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Jethro Tull - Rock Island CD (album) cover

ROCK ISLAND

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

2.66 | 304 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
1 stars While Crest ended up growing me at least a smidge (to the point where I could acknowledge that there was, at worst, a non-trivial amount of honestly good material), this one has remained, to my ears, an unadulterated piece of crap. It's rather similar to Crest in a lot of ways (I guess, Grammy in hand, Ian decided this was a good path after all), but amazingly, it's much worse. See, while a lot of the tracks on Crest might have essentially been undercooked frameworks for extended instrumental stretches, I could still call most of them (with the possible exception of Mountain Men) honest-to- goodness songs. They might not have been what I'd considerable consistently enjoyable, and they might have a lot of weak aspects, but there was at least some vaguely consistent sense to the tracks.

Not here, though. Most of these tracks feature Tull on auto-pilot like never before. The emphasis is (as usual) clearly not on the melodies, which are incredibly crappy and unmemorable, but on the extended instrumental passages. This, of course, wouldn't be so bad, were it not for pretty much all of them consisting of the same flute-guitar sparring we've heard a million times, only over monotonous plodding drums. Naturally, the guitars follow the same pattern as on Crest, but the novelty is largely gone this time around, and I'd be hard-pressed to identify a single guitar part that kept my interest for more than a minute after it was over (there is one flute part, which I'll mention later). When Ian does sing, he makes his lyrics as generically pompous as they've ever been and more (in fact, the album seems to be more-or-less conceptual, not that it makes any positive difference). In short, it would be difficult for me to think of many albums where there's been a greater distance between the results the band was shooting for (this has many of the airs and trappings of a big, awe-inspiring experience) and what the band was able to pull off (an incredibly uninteresting, disjointed mess).

There are two songs that redeem this album a smidge. The first, "The Rattlesnake Trail," is fairly terrible and typical of the album otherwise, but it does have a pretty humorous (albeit seemingly unintentionally) chorus, what with Ian singing, "The rattlesnake trail, WHOO!!!." The other one, "Another Christmas Song," is basically a sequel to that glorious song from so long ago, and as such it's not extremely original (musically or lyrically; Ian had used similar themes in both these areas a few times before), but it's very lovely. The drums are probably too loud for what's supposed to be a tender ballad, but I don't find myself noticing that as much as I notice the most tender and inspired flute-based melody of the album. It's basically the only time on the album where Ian actually bothers to write a start-to-finish melody, and it sticks out like a sore thumb among the rest of the tracks.

Otherwise, this album is sheer boredom. The "rockers" and "ballads" alike make me regret all of the minutes of my life wasted on this album, and I really don't know why anybody except a seriously hardcore fan would even bother with it. If you can hunt down "Another Christmas Song," do it, but avoid this like the plague otherwise.

tarkus1980 | 1/5 |

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