A massive treat for Jethro Tull fans and classical aficionados alike, Jethro Tull The String Quartets is an album of classic Jethro Tull repertoire, imaginatively arranged for classical string quartet with the flute, guitar and vocals of songwriter and producer Ian Anderson, it will be released on 24th March 2017 through BMG.
‘Pass The Bottle (A Christmas Song)’ – the first track from the album – was out yesterday – 5th December – it will be an instant grat track with album pre-orders.
The String Quartets was recorded in the crypt of Worcester Cathedral and in St Kenelm’s Church, Sapperton, Gloucestershire.
Listen to the single:
For some time, Ian (Jethro Tull frontman and virtuoso flautist) and John O’Hara (keyboard player with Tull and Anderson) had discussed the prospect of a specially conceived album of classic Jethro Tull repertoire orchestrated for a string quartet. Ian & John first saw the Carducci Quartet at the London Symphony Orchestra’s LSO St Luke’s and, mesmerised by the group’s symbiotic relationship which results in their playing as one single musical organism, Ian invited them to take part in the recording. The Carducci Quartet are:
Matthew Denton Violin
Michelle Fleming Violin
Eoin Schmidt-Martin Viola
Emma Denton Cello
Two violins, a viola and a cello make up that perfect combination of instruments that is the string quartet. Composers such as Beethoven, Bartók and Britten have written for it, and Anderson’s music is reborn in this format. With judicious additions of flute, acoustic guitar and mandolin along with a few vocal sections, this album offers Tull fans the opportunity to enjoy familiar melodies and songs within the styling and traditions of Classical Music.
Ian, who is no stranger to working with orchestras, says: “John and I have worked on various orchestrations and performed many orchestral concerts over the last fifteen years. So, a couple of years ago, I came up with the idea of recording a dedicated string quartet album in a contemporary but “classical” setting with brief appearances from myself. I felt that there were some songs rather special to me which featured the string quartet such as A Christmas Song, Reasons For Waiting and Wond’ring Aloud. These were my first experiences of working with a quartet. John came up with a few suggestions of his own which presented challenges. All had an intimacy and presence which I looked forward to recapturing in the cosy and very personal space of my office desk where I did the overdubs.”
About his approach to the orchestration, John explains, “There seemed little point in transcribing the band parts and distributing them to the players. I felt a responsibility to delve deeper and offer a new imagining of each piece. An orchestrator’s job is to arrange and compose a new version of an existing work. However, I also felt a responsibility to the Jethro Tull listeners who cherish this material and may not welcome a radical rendition of a beloved song. My ambition was to create a thought-provoking album that remains true to Ian’s compositions.”
Ian concludes, “It has really been a lot of fun to work on this project. The Carducci Quartet provided a spirited and committed performance, without which all would have been futile. And, I only had to pay for lunch once as they brought sandwiches. Bless.”
Available on CD and Vinyl (Gatefold) as well as Mp3/M4A and uncompressed hi-definition 24/96 WAV files.
Ian Anderson talks about the project:
If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Jethro Tull – The String Quartets link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.
Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre released his fourth solo album AWAY WITH WORDS, through RSK’s new label, Edifying Records on 30th September. The record features new arrangements of Tull material together with some brand new compositions by Barre. Having been tipped off about his faultless performance at London’s Borderline we felt it was high time we showcased his excellent new release.
With the seminal prog outfit still on indefinite hiatus, Martin Barre brings back to life some of Jethro Tull’s classics but also less known gems, with the invaluable help of engineer James Bragg. The track list features Requiem, From a Deadbeat to an Old Greaser, Moths, Home and Fire at Midnight amongst others.
“Re-arranging and representing the Tull songs featured on this album became a very pleasant and rewarding task. These lesser known songs have always been amongst my favourite pieces of music and reworking them brought back many good memories” – he confides enthusiastically. Talking about his new compositions included in the album, he says “I have written the rest of the music, hopefully with sympathy and taste. Composing and re-arranging is my passion. Bringing together the many acoustic instruments was a delight for me, but of course the electric guitar couldn’t be totally left out of the picture!” He goes on to say “This album is a fusion of my writing blended together with Ian (Anderson’s) in a continual movement of music.”
On Away With Words, multi-talented Barre plays Acoustic/Classic/Electric Guitars, Bouzouki, Mandolin, Bass, Flute & Bass Clarinet, with Dan Crisp taking care of vocals. Completing the line up are Frank Mead on Blackwood Flute, Whistles, Bodhran and Blues Harp, Jonathan Noyce on bass and George Lindsay on drums & percussion.
1. First Light/Moths
2. It’s My Round
3. One Brown Mouse/Fatcat
4. All Bars Hold
5. Air: Lament Of the Spalpeen/Martin’s Jig/Hymn
6. Pussy Willow
8. Long Ago/Home
9. Fire At Midnight/From The Ashes
10. Protect & Survive
11. Spare A Thought/From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser
Martin Barre started his music career in the early 60s playing saxophone. He audition for Jethro Tull in 1969 and was handpicked by Ian Anderson to take on guitar duties from Mick Abrahams. Today he’s the longest standing member after Anderson himself, having appeared on all of their albums apart from their first. Barre is also a talented flautist, both live and on record, with Jethro Tull and solo. The quality and uniqueness of his work and a series of high profile collaborations contributed to make him one of the world’s most rated rock musicians, with his signature ‘Aqualung’ solo voted as one of the top guitar solos of all times (Guitar Player Magazine).
This superb set pulls together material from Jethro Tull concerts across their career and filmed at some of their many stopovers around the globe. It reaches back as far as the legendary Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970 and as recently as the Estival in Lugano, Switzerland in 2005. Much of the material is previously unreleased. The set is packaged in a 19cm x 14cm 32 page hardback book with 2 discs in each inside cover. Disc 3 of Around The World Live offers an insightful interview with Ian Anderson from the Hilversum 1999 session.
The book contains photos from Ian Anderson’s personal archive and a text on all the different shows by Joel McIver. Around The World Live charts Jethro Tull’s ever evolving music through blues to rock to folk to electronica with a frequently changing line-up anchored by the ever present front-man Ian Anderson.
Around The World Live charts the global success of one of rock’s favorite acts. Highlighting the band’s illustrious career and phenomenal concerts, this is treasure trove of Jethro Tull material.
DISC ONE: Isle Of Wight, England, 1970: 1) My Sunday Feeling 2) My God Line-Up: Ian Anderson – vocals, flute, guitar; Martin Barre – guitar; Clive Bunker – drums; Glenn Cornick – bass; John Evan – keyboards Tampa, Florida, USA, 1976: 1) Quartet (intro) 2) Thick As A Brick 3) Wond’ring Aloud 4) Crazed Institution 5) Barre (instrumental) / Drum Solo 6) Medley: To Cry You A Song / A New Day Yesterday / Bourée / God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 7) Living In The Past / Thick As A Brick 8) A New Day Yesterday (reprise) 9) Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll, Too Young To Die 10) Minstrel In The Gallery 11) Extract from Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 (Molto Vivace) Line-Up: Ian Anderson – vocals, flute, guitar; Barriemore Barlow – drums; Martin Barre – guitar; John Evan – keyboards; John Glascock – bass Munich, Germany, 1980: 1) Aqualung 2) Dark Ages 3) Home 4) Orion 5) Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll, Too Young To Die 6) Cross-eyed Mary 7) Minstrel In The Gallery 8) Locomotive Breath 9) Dambusters March Line-Up: Ian Anderson – vocals, flute, guitar; Barriemore Barlow – drums; Martin Barre – guitar; John Evan – keyboards; David Palmer – keyboards; Dave Pegg – bass
DISC TWO: Dortmund, Germany, 1982: 1) Pussy Willow 2) Heavy Horses Line-up: Ian Anderson – vocals, flute, guitar; Martin Barre – guitar; Gerry Conway – drums; Dave Pegg – bass; Peter Vettese – keyboards Loreley, Germany, 1986: 1) Black Sunday Line-up: Ian Anderson – vocals, flute, guitar; Martin Barre – guitar; Dave Pegg – bass; Doane Perry – drums; Peter Vettese – keyboards Santiago, Chile, 1996: 1) Roots To Branches 2) Rare And Precious Chain 3) Thick As A Brick 4) In The Grip Of Stronger Stuff 5) Dangerous Veils 6) Aqualung / Aquadiddly 7) Nothing Is Easy 8) Bourée 9) In The Moneylenders’ Temple 10) My God 11) Locomotive Breath
DISC THREE: Hilversum, Holland, 1999: 1) Some Day The Sun Won’t Shine For You 2) Thick As A Break 3) Locomotive Breath 4) The Secret Language Of Birds 5) Dot Com 6) Fat Man 7) Bourée 8) In The Grip Of Stronger Stuff London, England, 2001: 1) Cross-eyed Mary 2) Hunt By Numbers 3) My Sunday Feeling Montreux, Switzerland, 2003: 1) Some Day The Sun Won’t Shine For You 2) Life Is A Long Song 3) Living In The Past
DISC FOUR: Lugano, Switzerland, 2005: 1) Aqualung Intro 2) For A Thousand Mothers 3) Nothing Is Easy 4) Jack In The Green 5) Serenade To A Cuckoo 6) Beggar’s Farm 7) Boris Dancing 8) Weathercock 9) We Five Kings 10) Up To Me 11) Bourée 12) Mother Goose 13) Empty Café 14) Farm On The Freeway 15) Hymn 43 16) A New Day Yesterday 17) Budapest 18) Aqualung 19) Locomotive Breath 20) Protect And Survive 21) Cheerio Line-up (1996 / 1999 / 2001 / 2003 / 2005): Ian Anderson – vocals, flute, guitar; Martin Barre – guitar; Andy Giddings – keyboards; Jonathan Noyce – bass; Doane Perry – drums
If you would like to order a copy of the DVD then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.
Carolyn and Mark Evans who go under the name Red Shoes, had their initial meeting with legendary bass player Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention/Jethro Tull in 2008, after Peggy heard their songs on MySpace on the internet. This in turn led to his offer to both produce and play on their debut album. Enlisting the help of fellow Fairport member, Chris Leslie on fiddle and Dylan Project/Little Johnny England guitarist PJ Wright, Dave Pegg then set about recording what would turn out to be the duo’s debut album, Ring Around The Land.
Released on Cedarwood Records in the summer of 2009, the album was critically acclaimed in the press, garnering such praise as “Folk album of the Year” from NetRhythms; and “Magical album” from R2. This in turn led to international distribution through Universal in 2010.
The connection with Dave Pegg continued by way of Fairport Convention recording their version of Celtic Moon (opening track on Ring Around The Land) for the album Festival Bell. The song remains a crowd favourite in the Fairport live set.
Red Shoes have now released their follow up album All The Good Friends with Mick Dolan (Stevie Winwood, Show of Hands, Ralph McTell, Fisherman’s Friends) in the producer’s chair. The release being funded with the help of the direct-from-artist-to-fan site Pledge Music. This new model for recording and releasing albums is definitely the way forward, giving the artist a real connection with their fans and vice versa.
This second album sees their songwriting growing in stature and maturity, whilst also retaining their skill for memorable tunes and strong choruses. From the opening track Red Coat Ride, with it’s anti-fox hunting theme and pounding rhythm, all way through to the closing lilting waltz of The Last Dance, telling the tale of a lonely woman in a ballroom, this album takes you on an emotional journey, which you won’t forget. With 11 songs – 10 originals and a dazzling version of the Roy Wood song Blackberry Way, Red Shoes invite you into the world of All The Good Friends
These recordings see the duo reunited with Dave Pegg on bass and mandolin, alongside Dave Swarbrick, legendary fiddle player from the halcyon days of Fairport. Also guesting are Ric Sanders & Chris Leslie (Fairport Convention), Bill Hunt (ELO/Wizzard) and Bev Bevan (The Move).
Ian Anderson’s follow up to 1972’s classic prog rock album offers some answers
Prog Rock? Prog Rock? In 2012? Are you serious? Well, yes actually – although let’s use the original term ‘progressive rock’. Cast aside all prejudices as Jethro Tull’s singer / flautist / composer Ian Anderson explains what led him to revisit the genre some 40 years after the ground-breaking Tull album Thick As A Brick.
In the early 1970s bands like Yes, Genesis, ELP and King Crimson were pushing musical boundaries. The arrival of punk cast a shadow over a style of music that admittedly was becoming self-indulgent and pretentious, and the term Prog Rock became somewhat derogatory. But, Ian explains, “To me, anything is progressive if you are trying to take things on into a slightly new dimension, and draw upon different influences and push them into something that fits your own sense of inventiveness and your own career progression. So ‘progressive rock’ is a fine title.”
Jethro Tull’s short ‘prog rock’ era peaked with 1972’s Thick As A Brick, a 45-minute continuous piece of music charting the difficulties of a child growing up and confronting a frightening and unfair world. The album was encased in a spoof local newspaper The St Cleve Chronicle, with a headline story that a precocious schoolboy called Gerald Bostock had been disqualified from a poetry competition because of the inappropriate nature of his epic poem, which Tull then allegedly used as the album’s lyrics. Ian explains that the idea stemmed from the critics’ descriptions of 1971’s Aqualung as a ‘concept album’, even though it was just a bunch of songs a few of which had common themes. “In the light of the Aqualung reviews I deliberately set out to do a concept album that would in essence be a bit of a parody of other people’s concept albums and grandiose progressive rock adventures. I thought let’s take this slightly arrogant and pompous way of writing and presenting music to an extreme, with the fiction of a then 10-year old boy having written the lyrics. Of course it’s preposterous and really quite silly, but it was the era of Monty Python, when that sort of surreal British humour was quite well embedded in the British psyche.”
The album was a world-wide success, including a No 1 spot on the American Billboard chart, and excerpts from the piece have regularly featured in Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson live shows. But Ian had steadily resisted record company suggestions that he write a follow-up. It was not until a chance encounter in 2010 with old pal Derek Shulman of Gentle Giant, who nagged him to consider a 40th anniversary sequel, that Ian gave it some serious thought – and surprised himself by not dismissing it out of hand this time. He had noticed that in recent years his audiences had been changing. “It wasn’t just old codgers, it was kind of a mix between old codgers and young codgers. It really struck me that there was this new wave of interest from youngsters who want something that is an alternative and antidote to the X-Factor and the very repetitive rock music that does tend to be the stuff of today. So I began to feel that it was not quite as undignified as I had earlier supposed to be doing something that was more in that kind of progressive vein.”
In February 2011 Ian spent a couple of days sketching out some ideas. “It was predicated on the idea of what might have befallen Gerald Bostock, this precocious child, where would he have headed in life? And the more I started thinking about that the more I thought that there were so many pivotal moments in my own childhood where, often quite by chance, I might have gone in one direction or in some completely opposite direction. I could have been anything from a soldier or a sailor or an astronaut to a thespian or a silviculturist – although when I left school I actually tried first to join the police force and then to be a journalist on the local newspaper, before music took over while I was at art college.
“So I imagined Gerald Bostock as this 10-year old kid entering into puberty who, by the look of the young male model who was photographed in 1972 as the notional Gerald Bostock, was obviously a rather swottish schoolboy who probably wasn’t very popular at school and probably wasn’t very good at sports. What sort of opportunities would he have had, who would he have been, what would he have been led towards? I started to write a number of scenarios, including a piece looking at his possible early life immediately post-puberty, and then another piece later on for each of these characters that Gerald might have become, leading through to adulthood. Then in the latter part of the album I drew all these things back into a common kismet-karma kind of future where, in spite of all these chance interventions, there is maybe some element of fate and we all end up where we were going to end up anyway, in spite of the fact that we may have taken some radically different roads along the way.”
From that loose concept emerged TAAB 2. Recorded in November 2011 with Florian Opahle (guitar), John O’Hara (keyboards), David Goodier (bass) and Scott Hammond (drums), musically Ian has very deliberately echoed the feel of the 1972 album by using many of the same instruments, including a lot of acoustic guitar and lashings of Hammond organ, and to a large extent recording it with the band all playing live together, with the minimum of overdubs and no use of limiters and noise gates and other tricks of the trade, leaving engineer Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree) to tweak things himself. And, whilst there are ID points to allow separate tracks to be downloaded from iTunes, it is a continuous 53-minute piece of music with recurring musical themes.
Also echoing the 1972 album, and the St Cleve Chronicle newspaper sleeve, the 2012 album is housed in a mock-up of a local news website www.StCleve.com, which Ian designed himself in a deliberately not-too-professional pastiche of community websites (and which will be accessible online, with an area where fans can add their own spoof local news stories). ”It’s light-hearted most of the way through StCleve.com, with lots of fairly vulgar schoolboy smutty stuff, but there are also some serious bits and things that are quite observational of the parochial home counties way of life. There will be some familiar characters like Max Quad, and Angela de Groot who runs a fitness centre now. And there will also be various people known to me and known to the world, although their names are slightly twisted around. But you’ll know who they are….” And the 18-month world tour, starting in the UK on April 14th, will also nod to 40 years ago and what Ian describes as the “amateur dramatics village hall” 1972 stage show with a new theatrical presentation involving videos and character actors.
What is Ian’s view of the finished project? “Unlike the original 1972 Thick As A Brick, the mood of the album is not really a spoof. It’s not a funny thing; some of it is quite heart-aching and serious, and sometimes a bit intellectual, and sometimes a bit upbeat and amusing, but not in a spoof-fun way. It’s an altogether rather more serious work, and even when you think it’s being light-hearted and funny there’s a seriousness behind it.
“It’s observational about stereotype characters. And one of the stereotypes I chose not to make Gerald, at least on the album, was a politician, as it seemed too obvious – although he does appear on the album sleeve as a recently unseated Labour MP who’s come to live in the St Cleve vicinity. He does however appear in other guises like a corrupt Christian evangelist, as an overpaid investment banker with huge bonuses and the kind of person we love to hate these days, and as a casualty of war as a repatriated serviceman helping those less fortunate than himself to acclimatise back into the real world with obviously a very bitter sense of the futility of war. Those are down moments and scary moments. But you need to take people through it. So you sometimes do it in a light-hearted way.
“Somebody may draw the parallel with Quadrophenia, but that’s completely wrong. This is not split personality, this is about totally different characters that we all might have become in our lives. If we’d walked on the other side of the road, or picked up the ‘phone, or read that article in the newspaper, things like that could have changed our lives. And that unmistakably is what happens to people in their lives, the friends they make, the relationships they enter into, perhaps in marriage or whatever else. This is all about – as it says in a couple of places – the what ifs, the maybes and might have beens moments in life.
“One of the pivotal moments on this album is the piece A Change Of Horses, which fans will recognise from our stage shows over the last year or so. It’s about that point in your life where you say, if there’s ever going to be a change it’s got to be now. That happens to a lot of people perhaps in the forties or fifties, and I rather like the idea of this re-gearing, this re-evaluation, and there being a second part in your life where fate draws you to some conclusion. But it’s not just looking back, it’s also about looking forward. The what ifs and maybes were rich and exciting moments in my teenage years, filled with a mixture of promise and sheer terror, because it’s a scary world out there. So that’s what I’m exploring, and I think it works for people at both ends of the age spectrum, for the middle-aged Waitrose trolley-pushing shopper and the pubescent youngster who’s facing some decision-making.”
So just to confirm, from a 2012 perspective, is TAAB 2 a concept album? Ian is emphatic in his response. “Yes, it is very much a concept album! It is a concept album that I think is fairly grown-up and mature, but I think it should ring bells for people of all ages. It’s an intellectual proposition. I’m not sure how many people are going to be ready for that kind of a thing, but I think there will be enough people for it to be a worthwhile record to make. But it’s unashamed in its asking you to think about it and listen to it. Some of the music is pretty straight-ahead which you can just kind of groove to, and some things work without your being too cerebral about it. But the overall concept and indeed lots of the lyrics and parts of the music you are going to have to make a bit of an effort with. I think that some of us like to do that. Combine that with all the detail that’s gone into the peripheral aspect of presenting the album with the artwork, the stcleve.com website and so on, it all wraps up into a big package that I think will give people a lot of fun.”