Martin Barre: Back to Steel

barreMartin Barre
Back to Steel

Best known as the guitarist for decades in Jethro Tull, Martin Barre has released another in his short line of brilliant solo works. Back to Steel features Mr. Barre playing guitars, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, flute and keys, and writing almost all of the 15 songs on this album. Opening with the heavy, big riffs of the title track, we get Martin as dexterous as ever with a good foil in vocalist Dan Crisp and organist Patrick James Pearson. A wonderful lead issues forth from Barre on the love song “It’s Getting Better” showcasing one of the aspects of Barre’s playing I have always liked – he can spin his fingers into very complex lead phrases but they never are overwrought and they do indeed rock! We get Martin playing banjo and slide in the simple stomp of the wonderful “Bad Man” and him tearing the house down as heavy as any “hammer god” rock players on “Moment Of Madness.” There are big power chords here, wailing, double-handed attack with the band hitting hard behind Barre. A guitarist this fluid, this expressive shows off his lighter moments as Martin Barre often revealed in the many pastoral moments in Jethro Tull. On Back to Steel we get acoustic workouts on the sweet “You And I” where Barre backs singers Alex Hart and Elani Andrea and his solo acoustic piece with fast turn-arounds and medieval vibe, “Calafel.” Barre covers a few tunes here as well. There’s a wild stomp to his remake of “Eleanor Rigby,” a countrified, full chorus to his send-up to Jethro Tull’s “Skating Away,”  his heavy blues tread over “Smokestack” and long drawn-out drama over album ender “Slow Marching Band” (featuring some of Barre’s best guitar work ever in a Tull song…and that’s saying a lot!). You’re not going to get much better then Martin Barre and the talented guitarist proves this fact well on his brilliant new Back to Steel.

You can purchase the album here.


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