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Jethro Tull- 50 for 50, pt 1- Ian Anderson

Even though I only attended college for three days ( that’s not a typo, days, not years or even semesters ), I got an education which served me a lifetime from the guy who roomed next to me in the freshman dorm. In those three days he introduced me to Advent speakers, Humble Pie, ZZ Top, and Jethro Tull. Man, do I owe that guy for a life of pleasure that is simply immeasurable! In the years 1972-74 there was no band in the world more exciting, more unconventional, and more successful than Jethro Tull. With back-to-back albums Aqualung  in May 1971 and then the almost accidental #1 seller Thick As a Brick  in 1972, Jethro Tull combined pastoral acoustic guitar, progressive rock arrangements, Martin Barre‘s hard rock guitar bursts, and Ian Anderson‘s dense thought-provoking lyrics into a heady brew that had no comparison.

Originating in the northern English town of Blackpool, Jethro Tull was a name borrowed from the actual inventor of the seed drill. By 1968 they were as talked about as any of the new bands on the London club scene, primarily because of the stage presence of lead singer Anderson, whose leaping, scowling, bug-eyed mad hatter theatrics made for a great show. And then there was Ian’s choice of rock and roll “axe”, not a six-string six shooter like so many other bandleaders, but a 20th century Pan with a flute!

The  40th anniversary box set of Jethro Tull‘s Songs from the Wood  received the knees up full Monty treatment from Porcupine Tree remixer/ surround sound savant Steven Wilson last year, a perfect present  for any long time Jethro Tull fan (is there any other kind?) . In my opinion, the results from remixing Songs from the Wood  to surround sound are the most satisfying to date of all of the reissues so far including   Benefit , the 1970 Jethro Tull  under-appreciated missing link between the eclectic folksy Stand Up  , and the breakthrough million sellers Aqualung  and Thick as a Brick.   Then there was the odds’n’sods collection Living in the Past which was rushed out in the U.S. in Fall 1972 to capitalize after Thick As a Brick  became Jethro Tull’s stunning #1 seller earlier that year. 

Revisit the UK hit “Sweet Dream“, the band’s interpretation of Johan Sebastian Bach‘s jaunty “Bouree”, “Teacher”,”Bungle in the Jungle”,’Skating Away…”, and the title song to “Living in the Past”. And as you find yourself humming & singing all of these familiar melodies, either here or in concert during the fiftieth anniversary tour which opens Wednesday night and runs through September in the US, remind yourself that Ian Anderson nor Jethro Tull still are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. – Redbeard