Take Five: Ian Anderson Beyond Jethro Tull

With due respect to the various superb musicians who have passed through the ranks of the band – guitarist Martin Barre most notable among them – for more than a half century now, Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull have been virtually synonymous. Though singer, flautist and guitarist Anderson named his group after the inventor of the seed drill, Jethro Tull has always been his band, reflecting his musical vision.

But Scotland-born Anderson has embarked on side projects more than a few times during his illustrious (and still-thriving) musical career. Here is an eclectic assortment of five of the many instances in which Ian Anderson worked outside of the framework of Jethro Tull.

Brian Protheroe – “Under the Greenwood Tree” from I/You (1976)
Brian Protheroe is a well-known British actor, with roles playing characters by Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare. A singer as well – he starred in the rock musical Leave Him to Heaven in London – Protheroe released four albums in the 1970s. The third of those, I/You, featured words by Shakespeare set to music. Ian Anderson lent both his flute and voice to this track, and he brought along Jethro Tull drummer Barriemore Barlow for the recording session.

Honeymoon Suite – “All Along You Knew” from The Big Prize (1985)
Early ‘80s Niagara Falls, Ontario band Honeymoon Suite played a kind of mainstream hard rock with elements of glam and new wave. Their debut single, 1984’s “New Girl Now” reached #7 on the U.S. Rock singles chart. “Feel it Again,” the spotlight single from the band’s sophomore release did nearly as well, and would be Honeymoon Suite’s sole single to make it onto the U.S. Top 40. With an Ian Anderson guesting on flute, “All Along You Knew” was one of four singles from that album, and while it didn’t chart on this side of the Niagara River, it did reach #65 in the band’s home country.

Men Without Hats – “On Tuesday” from Pop Goes the World (1987)
Another Canadian group, synthpoppers Men Without Hats are best known for their 1982 bouncy hit, “Safety Dance.” Subsequent releases didn’t sell quite as well, though the band was admired by critics. Men Without Hats’ third album Pop Goes the World would spawn three singles, but it would be this deep album cut that featured guest flautist Ian Anderson.

Ian Anderson – “Man of the World” from Rattlesnake Guitar: The Music of Peter Green (1997)
The late Peter Green was a masterful and original guitarist. After taking the place of Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Green formed his own group, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. He remained with the group through its blues year, before difficulties got the best of him for an extended period. This late ‘90s all-star tribute album featured Ian Anderson in a then-rare solo turn, covering Green’s classic “Man of the World.”

Roy Harper – “These Fifty Years” from The Dream Society (1998)
Equal parts genius and eccentric, Roy Harper has made a long string of superb (if deeply idiosyncratic) albums. Despite the quality of his solo output, Harper is best known as the subject of the Led Zeppelin song “Hats off to (Roy) Harper” and as guest lead vocalist on Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine.” But his own music is well worth seeking out. This ambitious and lengthy track – featuring Ian Anderson on flute – is from one of Harper’s most acclaimed releases.