I am not a huge Tull fan but I am a fairly big fan of theirs as there's something about their music that is just perfection to me. I was sceptical of this release and expected it to suck pretty much when i heard about it but lo and behold the damn thing is actually quite good! Didn't expect that at all. Ian's voice lacks power and can be a bit cringe worthy here and there but he sounds reasonable on this release. The theme is of course whatever happened to child genius Gerald Bostock from the original TAAB? I am not one for following concepts or lyrics in detail so therefore I approach this purely on a musical standpoint. At least 6 or 7 of the songs are wonderful pieces of music, with very well crafted prog parts. Some of the spoken segues are not real songs so I don't count them.
The good songs are Banker Bets, Banker Wins, Old School Song, Wootton Bassett Town, Shunt And Shuffle, A Change Of Horses, Confessional and Kismet In Suburbia. The best song on the album is A Change of Horses. It's a musical masterpiece with wonderful accordion, flute and heartfelt emotion. Kismet in Suburbia is also a superb progressive track. Old School Song is a very catchy tune and features themes lifted from the original TAAB alongside a new theme and fits so well and eloquently. Wootton Basset Town is a very modern sounding keyboard heavy piece which is rather emotional indeed and a song that is pretty much perfect in my eyes. I like the fact that Ian decided to incorporate some musical lines from the original within the follow up as it creates a nice musical link between the two albums and gives a reminder to how great the original really was.
The flute playing on the album is superb as usual from Ian and is an aspect of the band which is unequalled in any band I've heard. There are quite a lot of progressive parts on this album as well as gentle reflective parts. The guitar can get fairly heavy by Tull standards but is mainly on the same level as keyboards and does not dominate. The mix is clear but could be a bit sharper but I'm being picky. If you are a Tull fan I think you maybe surprised and enjoy some of this. It's better than any studio Tull music since a long time. It's still not as good as the classics but how can we expect that from Ian at this stage. There are still many things to be admired about the album cause there is a lot of sounds and music to absorb. All in all the album is not without fault but nevertheless credit where credit's due to the musical genius Mr Anderson for a very interesting and reasonable and somewhat worthy follow up to the original prog masterpiece. 8/10