Picture sleeve for the Jethro Tull single "The Witch's Promise" b/w "Teacher".
Jethro Tull evolved out of a seven-piece white soul group called the John Evan Band (later called the John Evan Smash), in which Ian Anderson, Glen Cornick and John Evan were all members. Based initially in Blackpool, they moved to London to try to obtain more bookings, but short of money, most of the members moved back to Blackpool, leaving behind Anderson and Cornick. They joined forces with blues guitarist Mick Abrahams and his friend, drummer Clive Bunker. The band had trouble getting repeat bookings, and resorted to changing their names in order to continue playing the London club circuit; a member of the staff of their booking agent supplied the name Jethro Tull and it stuck because that happened to be the name they were using when a club owner liked them enough to book them a second time. Soon they were signed to Chrysalis Records (a subsidiary of Island Records), and their first album “This Was”, was released in 1968. Shortly after the release of this LP, Mick Abrahams left the band. Future Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi briefly filled in for Abrahams, but soon the band had found a more permanent replacement: Martin Barre. The second album, “Stand Up” (1969), became the band’s only number one album in the U.K. and branched out further from the blues than the first album, establishing Jethro Tull as a progressive rock band. The band added John Evan as a keyboardist and recorded their third album, “Benefit” (1970). Today’s featured single, “The Witch’s Promise” b/w “Teacher”, was released as a stand-alone single in 1969, and “The Witch’s Promise” did not initially appear on “Benefit” (although it did later appear on a CD release of the album), but “Teacher” did, although the version on the single is a completely different take, arrangement and mix than the version on the album.
“The Witch’s Promise” continues the band’s move away from the blues, and the track can perhaps best be described as folk music. Ian Anderson’s flute and acoustic guitar open the song, and overall the song has a rather muted feel to it. The percussion is very light, and the keyboards are present, but clearly in the background. The rhythm section is hardly there at all, and the track is clearly driven by the acoustic guitar and the flute (the flute plays an especially prominent role in the beginning and end of the song). The lyrics give the song even more of a pastoral feel: Lend me your ear while I call you a fool/You were kissed by a witch one night in the wood/And later insisted your feelings were true/The witch’s promise was coming/Believing he listened while laughing you flew”. The lyrics seem to refer to three distinct entities: the person addressed in the second person (“You were kissed by a witch”), the witch, and a third person, referred to only as “he” or “him”. The person to which the song is addressed, one assumes, is a woman who falsely told a man (the “he” of the song) that she loved him; the singer warns her that what goes around comes around and he will ultimately leave her (“don’t you wait up for him; he’s going to be late”. At least that’s my interpretation of the song. The rhyme structure of the song seems to be: ABACA, with the first, third and fifth lines rhyming most of the time, but not always.
.”]“Teacher” is more standard fare for Jethro Tull, if such a thing exists. It starts off with a simple riff which nonetheless gives the band a solid foundation on which to build their sound. Bunker has much more to do here on the drum track. On the single version, Anderson’s flute is not heard (nor is the organ); instead, the guitar parts are more prominent. The “lesson” of the “teacher” referred to in the lyrics is not a sublime revelation, but I suppose it’s still a useful one: “Jump up, look around/Find yourself some fun/No sense in sitting there hating everyone/No man’s an island and his castle isn’t home/The nest is full of nothing when the bird has flown.” What’s great is that apparently the teacher is hipper than his student: “So I took a journey/Threw my world into the sea/With me went the teacher/Who found fun instead of me” – something to which someone as decidedly un-hip as me can relate. The song is definitely less restrained than “The Witch’s Promise” while still sounding rather folk-like and not at all resembling the proto-metal they would release in their salad days in the 1970’s. It’s still a very solid song – I like the lead guitar work particularly – and at least in the United States, this song is much more recognizable than “The Witch’s Promise”, as it has received much airplay on FM radio. [This might not be true in the U.K., where “The Witch’s Promise” single peaked at #4.] In addition, it can easily be argued that “Teacher” is the better song (it’s more accessible to someone who isn’t a die-hard Jethro Tull fan anyhow, at least in my opinion), and thus this might even qualify as a true double-A side.
This single (catalog #: WIP 6077) did in fact have a picture sleeve. It’s my new default pic, in fact (as of 4-18-2008). And it’s a pretty nice picture sleeve, in my opinion, with the red tint. The label was a green Chrysalis label (with the Chrysalis logo with the butterfly at the bottom and the song title at the top). I’m not sure if this was the standard label for U.K. releases. The single was produced by Terry Ellis and Ian Anderson.
Jethro Tull performing The Witch’s Promise in 1970
Portuguese picture sleeve for "The Carpet Crawlers" single.
Genesis was formed in 1967 when Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks were students at Charterhouse School in Godalming. The original lineup consisted of Peter Gabriel (vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitar), Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass and guitar), and Chris Stewart (drums). The band (minus Stewart) was conceived of as merely a songwriting partnership, but they took to performing when they could not find anyone willing to perform their material. The band was signed to Decca Records in 1968 by Charterhouse alumnus Jonathan King. They released two unsuccessful singles in 1968, at a time when the band’s output consisted of psychedelic pop similar to the early Bee Gees and other bands of the era. After the first single, “The Silent Sun” b/w “That’s Me” was released, Chris Stewart left the band and was replaced by John Silver. In spite of the lack of success of the early singles, Decca opted to release an album by the band, recorded in August 1968 when the band was still in school (but on a school holiday). The resulting album, “From Genesis to Revelation” (1969), also did poorly on initial release. Silver was replaced by John Mayhew before recording began on the next album, “Trespass” (1970), which was also the band’s debut album on Charisma Records (with ABC/Impulse as the original U.S. distributor) and saw the band recording longer compositions and moving away from their psychedelic roots towards progressive rock. The album reached #1 in Belgium. Ill health and recurring stage fright caused Phillips to leave the band in the summer of 1970, causing the band to doubt whether it could continue. The band decided to forge ahead, replacing Mayhew with Phil Collins and Phillips with Steve Barnard. The tenure of Barnard was short-lived, and he was replaced by Steve Hackett in January 1971.
The band’s next album, “Nursery Cryme” (1971), was not a hit on its initial release in the U.K. and U.S., but was an unexpected hit in Italy, where it reached #4 and helped spur Genesis’s European success. “Foxtrot” (1972) became the band’s first album to reach the U.K. Top 20 and was a hit in several European countries, although it did not chart in the United States, where the band still failed to achieve the popularity that some of their progressive rock contemporaries held in the States such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd. They released “Genesis Live” (1973) as their first live album, and reached the Top 10 in the U.K. for the first time. “Selling England by the Pound” (1973) became their highest-charting album up to that point in both the U.K. (#3) and the U.S. (#70), and also contained their first charting single in the U.K., “I Know What I Like” (#17). This was followed by the ambitious double album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” (1974), another successful LP that would turn out to be Gabriel’s last album with the band. It also spawned the single “The Carpet Crawlers” b/w “The Waiting Room (Evil Jam)”, which is today’s featured single.
The concept album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” is about a Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent named Rael living in New York City, who is swept underground to face bizarre creatures and nightmarish dangers to rescue his brother John. In this portion of the Lamb story, Rael finds himself in a red carpeted corridor, filled with kneeling people that are slowly crawling towards a red door at the end of the corridor (“The crawlers cover the floor in the red ochre corridor/For my second sight of people, they’ve more lifeblood than before/They’re moving in time to a heavy wooden door/Where the needles eye is winking, closing in on the poor”). The only way out is through the next chamber (hence, the chorus of “[w]e’ve gotta get in to get out”). Rael is able to move about freely, so he dashes past them towards the door and goes through it. Beyond the door is a table with a candle-lit feast of food on it, and beyond that, a spiral staircase that leads upwards and out of sight. This song is one of the most memorable of the Peter Gabriel era – he uses his lowest register here – and it became a minor hit as well as a fan favorite. A new version of the song was recorded in 1999, which reunited all five members from the classic Genesis era.
The B-side of this single, “Waiting Room (Evil Jam)”, is a live version of a song originally included on “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”. An eerie-sounding instrumental, “Waiting Room” represents the point in “Lamb” at which the album’s protagonist, Rael, has been left alone in a cavern by his guide, Lilywhite Lilith. A mysterious bright light comes up in the tunnel to the left of him, so intensely that it blinds him. In desperation, he hurls a stone towards the light, and the light fades just enough so that he can see again, and he catches sight of two mysterious globes before the cave collapses on him. The song is unique because it is something Genesis had never attempted up to this point and would never attempt again: a free-form improvisational jam. In the first part of the song, all musicians produce random, scary sounds. A keyboard cue signals the end of the first part and the main riff emerges from the cacophony of sound, signaling the beginning of the second part of the song – a melodic, up-tempo section. Heard in isolation, the track loses some of its potency, but “Waiting Room” complements the storyline well.
The single (catalog #: CB 251) was issued on Charisma Records in April 1975. I do not know if a picture sleeve was issued with this single, although the Portuguese release did have one (shown above). With Gabriel departing the band in 1975, the band decided to continue as a quartet, with Phil Collins taking over lead vocal duties. Genesis released “A Trick of the Tail” (1976) and “Wind and Wuthering” (1976), and the “Seconds Out” (1977) live album. This was Steve Hackett’s last album with the band, with Rutherford taking on guitar duties in the studio. The next album, “…And Then There Were Three” (1978), was the band’s first U.S. Platinum-certified album, and marked the beginning of their move away from progressive rock towards a more commercial sound. It yielded their first U.S. radio hit as well, “Follow You Follow Me”. After spending most of 1979 on hiatus, Genesis returned in 1980 with “Duke”, their most commercial album to date, and an album which contained the hits “Misunderstanding” and “Turn it on Again”. This album was followed by “Abacab” (1981), an album that featured Collins’ gated reverb drum sound, and “Three Sides Live” (1982), a live album which contained one side of studio tracks. The self-titled “Genesis” (1983) continued the trend of radio-friendly albums and contained the hits “Mama”, “That’s All”, and “Home by the Sea”. The band reached the pinnacle of their commercial success with “Invisible Touch” (1986), and returned five years later with “We Can’t Dance” (1991). When Collins left the band in 1996, Banks and Rutherford opted to continue, appointing ex-Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson as their new lead singer. The resulting album, “Calling All Stations” (1997) sold well in Europe, but did not fare as well in America, leading to the cancellation of a planned American tour, the dismissal of Wilson and the beginning of an extended hiatus for the band.
Picture sleeve for the Renaissance single "Prologue".
Renaissance was formed in January 1969 by former Yardbirds members Keith Relf (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Jim McCarty (drums, vocals) as a new group devoted to experimentation between rock, folk and classical forms. To round out the lineup, they recruited Louis Cennamo (bass guitar), John Hawken (piano), and Relf’s sister Jane as an additional vocalist. The band began touring in May 1969, before recording for their first album had begun, and released their debut album, “Renaissance”, later that year on Island Records (former Yardbird bassist Paul Samwell-Smith produced the album). While the second album was being recorded, the original lineup split up; Jim McCarty was the first to leave the band, quitting just before a European tour because he hated to fly. Keith Relf and Louis Cennamo were next, leaving to form Armageddon. Hawken kept the band going by recruiting members of his former band, The Nashville Teens (guitarist Michael Dunford, bassist Neil Korner, singer Terry Crowe, and drummer Terry Slade). This lineup recorded one track (“Mr. Pine”) and played a few concerts in 1970; a final recording session reunited the original lineup minus Hawken, with Don Shin sitting in on keyboards. The resulting album, “Illusions” (1971), was released only in Germany initially (it was released in the U.K. in 1976). In the fall of 1970, Jane Relf left the band and was replaced by American folksinger Mary Louise “Binky” Collum. John Hawken, the last remaining member of the original lineup, also left and was replaced by John Tout.
At the time, the plan was for former members Relf and McCarty to continue work with the band as non-performing members (Relf as a producer and McCarty as a songwriter). Both were present when singer Annie Haslam auditioned for the band; she would replace the departing Collum. McCarty would write several songs for the band but Relf’s involvement would be short-lived. In the meantime, new manager Miles Copeland decided to reorganize the band by focusing on its strengths, which he saw as Haslam’s voice and John Tout’s piano. Michael Dunford was recruited once again, although he was replaced in short order by Mick Parsons, who died shortly thereafter in a car accident; he in turn was replaced by Rob Hendry. This lineup was eventually rounded out by bassist Jon Camp (who joined after a succession of bass players whose tenure was short-lived) and drummer Terence Sullivan. This lineup recorded the album “Prologue” (1972), which contained the single “Prologue” b/w “Share Some Love”. This is today’s featured single.
The A-side of this single, “Prologue”, demonstrates that while Renaissance’s transition from a folk rock band to a progressive rock outfit was well underway, the transition was well underway. It also demonstrates that Copeland’s perception that Haslam’s vocals and Tout’s piano playing were the band’s main strengths was essentially correct, as they are the most distinctive features of this track. The track starts out with a piano intro, soon accompanied by Haslam’s falsetto vocals. The song has no lyrics, but it is not really an instrumental track. And it may not be what you would expect from a rock band, but in 1972, when progressive rock was starting to spread its wings, with bands like Yes, Genesis and Focus finding receptive audiences, the time had come for a band like Renaissance. And while they did not reach the lofty heights of those bands, Renaissance did have a sizeable following.
The B-side of this single, “Spare Some Love”, is an acoustic ballad reminiscent of the material from the Relf-McCarty era of the band. Hendry’s acoustic guitar opens the track, followed in short order by Haslam’s vocals: “Shadows, darkness follow quiet/Shadows, you walk besides a shadow/Strangers, people passing by/Strangers, you walk beside a stranger”. The first half of the song sounds more like a soft rock track that a band like Bread would perform, but in the second half of the song, the song starts to sound more like a prog rock tune, with a funky bass line that sounds like it could have been lifted from Yes, some nice drum rolls courtesy of Sullivan, and, of course Tout’s piano, which is conspicuously absent in the first half of the track. We also hear some great a cappella singing by Haslam, before the last verse of the song, which concludes with Sullivan’s drumming, unaccompanied by other instruments, and a fade out. “Spare Some Love” is a worthy addition to the Renaissance catalog.
This single (catalog #: 3487) was released in the U.S. on Capitol Records in 1972, the American division of Sovereign-EMI (the band’s label in the U.K.). A picture sleeve was issued with this single (shown above). Hendry left the band shortly after the album was released, and was replaced by Peter Finberg for the subsequent tour, and on a more permanent basis by Michael Dunford. This lineup would remain intact for the next six years, starting with the next album, “Ashes Are Burning” (1973). This became their first album to chart in the U.S., peaking at #171 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. They left Sovereign-EMI for BTM in 1974 (with Sire as their U.S. distributor), and released “Turn of the Cards” (1974), an album with more lush, orchestral sounds. The band was starting to gain momentum in the U.S., their next album “Scheherazade and Other Stories” (1975), peaked at #48 in the U.S. “Live at Carnegie Hall” (1976), their first live album, contained highlights from the previous four albums; “Novella” (1977) came next, its release delayed in the U.K. by the bankruptcy of their label, BTM. “A Song for All Seasons” was released the following year, this album contained “Northern Lights”, which was a Top Ten hit in the U.K. With the unionization of professional orchestra musicians that followed, it was no longer possible for the band to continue with its orchestral sound, and for the next album, “Azure d’Or” (1979), they reinvented themselves as a synthesizer-based band, which did not go over well with their fan base; the album only reached #125 in the U.S. Shortly after the tour supporting this album, John Tout left the band, as did Terrence Sullivan shortly thereafter. Subsequent albums “Camera Camera” (1981) and “Time-Line” (1983) did not garner much commercial success, with “Candid Camera” their last album that charted in the U.S. (#197). In 1985, Camp left, and Dunford and Haslam fronted an acoustic version of the band before deciding to call it quits in 1987. In the mid 1990s, both Dunford and Haslam formed bands called Renaissance with different lineups and released albums under the Renaissance name. Renaissance reformed in 1998 with four of the five members from the “classic” era (1973-79): Dunford, Haslam, Sullivan and Tout. They also recruited musicians such as Roy Wood and Mickey Simmonds to help record the album “Tuscany” (2001). A supporting tour soon followed, but the band soon became inactive. Haslam and Dunford reformed the band to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the band (the newly reformed band was called Renaissance 2009. Haslam and Dunford were the only returning members from the 1970s incarnation of the band, although several members returned from the 2001 lineup. A tour of eastern North America and Japan and the release of a three song EP followed in 2010.