This Was ~ Jethro Tull

June 2, 2011

The name Jethro Tull  comes from an 18th century gardener/inventor and this new group that adopted his name had their roots in the progressive British Folk /Jazz /Blues boom of the late 60’s and the two main members who really spilt this band in two at this point were Scottish flutist and vocalist Ian Anderson and guitarist and singer Mick Abrahams who were joined on bass by the very capable Glenn Cornick and the very very capable Clive Bunker on drums to form the band in 1967.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

With both Anderson and Abrahams having strong ideas on the right direction for the group to go, by the time the groups first album release  ‘This Was’ appeared, Abrahams had departed their ranks to follow in a more blues direction with his new group Blodwyn Pig who released two great albums called ‘Ahead Ring Out ‘ and ‘ Getting To This  with Abrahams playing his cherry red Gibson SG and singing to great effect. I was lucky to see Blodwyn Pig at the Marquee Club in London and they played a great show with Andy Pyle’s bass going right through your chest if you were standing in the first ten rows which I was.

While Ian Anderson won the battle to move the band in a more folk rock direction with his on stage performance in a ragged beggar’s overcoat and ballet tights playing the flute on one leg while looking like he had just escaped from a local mental institution this image would propel Jethro Tull to being one of the biggest outfits in the 70’s rock world. New guitarist Martin Barre joined the ranks playing a Les Paul and this settled line~up never looked back making albums like ‘Aqualung ‘ and ‘ Thick As A Brick ‘               

 But for the moment let’s concentrate on this overlooked gem of an album ‘ This Was ” from 1968.

 Side One kicks off with the jazzy My Sunday Feeling written by Ian Anderson with him on lead vocals and flute and features a great solo from Mick Abrahams with the rest of the band right on the money! 2) Some Day the The Sun Won’t Shine a slow twelve bar blues with vocals by Abrahams and Anderson who also plays mouth organ. 3) Beggar’s Farm ~ like the Jethro Tull we all got to know with the jazzy flute to the fore and another great solo from Abrahams. 4) Move on Alone ~ a Mick Abrahams song with him on vocals and a brass section featured on this track. 5) Serenade for a Cuckoo ~ Instrumental ~ a Roland Kirk song which shows where Ian Anderson got his jazz influences on flute from. Nice playing all round.

Side Two starts off with Dharma For One another instrumental with a Clive Bunker drum solo. 2) It’s Breaking Me Up ~  another great twelve bar blues with great playing for Abrahams ~ very bluesy. 3) Cat Squirrel ~ This is the track that I think spilt the band in two. An instrument with features all the best points of Mick Abrahams playing. 4) A Song for Jeffrey ~ This was the single from the album and the start of the direction Anderson would lead the band in and a precursor to Living In The Past . 5) Round ~ A short jazz Brubeck idea.

 

On the Deluxe 2 CD Collector’s Edition  reissue of  ‘ This Was ‘ you will find excellent BBC sessions from Top Gear, John Peel Show plus Stereo and Mono mixes of the album with extra tracks like ‘ Love Story ‘ which  was the last song recorded by Mick Abrahams with the band and it’s my favourite, released as a 45 it featured Christmas Song on the B side which are both worth hearing for the mandolin playing alone as is ‘ Sunshine Day which was their first single released on MGM and credited to Jethro Toe, also ‘ One For John Gee’ who was the manager of the Marquee Club and was responsible for getting the band a residency at the club early on in their career.

Look out for Jethro Tull on the 40th Anniversary 2011 tour playing ‘ Aqualung ‘ in it’s entirety

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Music from Hyde Park to Barking Essex

June 2, 2011

On Saturday June 7 th 1969  three of my friends Kevin, Arthur and Kieran and me caught the train up to London to see Blind Faith perform free in Hyde Park to about 200,000 people. It was a real beautiful summer’s day as we sat down on our little patch of grass to watch the afternoon’s entertainment. First on that afternoon was the droning Third Ear Band followed by the Edgar Broughton Band who did manage to liven up the crowd with their open air anthem ‘Out Demons Out’.

Next on stage was Woodstock favourite Ritchie Havens who was great to see and then followed a quiet set from Donovan, and boy was it hot that afternoon! but it was better temperature wise when Blind Faith hit the stage at about 5pm. Billed in the music press as a supergroup this band consisted of Eric Clapton on Guitar and Ginger Baker on Drums from the legendary group Cream also Stevie Winwood on Keyboards from Traffic  and the little known Ric Grech on Bass from Family. Straight away you could tell that this group would not be following in the footsteps of Cream but as the first self titled album would show this was a half~decent band which were not given much of a chance to progress and fell apart during the following US tour as Clapton quickly lost interest in playing long solos and decided to hit the road with Delaney & Bonnie as a back up guitar player and was more influenced by the Band album ‘Music From Big Pink’ than anything that he and Mr Winwood could come up with at this point! Unfortunately Stevie Winwood being the great musician he is, does not have the greatest stage present, but it was great to be there to see them.

As we trundled back on the underground to our home town in Essex we decided that such a big debut concert was not the best idea for Blind Faith this new under~rehearsed band but all was not lost as that evening we were going to see Jethro Tull at the Roundhouse in Barking Essex. A full day of music!  I had loved Jethro Tull’s  first album ‘ This Was’ with Mick Abrahams on guitar and was sad to see that he had left the band due to a difference of opinion with Ian Anderson about which direction to take the band in, but the new album ‘Stand Up’ had just been released and tonight we would be seeing their new guitar player Martin Barre play live. Mick Abrahams would go on to have a solo career and form the band Blodwyn Pig who I also saw live at the Marquee Club.

When we finally got in the place was packed and it was a hot night inside the building and outside and there was little room to move we were like sardines but the band came on stage and straight away delivered a stunning performance with Ian Anderson in his Aqualung tramp stage outfit standing on one leg like a demented ballet dancer all hair and beard with flute in hand and his eyes popping out of his head delivering his outrageous words. Brilliant! you could see that their was only room for one star in this band as they went on to be one of the world’s best bands. On guitar new man Martin Barre with his Gibson Les Paul turned up to 11 let us all know that he could play with beautiful guitar solos and rhythm on  each song. On drums Clive Bunker was as solid as ever along with bassist Glen Cornick they supplied the back~bone to the Jethro Tull sound for many years to come.                                 

It was so hot and packed  inside the hall that by half~way through their performance people down the front of the audience were fainting and had to be lifted above the crowd and passed back over the top of the audience and out to the St. John’s ambulance people in a tent out the back of the  building.                                                                                                                                                                                  

So ended the lesson. One of the greatest day of music from Blind Faith in the open air in Hyde Park to Jethro Tull in an old bingo hall in Barking Essex. Amen.


Ho, Ho, Ho …..Who’d be a Turkey at Christmas

December 5, 2010

Yes folks! It’s that time of year again when we dig out the snow and the Christmas music classics.

MY TOP TWENTY CHRISTMAS FAVOURITES.

1) ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE by BRENDA LEE 1962 : For me this is the sound of  Christmas and was one of the first records I owned and I still have it somewhere ~ My all~time fave. Love the Boots Randolph sax solo.

2) MERRY CHRISTMAS ( War Is Over) by JOHN LENNON & YOKO ONO 1972 : John & Yoko were so in love and it shows on this record. Great words ‘ So this is Christmas and what have you done ‘ I wonder what John would have to say about the state of the world today. Nothing’s changed really!

3) MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY by SLADE 1973 : Noddy & the Boys with their great Christmas party sing~a~long record. Great loud shout of  ‘It’s Christmas’ from Noddy at the end of this record. I can still see them performing it on Top of the Pops in my mind’s eye and let’s not forget Jimmy Saville.                                                                                                                                                                                

4) DRIVING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by CHRIS REA 2002 : My Dad’s favourite Christmas song and great lyrics ‘ Can’t wait to see their faces ~ top to toe in tail lights~ I’ve got red lights all around’. Drive safely your be home soon! Also love the words to Chris’s other great song  The JOY of CHRISTMAS.

5) I BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS by GREG LAKE 1975 : A magical record from the King Crimson/ELP front man. It was his only UK hit but it gets played every year.  

6) FAIRYTALE IN NEW YORK by The POGUES featuring KIRSTY McCOLL 1987 Kirsty and Shane living it up on this song which always bring a lump to my throat as Kirsty is no longer with us and Shane has had his fair share of troubles but both great talents on a classic performance.                                                                                                                                     

7) The CHRISTMAS SONG by JETHRO TULL 1968 : Tucked away on the B ~ side of  their UK single ‘LOVE STORY’ this is a beauty!. Also new version available on the Tull Christmas CD. Hey Santa ~ Pass us that bottle!

8) The WREN in the FURZE by The CHIEFTAINS 1991 : From the great CD The BELL of DUBLINthis one makes you want to dance a jig ~ a ~ jig and have a few wee drams.                        

9) CHRISTMAS IS GOING TO THE DOGS by The EELS 2000 : From the soundtrack to the Dr. Seuss movie How The Grinch Stole Christmas ‘. The songs rocks along with great words. Love it!

10) SILENT NIGHT by MAHALIA JACKSON 1959 : What a wonderful voice,  just relax, pour yourself a drink and listen! In fact, her whole Christmas CD is a must have!

11) WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR’S EVE by ELLA FITZGERALD 1960: From the Swinging Christmas album ~ Ella at her melancholy best on this Frank Loesser song. Again the whole album is just great! and a must have!  What a voice!

12) JINGLE BELL ROCK by BOBBY HELMS 1958 : Let’s face it! it’s not Christmas without this little gem ~ be sure to play it nice and loud. All together now!

13) CHRISTMAS in PRISON by JOHN PRINE 1993: Love this song and love his voice always takes you there !  like an old friend or a 12 year old bottle of whiskey.                                                                                           

14) MARY’S BOY CHILD by HARRY BELAFONTE 1957 : It’s Christmas eve and time to tuck the kids in bed….Santa’s on his way….everything is peaceful….and the lights shine bright!….sing it Harry. Also hats off to the 1978 dance class classic by Boney M.                            

15) I YUST GO NUTS AT CHRISTMAS by YOGI YOUGESSON 1947 : Christmas with the relatives who can drive you mad and they often do. Just play this, listen and smile!

16) PARADE of WOODEN SOLDIERS by The CRYSTALS 1963 : You can pick any track from the Phil Spector Christmas album A Christmas Gift To You’  in glorious Mono, they are all great!, full of goodies from the Crystals, Ronettes, Darlene Love and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. Brilliant from start to finish. A must have for any collection.

17) I WISH IT COULD BE CHRISTMAS EVERYDAY by WIZZARD 1973 : Roy Wood the mad wizard  with the crazy hair from the Move and ELO fame with his well~known Christmas standard. All very tongue in cheek!

18) MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY by CHUCK BERRY 1964 : B side of the 45 ‘Run Rudolph Run’ and Chuck wrote it! It’s getting late, set them up  Joe and listen to Chuck sing the blues. very intimate and relaxed!

19) LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! by Dean Martin 1959 : Well the weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful and since there’s no place to go……. Baby it’s cold outside. SAY NO MORE!

20) HO! HO! HO! WHO’D BE A TURKEY AT CHRISTMAS by Elton John 1973 : B side of  ‘Step Into Christmas’ and Elton and Bernie at their humourous best! It rocks!

Pass us that bottle Santa will yer ! ~ Merry Christmas


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