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Jethro Tull

Prog Folk

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Jethro Tull Roots To Branches album cover
3.60 | 604 ratings | 35 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Roots To Branches (5:12)
2. Rare And Precious Chain (3:35)
3. Out Of The Noise (3:25)
4. This Free Will (4:05)
5. Valley (6:08)
6. Dangerous Veils (5:35)
7. Beside Myself (5:51)
8. Wounded, Old And Treacherous (7:50)
9. At Last, Forever (7:55)
10. Stuck In The August Rain (4:06)
11. Another Harry's Bar (6:22)

Total Time: 60:04

Line-up / Musicians

- Ian Anderson / vocals, concert & bamboo flutes, acoustic guitar, producer
- Martin Barre / electric guitar
- Andrew Giddings / keyboards
- David Pegg / bass (3,5,11)
- Doane Perry / drums, percussion

- Steve Bailey / bass (1,6-10)

Releases information

Artwork: Zarkowski Designs

CD Chrysalis ‎- CDCHR 6109 (1995, UK)
CD Chrysalis - 7243 8 35418 2 9 (1995, Canada)
CD EMI ‎- 371 0192 (2006, Europe) Remastered by Peter Mew

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JETHRO TULL Roots To Branches ratings distribution

(604 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

JETHRO TULL Roots To Branches reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
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.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars I lost track of Jethro Tull after the so-so 1979 album "Stormwatch", when it started to look like the band was fast becoming a corporate institution more than an innovative rock group. Did they actually win a Grammy Award (for cryin' out loud) at some point during the 1980s? It doesn't take a snob like me to realize that's the ultimate insult to good musical taste, like earning an OBE or becoming another fossil at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But this 1995 release caught my ear, sounding stronger and (more to the point) different than anything else I'd heard from Tull in the previous 15 years. Gone were the Celtic and English Folk influences that had defined them for so long. Here the band was looking East for inspiration, to golden Araby and the jasmine courts of India, adopting an exotic sound I don't recall ever hearing from Jethro Tull before.

Not that the album didn't still sound like the Tull we all know and love. It wasn't so much a radical difference in style as it was a rewarding detour in musical direction, and the change of scenery seemed to have galvanized Ian Anderson's songwriting. There's a few tracks that might be considered filler, here to pad an old-style LPs worth of music to compact disc length (like the nondescript "Out of the Noise" and "Wounded, Old and Treacherous"). Omit these and what's left is a bona fide Tull classic, equal to anything the group (a different group then, admittedly) produced in the glory days of the 1970.

Anderson's voice is nowhere near as strong as it once was, but his flute playing is sharper than ever, particularly on the bamboo flute: the virtuoso arabesques and sharp percussive staccatos all shining (like the Parsee-man's hat) "in more-than-oriental splendor". It's a pity he didn't stick with the Asian motifs long or develop them any deeper than this one album, although the echoes lingered (in a lighter and brighter frequency) all through his year 2000 solo album "The Secret Language of Birds", a matching bookend to this release and equally worthwhile in its own way.

Review by NJprogfan
3 stars I can't help but think of Dire Straits when listening to latter day Jethro Tull. I guess it comes down to Ian Anderson's loss of vocal inflection. He talk-sings more then sings, especially in songs like 'Another Harry's Bar' and 'Wounded, Old and Treacherous'. Now, I'm not complaining. I use to like Dire Straits back in the 80's and no one does lyrics as biting and worldy like Ian. What you get with this album is some of their best melodies in ages, at least since "A". You'll find Ian's flute is as good as ever as is Martin Barre's guitar, both are up front and loud. You'll find Middle Eastern influences abound throughout some of the songs. What you won't find is English folk we all know and love by the band, the exception being the pretty 'At Last, Forever'. The album is the best since "Broadsword and the Beast" and would make a welcome addition. Good, but not essential. 3 stars!
Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Roots To Branches" is truly one of the best Jethro Tull's album ever! There's a new wave of freshness that flows from Ian and Martin in 1995! This influence from the Orient and the mystical inputs, in analogy with the Ian solo album "Divinities", make Mr. Anderson to be the true Moses who's bringing back the tablets of stone! The songs are all written and arranged modo magistrale, and the atmosphere is wet for the "south migration" of the Blackpool's Master.

4.5 stars

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Tull is back !

That 's definitely what comes to mind when you listen to the superb title track. Hard, rythmy, nice fluting, pace changes. It sounds as we are on track to reach the level of "Crest". Oriental flavours (I would say more Middle-East than anything else) will be investigated in most of the tracks.

"Rare and Precious Chain" has very good, nice percussions and an hypnotic tempo. I guess that if they would have produced a video clip for this one, we surely have had a belly dancer alongside Ian.

A bit of funk with "Out of the Noise" which is one of the weakest track.

"This Free Will" : is a bit harder than average on this album but it is also a weak track : no flavour in particular. "Valley" is one of the longest track on this album. Since it is rather monotonous, it could have been shorter to maintain the listener's interest.

"Dangerous Veils" is catchier : rythmy and with good fluting. The instrumental part though is a bit too jammy for my taste. "Beside Myself" starts smoothly with a nice acoustic part. It is a fresh song, somewhat different from the rest of the album but at the middle of the track, we are heading again towards the East.

This is the first time that the band explores those Oriental roots to such an extent. Quite original and unexpected. The problem is that they insist a bit too much : it leads to the feeling that most of the songs sound pretty similar. I guess Tull has just invented the "Oriental Prog" genre.

"Wounded, Old and Treacherous" has a fabulous opening and closing section : nice and slow at start and furious guitar from Martin and great fluting at the end. One of the most elaborate track here.

Throughout the album, the sound is crystal clear (listen to "At Last, Forever" to be convinced). This folk song seems to come out straight from the Arabian Nights (Sheherazade where are you ?). Superb. Ian performs really well on the vocals. At times (briefly), it sounds like "Beside Myself" like a twin.

The next song "Stuck in the August Rain" is a mellow folk rock little tune. Sweet, candy and nave. The closing number "Another Harry's Bar" is a more traditional Tull song : folk rock at its best. Great flute and piano. It's a very melodious and subtle track that ends up in a great finale. It is one of the most emotional song from the Tull EVER.

All in all, "Roots" is a good album but there are no real highlights. Only a few great moments. Three stars.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Middle-age crisis is gone!

I know it sounds like a cliche, and actually it is cliche, but I have to say it; This is A Huge Step Into The Right Direction. Perhaps not a five-star material, but surely very enjoyable album from these oldies. Some good old-fashioned Tull moments are here: of course the ubiquitous flute, witty Ian, folk elements and occasional bursts of hard rock - in this case, very heavy rock, in combination with keyboard layering and Middle East elements it sounds almost like modern metal. Right, Middle Eastern elements are present here, in more than one song. This not a new thing for Tull ( "Uniform", 1980 ), but on this album it's explored more thoroughly and fits the songs just nicely, a listener won't get an impression that the band is repeating the songs and well-known song structures ( because it is not - unlike on some previous albums ) and, finally, it sounds fresh.

Yes, freshness is the major issue why this album sounds so good. Everything is crafted well, everything is artsy of course, and songs are actually able to catch the listeners attention. No wonder since the most horrible elements of 80's Tull are missing here: poor rock background section, like a platform for Ian's lyrics, and melodies being dull, overwritten 1000 times before and not hummable at all. No. This is something else. It's not a certain presence of 70's, no. But it's definitely something positive.

Sound is of course crystal clear, which I don't prefer, but I won't complain neither. The only point that annoys my ears a bit is the sound of Martin's guitar; it's too thin and digital (but this is just occasionally). Ian sometimes inclines to Sprechgesang, and in fact all the songs are actually written and/or adopted to fit his reduced ability of singing. Strangely enough, the products at the end (songs, that is) are just fine. Perhaps Ian realised some things in his life and stopped to think he could sing as well as he used to. Plus, ULTRAVOX years are gone for good. Nineties are here, and Ian squeezed the best possible ingredients of the decade and incorporated them into the tapestries of his own songwriting. Yes, this album deserves to be treated with a poetic approach. Again. Finally.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

By now, it takes a long time to get a new studio JETHRO TULL release. ROOTS TO BRANCHES came out in 1995...4 years after the very average CATFISH RISING and it won't get any better in the future.IAN ANDERSON and CO are nearing now the big 5-0 mark, hair is receding and JETHRO TULL, even if they are stilll commanding a strong following was more or less a big name of the past with no chance of winning another Grammy, for sure. In one word, the golden age was a over.

As a now ''mature'' band JETHRO TULL came back with a very mature album, a very solid album. ROOTS TO THE BRANCHES is not journey to the 70s and cannot be put in the same bag than 80s hard rocking JETHRO TULL albums. ROOTS stands on its own, with its unique athmosphere and IAN ANDERSON shows us that he is not ''living in the past'' recycling old recipes to bring us something 'new''.

Usually at this stage of their carreer, old successful artists don't take too many chances and just keep re-cooking the good old sounds from the good old times. Not such with JETHRO TULL!! Of course, this is still a JT album with all the regular ingredients such as the flute, the guitar breaks from BARRE, the time changes but ROOTS TO THE BRANCHES is not an album he could have done in the 70s.This is a ''mature'' album recorded by a middle age TULL.

IAN ANDERSON is not scared to change the format and the sound of his band. After hard rocking from STEEL MONKEY to KISSING WILLIE to THIS IS NOT LOVE on the last 3 studio albums , IAN ANDERSON went for a more elaborated music, more introspective than in the last decade.The big surprise is the addition of Asian influences, especially from the middle east and India, particularly evident on tracks such as ''RARE AND PRECIOUS CHAIN; sounds like a modern version of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA!!

There are good , solid compositions such as the title track with a wonderful build-up, good BARRE guitar on DANGEROUS VEILS and WOUNDED OLD TREACHEROUS. The only mishap is OUT OF THE NOISE, a little bit to reminiscent of the hard rock style from the 80s. The camels in the desert athmosphere is again predominent on AT LAST FOREVER with another great intro.

You have to wait for the end of ROOTS TO BRANCHES to find some old 70s TULL influences back.STUCK IN THE AUGUST RAIN and ANOTHER HARRY'S BAR sound like very melancholic ballads well in the old folk-rock JT tradition. They are great songs.

ROOTS TO BRANCHES is a different album from any other JT recording; This is not your father's TULL, this is not grammy-winning TULL either. This is ROOTS TO BRANCHES an album recorded by 50s old men who don't rest on their laurels and are still trying something new and fresh. This is also an ageless album as i don't get tired of it as i do with some of their old ''classics''.


Review by The Whistler
2 stars I had high hopes for this thing. I really did. I mean, I feared Ian's entry into the whole "world music" thing, but then again, I generally think that the genre is a big put on. But, well, whatever. Ian can make anything good, right? Uh...perhaps not.

See, all Tull albums are somewhat...downbeat, no? And it's been real interesting to watch that downbeatery unfold. From the eighties on, it's been pessimistic (Broadsword), paranoid (Under Wraps), tongue in cheek (Crest), murky (Rock Island) and accepting (Catfish). For this album though, Ian takes this annoying approach. And it's horrible. Everything seems hopelessly downbeat alright, but not in a depressing way, just in a whiney one. Fuse that with the world music ethics, and a pinch of "comeback," and you've got...Roots to Branches.

In fact, we start off with "Roots to Branches," which is a solid, driving rocker, if not an instant classic. I mean, it's good in some parts, but that elevator-keyboard in the midsection? Unnecessary. Cool lyrics though.

The best song on the album is "Rare and Precious Chain." At least, it's the only song I really bothered memorizing to a certain extent. That whole "Rare and precious chain, do I have to tell you?" part is good, and the riff is solid, albeit played on some evil synths and guitars. Which is okay. Most of the time. But out of all the "Kashmir" rip-offs, this one's the best (and seriously Ian, why take so long? All the other heavy metal dudes took care of that ten, twenty years ago).

"Out of the Noise" is sort of a "melodic sound collage." It's entertaining from a conceptual point of view (a musical recreation of a busy highway), but in delivery, it's a bit of a mess. And if you defend it by saying "that's the point," well, how much do you honestly want to hear a musical recreation of a busy highway? Oh well, it's a tolerable mess at best.

"This Free Will" continues the Eastern themes, but it also sounds a little familiar for another's another "sex with a younger woman" song! And it's about as good as the rest of 'em. In other words, not terribly memorable. "Interesting" solo though.

However, the opening of "Valley" does not prompt any kind of decent imagery. And it turns into a folksy shuffle that's ENDLESS. I mean, it could be pleasant, if it didn't get so boring after a while. Most people feel the need to discuss the lyrics; no such luck from me. And "Dangerous Veils" just feels like an excuse for some dull, Eastern styled jamming.

"Besides Myself" at least has an interesting, jarring, flute 'n synth riff buried within it, but the tune itself is so boring, it's hardly worth digging out. And what's with the sappy lyrics here? "Wounded, Old and Treacherous" is just stupid. I like the cute flute that opens it, but what's this? Ian rapping? Maybe it would have some novelty value, if'n it weren't so long and pretentious. I mean, the flute soloing is okay, but the guitar? Marty, I KNOW you can do better.

Well, the final three are quieter at least. The acoustic opening to "At Last, Forever" sounds VERY familiar ("Jack-a-Lynn" anyone?), but the song itself contains some actual emotion. Too bad it lasts so long. "Stuck in the August Rain" is a pleasant, if ineffectual, ballad. And "Another Harry's Bar" is okay fact, if you've made it through this pessimistic mess, it might actually be emotional. Of course, some complain that it's the most Dire Straight-ish they ever got; and even I, having never really paid any attention to Mark Knofler, have to agree.

I can actually see what people mean when they call this a "return to the classic Tull sound." In fact, this is more a return than Catfish was, since Roots tries to go back to the classic Tull proggy noise, what with all the retro guitar tones ("Rare and Precious") and layered synths ("At Last"). The only problem is...back in the day, Ian would actually attach that sound to some decent melodies.

But there's more than that...well, as if that wasn't bad enough, that most of these things are melodyless bores, they're also LONG, and so is the CD. And that was partly what killed a higher rating for Catfish, if you'll recall.

Perhaps saddest of all is that I can actually hear a touch of potential in (some of) these tracks; "At Last, Forever" could be shorter, and sometimes the keyboard/flute interplay grasped at decency (as it is, stick with Ian's keyboard/flute interplay on his solo album of the same year, Divinities). And "Out of the Noise" WAS kinda funny, it just needed to be cleaner.

Everything's well played (even if there are no good solos really worth mentioning), the lyrics, when they're good, are GOOD (although sometimes they suck), and I do appreciate the progressive throwback production values. Hell, even the Eastern motifs aren't as annoying as I thought they'd be. It's just that it's!

Look, here's the final cut: I'm tired off my ass, and so, I'll let it slip by with a two star rating, for just the reasons above. Perhaps someday I'll return to it, and be SO impressed that I'll raise it to the beloved 2.5 status of such masterpieces as A and Crest of a Knave. You know, assuming I ever feel compelled to put it on again...

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rare and precious album

In the mid 90s hopes weren't too high when a band like Jethro Tull are mentioned. Take nine out of ten 70s prog bands out of their peak decade and they'll fizzle and flop with music attempting to either recapture something they've lost or something they never had. However, after Tull won the 1987 Grammy for best hard rock/metal album (something very confusing to proggers around the world even to this day) expectations might have been a bit higher. However, after the recent flop of their Rock Island album that promise may have rusted a bit.

So what do we have here then? This is Roots To Branches Jethro Tull's 1995 attempt, but how good is it? It's been called Tull's best album outside the 70s, but can it really deliver?

Why, yes! Of course it can! Roots To Branches is an incredible mix of Tull's 70s roots (but don't expect another Thick as a Brick) and their new, heavy approach to the music gained in the 80s. But don't worry, the loud and obnoxious 80s synths aren't present. Something truly refreshing and unique about this album is the style that it's done in. A group of songs ranging from short to mid-long with a nice dose of Anderson fluting mixed with a heavy dose of oriental-inspired melodies and sounds make this album one-of-a-kind (in the Tull cannon, anyways).

The sound and style of the album are put forth immediately on the opening title track, Roots To Branches with the intro having a very eastern twist put on it. Also notable on this effort is that the flute and guitar are brought so far to the front that it's almost unusual. This is of course very nice for those who enjoy those instruments (but if you don't then I don't think the band is for you anyways!). Anderson's almost mechanical repetition of the chorus on this track also really helps to hammer home the song as the guitar comes in for another attack.

A quick note about the vocals on the album. Indeed, Anderson does not sound quite like the Aqualung we know him as. On more recent albums his vocal style has shifted more to something that sounds familiar to Mark Knopler. Never fear though prog heads! Unlike some of the mellowed out songs on efforts like Crest Of A Knave that started to sound a bit too close to Dire Straits for comfort the songs here all manage to keep a heavy tone, Anderson's voice providing a melodic method to the madness.

Moving along and further into the eastern sound is the flute and string driven Rare and Precious Chain with it's strong forged melodies and almost tribal beat that works as a very very good hook. An unfortunately short track, this is one of the greatest standouts on the album. Out Of The Noise is where the album starts to get real nice 'n heavy starting with some frantic flutes and blowing headlong into a full out rocker after about thirty seconds. Slowing only for a minute for Anderson to get out the meat of the chorus mixed with some flute this is a powerful track that shows some true Tull power.

Other songs like This Free Will and Dangerous Veils also do this very well, the string sections and flutes all placed meticulously to give the spine a shuddering experience.

However, it's the longer, more meditated and drawn out tracks that really take the cake here.

Valley is the first to do this on the album. Still a fairly short song (clocking at 6 minutes) this one tells an eerie tale while bringing in some very very folky chords and melodies while having the eastern influence lie underneath. This is one that starts out slow but, like some of its brethren, soon explodes into motion. Nearer the end, At Last, Forever is another more lengthy track (about 8 minutes) which also proves to be meditative in nature for a very pleasant experience. Meanwhile, Another Harry's Bar is likely the slowest and most reflective of the tracks on the album, this one most comparable to Dire Straits with Anderson's vocal style on the track as well as the sombre tone.

But really, the tracks that take the cake are a couple that I have not yet mentioned. Stuck In The August Rain is a beautiful track dominated by Anderson's vocals with some soft music underlying it. A welcome change in pace in such a frantic album. But while that's all well and good it's Wounded, Old and Treacherous which destroys the competition. Opening with some soft flute and eerie soundscapes the flute soon picks up faster and faster until we're delivered to the drums which start their march. The flutes continue to grow in volume as do the drums and whoa! A bass riff comes into the mix. Then it stops for the flute... Then a guitar! Then it's just Anderson with some subdued instrumentalism. Some very entertaining lyrics are delivered and then we hit the chorus and everything comes together again. It's then the song really picks up around halfway through that the song becomes incredible, but that intro is something astounding as well.

Maybe not true classic Tull in all senses, this is still a wonderful album which makes an excellent addition to any progger's collection. And trust me, if you've avoided it thinking that it's like their 80s outputs then you'll be very pleasantly surprised. Probably not the album to start on with Tull since it has a style of it's own, but if you like Tull then this is an album that can't be missed. 4 stars!

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Wow! I'm totally impressed by this album! This is easily the best Jethro Tull album since Heavy Horses in 1978, almost 20 years earlier. And I would even say that Roots To Branches is one of the better Jethro Tull albums of all time. This album is full of eastern influences that really sound fresh and exciting within Tull's usual hard rock setting. On the previous two Tull albums, Fish Rising and Rock Island, it almost felt like the band were on auto pilot, pounding out song after song, album after album without having their hearts truly in it. Not so on Roots To Branches. Here the band feels rejuvenated and reenergized! They also left behind the generic bluesy hard rock of those previous albums in favour of a return to progressive rock. Flutes and keyboards once again take centre stage in Tull's sound competing for attention with Martin Barre's great guitar work which is more inspired here than in a long, long time. Also the influences are more varied ranging from jazz to folk and especially eastern flavoured folk music. And the most important factor of all: Ian Anderson once again wrote great songs, easily his best set of songs since the 70's.

Is there anything to complain about? Well, not really. The vocals are among Ian's best; the lyrics are among his best; the keyboards are varied and well- played and show a perfect blend between classic keyboards like Hammond organ and grand piano and more modern keyboards; bass and drums are very well- played; the guitar work is great, a good mix of acoustic and electric; the flutes are varied and excellent and they feature more prominently in the sound than in a long time; the production is flawless; the cover art is very nice. If I must complain about something I would say that the album is slightly too long. A whole hour is a very long time to keep the listener interested. At the time you reach the middle of the song Wounded, Old And Treacherous you slowly get the feeling that it will only be more of the same from now on. However, this impression proves to be mistaken when the rest of the album slows the tempo down considerably with three very good ballads.

I am giving this album four solid stars and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to discover post- 70's Jethro Tull.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This 1995 release from Jethro Tull is a very consistent album- almost too consistent. There is very little variety to distinguish each song, but they are for the most part all very good. The production is crisp, and the compositions are mostly kept to minor keys. For those interested in short but rather sophisticated arrangements with a clean modern production, this might just be Jethro Tull album for them.

"Roots to Branches" A slightly menacing riff with some great flute is a great start for this record. Ian Anderson's voice sounds very mature. The rhythm changes and shifts in music are a great touch, adding variety to an already strong song. Anderson goes solo on his flute at the very end.

"Rare and Precious Chain" The second track has a slight Middle Eastern flavor, and maintains the somewhat darker quality of the previous song. While it doesn't exactly rock, it does keep a heavy beat.

"Out of the Noise" A lighter track with clean guitar and flute and bass working alongside each other introduce one of the more interesting tracks. The bubbly keyboard work is a pleasing aspect, even as it doesn't exactly fit the rest of the music.

"This Free Will" Crunchy guitar riffs with somewhat exotic instrumentation paint an enjoyable backdrop for the aged voice of Anderson to work over. For the most part, it's a straightforward song that fits in with the rest of the music on this record.

"Valley" Solo flute dances in between blasts of quick chords from the rest of the band. A majestic acoustic guitar enters, and the first time I heard this song, I knew I would like it. Martin Barre jumps in between clean and dirty guitar parts, and shows quite a bit of creativity in his role.

"Dangerous Veils" A heavy song full of flute and crunchy guitar, this is a rather bland song during the verses, but Barre's guitar work alongside Andy Giddings's organ and piano, not to mention the jazzy movements of the bass, means that this song contains one of the more interesting instrumental bits, which Anderson concludes with a lofty flute performance. Barre finishes the songs with one more biting guitar solo.

"Beside Myself" Peaceful acoustic guitar starts this lovely track, which also features beautiful piano and flute work. It's an okay song, but bland and not very memorable.

"Wounded, Old and Treacherous" The intriguing keyboards and snare work, not to mention the bass, give the introduction to this song the sound of sophisticated video game music- it almost sounds like level music for one of the more recent Mega Man games (no complaints from me- Mega Man music is quite good, actually). I honestly felt this song would have been much better if Anderson hadn't have turned this into a goofy lounge jazz song; the introduction should have been expanded upon and made into an instrumental, and then this track would have been amazing.

"At Last, Forever" Soft music introduces this second lengthier number. Given the acoustic guitar, the strings, and the melody, this pleasing song sounds like it could have almost belonged on the great album Minstrel in the Gallery. The heavier moments are likewise excellent, so this is one of the best songs on the album.

"Stuck in the August Rain" Things go from amazing to sappy with this, which sounds like that generic "relaxation" music found in stores like Target, which has a kiosk where one can sample each CD. While pleasant, this is not one of the better songs here. Not even Barre's occasional screaming guitar can salvage it.

"Another Harry's Bar" The first time I heard this, I honestly thought it was Dire Straits I was hearing. I have no complaints with that.

Review by JLocke
4 stars One of the band's best!

Forget what may have been said during the 90s about Jethro Tull being washed up or out of ideas. This album shows that Anderson and crew had yet to cease being creative, and some of the band's most diverse work took shape on Roots To Branches. An entirely new breed of Tull was at work, here, and surprisingly it didn't suck! Middle-Eastern and Asian influences were quite heavy and somehow they married with the Folk-Rock stylings in a way that brought a freshness and excitement to the band's music that many had begun to believe dead for good. While there are a few moments here and there that don't quite match the overall quality of this album, it's fair to say that new life had been breathed into Jethro Tull. Who or what is responsible for that specifically, I honestly don't know, but somehow these guys were able to release a work that many consider to be among their very best.

To go along with the folk-meets-middle-eastern vibe, plenty of modern, hard rock guitar work can be heard here, but it isn't intrusive i the least; everything just seems to fit together quite nicely. The compositions are complex and enjoyable, and the playing is superb. The production (something I normally wouldn't give two tosses about) is worth pointing out here, because it may be the brightest and clearest Jethro Tull has ever sounded on record. Everything about this release just has this new car smell to it that assures me not to expect anything. Surprises around every corner, and every band member on top of their game. Sounds like a worthy listen to me!

Some people have commented that Ian Anderson's voice isn't as strong or full of inflection like it used to be. I don't share that opinion at all. Not only is he singing better than ever, but his acoustic guitar and flute playing is quite memorable throughout. Some tracks are more worth hearing than others, but they all have merit. Some of my favorite songs on Roots To Branches are the title track, ''Rare and Precious Chain'', ''Valley'', ''Dangerous Veils'', ''Beside Myself'', ''Wounded, Old and Treacherous'' and ''Another Harry's Bar''. All of the tracks, and those songs in particular, send my heart soaring to their creative, melodic bliss.

I think the best way I can sum up in one my sentence my impression of this album, it would be that I believe Roots To Branches is one of the most truly eclectic releases Jethro Tull have produced to date, and if you're willing to take a small risk and pick it up, chances are you'll end up becoming more and more fond of it every time you listen. While you may have a hell of a time accepting how much the band's sound has changed by this point, I think you'd be hard pressed to honesty say this isn't good music in and of itself. Sure, it's a little different, but this is Prog Rock! Different is good! Progression in a band's sound should always be commended, whether the end result pleases us or not. It's just fortunate that, with Roots To Branches, this band managed to accomplish both.

Very happy listening.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Jethro Tull's music has matured on this album. Ian Anderson has finally found a style that matches his weakened voice. And I mean that in the best way possible. Blending the eastern orchestration of his fantastic Divinities solo album, with the rock stylings of Tull, Anderson has come up with his finest album in quite a long time. And guest bassist Steve Bailey gives much of the album a jazzy feeling that has never been on any Tull release.

Highlights? Well there are so many. But I'll have to pick a few. The title track, Roots To Branches sets the tone, with it's exotic rhythms, powered by Andy Giddings' lush keyboard work. Out Of The Noise is an upbeat rocker, that allows Anderson to sing and play some very lively stuff, without sounding strained. The Valley and Wounded, Old And Treacherous have some of the best lyrics Anderson has written in decades.

Really, there is not a bad song on the album.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An improvement on some of the band's latter day releases Roots To Branches offers a more polished sound overall with perhaps an indication that there was more inspiration behind this work. The old stalwarts are still present as in Barre, Anderson and Pegg and the musicianship is as always, consistently good. JT's challenge in later years was getting beyond the ' mundane' and R2B's just about manages that. Highlights for this release are " This Free Will", the eight minute " Wounded Old & Treacherous" and " Stuck In the August Rain" not somehow as banal as other reviewers suggest. Anyhow a solid three stars plus a half for great cover artwork.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After receiving such a great album as "J-Tull Dot Com", cruelly underrated among the Tull faithful, I had to step back to the previous album "Roots to Branches" that receiving accolades as one of the best from Tull. Being a faithful Tullite myself it did not take long for me to appreciate how great "Roots to Branches" is. One can compare this to the best that Tull produced in the 70s and the band are in fine form and consistently excellent.

It begins with the memorable title track with a haunting flute melody, Anderson comes in with some serious vocals and it breaks into an instrumental jam that showcases the warbling flute and some fantastic guitar work from Martin Barre. The rhythm changes constantly even going into a dislocated brief jazz syncopation. Anderson's flute playing is dynamic and the melody entrances.

This album has an Elizabethan flavour that Tull would maintain for the next album in some places. The flute of course sets the scene and surely Anderson must be the greatest flute player in prog history. He is faultless on this album as much as he was on the masterpieces "Thick as a Brick" and "Aqualung". Some of the tracks on this are excellent such as the powerful flute frenzy of 'Dangerous Veils', and the indispensable 'Roots to Branches'. The prog elements are present throughout and Barre's guitar is blazing strong. Anderson sounds fresh on characteristic storyteller vocals but it is his flute that does most of the talking. The music is empowered with a sense of drive and purpose, maintaining a strong melodic line and thematic material.

A lot of the content is speaking out against organised religion but really the music is the drawcard here rather than the lyrics. Having said that occasionally the lyrics make an impression such as the melancholy sadness of 'Another Harry's Bar'; "Got the scent of stale beer hanging, hanging round my head. Old dog in the corner sleeping like he could be dead, A book of matches and a full ashtray, Cigarette left smoking its life away, Another Harry's bar or that's the tale they tell, But Harry's long gone now, and the customers as well, Me and the dog and the ghost of Harry will make this world turn right." The sound of this song is similar to Dire Straits in many respects down to the vocal style.

There are many highlights such as 'Rare And Precious Chain', 'Out Of The Noise' and 'Valley'. The consistency of the album is a far cry from some of the inconsistent 80s, albums and in reality this is a much more mature Tull devoid of the whimsy of yesteryear and over indulgence in instrumental breaks. 'Beside Myself' is a fun song but my favourite here is the lengthy 'Wounded, Old And Treacherous' with a very progressive feel and tons of flute and guitar trade offs. Another nice break from lunacy is found in the sombre heartfelt beauty of 'Stuck In The August Rain'.

Overall "Roots to Branches" is certainly one of the better Tull albums of recent years. It was to be followed up by the excellent "J-Tull Dot Com" before the band became a compilation touring band. This is definitely a great album deserving of all the acolytes in reviews; the band were a force to be reckoned with when they were this inspired.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars 3.5 stars

Roots to branches from 1995 is the 19th studio album of this legendary band. released ina perios when JT suffers little bit in ideas, but keeping the good momements alive if not entirely on each album from the '90s some pieces are strong enough to save the albums. This release is better the previous work Catfish rising but to me is weaker the J-Tull. com. This has a more polished sound then previous work and has some more memorable pieces on it like Roots To Branches, Wounded, Old And Treacherous and This free will, the rest are ok. Anyway Martin Barres guitar work is exemplary like on every JT album, he is one hell of a great guitarsit, is one of my top 3 fav guitarists ever, he is the gear behind JT fame. This is an ok release after all, even I'm a big fan, and I mean big, I own almost everything they released minus singles, saw then twice live, and for sure is one of my fav bands ever, Roots to branches doesn't have that impact to the listner like '70s albums, is decent album but nothing is extraordinary or excellent. 3 stars rounded to 3.5 .

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars Like most of the most popular progressive acts of the 70s who decided to stick around long enough to experience the great 80s identity crisis, JETHRO TULL was less successful in reinventing themselves and created what many regard as a clumsy series of albums that roughly began with the new wave infused "Under Wraps" and well into the 90s with a heavier rock infused style. The band had clearly lost its edge and main man / lead singer / flautist Ian Anderson was clearly chasing the latest trend rather than unleashing the brilliant innovation that had launched the band into the limelight in their earlier years.

After the long run of experiments that didn't exactly set the world on fire, JETHRO TULL returned in 1995 with its 19th studio album ROOTS TO BRANCHES and surprised its fans with an album that went back to its origins, namely progressive folk rock brought to life with Anderson's prominent flute performances and poetic lyrical prose that recounted personal life experiences. In this case ROOTS TO BRANCHES was primarily inspired by Anderson's recent trip to India thus ROOTS TO BRANCHES became what Anderson has referred to as the "Indian Songs From The Wood."

The album featured longtime guitarist Martin Barre but debuted keyboardist Andrew Giddings who contributed rich texturized atmospheres making ROOTS TO BRANCHES a very moody return to form. In addition to the Indian musical influences, Anderson took an interest in Arabic musical flavors and also added touches of jazz. In the case of tracks like "Wounded, Old and Treacherous" Anderson took on a semi-spoken, semi-sung singing style that sounded a bit like folk rapping. The album's overall emphasis on the lighter side of folk rock very much in the vein of late 70s albums such as "Heavy Horses" earned the album the best album that Anderson and friends had cranked out since those days.

Musically ROOTS TO BRANCHES is fairly strong with beautiful folk melodies decorated with knotty guitar work, Eastern tinged exotica and Anderson's signature flute sound. The keyboards are primarily atmospheric but piano rolls punctuate the percussion rich motifs and the consistency of 70s TULL classics is back in full-swing. Unfortunately ROOTS TO BRANCHES comes off as weak in the vocal department as Anderson's fiery spirit had been somewhat extinguished by this point and his ability to hit the higher octave range seems to have been a thing of the past. All in all the album is pleasant but for a diehard TULL fan played entirely too safe.

As a diehard TULL fan myself, i find every studio album sitting on my shelf and although these later albums are not bad in any way, they lack the brilliant dynamism that permeated the band's canon from the debut "This Was" up until the experimental and oft misunderstood 1980 release "A." For those longing for a return to form, ROOTS TO BRANCHES certainly provided that long anticipated return to the past but as far as the shining brilliance that graced the 70s output, ROOTS TO BRANCHES seems like a half-hearted attempt at recapturing those anachronistic visions. Make no doubt about it, certain tracks like "At Last Forever" clearly evoke the great TULL of the past but for the most part Anderson sounds as if he is struggling to hit the proper notes therefore this is a decent album indeed that fails to rise to the quality of its heyday.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I know, I know! Five star ratings for only the finest albums. Well, this is by far one of them, my friends. I've been a moderately enthusiastic Jethro Tull fan over the years where I've enjoyed some albums tremendously while others just never caught my fancy. This is one of those albums that hi ... (read more)

Report this review (#3067479) | Posted by Four Corners Guy | Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 1995 saw the release of Jethro Tull's next album, Roots to Branches. Andy Giddings was brought on as a full-time keyboard player, and the band finally moved away from the dull-as-dirt 1980s hard rock sound. Longtime bassist Dave Pegg left the band partway through recording and appears on only a hand ... (read more)

Report this review (#2903244) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Friday, March 31, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars With this album the band adds a more of an International-World music style, with the first few tracks having a somewhat middle eastern vibe. The Rest of the album features many strong tracks that make this one of their best from the later years, and strongest album from the nineties, with a variety ... (read more)

Report this review (#2879417) | Posted by BBKron | Monday, January 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Now here's to the famous Jethro Tull's oriental/world music album. First things first: Ian's voice isn't any stronger than on previous albums (it might feel even weaker than on "Catfish Rising"). But it barely spoils the show - this time compositions are usually low-key, nuanced, reflective - eve ... (read more)

Report this review (#2083191) | Posted by thief | Thursday, December 6, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An oasis in the Prog Folk desert. Roots to Branches is a probably the most offbeat of later Jethro Tull albums in that Ian and the boys are not reverting back to hard rock or blues rock as was the case with albums such as Rock Island and Catfish Rising, but have jumped deeply into the world m ... (read more)

Report this review (#1443527) | Posted by SteveG | Wednesday, July 22, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Ian Anderson is a big fan of the asian music, and decided to open the Jethro Tull doors to this kind of influence. A good album was done: Roots to Branches. But at the same rate as Crest of A Knave. Only 3 stars, and that's okay. The first and main track is my favorite, along with Out of Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#991863) | Posted by VOTOMS | Thursday, July 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the albums that I rejoice, and enjoy of these phenomena and incomparable musicians. It has been criticized Jethro stage from the mid 80's, among other things, the "imitation" of Anderson in his intonation to Mark Knopfler, or Barre also run your instrument. If so, welcome. Dire Strait ... (read more)

Report this review (#968423) | Posted by sinslice | Saturday, June 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My original review was rudely interupted by a power surge that turned my pc off while I was reading through it just prior to clicking submit - that kind of thing makes one want to leave a tooth impression in the keyboard. I'm not going to attempt to rewrite the whole thing as I'm still acid ab ... (read more)

Report this review (#943194) | Posted by sukmytoe | Saturday, April 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As good as any Jethro Tull album from previous periods, Roots to Branches mark the entrance of the band in "world music" territory. Something quite "natural" for a band with so much folk influences and always keen to change and try new stuff. Although the album is too much dense, anddont have tme ... (read more)

Report this review (#897484) | Posted by GKR | Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This was a bit of a return to form for Jethro Tull, getting back to some of their folk/rock roots as well as some new touches, thankfully it was their best album for years. Of course you can't expect the same sounds as the old Tull, but there are many qualities to be found. In my opinion, it's ... (read more)

Report this review (#762984) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Sunday, June 3, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A sure improvement over the prior two albums, ROCK ISLAND and CATFISH RISING. This is by no means a return to the classic form of Jethro Tull, but it is a pretty good effort. There is an Eastern music influence here as well as a jazzy feeling to much of this. "Roots to Branches", "Rare and Pre ... (read more)

Report this review (#432706) | Posted by mohaveman | Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Nice return to form after several lacklustre releases. Has an ethnic eastern vibe to it which may surprise those who think of Tull as a medievally influenced band. Good addition to any prog rock collection. ... (read more)

Report this review (#152187) | Posted by Magor | Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the best Jethro Tull's Album since 70's, definitely, Tull is back. "Roots To Branches" have all the powerful melodies that got lost in 80's, is a very emotional album, songs like "Beside Myself", "At Last, Forever" And "Another Harry's Bar" can prove that. In this album, Ian experimente ... (read more)

Report this review (#118467) | Posted by HijoDelDiluvio | Sunday, April 15, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album heralds the longest period of uninterrupted quality in Tull's career. As much as their highest of high points were in the seventies, there were more low ones. I believe everything Ian's touched since this one in 95 is of high quality and would find its home in the upper quarter of ... (read more)

Report this review (#84868) | Posted by tullist | Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Having released a barrage of top-notch medieval and folk albums (Minstrels..., Songs..., ...Horses), Tull degenerated into a commercial machine in the 1980s, releasing a series of contrived and boring albums, falling so low as to win a Grammy. 1993's Nightcap was certainly a good effort, but i ... (read more)

Report this review (#74516) | Posted by Babelfish | Sunday, April 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Tull did a good job with this album, the least i can say. Musical, emotional in "at last forever" and what a flute then! "Another Harry's bar" and even "wounded old and treacherous" are worthwhile addings to a rock lover's collection. Truly Tull and particularly Ian here prove that they're still ... (read more)

Report this review (#39468) | Posted by | Thursday, July 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Very good album. Certainly is not properly a prog album. Jethro Tull was nevermore a prog band. Only "A passion play" and maybe "Aqualung" are a real prog album. In any case this is one of the most beautiful of their albums. Very very good. A masterpiece of folk rock. ... (read more)

Report this review (#16854) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars returning to '78. Simply fantastic sound and really good songs. Another Harry's Bar is my favorite one on this album. It brings back memories, and it's probably Jethro's most symphonic release... you just have to listen to this... ... (read more)

Report this review (#16847) | Posted by l-s-d | Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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