on 9 September 2003
After two previous (and somewhat patchy) solo albums of original material, Martin Barre finally has offered a truly excellent batch of instrumental rock (there's one vocal track) with an emphasis on Mental. Blistering progressive rockers sit comfortably with gorgeous acoustic pieces that stand as a testament of his important contribution to that classic rock institution Jethro Tull. This is a very consistantly good recording and one that I highly recommend. If you're a guitar player (and who isn't...) you will enjoy the inner sleeve photos of each guitar, mandolin and bouzouki used in the sessions - and he plays flute! There are shades of Michael Brook and Dan Ar Braz in places - but let's face it, it's pure Martin Barre - and no one plays or sounds like Martin. Martin should be proud of this CD, and I'm definitely happy I bought it.
on 24 November 2004
I suppose that many might say "if you like Jethro Tull then this CD is for you" and whilst that is entirely true this CD deserves attention in its own right. It's fascinating to hear how the different makes of guitar vary, and the sleeve helpfully tells you which guitar was used on each track. For me the highlights are a couple of acoustic tracks. I have never heard better. When Martine Barre and his band played as a 'support' for Jethro Tull in Cardiff, the highlight of the evening was the Martin Barre Band (with Willy Porter). It was a virtuoso performance playing the tracks on this CD with precision and yet with the excitement of a live perfomance. I cannot praise this CD too much.
on 10 March 2004
An absolute blinder of an album. Almost entirely instrumental (ironically, only track 14, "Don't Say A Word" has any wordage) the playing is spell-binding and meticulous. The sound quality is stunning, too, with everything sounding very real and natural - a major plus for hi-fi buffs. What sort of music is it? Beats me - there's a whole variety in there, but anyone familiar with the fresh arrangements Tull have given to older material in concert over the last decade or so should be immediately comfortable.
This CD has been on repeat play here for a major part of the day - money well spent.
When people talk about blues guitar heroes they talk about Jimmy Page, Mark Knopfler, Paul Kossoff. But inexplicably they never seem to mention the hugely talented Martin Barre.
For many years he has provided, along with Ian Anderson, the musical backbone of Jethro Tull, showing off his ability in a range of styles to provide an essential part of the band's sound. But he has always been a little hidden behind Anderson's light. So it was with great pleasure I listened to this, his second (I think) solo album in which he gets to express himself.
A set of largely instrumental numbers, based around electric blues but with many twists and other influences thrown in, this is an album that shows him doing what he does best, making the guitar sing. Filled with awry humour, and some outstanding fret work, this feels a personal album at times but one that really entertains and gives a good insight into the man behind the guitar.
An excellent album, highly recommended.