Martin Barre: Away With Words

Resourceful Tull re-imaginings from their time-honoured guitar guvnor.

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Jethro Tull’s linchpin guitarist uses that band’s downtime to present his fourth solo album, and it’s almost away with electrics, as well as words. Barre has taken an imaginative approach to his own past by readdressing many of his favourite, often more obscure, nuggets from Tull’s vast cache, chiefly on acoustic guitar.

He also adds new compositions of his own, often installing them alongside Ian Anderson’s original melodies. It’s a fresh means of appreciating the group from a new vantage point, and many of the pieces are almost unrecognisable after the transfusion.

Protect & Survive transmutes from the A album’s nuclear protest message to a reflective instrumental vehicle for his acoustic. One Brown Mouse is closer to the Heavy Horses original, but now wordless and augmented by his own Fatcat. Barre does get the electric out here, also playing flute, bouzouki, clarinet and sundry other utensils in a convivial band setting with Dan Crisp on occasional vocals. The faithful will also warm to the revival of Pussy Willow, From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser and other trusted friends.

Enlightened recasting combines with engaging performances to win the day.

Paul Sexton

Prog Magazine contributor Paul Sexton is a London-based journalist, broadcaster and author who started writing for the national UK music press while still at school in 1977. He has written for all of the British quality press, most regularly for The Times and Sunday Times, as well as for Radio Times, Billboard, Music Week and many others. Sexton has made countless documentaries and shows for BBC Radio 2 and inflight programming for such airlines as Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific. He contributes to Universal's uDiscoverMusic site and has compiled numerous sleeve notes for the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and other major artists. He is the author of Prince: A Portrait of the Artist in Memories & Memorabilia and, in rare moments away from music, supports his local Sutton United FC and, inexplicably, Crewe Alexandra FC.