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Jethro Tull - Aqualung CD (album) cover

AQUALUNG

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.32 | 1713 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was the album in which JT started to show their ever-developing musical ambitions with a touch of grandeur that, until the "Benefit" album's release, could only be glimpsed at occasionally. Coincidentally with the entry of new bassist and long-time friend Jeffrey Hammond (from now on, Hammond-Hammond) and the reaffirmation of John Evan as the band's keyboardist, Anderson created the "Aqualung" repertoire and the fivesome arranged and performed it with a bigger dose of energy and enthusiasm, and a refurbished sense of purpose. While not being a concept-album strictly speaking [and Ian Anderson sees himself obliged to state it in interviews over and over again], there is a recurrent concern toward the darkest side of religion and the lower side of social classes: Anderson, as a lyricist, has now matured into a poetic state, not unlike other brilliant wordsmiths such as Sinfield, Peart or Hammill. The opening namesake track is one of the most popular JT tunes ever, and it includes one of the most prototypical Barre solos ever. 'Cross-Eyed Mary' and 'Locomotive Breath' are other numbers that have passed the test of time and still nowadays are undisputed Tull classics - they are catchy and full of fiery flute ornaments and attractive guitar riffs, while keeping themselves far out of the habitual boundaries of vulgar rock. The progressive factor is most developed in the mini-epic 'My God', an anti-clerical manifesto whose climatic peak in met in the angry flute solo contained in the interlude: the parody church chorale (courtesy of Hammond- Hammond's multi-layered chants) that joins the last part of Anderson's flute solo adds some more fuel to the passionate disappointment towards hypocrisy and thoughtless formalism of religion-based morality. The same message is conveyed straight away by the more aggressive (both instrumentally and lyrically) 'Hymn 43' and the closure 'Wind Up'. The latter is the second longest track in the album: not build under the same epic drive of 'My God', it certainly shows the band exploring their penchant for combining folk and rock and expanding it to a more complex level. The folk thing is more crystalline in 'Mother Goose', whose captivating nuances result from the effective interplaying between acoustic guitar and dual recorders. The three brief acoustic ballads serve as moments of momentary relief among the general display of energy and sophistication: my fave one among all of them has got to be 'Wond'ring Aloud', in no small degree due to the amazing string arrangements that embellish the song, taking it from 'simply nice' up to a majestic level. This is an excellent album indeed, comprising much of the splendour that will be more developed in many of JT's following albums.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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