Hard to believe Jethro Tull’s debut album, This Was is going to be 50 next year. Not hard to believe Jethro Tull is still alive and well and kicking. Though founder Ian Anderson is the only original member left in a band that became something of a revolving door for musicians these past 49 years, Jethro Tull won their place in the Musical History book as one of the first quasi-Prog-Rock bands and one of the longest running.
Propelled by Ian Anderson’s Jazz-tinged flute, bearing strong resemblances to Herbie Mann and Rahsaan Roland Kirk in execution, the mix of Rock/Folk/Blues and Jazz were instantly appealing when This Was came out. They were a staple in the diet of most FM Underground stations in the late 60s/early-mid ’70s and became household names when Aqualung came out in 1971.
By the time of this concert, they had released their 10th album, Songs From The Wood and were in the midst of a tour promoting it. This was a decided turn to the Folk for Jethro Tull and Songs From The Wood is considered one of the three best Tull albums from that period. It was also very popular, climbing to number 8 on the US album charts within its first two weeks of release.
Reviews were, of course glowing, and it more than convinced Anderson that this new incarnation of Jethro Tull was a step in the right direction. Having produced Steeleye Span‘s successful Now We Are Six in 1974, it was Anderson’s desire to go in this direction anyway. Although Anderson bristled at the notion of Folk as a label for the band at this juncture, he considered the direction more of a return to a decidedly historic British sound – involving medieval imagery.
For those of you who remember this turn in direction, or were curious – here is that concert from 1974, recorded for BBC Radio 1 for their In Concert series.