Rhino Six-Pack: Ian Anderson

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016
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Rhino Six-Pack: Ian Anderson

Some would say that Ian Anderson is Jethro Tull, but while it’s his flute and his voice that are hallmarks of the band’s sound, he’s his own man, and he has his own career outside of the band as well. In celebration of Anderson’s birthday, we’ve got a few things to offer up: a six-pack of non-Tull tracks on which Anderson can be heard, and a reminder of how great Walk Into Light, Anderson’s initial foray into a solo career, holds up.

Brian Protheroe, “Under the Greenwood Tree” (1976): Few Americans are aware of Protheroe, who’s spent a good percentage of his career bouncing between singing and acting, but he was doing rather a lot of the former in the ‘70s, earning a hit single in the UK with “Pinball” in 1974. That track, you will be unsurprised to learn, was featured on an album entitled Pinball. Protheroe followed it up with Pick Up in ’75 and I/You in ’76, and this track can be found on the latter album.

Maddy Prior, “Gutter Geese” (1978): Best known for her work with Steeleye Span, Prior made her first move toward developing a solo career in 1978 with Woman in the Wings, an album produced by Anderson, his fellow Jethro Tull member David Palmer, and the band’s longtime engineer, Robin Black. In addition to his production duties, Anderson also contributed flute to this track.

Honeymoon Suite, “All Along You Knew” (1985): You’re probably wondering the same thing everyone else is wondering, so here’s the answer to your question about how in the hell Anderson ended up on a Honeymoon Suite song: the band opened for Jethro Tull on their 1984 tour. So there you go.

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Men Without Hats, “On Tuesday” (1987): This is another unlikely pairing, so here’s the answer to that mystery, too: Men Without Hats’ A&R guy was Derek Shulman, late of Gentle Giant. In a conversation with Innerviews.org, Ivan Doroschuk, lead singer of Men Without Hats, said of Anderson, “All he asked for was a six-pack of Grolsch and a Bentley to drive him to and from the train station, and that was it.”

Six and Violence, “Bursting Bladder” (1990): Come to think of it, just about everything on this list is an unlikely pairing, so maybe we should stop saying that. But Anderson’s contribution to the work of a punk band from Queens, New York is definitely not something most folks would’ve predicted.

The Darkness, “Cannonball” (2012): Just because you want Ian Anderson to play flute on your song doesn’t mean that he’s just going to phone it in. In an interview with Rock Edition, Anderson spoke of his guest spot on this song by The Darkness, explaining that he used his instrument “to contrast with the lead singer’s high rock tenor and falsetto.” Why? “I didn’t want to be in the same register as him with the high notes of the flute. I don’t want to just give them the obvious thing — I’ve got to put a twist on it and make it fit the song.”