added: 3 May 2014
// release date: 14 Apr 2014 // label: KScope
reviewer: Andy Snipper
This album by the esteemed Ian Anderson (aka Jethro Tull but much to his dismay) sees the return, once again, of his character Gerald Bostock, first seen on the ‘Thick As A Brick’ album and revisited on the ‘Thick As A Brick Part 2’ recently.
The St Cleve Chronicles set out a cod-history of the British Isles through the eyes of Ernest T. Parritt and as the basis of a concept album it is certainly no worse than most and a damn sight better than a great many.
I must admit that since the album arrived with a crash and chimes on my doorstep I have been finding it difficult to listen to anything else – as fan of Jethro Tull since the late ‘60’s it is a wonderful development of the best of Tull’s music and even stands alone as one of the best of modern prog sets.
Anderson’s vocals are instantly recognizable as is his flute playing but the rest of his band are familiar through the Royal Albert Hall shows last year – John O’Hara on keyboards and accordion, Florian Opahle on guitar, David Goodier (bass), Scott Hammond (Drums) all make a wondrous noise.
Anderson has always been one for the folk tale and the story from the heart of dear old England in her glory and inglorious acts and this has the classic folk-prog elements to the sound that Anderson does so well. The stories in the album make for a history that ranges from 7000 BC(Doggerland) through the Iron Age, Roman invasion, coming of Christianity and on to the modern day and beyond. He plays with the listener - I love the idea of a tune called ‘Heavy Metals’ that features voice and mandolin introducing the Iron Age – and seems to be taking you on more than just a history lesson as ‘TheTurnpike Inn’ tells the tales of highway robbery on the turnpikes of old that could just as easily be the motorways and service stations of today.
‘The Engineer’ talks about Brunel’s tunnels and his railway system but compare that to today’s HS2 – same arguments and Luddism then as now.
If you are a fan of Mr Anderson (or of Jethro Tull) this is a fairly logical move. He is still a vibrant and inventive songwriter and performer and has gathered a band that can play his new music as well as much of the older material and it is little surprise that it leapt into the Prog charts as soon as it was released – in time to come, this will be considered a classic.
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