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Baker's Dozen

Gold Dust Of Our Musical Worth: Ian Anderson's Favourite Albums
Barnaby Smith , June 6th, 2013 06:47

Ahead of a one-off show at the Royal Albert Hall, the Jethro Tull man picks out his thirteen finest albums

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Ian Anderson has, on plenty of occasions over the years, been open and detailed about the fact he never really fit in with the Sixties. A general abstainer from drugs, womanising and political activism, he is perhaps unique from the era in creating an institution unto himself with Jethro Tull, the evolving artistic crusade that has taken him through swirling eccentricity, superbly satisfying heavy rock and the challenging complexities of prog.

And that refusal to fit into any wider trends is reflected in his 13 choices here. Not only do we have that other great Sixties weirdo Roy Harper along with the more confronting Captain Beefheart, but such bizarrely mainstream selections as Meat Loaf and Alfie Boe.

The other result of Anderson calmly, and as an observer, negotiating the Sixties was that he never addled himself or burnt himself out with the excesses of the day. Therefore, he is startlingly eloquent as he approaches his 66th birthday, somewhat formidable in conversation yet witty and engaged, and with a polymath’s cultural knowledge.

So despite producing one of the decade’s finest albums in Stand Up as well as one of the most recognisable singles in ‘Living In The Past’, he is perhaps not a typical example of that age.

“I think most of us are products not so much of the time we’re born in, but more of genetics and our parental upbringing,” he says. “I don’t think I would have been a very different character if I’d been born in the mid-1800s, except that I’d probably be dead because they didn’t have penicillin back then and I got peritonitis when I was eight.

“We are much more creatures of our genetic propensity than most of us like to think about. We really do owe a lot to our mother, our father and our ancestors gone by.

“I don’t think I’m really a product of the age, but I’m glad that I grew up in that era because as an archetypal baby boomer, the world was reshaping itself in a very profound way and in a way it never had before, because I was born into the age of technology. I was born into the age of television and radio and media, so the first 20 or 30 years of my life were very profound. When I was 22, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, and I had known since the first Sputnik bleeped its way across the far horizon that we were entering a new age. The industrial age was a very important one and preceded me by a hundred years or more, but the age of technology has been an extraordinarily exciting adventure for everybody.”

Anderson’s 13 albums were not chosen by casting his mind back through the decades to recall which records affected him the most. Instead, with typical pragmatism, he went by a process that makes these albums highly relevant to Anderson’s present.

“I chose them by reference to the walk-in music that I play,” he says, referring to the waiting time before Jethro Tull appear on stage at concerts. “I’ve always chosen the music I think the audience would either like or ought to hear. People are sitting in their seats for ten minutes, half an hour or 45 minutes waiting for the act to come on stage, and it’s important that I’m not playing them the music that is the mindless choice of some monitor engineer or house technician.

“[For this list] I just referred to the current playlist of walk-in music, because those are songs that I have carefully researched in the months gone by as being representative of stuff that I think is good, wholesome, intelligent music that people can enjoy or at least suffer in silence to.”

Ian will be performing both Thick As A Brick 1 and 2 at a special one-off performance at the Royal Albert Hall on June 30; for further details, head here. Click on Ian's picture below to begin scrolling his choices


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Jun 6, 2013 3:05pm

good god, man... of all the albums floating in the sea, you chose these?

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Jun 6, 2013 3:09pm

It’s almost as if people’s brains can only go as far as their gonads.

Maybe the best quote of all time.

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Charlene McCarthy
Jun 6, 2013 3:21pm

A fine list from a legendary musician. Shows you the HUGE difference between a musician and artist like Ian and a wan fraud like Stephen Pastel. Crazy though, imagine if Ian Anderson or the lamented Mick Abrahams (best Jewfro in British rock or blues!) had the "genius" of Stereolab to draw from. I'm impressed especially that Ian can appreciate Zappa without either reverence or snideness. FORERVER PLANXTY!!!!

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Jun 6, 2013 3:23pm

J.B. Lenoir and Meat "Containment" Loaf TAAB LAMF

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Jun 6, 2013 3:41pm


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Jun 6, 2013 3:43pm

Chooses a Meatloaf album of all things....because he likes one song.

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Jun 6, 2013 3:48pm

...and The Spin Doctors! If ever there was an insufferable toilet flush of a band, it was the Spin Doctors.

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Jun 6, 2013 8:49pm

theQuietus, you’re the best. Thanks for providing such good content every day. Slowly becoming my favorite site... [ I know I’m sounding like a spam comment but what the heck]

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Jun 6, 2013 10:08pm

Wow... Foreigner, Spin Doctors, and bloody Meatloaf, no less. That it is Bat out of Hell NUMBER FRIGGIN' TWO is just the icing on the shitcake. And all this from Ian Anderson - hardly my favorite musician, but still someone respectable in terms of talent and originality. WTF?

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Aaron C
Jun 6, 2013 11:42pm

In reply to Charlene McCarthy:

Bollocks to your description of Stephen Pastel as a 'wan fraud'...I'm no huge fan of his band but his selections revealed a life's journey as a music fan, with him picking favourite records by people he'd worked with or had simply inspired him. Ian Anderson has done EXACTLY the same thing here - and fair play to him, even if he did pick The Spin Doctors and Meatloaf - so slagging one artist off just because his choices don't meet your taste while praising the other is churlish and myopic.

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Jun 7, 2013 2:45am

i concur with the negative comments. but it's no surprise: Ian's so arrogant (remember his comment to Led Zep that he should replace their vocalist) he only makes the effort to recall passing fancies, and acts like we should revere them. hence, meat loaf on this list, for the stated reason. i love early Jethro Tull, but Ian's arrogance has always been so extreme it's actually amusing.

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really don't mind
Jun 7, 2013 12:13pm

I don’t see what’s so wrong with him acknowledging that Meat Loaf has one really good song and that, to his ears, the Spin Doctors sounded fresh and vital on their first album? Perhaps it’s arrogant not to feel guilty about such pleasures but at least it’s not snobbish.

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Jun 7, 2013 12:41pm

ha ha, apart from the beefheart one this is just like looking through the vinyl in every shit charity shop in every shit town in the UK, hilarious.

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Andrew Thomas
Jun 7, 2013 8:13pm

"Frank was a bit of a one-trick pony as a guitarist"

Are you fucking mental?

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Jun 8, 2013 10:17am

He's got the worst taste in music of any musician previously featured.

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Jun 9, 2013 12:06am

jeeesus keeeeerist! depressing actually. what a crap mind he must have

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Jun 26, 2013 4:59pm

Old Ian is deliberately being a bit obtuse with some of these choices, I think, in order to show off his superior perceptions. His assessment of Zappa doesn't evince much familiarity with the subject at all, and while Vliet certainly was an odd, intractable human being, his and the Magic Band's output dwarfs Jethro Tull's in terms of artistic power and vision.

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