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Jethro Tull - Aqualung CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.36 | 2707 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Aqualung" explodes like "Jesus Christ Superstar" sitting on a keg of dynamite, here starring Ian Anderson as our self-appointed conscience. Not everyone wanted to be preached to by a rock star, however, and the album found TULL losing some of their original fans even as they attracted new ones. The light and dark tones of "Benefit" are put into sharper relief this time by alternating disarming acoustic songs with a theosophical din of diabolical intent. The addition of JEFFREY Hammond-Hammond on bass (yes, the very same "JEFFREY" chronicled on their earlier albums) doesn't change the sound of TULL much, nor does the full-time addition of JOHN EVAN, who gets buried in the band's sonic onslaught most of the time. The blurring of IAN ANDERSON the performer and "Aqualung" the character may be alarming to some, but wasn't it just a natural outcropping of the rock opera movement? Music fans proved they were interested in the persona as much as the player, and ANDERSON gave them something to think about: a composite sketch of a demigod drawn from Jesus, Loki, and Merlin among others. Of course, no album could stand up to that sort of scrutiny, so take my enthusiasm with a grain of salt. It's just that songs like "Aqualung", "Cross-Eyed Mary, "Hymn #43" and "Locomotive Breath" are such epic clashes of morality and reality that "Aqualung" assumes the scale of a Greek tragedy. The acoustic breaks are sometimes no more than lovely little bits of fluff ("Cheap Day Return", "Wond'ring Aloud") and sometimes a mortal analysis of the world around us ("Mother Goose", "Wind-Up"). Yet I won't proffer an explanation of "Aqualung".

The album clearly takes umbrage with institutionalized religion and reintroduces the "Aqualung" character on "Cross-Eyed Mary", but it's hard to say what it all means. (Unlike musicals, which are designed to juggle different players, rock bands just don't have a closet full of characters at their disposal.) "Aqualung" is a great leap from songwriter to storyteller, though some felt Tull slipped too far into the fabled woods for the inscrutable Brick and Passion. Me, I'd say this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between music and one man's illimitable fancy.

daveconn | 4/5 |


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