Released by: GARAGE RECORDS
Release date: 18 September 2015
Genre: PROGRESSIVE ROCK
Martin Barre – Guitars, Mandolin, Bouzouki, Banjo, Flute, Keyboards
Dan Crisp – Vocals, Guitar
George Lindsay – Drums, Percussion
Alan Thompson – Bass, Vocals, Slide Guitar on track 14, Hammond Organ on track 11
Alex Hart & Elani Andrea – Vocals on track 7 and Backing Vocals
Alan Bray – Bass on track 15
Partrick James Pearson – Hammond Organ on Track 1
01. Back to Steel
02. Its Getting Better
03. Bad Man
04. Skating Away
05. Chasing Shadows
07. You and I
08. Moment of Madness
10. Eleanor Rigby
11. Peace and Quiet
12. Sea of Vanity
14. Without Me
15. Slow Marching Band
The release of Martin Barres 6th Solo album, Back to Steel was set to coincide with his 50th year in the music industry. Embarking on a solo career after such a long stint with the same band was always sure to carry its risks. As Jethro Tull’s guitarist for 43 years and featuring on all but their very first album, he has demonstrated the ability to excel at every conceivable musical style from classical to hard rock. He considers this to be his most important solo album to date and I have to agree.
The opening track Back to Steel sets the pace of this fantastic latest release with captivating bluesy guitar riffs taking their grip from the very first chords.
The contrast of male and female vocals on Its Getting Better and Bad Man work amazingly with the catchy repetitive rhythm guitars while Martin works in some great background solos.
The cover version of Jethro Tulls classic Skating Away doesn’t quite work for me purely as I think Dan Crisps’ voice is not delicate enough to carry it off.. Martins guitar is unfaltering and indeed it should be, he has been well acquainted with this song for 41 years.
The mellower acoustic sound of You and I features beautiful lyrics carried by a female voice but its straight back to the heavy driven guitar force with Moment of Madness, a classic rock tune perfectly suited to Dan Crisps vocals. An onslaught of dazzling guitar and percussion feature before it comes to an abrupt halt and then straight into the folk sound of Calafel where various stringed instruments come into play.
A distinctly alternative but amazing version of Eleanor Rigby is up next and this song definitely benefits from raspier male vocals, female backing vocals and heavier guitars. Peace and Quiet is a rambling blues track while Sea of Vanity is a quirky upbeat tune and another switch to acoustic.
The Coda is a beautiful rendition of Jethro Tull’s Slow Marching Band. A perfectly fitting track to end on which I felt was powerfully emotive…
Quite simply put this is Martin Barre at his solo best, a classic demonstration of a lifetimes experience and astounding musical ability. Martin has long been held in my opinion as one of the greatest and most versatile guitarists of all time, an opinion which has been firmly cemented by this release. An absolute classic of an album spanning the genres of rock, hard rock, folk and blues which is sure to appeal to all.
Written by: Karen Hetherington