Ian Anderson’s 3 part Homo Erraticus could easily be a Jethro Tull album, the vibes, the instrumentation and musical alliteration all displaying the “Tull” appeal.
The 22 page booklet on this release – from the high end KScope Music company – contains the written-word wisdom and wit we expect – that we crave – from Ian Anderson. He explains that it is as much an Ian Anderson disc as a new release from Tull, something this writer did not read until I composed the above opening paragraph noting that.
The musicians provide Anderson exactly what he needs to express himself. John O’Hara (keys including accordion) and bassist David Goodier http://jethrotull.com/musicians/ are from the 2007-2011 Tull; guitarist Florian Ophale along with drummer Scott Hammond and Ryan O’Donnell – performing on vocals, mime and “general stage tomfoolery” – form as formidable a crew as John Evan, Clive Bunker, Glen Cornick, Mick Abrahams and those others who came before.
With words/lyrics all allegedly by Gerald Bostock – based on the writings of Ernest T. Parritt (c.1927) – one can decide on their own if these aren’t all the concoctions of the playful Anderson. The jovial writing of Ian Tull are always compelling, so we asked Jethro Anderson in a Visual Radio interview about any thoughts of going on the lecture circuit; he said he would “leave that to Tony Blair” – the essay in the booklet as inviting as the music on the CD itself.
Pink Floyd had fun with the notion of a businessman thinking Pink Floyd was a person, an actual musician in the group, Lou Reed weeding out the non-believers with his Metal Machine Music onslaught, and other major artists playing practical jokes which become insider fun, is something not foreign to Tull. Ian Anderson keeps his followers on their toes with the invention of fictional characters and with a body of work as extensive as Tull’s / Anderson’s it makes for good copy, and some additional adventure along with the entertainment.
The story of lyricist Bostock finding the only surviving copy of Teddy Parritt’s book – “Homo Erraticus” (the St. Cleve Chronicles) puts this Anderson work into perspective. Here Tull is paying attention to the alleged unknown British colonel from “the very early 20th century” – perhaps as the 20th century rock group gave new literary life to the 1701 inventor of the seed drill.
Referring to the work as “Parritt’s frazzled fantasies” and endorsing his “songwriting partner” as a certified loon, lovely man and evangelical – gives new meaning to the question “IS Shakespeare in his character or is the character in Shakespeare?” Anderson/Mr. Tull blllllurrrrrrsss the line of history with the amusing digression.
Though the fan base may desire a new-fangled “Cross Eyed Mary” or “Hymn 43” – this excursion, including track four, the 7 minute 11 second epic “”Puer Ferox Adventus” – is more styled toward Thick As A Brick (which this collection is the 2nd sequel to) than Stand Up. The flute, heavy organ and progressive sounds remain, it matters not who provides the accompaniment for Jethro. Opening track “Doggerland” reminds us of Star Trek: The Next Generation characters Data, Captain Jean Luc Picard and Whorf singing “A British Tar” from HMS Pinafore at the opening of the film Star Trek: Insurrection – performing the classics – no Portsmouth Sinfonia here.
As fond of the tongue-in-cheek music of I.A. as we are of his literary scribblings, it is the songs of the maestro which drew us in, and the performance of this Pied Piper that has kept us all intrigued by the progression of sound he continues to issue.
Track 6, “The Turnpike Inn,” has subtle nods to “Locomotive Breath” and those elements make it the more commercial of these short stories. The one minute and thirty three second “Per Errationes Ad Astra” features Anderson’s voice only and – had a similar vocal intervention been placed in between tracks – had every other selection had these meandering digressions leap-frogging over the music, Homo Erraticus could have enjoyed the additional notoriety that :the LP David Bowie narrates, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf , garnered, not that that is really necessary for the worldwide Tull fanatics; it’s just that it would have been a nice, extra special touch. What NASA spacecraft have to do with “loony” Colonel Parritt’s essays is anybody’s guess, but as stated, the narration is a big plus inside the 3-part drama.
Of course, for those of you who did want a variety of spoken word tracks like ” “Per Errationes Ad Astra” and feel that you have the need to hear additional Ian Anderson-speak, you can listen to this writer’s conversation with him here:
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.