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Jethro Tull - Rock Island CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

2.71 | 524 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

This album ROCK ISLAND is one of the most debated JETRHO TULL release by the fans. Some loathe it as a bland new unimaginative version of CREST OF A KNAVE and others consider it as a solid TULL album with its own personality. I guess the truth lays somewhere in the middle of the road. This is not a great album, neither it is a bad one! ROCK ISLAND is definitely not essential for a great JT collection, but should not be compared as low as UNDER WRAPS for example.

Yes, after the commercial success of CREST OF A KNAVE, IAN ANDERSON and CO would l not take any chances and go back dance a Bourree in the woods. This is mostly a very rock album with some hard edges ( don't forget they were the heavy metal champions at this time.ha.ha!) but there are still goodies to be found here, well in the good old TULL tradition .

The amazing thing about ROCK ISLAND is the deeper you get in this album, the better it gets!. Trying to capitalize on the hit STEEL MONKEY, this album opens with 2 bland hard rockers KISSING WILLIE and THE RATTLESNAKE TRAIL with no originality or finesse at all; I guess IAN was looking for a new hit and satisfy the new TULL fans who board ship with CREST OF A KNAVE. Yes, KISSING WILLIE became a -minor- hit but was sure not to please the old faithful JT veteran who has been part of all TULL campaigns for 20 years.

There are some more rockers of this kind with UNDRESSED TO KILL or HEAVY WATER . Not that they are bad, they're not, this is still JETHRO TULL playing and IAN singing, but as soon they are over, you already have forgotten about them. There is nothing to distinct these songs from each other, they're build in the same mould, simple dull rockers destined to hopefully make some impact on the charts someday.

Now the good part is there are also some great songs to be found on ROCK ISLAND mostly on the second part of the CD like the excellent title track or the great acoustic ANOTHER CHRISTMAS SONG with gorgeous flute all over the song. The highlight and most elaborated song on this set is THE WHALER 'DUES with a nice build up well in the old TULL vein,nice flute, great MARTIN BARRE guitar breaks and solos . A great classic JT song which could have been featured on any great release from their past.

The mandolin is back on BIG RIFF AND MANDO, A mix of quiet and loud passages, great flute once again, everything to please an old TULL aficionado. ROCK ISLAND ends up very nicely with the athmospherisque STRANGE AVENUES , JETHRO TULL at its most creative with again a wonderful flute , nice melody and a great BARRE.

How can an album starts so poorly and finish on such a high note? amazing! Worth noticing that the voice of IAN ANDERSON is sounding sadly very tired again and you sense he can't force it!

3 bonus tracks have been added , somewhat different from the other remastered CDs as they are 3 ''live'' recorded the dressing of a concert venue in ZURICH; there are songs we all know but they are played differently and are a pleasure to listen to them; Usually i am tired of listening for the millionth time LOCOMOTIVE BREATH, but this new version is fresh with only flute and electric guitar and the same goes for the mandolin-led CHRISTMAS SONG or the acoustic CHEAP DAY RETURN.

ROCK ISLAND is not a masterpiece by any stretch, but that's not a bad album either, so the rating will be....


febus | 3/5 |


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