Happy Anniversary: Jethro Tull, A

Monday, August 29, 2016
Happy Anniversary: Jethro Tull, A

36 years ago today, Jethro Tull released their 13th album, but if things had gone in the manner in which they’d been originally planned, then the material contained therein would’ve instead seen release as Ian Anderson’s solo debut.

Album titles don’t get much shorter than A, but the origin of the title is a surprisingly simple one: the “A” is for Anderson – as in Ian Anderson – and it’s how the tapes for the album had been marked, since…well, that’s whose album it was supposed to be. Indeed, the only reason the credit on the album changed was because Chrysalis Records, Jethro Tull’s label, asked Anderson if he’d mind attributing it to the band as a whole because the label’s overall sales were low. After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out how many more copies it was likely to sell if it was credited that way.

As those who’ve heard it already know, A sounds way, way different from Jethro Tull’s typical material, but now you know the explanation as to why: it wasn’t supposed to be Tull material. As a result, though, it’s arguably also the point where the lines between the band and its lead singer began to blur in a big way, and although Anderson ultimately did go on to release his first solo album, Walk Into Light, a few years later, Jethro Tull’s sound continued to sound more modern and less folky as the years progressed. Thankfully, things began to shift back over the course of time, but listening back to the band’s catalog, there’s no question that A was – for better or worse –the most modern-sounding Jethro Tull ever got.