Top positive review
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Brilliant return to form for the great Ian Anderson
on 3 October 2009
It seems absurd that no-one has felt motivated to review this on Amazon.co.uk before, so let me be the first. Released in 1995, this was the album that showed us that Anderson was back on creative turf, after the disappointments of Catfish Rising and Rock Island. A purely instrumental album, it nonetheless has strong echoes of Jethro Tull's most inspired period from 1968 to 1975. This is most evident in the quality of the melodies, which are strong and memorable throughout the album, but also in Andrew Gidding's keyboard arrangements, which complement Anderson's flute playing perfectly and bear the influence of David Palmer's inspired orchestral string arrangements of the 1970s. Anderson also deliberately expanded his range of musical influences for this album - you'll hear a lot of eastern influences, particularly in the flute parts, but also hints of African folk music in many places. As always, however, he weaves the various influences into a seamless web that doesn't sound remotely like anyone else - just Ian Anderson. No-one can do this as well as him, with the possible exception of Steve Howe who has released a string of quality instrumental albums since the break up of Yes.
This is definitely music that transcends categories. You need to listen to it in the same way that you would listen to great jazz or classical music. It didn't sell well when it was released, but if it had been played on Classic FM, for example, I'm sure it would have been a huge success as several of the tracks have a classical (baroque) flavour. But as so often, Anderson was let down by his marketing people, who seem to have decided around 1984 that Jethro Tull were a lost cause in marketing terms. A pity, because Anderson remains without question one of Britain's greatest composer / songwriters and yet he is not the household name he clearly deserves to be.
Ian and Jethro Tull are currently going through another fallow period, but you can never write them off - after Divinities, Anderson went on to make Roots to Branches, Secret Language of Birds and Rupi's Dance, all strong albums in different ways.