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Benjy says...

Greetings Rock of Age-rs,

A shortened newsletter this week as I am off to Joburg for a couple of days, however I wanted to get the playlist out to you. I trust that you enjoyed the Juicy Lucy special on Thursday, there is a great 'best of' CD out on Sanctuary called, "Who do you love - The Anthology", it's well worth adding to your collection - almost everything that I played is on there ...... Before I move on to the subject of this week's special I want you to check out this amazing pic that Rock of Ages fan Koos Vaughan took last December in Lotus Gardens, Pretoria ...

ROA


Looks like our influence is spreading far and wide and as one wag said - 'why should the devil have all the good music?' ... This week's special will be part 2 of the Jethro Tull voyage called "To cry you a song" which all Tull fans know is a track from 'Benefit'. We will be covering the band's early years with an emphasis on lesser known songs that don't get exposure - so this time no Locomotive Breath, Aqualung and the like but rather some interesting tunes from one of progressive rock's shining lights.

The Rock of Ages Special - Jethro Tull Part 2


Jethro Tull


Ian Anderson's first band, started in 1963 in Blackpool, was known as The Blades. It had developed by 1966 into a seven-piece white soul band called the John Evan Band (later the John Evan Smash), named for pianist/drummer John Evans, who dropped the final "s" from his name to make it sound less ordinary. At this point, Barriemore Barlow was the band's drummer, as he would later be for Tull itself beginning in early 1971. However, after moving to London, most of the band quit, leaving Anderson and bassist Glenn Cornick to join forces with blues guitarist Mick Abrahams and his friend, drummer Clive Bunker, both from the band "McGregor's Engine". At first, they had trouble getting repeat bookings and took to changing their name frequently to continue playing the London club circuit. Band names were often supplied by the staff of their booking agents, one of whom, a history buff, eventually christened them Jethro Tull after the 18th-century agriculturist who invented the seed drill. This name stuck simply by virtue of the fact that they were using it the first time a club manager (namely, John Gee of the Marquee Club, London) liked their show enough to invite them to return. They were signed to the blossoming Ellis-Wright agency, and became the third band managed by the soon-to-be Chrysalis empire.

Jethro Tull


After an unsuccessful single (an Abrahams-penned pop tune called "Sunshine Day" on which the band's name was misspelled "Jethro Toe", making it a collector's item), they released the bluesy album This Was in 1968. Accompanying music written by Anderson and Abrahams was the traditional arrangement "Cat's Squirrel", which highlighted Abraham's blues-rock style. The Rahsaan Roland Kirk-penned jazz piece "Serenade to a Cuckoo" gave Anderson a showcase for his growing talents on the flute, an instrument which he started learning to play only half a year before the release of the album. Earth/Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi took on guitar duties for a short time, appearing in "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus" (in which the group mimed "A Song For Jeffrey") in 1968, but returned to Earth/Black Sabbath after the performance.Following this album, Abrahams left (forming his own band, Blodwyn Pig). There were a number of reasons for his departure: he was a blues purist, while Anderson wanted to branch out into other forms of music; Abrahams and Cornick did not get along; and Abrahams was unwilling to travel internationally or play more than three nights a week, while the others wanted to be successful by playing as often as possible and building an international fan base.After auditions for a replacement guitarist, Anderson chose former Motivation, Penny Peeps and Gethsemane member Martin Barre, who impressed Anderson with his persistence more than anything else: he was so nervous at his first audition that he could hardly play at all, and then showed up for a second audition without a cord to connect his guitar to an amplifier. Nevertheless, Barre would become the second longest-standing member of the band after Anderson and Abrahams' permanent replacement on guitar (Barre was in Fat Matress with Noel Redding at the time of joining Tull).

Jethro Tull


This new line-up released Stand Up in 1969, the band's only UK number-one album. Written entirely by Anderson — with the exception of the jazzy rearrangement of J. S. Bach's Bourée — it branched out further from the blues, clearly evidencing a new direction for the group, though not yet approaching the up-and-coming style of progressive rock being developed at the time by groups such as King Crimson, Genesis, The Nice and Yes. Stand Up feels, instrumentally, not entirely unlike a jazz-tinged early Led Zeppelin album, with a heavy and slightly dark sound. The "Living in the Past" single of the same year reached number three in the UK chart, and though most other progressive groups actively resisted issuing singles at the time, Tull had further success with their other singles, "Sweet Dream" (1969) and "The Witch's Promise" (1970), and a five-track EP, "Life Is a Long Song" (1971), all of which made the top twenty. In 1970, they added keyboardist John Evan (although technically he was only a guest musician at this stage) and released the album Benefit which has a continuity owing as much to studio technique as to compositional skill.Bassist Cornick left following Benefit, replaced by Jeffrey Hammond, a childhood friend of Anderson whose name appeared in the songs "A Song for Jeffrey", "Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square", "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey, and Me", and who also is the writer and narrator of "The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" featured in the A Passion Play album. Jeffrey was often credited on Tull albums as "Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond", but the extra "Hammond" was an inside joke regarding the fact that Hammond's mother's maiden name was also "Hammond", no relation to his father.This line-up released Tull's best-known work, Aqualung in 1971. On this album, Anderson's writing voiced strong opinions about religion and society. The title character of "Aqualung" is a homeless alcoholic ephebophile, and the focus of the song "Cross-eyed Mary" is an underage prostitute. "My God" is a full-frontal assault on ecclesiastic excesses: People what have you done/locked Him in His golden cage./Made Him bend to your religion/Him resurrected from the grave./He is the god of nothing/if that's all that you can see. In contrast, the gentle acoustic "Wond'ring Aloud" is a love song. The title track and "Locomotive Breath" remain staples of most classic rock stations.

Jethro Tull


Because of the heavy touring schedule and his wish to spend more time with his family, drummer Bunker left the band after the Aqualung album, and was replaced by Barriemore Barlow in early 1971. Barlow first recorded with the band for the EP "Life Is a Long Song" and made his first appearance on a Jethro Tull album with 1972's Thick as a Brick. This was perceived as a concept album (A Passion Play being a true one) consisting of a single track split over the two sides of the LP, with a number of movements melded together and some repeating themes. The first movement with its distinctive acoustic guitar riff received some airplay on rock stations at the time (and occasionally turns up in modern classic-rock programming as a "deep" or "rare" cut). Thick as a Brick was the first Jethro Tull album to reach number one on the (U.S.) Billboard Pop Albums chart (the following year's A Passion Play being the only other). This album's quintet – Anderson, Barre, Evan, Hammond, and Barlow – endured until the end of 1975.1972 also saw the release of Living in the Past, a double-album compilation of singles, B-sides and outtakes (including the entirety of the "Life Is a Long Song" EP, which closes the album), with a single side recorded live in 1970 at New York's Carnegie Hall. Fans regard the album as arguably the band's best compilation. The title track remains one of their more enduring singles, though Anderson reportedly wrote it in 5/4 time with the intent of preventing its ascent to the pop charts.In 1973, the band attempted to record a double album in tax exile at Château d'Hérouville studios (something the Rolling Stones and Elton John among others were doing at the time), but supposedly they were unhappy with the quality of the recording studio and abandoned the effort, subsequently mocking the studio as the "Chateau d'Isaster." (An 11-minute excerpt from these recordings was released on the 1988 20 Years of Jethro Tull boxed set, and the complete sessions were finally released on the 1993 compilation Nightcap, with the contemporarily overdubbed flute lines where the vocal parts were missing.) Instead they quickly recorded and released A Passion Play, another single-track concept album with very allegorical lyrics, focusing on the afterlife. A Passion Play sold well but received generally poor reviews, including a particularly damning review of its live performance by Chris Welch of Melody Maker.Around this time, the band's popularity with critics began to wane, but their popularity with the public remained strong. 1974's War Child, an album originally intended to be a companion piece for a film, reached number two on the Billboard charts and received some critical acclaim, and produced the radio mainstays "Bungle in the Jungle" and "Skating Away (On the Thin Ice of the New Day)". It also included a song, "Only Solitaire", allegedly aimed at L.A. Times rock music critic Robert Hilburn, who was one of Anderson's harsher critics.

Jethro Tull


In 1975, the band released Minstrel in the Gallery, an album which resembled Aqualung in that it contrasted softer, acoustic guitar-based pieces with lengthier, more bombastic works headlined by Barre's electric guitar. Written and recorded during Anderson's divorce from his first wife Jenny, the album is characterized by introspective, cynical, and sometimes bitter lyrics. Critics gave it mixed reviews, but the album came to be acknowledged as one of the band's best by longtime Tull fans, even as it generally fell under the radar to listeners familiar only with Aqualung. Following this album, bassist Hammond left the band, retiring from music altogether to pursue painting (which had always been his intention). John Glascock, who earlier was playing with flamenco-rock band Carmen, a support band on the previous Jethro Tull tour, was tabbed as the band's new bassist.1976's Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! was another concept album, this time about the life of an aging rocker. Anderson, stung by critical reviews (particularly of A Passion Play), responded with more sharply-barbed lyrics. The press seemed oblivious to the ploy, and instead asked if the title track was autobiographical — a charge Anderson hotly denied. Curiously, the sleeve for the album featured a comic strip with a lead character (Ray Lomas) that looked very similar to Anderson.

Jethro Tull


The band closed the decade with a trio of folk rock albums, Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses, and Stormwatch. Songs from the Wood was the first Tull album to receive unanimously positive reviews since the release of Benefit and Living in the Past.The band had long had ties to folk rockers Steeleye Span. Although not formally considered a part of the folk rock movement (which had actually begun nearly a decade earlier with the advent of Fairport Convention), there was clearly an exchange of musical ideas among Tull and the folk rockers. Also, by this time Anderson had moved to a farm in the countryside, and his new bucolic lifestyle is clearly reflected on these albums. A stellar example is the title track of Heavy Horses, a paean to draft horses.The band continued to tour, and released a live double album in 1978. Entitled Bursting Out it featured dynamic live performances from the lineup that many Tull fans consider comprising the golden era of the band. It also features Anderson's often-ribald stage banter with the audience and band members. ("David's gone for a piss. Ah, he's back. Did you give it a good shake?") The vinyl LP contains three tracks not found on the initial single-disc CD edition: Martin Barre's guitar solo tracks "Quatrain" and "Conundrum" (which had an extended drum solo from drummer Barriemore Barlow) and a version of the 1969 UK single hit, "Sweet Dream". (These tracks were restored in a re-mastered double-CD edition released in 2004.) During part of the tour, because of health problems, John Glascock was temporarily replaced by Anderson's friend Tony Williams.During this time, David Palmer (now known as Dee Palmer), who had long been the band's orchestra arranger, formally joined the band on keyboards. Bassist Glascock died in 1979 following heart surgery and Stormwatch was completed without him (Anderson contributed bass on most tracks). The following tour featured Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention on bass guitar. After this tour, Anderson decided to record his first solo album ....... and there we leave the Tull story for the moment.

Jethro Tull


Information and pics courtesy of www.wikipedia.org

Rock of Ages presents "Footstompin' Music"


"Footstompin' Music" is almost ready for release through Universal Music, I guess it should be in the stores at the end of February or early March at the latest. Here is a pic of the front cover for you to drool over as well as the final tracklisting:

click for bigger pic
  1. Grand Funk Railroad - Footstompin' Music
  2. Deep Purple - Burn
  3. Uriah Heep - Look at yourself
  4. Black Sabbath - Sweat Leaf
  5. Thin Lizzy - Chinatown
  6. Robin Trower - Too rolling stoned
  7. Mountain - Never in my life
  8. Wishbone Ash - Blowin' free
  9. Foghat - I just wanna make love to you
  10. Budgie - Baby, please don't go
  11. Santana - Toussaint l'Overture
  12. Alice Cooper - Muscle of love
  13. Nazareth - Go down fighting
  14. Blue Oyster Cult - The Red & the Black
  15. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gimme back my bullets
  16. Free - The Hunter
  17. Taste - What's goin' on

Keep the rock real...

Benjy


Contact Rock of Ages

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Website: www.rock.co.za/rockofages
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Studio phones: 021-4342523 / 4342525


Disclaimer:
The views, opinions, rants, raves and ramblings expressed on this website are the author's own and in no way reflect the views of Radio 2000 or the SABC.

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SAXON: AIR GUITAR FAILURE?
Saxon's attempt to break the world record for the most people playing air guitar at the same time might have actually failed. It happened at Hillsborough during the half-time interval in the football match between Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland, when around 30,000 fans were encouraged to play air guitar to new Saxon single 'If I Was You'. Yet, despite earlier reports that they'd succeeded, now it seems the crowd were less than enthusiastic.

WISHING FOR MAY
Nightwish have announced that they'll make an announcement about their new vocalist in May. The band have officially confirmed that auditions have now ended to find the person to replace Tarja Turunen.

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I can highly recommend the About Classic Rock website run by Dave White. Not only does Dave host one of the most knowledgeable classic rock blogs on the Net but the site itself is very entertaining and informative. There are always great indepth stories on the artists and the rock quizzes are addictive. If you are like me, a classic rock fan, then the weekly About Classic Rock newletter is a must. Sign up at classicrock.about.com

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Benjy Mudie
Benjy Mudie with Void in the late 70's - click for bigger picture Benjy Mudie 2006 - click for bigger picture
Then Now

Benjy Mudie is a self confessed 'rockaholic' with little chance of recovery... a music obsessive whose entire life has been spent in search of the lost chord... from discovering Jimi's "Are you experienced" at 13, he has constantly devoured music through lp's, singles, tapes, cds, dvds, books, magazines, film, concerts, radio, tv and the internet. His entire working life has also been music related: from running a record store and later joining WEA Records in the mid 70's through to his 21 year A&R/Marketing stint at Tusk Music where he signed some of the biggest names in South African rock and pop. The last 8 years have been spent nurturing new talent at his indie label Fresh Music and reissuing classic albums as part of it's ongoing Retro series.... To say that 'music is his first love' (to paraphrase John Miles's classic song) is somewhat understated.

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