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Jethro Tull - Aqualung CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.36 | 2707 ratings

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4 stars I have always had somewhat mixed feelings about Jethro Tull's fourth album.Although it is home to some classic rock tracks and has very thought provoking lyrics, it also includes some rather weak spots which for me, undermine its status as a masterpiece.

The opening title track, built around one of the greatest rock riffs ever created really is a cracker. Even as the track shifts gear and the acoustics take over, the song loses none of its momentum.An absolute classic song - truly among the top few songs they produced. The second track, "Cross-eyed Mary" is another excellent rocker and has a particularly atmospheric opening with mellotron and flute. It is interesting how this track refers to the character Aqualung portrayed in the previous track suggesting that despite Ian Anderson's protestation to the contrary, there was at least originally intended to be some sort of "concept" linking the songs.I say "originally" because the remaining tracks on Side A make no further references to either character. Side B of course is home to another couple of great Tull songs- Locomotive Breath based around a particularly ferocious combination of hard riffing and frenetic strumming and Hymn 43 with its Gospel like piano backing. Mother Goose is another superior Side A track played primarily by Anderson on acoustic guitar with a recorder (!) riff between the verses driving the song along.It is slightly reminiscent of "Fat Man" from Stand Up" and as with that song, hints at the sort of Prog-Folk he would develop with "Songs From The Wood" a few years later.

Unfortunately, scattered seemingly arbitrarily across Side A and B are a few rather inconsequential acoustic tracks featuring Ian Anderson alone which seem to end before they really get started and which for me simply comes across as padding. However, it is the track "My God" which opens Side B which I find particularly frustrating. It starts off so well with just acoustic guitar and voice with the whole band crashing in with another great heavy riff from Martin Barre just as the second verse begins.The flute'n'rock guitar workout which follows is also highly dynamic in true Tull style.However just as things get really exciting, the band stops playing completely and all we are left with is Ian Anderson soloing accompanied only by some quasi-Gregorian chanting which I simply find irritating and which completely robs the song of its momentum.

My other problem is with the production itself. The recording is so dry and lifeless compared to the follow up- TAAB, it is hard to believe it is the same band.It seems that no amount of re-mastering or re-mixing (Sorry Mr Wilson) can stop this album sounding horribly dated. I actually heard this album after I bought the Bursting Out live album where the Aqualung tracks sound fantastic especially the title track which is why hearing the originals for the first time was a bit of a let down.

Overall, I would say that this album marked a definite move forward at least in terms of performance and I give it a solid 3.5 stars

Lupton | 4/5 |


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