A new decade had dawned in the nineties, and Jethro Tull celebrated with a new studio album. Catfish Rising turned down the keyboard/synthesizer sound and turned up Martin Barre’s guitar which is always a positive. What resulted was their most rocking album since Rock Island, even though it was understated in places. It even had a bluesy feel at its core. An additional treat was the mandolin playing of Ian Anderson and Barre.
This would be bass player Dave Pegg’s last album with the group and his imaginative playing in the future would be missed. Mainstays Ian Anderson and Martin Barre provided their usual expertise and Doane Perry was now the full time drummer. Keyboardist Andy Giddings contributed to three tracks. He would become an important fixture in their future.
Catfish Rising was not as bad as some critics of the day made it out to be, but rather takes its place as a solid if not spectacular part of the Jethro Tull catalog.
“Thinking Round Corners” and “Doctor To My Disease” are both nice rockers and “Occasional Demons” even invades ZZ Top territory a little. “Like A Tall Thin Girl” and “Gold-Tipped Boots, Black Jacket and Tie” provide a nice counterpoint as they are acoustic based pieces. The longest song, “White Innocence” which is close to eight minutes, reminds me of their classic “Budapest” which for me is a good thing.
Yes, there are a number of average tunes which may be considered filler but none are offensive. Tracks such as “Rocks On The Road,” “This Is Not Love,” and “When Jesus Came To Play” may not be well known Tull songs but they are worth exploring every now and then. My only real complaint is the lyrics are a little more bawdy in places than they need to be, but such is the mind of Ian Anderson.
Catfish Rising may seem a little dated in places but at the time it showed that Jethro Tull was alive and well in the nineties. Today it may not be an album which comes to mind very often, but it still provides a pleasant listen.
Article first published as Music Review: Jethro Tull – Catfish Rising on Blogcritics.