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Jethro Tull - The Zealot Gene CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.34 | 190 ratings

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4 stars As a mad Jethro Tull addict I had to eventually succumb my ears to the latest Tull album and number 23 is a sheer delight. Ian Anderson has quoted in Prog mag,  "you have a box that says Ian Anderson and another box that says Jethro Tull but inside both boxes it's the same old corn flakes.... my whole belief is that as a musician there's always something you can learn every time you pick up your instruments". On this latest album I would have to agree as I had no expectations whatsoever with The Zealot Gene so this won't be a harsh comparison to Thick as a brick or Aqualung as that would be pointless,  that ship has sailed and a new ship has come in.  This latest release is definitely a great Jethro Tull sound and is the perfect album for me to fill in my days of isolation from this dreaded Covid desolation.

Track 1 is Mrs Tibbets and begins the album with a flourish. I was pleasantly surprised to know that Ian Andersons trilling merrily away on his flute and his dry vocals have returned with his musing on the weird and wonderful. The time sig changes are evident and the  prancing flute is music to my ears. The lead Breaks are  heavenly and add so much power to the sound and there is a wintery Christmas theme, though this is streets ahead of  the disappointing Christmas album.

There have been five decades, 36 band members and more than 20 albums but Jethro Tull are definitely not ready to pack up the cod piece and flute yet. The album shines on every track telling tales of intriguing characters  such as Jacob's Tales powered by harmonica embellishments with Andersons vocals in the foreground. There is another Christmas theme with a strange Melody that tells a Jagged tale of drudgery during Winter preparing for the big day.

Mine is the Mountain has the return of the Glorious flute trills, telling of a tramp in the cold who may or may not have an aqualung. I like the sound of the piano counterbalanced by Andersons raspy dry vocals. The flute is absolutely mesmerising throughout making this the best track so far.

The Zealot Gene does has a great metal riff and  rocks heavy for Tull. I really like the tune and how the music changes and keeps developing. Yes, the album really delivers.

Shoshana Sleeping is a fun romp with heavy drums and a very cool guitar riff and a ton of flute.  The lyrics  are relentless and as oddball as Tull can be. The flute is in full flight here.

Sad City Sisters has an Elizabethan mediaeval feel with bouzouki and upbeat sound augmented by accordion. Andersons Goggling word play us a joy and the flutists Pied Piper is swinging merrily throughout.

Barren Beth, Wild Desert John has a proggy feel and  flute takes Centre Stage before a great guitar lick crunches in. Anderson rants with energy about fanciful characters such as cousin Mary who may be cross-eyed Mary's long lost cousin.

Theme Betrayal of Joshua Kynde continues the album with swathes of flute and piano over a layer of guitar distortion. It locks into a nice melody with Anderson singing softer with melancholy reflection.

Where did Saturday go? The lyrics try to answer it but there is none as Anderson is regretting where his day's have gone. It's a nice detour from the heavy sounds and I love the guitar Acoustics.

Three loves, Three has more flute and another sparse arrangement with guitars and soft vocals. The tambourine helps as the drummer is absent for these next tracks, this being the case because Anderson was in isolation suffering from Covid. I know how he feels.

This Segues directly into In Brief Visitation with seamless clarity. Anderson still needs someone to love, he sings, with dangerous affections sublime. There are allegories to a boat on the rough Waters making this a sad reflective song.

The final piece is The Fisherman of Ephesus which sounds Biblical and is, closing the album with the welcome return of drums. It is a tale of fisherman looking for an answer not just fish. Jethro Tull are wonderful when everything gels as it does here with flying flutes, odd time signatures, fanciful lyrics and guitars.

This album is absolutely wonderful. I believe it's a definitive pleasure to listen to Tull who have had their ups and downs in their lengthy career, but you can count this as a highlight right at the end of their career. It is a pure delight from the masters of Prog Folk

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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