News Update: January 2002
Happy new year from all of us at JethroTull.com to you, dear readers.
We have been busy boys (well, at least I have) over the last couple of months with a UK tour and ongoing work on the DVD project. We recorded and filmed, principally at London’s Hammersmith Apollo theatre where we have played many times before over the years. Some back-up material was shot at Reading and Bristol, but so far it hasn’t been used in the first off-line edits of the show.
The audio, for live CD release as well as the DVD soundtrack, was mixed between Christmas and last week. At the end of the month there will be two live sessions to record a brief reunion of the original “little old blues band Jethro Tull” as well as two acoustic songs with a string quartet. A few unlucky audience members have been co-opted to attend and look suitably bored – just like the bad old days when we first played together as an unknown new group.
Today, I have been watching some old live and documentary footage from the vaults of the BBC and which contains sparkling and unusual tidbits of occasionally embarrassing and self-conscious on-tour interviews from 1979. Some of that will find its way onto the DVD, no doubt.
Thanks to all the e-mailers who have written suggesting ideas and offering opinions as to the content of the DVD. All have been considered, but the reality of obtaining and paying for licenses to use old copyrighted material, plus the poor (dreadful) quality of some of it, means that we cannot use it all. And while the 1hr. and 45 minutes of live music already mixed for the DVD will be scrutinized carefully, there will necessarily be some songs which end up in the cutting room lavvy-loo.
I had hoped to have finished most of the personal input by now but the reality of CD and DVD artwork, booklet, new tour programme as well as the advance work on the newly announced Tull tour dates in the US April 23rd through June 22nd, will keep me busy for some weeks.
I have a bunch of new songs on which I am desperate to begin work in the studio but so much to do first………. But it’s good to be busy. Especially at my age.
I have been talking to some symphony orchestras recently and will be considering a solo date or two in the next year as a guest with some of them. I don’t want to do the dreaded rock group plus orchestra formula, but rather to combine some of the acoustic Tull and Ian Anderson solo stuff with new arrangements of “rock” repertoire sympathetic to the essentially acoustic orchestral experience. Nothing highbrow – just good clean and somewhat quieter fun. Music to drink Chardonnay to. With perhaps a prawn baguette. On wholemeal of course. Whoops, must be lunch time.
Martin Barre had some elbow surgery before Christmas and is doing fine, strumming with just the stump. Doane Perry is considering surgery for a variety of complaints and the results might be interesting. I am not having surgery but I did have a haircut. Didn’t take long.
Andrew Giddings is painting his new house and has a DIY fetish involving power drills and magnolia gloss. Jonathan Noyce is working on his Italian.
I received a copy of a letter of complaint from a customer on the UK tour. He whinged on about various shortcomings regarding our concert performance including his shock and horror at hearing some vocal and flute samples in some places. Let’s get real about this stuff! For the record:
From 1972 onwards we have used bits and bobs of taped (or in recent years, sampled) effects, vocal harmonies and flute-like keyboard sounds to supply some of the detail found on many of our records. For instance: on the recorded version of Thick As A Brick, I play acoustic guitar and flute at the same time while singing the first verses of the song.
Obviously, I can’t do all simultaneously in a live show so the keyboards fill in with the flute line from the record. In songs like Too Old To Rock And Roll or Farm on the Freeway, we fly in the backing vocal harmonies which I sang on the record. Clearly, if the other guys could sing reliably, we wouldn’t have to do that but……..
Wherever there are these occasional snippets of backing vocals, I am singing the main part live on top so I don’t feel like I am cheating you! But remember this is nothing new. We have been doing this for almost thirty years with some hilarious and embarrassing results when the tape recorder played the wrong parts or Andrew Giddings hits the wrong key on his keyboard.
Our live concerts with their complexity of lyrics, notes, chords, tempos, time and key signatures, offer no safety net for the unwary or unfocussed musician. The odd little bit of sampled material seems to me a fitting detail to include but the world (or the concert) won’t come to a full stop if the technology fails.
The problem is that I am a multi-instrumentalist who gets carried away in the recording studio and is too mean to pay for the backing singers who would be standing around doing nothing for all but two or three minutes of the concert. To say nothing of having to feed them as well. (Prawn baguettes can be pricy.)
Now if you wanted to hear the amazing stories of some other artists who have pretty much everything running from tape, ask me in the bar after the show but only if you are paying. Road crews can be dreadful gossips.
TRAVEL AGENT WANTED
Yes we are looking for a new travel agent to book hotels, rental cars and the occasional flight for our US tours. We need someone reliable, discrete and preferably east coast-based, since we can have an extra few hours of communication time, compared to west coast location, from here in the UK due to the time difference. Best would be a small company used to dealing with business, rather than vacation, travellers. No one-man-bands since we need backup at weekends and when the flu season lays folks low. Any ideas? There must be a travel agent Tull fan or three out there. God knows, there are lots of jet pilots, doctors, professors, water diviners and ostrich farmers amongst you.
Give us a call or e-mail production manager Kenny Wylie at [email protected]
Elbow surgeons are welcome too. Bring a scalpel. And your own prawn baguette.
Lots of interesting new venues coming up on the US tour this Spring. Some old friends too are in there. Good time of the year to play mostly indoors but we will be back, I feel sure, for a few summer outdoor shows. I actually know what many of them are but I am not telling yet. That’s because the finer points of deals and contracts are still under discussion but it looks good for some cities in the Northeast at the end of August.
Our pal Willy Porter will be on many of the US dates during the first half of the tour and rumours that the Not-So-Young Dubliners may have recovered from their cultural overload in Europe and might be willing to give Tull another shot, seem justified. Some other opening acts are being discussed at the moment but it is always a lot of fun introducing “new” bands and artists to our audience. We don’t just pick ‘em ‘cos they’re cheap! There are many other considerations. Well, a few……..
Talking of Porter Willy, I played on a couple of tracks of his for live and studio albums, so he owes me a curry when we next meet. So does keyboard maestro Trent Gardner of Magellan, prog rock wizards of the modern kind. I did a flute intro solo piece which the poor chap has been waiting for these last six months, but I only found the time last week, a mere few days before he had to master the new album. Out soon on the Magna Carta label I feel sure it will sound simply magnificent.
The James Taylor Quartet featured an IA contribution on recent work soon to be released. That’s James Taylor Jazz Funk – not the big brother of Livingstone T. who supported Tull back in the 70’s.
Michelle Young has a new record out. Called “Marked For Madness” it features Doane Perry and highlights her amazing talents as a vocalist and songwriter. Check it out at www.michelleyoung.com
“Dyan Is Resting”, a poignant and lovely song by Wendy Maharry on which I played several years ago, has finally been released on her new album, titled “Released” (although I prefer the mix which I have with more piano and flute) and she can be found at – you guessed it –www.wendymaharry.com
For those who have wondered as to the identity of other songs played before Tull gigs recently and featuring the flutey meanderings of Truly Yours, the song “On Tuesday” is from the album “Pop Goes The World” by the Canadian band Men Without Hats. You will also have noticed the Gothic/Medieval “Play Minstrel, Play” by Ritchie Blackmore with the vocal (and doubtless other) skills of Candice Night.
I might toss in a few other guest appearance tracks in the next incidental music compilation.
Congratulations to Scott Muni, the New York DJ who practically invented the contemporary rock radio genre back at WNEW in the sixties. Scott is now with New York’s only Classic Rock station Q104.3 – at least I think it is point three: if he sounds a bit fuzzy and not quite connected to the known universe, it must be point two………Or he’s been at the Pepsi Light again.
Scott celebrates forty years in the radio business this February and I am sorry I can’t be there in NY to join him at the radio awards ceremony due to a rescheduled vacation with my wife. We were going to Southern India but got cold feet and sweaty hands at the news of Pakistan and India rattling sabres of the nuclear-tipped variety, and opted for a later break in Thailand (a perfect cue for Thailand and Burma to declare war on each other).
I am, this afternoon, finishing some artwork ideas and trawling through old and new photos. Back to the grind. Talk to you next month.
In England’s greenandwetandmiserablebutnotentirelyunpleasant land
Thought for the month:
I ruffled some feathers of late amongst readers of this site with comment on Bush and Blair seeking “vengeance” on the terrorists. Under the tragic and horrific circumstances, a little vengeance isn’t, perhaps, necessarily such a bad thing. (The definition of vengeance: punishment, retribution.)
But if justice is what we are after, then one or two countries going it more or less alone is potentially a dangerous option: the United Nations must surely become the beefed-up forum for justice, and the combined weight of all civilised countries must be called upon to direct the action in continuing the fight against cowardly terrorism.
These vile people can’t take us all on at the same time. But they can pick on the country which stands out and offers the big soft target. The USA needs the support and blanket authority of all nations acting as one in their resolve. A global force of military, intelligence and police services needs to be formed to act for all. Action against terrorism by individual countries seems to me a recipe for ongoing disaster. Terrorists, as individuals as well as organisations, need to know that the world is against them; not just the poor old USA, so all too easily misunderstood and vilified in world politics.
And where do we in the UK stand in all of this: haven that we appear to be for harbouring and nurturing extremists of several faiths and violent delusions? It has to be a whole lot easier for us to boot these buggers out if we operate under new and common international laws on terrorism rather than struggle with how to acknowledge the human or other rights of such persons on our own. Extradition won’t be easy.
But first we need to define “terrorism” – In 20 words or less! Any great ideas out there.
Let me know what you think since, to me at any rate, any such definition might be fraught with difficulties and a few clear poignant words might get the attention of politicians and media alike.
Answers on an e-mail please to Ian [email protected] JethroTull.com. I will forward to www.bush’nblair.com
I will share the best ones with you at a later date. (Watch out for confusing terms like freedom fighters, political activists and religious martyrs etc. etc.)