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Ian Anderson - Walk into Light CD (album) cover


Ian Anderson


Prog Folk

2.80 | 153 ratings

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3 stars Ian Anderson got plagued by the eighties in the same vein Peter Hammill was: trying to catch up with a way of music-making that wasn't possible back in the sixties and seventies and, worse, seemed to be leaving them behind. There's nothing really wrong with playing catch up, sometimes, and yet, the sterility of 1980's production values was only fit for (mostly) bland pop when not employed as a tool for hair metal, not for prog-rockers and their dreams of epicness. This fact didn't prevent them from trying and this (and Tull's Under Wraps the year later) is the result of IA's venture into the world of synths and drum machines.

It may have seemed valid for Ian to make this his first solo record since Tull was still very much a folk-prog band rather than a synthpop one even in the synth-drenched A and Broadsword And The Beast albums, and, on top of all of that, new member Peter John-Vetesse was very much a tech wiz and someone not widely recognized as Tull yet. So both of them started recording Walk Into Light in early 1983 to explored the world of synthpop and the many new tools in midi, programming and sound synthesis, mainly the brand new Rhodes Chroma synth.

Ok, so Walk Into Light isn't prog at all, or not as it is known, but, even though it hasn't dated well at all because of such doubtfull production values, it is definitely progressive, or an attempt to progress into the environment of the time, and, in this, I consider this record a fully accomplished one.

Now, not everything here is good, actually, only more than half is, while the rest is quite bad. "Fly By Night", "Made In England", "Walk Into Light", "Trains", "Looking For Eden", "User Friendly" and "Different Germany" are highlights, while the paranoia and reflection on the deacyed and modern society are very effective in this cold and robotic context, but "Toad In The Hole", "Black And White Television" and "End Game" are enormous letdowns, where even the slightest hint of melody, so needed when you don't have much to pay attention to, fails to be effective.

In the end, Ian decided to bring this experience to Jethro Tull and the result was, obviously, the dreaded Under Wraps. Yet, the biggest problem of UW is a larger number of songs in the vein of "End Game" (Astronomy, Tundra, Heat, Automotive Engineering, General Crossing) and lesser in the spirit of "Made In England" (Lap Of Luxury, Under Wraps 1 and 2, Saboteur, Nobody's Car), that is, atmosphere over catchiness, something that cannot be reached using this technology. If Ian did just the opposite, UW could have been at least listenable.

At the end of the day, I like this album and I like UW, but I'm glad Anderson and Jethro Tull didn't carry on in this direction: such a product of it's time should stay there.

JackFloyd | 3/5 |


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