SUE’S SUNDAY SOJOURN: Each week I will showcase a particular artist or band during my entire two hour set. Each week, prior to the set, there will be a blog post where I will write about my memories, favorite stories or share other interesting tidbits. The idea here is not to tell the story of the band or play two hours of their greatest hits. The idea behind Sue’s Sunday Sojourn will be to spend time with Sue, down in her music vault. As she puts together the set, she will reminisce and share special memories. “I remember when this came out,” or, “I recall hearing this for the first time and I thought…” She might share little known facts, favorite memories, fun stories or maybe even some personal experiences.
The sets will have plenty of the big hits but be ready for a few obscure tunes that may be her personal favorites. She will probably include a few rarities or possibly unreleased material, along with other sundry curios. So join her every Sunday night from 7-9 as she lets you into her world.
|Songs From the Wood, 1977|
I first became aware of Jethro Tull in 1971 when they released their album, Aqualung. The two songs I recall hearing back then were the title cut, Aqualung, and Locomotive Breath. They were good songs but they didn’t make much of an impression on me or inspire me to run out and buy Jethro Tull records. Aqualung was actually their fourth album. Their first, This was Jethro Tull (usually referred to as “This Was”), was released in 1968 and I always thought it was a clever title for a first record.
My attitude changed in 1977 when I heard a song on the radio that instantly mesmerized me and I just had to have. I listened intently to the radio station, waiting for them to go back over the last several songs played, which they didn’t always do. I was desperate to learn who did the song and I was rewarded about 15 minutes later. The song was the Whistler and it was off of Jethro Tull’s new album, Songs from the Wood. The following day I made a journey to Jack’s Records and bought that album.
I played the entire album several times and was completely enthralled. I had already begun to love all things pagan and here was an entire record with songs about the Green Man, the Solstice and even Beltane. Not only that, it was a rock album by a major artist. I soon found Minstrel in the Gallery from 1975 that also had some of that same feel with songs like Cold Wind to Valhalla but it had not yet fully developed into the full blown pagan theme I held in my hands with Songs from the Wood. I had become a big Jethro Tull fan.
“Jethro Tull” is one of those band names that does not correspond to anyone in the band, like Pink Floyd. Jethro Tull, for whom the band was named, was an actual historic person who was a British pioneer and innovator in farming. In 1700 he developed the horse drawn seed drill and many more of his techniques are still used on modern farms in one form or another. It was no surprise then that their next album, after Songs from the Wood, would center on that bygone farming life. Heavy Horses was released in 1978 and I made another pilgrimage to Jack’s the next day to secure my copy.
Jethro Tull’s music was ever evolving. There would be other albums from them that would sing to my pagan soul (The Broadsword and the Beast in 1982 comes to mind), but none with the fervor of Songs from the Wood or Heavy Horses. They actually started out with blues sound in 1968 before switching to what most people would call progressive rock. Then, during their Heavy Horses period, they were labeled “folk rock.” While this was technically accurate with their use of old English folk elements, it was a far cry from what the rest of the Folk Rock scene, which was combining folk music elements from the Greenwich Village scene with rock, was doing; think Simon and Garfunkel.
There were many unique things about Jethro Tull but one that must be addressed is their front man, Ian Anderson, who is often mistakenly called “Jethro Tull,” and his most unusual instrument for a rock band, the flute. Especially when going back to the 60’s and the 70’s, while the flute was not an unheard of instrument, there were so few playing a major part in the music. Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues and Thijs van Leer of Focus are the only two to come to my mind. Ian Anderson would often play the flute while standing on one foot and that image of him has become iconic.
Back in the day of LP records, I used study an album cover as I listened to the music. Jethro Tull albums consistently featured the band on the album cover art, or more often, Just Ian Anderson himself. This probably led to the confusion that he was Jethro Tull. It was a couple of years after I owned Songs from the Wood, that I noticed something peculiar. I was looking at the flames on the cover and they didn’t look quite right. Further study of the brush behind him, his sleeve and his hair led me to a startling conclusion. The album cover was not a photograph but an oil painting! The album cover is shown above. Below are a couple of blow ups. Look carefully at the red sleeve. Also, look at the fire, especially the red along the outside edges of the yellow. Digging a bit deeper I learned that the painting was called the “Wood Cutter” and was painted for the album by an artist named “Jay L. Lee.” If you look carefully, you can tell that it is not Ian Anderson as most people assume but it does bear a striking resemblance to him. The actual model for the painting was a man named “Keith Howard.”
|Close-up details of the Songs from the Wood album cover... Click to enlarge.|
One interesting album by Tull is 1972’s Thick as a Brick. It only has one song but it is almost 46 minutes long and spans both sides of the record. After you heard the first half of the song on side-A, you were supposed to flip the record over and listen to the second half. This is why various excerpts released for airplay or used in compilations are referred to as “Edits.” The most famous is Thick as a Brick Edit #1, which most people think of as the title track and song they all know as “Thick as a Brick.”
One fun fact about Jethro Tull concerns its keyboardist, David Palmer. He did arrangements for the band and worked with them in the studio since their very first album in 1968. With Songs from the Wood, Palmer was accepted and acknowledged as a full member of Jethro Tull until he left in 1980. The reason that he is a bit of a curio is that he underwent a sex change operation in 2004 and has been known as “Dee Palmer” ever since. She continues her involvement in the music industry including performing.
Into DJ Sue’s Music Vault…
Below you will see a photo containing elements of two Jethro Tull boxed sets in my music library. The first is 20 Years of Jethro Tull, a five vinyl LP set released in 1988. It contained many rare tracks including what has become my favorite Christmas song, Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow. This song combines the pagan elements and Tull sounds I love so much and I have included it every Christmas season in a couple of my sets. This was the only place this song was released until the Jethro Tull Christmas Album was released on CD in 2003. There was just one problem. The 2003 release of Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow was a remake of the original. It lacked a lot of the elements of the original and is nowhere near as good as the 1988 release on 20 Years of Jethro Tull. I will play the superior 1988 version during my Sunday set.
The CD in the upper left of the photo below is from the 25th Anniversary Box Set, released in 1993. This is one I consider myself fortunate to own. The set was a numbered limited edition and consisted of four CD’s that came in a Jethro Tull “cigar box.” The box consisted of live material, unreleased material and remastered favorites. There was also one CD, the one shown below, called, “The Beacons Bottom Tapes.” They had gone into the studio and recorded new versions of some of their old classics, including a hard rock instrumental version of the song that started it all for me, the Whistler. I’ll play both the original and this new version back to back on Sunday.
|Two collections in Sue's Vault that contain material that is rare and no longer available.|
Other curios and rarities I’ll play from the vault on Sunday:
Song for Jeffrey – This song appeared on their 1968 debut album. That same year, the Rolling Stones taped a television show for the BBC, The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus. The show highlighted various bands, including the Stones and presented them as circus acts. The show, though taped and completed, never aired. In this cut you can hear Mick Jagger introduce Jethro Tull but a circus midget actually yells the band’s name.
Teacher – This song was released on the US version of the album, Benefit (1970), but did not appear on the UK release. Instead, in the UK it was released as the B-side to the non-album single, A Witch’s Promise. This single version released in the UK was quite different from the US version, most notably lacking a flute track. I will play this version of Teacher that is rarely heard today. I’ll throw in the A-side too, A Witch’s Promise.
Aqualung – This rather different version was recorded during a set aired on the BBC.
Bungle in the Jungle – A rare live recording of this song, performed at the Palais Des Sports, Paris, on 5 July 1975.
Law of the Bungle – This song was originally recorded for the album, A Passion Play, in 1972 but did not make the final cut of the record and remained unreleased. I’m sure it must somehow be related to Bungle in the Jungle, released on War Child in 1974, but I’m not sure how. Both songs have an animal theme and mention “Bungle.” The song’s title is obviously a play on the common phrase, “Law of the Jungle.”
Sunshine Day – This non-album single was the very first thing released by Jethro Tull. On the label on the 45 record, the band’s name is mistakenly printed as “Jethro Toe.” Any single with the correct name is a counterfeit.
Okay, now a fun fact about me. I can’t listen to Heavy Horses, the title track of the 1978 album without tearing up and needing a tissue. I find the lyrics that moving! I’ll end Sunday’s set with this song. Tell me if it moves you as much as me.
I may not have been a Jethro Tull fan very early on, but I became one nonetheless and I’m a big fan now. This is the first band featured on Sue’s Sunday Sojourn that I have had the privilege of seeing live in concert. I hope you enjoy these tidbits I’m going to share during my set this Sunday night. Please join me.