Between A Rock And A Prog Place: IAN ANDERSON Talks JETHRO TULL History – “I Find That Quite A Difficult Proposition To Single One Album Out”

January 30, 2022, 2 years ago

By Greg Prato

feature hard rock heavy metal ian anderson jethro tull

Between A Rock And A Prog Place: IAN ANDERSON Talks JETHRO TULL History – “I Find That Quite A Difficult Proposition To Single One Album Out”

What truly is progressive music? Each month BraveWords will aim to dissect that answer with a thorough overview of the current musical climate that is the prog world. Old and new, borrowed and blue. A musical community without borders. So watch for a steady and spaced-out array of features, current news and a buyer’s guide checklist to enhance the forward-thinking musical mind. So, welcome to BraveWords' monthly column appropriately titled, Between A Rock In A Prog Place. 

In this month’s column, part two of an interview with Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, in which he discusses his favorite Tull songs, Iron Maiden’s cover of “Cross-Eyed Mary,” and what ‘prog rock’ means to him. To view part one of the interview (in which Anderson discusses Tull’s new album, The Zealot Gene), click here.

Looking back, which Tull album is your favorite?

“I find that a very difficult question to answer, because I spend a lot of time with old albums – both in the sense of the involvement of coming up with anniversary edition box sets when I have to go through everything with a fine tooth comb, and also during last year when I was working on the lyric book, Silent Singing, I had to go through every song that I ever recorded and listen to it four or five times during the course of writing that book. So, I’m pretty familiar with everything I’ve ever done. But, in terms of having ‘a favorite,’ I find that quite a difficult proposition to single one album out. I tend to have favorite songs…but even those change. If you ask me my ten favorite songs, I could give you an answer to that now, but if you asked me that tomorrow, half of them might be different, because I would revisit that notion with a different perspective, perhaps. So, I find it difficult to answer. I know the trite answer would be, ‘That’s like asking me which one of my two children is my favorite.’ That would be an easy, glib answer. It’s a little bit like that with songs – you’ve given birth to all of these, and it’s hard to single out any individuals, let alone an all-time favorite. Then, I simply couldn’t do that.”

What about then as far as what your favorite songs are today?

“Well, you seem very fixed on this notion of trying to worm out that! I don’t really see a great deal of point, but I’ll give you a few of them. Perhaps in terms of having an impact on my career, I would pick ‘Living In The Past’ – which was released as a single in 1969 and went to #3 in the British charts. That was a huge boost to Jethro Tull’s early reputation in the UK. And a couple of years later, when it was released in the USA, too [peaking at #11 in 1972]. And there are songs that are more ‘epic songs’ that perhaps are also more episodic in musical terms, such as the song ‘Budapest’ from Crest of a Knave. Things that perhaps exemplify my interest in the traditions of folk music, like the title track from Songs From The Wood. I suppose in a nostalgic way, ‘Too Old To Rock N’ Roll: Too Young To Die!’ has a place in there, because of its notoriety as a song – especially as it was one of those pieces that was played by special forces in Panama, to force [Manuel] Noriega out of his refuge by assaulting him with loud rock music played through big speakers and driving him nuts. To the point where he finally gave up and came out – to face the music, literally. Those are a few examples…but that’s enough I think of that.”

Are you still in touch with Martin Barre, and would you ever consider working with him again?

“I am in touch with Martin Barre from time to time. Would I consider working with him? It would depend on availabilities. I know from looking at his date sheet and his tour dates, he’s even more busy than I am – catching up with all the dates he had to postpone in the last two years. So, I think time availabilities alone would preclude any possibility of that. But I think we’ve both moved on – in the sense that he has his own career and his own musical band and his own aims. And like me, he’s an old guy. So, I’m sure he wants to fulfill the promise of what it is he’s been doing in the last ten years – literally – by carrying on with that as long as he is in good shape to perform. So, I don’t see there being any plan, let alone any real likelihood of getting together with Martin any time soon. But it’s something I’ve given thought to on a number of occasions when I thought it would be nice if he’d join us for a concert somewhere in London…only to find out he was performing in Philadelphia that night! It’s just not something that’s come up.”

Do you agree with this quote from John Lennon: ‘My role in society or any artist’s or poet’s role is to try and express how we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher or as a leader but as a reflection of us all.’

“Yes – I agree. But further, I would say that to paint a musical picture as a songwriter is to move people to open their minds to seeing things maybe in a different way and decide for themselves how to relate to that picture. I think John Lennon may perhaps have said this defensively after being accused of ‘preaching’ in his lyrics at some points.”  

Are you familiar with Iron Maiden’s cover of “Cross-Eyed Mary” from 1983?

“Yes – I know this as an example of ‘covers’ of some Tull songs over the years by other artists. A spirited rendition by a young Bruce testing out his vocal range in a key not really suited to him!” 

What does the term “prog rock” mean to you?

“Music for people with a low boredom threshold. Developmental music which goes beyond mere verse and chorus repetitions. But it is often historically inclined to bombast and self-indulgence. I prefer the term ‘progressive rock’.”

Between A Rock And A Prog Place News Blast

Canadian sci-fi prog metal vets Voivod have returned with their 15th album, Synchro Anarchy, for which a video for the track “Planet Eaters” has been assembled – see below. March 4th will see the release of Sabaton’s 10th studio album overall, The War To End All Wars, which can be ordered (in many different formats) by clicking here.

Reykjavík-based rockers Power Paladin recently issued their debut offering, With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel. And as evidenced by their video for the track “Kraven The Hunter” (see below), they are well-versed in anthemic-sounding ‘80s era prog metal. Aethereus is a described “progressive technical death metal band” (which hails from Tacoma, Washington), who recently issued a new full-length, Leiden. To sample their hard-hitting/mathematical sound, you are encouraged to inspect their video for ‘Behold, The World Eater’…albeit with caution. Also, Moldovan prog-death metallists Infected Rain recently issued their latest album, Ecdysis, and a video for the tuneful tune ‘Postmortem Pt. 1’ is just waiting to be viewed.

Swedish proggers Cap Outrun recently issued their latest offering, High On Deception. Supposedly, “their goal was to develop a sound which could encompass their AOR and melodic rock influences with their progressive rock and metal influences, plus add in a few fusion elements.” You can see/hear if they succeeded obtaining their goal by taking in the video for the song ‘Crazy Enough.’ The 6th album overall by The Murder of My Sweet is indeed a concept album, entitled A Gentleman’s Legacy, and a video for the tune ‘A Ghost of a Chance’ is viewable via YouTube.

The all-instrumental Madrid-based Toundra recently issued their latest album, Hex, from which a pair of videos have appeared, ‘El Odio Part 1’ and ‘El Odio Part 2’. Progressive death metallists Arkaik will return on March 11 with their latest studio effort, Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts, but already have a video ready to go – ‘Wayward Opulence.’

Finnish prog metallists Amorphis return this month with a new album, Halo, and will be launching a North American tour in April. Additionally, the band recently provided a video of keyboardist Santeri Kallio discussing its recording. A new album by singer Lana Lane entitled Neptune Blue is being described as ‘a modern AOR direction with slight proggy and pomp elements.’ We’ll let you be the judge after viewing her video for the track ‘Remember Me.’

Another comical advert for Rush beer (featuring both Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson) recently surfaced, and it has been announced that a new line of Rush pinball machines are being released (by Stern Pinball) – inspect the video below. Also in Rush-related news, Alex Lifeson has launched a new band, Envy of None, which also includes bassist Andy Curran (Coney Hatch), singer Maiah Wynne, and producer/engineer Alfio Annibalini. Their self-titled debut album will be released on April 8, and a lyric video has been released for the tune ‘Remember Me.’ Another ‘Liar.’

Progressive metal label Sensory Records has issued a limited vinyl edition of Wolverine’s score for the award-winning short film A Darkened Sun, which can be listened to here and ordered here. Acoustic adaptions of 12 tracks leading through Sonata Arctica’s discography, entitled Acoustic Adventures – Volume One, has been issued, as has an official lyric video for the track ‘The Rest Of The Sun Belongs To Me.’ Jonas Lindberg & the Other Side are ready to return this month with the new album Miles From Nowhere, as well as a video for the majestic track ‘Oceans of Time.’

Aziola Cry’s Jason Blake – who is an expert at playing (actually…tapping) the twelve-string Warr guitar – has issued a teaser for his new solo album, Imaginary Cages, which can be viewed below. Finnish melodic prog metallists Amoth have unleashed their latest LP, The Hour of the Wolf, and you can enjoy a lyric video for its title track. ‘Symphonic pirate metal’ is not a musical description you hear often, but it is a fitting one for Crusade of Bards, who have a new album out this month, Tales of the Seven Seas, as well as a single that a lyric video has been issued for, ‘The Red Charade.’

Budgie singer/bassist Burke Shelley passed away at the age of 71 on January 10 (no cause of death was immediately given, but he was having health problems for some years previously). Although thought of primarily as a Sabbath-y metal band (and with an impressive amount of a-list bands that covered their tunes – Metallica, Maiden, Soundgarden, etc.), Budgie did indeed have some prog-y moments, such as the track below, “Napoleon Bona (Parts One and Two).” Austrian symphonic metallists Visions of Atlantis will be hitting the road in the U.S. from March through April on a bill that will be headlined by Dragonforce and also include sets by Battle Beast and Seven Spires. For a complete list of dates, click here.

Meshuggah will be releasing their next album, Immutable, on April 1…and here’s a video teaser, for your enjoyment. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Epica has launched ‘Epica Universe’ (which allows fans to purchase certain ‘membership levels’ and obtain goodies) and will be performing a special 20th Anniversary Show on September 3 in Tilburg, NL, for which tickets can be purchased here. Extreme prog metallists Persefone issue a new album this month, Metanoia, and have already released a video for the lead-off single, ‘Katabasis.’

King’s X guitarist Ty Tabor will be releasing his eleventh solo album overall, Shades, on March 4 and preorders are available. Canada’s Caveat release their first studio album in six years, Alchemy, this month, and have issued the lead-off single/video, ‘Infinite.’ The second album from Shining Black – which features Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring Of Fire, Royal Hunt) and guitarist Olaf Thorsen (Labyrinth, Vision Divine) – is entitled Postcards From The End Of The World, and will be released on March 18. A video has been released for the title track.

February New Albums

February 1, 2022
Temple of Switches – Four

February 4, 2022
Persefone – Metanoia

February 11, 2022
Amorphis – Halo
Cavaet – Alchemy
Voivod – Synchro Anarchy

February 18, 2022
Crusade of Bards – Tales Of The Seven Seas
Jonas Lindberg – Miles From Nowhere
Star One – Revel In Time

February 25, 2022
Jason Blake – Imaginary Cages
Wolverine – A Darkened Sun

Classic Clip

As mentioned earlier in this month’s column, once upon a time, Iron Maiden covered the Jethro Tull classic, ‘Cross-Eyed Mary’ (Tull’s version was originally released in 1971 as part of the Aqualung album, while Maiden’s rendition was issued in 1983 as a b-side of ‘The Trooper’ single). So, now is as good a time as any to do a side-by-side comparison, isn’t it?

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