The Cat's Meow

Rupi's Dance (Fuel 2000 Records)
Ian Anderson

By Beth Moffett

Ian Anderson has transitioned beautifully from the Middle Ages to middle age, if Rupi's Dance is any measure. Longtime fans (like me) will recognize the reference; Anderson has often used music and visuals from the Middle Ages in his work with his regular band, Jethro Tull, as well as in his solo projects. Now past fifty Anderson offers a spirited but mellow look at the life around him, from the energy and mischief of the kitten in the title song to the resigned sadness about death in "Old Black Cat," he is throughout expressing a mature musical gift.

Rupi's Dance is his most personal album to date, taking his listener on a daily trip about town, from the "Photo Shop" to a coffee shop in "Calliandra's Shade" to the zoo in "Pigeons Over Berlin Zoo." He offers a small glimpse into the more intimate Ian Anderson in "Two Short Planks," about his trials in grammar school. It's an-all-too familiar story of the feelings of inadequacy of adolescence that can be fully understood only from the distance of years.

His insecurity makes an appearance in "Lost In Crowds" and "A Hand of Thumbs," while he asserts his confidence in himself and his musical skills in "A Raft of Penguins" about the rigidity of most orchestra musicians. He validates his right to make these musical judgments by playing a flute duet with himself on the instrumental piece, "Griminelli's Lament." He shows his real versatility on "Photo Shop," on which he handles on only the flute and piccolo but also mandolin, percussion, acoustic and bass guitar and accordion.

Having said all this about his musicality, the song from the album which I found myself singing after the first hearing was "Not Ralitsa Vassileva," a quirky tune comparing a companion to CNN's European correspondent, Ralitsa Vassileva. Since CNN is the default channel on our television set, I could relate. In fact, I found that I could relate effortlessly to this entire album. My expectations were high and I was not disappointed.

There is a "bonus" cut at the end of the CD, "Birthday Card at Christmas," from The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, scheduled for release on September 30. Seems like a great present to open before Christmas.