Jethro Tull – BBC Documentary

Here’s a nice documentary on Jethro Tull (57 minutes), from 1979, which is a very fine year from them – got Bursting Out, right?

Want some more? Okay, a concert from 1978: Madison Square Garden. Some more??? Okay, make your choice here!

37 Responses to “Jethro Tull – BBC Documentary”

  1. Clenn says:

    Nooo.. right before i have to attend work.. :D

  2. Sterbus says:

    Funny to see that every link is about Jethro Tull except for one that is about “Schumacher F.1″ (?)

  3. Balint says:

    Yes, it’s because at one point of time he was to replace Ian Anderson on vocals, but they just couldn’t match their schedules. Oh well.

  4. Jamez says:

    Of course, I’ve got Bursting Out! One of my fave live albums!

  5. Jamez says:

    Also Ian Anderson was and is a big fan of Zappa and Beefheart. He namechecks them as an influence in a lot of his interviews.

  6. Kevin Hoover says:

    Thanks Barry. That was two hours of pure enjoyment.

    Tull!

  7. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    Thanks Barry. That was two hours of pure enjoyment.

    You’re most welcome — though let the records show it was Balint who posted this, not me… :)

  8. Kevin Hoover says:

    Well, this changes everything… or not. That’ll teach me to post while sober.

    Just got my tickets to the New Year’s Eve ZPZ show with Les Claypool in S.F., and am duly excited.

  9. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    Thank You, Balint! Been a Tull fan for a very long time; still have my vinyl “Bursting Out”, which is one of the few LP – aside from my FZ – that survived the great ‘purge’ of 1998…
    I find a lot of ‘similarities’ in the intelligence of FZ’s & Ian’s music.

  10. Kevin Hoover says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    I find a lot of ’similarities’ in the intelligence of FZ’s & Ian’s music.

    Oh, totally. There’s a lot of tinkertoy in Tull, plus amazing drums and guitar. And everything imbued with multi-level wit and considerable naughtiness. Frank and Ian also have similarly high standards of precision.

    Another commonality is that both are severely underappreciated.

  11. peter says:

    I always thought Tull was pure crap. Nothing has changed (kinda like “Thick as a Brick” tho’).

  12. urbangraffito says:

    Great post, Balint! I’ve been a fan of Tull almost as long as I’ve been a fan of Zappa. Almost! Got to love those early Fillmore shows…

  13. mild mannered moggio says:

    Is Tull’s album ‘A’ any good? Is it worth the cost of the cd+dvd that is the current release? I remember seeing a video from that tour on EmTeeVee back in the early 80s and thought ‘this is jethro tull??’

    But, yeah, awesome band, very much jaw droppingly intense musicianship and biting humor!! All things I enjoy (music, biting, humor)

  14. Hugh says:

    Thanks Balint it was nice, reLiving (in) the Past. I caught them in ’78 @ Nassau Coliseum. Great show(I can’t find a set list!?)! Poor John Glascock the bass player would die a year later (bad heart+loved to party=quick check-out). That intro to Locomotive Breath is killer!

    Darlings are you ready for the long winters fall?
    -Dark Ages (1979 returns)

  15. Jamez says:

    A quote from mild mannered moggio:

    Is Tull’s album ‘A’ any good? Is it worth the cost of the cd+dvd that is the current release? I remember seeing a video from that tour on EmTeeVee back in the early 80s and thought ‘this is jethro tull??’

    But, yeah, awesome band, very much jaw droppingly intense musicianship and biting humor!! All things I enjoy (music, biting, humor)

    I certainly like it. the DVD that come with ‘A’ is the ‘Slipstream’ concert from the early eighties where they wore jumpsuits. If you love Eddie Jobson’s keyboards and electric violin sound, you’ll like it. Oh course, he was on Zappa’s ‘Zappa in New York’ album too!

    P.S. ‘A’ was meant as Ian Anderson’s solo album, but his record company released it as a Jethro Tull album. There’s not much folk on it and its very early ’80s synth-orientated- but I still like it!

  16. Michael Compton says:

    It is absolutely false that there was ever a plan to replace Anderson – it’s his band. He IS the band, and any assertion that he would replace himself is simply false. It is also false that he frequently name drops Beefheart and Zappa – He rarely mentions any other artist in his interviews, unless specifically prompted.

    Sheesh. Obviously it’s no big deal – but why make up random ‘facts’ about them? Seems rather pointless.

    [Oh, and Peter - I read an interview recently in which Anderson revealed that he's long thought you were a bit crap as well. Who knew?]

  17. Kevin Hoover says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    Is Tull’s album ‘A’ any good?

    Well, I think “A” is among Tull’s best.

    That’s a minority view, very similar to considering “And Then There Were Three” to be great Genesis. Which I also do.( I understand that it’s hard to defend an unpopular policy…)

    A has some great constructions. Fylingdale Flyer is genius, as are Batteries Not Included and Protect and Survive. Frank, had he heard it, would surely have smiled at the brilliance of the Pine Martin’s Jig.

    I could go on, but then I’d be going on.

    Get A and And Then There Were Three. Also, both albums are lots of fun for drummers.

  18. Michael Compton says:

    ^ Don’t forget ‘And Further On’ – one of their better compositions/executions, imo.

    I think a lot of people’s problem w/ ‘A’ is/was one of expectations. After the ‘folk trilogy’ (as some people refer to SftW/HH/SW), it was certainly a shock to hear the electronic flavor of ‘A’ – not to mention the fact that well-loved members of the band just disappeared, suddenly and without explanation. I would imagine that younger people’s listening experience might be different, as they will hear the music without the baggage of those who grew up awaiting the release of each new album with great anticipation and ever higher expectations.

    Barlow was an amazing technical drummer, while Craney was a great natural drummer – maybe not so technically brilliant, but he had a fantastic feel and provided a solid foundation for the rest of the band

  19. Kevin Hoover says:

    Thanks for bringing that up. I have some thoughts and questions.

    First, Barrie Barlow was wonderful on two levels: his astouding technical proficiency and spark, but also something rarer: his sense of architecture for Ian’s music. Those drum parts are extremely well thought out, logical and elegant. The best of any drummer I can think of. To me, Barrie was the Vinnie of Tull.

    Mark Craney had mega-chops, but his licks and breaks were more randomish, and less synchronized to the overall song construction.

    I was reading the other night how there were “rumblings of discontent” building during the making of “A,” and I think I heard that Barrie wasn’t happy with Ian’s treatment of Mark during his illness.

    Check Barrie’s bio on the Tull page. It’s skeletal and perfunctory. I understand there’s a book that explains why Barrie left/was fired from Tull, but I tried to order it once and it’s out of print.

    Can anyone explain what happened?

  20. Michael Compton says:

    Well said in regard to BB & Craney, i agree on both counts. Barrie was, and still is i’m sure, amazing. Brilliant. His work on Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses (the albums, not just the songs of the same names) is …..well, i’ve just never heard anything like it.

    As to his departure – yeah, it was messy, and he was rightly resentful over the circumstances (imo). You’re correct that there was some sort of ill will between he and IA – but it was over IA’s treatment of John Glascock [JT's late bass player], not Mark Craney. To quote him “…I love Jeffrey [Jeffery Hammond, who was replaced by John Glascock], but with all deference to him, having a proper bass player [referring to JG]….was fantastic…..And the band improved; without a doubt, the band improved. But although he was a great bass player, Ian didn’t really like him, and I think he got a really bad deal all around. And I used to get really angry on John’s behalf, to see the way he was treated.” After JG’s death, BB felt Ian wasn’t as respectful to his memory as he should have been, so the situation degraded even further.

    After the Stormwatch tour, the band was supposedly going to take a break before either a continuation of the tour, or beginning work on another studio album. IA began work on his first solo album, and recruited Dave Pegg (from Fairport Convention), Eddie Jobson, and Mark Craney to help lay down the tracks (as well as bringing in M.Barre to provide the fretwork). Meanwhile, BB formed his own new band to fill his time during the hiatus – apparently he hoped Chrysilis would pick them up, and he could do double duty in both Tull and his own group.

    Executives at Chyrsilis (sp? not sure) allegedly had their own ideas about IA’s solo project. Once the new album was in the can, they decided it would be more marketable as a Jethro Tull album (the original masters were simply labled “A” for Anderson – an unintended title that would eventually stick). Melody Maker then published an article that claimed Anderson was firing Barlow, Evans, and Palmer – this would have been the first any of them had heard of any plans to continue without them. Immediately before publication, the three members got a carbon copy letter from IA that said “Dear Barrie, David and John, I’m sorry this is so rushed, but basically Melody Maker is coming out tomorrow and the story in it – which I couldn’t prevent, I didn’t want it in but Terry Ellis [Tull's longtime manager] put it in without my knowledge – is that the group has split up. Really I’m going to do something on my own, maybe called Jethro Tull, maybe not. But I am using different people and I thought I ought to let you know”.

    Barlow “went fucking mental” at the news – as he had every right to, in my opinion. I love IA and his work, but that was a shabby business, and a crummy way to treat people that were such a large part of the band’s success. Especially when you consider that IA had always been the driving force in the band, writing nearly all the songs and their individual parts as well – but with SftW and HH the band had more creative input, and authored many of their own parts (BB in particular). Those two albums were a creative renaissance for Tull, and brought them back to commercial and critical success after several lackluster albums (I love those albums, but many considered the mid-seventies to be a fairly lame period for Tull). After all the successes of the late-seventies, they were all just unceremoniously dumped. Pretty bad, imo.

    In fairness, i guess i should note that more than a few band members of that time have reported that BB was a real prick to work with – his brilliance though, is undeniable.

  21. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Michael Compton:

    Melody Maker then published an article that claimed Anderson was firing Barlow, Evans, and Palmer – this would have been the first any of them had heard of any plans to continue without them. Immediately before publication, the three members got a carbon copy letter from IA that said “Dear Barrie, David and John, I’m sorry this is so rushed, but basically Melody Maker is coming out tomorrow and the story in it – which I couldn’t prevent, I didn’t want it in but Terry Ellis [Tull's longtime manager] put it in without my knowledge – is that the group has split up. Really I’m going to do something on my own, maybe called Jethro Tull, maybe not. But I am using different people and I thought I ought to let you know”.

    Sounds quite familiar to the leader of another band I was quite fond of (the M.O.I.) in which other members were unceremoniously let go from the band.

    I did enjoy your take on the Tull years through the albums Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses, and Stormwatch. Still really excellent music. Bursting Out is still one live album I listen to at least once a week.

  22. Michael Compton says:

    Thx urbangraffito. Yeah, i’ve seen a lot of bands put in a lot of stellar live performances – but when i’ve heard recordings of their acts live (including some concerts i attended, and knew were great shows), they lose something in the transference to tape (so to speak). Tull’s live album, on the other hand, captures all the energy and depth of their live sound perfectly – It’s one of the great live albums, imo.

    Hopefully the newly remastered version has finally been done properly (i haven’t heard it yet). For years they released edited versions here in the states…..several songs were cut entirely….those ridiculous ‘bleeps’ still redacted Ian’s “naughty” words….just absurd shit, imo. Hopefully the new release finally does justice to an excellent release from a classic band at the height of their powers.

    You should also check out their ‘Sight and Sound’ show from 77 (BBC) – from which one track (Velvet Green) was taken for inclusion on the remastered version of Songs from the Wood & the 20 years set, and a medley (Wind Up/Land of Hope & Glory/Locomotive Breath) for the 25 year set

    They were unbelievably tight (thanks in no small part to Barlow’s stellar drumming). It’s all over the net in various forms, and is well worth tracking down.

  23. Kevin Hoover says:

    Yes, those three albums are quite surpassing. I have never been able to get into Minstrel In The Gallery, for example. It just seems substantively different (not as clever). Same with Rock Island – cold and bleak.

    However, The Secret Language of Birds is Ian back in his prime. When I saw them a few years ago they had re-done virtually all of Aqualung’s songs with an updated and sort of folky-quirky approach, and they were just as valid as the originals – arguably better, with more rhythmic and harmonic interest.

    I read recently that Barrie thinks his Tull work was too complicated. To me, it’s the pinnacle of excellent, artful drumming.

    You know who doesn’t impress me at all? Gerry Conway. His live performances seem weak and dull. He did well on Broadsword though, but the parts still seem perfunctory. I bet Barrie would’ve killed on that stuff, and on A.

    It exasperates me that “Jethro Tull” (and Frank for that matter) are not-infrequently used as punch lines to signify either dino-rock or the 70s. Lumping Tull in with REO Speedwagon and Journey is totally bogus.

    And right, it was Ian’s alleged treatment of Glascock, not Craney that was the issue. Thanks for the correction.

  24. Kevin Hoover says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    I was reading the other night how there were “rumblings of discontent” building during the making of “A,”

    And of course, I meant Stormwatch, not A.

    Yug, shut up, me.

  25. Michael Compton says:

    Wow, your opinion of Minstrel surprises me – it’s generally a fairly well liked album amongst Tull fans. Ian Anderson shares your disdain however, though perhaps for different reasons. He said it was far “too personal” an album, lyrically speaking.

    I love it – one of my favorites, actually. Though i realize it bucks the prevailing wisdom, i’ve always grouped it together with the folk trilogy in my mind (though this may have to do with my initial exposure to it….It, along with SftW, were the two albums i owned as a child).

    I’m curious….If you don’t mind me asking – Have you listened to the album much, or did you shelve it after having a negative first impression? There are several Tull albums that had to grow on me (much of Stormwatch, for example), and i wonder if this might be true of Minstrel for you. There are some real classics on there (One White Duck….Baker St. Muse…Cold Wind….Hell, i could list ‘em all, lol)

    I’ve always wondered why there was never really a tour for Minstrel. They hit the road, but the setlist was basically the same as it was for the Warchild tour, with Minstrel’s title track thrown in for good measure. Weird. One thing’s for sure about Jethro Tull – They (IA) have made some baffling decisions over the years.

    I never thought Gerry Conway’s work was awful – just kinda….neutral. It served it’s purpose. I agree completely that BB would have killed – i’d LOVE to hear how all the post 80′s albums would have sounded with that late 70′s line-up….except for bass, i think. I thought Dave Pegg was a great fit for the band – he really added a lot to their sound, and (imo only) kept them from going too far over the electronic/modern cliff. A really nice guy too, from everything i’ve read – universally well regarded.

    Oh, and i agree with you about Secret Language. After having given up on the hope of classic new material being released, it was a real surprise to me. While it’s a terrible shame he blew his voice back in the eighties, Secret Language proved that he’s still capable of producing some great music. I wonder of those new arrangements were done to compensate for his now limited vocal range (or perhaps they were just bored after having to play that material at nearly every show since the album’s release). At any rate, i haven’t heard them, and after reading your comments it sounds like i need to check ‘em out – Thx for the tip

  26. Kevin Hoover says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    I’m curious….If you don’t mind me asking – Have you listened to the album much, or did you shelve it after having a negative first impression?

    Yes, I’ve listened assiduously, hoping that it would “take,” but sadly, no. Same with “War Child,” except for Last Hurrah and Bungle.

    But I’m glad you get it; I just don’t.

  27. Michael Compton says:

    Perfectly understood, as several albums hit me the same way. Nice talking to you

  28. Michael Compton says:

    btw, you can also check out the classic Tull line-up on several tracks from 1978′s ‘Woman in the Wings’ by Maddy Prior: http://folkyourself.blogspot.com/2008/07/maddy-prior-woman-in-wings-england-1978.html

  29. Jamez says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    A quote from Jamez:

    Is Tull’s album ‘A’ any good?

    Well, I think “A” is among Tull’s best.

    That’s a minority view, very similar to considering “And Then There Were Three” to be great Genesis. Which I also do.( I understand that it’s hard to defend an unpopular policy…)

    A has some great constructions. Fylingdale Flyer is genius, as are Batteries Not Included and Protect and Survive. Frank, had he heard it, would surely have smiled at the brilliance of the Pine Martin’s Jig.

    I could go on, but then I’d be going on.

    Get A and And Then There Were Three. Also, both albums are lots of fun for drummers.

    Both bands have Zappa connections too – Tull had Jobson and Genesis have Chester Thompson.

  30. Kevin Hoover says:

    Indeed.

    And I’m fairly certain that I read that Terry Bozzio was once asked to join Tull, but he was into establishing Missing Persons at the time.

    I can’t quite picture Terry in Tull… but I bet it would have been great.

  31. Jamez says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    Indeed.

    And I’m fairly certain that I read that Terry Bozzio was once asked to join Tull, but he was into establishing Missing Persons at the time.

    I can’t quite picture Terry in Tull… but I bet it would have been great.

    I heard he auditioned for Thin Lizzy. I can imagine Bozzio with Lizzy, but not with Tull (apart from perhaps the ‘A’ album).

  32. Harry Barris says:

    here’s some Tull stuff I’ll add: of course, Bursting Out was recorded on Tull’s 1978 European tour, not 1979, that’s why there’s so much ‘Heavy Horses’ material on it.

    Ian has been a long time admirer of both FZ and Don V. Vliet. Last time i saw Tull, “Dirty Love” was part of the pre-show music. And i believe Ian helped to finance either Trout Mask or Lick My Decals Off (don’t remember which), and i think the Magic Band opened for Tull for some dates in Europe in 1971 or 1972? And didn’t Ian and Frank have some conversations near the time of Frank’s demise? I know FZ has mentioned his appreciation of Gentle Giant’s music, and obviously the bond between GG and JT was strong–Giant also used to open for Tull in the early days. I’m pretty sure Frank ‘liked’ some Tull music and the talents of Ian.

    I remember reading somewhere that John Bonham thought Barrie was the best drummer England ever produced!

    Watching that 1979 BBC documentary is interesting to see that version of Tull right before they ‘got fired’. Wonder if Barrie had to sell that lovely bucolic house on the water after he got the boot. And to see David Palmer (off stage) before he became Dee…

  33. Kevin Hoover says:

    Thanks for that.

    You know what bugs me about Bursting Out? First I want to say that the performances are stellar, especially my favorites, Hunting Girl, Songs and Conundrum (but they’re all great).

    But what doesn’t work for me is what appears to be a production letdown – the cloddish overlay of audience cheering that surfaces at inappropriate times throughout the album.

    I’ve been to lots of concerts, and people don’t whistle and cheer throughout the music. They do listen attentively, and go nuts at appropriate times at Tull shows. But it’s just not as it sounds on BO.

    Further, when the cheering comes up after a song, it totally sounds like a fader being pushed up mid-cheer rather than the spontaneous eruption of the audience (say, like the way they the audience explodes after Frank’s version of Bolero).

    That said, it doesn’t ruin the album for me because the music is so great. But it does seem like an uncharacteristically clumsy feature, especially for the meticulous Ian. Did some executive decide to juice up the excitement and break into the studio and mess with the mix after hours?

    I’m interested in whether anyone else has noticed this, or if it’s some perceptual anomaly of my personal brainpan.

  34. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    Thanks for that.

    You know what bugs me about Bursting Out? First I want to say that the performances are stellar, especially my favorites, Hunting Girl, Songs and Conundrum (but they’re all great).

    But what doesn’t work for me is what appears to be a production letdown – the cloddish overlay of audience cheering that surfaces at inappropriate times throughout the album.

    I’ve been to lots of concerts, and people don’t whistle and cheer throughout the music. They do listen attentively, and go nuts at appropriate times at Tull shows. But it’s just not as it sounds on BO.

    Further, when the cheering comes up after a song, it totally sounds like a fader being pushed up mid-cheer rather than the spontaneous eruption of the audience (say, like the way they the audience explodes after Frank’s version of Bolero).

    That said, it doesn’t ruin the album for me because the music is so great. But it does seem like an uncharacteristically clumsy feature, especially for the meticulous Ian. Did some executive decide to juice up the excitement and break into the studio and mess with the mix after hours?

    I’m interested in whether anyone else has noticed this, or if it’s some perceptual anomaly of my personal brainpan.

    Yes, after repeated hearings I also noticed this Kevin (along with the distracting beeps covering the inappropriate words of the era). All I could surmise was that this was an effort to fit a much longer concert onto vinyl. Why it has never been corrected since, I don’t understand, or why an unedited version of the complete concert hasn’t been released is also a mystery to me. It is really such a fantastic concert (even with all the minor distractions in its editing).

    Regarding Bozzio in Tull: after an internship in a Zappa band, any musician (including Bozzio) could go on and play in any band (Tull, Lizzy, Crimson, etc) in my opinion (and sometimes did).

  35. Kevin Hoover says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    Regarding Bozzio in Tull: after an internship in a Zappa band, any musician (including Bozzio) could go on and play in any band (Tull, Lizzy, Crimson, etc) in my opinion (and sometimes did).

    Yes, Zappa Academy. I believe Frank noted this phenomenon – how musos were eager to have Zappa on their resumé while sometimes simultaneously talking smack about him after they left the band (Terry didn’t do that, but others did).

    Also, the beeps on Bursting Out are truly ludicrous. When Ian says “John Glascock is a kinky bastard,” the last word is bleeped. We can’t hear “bastard” without being corrupted? That’s like the execs cutting out “feeding all the boy’s at Ed’s Café” in Let’s Make the Water Turn Black.

  36. Harry Barris says:

    Yeah, you guys are right about Bursting Out. Also the fact that it was recorded at a bunch of different shows rather than one concert has always annoyed me.

    (But this is all ancient history, now with the glory of the net and d/l’s one can easily get one’s hands on decent quality recordings from various dates/locations if one has the desire to.)

  37. ray bretman says:

    Ian produced a record and financed it by, what I understand were ex members of the Magic Band calling themselves Mallard I think. Pretty sure this was read in David Rees’ (the editor of the longtime Tullzine A New Day) magazine and/or book “Minstrels in the Gallery.” There really are some good tidbits in there like Captain Beefheart calling Ian in the middle of the night, sort of trying to lure him into his team, I’ll call it, members of the Magic Band having to escape the band by placing their clothes out in the yard and sneaking out the basement window in the middle of the night (I’m serious, maybe it was Zoot Horn Rollo, dunno), and Ian referring to Beefheart thusly, “Old Don was a bit of a bully boy.”

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