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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Jethro Tull - Dot com - 1999

After many, too many years of creative drought, Jethro Tull, one of the key groups of our style and one of the few ones that still maintain a high creative level, has surprised us with the edition of their last studio CD, which could be the last one of the history of the band leaded by Ian Anderson. However, the present of the band is "Dot com", strange title and strange detail: in any part of the CD the complete name of the group appears, being only limited to put in the credits, cover (drawn by Ian) and loin, the name J-Tull.

The members of the group, besides the incombustible master Anderson playing all kind of flutes, bouzouki, acoustic guitar, and singing with a voice that I guess worst that it is, are the classic Martin Barre, the veterans Andrew Giddings and Doane Perry; and Jonathan Noyce, a quite good bassist (but we miss Dave Pegg). By the way, another of the surprises of the CD is that Anderson allow to participate in the composition of the tracks some members of the group (Martin Barre in "Hot Mango Flush"), being Andrew Giddings the solo author of the track "Nothing @ all".

Well, beside the merely incidental details, we go to the core of the question. "Dot com" is a very awaited CD, but when one person listens this album, he can't forget the previous and wonderful album "Roots to branches". "Dot com" has fourteen tracks, and for the review I will try to conjugate the objectivity and the synthesis.

I don't discover you anything if I tell you that the duration of the tracks is quite scarce and that a couple of them only overcomes the 5 minutes. "Spiral" is the first song of the album and... well, it is not the song that I would include as first one after so many years of drought. This song is a mixture of the "Catfish rising" style with some reminiscences of "Minstrel in the gallery" in its central instrumental section. The following track gives title to the album, "Dot com", and in my opinion it is not very good, after an ethnic and promising beginning, with flute and Najma Akhtar's beautiful voice, the songs goes on a mainstream pop-rock and in this moment I remind bands of the eighties as Aztec Camera and so on; OK, respectable music, but it is not the best song for Jethro Tull. The following piece that we can listen it is "Awal", another good sample of the quality of the musicians but without surprises. The short and beautiful instrumental with piano "Nothing @ all" is the prelude to "Wicked windows", a quite experimental track with strange rhythms, high quality and intensity; of the best songs of the CD, with an Anderson that reminds the sessions of "Songs from the wood".

In this point, one can think that the CD is not the best of the world, but it is 100% in the Tull-style that the band always has followed, except in Under wraps. Returning to the review, the next song is "Hunt by numbers" with a guitar riff that reminds some of the included in the Black Sabbath's work that is followed by an impressive instrumental development in the hard style (one style that I don't like very much). The following track is "Hot mango flush" and it is very strange, with certain rhythmic influences that I feel very difficult to get into in the beginning. The same conclusion can be applied to the following song "El niño", a mixture of tribal sound a la "Divinities" with influences of Metallica. "Black mamba" goes back to the traditional sound by Tull in a very good track in which all the musicians play very well. After this track there is a small joke of Ian titled "Mambo Surprise", one minute and sixteen seconds with Ian singing the words "Hot mango flush" with Caribbean sounds. The following "Bends Like a Willow" shows a classic Tull sound, and "Far Alaska" could have appeared in "Crest of a Knave" or "Catfish Rising", although that it is closer to the glorious moments of the seventies of the band. The beautiful "The Dog-Ear Years" and, better, "A Gift of Roses" with its folk spirit and with a lot of freshness and spontaneity. After having listened these last songs, one person can forget the strange feelings derived of the listening of the first songs. Moreover, if you are a patience person and you can wait some seconds, Ian will introduce you a song of his solo forthcoming CD titled "The Secret Language of Birds" which is very interesting.

To conclude, I have to take position considering not very bad songs like "Hot Mango Flush", "Spiral ", "Dot Com" and so, and wonder like the tracks of the end of the CD (obviously I won't consider the solo track by Ian). Jethro Tull has already demonstrated its high quality along their three decades of life, only having a very bad CD (you must think in how many bad albums have other great prog bands), I believe that I will be right if I give seven points to this album.

Alfonso Algora - September 1999
rating - Roadrunner Records

 

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