Jethro Tull
Catfish Rising


3.5
great

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
September 14th, 2010 | 18 replies


Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Not the album that it could have been, and definitely not the album that Tull fans were asking for, Catfish Rising is still highly enjoyable.

By the time that the 1990’s came about, Jethro Tull was in desperate need of doing something to once again become relevant. For the past ten years, boring release came after boring release, with only two somewhat worthwhile (or, rather, not entirely embarrassing) albums being released in this relatively long time. It seemed that by now, Ian Anderson, whose voice was severely weakened, couldn’t write an entertaining tune, a notion acutely reinforced by the disastrous Rock Island. And so, in 1991, out came Catfish Rising. Was it the comeback that the band needed" Probably not, when considering that it did little to change anyone’s opinion of the band, but that doesn’t stop Catfish Rising from being a rather interesting listen.

Often overlooked as just another dreary post-Heavy Horses album, Catfish Rising actually saw Jethro Tull significantly improving upon their newer, almost Dire-Straits-esque, sound. The album moved away from the superfluous, aimless atmospherics and metallic meanderings of songs such as The Whaler’s Dues and Strange Avenues and towards a raw, bluesy sound, and for this the album is all the better.

Strangely enough, it all works. The melodies are almost always memorable, the flutes sparkle with energy, and the guitars, once again gritty and rough, spit out solos that could have been taken straight from Stand Up. For the first time in ages, Anderson’s charisma and energy is evident, and it’s obvious that the band is genuinely making an effort to make Catfish Rising sound good, something that can’t be said about many of the album’s predecessors. Martin Barre in particular surprises, with his soloing showing an unusual amount of restraint and relying less on flamboyance than usual, something exhibited perfectly by the melancholy Still Loving You Tonight, whose leads elevate a good song into absolute bliss.

Despite the bluesy direction taken by the band, one can find a fair amount of acoustic material, with the Indian-themed Like A Tall Thin Girl being a particularly refreshing listen (although, I should note that the song is marred by some of Anderson’s worst lyrics). Also of note is Rocks On The Road, a fun, quirky little number that quickly became a live favorite, with good reason.

The album’s biggest downfall comes in it’s lack of diversity. Unlike the eclectic releases of old, Catfish Rising is content with alternating between only gritty, electric bluesy numbers and soft, acoustic bluesy numbers, these occasionally including slight elements of Celtic or Indian music. Due to this unfortunate lack of variety, the album is much more tedious than it should be, especially when the music’s quality is placed into consideration, and this is in no way helped by the sixty minute length of the album.

Despite the fact that Catfish Rising is certainly a step up from the likes of Rock Island and Under Wraps, one can’t help feeling that much of it pales in comparison to the band’s back catalogue, especially when examined from a lyrical standpoint. In the end, the album seems like a less diverse, slightly more sterile Stand Up, but that really isn’t a very bad thing at all.

3.5/5

Recommended Songs
Rocks On The Road
Still Loving You Tonight
Doctor To My Disease



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user ratings (74)
Chart.
2.7
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
September 14th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Back to doing Tull! Lost track of how many I've done, but I'm nearing the end. Up next will be J-Tull Dot Com and Necrophobic's debut. Not sure in what order I'll do those. Then it's time for my first milestone, #50.

pizzamachine
September 14th 2010


13490 Comments


Good review like usual pos. Also, Catfish Rising? Hahaha what kind of album title is that.

vanderb0b
September 14th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you!



Hahaha what kind of album title is that.




As bad as it is, you've got to admit that it's better than J-Tull Dot Com.

pizzamachine
September 14th 2010


13490 Comments


You got me there, that's pretty awful. I do like his 3D album cover though.

vanderb0b
September 14th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There's a 3D album cover?

pizzamachine
September 14th 2010


13490 Comments


Yeah, there's one for Roots To Branches. It's hard to tell 'cause the Sputnik pic is bad quality.

vanderb0b
September 14th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ah, that's pretty cool. Never saw a physical copy of that one, but that should be awesome.

Jethro42
September 14th 2010


15189 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I borrowed this album to the library couple years ago. I listened to it only once, and pretty fast, so I now add this to my listen-to list.

I actually own a Roots to Branches copy since couple of years and if there's a 3D thing, I've never noticed. I mean it does actually 'look' like a 3-D art work. Ill verify anyway.

Nice job on the review vander!

vanderb0b
September 14th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks! Definitely check this out again, it's about as good as Roots To Branches, imo.

Jethro42
September 14th 2010


15189 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh, ok then, I'm sold.

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 14th 2010


25585 Comments


hey vanderbob, this is a great review. all of your reviews that i've seen have been top-notch, keep it up.

Digging: Senses Fail - If There Is Light, It Will Find You

vanderb0b
September 14th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, man. My early ones aren't too great, though, I'll probably edit them sometime soon.

JamieTwort
November 13th 2011


26953 Comments


This is great.

13themount
January 31st 2012


173 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

mostly dull.

13themount
January 31st 2012


173 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

mostly dull.

menawati
November 20th 2012


16587 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

competent but forgettable

Sabrutin
April 18th 2017


4946 Comments


all kind of animals coming here

occasional demons too :D

RippingCorpse1986
November 26th 2017


954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

An improvement over Rock Island. Unfortunately, Ian fell into the CD trap (gotta fill that space, man!!!), so the album is a little overwhelming at first, but overall it's a nice and enjoyable record.



This Is Not Love and White Innocence totally rule.



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