Calliandra/KScope [Release date: 18.04.14]
Ian Anderson has certainly been getting around in recent times. A Prog God in award ceremonies and of course we now know why he reserves his firmest handshakes for trusted members. Of his inner circle that is.
And recently we have learned what we all suspected: Jethro Tull will not exist as we used to know it. It will be left to that band’s constituent members to perpetuate the back catalogue.
Chatting last year to Martin Barre for GRTR! it is evident that there was some chicanery going on when both he and Ian Anderson decided the Tull format in its present incarnation had run its course. But then, unbeknown to Barre, Anderson was readying TAAB2. Hardly transparent.
Through the annals of time, Tull has always been associated with Anderson but in truth Martin Barre has been as much a part of that band’s continuing success and durability.
Given that Ian Anderson has been struggling vocally for many years now, the band in a sense became more important. But, having lost the power of his voice and the loyalty of his chief lieutenant, perhaps Ian Anderson has now also lost the plot?
And with the latest album reviving the spectre of his alter-ego Gerald Bostock, one is led to that conclusion. It’s just more of the same and, moreover, Martin Barre isn’t in the building. TAAB2 was a novel extension. TAAB3 is tiresome. It’s only redeemed by an excellent instrumental, ‘Tripudium Ad Bellum’, ‘After The Wars’, and ‘New Blood, Old Veins’. The latter track though is only 2:32.
Wrapped up in the intricate wordplay I can’t help thinking that the spectre of Ian Dury prevails during songs like ‘Enter The Uninvited’ where Anderson name checks all the “modern day evils” like Facebook and West Wing. It made me think also: “Gerald Bostock, I didn’t like you in 1972 and I don’t like you now. So shut the f–k up”.
It sounds to me like old man’s music for bitter old men with Anderson cast as the thinking rock fan’s Betjeman. Musically it’s fine, but the over-powering lyrical themes – whilst supremely crafted – are a little hackneyed. You will need the album booklet and a strong cup of coffee…
Anderson/Tull have always made – in the main – great music that has prevailed through umpteen musical trends and they’ve even played Metallica at their own game (well sort of).
It seems now that awards and accolades notwithstanding, Anderson is settling in to boring old age. Martin Barre has said that by mutual agreement Tull needed to be revitalised but Anderson/Bostock whilst sounding like Tull isn’t the hoped for kick-start to the process of reinvention. ***1/2
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Gig review (2 May 2014)
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