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Jethro Tull - Aqualung CD (album) cover

AQUALUNG

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.32 | 1739 ratings

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Atavachron
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ah, bless. How rare it is when a prog rock record becomes huge... a classic, and a bona fide smash even in the 'regular' world. Of course at the time, Aqualung was just Jethro Tull's new album. In fact the songs were, in certain ways, *less* progressive than on predecessors Stand Up and Benefit-- concise, no unnecessary parts, a cleaner, fuller production, and a now completely realized sound and approach to composition with material from Ian Anderson that insured this would not only be Tull's universal moment, but one of the greatest rock albums of its, or any, time. The record has a subtle thematic tone (the first half describing a host of sordid and greasy characters) but nothing you have to think much about, which in prog rock is a nice break indeed. And yet a warm-hearted soul can be heard beneath the hard metal here, Anderson's humanity coming through more than once.

Admittedly the title song may suffer from familiarity but it's still a barn-burner, antiqued and leathery but enduring, Anderson's Victrola pleas falling on dead ears. A rock cornerstone. The party really starts, though, with hard rocker 'Cross-eyed Mary', a tasty bit that further showed Marty Barre's riffing genius, some barroom piano from John Evan and Clive Bunker's bass drum kicks, and became an FM staple. Cobblestones at your feet and music in the streets for 'Mother Goose' with its renaissance fifes and troubadour fun, further acoustic treatments on 'Wond'ring Aloud', a cut that betrays the next Tull project, and 'Up To Me' which echoes the previous LP Benefit. The high point however is the remarkable and almost perfect 'My God', an immediate pleaser full of great licks, Anderson's flute escapades and monastery moans. Surprise hit 'Hymn 43' rocks, light and lovely 'Slipstream' next, followed by timeless classic 'Locomotive Breath' and cynical 'Wind-Up'.

The band would save the high-minded ambition for their next and greatest period but Aqualung is an eternal record, deathless, and a fundamental moment in Progressive Rock history.

Atavachron | 5/5 |

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