Jethro Tull
Rock Island


1.5
very poor

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
August 24th, 2010 | 19 replies | 8,158 views


Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Welcome to Rock Island, where nothing ever happens.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

When Crest Of A Knave received a surprisingly large amount of praise from critics (who even bestowed upon it a Grammy), Ian Anderson wisely decided that releasing another album in the same vein would not be an entirely worthless enterprise. It’s true that musically, Rock Island is very much like it’s predecessor: Jethro Tull once again finds themselves playing progressive rock, with especial emphasis very much on the word “rock”. There’s a fundamental difference between the two, although: Crest Of A Knave was good. Rock Island, on the other hand, is anything but. The whole album is a throughly pedestrian affair, and never really becomes anything more than the aimless ramblings of Anderson, whose voice is as weak as ever, accompanied by Barre’s energetic, but oddly shallow, guitar playing.

Anderson haphazardly croons about whalers, stolen mandolins, and women of questionable repute, and yet he never manages to entertain, let alone excite, the listener, despite how much Strange Avenues’s nostalgic references to Aqualung try to pull on the listener’s heartstrings. The whole album is an exercise in stagnation, with the worst offenders being The Whaler’s Dues, which spends it’s eight minutes doing absolutely nothing aside from muttering a few uninspired pleas for forgiveness. It’s true that songs like Big Riff And Mando do see the band occasionally finding inspiration for short (very, very short) spells of ten or twenty seconds, but these offensively brief moments only serve to show how subpar the rest of the compositions are.

Throughout the album’s runtime, Jethro Tull does the musical equivalent of standing absolutely still. None of the melodies are given a chance to develop or progress (hell, most the time there really isn’t much of a melody at all) and thus the album ends up becoming a monotonous bore that, much like Under Wraps before it, ends up becoming an hour-long blur of toneless muttering, spiritless flutes, and superficial, forgettable riffs.

Truth be told, amidst all this meandering nonsense, there is one somewhat decent song: Another Christmas Song. This warm, gregarious tune (the direct opposite of it’s prequel, the cynical A Christmas Song) contains what is probably the album’s only interesting melody. Furthermore, the lyrics, for once not confined to bitter nostalgic rants about the environment or city life, are genuinely heartwarming and touching. Sure, the song never been able to even make it onto any of the band’s five best albums, but it certainly offers a nice break from the monotony of Rock Island (although the song really is too little, too late).

And so, here we have Jethro Tull’s worst album. Almost entirely devoid of any interesting ideas (or, perhaps, any ideas in general), Rock Island relies only on the listener’s nostalgia is the least rewarding listen that Ian Anderson attached his name to. Time and time again, Rock Island proves to be below expectations, and, considering Jethro Tull’s track record at the time and the groan-inducing titles of songs such as Undressed To Kill, those should be pretty low.

1.4/5

Recommended Songs
Another Christmas Song

Postscript: The 2006 remaster has three bonus songs: A Christmas Song, Cheap Day Return/Mother Goose, and Locomotive Breath. These are all live versions of the band’s classic material, and while nice, I suppose, nothing here is in any way essential. At this time, remember, the Tull lineup was not particularly strong, and neither was Anderson’s voice. If one were willing to listen to the definitive version of Locomotive Breath, I infinitely recommend picking up Bursting Out, by far the band’s strongest live album.



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user ratings (57)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
August 24th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Part fifteen of the Tull discography. This one has rather decent album art. Prior to accusing me of giving this an excessively low rating, kindly watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baM62gOuqg8

Nagrarok
August 24th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Pos'd. I don't see anything to like about the cover art though. You really do know your Tull.

vanderb0b
August 24th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks! Eh, the album art is certainly better than the music. By Tull's standard, it's not too bad. Just noticed that the hand reaching out of the water is the titular island, and that made it seem a lot more cheesy than I previously thought it to be.

Nagrarok
August 24th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I do rather like the cover for Aqualung.

vanderb0b
August 24th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Yeah, that's probably their best. The original Stand Up record had their best packaging, although, there was a pop-up drawing of the band inside the case.

Jethro42
August 24th 2010



12377 Comments


I left the Tull wagon right after their famous 'A' album (1980), until several years later when I accidentally heard about a masterpiece called 'Roots to Branches' (1995) , the very only album post 'A' worthy of being called 'Jethro Tull'. (except a tiny portion of 'Krest', and their very last 'The Jethro Tull Christmas Album', of course).
Nice job vanderb0b, watta courage it takes to review an awful album.

cinaedus
August 24th 2010



26298 Comments


I like the artwork for Thick as a Brick a lot. It's really cool if you have the LP cause it's like a full newspaper.
Another ace review, b0b. How many do you have left?

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

vanderb0b
August 24th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks, everyone!

'Roots to Branches' (1995) , the very only album post 'A' worthy of being called 'Jethro Tull'


Broadsword and the Beast was awesome, imo. I need to check out to the Christmas album again, only gave it one listen.

How many do you have left?


6 studio albums. Then, I can imagine myself doing Living In The Past and 20 Years Of Jethro Tull, two awesome compilations of rare material. Also, Bursting Out, a live album, is greatly in need of a review. Then, Anderson has four solo albums, which I will also review. So, all in all, there will be about thirteen more.

BigHans
August 24th 2010



26455 Comments


This sounds absolutely awful. Good review.

Jethro42
August 24th 2010



12377 Comments


Broadsword and the Beast was awesome, imo. I need to check out to the Christmas album again, only gave it one listen


I don't know very well 'Broadswoard and the Beast' because its electronic approach turned me off from the start. 'Broadsword' and 'Seal Driver' are good songs though. And yes, Christmas Album is a quality album, not only good for Christmas time, really. Also, have you considered to cover 'Nightcap'?

vanderb0b
August 25th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thank, Hans

I don't know very well 'Broadswoard and the Beast' because its electronic approach turned me off from the start.


Yeah, the electronic stuff is quite odd at first.

Also, have you considered to cover 'Nightcap'?


I might do that one, it's pretty good.

Piglet
August 25th 2010



4652 Comments


i feel the need to post a random comment.


vanderb0b
August 25th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

That's cool, man.

Jethro42
August 25th 2010



12377 Comments


@vanderb0b, yes, Nightcap is very enjoyable, especially the 1st disc, with Barlow, Evans, Hammond & co.

sup Piglet

vanderb0b
August 25th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I haven't heard the whole thing yet, actually, but there's definitely a bunch of great material in there. "Solitaire" and "Broadford Bazzar" are among the band's best material.

Jethro42
August 25th 2010



12377 Comments


Take a listen to 'Critique Oblique'. That version slays the one found on 'Passion Play'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOl93Q4qv5w&p=EF61CC30BF5C97D9&playnext=1&index=13
...song is merged with:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jFxHMKzSKU

vanderb0b
August 25th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Yeah, a lot of songs on Nightcap is better than their Passion Play equivalents.

13themount
January 31st 2012



173 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

some good songs but nothing special; like the stange avenues lyric about an album cover from 1972.

13themount
January 31st 2012



173 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

some good songs but nothing special; like the stange avenues lyric about an album cover from 1972.



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