1,2. 1,2,3,4 and there we go with the super rocking Mrs.Tibbets, the first song of The Zealot Gene, the new album by Jethro Tull. It's the first studio album since The Christmas Album.
And what an album it is!! Here is a band playing on a level that not many progressive rockbands reach. And that's no wonder because 74 year old Ian Anderson performed the last 17 years with these band members on hundreds of stages around the world. And you can hear that. This album proves once more that Ian is Jethro Tull. His songwriting is still inventive and there are not that many musicians capable of writing lyrics like he does. Songwriting is a craft and Anderson wrote this album by simply starting each morning at 9 o'clock with a recording tool (iPhone) and a few instruments like his flute and a guitar. In the afternoon he started to write words that came up. For this album he was inspired by all the hate on Twitter and other social media. The total idiotic and dangerous way politicians like Trump were using them was an example. He connected the songs to passages from the bible. As he says: “I'm not a Christian but call me a supporter of christianity” so don't expect christian prog rock. On the contrary, Mrs. Tibbets for instance is about the mother of the pilot of Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb. Another song Sad City Sisters describes the drunken youth outside the pubs. My absolute favorite song is Mine Is The Mountain with phenomenal piano melodies in it.
The album was recorded as a band together in the studio, but then the pandemic hit the world and some songs were finished by Ian in his own studio. For a few songs his bandmates sent their contributions by internet but there are also acoustic solo tracks. In that sense it's a bit like albums such as Aqualung where Anderson performed some great solo songs.
Nevertheless this is a real Jethro Tull album. Florian Ophale (guitars, now replaced by Joe Parrish-James) plays a few great solo's while John O'Hara excels on piano, accordeon and Hammond organ. Bass player David Goodier and drummer Scott Hammond are a sublime and solid rhythm section. For me it's hats off for the old maestro and his boys. Ian sings fantastic, his flute playing is out of this world and everybody knows how great he can play the acoustic guitar and mandolin.
This is enjoying one of the best progressive rock bands from the first till the last second. This could be my album of the year already. And good news, on the first of Januari 2022 Anderson started writing a new album to be released in 2023. Yes please!!
***** Arne van Os van den Abeelen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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