Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jethro Tull - Rock Island, 1989

Jethro Tull – Rock Island album cover, 1989
01 - Kissing Willie
02 - The Rattlesnake Trail
03 - Ears Of Tin
04 - Undressed To Kill
05 - Rock Island
06 - Heavy Water
07 - Another Christmas Song
08 - The Whaler's Dues
09 - Big Riff And Mando
10 - Strange Avenues
I really like it when Jethro Tull play hard rock. They have some special kind of grace about it. Locomotive Breath, Something’s on the Move, This Is Not Love... And Rock Island, although not really a hard rock record in my understanding, still lets you taste this side of Mr.Anderson and friends more than usual. Enough to feed the hungry.

Opening with Kissing Willie, the original side A is the faster one. I might be alone in this, but in places find it reminiscent of some late Dire Straits (like The Bug). The title track, closing the side, makes the whole album’s statement - just like the sleeve artwork. I don't know how much of the intention was there (reminds of Jan Anderson’s comment on Aqualung’s conceptuality), but one theme which I see going through the record and its every song is loneliness. A solitude of one kind or another. And the record really explores all various shapes, tastes and sizes of ot.

The tempo and loudness tend to slow down overall in the second half of the album, with Strange Avenues sounding already like a residue. Time to confess here: I used to perceive this song as a weak and a touch boring one while admiring Rock Island’s hard sound, till a friend noted it’s the best track of the LP to him. So then I finally heard it - I mean really heard. It’s a truly strong one - simply unrealistic emotional strain packed into a piece of whisper. Beautiful. And very sad. ...looking like a record cover from 1971...

Take a closer look at the lyrics (back to the overall album now) - as usually with Tull - it’s real poetry. And if I may suggest another worthy record from this period - it would be Catfish Rising.


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Next time - Rush.

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