Martin Barre on Jethro Tull's Changes

The image of Ian Anderson standing on one leg while playing some fleet-fingered flute is forever associated with Jethro Tull.
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The image of Ian Anderson standing on one leg while playing some fleet-fingered flute is forever associated with Jethro Tull. So much so, it overshadows the exceptional guitarist in Tull’s lineup: Martin Barre. When Tull folded in 2014, Barre was free to pursue music with a much heavier emphasis on the 6-string—which is exactly what he did on his solo album, Order of Play [Edifying Records] that features live, “one take” reworkings of Tull classics. It also triggered some memories, such as the 1970-1971 period when Led Zeppelin and Tull were both recording at Island Studios, London.

“We’d locked ourselves away in the studio—us doing Aqualung, and them working on Led Zeppelin IV—and I hadn’t seen Jimmy Page at all,” explains Barre. “Finally, he walked into the control room to say hello, just as I was recording the solo to ‘Aqualung.’ Now, in those days, if you didn’t get a guitar solo in one or two takes, it might become a flute solo. It was, ‘Go in there and do it or else.’ And here was Jimmy waving like mad—‘Hey, Martin!’—and I’m thinking, ‘I can’t wave back, or I’m going to blow the solo!’”

Barre also believes the early Jethro Tull rhythm section of bassist Glenn Cornick and drummer Clive Bunker could have had a longer tenure in the band.

“I think that every change we made wasn’t necessarily for the better,” he admits. “I’m a great advocate of ‘If it ain’t broke, it doesn’t need fixing.’ It’s too easy to think you need the best virtuoso players in your band, but I look for personality as much as musicality.”

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