In my final words of the reviews of The Secret Language Of Birds and Rupi's Dance (see review), I wrote that Ian Anderson's first solo album would have a re-release in early 2011. I wrote as well that I was looking forward to it for this album has some fine musical moments. Well, after listening to the new version of Walk Into Light (1983) I can say that it has much more than just 'some fine musical moments'. For me, this debut album released by Jethro Tull's frontman - the album A (1980) was originally intended to be Anderson's solo debut, but was ultimately released as a Tull-album - contains all elements to call it a masterpiece. The compositions are of a very high level and the musicianship is outstanding. You may say that Walk Into Light is actually a duo album since Anderson worked closely with Peter-John Vettese, the then keyboard player of Jethro Tull.
The collaboration of Anderson and Vettese was already excellent on Tull's most progressive rock album Broadsword And The Beast (1982). At the time they pleasantly integrated the state of the art keyboard technology in their music. Ian Anderson wanted to explore all possibilities of this modern equipment, but somehow he was afraid that it would discourage the Tull-fans if he should try it out on a band album. Therefore, an already planned solo album could serve as a vehicle to try things out. This experiment worked out very well as I discovered when the LP was released in 1983. The first CD-version was worthwhile listening too and made the album sound even better. However, the CD didn't contain the information of the original album. Thank goodness this second version is much better in all respects. This time all the lyrics have been printed in the booklet together with a list of instruments both musicians used. Moreover, Mr. Anderson wrote some fine liner notes about the album. He stated, amongst other things, that he was glad that he finally could play it on his i-Pod because he only owned a vinyl copy of Walk Into Light.
For people who are unfamiliar with the album it's good to know how the songs on the album sound. The ten tracks certainly belong to the best songs Ian Anderson ever wrote alone or together with Peter-John Vettese. I won't get into details about the individual tracks, but one thing's for sure: they all sound as pure progressive rock tunes with strong instrumental parts dominated by keyboards, Anderson's flute and his acoustic guitar. The use of a drum machine might not be enjoyable for all prog heads, but it didn't bother me at all. All that matters are the songs and these are very strong and well-sung sometimes with a lot of emotion. I find it difficult to believe that two musicians could deliver such strong musical performances without any weak spots. Together Anderson and Vettese created the sound of a real band with many influences and hints of seventies bands as Yes and Genesis. But you can also hear influences of electronic music made by bands as Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk.
People who own the Jethro Tull-album Under Wraps, released a year after Walk Into Light, have an indication how this solo effort sounds. Under Wraps again showed that Anderson and Vettese could write and record music with the help of modern equipment and synthesizers. However, the songs never reached the magnificent level of the ones on Walk Into Light. Maybe they used all the strong compositions for this release. For me Walk Into Light is a true masterpiece that deserves the highest possible rating of five stars.
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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