Jethro Tull heads into 40th year with new DVD releases and a new album in 2008

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:: Jethro Tull :: Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre :: October 10 ::

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By Brian F. Johnson
Jethro Tull is approaching its 40th year. In the last four decades the band has sold over 60 million albums, notched three Top Ten singles and have performed over 2,500 shows in more than 40 countries. As Tull nears this latest milestone, releases of DVDs are flourishing and the band is working on a new album due out sometime in 2008.
The most recent release, Live at Montreux 2003, a CD/DVD combination, is a great snapshot of where the band is and what fans can expect from their live show — a set consisting of their standard hits, peppered with a few new tracks.
Lead singer and flautist Ian Anderson, in a recent interview with The Marquee, said that the Montreux set isn’t necessarily Tull’s best or worst performance, but a good indicator of a “night on the road” with Jethro Tull. But, the former Montreux resident said that the impetus to release the DVD came from the honor the band felt to be a part of the legendary Switzerland festival.

“Live at Montreux is just another night on the road with Jethro Tull. It was a one-off festival, all recorded live straight to stereo. So you can’t go back and doctor it or change it, and it’s just one of the many concerts over the 41 years that Montreux has been taking place. Claude Nob, the festival director, is an old friend of ours from the early 1970s and he’s got an extensive collection of concerts from the festival over the years and he wants to see some of the performances, that he considers landmark, released like this as a tribute to his efforts over the years,” Anderson said.
Anderson went on to say that much of what appears on the Montreux DVD is similar to a DVD released in 2001 titled Living With The Past, but that the epic-ness of the festival justified the release.
Despite the fact that there are three DVDs scheduled for release this year — Montreux, a collection of German television performances, and a Tull documentary — Anderson said that he doesn’t quite understand the whole draw of DVDs. “I’m not sure that people watch a DVD more than once. I mean, think about how many times you’ve heard Peter Frampton sing “Show Me The Way” in your lifetime. It’s one of the most played tracks on classic rock radio. And if you like it you’ve heard it maybe hundreds of times and probably still tap your feet and sing along when it comes on. But I challenge anyone to watch it over and over. I think you buy a DVD, you watch it once, maybe twice and then you lend it to a friend and forget to ask for it back,” he said.
He added that because of the fact that Jethro Tull has been around for so long, he suspects all the DVD attention is an effort for companies to have that epic last performance, that they can release posthumously after the band ends. “I should be flattered, but I suspect there’s a bit of ambulance chasing going on. They smell the sense of imminent death and they want a piece of that real estate,” Anderson quipped.
While video production companies may feel that Tull’s reign is coming to an end, Anderson explained that they have no plans to slow down yet. In fact, he said that a new album is due out sometime in mid-2008. “We’ve recorded a good chunk of stuff already that we need to finish up and I have a few new songs that we’re going to record as well,” he said.
The new album, he explained will touch on all of the eclectic genres which Tull is known for without trying to brandish itself as any particular type of music. “A lot of our records embody all elements of music, going back to the very first album … which is imperfect, but still a pretty good album from a band that was just finding its feet. And that’s the way I approach albums today. I’m not trying to do a pastiche thing where I’m inviting people to listen to a piece of authentic Bulgarian folk music, but it might be inspired by that,” he said.
Though Jethro Tull has been around long enough to have “done it all,” Anderson said that these days, his goal is to challenge himself to find those moments that he looks back on later with fondness. “I take great pleasure in, for example, playing to several thousand Muslims one night and then playing to several thousand Jewish people in an adjoining country the next. I feel a little naughty about it and there’s some devilry to it, but it’s about crossing barriers to me and I love challenging people’s perceptions.”

:: Jethro Tull ::
:: Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre ::
:: October 10 ::

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