on 23 April 2014
A life-long JT fan, I approached this (and indeed the last) CD with caution. The first thing one can't help to notice, though, is the quality of the whole package: production values are exemplary in all categories! The care and attention to detail puts many other new CDs to shame. Is the music any good? Yes, it's excellent. Is it as good as TAAB1 or Aqualung? Of course not. After repeated listenings I don't find this recording as loveable as TAAB2, but you can't deny it's good music. Ian never had the voice of a rock vocalist and he was never bothered about catchy choruses (although he managed some over the years), but in the studio he still does a pretty decent job as a singer. Anyone who criticises that the music is nothing new misses the point: This album deliberately quotes previous JT tunes and obviously refers back to the glory days of prog rock. The lyrical concept is breathtaking and the complexity of the musical arrangements is familiar and - to my mind still - unrivalled in contemporary rock music. He broke fans' hearts by ditching Martin on guitar, but give the man some respect: His vision for his music is still impressive. Enjoy, there may never be anything comparable again!
on 12 October 2014
Im going to have to listen too this for a few years to see if it will get better. Not excellent, not thrilling. Some tracks are similar to the earlier Tull works, others not. And spoken word music ....???? Just plain no.
As Ian Anderson himself says
'Homo Erraticus – for that is the title of the next epic voyage into the Progressive Rock pantheon of strangeness. Old lags like me are supposed to fade away with the occasional revival or best-of tour in comfortable, familiar places. But out with a bang, I say. No comfort zone repetition and cozy ride into the final sunset. Turn up the wick. Burn a little brighter. Take on the impossible and take a trip. A wild river raft ride down the canyons of the Far Side.'
So that pretty much sums up Tulls latest work .Progressige certainly, but maybe a journey too far to the point of being unlikeable. We will just have to catch up.
on 16 April 2014
I like this album. I wasn't convinced about TAAB2 but this is a return to form in my opinion. Lyrically it is ambitious, telling the story of Britain from pre-history to the future in just one disc, each track dealing with a different aspect. For example track one concerns migration and starts with the first Britons traipsing across the swampy Doggerland (later to be covered by the North Sea) from mainland Europe and finishes with the flow of migration reversed as the British re-colonise Europe in the 1960s with the advent of air travel and the package holiday. Musically, even though it is sold as an Ian Anderson solo album, this is much more Tullish than other solo efforts like The Secret Life of Birds, Rupi's Dance or Divinities. Indeed tracks like "Doggerland" would be completely at home on the Stormwatch album The musicians are top notch, and according to Anderson's commentary on the accompanying DVD, come from a classical or jazz tradition rather than folk or rock but that doesn't stop guitarist Florian Opahle channelling Martin Barre on occasions.
A genuinely interesting album, cleverly crafted lyrics, beautifully played and, like the best concept albums, it is very well presented in hard back digibook with background to the work as well as artwork and lyrics. The additional DVD has a subtle 5.1 surround mix by Jakko Jakszyk which adds to the listening experience.
on 19 April 2014
So what's the verdict on 'Homo Erraticus', the ambitious, bold and eagerly awaited new concept album from Ian Anderson and his band? This is a difficult album for a Jethro Tull fan to review with any objectivity, as its release coincides with the formal announcement that Jethro Tull as a band (as opposed to a repertoire of music) is no more. Of course, we all knew that from the relative lack of new activity over the past ten years. It became clear in the late 1990s that Ian Anderson was starting to save his best new songwriting material for his solo albums. The other band members must have known then, or at least suspected, that the game was up. Still, it is sad to have it formally confirmed. Tull had survived longer than most of their peer group from the late 1960s, and the world of popular music will mourn their passing as a cohesive unit.
Against this background, there will inevitably be a temptation to benchmark this new solo venture from Anderson against Tull's best work from the past. This sets the bar very high indeed. Is 'Homo Erraticus' as inspired and brilliant as 'Thick as a Brick' or 'Passion Play'? Of course not. Does this really matter? No - it is surely enough that Anderson still has the energy and creativity to even consider making a full-blown concept album at the age of 66. That it happens to be a very good one is an added bonus.
The most striking thing about 'Homo Erraticus' is that it is clearly a Jethro Tull album in all but name - much more so than any of Anderson's previous solo ventures. In fact, it is probably the best Tull album that could possibly be made without the involvement of the incomparable Martin Barre. It is sad that Martin is no longer a member of the band, but there is no doubt that this is a bona fide album from the Tull repertoire, with the authentic, unique progressive rock sound that characterised the group's best work of the 1970s. Compared to Thick as a Brick 2, the album presents a harder-rocking, more intricately woven sound. In this sense, it is more like 'Roots to Branches' than any of Anderson's previous solo albums. The band really swings and sounds far more spontaneous than on TAAB 2. The musical arrangements are also more richly ornamented, the sound production vastly superior. (This album really does deserve to be heard on a good Hi-Fi system.) There is more musical detail, and the ideas are generally fresher and full of surprise. It is an album that repays repeated listening, as there is far too much to take in on a first hearing. The melodic lines are also intriguing - you're unlikely to be humming them after a first listen, but they hook you in and you want to start listening to the album again as soon as it's finished. This is the hallmark of all great Tull music.
After reading some critical reviews here on Amazon, I approached this album with relatively low expectations of Ian Anderson's voice, but I was pleasantly surprised. He is on good form throughout, despite the fact that some of the material is lyrically very challenging.
On balance, 'Homo Erraticus' probably deserves a 5 star rating. Musically, it is the most powerful and dynamic album Anderson has made since 'Roots to Branches', whilst the grandeur and ambition of its concept and lyrical ideas actually surpass that album and are much closer in spirit to TAAB and Passion Play. If I have awarded it 4 stars rather than 5, it is because some of the songs seem a bit weighed down by the wordiness of Anderson's lyrics. This has been a problem on a number of his recent CDs, starting with 'The Secret Language of Birds' in 2000. It is not that the lyrics are obtuse; the issue is that they don't always sit well on the musical line, giving rise to a sense of over-crowding in the vocal delivery. (Joni Mitchell's songwriting often suffers from a similar problem.) I would like to give Ian some friendly advice. This band really knows how to rock. Allow them to stretch out and extemporise. You don't need to be singing all the time. The lyrics are, of course, supremely literate, as we have come to expect of Anderson. But it would do no harm for him to give his voice a rest occasionally and the band more space. The instrumental passages are superb and offer some of the best moments on the album, indeed (in the case of the stupendous 'Tripudium ad Bellum'), some of the best moments in the entire Tull catalogue.
Minor quibbles aside, 'Homo Erraticus' is solid testament to Ian Anderson's enduring genius as a musician and composer, after an amazing forty seven years in the music business. The flow of melodic invention continues unabated, like a mountain stream from an unknown infinite source, truly astounding for someone who has been writing and playing music continuously for over four decades. No-one else has such a total command of the sonic possibilities of rock music, qualities which can - in the right hands - give it a truly orchestral character, capable of expressing profound ideas and emotions. In essence, this is a suite of songs cleverly linked by common lyrical and musical themes, rather than a collection of individual songs, a point some of the one-line, one-star reviews posted on Amazon to drag down the overall rating seem to have missed. I think Jethro Tull fans are really going to like this album, and I'm looking forward to hearing it performed live in London in late May.
Postscript: 'Homo Erraticus' is every bit as impressive in live performance as it is on record. As for the album itself, it is challenging initially, but continues to get better with each fresh listen. A late classic from the underrated wandering minstrel of British popular music.
An interesting and enjoyable album from the irrepressible former Tull leader and his new band. I agree with others that this is a much more fully rounded band album that TAAB2 with some great guitar and keyboard contributions and some trademark flute licks to please die hard fans. Perhaps less acoustic guitar than i'd like but the singing is more than adequate and does justice to Anderson's clever lyrical concept and there are some memorable themes and motifs throughout to raise it above the level of a album of songs. However gone seem the days when Anderson could conjure up the great infectious jingles and phrases that you couldn't get out of your head for days. Very little in the way of hummable anthems here but lots of skillful interplay and tightly constructed compositions. It will be played regularly but not as often as Thick as a Brick, Passion Play, Benefit, Stand Up, Heavy Horses ....
on 20 April 2014
I think the following observations might be a criticism of my deteriorating musical ears however, like TAAB2 before, i have found it difficult to maintain my concentration when listening to Home Erraticus. Yes the music is of the highest quality and I.A. continues to write insightful and playful lyrics. However after 6 attempts to 'internalise' the music i am left with the emotion of 'nodding approval but unlikely to play the the album again anytime soon'.
Other reviewers have noted some strong melodic motifs and memorable flute solos however, for me, i've heard it all before. Thinking back to the last substantial Tull album 'Roots To Branches'...some 20 years later the songs are etched into my memory. The Eastern flavour of the album lent itself to strong rhythmic patterns therefore felt very much a 'band' album. Maybe I.A. needs an equal partner that can reign in certain excesses...two heads are maybe better than one!
Despite my reservation we should celebrate the continuing idiosyncrasies of I.A. and cherish not only past glories but his continuance in presenting music that still challenges.
on 18 January 2015
The only Tull song I was familiar with was Locomotive Breath. I saw a rock hits of the 70s show on Sky which included a Tull song and googled Ian Anderson. On WIKI, this album was described as being well received so I bought it on a whim. As a rabid a Purple fan, and a fan of Blackmore's Night I kinda found this album pleased me on both the Rocky and olde worlde fronts. Folk, rock, and metal all mingle on this album. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The music's good and the lyrics are excellently thought provoking. As an introduction, for me, to the works of Ian Anderson it has made me want to buy more. I can say no more than that. Try it.
on 16 April 2014
I like this album.
To be fair, I'm yet to come across an Ian Anderson album that I didn't like but if I'm honest his last few offerings are gathering a bit of dust on my CD shelf. It's not that they're bad albums ... it's just that after the intial couple of listens I don't feel myself compelled to give them another spin.
This album is different. It's got a bit more oomf to it than his last few. It's got a good mix of quirky tunes and clever lyrics. The electric guitars are more pronounced. It's closer to that hard to define earthy, celticy, muscular music that characterises a lot of the 70s Tull stuff than anything he's brought out in the last decade and a half at least. I love the cover design, the artwork, the lettering, the sleeve notes, the packaging. A lot of thought has gone into this one.
I just wish he could still sing.
I think the main reason Ian Anderson's recent albums tend to sound a bit samey is because of the very limited vocal range he now has. On most of the songs here he uses the slightly sing song almost spoken word style he's developed, which is ok but ... well, there's nothing you're really going to find yourself singing along to here.
Still, the tunes are great and the lyrics ... well, no one else really writes lyrics like Ian Anderson do they? The album needs a good few listens to really appreciate but it's worth the effort. Nice one Mr Anderson!
on 17 March 2015
another astonishing album after more than 45 years, unbelievable. Of course Ian Anderson is not Jethro Tull nor mr. Tull as fans like to adress him but he is such an important band of that band. Already he has proven to be able to work outside the bandformat with earlier soloalbums lke "Rupi Dance" and "Secret Language of Birds", which were execellent. Now he released another one under his own monniker and although it is next to impossible NOT to sound as Jethro Tull, it sure bears some resemblance, it is unique all the way through. Not by purpose I listened tot the JT Songs from the Wood album before and the first track Doggerland fits easily in. From thereof 13 other songs (and a spoken word track) take you by the hand with al kinds of music, folk to rock, tot the grand finale Dead Reckoning, which is superb (and closes with a small folkish tune). It takes only 2 to 3 listenings to become familiair with Homo Erracticus. You get the impression that you know tihis album for years. It simply is great. Anderson is a truly gifted musician but the other instrumentalist are equally qualified to the job. Their playing is strong througout and solid. The production clear as glass. Who says good music is not made anymore? I am a fan of the seventies but here we are in 2014/2015 with a convincing album which beckons for repeated listening.