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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 18 August 2011
Roots To Branches frequently touches the heights of inspired brilliance Tull evinced on Songs From The Wood and its companion album Heavy Horses, this being an often superb late effort, with a strong lyrical edge, as befits its rustic title.
I've loved Jethro Tull since their first few classic LPs, and off & on Ian Anderson and his shifting line-up of ne'er-do-wells have pulled off some intriguing feats of mildly eccentric rock bravado. Only occasionally they've plumbed the depths, and once or twice a well-meaning effort hasn't quite come off.
This is, to put it mildly, one of the good ones, no doubt about it. There are no dud tracks, merely one or two that meander a little and in which not quite enough happens to capture the interest.
The whole album has a lush, expansive, thoughtful feel to it, Anderson's flute very much to the fore. What a gleaming sound it makes, too. Martin Barre yet again proves what an endlessly inventive, underrated guitarist he is, and has always been.
IA's singing on these eleven songs sounds like a man who's happy & proud in his work, as he should be. He's always been a fine songwriter, a distinctive vocalist, can pen a lyric that Roy Harper, say, might be proud of, and with a melodic gift that has made Tull a more tuneful band than some of their fellow contemporaries from the late 60s/70s.
I wouldn't say there are standout tracks, they are most of them strong, melodic, and powerful, this being a late Tull album that`s simply great to have around, to play when in that "I must hear some English pastoral rock" mood ~ in this case with an Eastern tinge to many tracks ~ with a consistent high standard throughout.

One of the irrepressible Ian Anderson & his band of merry men's very best, highly recommended.
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on 15 June 2014
recommend this to any tull or non tull fans,
tull sounding great with anderson and barre on great form,brilliant.
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on 5 December 2016
great late-era Tull album - thanks.
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VINE VOICEon 8 June 2008
Nobody ever made themselves popular in the world of music criticism by "coming out" as a Jethro Tull fan. But then, if you're reading this page, you're probably not averse to a riff of hard rock guitar, a bit with a flute, some nasally folk-inflected singing and the obligatory mandolin. In fact, you're probably a Tull fan already and what you really want to know is "Is this as good as their classic '70s stuff?".

The surprising answer is "Yes". Yes it is as good as their '70s stuff. It's certainly a whole lot better than the hard rock cul-de-sac they went down in the '80s. Ian Anderson seems creatively reinvigorated, both through a flirtation with World Music motifs and a return to a classic Tull theme: God, or the lack of Him. This musical Big Concept makes the album similar in style to the '70s big-hitters like Aqualung (grumpy at God) or Heavy Horses (incorporating English folk instrumentation and melodies). All of which is definitely Good News for the seasoned Tull afficionado.

The Bad News is that the album's just not consistent enough. While the best material here could pass for a Thick As a Brick outtake or (even better) suggests a brand new Arabesque direction for Anderson's compositions, there's a fair amount of Tull-by-numbers here too. Okay, none of it as banal as the worst stuff on Catfish Rising or Rock Island but the thing about their great '70s albums was that they just didn't _do_ filler back then.

The opening title track swirls in ominously with Anderson's flutes hinting at desert oases and belly dancers. The lyrics sparkle with sharp, mordant reflections on the world's big faiths. "True disciples carrying the message," he observes, "colour it just a little with their personal touch". Frankly, you don't get that many rock songs satirizing the apostolic creed and after dallying with cod-rock nonsense about Kissing Willies on previous albums, this song is a clear statement of intent: Ian Anderson is back and he has something to say.

The religio-cultural theme is picked up again on Valley. This is another one of those Big Long Songs that Tull traditionally lodge in each album - like My God, Heavy Horses or Flying Dutchman back in the day. There's a nice acoustic lead in, lurching into Martin Barre's trademark crunchy guitar for the angry bits. The lyrics trace the discontents of two river-valley tribes competing for resources, but it's all a cute little metaphor for today's sectarian squabbles in the Middle East (and elsewhere).

The spiritual sister to this song is the epic Beside Myself, a song boasting the same byzantine musical structure as Budapest, back in their Grammy-winning days. This song accurately diagnoses the frustration of the bleeding-heart liberal confronted with the endemic poverty and injustice in some Third World megapolis.

All of this represents Tull doing what they do best: ingenious songs with thought-provoking language, linked to rousing choruses and guitar-hero heavy riffage from Barre. Not everything is carried off so successfully, however. Anderson's dirty-old-man persona makes an incongruous and unwelcome return in Dangerous Veils, where he speculates pruriently about what Muslim women are hiding behind their burqas. Not very nice. Other songs like Rare And Precious Chain or This Free Will thunder and bounce most satisfactorily but behind the world music dressing these are conventional tales of erotic encounters in sweaty foreign climes - a topic that seems to fascinate Anderson in his middle age but leaves all but the most voyeuristic of listeners perplexed (at best) or (at worst) slightly nauseated.

A couple of unusual tracks restore the musical balance. Out Of The Noise joins that respectable Tull roster of Animal Themed Songs. In this case, the beast is a street dog in an Asian city, dodging rickshaws and scavenging for dinner, but wary of ending up the succulent ingredient in some tourist's chow mein. As with Dangerous Veils, Anderson's reactionary stereotyping of Johnny Foreigner is grating, but the music is springy, complex and energetic in the style of Tull in their glory days. The same can be said for Wounded Old And Treacherous, a song which lyrically ticks the thematic boxes (religion = bad) but remains cheerfully obscure, allowing the listener to concentrate on the music, which is a delight. This song channels the ghost of early This Was era Tull, with its jazzy opener and percussive breaks, and Martin Barre's Wagnerian guitar solos looming like a stormhead. Marvellous.

A scattering of songs remain that don't carry any Third World or God Bashing baggage. Of these one, a track called At Last Forever, is simply sublime and probably the most beautiful thing Anderson has written in twenty years. The others, some doggerel about Harry's Bar and being Stuck in Autumn Rain, are forgettable pieces of late-Tull lounge-rock.

So, it's a mixed bag with compositions of real charm and inspiration set against other pieces that veer from the anodyne to the outright embarassing. Typical late-Tull then, except that the strong songs carry the day, the production is warm and enveloping and Anderson is singing crisply and wittily to melodies that fit his now-faltering vocal range.

Overall, the best Tull album since The Broadsword and the Beast, with stand-out moments that can take their place among some of the best songs the band has ever done. Definitely one for the fans - but if you're new to Tull (and you made it this far!) then go try their accessible '70s stuff first, Heavy Horses is as good a start as any.
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on 27 April 2017
One of their better albums
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on 16 May 2018
Not sure where all these 4 and 5 star reviews came from! As a long term Tull and Anderson fan, I had high hopes of this, but was bitterly disappointed. Lots of roaming and winding flutes and orchestral meanderings but very few good melodies or memorable tunes. A bit like a pastiche of everything second rate which has appeared in the past, and now mixed up and trotted out again. I challenge anyone who has listened to this to remember any of it - or try to whistle it!

Nowhere near as good as the brilliant Songs from the Wood. Doesn't come close.

Steer well clear of this! Lots of far better albums to listen to.
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on 31 March 2012
I'm a YOUNG (in comparison!) Tull-ite, who came to them long after their peak and maybe that helps because, like many other reviewers, I really do love Roots To Branches. The last four tracks, starting with 'Besides Myself' and ending with 'Harry's Bar' segue together seemlessly, like a folk-rock DJ at the top of his game might create, and I always switch to a more comfortable "me" when I hear the first few flute notes of Beside Myself.

Generally a slightly softer Tull album but an extremely accomplished one and one full of interesting and colourful, almost jazzy instrumentation. There's no snarled vocals or propulsed guitars of early classics. If 'easy listening' wasn't such a dirty word in proper music circles, I'd verge on using it, except this isn't banal bilge, with trite lyrics, but eas-IER Tull. Like 'grown-up gracefully', or 'mature'. A natural progression for Ian Anderson to take as Tull was now (then, 2006) in its 38th year!

As my subject lines states, a couple of friends of mine who were around buying records when Tull were born, perhaps can't place this album. Maybe it sits awkwardly in the band's chequered history or it's too "lounge" for them. But, I've had more enthusiasm from a deflated balloon than from them when I lent them my copy.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 March 2010
Jethro Tull have produced some great albums over the years, and embraced a wide variety of styles. I have all the albums, from the jazzy blues of `This Was', through the prog era of `Aqualung', the folk of the mighty Songs from the Wood, the electronica of Under Wraps and the rock of Crest of a Knave. And I love them all, but there is one album that for some reason I nearly always reach for when I want to listen to a bit of Tull - `Roots To Branches'.

Following from Catfish Rising in that it manages to successfully merge together Tull's earlier blues/folk sound with their later rock leanings, and throws some new Eastern influences into the mix. This is jam packed with memorable tracks. The highlight of the album are the last four tracks - `Wounded Old and Treacherous', `At Last, Forever', `Stuck In The August Rain' and my all time favourite `Another Harry's Bar'. Between them they show Tull at their best - great playing from the band, especially Martin Barre's guitars and Anderson's flute, Anderson's voice in fine form, great catchy tunes and Anderson's usual wry, witty and meaningful lyrics. He has to be one of the best songwriters I can think of. The final track, `Another Harry's Bar', is, in my humble opinion, a match for `Aqualung' or `Budapest'.

A great album.
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on 19 August 2016
Not at their best at this time.stand up & benefit the best albums
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on 22 September 2007
I hadn't planned on writing a review of this title, but when I saw there had yet to be any, I thought I'd add a brief note.

To the point, this remaster doesn't add much to the overall sound of this one. It already sounded pretty good, and the audio improvement - if indeed there is one - is minor. With no bonus tracks, one might wonder why anyone should bother.

But I did. I was on a roll through the Tull remasters, and this one went into the sales basket just because it was there. What more can I say?

It's not as though I even rated this CD. I'd always thought of it as lesser Tull, with greater titles surrounding it in the discography. However, one thing these reissues allowed me to do was to re-evaluate this and other Tull titles.

You know what, I really do rate this one now. I suppose timing is everything, and first time around I must have had my head elsewhere. The flute work is terrific, the Eastern influences and high and prominent, and there are a lot of uptempo stuff here. More importantly though, it's the interweaving of instruments - classic Tull layers - that set this one above other titles. There are even jazz breaks, some fine organ work on something that sounds remotely like an old Hammond, and of course, the guitar work is great.

But yes, it's the multiple layers that really set this CD alive. Take the time to listen to each track - pick out an instrument (any will do), and follow its path through the song - you'll soon see what I mean. The quality of the CD helps you do that well enough.

I'm not sure why I didn't like this one very much a few years back, but I'm making up for lost time now. This gets more spins that other, undeniably more "classic" Tull titles at my home.

Give it a go.
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