Jethro Tull's best album of the 1990s, a surging, hard-rocking monster (at least, compared to anything immediately before or since) that doesn't lose sight of good tunes or the folk sources that have served this band well. The lineup this time out is Anderson on acoustic and electric guitars, flute, and electric and acoustic mandolins, Martin Barre on electric guitar, Doane Perry on drums, Dave Pegg on bass, and Andrew Giddings on keyboards. The real difference between this and most of the group's output since the end of the '70s lies in the songs, all of which are approached with serious energy and enthusiasm; the lyrics are completely forgettable…
"Roots to Branches" is the 19th studio album by Jethro Tull. It carries characteristics of Tull's classic 1970s art-rock and folk-rock roots alongside jazz and Arabic and Far Eastern influences. All songs were written by Ian Anderson and recorded at his home studio. This is the last Tull album to feature Dave Pegg on the bass, and the first to feature keyboardist Andrew Giddings as an official band member, although he had contributed to "Catfish Rising" on a sessional basis.
This mid-'90s Tull studio album has its good moments, mostly shadows of earlier work. All of the songs here have more of a mood of urgency than some of Tull's then-recent albums..
As with all of the releases in the Extended Versions series, the 2006 Jethro Tull edition is a set of latter-day live renditions of some of the group's best-known classics – which have all been previously released. And as with most Tull releases after, say, 1980, the performances and production here are exceedingly clean-sounding – in other words, the bite of their classic early-'70s period is nowhere to be found. What you get instead are pretty blah versions of such classics as "Aqualung," "Locomotive Breath," and "Living in the Past." But it's always a gas to hear such lesser-known Tull tunes as "Fat Man" and "Nothing Is Easy," both of which are included here, while a truncated version of "Thick as a Brick" (which still clocks in at over nine minutes) is a rare point where the group truly sounds inspired.