Ian Anderson: Homo Erraticus
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Talk of the death of the album hasn’t percolated through to Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, an unabashed conceiver of epic concept LPs, the latest of which is Homo Erraticus, an apt title for Anderson’s singular and capering progress across rock’s landscape. It revives Gerald Bostock, the main character from Jethro Tull’s 1972 hit Thick as a Brick; then a child prodigy poet, now semi-retired in the West Country where he stumbles over a 19th-century manuscript looking back at key episodes of British history and foretelling future ones, which he turns into lyrics for – this very album! (Do keep up at the back.)
The metafictional conceit is set to an old-fashioned prog-rock medley of flute, organ, soloing guitars and pastiche folk over which the jester Anderson delivers wordy, witty verses covering everything from the Iron Age to the rise of package holidays in the 1960s (“Just be mindful of who’s the master, don’t pinch the sun bed”). The chugging groove running unchangingly through the songs represents the prog equivalent of the sacred fire of Vesta – an article of faith to be tended come what may.