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Ian Anderson says Jethro Tull’s ‘The Zealot Gene’ is a collection of songs based on “extreme human emotions”


Jethro Tull‘s latest album, The Zealot Gene, the veteran prog-rock band’s first new studio effort in over 18 years, was released today.

Frontman Ian Anderson tells ABC Audio that he considers the 12-track collection something of a concept album, because the songs are based on a list of positive and negative “extreme human emotions” he compiled, that he then recognized as “words that I remember reading in the Bible.”

Anderson explains that the list included “nice stuff, like love, fraternal love, erotic love, spiritual love, compassion, loyalty,” as well as “bad stuff, like anger and rage and jealousy and vengeance.”

Ian notes that he felt the song “The Zealot Gene” was a good choice for the album’s title track because it’s “about that extreme of emotion, the degree to which things are polarized into black and white, and opposites, especially in the populist world of politics today.”

The singer/flutist/guitarist says he began work on the album in 2017 and had recorded seven of the songs with his band in the studio before the COVID-19 pandemic started. After the pandemic began, Anderson recorded the basic tracks for the other five tunes by himself, then enlisted the group’s other members to add their parts remotely.

Ian says this resulted in an album with “a little bit more dynamic range,” because the last five songs wound up being more sparse and acoustic-based than the first seven.

Anderson made The Zealot Gene with the members of his longtime solo band, but says he decided to release the record under the Jethro Tull moniker because “it seemed appropriate to recognize the, on average, 15 years of long service that the members of the band have had playing with me over the years.”

Here’s The Zealot Gene’s full track list:

“Mrs. Tibbets”
“Jacob’s Tales”
“Mine Is the Mountain”
“The Zealot Gene”
“Shoshana Sleeping”
“Sad City Sisters”
“Barren Beth, Wild Desert John”
“The Betrayal of Joshua Kynde”
“Where Did Saturday Go?”
“Three Loves, Three”
“In Brief Visitation”
“The Fisherman of Ephesus”

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