Tull Then and Now
November 16, 2008 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Ian Anderson Advises You on Kitten Care You may think you remember Jethro Tull but the lead singer changed a bit over the years. As well as recently receiving an (honorary) doctorate in English literature and taking up the cause of wild cats, the multi talented Ian would also like to tell you about Indian food.
posted by mygothlaundry (39 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
And also, tucked into the comments because it really doesn't make much sense, here's an origin myth.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:25 PM on November 16, 2008

he also talks about deep vein thrombosis. He was wheelchair bound for a few weeks after suffering a clot during a long flight. There is more to Tull than Flute Rock.
posted by Gungho at 3:32 PM on November 16, 2008

Your new kitten was found under a garden logpile by Lucinda in Buckinghamshire, just over two weeks ago.

I only wish I could send a letter to someone with this beginning sentence. That guy gets to do all the fun stuff. From bringing flute into rock music to being a foster parent for abandoned kittens. From Ian's bio:
His hobbies include the growing of many varieties of hot chile peppers, the study and conservation of the 26 species of small wildcats of the world and collecting mechanical watches and vintage Leica and other cameras. He reluctantly admits to owning digital cameras and scanners for his work on the photographic promotional images related to Tull as well as his solo career.
It's interesting to see the personal side of musicians, beyond the stage presence of standing on one leg while fluting away and rubbing elbows (a phrase whose importance to the band I still don't understand).
posted by filthy light thief at 3:36 PM on November 16, 2008

Prof: It's din dins time pussy.
Pussy: I wonder what prof. Panglos wants.
Prof: Nice pussy, but what ails rabbit.
Pussy: (slurp, slurp) This tastes fascinating prof. Panglos
Rabbit: I'm geared toward the average rather than the exceptional.
posted by hal9k at 3:37 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Thick As A Brick -- Madison Square Garden, 1978.
posted by ericb at 3:40 PM on November 16, 2008

ian doesn't shake hands hence the rubbing elbows.
posted by Gungho at 3:41 PM on November 16, 2008

Wagner, Beethoven and Hendrix might have chanced the Vindaloo but Mozart, Debussy and John Denver were probably Korma or, perhaps, Dhansak guys on a daring night. Got the picture? See you in Curry Heaven.

posted by nickyskye at 3:41 PM on November 16, 2008

This answers the question: Who do you call if your cat has snot running down his nose?
posted by not_on_display at 3:44 PM on November 16, 2008

It's interesting to see the personal side of musicians, beyond the stage presence of standing on one leg while fluting away ...
"His famous tendency to stand on one leg while playing the flute came about by accident. As related in the 'Isle of Wight' video, he had been inclined to stand on one leg while playing the harmonica, holding the microphone stand for balance. During the long stint at the Marquee Club, a journalist described him, wrongly, as standing on one leg to play the flute. He decided to live up to the reputation, albeit with some difficulty. His early attempts are visible in the 'Rock and Roll Circus' film appearance of Jethro Tull. In later life he was surprised to learn of iconic portrayals of various flute playing divinities, particularly Krishna and Kokopelli, which show them standing on one leg." *
Interview with Ian Anderson about one leg playing flute and the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.
posted by ericb at 3:51 PM on November 16, 2008

What a great guy, putting down the flute and helping the kittehs. Way to go Ian!
posted by porn in the woods at 3:52 PM on November 16, 2008

Look out, little furry folk!
He's the all-night working cat.
Eats but one in every ten ---
Leaves the others on the mat.
...and the mouse police never sleeps ---
posted by pyramid termite at 3:59 PM on November 16, 2008

Ian, sweetie, you forgot Indian desserts, which are the reason I LIVE.

I need to go make kulfi now.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:28 PM on November 16, 2008

I'll somewhat reluctantly admit to taking up the flute very briefly back in sixth grade at the height of Jethro Tull's popularity. (Hey, it was a lot easier to drag to band practice than a saxophone!) I never did get the hang of it, but damn if Locomotive Breath doesn't still rock.
posted by malocchio at 4:39 PM on November 16, 2008

Ian always liked the little mammals. * That interview is great, it's all about fish farming!
posted by jessamyn at 4:41 PM on November 16, 2008

The rivers are full of crocodile nasties
And He who made kittens put snakes in the grass-eees
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:47 PM on November 16, 2008

Nice to see that I'm not the only one celebrating Tullvember this year.
posted by MarchHare at 4:59 PM on November 16, 2008

Metallica still should have won.
posted by Brainy at 5:43 PM on November 16, 2008

Metallica still should have won.

Rock Island, motherfucker, now and always.

Actually I haven't listened to that album in ages, but I don't recall it rocking terribly hard. I'll have to listen to it again. I've got every single Tull CD from the beginning through J-Tull.com, including both boxed sets. Thanks for this.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:23 PM on November 16, 2008

Interview with Ian Anderson about one leg playing flute and the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.

But what was the other leg playing?

Thank you.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:41 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Rock Island, motherfucker, now and always.

I think I just teared up a little. This is what it feels like when doves cry.
posted by furious_george at 8:12 PM on November 16, 2008

Oh, and just because I don't know if this will *ever* be even remotely contextually salient again.

The Hare has Lost his Spectacles.
posted by furious_george at 8:18 PM on November 16, 2008

From Anderson's 2007 diary entry:

When I wrote about climate change in the song Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day back in 1974

Wait, what? That is so not what that song is about. Don't argue with me, Mr. Anderson.

Note: YouTube, fan-made video
posted by jokeefe at 8:57 PM on November 16, 2008

Oh, holy hell-- my inner 15 year old fangirl just resurrected herself long enough to have a complete meltdown watching this: Nothing is Easy, live, 1970. RAWK.

I was so crushed out on Ian Anderson I cannot tell you.
posted by jokeefe at 9:11 PM on November 16, 2008

Sonovabitch-- I just listened to this (Reasons for Waiting-- listen for when that string section comes in, oh man) for what must be the first time since, oh, 1977, which is a long time ago, and came very close to bursting into tears. JT were really something, back in the day.
posted by jokeefe at 9:33 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I grew up on a steady diet of Jethro Tull, Steeleye Span, Jefferson FITB, etc.

I always thought he was awesome. He just got awesomer. If only there were some way for him and Stephen Fry to make babies together, they'd create the perfect human being.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:04 PM on November 16, 2008

From the j-tull.com site:
After undertaking more than 2500 concerts in 40 countries throughout three decades, Tull plays typically 100 concerts each year to longstanding, as well as new fans worldwide.
Anyone else surprised by this? That's a hell of a lot of touring. I know from my vast, er, "knowledge" of Deadhead trivia that The Grateful Dead played around 2300 shows in their 30 year career, so I have a real appreciation of what that number of shows represents. I just had no idea that Jethro Tull (in any form) put out that much music together.

By the way, the Wikipedia page for the band has a lot of good overview material. I honestly had no idea their musical career took such a wide arc in terms of styles, etc.
posted by mosk at 11:32 PM on November 16, 2008

As great as their epic stuff is, my current favorite Tull song is the simple but gorgeous One White Duck. (The second half of the medley, "0^10 = Nothing At All," is not at the same level. But the first two minutes--wow.)
posted by doubtfulpalace at 12:56 AM on November 17, 2008

Tull's combination of prog/folk/rock was never really my thing, but their first British TV appearance on Top of the Pops back in 1970 or so was one of those things that *really* got up parents noses.

And yeah, there is a colour clip of the same footage, but I'm pretty sure it was originally shown in black and white. Its certainly how I always remember it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:11 AM on November 17, 2008

Holy crap how high was he?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:56 AM on November 17, 2008

how high was he?

Not at all. He claims to have never touched anything more intoxicating than a good vindalu.
posted by Gungho at 4:49 AM on November 17, 2008

DNAB-- they're miming the song, of course, as was standard in those days, so the temptation to play it up a bit must have been pretty strong, I think...
posted by jokeefe at 5:37 AM on November 17, 2008

doubtfulpalace, I love the second half of One White Duck (though what a fuck-off it is-- was it around the time he and his first wife split up, I wonder?) and the other great song from that album, Baker Street Muse (Part one, Part two) is equally a fuck off to fame, as well. It's madly self-important, but still awesome, and contains the couplet, describing a policeman trying to move a drunken old lady on down the street "Strange pas de deux, his Romeo to her Juliet/Her sleeping draughts, his poisoned regret" which I as a teenager thought the height of musical/literary axis brilliance.

I was trying to remember why I stopped listening to them, and was painfully reminded of "Bungle in the Jungle" and "Too Old to Rock n Roll, Too Young to Die" and thought, ah yes, right. But I understand that the albums which came after this, the folk trilogy, are better? Maybe I should check them out.
posted by jokeefe at 6:03 AM on November 17, 2008

Focus -Hocus Pocus (live '73) - Ian Anderson in Japan in 1973 - must see wackiness.
posted by stbalbach at 6:16 AM on November 17, 2008

Sorry the above link has nothing to do with Ian Anderson, other than a fellow flute player. Still worth watching.
posted by stbalbach at 6:26 AM on November 17, 2008

Lester Bangs on Tull, circa 1973:

If their lyrics generally take a moralistic bent, the band themselves come on like total goofballs, and the contrast works nicely. All of them dress to the teeth, usually in Victorian waistcoats and tight pants, and from the instant Ian Anderson hits the stage he works the audience with all the masterful puppeteer mojo of the Merlin he often poses as. He whirls and whips in total spastic grace, creating a maelstrom around himself, flinging his fingers in the air as if hurling arcane incantations at the balcony. His eyes take on a satyr's gleam, get wild and pop from his head. He very effectively passes himself off as a madman reeling in riptide gales from unimaginable places. He exploits his flute exhaustively: baton, wand, sword, gun, phallus, club, virtuoso's magic axe. He twirls it like a cheerleader and stirs the audience to a frothing frenzy with it, then raises the ladle to his chops and puts the audience in a trance with an extended melodramatic solo.

Jethro Tull are such solid entertainers that even if you can't stand the music, they're usually providing something for you to gawk at. A lot of it is real vaudeville: Barlow walks up to the mike during a pause, holds up a toy cymbal, raises a drumstick and hits it with an extravagant flourish. As he does so he rises on left tiptoes and arches his right leg out behind him like a cartoon Nureyev, rolling his eyes at the audience and mugging shamelessly. He gets cheers and an echoing cymbal shot which seems to come from nowhere and puts him into similarly exaggerated perplexity. He looks around, scratches his head and hits the cymbals again. Again the echo. Getting really worked up, he hits the cymbal again and again, faster and faster, the echoes coming at the same pace, and suddenly the rest of the band converges on him, each of them holding identical cymbal and stick and wildly bashing away. The audience eats it up.

...and this:

one day, quite by accident, I happened to play this album that had been mouldering away in my collection called 'Music of Vietnam'. It was one of those things on Folkways, you know, arcane chants from the outback, and I had it because some liberal had loaned it to me once and then disappeared from sight forever. So I put it on because I was totally danced out anyway, and IT SOUNDED JUST LIKE JETHRO TULL!
posted by ornate insect at 6:58 AM on November 17, 2008

He lost me around Roots to Branches, but I'm a fan of Tull proper. Love the old footage.

Nice thing about being a flautist in a rock band -- the voice has somewhat gone, but he can still hit those high notes on his instrument.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:19 AM on November 17, 2008

I have a karaoke CD that includes highly disturbing video reenactment for "Aqualung."
posted by exogenous at 9:43 AM on November 17, 2008

jokeefe: But I understand that the albums which came after this, the folk trilogy, are better?

My take: Heavy Horses is my favorite Tull album, albeit partly for sentimental reasons. Songs From The Wood is excellent, but has a RenFair vibe that will probably turn off some people (not me). Stormwatch is worthwhile but not essential.

I like their melodic, melancholy side best (as with my take on "One White Duck"), so calibrate accordingly.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 11:05 AM on November 17, 2008

Oh, I know he was mugging for the camera somewhat.. but something in his eyes, my word.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:15 PM on November 17, 2008

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