The follow-up to last year’s Order Of Play is released on September 18, and includes his take on Tull tracks Skating Away and Slow Marching Band, plus a cover of the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby.
Barre says: “This CD is my most important work in my career as a musician. I feel my songwriting has matured to a point that makes it totally accessible to all audiences.”
He adds: “I want this music to be the basis of everything I do from now on – my criteria were that It would work live in a powerful way and keep our identity as a blues-rock band.
“As always, I’ve put in small quotes of music that give light and shade to the album.”
Tull mainman Ian Anderson has said it’s unlikely the band will work together again, and he’s concentrating on a solo band show based on the band’s catalogue. Barre is planning a large-scale tour for 2016 and plays the following dates this year:
Jul 31: Sussex Trading Boundaries Aug 08: Somerset Square & Compass Sep 06: Derby Off The Tracks Festival Sep 19: Exeter Phoenix Sep 20: Frome Cheese & Grain Sep 21: St Ives Guildhall Oct 02: Southport Atkinson Oct 03: Kinross Green Hotel Sat 10: Surrey Haslemere Hall
01. Back To Steel 02. It’s Getting Better 03. Bad Man 04. Skating Away 05. Chasing Shadows 06. Hammer 07. You And I 08. A Moment Of Madness 09. Calafel 10. Eleanor Rigby 11. Peace And Quiet 12. Sea Of Vanity 13. Smokestack 14. Without Me 15. Slow Marching Band
***Update*** The above link seems to be broken at the present time although it was working last night. Jim has sent me this link which should work
Described by Martin Barre as the “most important work in my career as a musician” sets the, er, bar high for this much loved and respected guitarist. When it is set by the man himself, listener expectation is bound to be high too.
For the past couple of years or so Martin has been bedding in his current band. I spoke to him at the start of an extensive and surely gruelling European tour in September 2014 and of course at that time we were still asking about his departure from Jethro Tull.
With ‘Back To Steel’ he further carves out his own niche and a trajectory which, in truth, started back in 1994 with “Trick Of Memory”. But this is also a more integrated band album, rather than a true solo album. Perhaps it should even be billed The Martin Barre Band?
Martin’s fans will lap this up again. There is always great attention to detail in the arrangements. He doffs the cap to his former employer/heritage with fairly straightforward – if attractive – versions of ‘Skating Away’ and ‘Slow Marching Band’ whilst the inclusion of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ will delight those who have caught Martin on tour as this is one of the highlights of his recent set. It is to Barre’s credit that the Beatle song is the closest thing to Tull on the album, apart from those Tull covers.
The tone is blues rock throughout, a smorgasbord of Martin’s cumulative influences, and there is some rather nice female harmony vocal work from Alex Hart and Elani Andrea whilst Dan Crisp further consolidates his position on lead vocals.
Throughout his guitar work is immaculate but, as previously, supportive rather than overtly spectacular. We know he can let rip and is one of rock’s finest but Barre-watchers may be dismayed that his approach – for the most part – is restrained.
There are only three instrumentals – the very short ‘Chasing Shadows’ and ‘Calafel’ echoing the tone of a previous offering ‘Away With Words’ and the more expansive ‘Hammer’. As ever, a few more of these more frenetic electric workouts would have been very welcome.
The mix of the powerful and the pastoral is ever present with songs like ‘You And I’ (reminiscent of ‘Protect & Survive’ ) and ‘Sea Of Vanity’ (Fairports?) rubbing shoulders with the heavyweight ‘Moment Of Madness’, a potential single (!).
One can’t help wondering what would happen if Barre had taken a different musical direction, perhaps a bit more proggy or even hard rock/AOR. There are elements of course – ‘Moment Of Madness’ also shows a rather appealing commerciality – but for me the album is a little too diverse and as a result less cohesive. Its main appeal will therefore be to “the faithful”.
‘Back To Steel’ finds Martin Barre further escaping from the shadow of the Pied Piper and we can report he is in rude good health, and thriving. ****
Review by David Randall
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention” ― Kahlil Gibran
A right belter of an album - the title track is a defining moment and is one of Martin's best compositions to date and "Skating away" is so far removed from the version that we've known and loved all these years that it almost seems like a new song.
Martin's playing on the album is exquisite which is typified by the instrumental "Hammer" and the performances by the rest of the band are spot on. The acoustic instrumental "Calafel" is glorious and I can just imagine "Sea Of Vanity" being purloined by Fairport Convention sometime in the future.
A wonderful bluesy version of Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack", partialy rewritten by Martin, and finally a faithful version of "Slow Marching Band" completes the album.
'Back To Steel,' Martin Barre (Garage Records, HHHH)
Martin was lead guitarist in Jethro Tull from album two ("Stand Up") until Ian Anderson began organizing tours under his own banner. I reviewed an earlier Barre solo album ("Stage Left") along with a cool 'phoner.
This recording seems like a lost Tull album. Even the covers (an altered "Eleanor Rigby" and a progressive version of Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack") feel Tull-ish.
Two Anderson tunes (a heavier "Skating Away" and "Slow Marching Band") confirm that Martin was an extremely important factor in Tull's music. My other favorites are the tempo-shifting "It's Getting Better" and three instrumentals: "Chasing Shadows," "Hammer" and "Calafel."
Fans of great guitar and listenable progressive music will dig this one. Martin and his band will be touring soon.
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention” ― Kahlil Gibran
Plymouth's Becca Langsford and Alex Hart join forces for new EP: 'It has a different, relaxed vibe' By Plymouth Herald | Posted: November 16, 2015
PLYMOUTH'S answer to The Staves, Becca Langsford and Alex Hart, will be launching their debut EP, Long Way Home, at the B-Bar this month, after touring it around Europe.
They are not sisters and there are only two of them – but they could be mistaken for siblings and their voices blend every bit as well as those of the Watford trio who have been a huge inspiration to them and who they went to see last week in Falmouth just hours after returning from the tour.
Until now they have both been part of very different incarnations, Becca as half of blues duo with guitar ace Vince Lee and Alex fronting her own folk/pop band.
Together they are dynamite, but the strange thing is that they may never have collaborated at all and the EP might never have happened had they not been invited to join ex-Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre on tour.
"[Local singer] Alani and I had been recording up at Middle Studios and we came to the attention of Martin Barre, who needed some backing vocals on the album he was recording there, called Back To Steel," explains Alex. "Having done that, he asked us if we'd like to go on tour with him but Alani was heading off to Uni in Brighton.
"I met Becca at the Blues Bar and Grill on the Barbican and asked her if she fancied taking Alani's place."
Martin, who lives in Yelverton, was very enthusiastic about the girls not just singing but playing instruments and providing their own support slot.
"He was so lovely and encouraging and it was great because it meant that we really felt like we were part of the band," says Becca.
"I ended up doing washboard and mandolin, Alex played guitar and then we also came up with a support set, but thought we really ought to get some merchandise together, so we could pinch Martin's crowd and make a bit of money!"
Martin was Jethro Tull's lead guitarist from album 2 ("Stand Up") until Ian Anderson began organizing tours under his own banner. This 2015 recording seems like a lost Tull album. Two Anderson tunes (a heavier "Skating Away" and "Slow Marching Band") confirm Martin's importance in Tull's music.
AXS: As with people mistakenly thinking there was a band member named Pink in Pink Floyd, you must have—over the course of more than four decades with Jethro Tull—endured amusing occurrences of people asking for Jethro. Can you share one of those experiences with us?
MB: One morning Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull vocalist and front man) was in a particularly bad mood. We had a limo in front of the hotel and we were waiting for Ian to come out and go to the airport. The driver asked me where Jethro was and I said, “Whatever you do, don't call him Jethro!” Ian stormed out the front entrance and the driver approached and said, “Good morning Mr. Tull.” We fell on the floor laughing and Ian went purple!
" It's not every day I am given the opportunity to speak with a musician that has fifty years in the game, but I was recently offered the chance to speak with Martin Barre, guitarist extraordinaire regarding his latest disc Back To Steel, and it's supporting tour, as well as his take on Jethro Tull classics and reworking them to fit his new band and sound. As he fished with his soon down in Mississippi, he carved some time out and got us on the line..."
Toddstar: You mentioned the fans. When you're pulling out these older tracks, are these songs that you know the fans want to hear, or are these songs that you've been dying to hear rearranged, or played live, or just retouched?
Martin: I think both. I think I'm very aware that the fans were always in the Tull days shouting out, "Play Teacher," "Play Minstrel in the Gallery," and I just thought it's a shame we don't. I'm not going to play anything that I don't like. I don't want to be predictable. I think that was the problem with Tull, in the latter years is that we became predictable. So little got changed, we were playing the same songs every tour, the production stayed the same; it was a very tired band, and no kind of injection of energy or freshness, at all, and I really have done the opposite. Everything I do has that feeling that we're playing it for the first time, and having a lot of fun doing it, and we are.
futureshock: Here's wishing everyone persistent health! Times are getting more optimistic! Activism is UP, and fear of getting involved in important issues, is dropping faster than the Vegas odds on Trump being elected again. Cheers!
Jun 7, 2020 23:10:01 GMT
maddogfagin: Thanks futureshock - hope you're ok likewise
Jun 8, 2020 15:01:16 GMT
stormsongs: Hi. Newbie, first time here as I have a question I can't get an answer to......I have a vivid memory of buying Lifes a Long Song in 71 and it had a gatefold sleeve....but I can't find any evidence of that or a copy with that sleeve...
Jun 12, 2020 14:25:44 GMT
maddogfagin: Welcome to the JT Forum stormsongs. Not seen a UK Life is a long song gatefold sleeve but there's no doubting they may have been some overseas releases issued this way.
Jun 13, 2020 6:14:41 GMT
futureshock: So, IF you are musical yourself, what are you doing with the CoronaCoda lockdown experience and maybe extra personal time available to find or create more music, or explore instrument playing? How has dealing with musicians changed? Gigs? Spinoff ideas?
Jun 14, 2020 23:01:49 GMT
maddogfagin: Listening to a lot of concert recordings via CD and finding some great music on youtube which I've never heard before. My days of playing guitar are behind me these days due to my damn fingers not wanting to work properly.
Jun 15, 2020 6:37:05 GMT
steelmonkey: Would you like to hear a perfectly constructed, note,rhythm,lyrical and atmosphere piece of Tull perfection? Yes? Try 'Saboteur' on 'Under Wraps'. Flawless.
Jun 22, 2020 21:05:43 GMT
maddogfagin: Under Wraps is an often maligned album by a minority but to the majority it stands amongst the finest of their eighties output. A great album.
Jun 28, 2020 6:43:28 GMT
steelmonkey: Under Wraps is sui generis. Strong everything. Something(s) about it amaze and astound with each listen.
Jun 28, 2020 19:30:42 GMT
steelmonkey: Double work shifts in surging hospital to allow 2 week vacation soon...miss my friends in the Tull treehouse but back soon. Breaks at work have gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Jul 8, 2020 3:29:26 GMT
piscesguy: It looks like someone else has taken my moniker piscesguy and added the name jack prentiss to it. That's okay but I cannot locate an earlier post I had left now. Does anyone know how to resolve this? thank you
Jul 9, 2020 19:09:58 GMT
maddogfagin: Please see my PM to you.
Jul 10, 2020 6:41:59 GMT
steelmonkey: I prefer Scorpios, Leos, Taurases( Tauri?), Cancers and Capricorns but Pisces on the bubble of all right.
Jul 10, 2020 20:52:34 GMT
maddogfagin: So what's wrong with us Aquarians then. I'm gonna write to your President and complain
Jul 13, 2020 13:26:20 GMT
steelmonkey: I go on binges of long forgotten ( Jefferson Airplane, CSNY, Humble Pie), Overlooked releases ( Zappa, Prince, PIL) and just plain musical vitamins ( Traveling Wilburys, Pink Floyd) and then remember life is short and I should revert to all Tull all day.
Jul 19, 2020 22:29:08 GMT