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Jethro Tull - Roots To Branches CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.63 | 487 ratings

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Symphonic Team
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.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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