F2 21708 Rock Island
Produced by Ian Anderson
Released on September 1989
UK CHART POSITION #18 . . . US CHART POSITION #56
Find it at GEMM
F2 21708 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

I ’ve listened to this disc more than a hundred times and even saw the tour, so it’s with all the considerable kindness I can muster to call this a disappointment. Until now, Under Wraps had been the noisy anomaly, Broadsword the well-intentioned but fatigued fanfare for a bygone hero. Crest of a Knave returned Tull to the top of the heap, suggesting that Ian Anderson had found a way to combine his experience with an excitement for new sounds and create a sustainable future from it. But two years later, Tull returned with Rock Island, which has all the earmarks of a band going through the motions. Songs about sexual fantasies that won’t be consummated (“Undressed To Kill”), mountain men who won’t be tamed (“The Rattlesnake Trail”), and Christmases that won’t be compromised (“Another Christmas Song”) are old hat and add nothing to the standing legend of Tull. Despite the presence of a theme, Rock Island doesn’t feel like a concept album so much as a collection of vignettes featuring characters isolated from one another and living on their own “rock islands.” Even so, the connection between a song like “Big Riff And Mando” and a “Heavy Water” is thin at best. Individually, songs from Rock Island sparkle: “Ears of Tin,” “Rock Island,” “Another Christmas Song,” “The Whaler’s Dues.” And compared to Catfish Rising, Rock Island is an attractive destination. But the handful of triumphs feel empty in the context of the inspired Crest. Rock Island replaces inspiration with perspiration, as Tull struggles like a diesel truck to conquer the hills that seemed like speed bumps in their youth. The dire state of Ian Anderson’s voice is also a cause for concern, at times approaching a gravelly tone that, combined with Martin Barre’s lead guitar work, sounds a lot like Dire Straits. It’s conceivable that listeners have warmed to Rock Island more than I, that the grunting and guitar solos are perceived as wings rather than crutches, so isle keep returning to her in search of lost treasure.

F2 21708 picture sleeve
F2 21708 picture sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. KISSING WILLIE    3:32
  2. THE RATTLESNAKE TRAIL    3:59
  3. EARS OF TIN    4:53
  4. UNDRESSED TO KILL    5:24
  5. ROCK ISLAND    6:52
  6. HEAVY WATER    4:12
  7. ANOTHER CHRISTMAS SONG    3:30
  8. THE WHALER'S DUES    7:53
  9. BIGG RIFF AND MANDO    5:57
  10. STRANGE AVENUES    4:09

    All songs written by Ian Anderson

CREDITS

IAN ANDERSON -- vocals, flute, keyboards, mandolin, acoustic guitar, drums, engineer, mixing
MARTIN BARRE -- guitars, mixing assistance
DAVID PEGG -- bass guitar, acoustic bass, mandolin
DOANE PERRY -- drums
Martin Allcock -- keyboards
Peter Vettese -- additional keyboards
Tim Matyear -- mixing
Mark Tucker -- mixing assistance
Anton Morris -- colour illustration
Jim Gibson -- line illustration
John Pasche -- art direction

return to JETHRO TULL discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK August? 1989 Chrysalis LP/CD/CS CHR/CCD 1708 lyric sleeve
US September 1989 Chrysalis LP/CD/CS F1/F2/F4 21708 lyric sleeve
GER/NET 1989 Chrysalis LP/CD 21/26 0181  
SAF 1989 Chrysalis LP 3217081  

 

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