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