Ian Anderson - Rupi's Dance
With entirely characteristic whimsy, the title-track of Rupi's Dance
refers to Ian Anderson's little black kitten and its bewitching effect on him: "Dainty feet circles inscribe / Upon the frozen parquet / Arabesque in compound time / Stately Pavane or Bourée". Evidently, this is an album of personal reflections, featuring playful comments on topics as diverse as photo processing outside Paddington Station ("Photo Shop"), the terrors of playing in front of an orchestra ("A Raft of Penguins") and memories of school exams ("Two Short Planks"--as in "thick as").
From the man who once wrote a rambling concept album about a tramp, such lyrical legerdemain is only to be expected; as, of course, is the deliriously high standard of musicianship, especially notable on the instrumental-only tracks "Eurology" and "Griminelli's Lament". As with his previous solo outing The Secret Language of Birds, Anderson plays pretty much everything that can be blown or plucked (or squeezed in the case of the accordion), with a few pals to help out with percussion and keyboards, plus a string quartet to add class on selected tracks. The result may very well be just Jethro Tull unplugged--or is it that Tull are just Ian Anderson's electric band these days? From either perspective, Rupi's Dance won't disappoint. --Mark Walker