Jethro Tull - J-Tull Dot Com

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Fuel 2000
Catalog Number: FLD 1043
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:27:00

From the opening notes of J-Tull Dot Com, you know that this is Jethro Tull - and not just down to Ian Anderson's trilling flute. That heavy sound that is uniquely Tull (and Tull clones) burst through from the opening track, "Spiral." I was going to postulate that there were at least two themes running through this album, but in thinking about those two themes, and in formulating the paragraphs that would express those thoughts to you, I came across a variety of alternate interpretations. And such is the magic of Jethro Tull...nothing is so cut and dried that you can definitively say, "this song is about this, this is about that." Perhaps the best one can do is give generalities and leave it up to other listeners to form their own conclusions.

So, I won't attempt a lyrical breakdown, won't go song by song and say "this is about that." However, like many artists of late, including Rush (on Test For Echo and Shadow Gallery (Tyranny), our online world has become a topic for a song - here it's "Dot Com" It's not surprising that the view taken is often cynical, certainly Shadow Gallery's was, seeing the whole nature of the Internet being suspect. But here, the beautiful melody and Anderson's understated vocals underlie his cynical view of how we will conduct our interpersonal relations in the (all too near) future. Already those of us who have personal websites are quicker to give that than our names (I myself was once guilty of that). The internet and the World Wide Web have become pervasive in our society - but for the web, this site might not exist.

Nevertheless, in expressing this idea, Anderson and the rest of Tull, have given the track a very romantic feel, as if this could be a tender song about love, about romance found online: the chorus concludes with the line "I'll be yours -- yours, dot com."

In way, as I think, too, about Marillion's own recent "Answering Machine" (Radiation), the whole concept of being even more distant from each other while technology brings is so many more ways to communicate, and communicate more quickly and cheaply, is becoming equally pervasive. Commericals and adds are promoting the idea that person to person realtime communicate still has, and has better, value. So many companies are enabling person to person service calls even through their websites. Perhaps this balance will keep Anderson's (and others') "prophecies" from coming to be.

Okay, that said, what about the song itself? Even if it is thought provoking, is it any good? Yes, because the whole irony of soft, warm tones, romantic imagery against a idealogical backdrop of glass and plastic works.

Anderson does spend some time looking back, without rehashing past glories. This is perhaps most evident on "The Dog-Ear Years," but also appearant on "Wicked Windows." How much of either one is autobiographical is hard to say...I suspect more so in "Dog-Ear" but I'm not going to speculate.

Most of this album is low key, though it does rock in places, not with the same metal-like crunch of say "Brass Monkey" nor as hard rock as on their classic tracks. "Hunt By Numbers" comes close, and is the most like past Tull releases of the last decade or so (I've not given their previous release Roots To Branches enough spins to include that in my assessment).

Perhaps the track that stands out the most sonically is "Hot Mango Flush," one of the two tracks not written by Anderson; here it's Barre, in this almost totally acoustic, sassy little number. Guitar, of course, takes the lead. It seems to me to be so uncharaistic of Jethro Tull...actually, there are times where this made me think of Lou Reed, down to Anderson's mostly spoken delivery. Where most of the album is painted in warm colours, some wet, some dry, this is painted in bright fruit can almost see Carmen Miranda (is that an archaic reference?).

"El Niño" is a tangoistic, Spanish-styled tune, with a driving, rocking, searing guitar dominated chorus. This is "El Nino" as metaphor for the very thing El Niño represents...that change in weather that we have come to know so well...and maybe also the overhype that things are given...oh, I don't know. I could make a case here I'm sure for many things that Anderson might or might not mean...and even then I might be off the mark.

Jethro Tull this time out is, of course, Ian Anderson, whose flute seems much more up front than I recall, trilling beautfully, resonately; Martin Barre, guitars; Andrew Giddings, a variety of keys; Doane Perry, drums and percussion; and Jonathan Noyce, bass. One of the many, many highlights of this album is Andrew Giddings' with beautiful solo piano piece called "Nothing @ All" (the only other non-Anderson penned tune).

This may not be the best Tull release ever, and only when they've stopped recording can we truly make that assessment, but it is damn good. This is seasoned, measured rock from a band who is way beyond needing filler to flesh out a release...(though I wonder at the short reprise of "Hot Mango Flush" halfway through ... well played and playful though it is). The Tull magic is still there and this is a strong contender for my favourite of the year.

This edition of the new album contains a bonus track, that I won't spoil for those who happen upon this same edition, except to say it previews Anderson's new solo release, due to be released next February, and it sounds great]

Spiral (3:50) / Dot Com (4:25) / AWOL (5:19) / Nothing @ All (0:56) / Wicked Windows (4:40) / Hunt By Numbers (4:00) / Hot Mango Flush (3:49) / El Ni?o (4:40) / Black Mamba (5:00) / Mango Surprise (1:14) / Bends Like A Willow (4:53) / Far Alaska (4:06) / The Dog-Ear Years (3:34) / A Gift of Roses (3:54)

Ian Anderson - flutes, bouzouki, acoustic guitar
Martin Barre - guitars
Andrew Giddings - Hammond organ, piano, accordian, keyboards
Doane Perry - drums and percussion
Jonathan Noyce - bass

This Was (1968)
Stand Up (1969)
Benefit (1970)
Aqualung (1971)
Thick As A Brick (1972)
Living In The Past (1972)
A Passion Play (1973)
War Child (1974)
Minstrel In The Gallery (1975)
M.U. The Best Of (1976)
Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die (1976)
Songs From The Wood (1977)
Repeat - The Best Of Jethro Tull Vol 2 (1977)
Heavy Horses (1978)
Bursting Out - Live (1978)
Stormwatch (1979/2004)
'A' (1980)
The Broadsword And The Beast (1982/2005)
Under Wraps (1984)
Original Masters (1985)
Crest Of A Knave (1987/2005)
20 Years Of Jethro Tull (1988)
Rock Island (1988)
Catfish Rising (1991)
A Little Light Music (1992)
The Anniversary Collection (1993)
25th Anniversary Box Set (1993)
Nightcap (1995)
Roots To Branches (1995)
J-Tull Dot Com (1999)
The Very Best Of (2001)
Living With The Past (2002)
The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (2003)
Classic Masters (2003)
Stand Up/This Was (2003)
Essential (2003)
Nothing Is Easy: Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 (2004)
Aqualung Live (2005)
Jethro Tull/Ian Anderson (2005)
Extended Versions (2006)
Live At Montreux 2003 (2007)
The Best Of Acoustic Jethro Tull (2007)
Living With The Past/Nothing Is Easy (2008)
This Was (expanded) (2008)
Nothing Is Easy - Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 (2004/2008)
The Anniversary Collection/A New Day Yesterday (2008)
Live At Montreux 2003 (2008)
Live At Madison Square Garden (2009)
Christmas Album (2009)
Live In Switzerland 2003 (LP) (2014)
A Passion Play - An Extended Performance (2014)
War Child - 40th Anniversary Theatre Edition (2014)
Minstrel In The Gallery - 40th Anniversary La Grande Edition (2015)

Living With The Past (DVD) (2002)
A New Day Yesterday: 1969-1994 - The 25th Anniversary Collection (VID/DVD) (1994/2003/4)
Nothing Is Easy - Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 (DVD) (2005) Live At Montreux 2003 (DVD) (2008)
Jack In The Green - Live In Germany (DVD) (2008)
Live In Bethlehem, PA, 2003 (DVD) (2008)
Their Full Authorized Story (DVD) (2009)
Live At AVO Session 2008 (DVD) (2009)
Live At Madison Square Garden (DVD) (rec 1978, rel 2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: August 17th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1460
Language: english


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