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Jethro Tull - The Zealot Gene CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.34 | 190 ratings

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3 stars ...and here is it at last, 'the first new album in two decades', so long and impatiently awaited, so loudly advertised by the label and the distributors... Has it deceived my expectations? (I'm responsible for myself only, not for other listeners.) Well, I'd say it would be better if yes. In that case, the things would be clear: another old band has grown literally old and exhausted itself...

But no, the things are more complicated. I won't speak of Anderson's vocals, not surprisingly it's not as powerful as back in 1972 or 1982, tempus fugit, and there's nothing to be done. And I don't mean his flute performance, it's still brilliant like half a century ago (by golly, in the day when Anderson starts to play flute poorly, our world will turn upside down!). The lyrics are also clever and well done poetically. But the music...

The album splits into two almost equal (by playing time) parts. One of them begins with Mrs Tibbets (nothing extraordinary but nice, somewhat reminding The Ice Bridge from The Quest by Yes in some respects), continues with Jacob's Tales and Mine Is the Mountain, and closes with musically joint Three Loves, Three + In Brief Visitation. All the four are top, perhaps the latter even slightly beyond top IMHO. Genuine Jethro Tull's magic at its very best. Something classic with something innovative elaborately implicated. Pure melodicism and lyricism - and instant complexity and ingenuity at the same time.

Well, in brief, Ian Anderson is still very far from becoming a washed-up has-been as a composer. So, why the remaining part of the album is so trifling? One folky/bluesy track full of generalities/platitudes (Where Did Saturday Go?) and as many as six marching-type songs of the same sort that sounded boring since the moment it was born, i.e. on TAAB-2 and especially on Homo Erraticus. I find really awful that those tracks follow one by one: The Zealot Gene; Shoshana Sleeping; Sad City Sisters; Barren Beth, Wild Desert John; The Betrayal of Joshua Kynde. Insufferably! After this tedious parade of (my apologies but) musical dullness, 7 minutes of musical ecstasy follow (the previously mentioned tandem of Three Loves, Three & In Brief Visitation)... and the album ends with another marching-type rattle, The Fisherman of Ephesus, by the way, with faulty coda.

What's in the solid residue?

I hear no holistic album but two virtual EPs chaotically joint under the title The Zealot Gene. One EP is among the band's greatest masterpieces in their 55 years of activity. The other one is perhaps even worse than Under Wraps. That shameful bunch of tawdry synth-pop songs from 1984 had at least some impertinence, insolence on the border of charming impudence if you like. While the 'marching-type' part of The Zealot Gene has nothing notable and is made out of thin air ('sucked up from a finger' as we say in Russia). I give the album three stars as an arithmetic mean of 5 and 1. But in fact, the album deserves two separate ratings, one highest possible and one lowest possible, for the two musically unequal virtual EPs it's built of.

proghaven | 3/5 |


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