Jethro Tull Release Stand Up In 1969.

When Jethro Tull were formed in December 1967, little did they realise that this was the beginning of an adventure that would last five decades. During this period, Jethro Tull went on to release thirty-eight studio albums. The Jethro Tull story is a remarkable one  with many twists and turns. and began in the North West of England.

The origins of Jethro Tull can be traced to Blackpool, in 1962, That’s when Ian Anderson formed his first group Blades. Originally a four piece, featuring Ian Anderson on vocals and harmonica, they became a quintet in 1963 and sextet in 1964. By that time, they were a blue eyed soul band. After three years, the band decided to head to London.

Having moved to London, the band split-up within a short time. Just Ian Anderson and bassist Glen McCornick were left. This proved a blessing in disguise. They were soon joined by blues guitarist Mick Abrahams and drummer Clive Bunker. This was the lineup that featured on their debut album This Was. That was still to come.

Before that, the band had to settle on a name. Various names were tried. Then someone at a booking agent christened them Jethro Tull, after the eighteenth century agriculturalist. Not long after that, Ian Anderson acquired his first flute.

Up until then, Ian Anderson played just harmonica and was trying to learn to play the guitar. He realized wasn’t a great guitarist though. So, decided the world had enough mediocre guitarists, decided to expand his musical horizons. So he bought his flute. Little did he realize this would be one of Jethro Tull’s trademarks. After a couple of weeks, Ian had picked up the basics of the flute. He was learning as he played. Not long after this, Jethro Tull released their debut single.

Sunshine Day was penned by Mick Abrahams, with Derek Lawrence producing the single. On its release, the single was credited to Jethro Toe. It seemed thing weren’t going right for Jethro Tull. The single wasn’t a commercial success and failed to chart. Despite this disappointment, thing got better when they released their debut album This Was.

This Was.

Recording of This Was took place at Sound Techniques in London. The sessions began on 13th June 1968, and finished on 23rd August 1968. Unlike later albums, Jethro Tull recorded This Was on a tight budget. Only £1,200 was spent recording Jethro Tull’s debut album This Was. This money would soon be recouped when This Was released.

Having released their debut album This Was in 25th October 1968, it reached number ten in the UK. This Was was well received by critics. They were won over by Jethro Tull’s fusion of blues rock, R&B and jazz. This lead to This Was being launched at the Marquee Club. 

Jethro Tull were only the third band to launch their debut album at the Marquee Club. The other two were The Rolling Stones and The Who. Both were now amongst the biggest bands in the world. They had certainly conquered America. So would Jethro Tull.

When This was released in the US on 3rd February 1969, it reached just number sixty-two in the US Billboard. This was seen as a success by Island Records in Britain and Reprise in America. Jethro Tull had made inroads into the most lucrative music market in the world. It was a successful start to Jethro Tull’s career, which was about to enter a period where critical acclaim and commercial success were almost ever-present. However, there was a twist in the tale.

Prior to the recording of Stand Up, Jethro Tull’s sophomore album, Mick Abrahams left the band. Mick and Ian Anderson disagreed over the future direction of Jethro Tull. The problem was, Mick wanted Jethro Tull to stick with blues rock. Ian Anderson realised there was no real future in blues rock. He wanted to take Jethro Tull in different directions, exploring a variety of musical genres. So Mick left Jethro Tull and was replaced by Michael Barre. Neither Mick nor Michael realised  that Jethro Tull’s sophomore album Stand Up would be a game changer for the band.


Stand Up.

Following the departure of Mick Abrahams, who was replaced by Michael Barre work began on Jethro Tull’s sophomore album. It would be very different to This Was. 

Stand Up was a much more eclectic album. Ian Anderson, who was now the primary songwriter, penned nine of the ten tracks. He drew inspiration from everything from blues rock, Celtic, classical, folk and rock. The ten tracks became Stand Up, which was recorded over three months in 1969.

Recording of Stand Up took place at Morgan Studios and Olympic Studios. The sessions began at Morgan Studios on the 17th April 1969. Unlike many bands in the late sixties, Jethro Tull were a disciplined and organised band. Each morning, they arrived at the studios around 9am, and would work until 5pm. By then, they would worked on at least one, but more likely two songs. This disciplined and organised approach worked. Before long, the early sessions produced A New Day Yesterday, Back To The Family, Fat Man and Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square. Everything was going well until April 24th, when Jethro Tull were told that Morgan Studios was double booked.

Olympic Studios was free, so Jethro Tull made the journey to South London. It was well worthwhile, with Jethro Tull recording Bourée during their brief stay at Olympic Studios. The next day, April 25th, Jethro Tull returned to Morgan Studios.

Recording continued through to May 1969. Stand Up was almost finished. Three months later, Jethro Tull briefly reconvened at Morgan Studios in August 1969. Soon, Stand Up was ready for release in September 1969. Before that, critics had their say on Stand Up.

Before the release of Stand Up in September 1969, reviews of the album were positive. The musicianship and production were praised. So were Ian Anderson’s lyrics. Some of the songs dealt with his relationship with his parents. Especially on Back To The Family and For A Thousand Mothers. Other songs, including Fat Man and Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square, are best described as observational poetry. Then on We Used To Know, Ian Anderson remembers the early days of the band as they struggled to make a breakthrough. Ian Anderson it seemed, was already maturing as a songwriter. Meanwhile, Jethro Tull’s music was beginning to evolve.

Whilst there was still a blues rock sound on Stand Up, Jethro Tull were expanding their musical palette. Elements of Celtic, classical, folk and rock can be heard throughout the album. The blues rock of This Was, can be heard on A New Day Yesterday and Nothing Is Easy. Elsewhere, Jethro Tull stretch their legs musically. Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square combines elements of traditional Celtic with folk music. This folk sound features on Fat Man and Reasons For Waiting. However, on Bouree Back To The Family and Look Into The Sun Jethro Tull move towards folk rock. It’s combined with a more traditional rock sound on We Used To Know and  For A Thousand Mothers. This new and more eclectic sound struck a nerve with critics and record buyers.

On its release in September 1969, Stand Up reached number twenty in the US Billboard 200 Charts and number twenty in Britain. This resulted not just in the start of Jethro Tull’s first gold disc of their career and the beginning of a golden period in their career. 

Ironically, Jethro Tull were more popular in America than in Britain, where record buyers never seemed to ‘get’ their music. That was the case from their debut This Was and the followup Stand Up right though to their progressive rock years, and then when they reinvented themselves as a folk rock group. This was another chapter in Jethro Tull’s career, just like Stand Up was.

Stand Up was Jethro Tull’s sophomore album, and is underrated and oft-overlooked from the chameleon like band who went on to become one of the most successful and innovative British rock bands. Part of their success was their determination to constantly reinvent their music and innovate. This they succeeded in doing on Stand Up, which Jethro Tull released fifty years ago in 1969.

Jethro Tull Release Stand Up In 1969.


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