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Stormwatch was to prove to be the last Tull release for four of the band members.
Bassist John Glascock had suffered congenital heart problems the year before and, following surgery, had taken time off from the band to convalesce. The live album, Bursting Out, had featured his temporary stand-in, Tony Williams, and John rejoined the band for tours and the recording of the new record in 1979.
The songs were to be a mixture of moody and dark pieces reflecting the troubled state of the economy. The oil price escalation, energy crises and other depressing world events influenced my writing and thinking.
The album was difficult to record as John’s health had taken a turn for the worse and, after three tracks had been completed, I took the difficult decision to lay him off again with the strong advice to cut down the partying and to adopt a more healthy and relaxed lifestyle. John was a happy, fun-loving individual and found it impossible to adjust. But his health seemed too precarious to allow him to continue with the late nights and heavy recording schedule.
So, much of the record was made with me playing bass and a grey cloud hanging over the whole affair. “Stormwatch” became the apt title, in a foreboding sort of way, and the end result, while being musically satisfying and embodying some of the band members best playing, left us all emotionally drained.
The subsequent tour utilised a stage set of piratical and Disneyesque proportions. A broken-down two-masted sailing ship became our stage every night and it sailed stormy waters (and freeways) across the length and breadth of the USA. Then, one night, came the sad news that John Glascock had died at home in the UK.
New bassist, David Pegg, of Fairport Convention fame, had brought new blood to the touring line-up and a new enthusiasm to match. He was to become the longest-serving Tull bassist with 16 years and the Porsche to show for it!
Barrie Barlow’s disillusionment with touring and the impact of Glascock’s death made for an increasingly difficult relationship with me although we had worked so well together on the record. But then, I am not the easiest fellow to get along with – being a bit of a bugger sometimes, in fact.
Some of Barrie’s best performances are to be found on this record and, since I had the task of playing bass, we bonded in a musical way quite different to usual. Bass-players and drummers have to have that special musical thing going and we found that extra dimension quite easily. But of course, we all would rather have had the healthy presence of John throughout the recording.
So let’s dedicate this re-mastered Stormwatch to Barrie Barlow who, in his eight years with the band, brought his dynamism, loyalty, humour and musical dedication to the 70’s band line-up and left his final and fitting mark on this great collection of songs and performances.
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