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Ian Anderson - Walk Into Light CD (album) cover


Ian Anderson


Prog Folk

2.85 | 135 ratings

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4 stars Obviously unpopular with Jethro Tull purists, Ian Amderson's first solo project went against all the classic elements that made Tull such a powerhouse, replacing blues-based guitars and mandolins with synths , machines now handling the bass and drums . "Sacrilege", cried out the cod pieced throngs, already angered by the "Under Wraps" album that instituted in 1984 the electronic phase of JT's career. Poor veteran keyboard whiz John Vettese , still hated by so many for daring to take the formula too far removed from the norm (another TAAB!) but those were the times when Roland and Korg ruled the airwaves and if taken in context (SMS message between prisoners?), this is a brilliant progressive album of imperial songwriting and lush sounds, taking Anderson's visions and words into a personal realm where computers giggle and machines laugh. This was the age of Thomas Dolby and conventional symphonic prog was writhing on its self-imposed deathbed. As ELP stated so brightly, "C'est La Vie"!

"Walk Into Light" is mostly a series of bright and upbeat electronic ditties that are extremely melodic and where the rubbery synths seem to be pulsating and whole. Not a single dud on the set list, in fact I daresay, one of the most solid series of tunes on any JT album. Anderson's lyrical material and vocal delivery rank among his best ever, just listen?.. I guess the purists disliked the musical coating in which these stellar songs were packaged. Aw, get over it! Fans have been whining for photocopies of Aqualung and TAAB for 40 years now! For the gloomy times, this was a masterpiece of progressive rock and progressing with the then available technology. Remember the arid year 1982 and look at yourself with tender mercies.

"Fly by Night" has a fluttering synthesized riff that astounds, colliding with crystalline pianos and Anderson's flute, weaving a strong and bold melody. The vocal is one Ian's best ever, deeply passionate and expressive. "Made in England" is brisk and effervescent, the flute driving the almost Barre-esque guitar riff to frenzy, supplied with some suave synth sounds and orchestrations and another dizzying vocal interpretation. The title track displays some seductive and complex drum programming (a rare success in modern music) whereby Ludwig drums are set off via Linn Drum Computer to great effect. Anderson thrashes a few electric guitars into the mix, giving this a harder edge that is most appealing. The chugging "Trains" combines the Kraftwerk style of Trans Europ Express with some choppy and evocative musical commentary that relies certainly more on the Telex or Dolby style of synth music. "Black and White Television" is perhaps the highlight track, a wry commentary on a primitive society that refuses innovation yet embraces MTV and the music is inquisitive and persuasive. "Looking For Eden" and its scintillating mellotron choir background (done on Emulator) and the whistling musings keep this track whizzing along with utter genius. "User Friendly" is quirky and playful, entirely memorable and fun. The lyrics and the vocal are both inspirational and forceful. "Different Germany" is socio-historic look at 'real politik', as concerns over WW3 were starting to grow into a fever pitch in Europe and as such is a brilliantly symphonic piece of music, evoking the spirit of Camel's underrated "Stationary Traveler" released in 1984 , Latimer's look at the oppressive and brutal East German regime of the Stasi and its Vopos. Vettese lets loose a synth solo for the ages, rapid and expressive. Brilliant closer.

Well, like it or not, Anderson has discussed his reasoning for both this album and the follow up 'Under Wraps' , knowing full well the controversy it spawned but it's the artist who decides and not the public. After all, the demise of prog in the late 70s was caused by music fans unwilling to adapt to new realities and a media demanding hit singles again, which explains why punk did so well for a while. Anderson, to his credit, followed his own conscience and muse, for better or worse.

4.5 sampled chips

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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