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Martin Barre - 2018 - "Roads Less Travelled"

(42:49; Cleopatra Records)


I’m sure I can’t be the only Tull fan who can’t understand how there can be a Jethro Tull without Martin Lancelot Barre being the perfect foil to Ian, but there it is (mind you, Ian does have history in this regard, look at what happened to the classic line-up). I saw Martin play with Tull six or seven times, and on my study wall is a photograph I took at Verbeer Manor (in deepest Devon) of him playing with Fairport Convention (one of the tunes was the often-overlooked “Mr. Lacey” as I recall). I know Tull started with Mick Abrahams, but I prefer his work with Blodwyn Pig to be honest, and although Tony Iommi may have appeared with Tull on the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, we all know that the real man behind the electric is Martin. When I heard this album had been released I was quite excited, and then disappointed to discover Martin has released six other studio albums before this one and somehow I have missed them all! Oh well, always good to have some music to catch up on. Martin adds acoustic guitar, mandolin (and even banjo) at different places through an album which contains a great many elements which Tull fans will recognise. Given that he has given thirty-five years of service to that band, it should be no surprise that he has impacted Tull’s sound more than many will give him credit for, and I often found myself thinking back to ‘Crest Of A Knave’ (for which he won a Grammy) and ‘heavy Horses’ in particular in terms of musical reference. This is classic rock, and is obviously being performed by a band as opposed to a group of people brought together for one particular project. Martin has been a resident of Devon for many years, and this album features local musicians Dan Crisp (vocals), Alan Thomson (bass/fretless bass), Darby Todd (drums), Becca Langsford (vocals/backing vocals), Josiah J (Percussion/Hammond), Aaron Graham (drums), Alex Hart (vocals/backing vocals) Buster Cottam (“stand up” bass). It would be very easy indeed for Martin to get on the phone and pull in a stellar cast of musicians who have been influenced by him and his playing, but he has always struck me as a very straight person (based on the many interviews I have both read and watched over the years), and this is just what I would expect. Elements of folk, rock, jazz, blues and prog all combine in what is a solid rock album which all Tull fans should be flocking to get. The last show I saw of Tull, back in ’04, Ian was struggling with his vocals and I decided then and there never to see them again as I couldn’t bear it. Martin has lost none of his finesse and power, just superb.

Kev Rowland: December 2018

Related Links:

Martin Barre Cleopatra Records


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