With the Jethro Tull marque on indefinite hold while Ian Anderson ploughs a different furrow, their longtime guitar linchpin Martin Barre has seized the momentum of last year’s largely acoustic Away With Words by digging deeper.
Or really, digging closer to the surface this time, because while the last album had him revisiting generally lower-profile Tull pieces like Pussy Willow and From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser, the new one puts a contemporary lick of paint on such set texts as Minstrel In The Gallery, Thick As A Brick and Locomotive Breath. But always with a taste for some pepper among the salt, Barre includes blues rock standards from further afield, like Crossroads and Rock Me Baby. Vocalist Dan Crisp stars again on an album that’s plugged in and shedding the rustic woodiness of acoustic instrumentation. They all come through the transition into a more AOR mainstream: the opening New Day Yesterday is much more head-on rock than its bluesy, moody ancestor, and Minstrel now more percussive, but with Barre as lyrical as ever throughout. Order Of Play complements Barre’s touring show and adeptly brings some old songs into this century.