Into the belly of the beast

Iain re­counts the ge­n­e­sis of his iconic al­bum art for Jethro Tull’s The Broadsword and the Beast

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Iain Mccaig -

Iain McCaig was free­lanc­ing in Lon­don when his agent con­tacted him about cre­at­ing an al­bum cover for his favourite band, Jethro Tull. He met lead singer Ian An­der­son and the rest of the band at their stu­dio in Ful­ham.

Based on an un­fin­ished song An­der­son played, Iain drew a “mad bard in a mir­ror, many beast­ies perched on his shoul­der and blow­ing mu­sic in his ear.” A last-minute ad­di­tion to the back cover was one of the winged crea­tures play­ing a flute while perched on one leg, An­der­son’s sig­na­ture stage move. The singer de­cided he wanted that im­age on the cover. “Then he handed me a sec­ond song he’d just writ­ten called Broadsword,” Iain says. “The song be­gan with the im­age of a ship, its ‘dark sail on the hori­zon,’ ris­ing to­wards us out of a storm. I com­bined both ideas – the beastie and the ship – and hav­ing just read The Voy­age of the Dawn Treader, I put the storm and the ship in a pic­ture frame and had the ocean splash­ing to life around the beastie, who was now lean­ing on a broadsword.”

The band set­tled on the ti­tle The Broadsword and the Beast, so Iain’s art fit­ted per­fectly. “It was also the first time that I started to un­der­stand wa­ter­colour. It’s hard to judge the merit of those im­ages, like my de­signs for Darth Maul and Queen Ami­dala, but it was a treat to dis­cover that, al­most 30 years later, Jethro Tull was still us­ing the beastie at their shows.”

“This Jethro Tull al­bum cover has se­cret mes­sages hid­den among the an­cient runes, and less se­cretly, Beastie portraits of all five band mem­bers.” Broadsword and the beast

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