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Jethro Tull - Roots To Branches CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.64 | 477 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Best Tull album of the 90's by a margin, but then again, they only released three of them (studio recordings, anyways). It's obvious than Ian was studying eastern ways of playing the flute as he'd released his Divinities solo album a few months before, and he would release a couple more (Language of Birds and Rupi's Dance)of the genre in the coming years. And it shows on RTB, especially on his flute playing, but maybe a bit also on his songwriting and more so in the arrangements. Indeed, one could say that some songs are "Kashmir-ized" on the album. Ian's new way of flute playing gives the start of the album a relatively fresh and welcome resonance.

However, I could be wrong, but I seem to hear only synth strings, and not the real thing (nothing is mentioned in the booklet), and we don't know if Giddins is playing a real organ (on Out Of Noise) or not. Barre's guitars can still show the odd crunch (as in Chain or Free Will), but in general, he seems less in the forefront in the mix than in the previous two albums (Island and Catfish), probably to enhance the eastern sounds. As for the drumming, I find it fairly weak (especially compared to Bunker or Barlow), giving it still an 80's/90's feel on some tracks, but it can also be brilliant at times, like on Dangerous Veils. Some songs seem to be drawn out lengthwise, like Valley, were a third verse (sung more low-key than the previous two) seem unneeded, but the worst offender would be Treacherous, despite brilliant instrumental interplay. Beside Myself is probably the more recognizable track as it lead one of the two singles taken from the album, but I wouldn't call this a hit, and neither is it all that memorable, FTM.

Somehow, the album seems to run out of steam in the last three songs (well the album is an hour-long, making it the longest Tull album with Catfish), and the last two tracks have a certain Dire Strait thing (especially the closing Harry's Bar), while in a previous track called Treacherous, Ian speaks much more than he sings. Of course, this is explained by Anderson's voice problem, which still linger on today.

Like all Tull album, RTB is a bit too wordy, as I've always wished more space was allotted to the band's instruments to exchange even more interplaying than is the case throughout Tull's career. Soooo RTB is definitely the only album I'd retain past the 70's , but it's not like it's a masterpiece either: on par with Minstrel, Horses, SFTW and above Stormwatch, but alone makes the stand out in post_70's Tull with Knave a distant second.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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