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During the hiatus in Tull’s activities following the Stormwatch album and tours, I decided to make a solo album featuring new Tull member Dave Pegg and new pal Eddie Jobson (ex UK, Zappa band and Roxy Music). Eddie brought along his drummer friend Mark Craney, with whom he had been recording his own solo album, and we set to work in the rehearsal studio with some of the new tunes I had written.
In what was to turn out to be a landmark and not-too-wise decision, I asked Martin Barre to come and play on a couple of tracks. Martin complemented the line-up perfectly and ended up playing on the whole thing. The big and orchestral piano and synth sounds of Eddie’s keyboard rig were a powerful but not dominating feature of the end result and the Jobson electric violin fitted with the folk influences that sneaked into a couple of tracks.
But it was mainly to be a foray into a more hard-edged electric and less quaint music that energised me to write and arrange the material.
But then came the surprise.
The finished album was played to the record company guys and their reaction was to strongly suggest that the record be released – not as a solo Anderson project – but as the new Jethro Tull album.
Tull drummer Barrie Barlow had gone on record as not wanting to continue as a band member anyway, and Evans and Palmer had started a new band called Tallis, to further their interest combining classical and rock music forms.
I deliberated, prevaricated and said I needed to talk to the other Tull musicians first to see where they were headed on their new projects but Chrysalis Records boss Terry Ellis went public in the press with the story that the new Tull line-up was to feature Jobson and that the other guys had been “replaced”.
Of course, to read about it in the music press was not the right or proper way for John Evans, Barrie Barlow and David Palmer to find out about the difficult matter and they were understandably and rightfully pissed off.
The A (for Anderson) album, complete with finished artwork, was duly released and we went ahead to tour with the new line-up wearing white silky parachute material jump suits and using a very 80’s hi-tech stage set. Playing most of the new material as well as some classic Tull numbers we had a great time backed up with Mark’s powerhouse drumming and with Eddie’s “special guest” blue and tighter-fitting jump suit provoking some mirth amongst the rest of us (who looked just as silly in our see-through baggy parachutes). Eddie had made it clear that he was not a new Tull member at all but just a short-term guest for a tour or two before returning to his solo projects.
This, of course, left the door open for Evans and Palmer to return but the damage was done and they went on with their own plans to record and tour with the short-lived Tallis. Barlow set about managing and producing other acts and occasionally playing with other artists. John Evans no longer plays music at all and David (now Dee Palmer) continues with his orchestral work and solo shows. Barrie still produces and manages artists.
Eddie went off to write TV music for, amongst other shows, Miami Vice while Mark returned to native South Dakota.
Mark was, sadly, to later contract a debilitating kidney disease and, although he continued to play with several artists for a while, the unsuccessful transplant for which he waited during several years, has left him in not-too-good shape and wheel-chair bound. He keeps his spirits high, however, with the help of his longstanding girlfriend and the support of many musician buddies including Tull drummer Doane Perry.
So, it would be fitting to dedicate this re-mastered version of the A album to Mark Craney, one of the nicest, laid back and professional musicians ever to have worked with us.
To Mark, all too briefly a member of the extended Tull family: the Ian Anderson solo album that never was.
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