Jethro Tull’s “The Zealot Gene” Is Rich with Zest – Opinion

Many veteran musicians will soon have to face the hard truth that they can no longer live in their youth. If a singer can’t reach certain notes with ease, it is a huge strain. It is difficult to come up with songs that sound different from the ones you have already heard. Their audience is long past stagnant and wants nothing more than to hear the nostalgic soundtrack of their youth. Veteran artists are being tempted to take their instruments one step down, get on the bus and go to the gigs, singing only the best songs to satisfy the loyal.

You could also be Ian Anderson. The singer/songwriter/flutist and unquestioned focal point for the past five decades-plus of English progressive rockers Jethro Tull could, at age 74, easily mail it in and do nothing other than perform “Aqualung” and “Thick As A Brick” for the umpteenth time whenever the mood strikes to pick up a nice paycheck. Instead, he has dusted off his band’s name after 19 years of solo work, rounded up the current assemblage of lads, and released a brimming with brio album titled The Zealot Gene.

Anderson has long been a thinking person’s rocker, laying atop his musical mix of muscular electrified English folk riffs and fondness for jagged yet melodic exploration of avant-garde musings a lyrical bent for examining life with a fusion of hard-bitten cynicism and philosophical, quiet affection for humanity’s segments that are at best ignored and far more often derided by the self-proclaimed social elite. Although progressive rock has been outmoded since the late 1970s Anderson, via Jethro Tull, has not stopped pushing ahead regardless of what is on the pop charts.

You can find more information here The Zealot GeneAnderson draws inspiration from many Scriptures to create his poetic observations. While not a Christian, Anderson has at least a healthy respect for the faith, thus instead of lampooning his inspirations embodies the reason why, after five centuries, the King James Version remains the world’s most-used English Bible, for it was translated not only as Scripture but also as literature with poetic lilt and grace. Back to Anderson; while at times the lyrical Scriptural origins are unmistakable, such as when a surly Old Testament God in “Mine Is the Mountain” ends His commentary with an ironic “for God’s sake leave me alone,” there is a compassionate portrait of party girls in “Sad City Sisters” that embodies Anderson’s grace-filled view.

Anderson’s voice has understandably lost much of its upper range, but there is sufficient room for fully expressive vocals even with his cautious approach. There is a stateliness in Anderson’s singing, giving the album a dignified, gentlemanly feel.

It is a classic Tull album, but it’s not Aqualung Part II. The riffs are far more often than not acoustic and chordal; while the more rock-oriented tunes are meaty, the album’s overall tenor invites reflection amid the anthems.

Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull and his band have created a masterpiece that can be placed alongside classic rock staples like “The Beatles” or “Rock Stars”. Songs from the woodAll of the above Aqualung Thin as a Brick. The Zealot GeneThis will be a puzzle for an autotune-indoctrinated current generation. It is, however, a good reminder that Jethro Tull’s expiration date is not near for those who are faithful.

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