply divided between AM radio, which played the 3-minute pop hits, and FM radio where they played what they called deep cuts. You would go into a album and play the obscure, the longer, the more convoluted songs in that period of more developmental rock music. But that day is not really with us anymore, whether it be classic rock stations that do play some of that music, but they are thin on the ground, and they too know that they’ve got to keep it short and sharp and cheerful, and provide the blue blanket of familiar sounding music and get onto the next set of commercial breaks, because that’s what pays the radio station costs of being on the air. So pragmatic rules apply.”

The Aqualung character is also mentioned in “Cross-Eyed Mary”, the next song on the album, and again in Locomotive Breath.

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/jethro-tull-aqualung.flv[/flv]

Sitting on a park bench
Eying up little girls with bad intent
Snots running down his nose
Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes, hey, Aqualung

Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run, hey, Aqualung
Feeling like a dead duck
Spitting out pieces of his broken luck, oh, Aqualung

Sun streaking cold, an old man wandering lonely
Taking time, the only way he knows
Leg hurting bad as he bends to pick a dog end
He goes down to a bog and warms his feet

Feeling alone, the army’s up the road
Salvation a la mode and a cup of tea
Aqualung, my friend, don’t you start away uneasy
You poor old sod, you see it’s only me

Do you still remember
December’s foggy freeze
When the ice that clings on to your beard
It was screaming agony

Hey and you snatch your rattling last breaths
With deep-sea diver sounds
And the flowers bloom like
Madness in the spring

Sun streaking cold, an old man wandering lonely
Taking time, the only way he knows
Leg hurting bad as he bends to pick a dog end
He goes down to a bog and warms his feet

Feeling alone, the army’s up the road
Salvation a la mode and a cup of tea
Aqualung my friend don’t you start away uneasy
You poor old sod, you see it’s only me

Aqualung my friend don’t you start away uneasy
You poor old sod, you see it’s only me

Sitting on a park bench
Eying up little girls with bad intent
Snots running down his nose
Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes, hey Aqualung

Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run, hey Aqualung
Feeling like a dead duck
Spitting out pieces of his broken luck, hey Aqualung

Oh Aqualung

  • Audio from the 1971 album, Aqualung:

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Songs From The Wood – Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull are a British rock group formed in 1967. Their music is characterised by the lyrics, vocals and flute work of Ian Anderson, who has led the band since its founding, and guitarist Martin Barre, who has been with the band since 1969.

During the early 1970s Jethro Tull went from a progressive blues band to one of the largest concert draws in the world. In concert, the band was known for theatricality and long medleys with brief instrumental interludes. While early Jethro Tull shows featured a manic Anderson with bushy hair and beard dressed in tattered overcoats and ragged clothes, as the band became bigger he moved towards varied costumes. This culminated with the War Child tour’s oversized codpiece and colourful costume.

Other band members joined in the dress-up and developed stage personae. Bassist Glenn Cornick always appeared in vest and headband, while his successor Jeffrey Hammond eventually adopted a black-and-white diagonally-striped suit (and similarly striped bass guitar, electric guitar, and string bass). It was a ‘zebra look’, and at one point a two-manned zebra came out excreting ping pong balls into the audience while both performers moved forcefully around their stage areas. John Evan dressed in an all-white suit with a neck-scarf of scarlet with white polka-dots; described as a “sad clown” type with extremely oversized shoes, he joined in the theatrics by galumphing back and forth between Hammond Organ and grand piano (placed on opposite sides of the stage in the Thick as a Brick tour) or by such sight-gags as pulling out a flask and pretending to drink from it during a rest in the music. Barriemore Barlow’s stage attire was a crimson tank-top and matching runner’s shorts with rugby footgear, and his solos were marked by smoke-machines and enormous drumsticks. Martin Barre was the island of calm amongst the madmen, with Anderson (and sometimes Evan) crowding him and making faces during his solos.

The band’s stage theatrics peaked during the Thick As A Brick tour, a performance distinguished by stage hands wearing the tan trench-coat/madras cap ensemble from the album art, extras in rabbit suits running across stage and an extended interlude during which Barre and Barlow entered a beach-tent onstage and swapped pants.

The name, Jethro Tull

Ian explains: “I was not the author of the Jethro Tull name. The original Jethro Tull was an 18th century agriculturalist… he was also something of an inventor. He invented the seed drill. He built his first prototype seed drill from the foot pedals of his local church organ… when it was suggested as one of our weekly names for our band in its early days by our agent we said ‘ok, we’ll be Jethro Tull this week.’ The reason for all that was that we were not a terribly good group when we first started, and the only way we could get re-booked into the clubs we played at was to pretend to be somebody different every week… often we didn’t know who we were– the agent forgot to tell us– so we would arrive at some club, and we’d look down the list of bands playing… whichever one we’d never heard of before, we knew that must be us. The time we got asked back to the Marquee club we had to stick with the name we had that week, which happened to be Jethro Tull. It’s not a name I feel particularly wonderful about. I feel faintly embarrassed about it because it’s not an original name. It’s somebody else’s name.”

Songs from the Wood

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/jethro_tull-songs_from_the_wood.flv[/flv]

Let me bring you songs from the wood:
to make you feel much better than you could know.
Dust you down from tip to toe.
Show you how the garden grows.
Hold you steady as you go.
Join the chorus if you can:
it’ll make of you an honest man.
Let me bring you love from the field:
poppies red and roses filled with summer rain.
To heal the wound and still the pain
that threatens again and again
as you drag down every lover’s lane.
Life’s long celebration’s here.
I’ll toast you all in penny cheer.
Let me bring you all things refined:
galliards and lute songs served in chilling ale.
Greetings well met fellow, hail!
I am the wind to fill your sail.
I am the cross to take your nail:
A singer of these ageless times.
With kitchen prose and gutter rhymes.
Songs from the wood make you feel much better.

  • Audio from the 1977 album, Songs From The Wood


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Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull are a Grammy Award winning British rock group that formed in 1967-1968. Their music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of front man Ian Anderson. Initially playing blues rock with an experimental flavor, they have, over the years, incorporated elements of classical, folk and ‘ethnic’ musics, jazz and art rock.

During the early 1970s Jethro Tull went from a progressive blues band to one of the largest concert draws in the world. In concert, the band was known for theatricality and long medleys with brief instrumental interludes. While early Jethro Tull shows featured a manic Anderson with bushy hair and beard dressed in tattered overcoats and ragged clothes, as the band became bigger he moved towards varied costumes. This culminated with the War Child tour’s oversized codpiece and colorful costume.

Other band-members joined in the dress-up and developed stage personae. Bassist Glenn Cornick always appeared in vest and headband, while his successor Jeffrey Hammond eventually adopted a black-and-white diagonally-striped suit (and similarly striped bass guitar, electric guitar, and string bass). It was a ‘zebra look’, and at one point a two-manned zebra came out excreting ping pong balls into the audience while both performers moved forcefully around their stage areas. John Evan dressed in an all-white suit with a neck-scarf of scarlet with white polka-dots; described as a “sad clown” type with extremely oversized shoes, he joined in the theatrics by galumphing back and forth between Hammond Organ and grand piano (placed on opposite sides of the stage in the Thick as a Brick tour) or by such sight-gags as pulling out a flask and pretending to drink from it during a rest in the music. Barriemore Barlow’s stage attire was a crimson tank-top and matching runner’s shorts with rugby foot gear, and his solos were marked by smoke-machines and enormous drumsticks. Martin Barre was the island of calm amongst the madmen, with Anderson (and sometimes Evan) crowding him and making faces during his solos.

The band’s stage theatrics peaked during the Thick As A Brick tour, a performance distinguished by stage hands wearing the tan trench-coat/madras cap ensemble from the album art, extras in rabbit suits running across stage and an extended interlude during which Barre and Barlow entered a beach-tent onstage and swapped pants.

A Passion Play was planned to have a full-length film to go with the stage theatrics. However, from this effort, it seems that only a few excerpts have survived to be re-released on recent commemorative videos of the band, including the interlude “The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles.”

A similar multi-media effort had been planned for Too Old To Rock and Roll… but was not completed. Thereafter, the emphasis on theatrics was reduced but never eliminated. In 1982’s Broadsword and the Beast concerts, the entire stage was transformed into a Viking ship. Anderson often dressed as a country squire on tours in the late 1970s, with the rest of the band adopting the style during their folk phase. The A tour featured the same white jumpsuit uniforms worn by the band on the album cover. Certain routines from the 1970s have recently become ensconced in concerts, such as having a song interrupted by a phone call for an audience member (which Anderson now takes on a cell) and the climactic conclusion of shows including bombastic instrumentals and the giant balloons which Anderson would carry over his head and toss into the crowd.

Locomotive Breath

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/jethro-tull-locomotive-breath.flv[/flv]

In the shuffling madness
of the locomotive breath,
runs the all-time loser,
headlong to his death.
“Oh” He feels the piston scraping —
steam breaking on his brow —
old Charlie stole the handle and
the train “it” won’t stop going —
no way to slow down. “OhooOh”

He sees his children “jumping” off
at the stations — one by one.
His woman and his best friend —
in bed and having fun.
“Oh” He’s crawling down the corridor
on his hands and knees —
old Charlie stole the handle and
the train “it” won’t stop going —
no way to slow down. “Heaheya”

He hears the silence howling —
catches angels as they fall.
And the all-time winner
has got him by the balls.
“Oh” He picks up Gideons Bible —
open at page one —
I “THINK” God “he” stole the handle and
the train “it” won’t stop going —
no way to slow down.
“no way to slow down
no way to slow down
no way to slow down
no way to slow down”

  • Audio from the 1971 album, Aqualung:

album-aqualung
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Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day ~ Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull are a Grammy Award winning British rock group that formed in 1967-1968. Their music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of front man Ian Anderson. Initially playing blues rock with an experimental flavor, they have, over the years, incorporated elements of classical, folk and ‘ethnic’ musics, jazz and art rock.

During the early 1970s Jethro Tull went from a progressive blues band to one of the largest concert draws in the world. In concert, the band was known for theatricality and long medleys with brief instrumental interludes. While early Jethro Tull shows featured a manic Anderson with bushy hair and beard dressed in tattered overcoats and ragged clothes, as the band became bigger he moved towards varied costumes. This culminated with the War Child tour’s oversized codpiece and colorful costume.

Other band-members joined in the dress-up and developed stage personae. Bassist Glenn Cornick always appeared in vest and headband, while his successor Jeffrey Hammond eventually adopted a black-and-white diagonally-striped suit (and similarly striped bass guitar, electric guitar, and string bass). It was a ‘zebra look’, and at one point a two-manned zebra came out excreting ping pong balls into the audience while both performers moved forcefully around their stage areas. John Evan dressed in an all-white suit with a neck-scarf of scarlet with white polka-dots; described as a “sad clown” type with extremely oversized shoes, he joined in the theatrics by galumphing back and forth between Hammond Organ and grand piano (placed on opposite sides of the stage in the Thick as a Brick tour) or by such sight-gags as pulling out a flask and pretending to drink from it during a rest in the music. Barriemore Barlow’s stage attire was a crimson tank-top and matching runner’s shorts with rugby foot gear, and his solos were marked by smoke-machines and enormous drumsticks. Martin Barre was the island of calm amongst the madmen, with Anderson (and sometimes Evan) crowding him and making faces during his solos.

The band’s stage theatrics peaked during the Thick As A Brick tour, a performance distinguished by stage hands wearing the tan trench-coat/madras cap ensemble from the album art, extras in rabbit suits running across stage and an extended interlude during which Barre and Barlow entered a beach-tent onstage and swapped pants.

A Passion Play was planned to have a full-length film to go with the stage theatrics. However, from this effort, it seems that only a few excerpts have survived to be re-released on recent commemorative videos of the band, including the interlude “The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles.”

A similar multi-media effort had been planned for Too Old To Rock and Roll… but was not completed. Thereafter, the emphasis on theatrics was reduced but never eliminated. In 1982’s Broadsword and the Beast concerts, the entire stage was transformed into a Viking ship. Anderson often dressed as a country squire on tours in the late 1970s, with the rest of the band adopting the style during their folk phase. The A tour featured the same white jumpsuit uniforms worn by the band on the album cover. Certain routines from the 1970s have recently become ensconced in concerts, such as having a song interrupted by a phone call for an audience member (which Anderson now takes on a cell) and the climactic conclusion of shows including bombastic instrumentals and the giant balloons which Anderson would carry over his head and toss into the crowd.

Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day

This song, along with “Only Solitaire” and “Bungle in the Jungle”, were left over from the 1972-1973 writing sessions for what was to have been the follow-up to the Thick as a Brick album.  They appear on Jethro Tull’s seventh album, War Child, which was originally meant to accompany a film project (the album was planned as a double-album set), it was reinstated as a ten-song, single-length rock album after failed attempts to find a major movie studio to finance the film.

The “War Child” movie was written as a metaphysical black comedy concerning a teenage girl in the afterlife, meeting characters based on God, St. Peter and Lucifer portrayed as if shrewd businessmen. Notable British actor Leonard Rossiter was to have been featured, Margot Fonteyn was to have choreographed, while Monty Python veteran John Cleese was pencilled in as a “humor consultant”.

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/jethro_tull-skating_away.flv[/flv]

Meanwhile back in the year One — when you belonged to no-one —
you didn’t stand a chance son, if your pants were undone.
`Cause you were bred for humanity and sold to society —
one day you’ll wake up in the Present Day —
a million generations removed from expectations
of being who you really want to be.
Skating away —
skating away —
skating away on the thin ice of the New Day.

So as you push off from the shore,
won’t you turn your head once more — and make your peace with everyone?
For those who choose to stay,
will live just one more day —
to do the things they should have done.
And as you cross the wilderness, spinning in your emptiness:
you feel you have to pray.
Looking for a sign
that the Universal Mind (!) has written you into the Passion Play.

Skating away —
skating away —
skating away on the thin ice of the New Day.

And as you cross the circle line, well the ice-wall creaks behind —
you’re a rabbit on the run.
And the silver splinters fly in the corner of your eye —
shining in the setting sun.
Well, do you ever get the feeling that the story’s
too damn real and in the present tense?
Or that everybody’s on the stage, and it seems like
you’re the only person sitting in the audience?

Skating away —
skating away —
skating away on the thin ice of the New Day.

Skating away —
skating away —
skating away.

  • Audio from the 1974 album, War Child:

war-child
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Kashmir ~ Jethro Tull (with Lucia Micarelli)

I have had the absolute pleasure to see Jethro Tull in concert almost twenty times, and the honor of interviewing Ian Anderson four times while working on the radio. Each time generated experiences I will never forget. One of the first progressive rock groups.

Lucia Micarelli toured and opened for Jethro Tull during their United States tour in October and November of 2005.  She was classically trained at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. She was the concertmaster with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on their Christmas Season Tour in 2003.

The following is an awesome rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir.

Kashmir

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/Lucia_Micarelli-Jethro_Tull-Kashmir.flv[/flv] (649)

Living in the Past ~ Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull are a Grammy Award winning British rock group that formed in 1967-1968. Their music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of front man Ian Anderson. Initially playing blues rock with an experimental flavour, they have, over the years, incorporated elements of classical, folk and ‘ethnic’ musics, jazz and art rock.

During the early 1970s Jethro Tull went from a progressive blues band to one of the largest concert draws in the world. In concert, the band was known for theatricality and long medleys with brief instrumental interludes. While early Jethro Tull shows featured a manic Anderson with bushy hair and beard dressed in tattered overcoats and ragged clothes, as the band became bigger he moved towards varied costumes. This culminated with the War Child tour’s oversized codpiece and colourful costume.

Other band-members joined in the dress-up and developed stage personae. Bassist Glenn Cornick always appeared in vest and headband, while his successor Jeffrey Hammond eventually adopted a black-and-white diagonally-striped suit (and similarly striped bass guitar, electric guitar, and string bass). It was a ‘zebra look’, and at one point a two-manned zebra came out excreting ping pong balls into the audience while both performers moved forcefully around their stage areas. John Evan dressed in an all-white suit with a neck-scarf of scarlet with white polka-dots; described as a “sad clown” type with extremely oversized shoes, he joined in the theatrics by galumphing back and forth between Hammond Organ and grand piano (placed on opposite sides of the stage in the Thick as a Brick tour) or by such sight-gags as pulling out a flask and pretending to drink from it during a rest in the music. Barriemore Barlow’s stage attire was a crimson tank-top and matching runner’s shorts with rugby footgear, and his solos were marked by smoke-machines and enormous drumsticks. Martin Barre was the island of calm amongst the madmen, with Anderson (and sometimes Evan) crowding him and making faces during his solos.

The band’s stage theatrics peaked during the Thick As A Brick tour, a performance distinguished by stage hands wearing the tan trench-coat/madras cap ensemble from the album art, extras in rabbit suits running across stage and an extended interlude during which Barre and Barlow entered a beach-tent onstage and swapped pants.

A Passion Play was planned to have a full-length film to go with the stage theatrics. However, from this effort, it seems that only a few excerpts have survived to be re-released on recent commemorative videos of the band, including the interlude “The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles.”

A similar multi-media effort had been planned for Too Old To Rock and Roll… but was not completed. Thereafter, the emphasis on theatrics was reduced but never eliminated. In 1982’s Broadsword and the Beast concerts, the entire stage was transformed into a Viking ship. Anderson often dressed as a country squire on tours in the late 1970s, with the rest of the band adopting the style during their folk phase. The A tour featured the same white jumpsuit uniforms worn by the band on the album cover. Certain routines from the 1970s have recently become ensconced in concerts, such as having a song interrupted by a phone call for an audience member (which Anderson now takes on a cell) and the climactic conclusion of shows including bombastic instrumentals and the giant balloons which Anderson would carry over his head and toss into the crowd.

Living In the Past

The song was originally recorded during sessions for Tull’s 1969 album Stand Up, and released in the same year as a stand-alone single. However, it became even more popular after its 1972 release on Tull’s compilation album, also called Living In The Past.

The song, which was originally released at the peak of the Vietnam War, seems to be about people wishing to live in peaceful times (the “past” mentioned in the song) rather than at a time of war and turmoil (the “present”).

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/livinginthepast.flv[/flv]

Happy and I’m smiling,
Walk a mile to drink your water.
You know I’d love to love you,
And above you there’s no other.
We’ll go walking out
While others shout of war’s disaster.
Oh, we won’t give in,
Let’s go living in the past.

Once I used to join in
Every boy and girl was my friend.
Now there’s revolution, but they don’t know
What they’re fighting.
Let us close our eyes;
Outside their lives go on much faster.
Oh, we won’t give in,
We’ll keep living in the past.

Oh, we won’t give in,
Let’s go living in the past.
Oh no no we won’t give in,
Let’s go living in the past.

Member history

  • Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi played guitar for Jethro Tull briefly in 1968 following the departure of Mick Abrahams. The only recording of him with Jethro Tull is on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus although his guitar is not heard as all of the music (excepting Ian Anderson’s vocals and flute) was dubbed in afterwards. He had already quit the band before the Rock and Roll Circus and it was his final performance with the band. He was soon replaced by Martin Barre.
  • After his departure from Jethro Tull in 1971, original drummer Clive Bunker played in a short-lived group called Jude with former Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower.
  • Barriemore Barlow replaced Clive Bunker on drums. His second gig for the band was the infamous outdoor concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Morrison, Colorado on 10 June, 1971 in which gate-crashing fans rioted with police who dropped tear gas from helicopters. The band played on through their tears in what was described as a brilliant gig; but no rock concerts were held at Red Rocks for years thereafter.[15]
  • Genesis’ Phil Collins was Jethro Tull’s drummer for only one gig: the Prince’s Trust Gala on July 7, 1982 at London’s Dominion Theatre. During this time, Jethro Tull had the position of drummer to fill after the departure of temporary drummer Mark Craney. Phil Collins played a three songs set, and two of them (“Jack in the Green” and “Pussy Willow”) are on an official video release of the Prince’s Trust Gala–though it may not have been released in all countries.
  • A significant number of Jethro Tull former supporting players like Dave Pegg, Martin Allcock, Dave Mattacks and Gerry Conway have been in the core of in the influential folk rock band Fairport Convention. Dave Pegg – a core member of Fairport and the bassist with the longest tenure in Tull (1979-1995)  alternated his career between the two. When Jethro Tull toured the USA in 1987, Fairport Convention was the opening act, with Pegg playing in both bands at each concert.
  • Ex-drummer Mark Craney, from the short-lived 1980-81 line-up, died of diabetes and pneumonia on November 26, 2005. He had suffered through a history of health problems including kidney ailments, stroke paralysis, and a heart condition. A number of Jethro Tull members contributed to the 1997 charity album, Something With a Pulse, to help Craney pay medical bills.
  • Bassist Tony Williams filled in for the remainder of the tour when John Glascock’s health failed.
  • Bassist Matthew Pegg Dave’s son  is credited with playing bass on Catfish Rising when his father was “washing hair.”
  • Bassist Steve Bailey appeared on the Roots to Branches recording due to Dave Pegg’s scheduling conflicts.
  • David Palmer, who arranged orchestras and instruments along with being a member of Jethro Tull, became Dee Palmer in 2003 and transitioned from a male to a female in 2004. She is very open about it and plans on releasing a solo album.

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