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Jethro Tull - Aqualung CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull

Prog Folk

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5 stars Honestly , for my own musical tastes , one f the best Jethro Tull albums, starting by Aqualung, In first place, nearly followed by Wind-Up and Hymn 43 , and all the rest tracks in third place .But if you ask me for a masterpiece in this album ,I've got nothing to say but My God . Conclussion: Get It Now!! ,You Won't Regret!!
Report this review (#16248)
Posted Friday, January 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a/the quintessential Tull album, no doubt. However, having said that, this album is also very polarized. On the one hand are great classics like Aqualung and Locomotive Breath, but the good stuff only takes up half the space. Despite being a fan of Ian Anderson's singing in general, on this album there are a number of tracks in which I find the vocals to be rather annoying (Hymm 43 is the worst for me), or the lyrics to be overly-preachy and pretentious (Wind Up). So, this results in my (bizarre?) conclusion that this quintessential Tull album is also the one you least need to have! (instead get the M.U./ greatest hits collections - they have all the songs you need from this album). Of course, purists (like myself) cringe at such a suggestion, and will already have this one anyway. But I find I rarely put this one on the turntable.
Report this review (#16267)
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars One of the cornerstone on which Tull built its cathedral, this album sees Tull still studio-experimenting (as they did with Benefit), but on top of it, they were allowed a brand-new state of the art Island studio, that no-one was really sure how to exploit properly, least of all young musicians. This is one of the reasons why Aqualung is a flawed masterpiece: their inexperience and inaptitude at exploiting the possibilities of the then-modern technology; but in term of songwriting, the group is definitely reaching their apex. And the stunning artwork of the gatefold is so fitting to the album's propos.

Yes there are sonic dated oddities: such as that weird-voiced passage in the title track, those "stop-clicks" in Mother Goose or still yet those audible tape-splicing (different sessions) during the solo passage of My God and that weird rather unpleasant string dwindling (Slipstream) and questionable choices (sound levels-wise) in the closing Wind Up. Obviously, if Benefit had benefited ;-) from the modern studios, these "mistakes" would not have happened on this one.

Outside of the technical factors, aqualung presents the particularity of being a "conceptual" album (something the Mad Flauter would rather mystifyingly deny), presenting two themes vinyl side. Both sides would be built on similar pattern (alternating the electric and acoustic songs) and present views that alternates between personal views (clearly Cheap Day Return is Anderson's personal experience) and a general character's views which has been expressing his cynical views through the group's albums and his name is Jethro.

The first side explores the decay of morality and the impoverishing of a wider part of the population, presenting Aqualung as a semi-vicious tramp, Mary as a semi-victim and semi-willing-victim, searching for the sordid side of society, and a bunch of other "delightful" characters that makes Anderson's lyrics a pure joy for interpretation and have him indicted in the Pantheon of best prog lyricists. The second side has its own name (after the opening track) and as you my have guessed is about religion, but rather an attack on it. Yes, the Mad Flauter is obviously after those who filled his head with expectations and mislead the masses. His attacks are spiteful (if not vindictive) against the "moral męlée" (more on that. next album ;-) supposed to show the example and lead the pack, yet miserably failing.

The music alternates between hard rock riffs and acoustic passages (both presented together in Aqualung and My God, but separately to different levels in subsequent tracks), giving excellent but too rare instrumental passages (the incredible intro on the Mellotron-laden Cross-Eyed Mary and the no-less great intro of Locomotive Breath) and somewhat similar patterns (the third track on each side is a short acoustic tune) of construction and the splendid musical drama of My God or its lyrical equivalent Mary (the mother of the son, this name is no fluke) in her street adventures from abortion to prostitution, rapes, murders and robberies.

The album has produced its fair share of classics (both radio and concert) such as My God, Cross-Eyed Mary, Locomotive Breath, Hymn 43 and the title track, but there are a few tracks right next to those which would've been highlights on other albums and are a bit over-shadowed here: the superb Mother Goose (and its cast of willing victims and potential wrongdoers and vengeful protectors of little girls or are they?) and Up To Me are separated by a good acoustic Wondering Aloud (again an Anderson thought, rather than a Jethro utterance) are both superb semi-acoustic/electric tunes which provide so much depth on that first side.

The second side holds three of the four longest tracks of the album, but does not allow for much more instrumental room (still quite significant, but.) than its predecessor. Off to an excellent start after that superb title track, and a rather hard piano-driven Hymn43, the album sort of runs out of steam with a weaker Slipstream (those weird string leading out), followed by a great jumping-on-the-religion-bandwagon Locomotive Breath (too close to Hymn's guitar riff for comfort, though) and a rather odd, forgettable (but only musically, not lyrically) Wind Up.

In terms of bonus tracks, this album is plagued by a poor selection of them, with an alternate take of the weakest track, an informative interview (but not bearing repeated listening) and a radio session of Stand Up-era tracks and a forgettable fingers track. Funny on how their best two albums (with TAAB) are loaded with inferior bonus material when most other album have worthy bonuses.

Yes, Aqualung is not perfect neither does it have the pretension, but its success would push the Mad Flauter (Ian) and its alter Ego, Jethro, to much greater things, most notably the flawless TAAB, where Jethro's spirit will work wonders both lyrically, but winning over the music as well. Meanwhile, we are stuck with this raw gem, that is Tull's most defining moment, even if it ends on a down note. Let that not deter you and jump in the game of life in Jethro's disturbing planet.

Report this review (#16258)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opening with a timeless classic, Aqualung continues on with Mother Goose and Locomotive Breath... The tracks between these are just spectacular... An album that is a complete work and doesn't rely on its title track to survive...
Report this review (#16283)
Posted Monday, February 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars first major success of Jethro, eleven great songs in many musical styles. We have here hard rock (Aqualung, Cross Eyed Mary, Locomotive Breath), folk (Mother Goose, three mini ballads, My God), blues (Up To Me, My God, Hymn 43) and progressive mini suite Wind Up, buy this CD if you don't have it yet...
Report this review (#16251)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars "Aqualung" isn't only a great album, it's somehow a feel of live from the early 70's. Maybe not as ambitious and essential in progressive rock terms as "Thick As A Brick", but in terms of folk prog an absolute masterpiece concept record, too. I always feel like I am travelling back in the 70's when I listen to classic tracks like "Locomotive Breath", "Cross-Eyed Mary", "Mother Gose" or the title track. Still the heavily blues influences are involved on this album, but sound more throughout perfected in combination with their fokish attitude and delivered a masterpiece for a bigger audience. "Thick As A Brick" was only for a smaller circle of listeners, because of the far more prog-ish attitude and more edged compositions, but in look on quality there isn't quite a difference, all is just more accesible on here, and also interestening for listeners of hard rock and other styles. Thank you Jethro Tull for your classic albums!
Report this review (#16252)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars hard blues oriented folk prog... Not your average prog album but the songs are so good, the band plays so well that it's a must have for any music lover and the begining of the great golden era of JT (ended after 77's Songs from the Wood).
Report this review (#16253)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another memorable album, sometimes very progressive, instead in other circumstances it's characterized by a normal classic rock-music genre, but anyway it depends on the use of scales and harmonic structures as well, by the "flutist of the flutists" Jan ANDERSON!! The title track was an hit-single at that čpoque, but it is a remarkable example of classic rock;instead "Cross-Eyed Mary" and the mythical "Locomotive Breath" are out of this contest...

Make your choice! To me this album is recommended!!

Report this review (#16254)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record is just before "Thick As A Brick", and we can already feel the influence here. The songs are not as progressive as on the next albums, rather simpler, but they deserve good attention. Rythmic piano is omnipresent, and ANDERSON's voice is young, with less of those low frequencies he developed after. Those low frequencies make his voice warm. Martin Barre plays electric and acoustic guitars. The presence of David Palmer give some symphonic influence: you can hear some classical arrangements. The flute is also more modest than we use to listen, but still very good. The song "Aqualung" is absolutely excellent, starting slowly and increasing in intensity with a wonderful guitar solo.
Report this review (#16256)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
4 stars This one comes just before the classic thick as a brick and you can see that this cd is leading up to it....still, it seems Ian and Co. are holding back a little for the better things to come. This pales in comparisson to Thick as a Brick but don't get me wrong, it is a very good cd! Make this your second Tull purchase!
Report this review (#16257)
Posted Monday, April 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars one of the "must-have" records of all time, simply pure prog-rock in it's rawest environment, with a lot of textures all over the album and transitions that creates a "tale" around it, a marvellous record from a great band
Report this review (#16276)
Posted Friday, April 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#16249)
Posted Friday, April 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars For a fact, Aqualung is essential for the Jethro Tull fan, it is a master piece of progressive rock and folk. This is one of the best (if not the one) works of Anderson, without having in mind the musical context of the time. A great piece of work.
Report this review (#16269)
Posted Saturday, May 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Every song has it's own spirit. Each one talks about an specific matter. Jethro Tull makes an excellent masterpiece! And I insist in the lyrics: they abboard religion, and songs like My God and Wind Up make us realize once more about Christian hypocrisy. Ian voice is sweeter than ever, Clive's drums again makes us jump and dance, Martin's electric guitar makes us really rock, John's piano is just so melancholic and gloomy, and Jeffrey's bass enchants us again with those simple but thrilling rythms. "In the Beginning Man Created God...."....well Jethro Tull transformed Man...with their beautiful music.
Report this review (#16284)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It's a concept album without narrative conceit, a classic rock album with many layers of philosophical depth. Dirty urban imagery and ancient pastoral glimpses, blues-rock grit and folk whimsy, bitter social critique and tender domestic odes; so many contradictions and yet such a complete and seamless, almost effortless musical execution. If JETHRO TULL hadn't recorded any other albums afterwards, this album could have easily been seen as a fitting culmination; luckily for us, that wasn't the case, but even on its own merits, "Aqualung" is a fully realized, flawless experience.

Maybe decades of rock refinement have colored my impressions, but every time I listen to this album I'm struck with how uniquely they aproached composition. For instance, you can count on one hand the number of times Clive Bunker uses anything like a standard rock rhythm, and the typical verse/ chorus/ bridge structure is always subtly subverted. Even when Martin Barre plays identifiable blues- rock leads, it's barely resembles anything Hendrix or the Yardbirds alumni brought to the musical table. Anderson's vision and energy motivates the tracks; this is not meandering experimentation, this is a thoroughly developed and immediate sound.

I'm pretty stingy with the five stars, even when I'm totally in love with an album. "Aqualung" deserves every bit of the masterpiece rating, achieving accesibility without sacrificing an inch of originality or musicianship. Though other JETHRO TULL albums may be personal favorites, this one is a unique and thoroughly well-developed statement without a millisecond of wasted space or unneccesary embellishment. The hard edge was as heavy as anything in music at the time, but the range is far wider than that; the beautiful, reflective pastoral qualities and insightful social criticism are but the most obvious indications of the band's flexibility. Between the ragged immediacy of the preceding releases and the more polished and deliberate recordings that followed, "Aqualung" is the perfect balance.

Report this review (#16286)
Posted Monday, July 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars My god, what an amazing amazing album. It's a masterpiece. It IS a masterpiece. You must have this album. Progressive Rock fan or not. You must. This is just amazing music. Aqualung is an amazing song, as is Cross Eyed Mary. Hymn 43 is even great. It's all great, literally. Wind-Up is such a great song. And Mother Goode. Such great use of all instruments. And of course, my personal favorite Locomotive Breath. God, what an amazing song. Maybe mt favorite of all time. Best song in the world to turn up loud.
Report this review (#16288)
Posted Monday, August 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Should be 4.5 stars, really.

Wonderful! My Dad bought this after I got "Thick as a Brick," so I gave it a few listens... The "Aqualung" song is a classic. It chronicles the lowest of life in society, a reject in all his disgusting pitifulness. Then "Cross-Eyed Mary" slips in afterward, a great hard rock tune about a schoolgirl prostitute (!). Next is the short piece "Cheap Day Return," a great classic guitar song about a trip Anderson took to see his dad in the hospital. The song "Mother Goose" is my favorite of the classic guitar pieces on the album: this one is the longest, as well. "Wond'ring Aloud" is a simple love song, and "Up to Me" is a nice flute/guitar song about the common man and his ignorance and lack of responsibility. This first half of the album is generally about the lower part of society.

Then "My God" enters like a BLACK SABBATH song. It sounds like one, too. It is a blues song for God, as he has been "locked in his golden cage" by those who try to define him in simple terms. "Hymn 43" is blues for Jesus, and the "gory glory seekers who'd use his name in death." The song "Slipstream" serves as an interlude classic guitar piece which tells about death as a peaceful way out of the "mess" (modern society). "Locomotive Breath" is an awesome song, an instant classic. It is also about death, with a rushing train as the metaphor for life. Then "Wind Up", uh, winds up the album by essentially comparing the lowly poor class with the hypocrisy of the upper, and saying effectively that the former is better and more worthy of saving than the latter (though both are equal in the eyes of God.).

I personally like "thick as a brick" more than this album, but this one is still very good. Essential to any classic rock lover, and not just limited to prog fans.

Report this review (#16289)
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I love this album. There isn't a single song on this album that I don't like. A few years ago, the only Jethro Tull song I had ever heard was the song "Aqualung", which I loved, and Iron Maiden's cover of "Cross-Eyed Mary", which I find rather disappointing to be honest (the cover, not the original!) . I saw this album on sale so I bought it (Ł2.99!), I wasn't disappointed. This album must get dizzy from all the spinning I make it do!
Report this review (#16290)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I can see that this album is very respected by the reviewers of this website, so maybe this album deserves the 5 star rating, but for me this album deserves 3 stars, because I prefer "Benefit" more than this album. The Side One of the old L.P. was titled "Aqualung" and the Side Two was titled "My God". I prefer the lyrics and the music of the Side One tracks. Side Two has interesting lyrics, but it`s more "quiet" in comparison. In the song called "My God" there is a very good flute solo and a very good arrangement done with Ian Anderson`s vocals. The cover design is very good, too.
Report this review (#16292)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars As one of the most original and inventive bands in the history of rock and roll, Jethro Tull have sustained a career based on clever time signatures, atypical lyrics and blustering showmanship courtesy of the band's visionary and leader, Ian Anderson. While some of the band's concepts have been a bit hard to swallow, Aqualung, Tull's fourth release from 1971, was an intrepid statement about God and religion that somehow sunk in and hit pay dirt. Loaded and lifted by the articulate guitar work from Tull's other resident member - Martin Barre - Aqualung has, through a series of twists and turns, ingrained itself into the rock stratum forever.

Clearly, the album's title cut is one of the most recognizable hooks of the last 30 years. Despite the politically incorrectness of the lyrics - half of which were written by Anderson's first wife, Jennie, who actually receives a sole writing credit for the track and took photos that inspired the album - the song remains a staple of classic rock radio and continues to close-out most of Tull's concerts. When you throw in other hot commodities like "Cross- Eyed Mary," "Hymn 43" and "Locomotive Breath," it's easy to understand how the album became a top ten hit and turned Tull into a bona fide arena monster of the 70s.

Tull, of course, would wade into even deeper conceptual waters with Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play. Aqualung, however, found the band in proper balance with their folksy/progressive leanings, irresistible hard edge and a digestible theme. Aside from his dazzling flute playing, the album also showcases Anderson's light and snappy touch on the acoustic guitar during such tracks as "Cheap Day Return," "Mother Goose," "Wond'ring Aloud," "My God" and "Slipstream." Of course, Aqualung marks the debut of John Evan, the band's first keyboardist, who manages to kick-start "Locomotive Breath" with all the panache of a concert pianist. And while original drummer Clive Bunker would leave the band shortly after the release of this landmark album, Jethro Tull has consistently churned out music to this very day. Naturally, when it's all said and done, Aqualung, which has been re-released in a number of different formats and configurations, is the one record Tull will always be remembered for.

Report this review (#16293)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nice stuff!!!!!!!!!!! One of the best albums I've ever listened to... Excellent instrumentation, with the great feature of the flute by Anderson. The first five, or six songs are flawless, specially the title track and the short accoustic numbers. "Wind Up" and "Up To Me" are stunners, and "Locomotive Breath", though not my favourite, is very good. It's the only record I've listened of JT so far, and after this I will definitively listen to other JT albums!!! My favourite tracks here are the title track, "Cross-Eyed Mary", "Up To Me" and "Wind Up", although the entire album is just about perfect... I can't find it any flaws...
Report this review (#16295)
Posted Thursday, December 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars SITTING ON A PARKBENCH.... Thats where it all began. This album is a masperpiece. From the title track, to the Folky Mother Goose, The Vocal extraveganza of My God to the Child- like theme to Wind up! Mr. Anderson really speaks his mind on Organized religon and feels he has nothing to apologize for, but it is the musicianship that really stands out. 1 of my favorite tunes is Mother Goose, It makes me feel like I am at a medieval fair on a nice Sunday afternoon. The overall production of the album is great
Report this review (#16297)
Posted Sunday, January 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars An excellent album, of course, but not a prog masterpiece - too hard rock and folk oriented, not enough keyboards in the mix, and lacks the compositional sophistication of a prog masterpiece, like the ones to follow: Thick As A Brick and Passion Play.
Report this review (#16299)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
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.
Report this review (#16302)
Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album has some very exceptional songs in it, but also some duller tunes which sadly drop the fifth star from it. This is still a very recommendable classic rock album, and the material is more like an artistic classic rock, there are no symphonic or similar elements present here. But this was the trade this band mastered in my opinion better that the epics! The A-side of the LP is wonderful, but I never got so much into the second side. This is not due to it's anti-religious themes though. Well, maybe I should try to check it out again someday (if I just had the time!). Covers are marvelous, and it was a nice act from the band to do an album themed of the outcasts of the society.
Report this review (#16305)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first real classic from Tull, and a giant leap foreward from their previous albums in content, and songwriting. The lyrics are dark humouresque observations from a preaching lyricist, set to music with dark heavy rock, counterpointed by accoustic passages, and some nice piano parts.

1. Aqualung (6:31) Heavy, well known song, with dark guitar chords, slow soft accoustic parts alternated with heavy fast rock, great rhythms, most notably the piano gives it an extra dimension, also Barre's guitar solo is of great class. Brilliant album opener, and a timeless classic. 2. Cross-Eyed Mary (4:09) Starting with a nice flute melodie, and a compelling bass line it soon get's heavier and more powerfull, great intricate drumming and strong guitar play. Ian's singing is really impressive.

3. Cheap Day Return (1:23) accoustic interlude, nice playing, one of the best short songs I know. 4. Mother Goose (3:52) Folky melodie, nice flute and great singing again. Some nice background drumming, and great rhythms. 5. Wond'ring Aloud (1:56) nice guitar, but nothing special. 6. Up To Me (3:18) some nice moments, but it doesn't really get above average.

7. My God (7:10) The beginning of side two, really a stand out track. Soft accoustic intro, with nice soft piano. Slowely building to a cynical hard hitting rock format. The heavier parts nicely introduced by Ian's vocal lines. Great song, with cynical lyrics and nice flute parts.With lots of changes in atmosphere and direction. 8. Hymn 43 (3:18) Rhythmic piano bass and drum, and fabulous guitar play, a very powerfull rock song.

9. Slipstream (1:13) sweet accoustic song. 10. Locomotive Breath (4:25) A very soft piano intro, slowely building up in volume, and tempo, introducing the best rock rhythm I know. very powerfull heavy rock and one of Tull's best songs ever. 11. Wind-Up (5:42) Great rocking last song, A fabulous exciting finish to an almost perfect album.

Though I absolutely love this album, I will not rate it with five stars, mainly because of the first side of the album, which is a bit unbalanced IMO, with some great songs, but also with some filler. The second part is brilliant, and represents the best of what Tull made in their carreer. Averaging at just below 4,5 i think four stars are more than deserved.

Report this review (#36006)
Posted Friday, June 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars G R E A T ! The best Tull-Album so far. The acoustical songs don't seem boring like on some later albums, and the heavier songs really rock. Definetly a masterpiece. Recently I went to a live-show in Nürnberg. Ian mentioned that they were planning another live-recording, featuring the entire Aqualung album live. That will be great.


Report this review (#36950)
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars First song is awesome as everydody else may knows, second song another killer. Not always progressive, this record has good ballads, has folk, psychedelic. Starts very hot, but gets cold, stills one of the biggest classics of rock, essential. Realise you have the feeling the man on the cover sings the songs, or the beggar, once again, this record has haunting moments.
Report this review (#38519)
Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now don't get me wrong. This is a terrific album, its a 5/5 by regular standards, but when you think about only masterpieces of prog should get 5 stars, and this isn't terribly progressive. It starts out with the title track, the main riff of which is sure to catch your ear. After rocking for a while the song goes mellow for a few, then it goes into an awesome guitar solo, then it ends heavily again. Track 2, Cross eyed mary, is another rocking song, witha great flute intro, and memorable lyrics and riffs. Track 3, Cheap day return, is short acoustic ballad, which is very nice and melodic. Mother goose is another ballad with great lyrics and melody, which starts out slow and acoustic, but it adds some rocking electric guitar later. This also features great flute. Wond'ring aloud is another short acoustic ballad, featuring great guitar and vocals. The first side closes with Up to me, which has a kind of bluesy jazzy main riff which may be hard to get into for some, but the melody and the rest is classic folky Tull stuff.

Side two opens with the considerably darker My God, featuring great acoustic and electric guitar riffs and great vocals and lyrics. This is kind of a scary song, the darkest on the album perhaps. Hymn 43 is another good one, featuring great everything. Slipstream is short and maybe the least memorable song on the album, but the song that comes after it may be the best on there. Locomotive Breath is one of those hard rocking, slightly dark songs which is mainly acoustic, and it has a great memorable riff and lyrics. Wind Up, the closing track, is another ballad, featuring some memorable piano an dgreat vocals and lyrics.

So the only reason I didn't give this a 5 is because it is more hard/folk rock than prog, with a whole bunch of ballads. It still features some of the greatest songs by Jethro Tull and some of the greatest of classic rock. Highlights include: Aqualung, Cross eyed mary, mother goose, my God, and Locomotive Breath. Although all the songs are pretty good.

Report this review (#40158)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Waiting for the promised new 2005 Aqualung-Live CD, I've decided now it's time to write about this MEMORABLE MASTERPIECE (oh!, don't worry, I'm not intending to suggest a special 6 stars rating cathegory or similar.). The fact is that truly this is an immortal opus. The greatness is both in the electric guitar of Martin Barre and in the (predominant) acoustic guitar of Ian Anderson. This is the last album for the drummer Clive Bunker (the next year replaced by Barriemore Barlow, my Tull's preferite drummer of all time!!) and the first album for the bass player Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, who was well known by the JT's fans because of the three songs that Ian had dedicated to him before (in order: 1968-A Song For Jeffrey; 1969-Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square; 1970-For Micheal Collins, Jeffrey And Me).

Cover Art: long bearded tramp painted in predominating green tempera colour.Ian Anderson, of course!! This is his legendary long coat I've seen him with, performing A Song For Jeffrey in the Rolling Stone Rock'n'Roll Circus (1968).

Aqualung: nothing to say in particular. All is just completely said! But what about the highest pleasure to listen to auch acclaimed and equilibrated song? P.S. Ironically, the best known song from Jethro Tull is one of the fews which are not flute-played!! I hope this is nothing more than a coincidence.(I like flute' sound very much). Ah! Words of the song by Jennie, the first Ian's wife.

Cross-Eyed-Mary: And what could be the better thing that the Good Lord would reserve to that tramp..? This is a classic Tull piece in a strong rock strong and classic rock that the iron Maiden played a famous cover of it changing the fluted-part into their baroque (and remarkable) running electric guitar!

Cheap Day Return: a nice short acoustic one in which Ian narrates when he went to visit his old father into hospital and the title track is derived from the name of the train ticket.

Mother Goose: beautiful acoustic oriented song with some enchanting electric guitar by "Monsieur Le Barre" in the second part. These last two pieces are findable in the recent live JT 2002 album Living With The Past (very good album!). It was also performed live in their splendid italian concert in Mantua (in the garden of the Gonzaga's "Palazzo Te" - Gonzaga was an important and rich dukes' family) the 16 july.

Wond'ring Aloud: another splendid track in acoustic guitar and piano (great John Evan!). In the Living In The Past album (1972) you can find another longer version of this one moderately and differently arranged (with also different lyrics) named Wond'ring Again.

Up To Me: mythic piece with that famous laughed-intro (rarely played in the live concerts, but played in the last Italian concert in Mantua.

My God: the real sure progressive piece in this album, with a great increasing acoustic arpeggio in the first part, great electric guitar parts and a memorable choral intermezzo. This song opens the second half of the album wich was concepted to be the summa of the Ian's opinions in God and religion.

Hymn 43: stunning electric played track which was also released as a single (also this was rarely live played!).

Slipstream: within Cheap Day Return this is the second of the two little (short) acoustic gems of the shivers me each time I listen to it!

Locomotive Breath: the second historic immortal song after Aqualung! Great piano introduction by Mr. John Evan and sudden start of an explosive Barre's guitar!

Wind-Up: the third forgotten song in the live shows. "When I Was Young." so starts the filtered voice of Ian. The song is divided in two symmetrical parts of which the first begins in an acoustic slow guitar, the second in similarly slow piano.what an incredible song!!!

Final rating: 5 stars? of course!!!!

Report this review (#45063)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
el böthy
4 stars Yes, very nice, but not very proggish. I guess they had not developed the proggish side of the band yet. Thats OK, this album still is very good...but not a masterpiece. Yes, the whole album has a very nice feeling and there is no bad or weak song...but still its not a 5 star album. I like the way the album is kind of separeted in two, one side its the Aqualung album and the other the Christian hypocrecy, nice! Best songs: Aqualung, Crossed eye Mary, Up to me, My God ( this must be, along with Aqualung the most "important" track of the album ), Hymn 43, Locomothive Breath and Wind up. In the remastered version there is a bonus interview to Ian, were he says that Aqualung is not that big thing for him...hehehe, just so you know
Report this review (#45138)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A classic album in Rock History!! And somewhat of a conceptual album. Combining rock, folk, and prog elements was a good idea. The result is my 2nd favourite album from the band, and their most accessible one. It is no wonder how many of the songs here are heard on the radio, and the number of albums sold. I will not review the short acoustic pieces, since they only are there to connect the big songs together and they would not sound impressive on their own. These songs are essential to the album though, and are very pretty.

"Aqualung" begins the album and it is a classic rock song that is often heard on the radio, despite its moderately long length. IT has a powerful 6-note guitar riff, folk-rock sections, great solos ... This song, like 'Minister in a Gallery' combines all elements of the band. This song is superior though. "Cross-Eyed Mary" is a good hard rock short song with memorable riffs. Mother Goose is a melodic folky tune with very good melodies and guitar lines. Up To Me has an outstanding flute/guitar unison riff. My God is the epic of the album, and it is pure progressive rock with a very dark and angry tone. It begins as a faint acoustic theme that will eventually increase in volume and depth until the them is played with an electric guitar and a desperate loud flute lick is played. Later, AN AMAZING IMPOSSIBLY FAST FLUTE SOLO is played with male angry choirs in the background. The main theme and verses are heard after Ian Impresses listener with his flute. Hymn 43 is an agressive track with yet another good riff and nice piano playing behind the guitar. Locomotive Breath starts with nice soft piano and builds up into one of the most known guitar-driven rhythms of Prog Rock. There is another flute solo in this outstanding hard rock song.

1. Aqualung (9.5/10) 2. Cross-Eyed Mary (8/10) 3. Cheap Day Return (7/10) 4. Mother Goose (8/10) 5. Wond'ring Aloud (8/10) 6. Up To Me (7/10) 7. My God (9/10) 8. Hymn 43 (7.5/10) 9. Slipstream (7/10) 10. Locomotive Breath (9/10) 11. Wind-Up (8/10)

My Rating : B+

Report this review (#45521)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars To me the wonderful watercolour painting looks like Ian Anderson down the drain (I agree with JT freak Andrea), is this the Freudian nightmare of the typical upper-middle class: once well-educated and predestinated to belong to the happy few in the UK and now a sick and lost, TBC suffering tramp? It could have been a cynical, typical poshy British joke from Ian Anderson! Anyway, this is JT their finest hour delivering a captivating blend of several styles. Most of the compositions alternates between blues, rock and folk, topped by splendid electric guitar work from Martin Barre and powerful flute play and strong, very distinctive vocals (with that cynical undertone) from Ian Anderson. Other tracks have a more progressive rock sound.

"Aqualung": great changing climates (folky, swinging, R&R), strong omnipresent piano play, powerful vocals and in the second part a strong build-up, harder-edged guitar solo.

"My God": a compelling composition that starts with fine acoustic guitar, then piano and cynical vocals, culminating in a slow rhythm with propulsive electric guitar riffs, fiery guitar runs and swirling flute play. The cynical vocals and lyrics are splendid!

"Locomotive Breath": the intro features a classical, jazzy inspired piano intro, then a catchy rhythm with swirling flute, fiery electric guitar and swing piano. And another powerful appearance by Ian Anderson on vocals.

This album from Jethro Tull is a perfect one for a discussion about progressive rock. BUT IT REMAINS AN ESSENTIAL MASTERPIECE!

Report this review (#45998)
Posted Thursday, September 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is to my mind an essential not only for the quality of the music but the originality and complexity of the inherent social themes. While every song on this CD (with the possible exception of Slipstream) is an excellent melody wound around a progressive style, what originally impressed me was the lack of cheesy, overdone love lyrics and/or the sophisticated religious questioning that I can't help but agree with. While Anderson's spirituality is very apparent in songs such as "My God", his irreverance towards the institution of religion strikes a deep chord with me. Now, if you want to talk strictly musically, I cannot help but be amazed at the qualiy of the album. Although this is Tull's most famous album, it still seems that it is underrated. I would put it up to contend with the best that Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd have to offer. The more popular pieces are not the only amazing works, but simply the more immediately catchy. "Cheap Day Return" remains the best acoustic piece I have heard in recent years and overlooked ones like "Up to Me" still contain a kind of perfect orchestration which can't be imitated.
Report this review (#47103)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The album that thrusted Tull onto the airwaves, especially in the US. Any cover band worth their merit has to, or at least, try to cover 'Aqualung'. It's a mother of a song, heavy, plodding, an impossible song to dance to. But man oh man those lyrics. In fact, the main draw for me is the mighty pen of Mr. Ian Anderson, and here is some of his most biting work, and for/against religion no less. I'm not going to give a blow-by-blow review of the disc, since its been done ad neaseum. But like Hughes review, I tend to enjoy the songs least played, ('Mother Goose', 'Slipstream', 'Wind-up'). The disc I own is the 25th anniversary edition with extra tracks and an interview with Ian. The only reason I give this album less than five stars is the muddy sound. Some day I might pick up the re-mastered version, but for now I'll settle for this. To sum up, it's not overtly prog, it still has the bluesy balls like previous albums, but you can see how they are beginning to stretch out to more fertile regions. Hard, rocking, flute-driven masterpiece.
Report this review (#53275)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Aqualung" is by far THE BEST album by Jan Anderson & co., simply a "milestone" in the rock history, still fresh and beautiful to listen after more then 30 years... Clearly, not a "progressive" work in classic terms, but a wonderful blend of the best music items in '60 and '70 (english folk,hard-rock,classic tradition,blues), yet free from the ambitious structural burdens of later LPs like "Thick as a Brik" and "A Passion Play". Here tight and fast electrical distorted riffs preveal over improvisations, and the form "song" becomes asymmetric with the preference for "squared" and irregular timings (in other words, the closed structure of the rock song or of the blues is being opened). In this sense "Aqualung" IS a progressive work, with all of the band members playing at their best. Five stars and more.
Report this review (#60269)
Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I know this album is regarded by many as Jethro Tull's best album however I feel that it is a bit overrated. The title track & Locomotive Breath are excellent. I do like the album a lot but I do think that Other Tull albums such as Benefit, Stand Up & Heavy Horses are stronger examples of great tull music. The whole concept of Aqualung is Prog at its best but tracks like Up To Me & My God are fairly Weak by tull's standards. The Title track has two great sides to it- a straight rock feel & softer prog, acoustic sound. This is a very strong track for the band as it sets out the whole concept of 'Aqualung' who is a wondering tramp like character. Anderson's lyrics in the piece tell a story about this Man. the lyrics show what a genius Ian Anderson is.
Report this review (#60421)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars What to say about an album that contains an anthem and at least 3 other songs that can be rated as classics? Not so much, only to experience and enjoy.

"Aqualung", the album is really a splendid piece of contemporary music breaking the borders of labels and styles; this work helped - and helped too much to set the guidelines for what we today call prog-rock or simply prog.

The anthem, 'Aqualung', the song, is a timeless composition where changes in time and signature are marvelous; everything functions at its best in this music - and one can catch a glimpse of Anderson's elf-like face while performing this song.

The classics: 'Locomotive breath', the beginning is illusory, this is not a piano suite but a raw and dense rock; 'Cross-eyed Mary', an explosive combination of flute and piano supported by great guitar backing, and the singing is nervous, provocative; 'Hymn 43', again the piano and again the voice is crude, almost rude, nearly barbarous.

Other songs are average or better but I have a special care for the short and agreeable 'Cheap day return', pastoral and bucolic, contrasting with the powerful 'Aqualung' and its strong companion 'Cross-eyed Mary'.

This album is really a MASTERPIECE. Total: 5.

Report this review (#63491)
Posted Friday, January 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Overrated album! If "My God" and the title track are supposed to be the highlights in this album, i have to admit that i don't share this view. The opening song is perhaps their most famous work, but IMO it is very dry musically and doesn't work for me. While "My God" has "an awesome flute solo", an even more awesome flute solo can be found on Thick As A Brick, and the rest of the song is as dry as the opening one. For me, the good songs are the short ones here, since they show some actual emotion and passion which apparently is lacking on the rest of the disc. I admit the concept on the album is good, and IAN ANDERSON is a very smart lyricist, but musically this album doesn't give the "big punch" necessary to appreciate the concept and lyrics as well.

Credits go for the album cover which, in my opinion, together with the concept, are the only things that worked here.

Report this review (#63782)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Normally known like one of the classic rock albums Aqualung is too the example of the Anderson´s genius with acoustic songs. I think that Wond´ring aloud, Mother goose,Slipstream or Cheap day return are great examples.Anderson always deny Aqualung like concept album but i think it is.Probably is the beginning of more complex Tull adventures and others too.Great Barre and Evan too.
Report this review (#67131)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've been surprised looking "thick as a brick" rated better than "aqualung". Maybe the former embodies the idea of Progressive and it's the greater Tull's product in this sphere. But the latter, in my opinion, is their archetipal album: apart from the title track (a masterpiece anyway) every song, every riff can move you, and lead to something I'd define "ancestral": echoes, old piano sound, and of course Ian Anderson's "double voice": his timbre, marking the magical lyrics, and the sound of his magic flute, which notes seem to be one with all the rest, giving complexity to the whole sound and encrowning it at the same time.

Thus, from the second to the last track there's a perfect top-down harmony, starting within the riffs straight to the whole tracklist, paasing by the single tracks, each of them capable to ram in your head both immediately and for long.

one anecdote:I was eleven, and Tull were on stage (for free) in the small Italian town in which we're spending our summer holydays. I was not there, but I casually passed in the small conduct behind the arena that led to a subway. I stayed an hour there, catching glimpses of their faces (I only saw their backs!) but all of their songs, among them, I remember especially Locomotive Breathe...thanks to which I started listening to Rock music.

To sum up briefly, "Thick" could be objectively better, but if I have to give 5 stars to a band like Tull that overally deserves all of them, I choose Aqualung: you may say that it's an odd choiche, but from what "tastes" come if not from personal experiences and feelings?

Report this review (#69937)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the albums in the prog rock genre that has impressed me most, is certainly Aqualung. The opening title track with its exchange of hard riffing and gentle acoustic tunes designates the whole sound of the album . 'Cross-eyed Mary' brings vivid flute and piercing guitar, while following three are more acoustic songs, among them two extremly short - 'Cheap Day Return' with only few but amazing chords, and melodicaly beautiful 'Wond'ring Aloud'. On the B side of the record where dominates the opener 'My God' there are two more highlights: 'Locomotive Breath' and closing 'Wind Up'. Last time when Jethro Tull were in my country I attended the concert and enjoyed very much in their musicianship, which lost nothing of its quality and freshness.Anderson and Barre performance, few good old songs and the pleasure was complete. At the time Aqualung was released, it raised a lot of disscussion whether was it a conceptual album or not. To me, Aqualung was masterpiece 35 years ago, it is still today and it will always be.
Report this review (#69977)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A masterpiece of classic prog!

This is a masterpiece of prog rock album that has now become a legendary one. It's a pity of you claim yourself as a prog lover but you don't have this album in your collection because this one is a must have. With their debut album full of blues influence, this album is more of a rocker with variations of styles and tempo. It was not hard for hard rockers to accept this album because it contains heavy guitar riffs which resemble typical hard rock music. Of course, you would hear a lot of flute-work throughout the album - that's has become the trademark of Tull's music.

The album opener and title track "Aqualung" has colored my childhood when this song was popularized by my illegal (oops!) radio station. It's relative accessible rocker with typical guitar riffs of hard rock combined with drums, unique vocal line and acoustic guitar as rhythm section. I remember that this track was my brother Jokky's favorite song because he always played this song everyday. I got used to it because he regularly played it and the first impression I got about this song was especially the "distant" vocal sound during chorus where the acoustic guitar rhythm accompanies. The song is very dynamic and it represents prog nature because it offers tempo and style changes throughout the stream of the song. "Aqualung my friend - don't you start away uneasy .." is a memorable lyrical part that I cannot forget since the first time I listened to it until now (Oh boy . 35 years have passed .!!).

"Cross-Eyed Marry" is another great track with soaring flute and piano during opening followed with energetic music. Again, I like when the vocal enters especially with the guitar riffs that accompany the vocal. Great! "Cheap Day Return" offers great acoustic guitar fills and melody. "Mother Ghoose" maintains the same acoustic guitar style that accompanies unique vocal line. "Wondering Aloud" is a nice ballad with heavy voval line and articulate acoustic guitar fills. "Up To Me" is another favorite of mine especially it has a unique laughs at the start of the track followed with powerful acoustic guitar fills, flute and unique vocal line "Take you to the cinema ..". It's a wonderfully crafted track that characterizes the music of Tull.

"My God" has a powerful melody and great acoustic guitar part at the opening. It's my favorite Tull's track as well. The music flows naturally with ambient vocal at the opening, moving up into an energetic style with drum beats and guitar riffs. I always repeat this track whenever I play this album like what I'm doing now. The combined work of flute and electric guitar is really excellent. The flute solo in the middle of the track is terrific! "He is inside you and me. So lean upon him gently ..".

"Hymn 43" is another great rocker with powerful riffs and good combination of piano and flute works. "Slipstream" is another nice ballad. "Locomotive Breath" is the band's legendary track with great piano solo opening followed with great electric guitar touch that brings the music into a dynamic style.

My CD is a Special Edition 25th Anniversary with luxurious and colored booklet and very nice CD case. I don't regret at all spending money to purchase this CD. The music is a masterpiece; the production and sonic quality are top notch! Highly recommended to all of you claim as prog lovers! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75702)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wow! Waaaay overrated! I have no clue how people have come to ideolize this record!! It's not actually as great as some people put it...yes it was the start of a new Jethro Tull back in its time...but the masterpieces done by the band will come in the form of Thick as a Brick, Minstrel in the Gallery and maybe even songs from the wood!!! I don't think this should be the start of anyone's Tull collection, if you're new to this band get Thick as a Brick first and be wondered by that...then Minstrel in the Gallery and THEN go for this...I'm not saying it's not good, it's just not as great as everyone has built it up to be, at least nowadays...maybe back then....but I wasn't born back then and a great album is an album that trascends time....and the music in this album doesn't...the lyrics do apply now...but the music doesn't....
Report this review (#77039)
Posted Wednesday, May 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album was my introduction to Jethro Tull, and within a few months of that I had bought quite a few JT albums because they're so different from what I was used to listening to. This is by far their most commercial because many define it to be "classic rock." I see it as their most blended album of electric and acoustic guitars. Also, I think that Ian Anderson did his best flute work here. Close after the time of purchase, my favorite track was "Locomotive Breath" because I have a heavy background of guitars and I think Martin Barre shines here better than on "Aqualung" or "Cross-Eyed Mary". I've tried to find some weak point in this album, but (to me) there aren't any. This isn't my favorite Tull album, but it is well deserving of five stars.
Report this review (#78581)
Posted Thursday, May 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Jethro Tull's Aqualung is no doubt one of Jethro Tull's better, if not best, albums. In this album, Ian Anderson doesn't play as much flute as he does Acoustic guitar, which is an improvement in some ways, such as the album is varied more from the traditional Jethro Tull. I liked the fact that in this album, Martin Barre showcase his underrated talent, unlike the previous albums (Don't take me wrong, I loved those albums). Maybe its just that Martin Found his style at that time. Anyway, I loved this Album and can listern to it over and over and still love it the next time I hear it. If your gonna have a collection of Prog CDs, This would be a first purchase if I were you.
Report this review (#79366)
Posted Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Quite simply put, this is one of my favourite records of all time - one of those I know practically by heart, one I've never got tired of listening to. While some have questioned its progressiveness, and others seem to think it is a bit overrated (oh, no, not that word again!), to my mind it still represents one of the best examples of what was great about music in the Seventies - fantastic cover art, intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics, fearless blending of genres, even on-stage theatrics. Even though all these things still exist in some measure, there was an innocence to it that seems to be sadly lacking in today's corporate music world, where images are created on purpose and nothing is left to chance anymore.

While its status as a fully-fledged concept album is debatable (though it seems indeed to be built, however loosely, around a sortof concept - that is, criticism of the role of organised religion in modern society), "Aqualung" shows Anderson at its biting, lyrical best. His voice (not classically beautiful in the way of a Lake or a Sinclair, but highly expressive and always effective in its delivery) snarls and soothes in turn - as the album's musical content strikes the right balance between acoustic, folk-flavoured moments and fiery, hard-rocking numbers, enhanced by Martin Barre's aggressive guitar. Actually, "hard rock" is probably the most suitable definition for the album's overall sound. Barre, more restrained on the band's previous albums (where he was still the new boy), here pulls out all the stops and delivers some of the most incendiary solos in the history of prog - notably the one on "Aqualung", a real showstopper, allegedly done in one take in the presence of Jimmy Page. The contrast with Anderson's wistful, delicate acoustic playing on songs like "Cheap Day Return" and folk-rock masterpiece "Mother Goose" (also featuring nice flute parts ) is really one of the album's strenghts.

With so many reviews written before mine, I feel a track-by-track analysis to be quite superfluous. The standouts, though, are nothing short of superb - starting with the title-track, which veers from the crushingly heavy opening riff (one of the most immediately recognisable in the history of rock) to the melancholy, acoustic part in which Ian, at his most heartwrenching, bleakly illustrates the reality of the titular tramp's squalid life, to the galloping instrumental middle section and Barre's blistering solo, before the reprise of the initial theme. A masterpiece of songwriting if ever there was one. "Cross-Eyed Mary", about a day in the life of a teenage hooker, is another hard-rock-flavoured number - once covered by Iron Maiden, whose bassist Steve Harris has never hidden his love for JT; while the next three tracks see the tempo slow down and the folk influences come out to play.

The real masterpiece of the album, though, and my personal favourite, comes at the beginning of what used to be Side Two. With caustic, bitter lyrics decrying the hypocrisy of organising religion and the way it demeans the true meaning of God, "My God" features some of Anderson's best, free-form flute work in the middle, and some guitar work by Barre that would not be wrong to call heavy metal. The way his guitar kicks in at the beginning of the song, after Anderson has sung "So lean upon him gently/and don't call on him to save..." literally slices the air in two. Anderson spits out his words with genuine venom, and the lyrics are among the best he's written in a career spanning almost forty years. Then, of course, we have traditional concert encore "Locomotive Breath", a driving, hauntingly heavy song with great flute and guitar work, and rock-solid rythm backing. Album closer "Wind Up", probably the most traditionally prog song on the record, is also my least favourite, in spite of the excellent lyrical content.

The recently remastered edition contains some excellent bonus tracks, including early JT classics "Fat Man" and "A Song for Jeffrey", the evergreen "Bourée", and an interview with Ian Anderson himself reminiscing about the way the album came about. "Aqualung" is one of those records that get better with age and never go out of date. This is essential listening for every lover of great, classic, solid-gold rock music.

Report this review (#82833)
Posted Wednesday, July 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Many have lauded Aqualung as one of the impressive works of Jethro Tull. But I find this album dull, music wise. Ian Anderson is a fine lyricist and his vocals sounds great for a while, till it gets monotonous. This is no exception in case of Aqualung. Great lyrics and fine vocals (for a while) and then the album gets monotonous, lacking the sense of adventure that I look for in a prog-rock album. Tull was still evolving into the great band it will become in the next album. The opening track and Locomotive breath are two great highlights of this album.
Report this review (#84516)
Posted Saturday, July 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aqualung- This is one of the best Tull albums be far. The album is full of nice folk tunes, hard rock songs, and alternative music styles. Anderson is my favourite lyracist of all time and it really shows on this album. The concept of the album is around the fictitious character Aqualung who is pictured on the front. While the second side of the album deals with organized religion. The music suits the mood very well throughout and is easily deserving of five stars. However in my opinion some of the songs are a little tedious and contract from the overall album. The best songs on Aqualung is the title track, My God, and Locomotive Breath. Some other songs are decent but these are the main hits.

I purchased the special edition with an interview with Ian Anderson which is a neat addition to the album. He discusses the recording process of Aqualung and other stories behind it. He also talks about Jethro Tull's legendary rift between it and Led Zeppelin. It is a funny story.

This is an incredible album deserving of five stars. So far every album i have reviewed has been given 4 or 5 stars but that is only because I am reviewing the ones I like most at this point in time.

Report this review (#86331)
Posted Wednesday, August 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Aqualung" is the most accessible Jethro Tull album and it is the easiest to get into and to acquire as it is, I daresay the band's most critically acclaimed album. "Aqualung" is a wonder to listen to from start to finish and it features many classic songs which include "Aqualung", "Cross-Eyed Mary", "My God" and "Locomotive Breath." "Aqualung" is the heaviest of Jethro Tull's earlier albums. But is also has many folky sections as well which makes for a very interesting listen. I will go through some of the major songs, but not all as I don't want to bore you.

The title song depicts a shabby, mysterious beggar who pops up on a few other places on the album. "Aqualung" is the best Jethro Tull song, excluding T'hick as Brick 'parts 1 and 2, in my opinion. It starts off with a harsh opening played on an overdrive guitar which sets the initial mood of the song. It then moves into a short acoustic section and then into a very lively paty which is infectious, and amazing. The solo connects with this section, which is probably the best in all Tull songs and then the opening is repeated which then closes out the song.

The next song, depicts another of society's dregs "Cross-Eyed Mary" the prostitute and the harshness in Ian Anderson's voice shows his disapproval of such people. "Cross- Eyed Mary" is another "Aqualung"-like song with a similar structure and sound, although it isn't quite as good. The next major song is "Mother Goose" which is a folk song, accented by recorders played by Martin Barre and Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond as well as the trademark Ian Anderson Acoustic guitar chord progression and some electric guitar in the background.

"My God talks" explicitly of religion and of Christian Hypocrisy. It is rather true song in what it speaks of. Other than "My God" is a very good song and has a solemn mood with many minor chords spotted here and there. Locomotive Breath is another classic Jethro Tull song and it starts rather softly and builds its way up into a rock song. Aqualung was one of Jethro Tull's most successful albums and it reached number 4 in the UK and 7 in US.

With this major world-wide fan base, when the band released 'Thick as a Brick' it went to number 1 in America and 5 in England, so "Aqualung" set the stage so to say for many years to come. Anywho "Aqualung" is a major prog album and even today it is hailed as being one of the key albums in the advancement to hard rock music, although it may not be immediately apparent.

Report this review (#86802)
Posted Saturday, August 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars JT's finest performance? I think not. This may be Anderson at his best lyrically, but besides that, I don't see the greatness that everyone else seems to find in this album. The melodies are trite and uninspiring for me. Every now and then Tull will hit their stride, but a majority of it is pretty dull. I'd like to see more progging here and less bluesing.

I'll take an example like a song like Cross Eyed Mary. It just is not really interesting, it never seems to go anywhere, it just kind of exists. Much can be said for the rest of the album, it's just kind of "there". Aqualung, My God, and Locomotive breath are the best tracks here, but even still, I feel like there is something missing. Tull would go on to write better things however, as such is the case for TaaB and A Passion Play.

Report this review (#89499)
Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ah, yes, Aqualung. My very first exposure to the greatness of Jethro Tull. Actually, it's been my only so far. I could tell you that it's a fantastic album, and you need to drop whatever you're doing and buy it right now. Yeah, I could, but you want more information than that, right? What's that? Well, too bad. I'm writing a review anyway.

The album opens with the title track, and let's face it, we've all heard it before. Definitely one of the better songs on the album. The first half of this album is about and old, poor, homeless man who lives on the streets. He's called Aqualung because of his rheumy cough. Sound depressing?...Well, it is. Aqualung changes partway through into a soft acoustic ballad, before rocking out to finish. Next up is Cross-Eyed Mary. Ah, a good rocker. On par with Aqualung, in my opinion. The song is about a schoolyard prostitute. Oddly, it's not that weird anymore... With a great flute solo and a rocking guitar solo courtesy of (extremely underrated) guitarist Martin Barre, the song closes.

Well, let's face it. All of the Aqualung side is fantastic. Highlights include:

Aqualung Cross-Eyed Mary Mother Goose Up to Me

With My God (the song), the second half of the album begins. It focuses more on the religious aspect of the album. One might suspect that this would make it weaker. One is wrong. Much longer than the first side, it contains tracks just as good. The...side...title...track...whatever, My God, is a longer song, but is still great. There's one flute part that gets me every time. Hymn 43 is definitely the side's rocker. Good stuff.

Highlights of an equally fantastic side:

My God Hymn 43 Locomotive Breath Wind Up Lick Your Fingers Clean

Why are you still reading this? Go buy it right now!...No, don't bother reading the reviews below this one. Actually, scratch that. They'll strengthen your opinion of the album where I missed out. But, of course, I didn't, did I? But seriously, buy it. A truly magnificent piece of prog. Excellent starting point for the Prog Folk genre. I bought myself Thick as a Brick yesterday, so expect a review on that soon. What?... I don't care, I'm still writing it!!

Report this review (#92819)
Posted Sunday, October 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars This might be a fan's favourite, but it doesn't seduce me as much as it used to. The main problem on this album is that to my ears this sounds a bit like Led Zeppelin with flute, there are no exciting jazzy bridges (not counting My God), no tempo nor time nor mood changes, just plain classic rock with flute; it's a heavy metal album.

My second motif is Ian's vocals: they're poisoneous and preachy, his singing sounds a bit too generic compared to his standards. He proved he could sing more maturely on A Passion Play and further albums (and that's just 2 years later). In this one he wants to sing heavily and raw, and it is quite a turnoff after a few tracks. The lyrics are somehow a bit better than those on Benefit, were they not for the ones in Wind Up: imminent and evident teenage anger.

Musicwise it's not better than Benefit, although My God manages to hold the candle, basically due to the lyrics and the middle seccion, embellished with the Russian-like chants, which is nothing like Jethro Tull had done before that.

I agree with another reviewer that the best songs on here are the short acoustic intervals, which show a better vocal delivery and sentiment. Mother Goose is another Tull classic with delightful flutes and vocal harmonies; and I already mentioned My God. Locommotive Breath begins with a great fusion between the baroque-like John Evan's piano and the entrance of Martin Barre's bluesy licks, but after a while it just doesn't do much for me; it's just another radio-friendly song.

Although it is a concept album, it's certainly not the progressive gem that everyone is practically chanting about. The real turning point for Jethro Tull's venture through progressive music would begin a year later. Here we witness the short-lived metal era of the band that would re-emerge in the late 80's. Seems that their vecinity with Led Zeppelin was indeed a bad influence, although they didn't rip the style entirely off.

Report this review (#93660)
Posted Saturday, October 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow. This one was the record that made me discover the bizarre genius of Ian Anderson, and I mean, what a positive shock it was since I probably started with the Tulls masterpiece along with Thick As A Brick. This is progressive folk rock truly at its best. Beautifully balanced between the more rock oriented tracks Aqualung (one of the most memorable song from the 70's in my humble opinion), Cross Eyed Mary (a perfect example of how simple exciting and always astounding a rock song can be), My God (the dark side of Ian Anderson, with probably one of the greatest flute themes he's ever composed), Hymn 43 and Locomotive Breath (faboluos riff) and the absolutely amazing folk pieces and interludes Cheap Day Return, Mother Goose, Wond'ring Aloud and Slipstream. The closing Wind Up is just perfect, catchy and rock'n'roll-ish like only Jethro Tull can be. Only the bluesy Up To Me is probably a little bit more useless, and works basically as a sort of divertissement, but except this particular one "Aqualung" is a collection of unforgettable tracks. This record remains what it will always be, a musical milestone.

Essential. Just essential!

Report this review (#99461)
Posted Saturday, November 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sometimes when I listen to this album, I think it's an attack on religion, other times I think it's Ian Anderson coming up with his own religion. Sometimes I even feel as if Anderson is encouraging religion, oddly enough. Sometimes I don't care, and I'm just listening to the music. But regardless of lyrical intent, the music here is great. There are some very strong, catchy tunes! Musicianship is good, but will improve for albums to come. The album is rather dark, especially the second half (methinks).

For someone new to Tull, this is the album to start with. Unless you are already a proghead, you might want to start with Thick as a Brick. Yes, Thick as a Brick (and to a lesser degree A Passion Play) are Tull's epic masterpieces, but this album deserves some recognition as well.

Report this review (#100939)
Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album was a nice change for Tull, who had basically accomplished all that was in the Folk Rock genre. They say goodbye to hippie bassist Glenn Cornick, and Jeffrey Hammond fills the blank.(Yes, the Jeffrey referenced in about 3 earlier Tull tunes)

It is a good classic rock album, peices like My God being the most progressive, and others like Hymn 43 just being straight rock. As with all early tull albums, the lyrics are written excellently. This is a good album to start with if you want to explore JT.

Report this review (#101440)
Posted Saturday, December 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album had been JT's biggest selling and fans' favorite one and certainly it's a much easier accessible work than its ambitious follow-up. As far as I've read on the band's website Ian Anderson did not agree to its tag concept album given by critics considering it rather a compilation of songs. We all know that this fact triggered him to design the concept of "TaaB" which would become the "mother of all concept albums" then. Anyway the lyrics here do have some common topics like social grievance and organized religion and belong undeniably to some of his strongest ones. Musically this one's showing up very well the development of the band's (or shall I say Anderson's) capability of arranging more and more sophisticated and intricate songs. Though those ones here didn't reflect their pinnacle yet IMHO which would be the filigree composition of TaaB this record contains some of their finest work. Apart from the rock classics "Aqualung", "Locomotive Breath" and "Cross-eyed Mary" the band became famous for and being still fun to listen to after all those decades and despite massive airplay there are quite a few more great songs on here. All the compositions are very well balanced between hard rocking sections and acoustic folk-ish or classically inspired ones, a paradigm that should become a kind of trademark for their style later on. Unlike the previous one "Benefit" this is a very versatile album, more similar to "Stand Up" in some way, just more elaborate featuring nice contrasting ingredients like the Mellotron intro of the otherwise rocking "Cross-eyed Mary", the Gregorian-type of choirs in "My God" or the legendary classical beginning for "Locomotive Breath". Other highlights are for sure the few pleasant shorter acoustic pieces "Cheapday return", "Wond"ring aloud" and "Slipstream" as well as the folksy "Mother Goose" or the ballad-esque "Wind Up" with a rocking middle part.

As a conclusion I'd not (yet) consider "Aqualung" a masterpiece from them but certainly one of their finest works and an excellent addition to any collection (****1/2 really)!!

Report this review (#102322)
Posted Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first Jethro Tull album I've heard. And I must say, it's wonderful. The lp starts with the all time classic Aqualung, a song with great riff and acoustic part. Then you go with Cross Eyed Mary (did you know Iron Maiden was covering it?), Cheap Day Return, Mother Goose, Wond'ring Aloud and Up To Me. Great Songs really, but the past part is the next track, called My God. Wow, how good can it be? Everythig after that track is just not the same (I'm talking about music experience:) ) Slipstream is a nice tune. But you know, everything on this record is wonderful. Oh, and the lyrics too. Great job Sir Anderson!
Report this review (#104278)
Posted Saturday, December 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Just a bunch of songs", said Ian. Yeah, right. No-one trusts him. Maybe this is not a conceptual album; maybe all the songs are linked with that magic, invisible link by sheer coincidence. Maybe the Tramp was in some sort of mood for writing songs about religion, without any intentions to delve deep into the thoughtful philosophy of human existence. I guess nobody will ever know.

Isn't it ironic that the most essential Tull song is actually without a flute? And isn't this album actually overwhelmed with lyrical irony of the author himself? Isn't it weird that the milestone of one of the best progressive bands ever is actually an album that is not so terribly progressive musical-wise?

Some of the masterpieces are inspiring, beautiful, evolving, complex, in one word - a food for the mind and soul. I'm always furious, happy, touched, astonished when I am listening any of those masterpieces - I guess it's the same with you, just pick any of your favourite records. Dozens of times I wished to compose something that beautiful myself. Dozens of times I realised that I am discovering something new, realising that the pure genius of my favourite musician(s) is just a top of the iceberg, discovering two black faces on the place where I used to see a white candle-holder just moments ago.

Well, that is not the case with "Aqualung". No. This is something else. When I place the CD into the player, that is meeting with an old friend, and I'm smiling. You are glad because your old friend is here, and you are not complaining about his or hers little imperfections. Because he/she is a human being, an entity that lives and breathes. Nature is a miracle indeed.

This is not a masterpiece. This is someone's life.

Report this review (#104978)
Posted Saturday, December 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aqualung is one of two masterpieces from the only prog-folk group I thoroughly enjoy, Jethro Tull. Aqualung is semi-conceptual, not in the sense of a story but the original sense where the album is built on a theme (think Zappa's Freak Out and We're Only In It For the Money). Side 1 seems to focus on hypocrisy, while Side 2 is linked lyrically as an organized attack on religion. Every track is gold, especially the venemous title track, Mother Goose, and My God are downright essential listening to fans of rebellious lyrics. Heck, these lyrics wouldn't sound too out of place on a Dead Kennedys release, though the arrangements sure would. Ian's rants against religion are some of the first put to verse. John Lennon, not to mention a host of metal bands, owe a debt to Anderson's pioneering lyrics.

While this album isn't as good as Thick as a Brick, or as progressive, it stands as one of the finest albums ever released. Side 2 is cohesive in its attack, but Side 1 proves that this is not a concept album. There is no unifying thread between the songs on Side 1, and there shouldn't be, as Ian wanted this to be a regular album. Aqualung proves that Jethro Tul is the only prog-folk band that truly knows how to rock. Barre's guitar matches the bite in Ian's vocals, and Anderson's flute is always spell-binding. New bassist Hammond shows that he is Tull's best bassist with his solid work that would only improve on the group's magnum opus. Clive Bunker seems incapable of making a predictable drum pattern; instead he crafts some of the weirdest and coolest kitwork this side of Bill Bruford.Evans is a good rythm pianist, and I don't mind that he doesn't take up the room than symphonic keyboardists like Wakeman and Emerson do. Don't get me wrong, I idolize both of them but sometimes structure is ruined by too much of a good thing.

Grade: A-

Report this review (#106843)
Posted Tuesday, January 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the first Tull album I got the chance to listen and is definately in the JT's top five. In 1971 JT line-up was about to start a row of the best albums ever recorded. I believe Aqualung's songs start to have a social and religious content and like that will continue the songs of the albums recorded afterwards. It is considered by many people as a concept album, but by Anderson himself as "just a bunch of songs put together". Somehow it really came out being the first step and introduction of the absolutely astonishing and mind blowers Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play. The music written for Aqualung is more aggressive and maybe with less folk melodies than the previous records. Here the guitar solos and flute solos play a more important role and give the songs new structures. In this record Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond start his career as a Tull musician and will turn into a vital member of the best JT line-up up to 1978. The orchestral arrangements are flawless and the piano pieces played by John Evans undoubtedly turn Aqualung into a five star album. The title track, My God, Hymn 43, Locomotive Breath and Cross Eyed Mary are the greatest tracks. Nevertheless, the rest of the songs have their charm. It's unfair to TAAB and APP to give five stars to Aqualung, the former simply can't be compared with any other JT record, because of their complex structures...Anyway, I believe TAAB and APP would deserve six stars! If you have the chance to listen to the album don't allow yourself to miss the flute solos in My God and Locomotive Breath. Absolutely amazing! With Aqualung we are welcome into the wonderful Tull world.
Report this review (#107375)
Posted Saturday, January 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aqualung was my first confrontation with the Tull. I got acquainted with it on a Belgian radio programme aired on Wednesday afternoons (school off time). I was then aged twelve and I felt in love with "Aqualung". Some people have been bored with the title track or "Locomotive Breath" because they have been so much heard. IMO, but they are ones of the greatest Tull songs ever. It is always a pleasure to listen to them again and again.

The album, of course, does not only features two songs, and "Cross-Eyed Mary" is a bloody good track. The fabulous flute intro that builds crescendo is incredible. Give me more of that kind, please ! Strong rock song. This reflects the hard side of the Tull which I like so much. On the contrary, the next track "Cheap Day Return" is a prog-folk accoustic ballad in which Barre excells in his guitar work (unfortunately just over one minute track). "Wond'ring Aloud" is quite similar : short and folkish but with a very nice melody and very subtle vocals from Ian. A nice moment. A bit mellow with the background orchestration (I never understood why Ian was so found of this, though).

"Mother Goose" has a very nice chorus flute tempo, which is so recognizable. Not a highlight but not a weak track either. "Up to Me" shows the electric side of the Tull mixed with the purest flute sound. Always a great combination.

With "My God" the Tull reaches again the masterpiece level : the subtle piano & accoustic intro lead to a heavy rock piece of music in the vein of "With You ..." from "Benefit". The instrumental section is just wonderful. Ian's flute job at his best, leading to a classical choir segment : what a great combination ! The structure is complex. It is amazing how the Tull switches between hard / heavy rock to the lightest acoustic part. This is the Tull trademark and this is how I love this band. One of their best song in their repertoire. It will already be featured in their 1970 tour (as soon as in March / April) way before the release of Aqualung. It will be a key track in those live sets.

"Hymn 43" is a great piece of hard rock music : heavy keys and bass, great drumming and strong vocals. Another great Tull moment. "Slipstream" is the third short track and probably somewhat weaker.

"Locomotive Breath" ... : what can I say about this one ? I saw the Tull live in 2001 and when they played it it was like I travelled in time, back some thirty years ago. A fabulous song. Slow intrumental intro (almost jamming session) , which builds up to a quite hard rock tune with a fabulous riff : just great man.

The closing number "Wind Up" is the fourth masterpiece of the album. Ian's emotional vocals are very powerful in this song : again a crescendo building. Acoustic intro (guitar and vocals) : very slow tempo. Then, the piano joins after one minute. The drum after another thirty-five seconds. Then, all of a sudden (around minute two), Barre switches from acoustic to electric guitar to offer us one of the most harmonious hard-rocking part of a Tull song. Absolutely brilliant. After 4'15", the listener is brought back again to square one. So, there is only one thing to do after such a great album : "Let's harmonize these lines", right ?

This is by far the best "side B" of a Tull album. FABULOUS.

The remastered version which I re-purchased in 2003, has lots of bonus tracks as well as excerpts of an interview (from 1996) in which Ian's explains the recording of the "Aqualung" (about 14 minutes). You may think that it is long and boring, but the very first time I listened to it, I really appreciated these anecdotes about his album. This is not History of mankind, but the history a great album that will deeply influence some of the mankind.

One will learn i.e. that Tull recorded this masterpiece sharing the studio with Led Zeppelin. There's a bit of confusion in the interview about which Led Zep album it was. The interviewer mention III, Ian answering that he doesn't remember. Actually, it is impossible that it was Led Zep III (it was released in October 1970, while the Tull entered the Island studio in December). The only option is that Led Zep were recording their fabulous Untitled album (another masterpiece, by the way). Dates correspond since both albums started in the studio in December 1970.

Although they had toured with Led Zep in 1969, there were some tension between the bands. While they could get along pretty well with Jimmy and Peter Grant (Led Zep's manager) the mood with Plant was not great. Ian even mentioned to Melody Maker that : "If he would write the lyrics and with their music, they could be a good little rock'n'roll band..." !

They recorded this masterpiece in about three or four weeks. Ian's says, that he did not feel they were producing a great album (sorry, Ian : you were wrong).

In terms of musical bonuses : "Lick Your Fingers Clean" is a great number. It should have deserved to be included on the original. It shows, again, the hard side of the band. Since I do not have the appropriate equipment, I can only say that this quad version of "Wind Up" is a good one. It is less achieved than the final track. The bass is more proeminent. Barre plays more in the background while here and there some keys are to be noticed. the quad version for "Wind Up" is very good.

It is quite a good surprise to have those bonus tracks being something esle than fillers for die-hard fans spending their money again. This will be typical of the Tull remastered albums. Great work. Bravo.

"Song for Jeffrey" is an alternate version. Quite average. "Fat Man" is also poor (I did not like the original very much either). "Bourée" 's alternate version is harder oriented than the original. Great rendition. The three tracks were recorded during a BBC show (in August 1968 for the former one, and in June 1969 for the latter ones).

Only one rating possible : five stars.

Report this review (#107902)
Posted Thursday, January 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars OK, this band is the dream of all teenager. Aqualung is surprising, the first Aqualung song is a song breaks heads, really the disc is breaks heads. This disc has the particularitity that is compound in classic music and is difficult to say if single is work of Anderson, who in fact the band in if it has the attractiveness, Is a very ambitious and strong work, for which it does not know Jethro Tull and really listens this disc would like.
Report this review (#108754)
Posted Wednesday, January 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars The first side of the album deals with the poor and the social outcasts, and how society looks at them.The second side deals with the religious hypocrites who put rituals ahead of people, and religion ahead of getting closer to God. There is a connection between the two, between the man made religion, and the man made "down and outers". In the first case religion is held in high esteem and protected and spread at any cost, while the outcasts are ignored or sneered at as filth.

The first song "Aqualung" is so amazing to me. The way Ian makes us feel contempt toward this disgusting person who eyes little girls, and is such a greasy person with shabby clothes who has a chronic cough.The picture on the front of the album cover is that guy. The music that accompanies this is heavy with riffs and Ian spitting out the words in contempt. Then contrast this to the next passage where the music and vocals become sympathetic and light as the man is described as lonely, his leg is hurting bad, he goes down into a bog to try to warm his feet.This same guy is now pictured on the back of the album cover. Which way do you look at society's down and out ? This what Mr.Anderson is asking. Incredible song !

"Cross-Eyed Mary" opens with flute and mellotron and features Ian's harsh vocals.The next three songs are acoustic tracks while "Up To Me" features some scorching guitar from Martin Barre who is at his best on this record.The second half of the record starts with "My God" a dark, angry song with some excellent guitar and a great flute solo. "Hymn 43" is an uptempo tune with some beautiful piano. "Locomotive Breath" features lots of guitar and piano melodies.The vocals and flute are really good. I love the lyrics on "Wind Up" about how God isn't just there for us on Sunday only as many religious would imply by the rituals they do on that day.

I'm still not tired of hearing this album and I love the heaviness of it. 4.5 stars. I just recently got the re-mixed version that Steven Wilson did and it's a huge upgrade in sound quality over what I had.

Report this review (#110818)
Posted Monday, February 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
5 stars Oh boy. What can be said about Aqualung that cannot have been said before? I don’t know exactly, but I’ll give it a shot (or at least, I’ll blow the standard hard rock review through my personal flute). Aqualung is of course THE album that you think of when you think Jethro Tull. At least, that’s true in the “real” world, in the “proggy” world where we tend to live that’s more of a Thick as a Brick thing. Still, if you were to walk up to anyone on the street and say “Jethro Tull,” he might respond “Sit-ting on a PARK bench!” Or at least air guitar that menacing riff, which is more than some prog bands get these days (say to another person, “Van Der Graaf Generator,” and he’ll probably respond, “Don’t hurt me!”).

Now, interesting issue with Aqualung is the conceptuality of the album. Ian says it’s not a concept album, everyone else on earth says it is. Well, that shouldn’t matter; what matters is whether or not I think it’s a concept album (it’s my review after all). And I don’t...know. It’s somewhat thematic, that’s for sure. It’s about society, man’s relationship with God, and life and death (lightweight stuff), which is what gives the album its dark edge. It’s sort of set up like a concept album; the sides are titled, the cover “goes” with the album (does the picture look like Ian, or does Ian look like the picture?), and the character of Aqualung pops up here and there (and half the album is named for him). Still, I’m not sure if that’s enough to warrant a concept album (I was never clear on what does and does not warrant a concept album, but I don’t think you can have HALF a concept album). Hmm. I wonder if ‘Lung is, in fact, a bigger joke than Thick was? Ha! Bet THAT’S never been said before!

Anyway, we open with the earlier mentioned bit, “NEE-ner nee-ner NEE-nee,” a.k.a., “Sit-ting on a PARK bench.” Besides that unforgettable, angry riff, the song offers us the greatest guitar solo EVER! Or at least, one of the greatest solos ever (if you want to be a killjoy). Riff? Solo? Dude, this is, like, the greatest song ever! And it’s about a hobo! Who dies! What else could possibly open the album (not to mention blaze the way for every Tull mini-epic to come)?

“Cross Eyed Mary” is actually even better, as far as grab your pants rocker goes. The mellotron intro and ghostly flute make you think it’s going for atmosphere, but then Barre starts playing through a box and Ian’s sneering vocals hit you. It’s all so angry, it’s great.

“Cheap Day Return” is the quick, stunningly beautiful acoustic piece I mention in half my reviews (in my Foxtrot review, I compare it “Horizons,” and in my Court of the Crimson King review, I compare it to “21st Century Schizoid Man”). Jokes aside, I really mean the “stunningly beautiful” part. This is the first of a few short, acoustic songs across the album (mostly just Ian and Jeffrey), and it’s the best. It’s also Tull’s best example of effortless beauty to date, possibly ever.

This turns right into “Mother Goose,” a slightly more built up acoustic number that, well, builds over time, until the whole band’s playing. The chorus part is lovely, with Jeffrey singing along (the first singing bass player, a Tull trend that shall continue). “Wond’ring Aloud” is a milder acoustic piece, according to Ian it’s his best love song. Well, it’s not bad. I might even like it a little more than the Living in the Past outtake “Wond’ring Again.” It’s a bit shorter and simpler, and the delivery is a little colder. “Up to Me” is a sort of sing along almost ethnic rocker. ‘Lung’s “Fat Man” I guess. It’s bouncy and fun. Listen for the percussion parts and other effects under the song; Clive goes nuts.

The second side, codename My God starts with, well, “My God.” Aqualung is one of those records where it’s hard to choose a favorite number, but I nominate “My God.” It’s pretty awesome (er, I mean, “clever musically”). You think it’s going to be another acoustic number, but after a minute, it becomes a violent rocker. And then halfway through, after a bout of awesome soloing, it becomes a sort of stately gothic flute improvisation. And I didn’t even like it at first! Ha!

“Hymn 43” might be the hardest thing on the album (even if the central focus of the song is Evan's piano), with another great, chuggin’ riff. “Slipstream” is the final short acoustic number (later reincarnated (in name only) as an infamous video project). The song itself is inoffensive enough (the strings are cool), but it’s a little samey. Either way, it perfectly sets up “Locomotive Breath,” the OTHER radio favorite off the album. The song alone is good enough, but in the context of the album, it’s prefect. The band imitates a choo-choo train speeding up, and Ian sings about suicide, plus there's killer piano, cool guitar riffage, and a bloozy floot solo. These dudes were so bad ass (in a “we’re gonna imitate a choo-choo train” sorta way).

Some people have a little trouble with “Wind Up.” It’s another “you think we’re gonna be acoustical, but now we’re gonna rock” number. It’s not as good as “My God,” but it’s good enough, especially in the middle where all hell breaks loose. My problem is more with the ending of the song, where everything kind of falls off. Or maybe it’s just “winding down,” maybe I should just shut up.

So, the album’s pretty sweet (“well put together and engaging”). The only thing that stops it from getting a perfect rating is, I don’t know. Maybe a lack of variety? I mean, there’s only so many ways to do the whole loud/soft thing. Although, all things considered, it’s pretty variet-ous within itself. Maybe it’s the balance; there’s a little too much “soft” on the first side, a little too much “loud” on the second. Still, the album flows pretty evenly.

And it’s got everything in its favor besides that. The songs are all pretty much excellent. The musicianship is amazing within and throughout; new members Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond just swings his way through the record, John Evan' potential finally brought to the front of (or behind) the band, Barre has found the perfect balance between fuzzy and clean tones, Clive Bunker beats “a thousand drums and percussion” with inhuman, sometimes psychotic, zeal, and Ian’s vocals are perfectly sneering and touching. His flautistry is maybe not as technically good as it will later be, but it’s twice as manic as it’s ever been.

Yep. This really is a key album in Tuller history; it’s more inventive than This Was, louder than Stand Up and darker than Benefit. These dudes TOTALLY invented metal, aside from “Cheap Day Return” (and you know, the fact that metal had already existed for a couple of years). I’m still not sure why I can’t give it all five stars. Crap. Maybe I just should and be done with it. UGH. I hate this album, I love this album. Buy it. You’ll love it/hate it too.

(Okay, wow, SIX new songs on the Aqualung remaster. Surely this will guarantee that I’ll raise it the half-a-point mark to five that it so richly deserves, right? Most remasters with that many songs make it through sheer quantity. If only. The first two songs are Aqualung outtakes, and of these, “Lick Your Fingers Clean” is PERFECT. I mean that. If it were the album closer instead of “Wind Up,” or if it were just on the album somehow, I’d overlook EVERYHTING and give it the flawless rating. I mean it. Whatever else I might say, this song is worth the entire ticket price. It’s an earlier, far superior version of Warchild’s “Two Fingers;” it’s everything that song was only faster, more energetic and goofier (what with the backing voices (great flute too)). Unfortunately for us, there have to be those five other tracks. “Wind Up (quad version)” is, uh, different than the original. Some folks prefer it; I am not such a man. The instruments are too distant from each other and don’t mix as well, and Ian’s voice sounds whiney and tinny. Speaking of Ian, he gives an interview (“THE Ian Anderson Interview,” to be precise). It’s amusing when the minstrel talks about the hair-thin relationship between Led Zeppelin and J Tull and plastic recorders, but when he starts stressing the importance of the song “Budapest” over the album Aqualung, even I get bored. Then there are three live numbers (from...wherever): an energetic “Song For Jeffrey,” a bouncy “Fat Man,” and a very interesting “Bouree; all good, but not necessarily essential. No change in the rating.)

Report this review (#114124)
Posted Saturday, March 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my very first jethro tull albums and it is still one of my favorites. It doesn't quite match up to their masterpiece Thick as a Brick, but it is nearly as good as the odd A Passion Play. It's only problem is that it doesn't exhibit the proggresive epicness that can be found on either one of those albums.

The album follows what i can best call a partial concept. Alot of side one seems to be about the poverty in England as seen through the eyes of a homeless man Aqualung. That concept is very inconsistent at best. Side 2 goes with something totally different and talks about Ian Anderson's beliefs about god. This idea is summarized by the closing idea "he's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays"

This album includes alot of beautiful playing and almost every single track is a highlight. there isn't a single song that i would skip on the entire album. The only thing that prevents me from giving this album five stars is that i can't really call it a masterpiece. The music is good enough, but the dual concepts aren't cohesive or consistent enought to work. Ian Anderson is right when he calls this album a little inconsistent as a whole, but the music is great.

Report this review (#117042)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Back in the late 60s and early 70s my friends and I who played in a band together liked Jethro Tull so much that we enthusiastically performed obscure songs from "This Was," "Stand Up," and "Benefit" to usually clueless audiences. What we loved about the group was their unconventional musical attitude, their curious mix of blues, jazz and folk, and their seeming disinterest in following popular trends. I saw them in concert in 1970 and was absolutely blown away. Especially by the new song they said would be on their upcoming LP. The tune was "My God" and it sounded so good that I could hardly wait for the album to come out.

My first reaction to the opening strains of "Aqualung" was "What in blazes is this?" I had to double-check the cover to make sure it was Jethro Tull. It sounded as if they were trying to be a hard rock band all of a sudden and I was appalled. To my ears it was "plod rock." To their credit they did take the song through some tempo and style changes but then they returned to the predictable opening once again. I figured that the next one would be better but it isn't. "Cross-Eyed Mary," a song about a "poor man's rich girl" begins promisingly with flute, piano and Mellotron but then they steer right into a standard rock beat and the tune becomes no different than a handful of others that were popular at that time. "Cheap Day Return" restores some of my faith in them but it's over before you know it. "Mother Goose" is next and it's terrific Tull. (At this point in my initial listen back in '71 I was hoping that the first two songs were just an anomaly.) With excellent acoustic guitars and Ian Anderson's sprightly flute work it's what I had come to expect from them. It evokes wild, colorful imagery. "Wond'ring Aloud" is as good a love song as Ian has ever written. In it he describes the simple joys of being at home with his wife as he sings "we are our own saviors as we start both our hearts beating life into each other" and "it's only the giving that makes you what you are." With a perfect blend of acoustic guitar, piano and Mellotron it is a delight but way too short in duration. "Up To Me" follows and it, too, entertains with their unique acoustic approach. It proves that they didn't have to go plunging headlong into headbanging to peak my interest. Having been intrigued by the clever musical arrangement and the controversial subject matter when I experienced it on stage, "My God" doesn't disappoint. The words are not a rap against the Almighty, but a rant against what the "bloody Church of England" has turned Him into. The vocal with acoustic guitar intro leads to some tasteful piano from John Evan, then they turn it up with a rocking rhythm and some driving electric guitar from Martin Barre. Yes, it's rock and roll but the difference this time is that it's appropriate as it augments the biting, sarcastic lyrics. The flute section backed by what sounds like chanting monks works like a charm, too.

I couldn't agree more with the words to "Hymn 43" when Ian sings "If Jesus saves/well, he'd better save himself/from the gory glory seekers/who use his name in death." How true. However, Barre's annoying guitar clanking completely ruins the song for me. Really grates on my nerves. "Slipstream" is yet another blink-and-you'll-miss-it enjoyable tune that just doesn't last long enough. A pity. To this day I don't understand why someone didn't tell Martin to stop already with the vexatious strum-the-muted-strings effect on "Locomotive Breath." It bugs the crap out of me and negates the exciting, frantic flute solo from Anderson. "Wind Up" ends the album and it contains some of Ian's best lyrics ever when he sings to the priests "I don't believe you/you got the whole damn thing all wrong/He's not the kind/you have to wind up on Sundays." Anderson chooses to believe that the loving God of the universe is a better and vastly more compassionate person than any of us running around down here. Ian's God is far above petty human responses and emotions like wrath, jealousy, retribution and revenge. Makes sense to me. His relaxed vocal at the beginning accompanied by Evan's lone piano is a highlight of the record. Barre's electric guitar does butt into the tune but it's not quite as distracting as before and he manages to avoid subverting the song. The reprise of the simple beginning of the song brings the album to a close in a subtle and thought-provoking way.

By now you may have noticed that the most popular tracks on this landmark record (the very ones that catapulted Jethro Tull into superstar status) are the cuts that I have never cared for. I think it has something to do with my gut feeling from the very first spin that they had "sold out" and aimed those four songs directly at the casual radio listener. Obviously that opinion places me in a tiny minority of rock fans because those very tunes have become classic staples of FM radio and will probably be played just as often 50 years on. As far as I'm concerned the best songs on "Aqualung" are the ones no one ever hears and that's a crying shame. I can truly understand that the band didn't fancy the prospect of touring small auditoriums for years on end. And that by incorporating a standard and more accessible rock & roll base to their eclectic sound they could move up to filling 40,000 seat venues and get their mugs on the cover of Rolling Stone. And who could argue with that aspiration? I'm just one who thinks they were never the same afterwards.

Report this review (#117075)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you want to know what the early 1970s were like, listen to this album.

The rebellion of the late 60s had awakened a widespread social conscience, the hotbed in which progressive rock flowered. One of the cornerstones of progressive rock, therefore, was thoughtful, anti- establishment lyrics. Not all groups employed them, but JETHRO TULL'S IAN ANDERSON certainly did. From the abject subject of the title track, through a biting analysis of class and age, to the polemic against organised religion, this collection of songs - a loose concept album, whatever its author says - was aimed at the minds of listeners as much as their hearts.

The title track certainly lays it on the line. It's hard to remember how young ANDERSON was himself when he invented this character, so powerful is his insight. Such maturity! The music is schizophrenic: heavy one moment, quiet the next, bracketing the most powerful guitar solo in the history of TULL. 'Cross Eyed Mary' introduces a second abject character, but this song (and others on the album) suffers from very poor production and editing. A pity, because in this album JETHRO TULL make the transition from (admittedly good) blues-based rock to prog-folk, and the superior tunes here are worth the best production. 'Mother Goose', for example, is as good an example of the genre as you will find. Simple, beautiful. For the lovers of TULL'S progressive albums to follow, there are hints here in 'Cheap Day Return' and 'Wond'ring Aloud' of the pastoral passages to come in 'Thick as a Brick' and 'A Passion Play'. 'Up To Me' is a drop in quality; it deserved a better arrangement; handled differently it could have been a centerpeice of the album.

The 'God Songs' on Side 2 are acerbic and brilliant. In my days in the church I used to remind myself constantly of these sentiments. 'My God' is presaged by an introductory acoustic guitar, and is carried by an outstanding vocal performance, possibly ANDERSON'S best. And the central flute passage is, of course, superb, spoiled only by the abrupt transition from rough to smooth (just before the voices join in). 'Hymn 43' ought to be in every church's hymnal under the heading 'Doses of Humility'. And I'd like to see the organist play the piano part! 'Locomotive Breath' brings in a third abject character, tying the two sides together and reminding us that the God business is about real people. Yes, it has been overplayed, but when I want to remind myself how good it really is, I imagine playing it to someone who has never heard it. 'Wind Up' is a lyrical triumph - 'In your pomp and all your glory you're a poorer man than me/as you lick the boots of death born out of fear' - but suffers terribly from odd sound levels. It is so frustrating that studio problems spoiled this record.

So, why not a masterpiece? Because I feel they let themselves down in the studio. These glorious compositions are less than they could have been, than they ought to have been. If that sort of thing doesn't bother you, by all means treat this as a five-star review. For me, this doesn't quite make it, but is an essential listen nonetheless.

Report this review (#118487)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I tend to agree with the few dissenters here; this is bluesy classic rock/metal album closer to LedZepp3 than to Thick as a Brick, the amazing progressive album that follows. Some of the tracks are kinda fun, but overall, sort of repetitive and not up to the level of brilliance displayed by Anderson on TaaB. Overall, Tull is a pretty amazing group but they just haven't quite gotten to where they were going when they released this album.
Report this review (#118621)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars This might be a fan's favourite, but it doesn't seduce me as much as it used to. The main problem on this album is that to my ears this sounds a bit like Led Zeppelin with flute, there are no exciting jazzy bridges (not counting My God), no tempo nor time nor mood changes, just plain classic rock with flute; it's a heavy metal album.

My second motif is Ian's vocals: they're poisoneous and preachy, his singing sounds a bit too generic compared to his standards. He proved he could sing more maturely on A Passion Play and further albums (and that's just 2 years later). In this one he wants to sing heavily and raw, and it is quite a turnoff after a few tracks. The lyrics are somehow a bit better than those on Benefit, were they not for the ones in Wind Up: imminent and evident teenage anger.

Musicwise it's not better than Benefit, although My God manages to hold the candle, basically due to the lyrics and the middle seccion, embellished with the Russian-like chants, which is nothing like Jethro Tull had done before that.

I agree with another reviewer that the best songs on here are the short acoustic intervals, which show a better vocal delivery and sentiment. Mother Goose is another Tull classic with delightful flutes and vocal harmonies; and I already mentioned My God. Locommotive Breath begins with a great fusion between the baroque-like John Evan's piano and the entrance of Martin Barre's bluesy licks, but after a while it just doesn't do much for me; it's just another radio-friendly song.

Although it is a concept album, it's certainly not the progressive gem that everyone is practically chanting about. The real turning point for Jethro Tull's venture through progressive music would begin a year later. Here we witness the short-lived metal era of the band that would re-emerge in the late 80's. Seems that their vecinity with Led Zeppelin was indeed a bad influence (whilst I don't completely dislike LZ, Jethro Tull had other things to offer), although they didn't rip the style entirely off.

Report this review (#120286)
Posted Monday, April 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wonderful=5 Stars!!; It's essential for a good collection of progressive's a beautifully belanced of folk and elettric sound..and the genius of Ian tell the life of the eyes of a vagabond..a aqualung...and also to treat various sort of style (folk;calssic and hard)...but It's a concept album?? the end it's a wonderful work of to have in own records list.
Report this review (#121596)
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars An album that changed how rock albums were perceived! Wonderful biting lyrics about real things, hard heavy rock with great melodies and the first innovative use of short acoustic songs to bridge the gaps. Thick as a Brick may be the truer prog album, but Aqualung set the table for many bands who came after them.
Report this review (#124674)
Posted Monday, June 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars To my mind, this is Jethro Tull's best album. I first received a copy of this on vinyl way back in the late 70's from a cousin (along with copies of Deep Purple's Fireball and Made In Japan). I'm really kind of glad that he didn't want any of these albums as they all blew me away.

Anyway, this album, remains a firm favourite to this day and I love to play the title track, Cross-eyed Mary, Hymn 43, Locomotive Breath and Wind-up at full volume. Truth be told I don't usually turn it down much for the other tracks ;-) I won't do a track by track because others have already done so better than could I. I will say that this is a classic album and absolutely essential to every prog rock collection. The acoustic guitars, the electric guitars, the flutes, Ian Anderson's unique phrasing and vocal style - the whole package is perfect. If you haven't got it get it.

Report this review (#126224)
Posted Monday, June 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm not a true fan of Jethro Tull, but I've always found that this album is differently inspired with the respect to the others. You can feel throughout the album different feelings starting from the sadness of "Aqualung" to the sarcasm of "Cross-Eyed Mary" until the greatness of "My God", the very epic track of this album. The incredible work of Ian Anderson and his flute are astonishing, the rough voice is balanced by the limpid sound of his instrument, played in that strange way, like he is blowing in it while he is raging! And when the song breaks into the counterpoint between flute and choir the shiver runs up and down your spine. "Aqualung" is, in my opinion, the greatest album by Jethro Tull.
Report this review (#126249)
Posted Monday, June 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is arguably the most commercially succesful release from Jethro Tull. Because it was their first world-wide classic, mainly due to the title track. Most of Tull's all-time classic songs are contained among this 11 tracks. But who cares about the historical or commercial importance?

So, let's talk about music only: this album definately has all you can desire in an album: it has ups, downs, breaks.... a lot of moods are present in Aqualung. I'm gonna specifie a bit more:

The first two tracks rock nicely: the first with one of the best Barre's moments, and Cross-eyed Mary with a haunting flute intro before rockin' hard. Then, a relaxing period with one of those beautiful Anderson's moments, when he picks up his acoustic guitar and sings some ballads..... Here, three acoustic tunes in-a-row: Cheap Day Return, Mother Goose and Wond'ring Aloud. It also must be mentioned: in this three numbers, Ian is at his peak as a lyricist. Up To Me marks the middle of the CD with good flute and a catchy atmosphere, preceding to my favourite song of the album: My God. It also has brilliant lyrics, in this case referred to anti-religion or something like that. This is a very accomplished song; despite its long lenght (more than seven minutes), when I listen to this, time becomes very short and makes me still desiring it were longer... Soft, hard, haunting, dark....... this song simply has everything.

Well, then Hymn 43 comes up with, again, the hard matter. This is driven by an agressive electric guitar riff. Rocks quite hard, but it's the only real lower note of the album to me. Slipstream is another wonderful acoustic number, in the vein of Wondr'ing Aloud.

Beggining with a terrific piano intro, the next song, Locomotive Breath, keeps on rocking. Maybe rather poppish; nonetheless, it has one of the best and energetic Ian's flute solos. Together with the self-titled track, this song became a definitive classic. The album closes perfectly with Wind Up, not being a great song, nevertheless. It's ok if it were 3 or 4-minutes, but maybe goes on a bit. Still works fine as a song, but as a concept closer it works excellent! I'm not sure why....... just hear Aqualung and get by yourself.. ;)

I wouldn't dare to say this is the best Jethro Tull album... I think I enjoy Aqualung as much as TAAB, but, apparently, Thick progs more. Anyway, this is a must have, no matter if you're a die-hard fan or a casual rock listener. This album is for everyone! A masterpiece of (prog) music!!

Report this review (#128044)
Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars There are three minor problems with AQUALUNG:

(1) Its best-known songs (e.g. the title track and "Locomotive Breath") have become so familiar that this seems to detract from the original album's stature.

(2) On some of the songs (e.g. "My God") Ian Anderson distorts his voice, apparently in order to sound sarcastic. After a couple of spins, this starts to grate.

(3) The 25th anniversary edition offers the reader a superfluous interview and bonus tracks which are available elsewhere, instead of the superb AQUALUNG-related material that has (so far) only appeared on LIVING IN THE PAST. (For more details, please refer to my review of that album.)

With these remarks out of the way, let me point out that AQUALUNG is Jethro Tull at their best, and no prog lover should be without it. To my surprise, some reviewers consider the overwhelmingly boring THICK AS A BRICK as a more "progressive" album. In my opinion, AQUALUNG packs far more punch. Not only does it contain some of Ian's most sensitive ballads (e.g. "Wondering Aloud", the prototype of much later Tull music) and some of his most irresistible folk-rock songs (such as "Mother Goose" and "Up to Me") but also, and especially, Ian would never again display the same righteous anger as on "Hymn 43" and "Wind-Up". If you were brought up in the Christian tradition, as I was, I wonder how your faith will stand up to these. It's comparatively rare for a rock band to deal so eloquently with serious themes. The eloquence even extends to the band's playing : Martin Barre's guitar solo on "Wind-up" is one of his most exciting ever.

Report this review (#129811)
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's always hard to review this kind of classics, because everybody has already said almost everything about it. But anyway, you can't miss the chance, I'll make it short. This time, it's Aqualung, one of Jethro's jewels. What I specially like about this album is the perfect combination of strong, hard rock parts, with soft, acoustic passages. As it happens to me with albums of this caliber, we can realise of the big inspiration that took to make this album, and that makes it really enjoyable.

On the side of the rock explosion, "Aqualung" is a real classic, with a riff that will be reminded forever. The explosion of the riff and the mellow acoustic parts make this a total classic. I just enjoy this one completely every time I listen to it, this song is a masterpiece itself! Yeah! And everytime I blow my head apart with the catchy hard rock of "Cross Eyed Mary", which features a superb flute intro. If we're talking about more great riffs, we can't miss the nice "Up To Me", the masterpiece called "My God", which progresses perfectly and has a magnificient guitar solo, and "Locomotive Breath", of course! "Hymn 43" is another great and powerful rocker while the closer, "Wind Up" is mellow, softer and I believe it works as a ballad, with very deep moments. Such a good way to close this masterpiece. Also, all the tasty acoustic parts between the songs give an special (folky) touch to this album, with that constant hard/soft passage I was talking about.

Overall, Aqualung is a masterpiece of rock music that should not be missed by anyone! Jethro Tull were great creatively and created an album of this caliber. Extremely recommended.

Rating: 4.8/5

Report this review (#129885)
Posted Monday, July 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is such a rockin' album! Those who are new to Folk-Rock should absolutely start here, because this album is a blast! Not to mention some of the songs, like the title track, are rock station staples. Songs like the title track Aqualung, Cross-eyed Mary, Mother Goose, and Hymn 43 are real highlights of this album. The consistency of this album is fantastic as well, yet the songs can be enjoyed individually and you don't need a full album listen to get something out of the music. So, if you are thinking about getting into Jethro Tull or even want to try Prog-Folk for the first time, this is a great place to start. The rockin' flute, and the great harsh vocals really get to your blood flowing!

A fantastic album, too bad the production is quite bad because of the new equipment they had to adjust to. If your new to Prog- Folk look no further, you WILL enjoy this one!

A solid 4 stars! Excellent!

Report this review (#131097)
Posted Wednesday, August 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aqualung is perhaps the most popular album from Jethro Tull's catalog, or at least the most known one. There are loads of interpretations and the concept of the album, although, according to Anderson there are no consistent theme or story around the album. Who knows, still, musically were are talking about a mindblowing piece of audio.

The Album starts with the famous title song, which is constructed around Barre's legendary riff and Anderson's twisted tale of the good 'ole Aqualung, the coverboy of the album. When the song goes on, we encounter a very niece acoustic part with fine clean vocals from Anderson and the song reaches it's climax in the form of Martin Barre's trademark solo, which of course is a one fine piece of guitar work. The next song, Cross Eyed Mary starts with a cheerful flute and continues the tale of Aqualung, who desperately dreams about the forbidden meat. The song is very groovy all the way, a true Tull-classic. Cheap Day Return is one of album's three short, but very beautiful and melodic acoustic songs, very nice. Mother Goose, also a very happyhappy-joyjoy kind of tune, with a lots of folk elements, very nice vocal melodies, as the whole album is full of them. Wond'ring Aloud, the personal favourite of mine from the short acoustic trio, you almost hope it would last much longer. A true eargasm, as some would say.

"As she floats in the kitchen,I'm tasting the smell of toast as the butter runs. Then she comes, spilling crumbs on the bed and I shake my head."

Up To Me begins with flute and a stylish short lead from Barre. The song has a cathy tune, nice vocals etc, although not so great as the most of the songs. Now we leave the character of Aqualung behind us and turn towars some religion stuff i suppose, in vinyl, this would be the b-side. My God is one of the greatest Tull songs, expecially when played live. The flute song is absolutely superb. The song has a pretty dark athmosphere and Anderson slams the church of England all the way. Also very cool leads from Barre. Hymn 43 is one of the not-so good, pretty good, but just not enough. Slipstream, the third short acoustic piece, also filled with such a feeling and defines the proper advantage of an acoustic sound. Locomotive Breath is also a pretty well-known song. It starts with the gloomy piano by John Evan, and rises into a very groovy melody featuring Barre's exellent leads and a bouncing bass tune by Jeffrey Hammond. Pretty cool, though not perfect. The album ends with Wind Up, a pretty nice piano based song with Anderson's settlements about the school life. The song also has a bit 'faster' part, which works good also.

Bottom line: An essential choice for any progman and also very suitable choice for those, who are just acquainting to Jethro Tull's extraordinary music.

Report this review (#132463)
Posted Thursday, August 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

This is a difficult album to comment on as there have been million of reviews already written about this album . AQUALUNG is considered as the landmark of the JETHRO TULL catalogue, and with good reason as it is excellent music. This is the album that t brought the band to mega-stardom and it is , i am sure, their biggest commercial success to this day!

AQUALUNG can be considered as some kind of concept album; not that there is a story of some kid with an overture, but the lyrics are dealing about God and religion, or better what separates God from organised religion.The LP cover was magnificent with its medieval athmosphere and gothic lettering; absolutely, one of the best cover of all rock music!!

A new bassist is in place as JEFFREY HAMMOND-HAMMOND took over GLENN CORNICK who was too much of a party-guy for the taste of IAN ANDERSON. Not that it changes anything in the JETHRO TULL sound as the role of a JT bassist is merely to be serviceable.IAN ANDERSON doesn't want a SQUIRE or a WETTON around him!!

This is definitely a more acoustic sounding album than the first 3 ones. Also the mood is more subdued than before, more introspective, surely in regard about what IAN ANDERSON is singing about. Thoughts of God and cathedrals don't match with vibrant hard rock, i guess!! MARTIN BARRE role has been drastically reduced compared with BENEFIT.

Of course, there are a few tunes with some strong guitar riffs like on AQUALUNG or MY GOD, two of the best known tracks of this album but everything is underl control; a lot of flute of course and the piano of JOHN EVAN gets a bigger presence on this recording as he has become a permanent member. The biggest hit was of course LOCOMOTIVE BREATH, the most energetic song of the album well recognizable with his piano intro. This song is to JETHRO TULL what SMOKE ON THE WATER is to DEEP PURPLE: no way, even now, that they will not play these 2 songs each and every time they are on stage.They are their flags.

One thing to add: i barely listen to AQUALUNG! This album suffers from the same disease that has strken DARK SIDE OF THE MOON! Too much radio exposure. Even now, when you turn on a classic rock station, you can be sure that you are going to listen at what time or another the title track AQUALUNG. MY GOD and of course LOCOMOTIVE BREATH! Everyday!! When it's not CROSS EYED MARY!! good, great songs but how many more times can i listen to LOCOMOTIVE BREATH. I just can't.

Yes, this is a cornerstone of ROCK music, a monument in the JETHRO TULL collection, but 4 stars will do it, not 5.


Report this review (#133805)
Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars With Jeffrey Hammond replacing Cornick on bass and with John Evan now a full-time member on keyboards (he had already collaborated on previous albums too), a five-piece JT recorded the musical hurricane called "Aqualung". Making two timeless hard- rocking tracks (the title song and "Locomotive Breath"). They provided a sound fan base among the schoolboys and schoolgirls that helped them reach the rock stardom. But, that's not all. Behind the quite impenetrable lyrics (at least to a non-English native speaker), seemingly touching the dream-like social critique with the Tramp and other literary characters (Mother Goose et al.) on side 1, and the strong anti-religious/anti-ecclesiastical God-centered philosophy on side 2, lies one of the most remarkable rock albums of all time. Music production, arrangement, concept and performance are brilliant - with Anderson almost eating his flute out! Simply put, there is no weak moment on this album, no matter how many times you listen to it (It might be a hundereds of times that I heard "Locomotive Breath", each time discovering someting new). The only thing I never liked is that a bit watered-down acoustic number "Wind Up" is placed after the "Locomotive" to end the album on a lower note. But hell, after God being depicted as a strict father-figure judgment person who "stole the handle and the train won't stop going", at the end we get a more tolerant wise guy who patiently and peacefully said "I am not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays". Almost a Deistic/Universalist approach...


P.A. RATING: 5/5

Report this review (#137062)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Sitting on a park bench, eying little girls with bad intent" - Aqualung is a classic hard rock album from Tull's golden period.

What more is there to be said about Aqualung?, considered by many a concept album due to the cohesiveness and the way which the songs flow into one another (Anderson would later serve up his best work Thick as a Brick to show people what a REAL concept album is) it features some great hard rocking riffs and some of Anderson's best flute work, songwriting and trademark sly humour.

The title track is my favourite song on the album, it's deceptively progressive too starting off with the amazing riff that made me a fan of Tull the very first time I heard it before moving into upbeat territory with a wailing solo from Martin Barre. My God is another fantastic Tull song beginning with some interesting acoustic guitar work lending itself to the mysterious motif to come. Possibly the highlight of the album is the flute solo break down complete with Gregorian chanting. Hymn 43 is more indicative of the hard rockin' Tull, it's very riff driven with the guitar and piano working together in great sympathy with great religiously frustrated lyrics rounding out the deal.

Aqualung is an essential album for any fan of heavier 70's prog or anyone into Prog-folk.

Report this review (#144964)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars My feelings toward this album are so ambivalent/apathetic that I don't quite know how to conjure up a review, but I'm going to try...

Aqualung is Jethro Tull's first foray into prog-rock territory, and it seems to be that this is their most widely known and acclaimed release. The song lengths unquestionably have something to do with it, because if you look at the material on the two albums that come after this one, this has much less to offer. I'm sure if I heard this when it first came out, I would be raving about it, but such is not the case, and I have Thick as a Brick and A Passion Play to enjoy. Historically this is no doubt an important album, but my sense of history is not as sharp as my sense for good, so I don't care as much about that side of things.

This album boasts some memorable riffs and melodies to be certain: there are great flute solos, acoustic jigs (both fun and serious), vocals, lyrics, and even grungy parts. Everything you love about Jethro Tull is here, but they haven't yet amalgamated these sounds. On the band's later works, the different elements were put together, here they are mostly seperated into different songs. That's not necessarily a bad thing - I love several albums that have a similar layout - but there is something seriously synergistic about the styles being played together that is not present here.

The tracks are all good, but I find myself not getting into them very much. Again, I can attribute this to the quality of its successors, plus the quality of this recording is pretty poor. I also don't think that hard-rock style present on certain tracks suits them very well. I'm glad they got rid of it. Some people will really enjoy this, and to those who do, I direct you to the next two albums. Check them out; you may not bother with this album again. Even though this isn't a 40-minute song, I don't think it's any more accessible as a result.

In summation, this is a good record, it is an important record, but it is no longer essential.

Report this review (#150877)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now - this is what I mean by Jethro Tull....

Totally awesome - where Prog, folk and blues met.

Dark and haunting - not sure of the religious bits - what is Ian Anderson trying to say - is he for it or against it (just not only on Sundays!)

This is the place to start with Jethro Tull.

Actually, the acoustic guitar work is fabulous - especially on "Mother Goose" (one of my favourite ever tracks) and "My God".

"Locomotive Breath" truly rocks, whereas "Wondering Aloud" and "Slipstream" are lovely - truly goose-pimply! (and that's no play on words with "Mother Goose").

A true classic and highly recommended.

Report this review (#151306)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
5 stars Despite a few flaws with the productions, and the fairly irritating and repetitive Mother Goose, I cannot in good conscience give an album with Locomotive Breath and Wond'ring Aloud any lesser rating. The concepts of the individual songs are in and of themselves excellent, and work excellently both in and outside the album. There are some great harder moments (particularly Locomotive Breath and Up To Me), dark, tragic, gleeful and sarcastic lyrics which never seem out of place, and acoustic pieces better than any of those on Minstrel In The Gallery. I, for some reason, don't particularly like Mother Goose and Slipstream (which seems a little weak compared to the other acoustic bits), but that doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the album as a whole. An album which lacks polish, but is only better because of it.

The bonus material's not bad, and the version of Bouree is great.

Favourite Tracks (couldn't pick one): Locomotive Breath and Wond'ring Aloud Rating: 9.5/10

Report this review (#151358)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of Jethro Tull's best albums. Though not quite as progressive as their later work (hence the four stars), "Aqualung" is never-the-less an amazing album. "My God" is the most progressive and best song on the album, but "Aqualung", "Hymn 43", "Mother Goose" and "Locomotive Breath" are also very good, albeit somewhat more mainstream.
Report this review (#151488)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Let's put it this way: when I was a freshman in college, I don't think there was a dorm room I visited that did not have a copy of Cat Stevens' Tea For the Tillerman or Jethro Tull's Aqualung sitting next to the stereo. The album was that pervasive.

As for my review: the classic songs on Aqualung have been so overplayed over the years that I cannot remember my original response to them. I am sure it was positive, but I'm afraid the initial awe of some of these has been slowly whittled away by their now over-familiarity. Aqualung, Cross-eyed Mary, Hymn 43, and Locomotive Breath have to rank up there with Stairway to Heaven and Freebird as some of the most overplayed songs in history. Consider: these songs were so prevalent on AOR FM stations that now they are almost cloying to these ears. Not a bad recommendation at all for a newcomer to this album.

Tull had been looking for a 'sound' for a few albums and finally found it.

The heavy hitters having already been mentioned, the rest of the album doesn't measure up to that level. There are good enough songs, but the great songs set the bar perhaps a little too high.

The bonus songs are nice to have but add nothing to the excellence of the original release. I'd say this rates a very solid 4 stars. Us Tull fans were still waiting for that breakthrough album.

Report this review (#151567)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is Jethro Tull's best album. Many here say Thick as a Brick, but I think this is more solid overall and far more memorable. Where Thick as a Brick tended to meander at times, Aqualung is tighter, more listenable, catchier and more creative (lyrics and music). The riffs, melodies, and lyrics on this album are very witty and make this album Tull's true masterpiece. Aqualung, Locomotive Breath, My God, Mother Goose, and Cross Eyed Mary are some highlights, but the whole album is great all the way through. All progheads and fans of 70's rock should hear this masterful work; essential.
Report this review (#153082)
Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This recording is a timeless classic and a masterpiece from beginnning to end. It is the quintessential amalgam of hard rock, blues, and folk. Musicianship on this record is awesome. More song-oriented than the later epic Thick as a Brick, it is more immediately accessible to most. Musical ideas are seen through to resolution from beginning to end. It is a very satisfying recording full of remarkable contrasts in textures. Hard, driving rockers and finely played acoustic music is present. Raucous vocals are counterbalanced elsewhere on this recording with beautiful harmonies. Although it is quite debatable whether this is Jethro Tull's absolutely best work in their discography from a progressive rock viewpoint, this recording nevertheless is a very well crafted project that is essential to any ROCK library. Therefore, it rates five stars.
Report this review (#153965)
Posted Monday, December 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#156963)
Posted Friday, December 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars I was very disappointed when I put an ear to Aqualung for the very first time (lately : I was 22, three years sooner). I don't know why, but I felt this album was so overrated. I read and heard a lot of good, nice things about this record, heard it was the best album Jethro Tull ever made (Thick As A Brick, which I never listen to yet, was also considered as a Tull masterpiece), one of the best prog-rck albums of all times, one of the best albums of the year 1971 (which was a great year for rock music : the fourth Led Zeppelin album, Pink Floyd's Meddle, Tago Mago by Can)... Well well well. The first track is good, and the following ('Cross-Eyed Mary') too, but I found the remainder a little boring ('Up To Me' and this flute, 'Hymn 43', 'Wind-Up'). 'My God' had a very good part in its middle, anyway. But I really hate 'Up To Me', 'Slipstream' and 'Wind Up'. Don't know why. Don't ask me why. Simple hate 'em. Ian Anderson has a voice I don't really like, maybe too theatrical. The sleeve is nice, with this tramp (Aqualung ?) and his dog. The album is part a concept, but I don't really see what kind of concept it is. Man against God ? God is dead ? God don't exist anyway ? God is Aqualung ? So, an album which is considered as a monument by a lot of proggers. I Know Jethro Tull fans would probably want to kill me, but I found it very boring and uninteresting.
Report this review (#157016)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars This aqualung is suitable ...

JETHRO TULL is a folk inspired prog band and 'Aqualung' is confirming this without a doubt. The album contains a mix of heavy blues and folky acoustic driven songs with wonderful melodies and the unique voice of Ian Anderson. The title song but first of all Locomotive breath are unforgetable gems.

There's no need to emphasize that this album is recommended to be a part of every prog music collection ...

Report this review (#158673)
Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oh what a great album by Jethro Tull and the first i've heard from them: it's a gem. Even i think this record is more alternative oriented than prog oriented. I'm glad i started with Aqualung, it's the best start you can have on Jethro Tull (another good one is Stand Up). For me it was a great introduction to a great band, from the star: the misterious riff from Aqualung to the very end of Wind-Up.

Aqualung begins with a misterious and unforgetable riff, the kind of riff that it's simple and beautiful at the same time; beautiful without being cheesy or sentimental. then the soing builds up and all the instruments complement each other very well, the riff is like the main part of the song, it's the leitmotif of the song, the a break with the solo. And here it's a note by me: behind the wonderfull solo, the other instruments play the most amazing compaining to it. I sometimes listen what is behind the solo, its just amazing.

Cross-Eyed Mary is a more rocker song, and always there is a guitar motif that goes all the song, this is strange but even the riff is almost in the whole song, you don't get tiref of it.

Cheap Day Return seems to be a filler, but don't think that my friend, even i think it was a filler because of the short time, but this is a wonderful song. and with tracks like these you can se that Jethro Tull do great long songs and wonderful short songs.

Mother Goose blends perfectly the spirit of the band, the folk and the rock, the guitar and the flute. A great song, this song seems to show what Jethro Tull are.

Wond'ring Aloud = same as Cheap Day Return, but with it's own flavor.

Up To Me is a great song, the band plays perfectly, and i think this song shows what Jethro Tull can do without any pretetion of sound. It's like this style comes naturally.

My God surely it's one of the best song of Jethro Tull, for me. The title it's like sugestive, for the lyrics and for the sensation it lefts on you. Literally Oh My God. The bridge with the flute and the choir its amazing.

Hymn 43. Great, it comes to my mind again what i write to describe Up to Me.

Slipstream = Wond'ring Aloud = same as Cheap. Like a trilogy of greatness.

Locomotive Breath and Wind-Up are both great song for closing the album, both songs are nice and with clever lyrics, Wind-Up calls my atention because the song sounds a little far from the sound of Jethro Tull in the whole album. The lyrics goes with the theme of almost the whole album: existance, self and god.

Well that's all i can say about the album, you only have to listen. But im sure you already did it.

Report this review (#161284)
Posted Friday, February 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars It's almost impossible not to love Jethro Tull's unique mixture of symphonic, folk, blues, jazz and just pure madness in the case of Ian Anderson. This album has got a little bit of everything and must be considered one of the quintessential Tull albums. Admittedly, Ian's voice can be a bit hard to accept for a new listener, but just give it a few spins and you'll love him. That's what I experienced. I also found the flute a little bit too intrusive in the beginning. After a while it will blend in perfectly, though.

Aqualung and Cross-eyed Mary are both very powerful, with grim imagery and lyrics and surprisingly heavy guitar from Martin Barre. The tension and the different segments in Aqualung are amazing, moving between the blasting guitar riffs and the calm piano-parts.

A necessary break then follows in the form of the acoustic Cheap Day Return, Mother Goose and Wond'ring Aloud. Delicate guitar indeed.

We're back to some quirkiness in Up to Me, with a dominating flute sound. This song always end too fast. Give us two more minutes!

My God starts out quietly, but rises in both force and grandeur until revisiting the powerful chords of Martin Barre. He then performs some nice licks until leaving room for the typical humming flute of Ian. A great passage that reaches epic heights alongside some choir chants.

Hymn 43 has a nice gospel feeling to it from time to time, between the signature guitar and a powerful piano. It feels like that's a word I use a lot, but this album is just that. Powerful.

One minute and thirteen seconds of Slipstream is slightly uninspired, but all is redeemed by what follows - Locomotive Breath. I'll just say it again: powerful, yet delicate.

Wind-Up is a nice rocking ending to this wonderful record. If you've never heard Jethro Tull this is the album to start with.

4 stars.

Report this review (#161442)
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I first heard this album when I was 9 years old. An older brother would listen to it religiously and try to learn the songs on guitar. The year was 1972, I believe. Of course certain songs I would recognize years down the line broadcasted on airwaves by local AOR stations. It was widely recognized and for good reason. I find Aqualung to be Tull's pinnacle. Such great song's, such great creativity, and such diverse musical attitudes. Start to finish, I am not disappointed with any track. This is a complete album. This IS an album I will play twice in a row. One song in particular I find myself needing to hear regularly is Wind Up. The subtle defiance of the character in the song really hits home personally and Anderson sings it perfectly. Aqualung is not one of those over-rated Prog albums. This is one that needs to be part of your collection. It is pure Prog Rock, not to mention Rock and Roll, history. Fill all the stars for me.
Report this review (#168508)
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars So.. Aqualung, hm?

This is the holy Prog grail! Well, one of quite a number, but still. I'm afraid I'll have to do something that I don't really want to, but as I find it difficult to describe this album as a whole, I'll have to go into the feelings the songs convey to me. The reason, of course, is that it's not all a smooth ride, in fact is quite bumpy in parts.

Aqualung / Cross-Eyed Mary / Cheap Day Return / Mother Goose: As good as it gets. Really, really excellent.

Just to highlight this song: Wond'ring Aloud: What a beautiful melody!

Up To Me: Not What happened here? Sure I can hear the melody, but why is it so very ... non-catchy? Something here stops me liking it; it's so very uneven (for want of a better word). The tune just seems to stumble along. Still nice, in its own way though. . My God / Hymn 43 / Slipstream: All the very best material. Top marks, I couldn't wish for more in strength, melody, arrangement and feeling.

Locomotive Breath: Sorry, but why doesn't anybody hear, just how horrible this is. This is just a dreadfully plodding along song that repeats itself all the time, going absolutely nowhere. After hearing the first twenty seconds (well, after the piano intro), you've heard it all. It reminds me of the dreadful hype surrounding 'Deep Purple's' 'Smoke on the Water'. Plod, plod, plod. Sorry, but I just can't stand it. Sounds like a bobby on the beat.

Wind Up: Another 100% beauty.

Apart from the two (or, say, on-and-a-half) slip-ups, I've got to hand it to Jethro Tull: The mixture of electric and acoustic songs on this album is something that was extremely unusual but for some reason very effective. It almost seems as if two albums of opposite spectrums were fitted together on one record and actually fit in an extremely satisfying way.

A departure from the great riffing of Benefit, and to my ears a bit of a step backwards in overall quality, but a step forward in the direction Jethro Tull were heading on the way to true publically acknowledged greatness.

I still can't get myself to give five stars, Locomotive Breath alone prevents this. Four stars it is then.

Report this review (#168593)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Aqualung is Jethro Tull´s fourth album. It´s one of their most famous albums and rightly so. Stand Up was my introduction to Jethro Tull´s wonderful music, but Aqualung was one of the albums that led me into the world of progessive rock. It´s not a very progressive album though but there are tendencies here and there that caught my attention and led me on to more progressive music.

Aqualung is actually a pretty diverse album. There are several hard rocking tracks like Aqualung ( which is also slightly progressive), Cross-Eyed Mary, Hymn 43 and Locomotive Breath, but there are also folky acoustic songs like Cheap Day Return, Mother Goose and Slipstream. Up to Me is the only song that reminds me of the mood on Benefit. My God is the only song here with what I would call progressive parts. The middle part of that song could have been part of a Gentle Giant song. Really beautiful.

There are lots of flute in almost every song and Aqualung is probably Jethro Tull´s most flute heavy effort which says a lot when you know their discography. One other thing I really enjoy on Aqualung is the acoustic guitar parts that I find beautiful. The blues rock guitar parts in some of the more rocking tracks are also very good and intense. Ian Anderson´s singing is also a great pleasure to listen to. He sounds very sarcastic at times and angry or emotional in other parts of the album. He has never sounded better IMO.

The lineup from Benefit remains the same except that Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond has replaced Glenn Cornick on bass and John Evans has become a full time member of the group. The musicianship is astonishing on Aqualung. The playing is just so good.

The production isn´t the most clear production you could wish, but it suits the music perfectly and doesn´t distract you from the music.

Even though Aqualung isn´t a very progressive rock album IMO it´s still a classic rock album and an all- time favorite of mine and it´s one of those few albums I feel deserves the 5 star rating. This one is highly recommendable, but don´t expect endless noodling or complex instrumental runs, this is first and foremost a great rock album.

Report this review (#169685)
Posted Saturday, May 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "When I was Young"

Many believe this is the definitive album from Jethro Tull. It certainly is the most popular but that is hardly a consideration to make it definitive. Ian Anderson doesn't feel it to be so and doesn't like the sound of the CD. Even that shouldn't come into play when saying this is the definitive Tull album. It certainly bears exploring deeper into the album. First the album adds much more keyboards into the works especially John Evans piano that isn't so much present on earlier albums with a slight exception to some used on Benefit. Much more acoustic guitar is employed as well so the colors that shaped the blues style are less evidence here.

The title track has been played so much on classic rock radio that it is hard to evaluate it anymore. It is a great rock song that almost plays out as a mini suite with several different parts to it. There is the blast of the guitar that leads into the first part very hard rock part that gives way to an acoustic bridge that builds back into the rock song with the memorable lines "You snatch your rattling last breaths with a deep sea diver sounds and the flowers bloom like madness in the spring" that leads into the classic guitar solo by Martin Barr.

So we see several of the things that Tull was and what was to come all rolled into this one song. Building on the dynamics of the acoustic/electric that would come to fruit on unquestionably Tull's best prog album, Thick as a Brick. Yet you still hear that little blues band sound still mixed into the fray as well. The whole album moves that way and back to the other several times. Cross Eyed Mary, Up to Me and Locomotive Breath harkens back to the blues roots. While My God and Wind Up look more to the near future of the prog band. One thing that is consistent in this period is that classic folk sound that Ian always seems to embrace with Cheap Day Return, Wondering Aloud and Slipstream fitting that style.

A good Tull album but an all time classic of prog rock and rock in general. If you think in terms of Tulls catalog from 1969 through 1977 this is certainly one of the high points. This album deserves it 5 stars proudly.

Report this review (#172543)
Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars AQUALUNG is the Jethro Tull album to start with particularly if you come from the hard rock side of the music world. The album features two slightly overexposed tracks in ''Aqualung'' and ''Locomotive Breath'', both being required listening for any fan of hard rock. There's more to AQUALUNG than those hits for the progsters out there.

''My God'' is my idea of the centrepiece here; all of the dynamic swings are well orchestrated and executed brilliantly. The acoustic introduction and virtuoso flute solo in the middle alone should get the prog fan excited. A few Medieval tunes like ''Mother Goose'' and ''Up to Me'' give us some variety, although I prefer it at the hard rock points like ''Wind Up'' and ''Cross-Eyed Mary''. The few solo acoustic spots aren't bad but add nothing to the overall appeal.

There's supposedly a concept running through AQUALUNG, but I never gave enough care to figure it out. The production could have been handled better and many of the songs have trouble in the ''lasting power'' aspect. Don't get me wrong, as much as I harp on this album, it's a great starting point for anyone interested in Jethro Tull. I prefer the SONGS FROM THE WOOD era more than this though.

Report this review (#172739)
Posted Saturday, May 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Are your intentions honourable?

It's debatable whether "Aqualung" or "Thick as a brick" is Jethro Tull's most popular album. For me the latter is by some way the better, but for many "Aqualung" represents their finest hour. This album predates TAAB, showing a band moving away from the pop, blues and folk influences of early albums, towards a heavier and more progressive style.

Ironically, it was the general perception by the media that this was a concept album which led to Ian Anderson creating "Thick as a brick". It is easy to see why "Aqualung" might be taken to rely upon recurring themes, but Anderson maintains that this is "just a collection of songs".

The opening bars of the title track instantly signal the menacing sounds which are to follow, with Anderson quickly introducing us to a murky and distasteful underworld. The cover picture of a Fagan like Anderson (or is it and Anderson like Fagan) comes to mind as he sings of "eying little girls with bad intent". Such lyrics may have been seen as relatively prosaic in the early 1970's, but today they would cause hands to be held up in horror the world over. Incidentally, some of the lyrics were co-written by Anderson with his first wife. The song is all but devoid of the signature flute of Anderson, the dominant instrument being lead guitar. There is no doubt that "Aqualung" (the track) is one of Tull's finest accomplishments and most memorable songs.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the album is the diversity of sounds and atmospheres. Where the title track is heavy, almost metallic, the consecutive trio of "Cheap day return", "Mother goose" and "Wond'ring aloud" are light acoustic numbers of the type which Tull would increasingly come to rely upon on later albums.

Side two opens with Tull's most progressive offering up to this point. "My God" takes us on a journey through lead guitar and flute solos, while Anderson delivers some of his most poignant lyrics ever; "The bloody Church of England in chains of history requests your earthly presence at the vicarage for tea." The heavier "Hymn 43" effectively forms part two of this 10+ minute suite, the track reverting to the "Aqualung" style riff driven mood.

"Locomotive breath" is probably the most commercial track on the album, with a strong rhythm and a memorable hook.

Where I feel this album falls short when compared to the magnificent "Thick as a brick", is in consistency. It is fair to say that most of the tracks are indeed Tull classics, or at least fine Tull songs, but there is the odd gap. "Up to me" for example is a rather nondescript affair with little focus.

Overall, while I recognise this to be one of Jethro Tull's finest albums, there remain (admittedly small) parts which remind me that the band were still developing their skills. Thankfully, the next album would see everything come together magnificently, but for now this is a flawed gem.

The 25th Anniversary edition includes 6 additional tracks including excerpts from an interview with Anderson.

Report this review (#181786)
Posted Friday, September 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album gets some very serious praise from fans, and there is good reason for this.

Finally, finally, the band gets the blend between melodic composition, progressive complexity, and rock-based intensity. All of this is evident in the famous opening title track. We are graced with six and a half minutes of shifting riffs and clever melodies. This song, however, is one of the last throwbacks to the more standard rock-oriented albums previous in the Jethro Tull discography. From there, the album moves forward, dipping more and more towards the forthcoming folk sound that will dominate their future albums, and also plugging away with much more flute work. Each of the tracks that continue on the first half of this release flow together nicely, creating the popular illusion that Aqualung is a concept album, though it is merely a collection of thematically linked songs.

The second side is stronger to my ears. Kicking it off with My God, a song notably parallel to the title track, we begin to see some of Tull's more experimental styles. In the middle of the track, we get a flute solo over some form of ecclesiastic chanting, giving it a wonderful gothic feel if only for a few seconds. The second song here, Hymn 43, is a very upbeat one with tinkling piano and a catchy vocal line (though instead of Jesus, save me I always here Jesus, hit me). The popular radio tune Locomotive Breath guns along with a further blend of their former rock and some newfangled sort of prog intent. The side closer, Wind Up, is another of my personal favorite tunes. It covers a wide range of melodies and riffs, shifting back and forth and just sort of generally confusing people.

This is a high quality release by Jethro Tull. They come into their own with this release, and they prove that they aren't just a novelty rock band with a flute. I can't say this album is mandatory for all prog fans like Thick as a Brick is, but it is up there. If you get any other Tull album aside from Thick as a Brick, make it Aqualung.

Report this review (#184362)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Finaly Jethro Tull find a way to capture all they've got best in this album named Aqualung from 1971. This is a cornerstone in prog music from all decades, remaining after almost 40 years an extremly good and timelss album, praised by many listners and musicians alike , and is a good reason for that no doubt about it. Better than the predecesor Benefit by miles, at least for me, this album is the release that made Jethro Tull big in this field, from this one on thay were at the top in prog music, being a very prolific band in the'70's releasing an album each year. About the music here, is something cross between progressive music and rock arangements, who melts togeter very well. Some of the pieces from here are real classics of music in general like Aqualung, Crossed eye Mary or Locomotive Breath, still played in most of the concerts. The master of flute Ian Aderson is the chery on the cake here, as always, but also the rest of the musicians have their share of fame no doubt. This is the last studio album where we can find Bunker on drumms, he was replace by the stunning musician and drumer Barimore Barlow. Every track is excellent, and I can't extract only one or two from the whole album, this must be listen only as a whole, oterwise you may lose the core of this unmatch release. So a big album, a timless masterpice, that for one reason or other must be in any serious collection, one of the must haves album of Jethro Tull for sure. I will give 5 stars to this treasure, along with Passion play and Songs from the wood my fav JT album ever. Recommended and essential listning by everybody intrsted in prog music, and not only for them. The cover art and the inlay of the Cd are hand in hand with the music. My Cd has some bonus tracks, an unreleased piece from the'90's , an interview with Ian Anderson and other two musicians from JT and some early recordigs of the band.
Report this review (#189056)
Posted Thursday, November 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Possibly Tull's most well-known album and a staple of classic rock. indeed, this is a very good album. But is it one of their best? Well, that's hard to say. They definitely have performed better and more innovative works (TAAB, APP, Songs from the Wood.), but this is a solid album in their catalogue that manages to elucidate a general overlook of Tull's sound.

1. Aqualung- This is probably the track that many people think of when they hear the name Jethro Tull.a well-composed track with dirty and efficient instrumental work, great lyrics and vocals by Anderson, and plenty of memorable, wonderful segments. What a song! My favorite part is the piano with Anderson's distant vocals. 9/10

2. Cross-Eyed Mary- Opening with an awesome flute part, this is another good Tull rocker with fantastic lyrics, vocals, and instrumentation. I really like how so much can be packed into one song in such a concise format particularly on this album; this song shows that exceptionally. 10/10

3. Cheap Day Return- Well-written and enjoyable acoustic song where Anderson partially discusses visiting his father in the hospital and his encounter with a nurse where she inappropriately asked for his autograph. Great tune. 9/10

4. Mother Goose- This is a heavily acoustic song with some interesting flute parts interjected. It's really another solid song, but it's not as genius as what came before it. Nonetheless, it's enjoyable, well-written, well-played, and full of Anderson's cynical and humorous lyrics. 8/10

5. Wond'ring Aloud- Another really good acoustic song, this time with some piano towards the end. I like the mood to this one and it's really pleasant to hear. 9/10

6. Up to Me- Another solid song, but like Mother Goose this one isn't absolutely perfect. I like the interplay between the instruments but the structure is a bit too simplified to warrant masterpiece status. Good piece though. 7/10

7. My God- Now here is another masterful, explorative piece. This is definitely the highlight of the album (or one of them), with an awesome acoustic opening building into a haunting riff whereupon Anderson gives out some of his best lyrics to date. The way this song is structured and performed is genius, and the flute solo that Anderson utilizes in the middle of the composition is stunning. This is Tull at their best. 10/10

8. Hymn 43- This is a really good song with some interesting keyboard playing and instrumental interplay. It's more straight-forward but has a twisted rock hymn feel to it. The lyrics again are notable and the song is heavily enjoyable. 9/10

9. Slipstream- The last of the trilogy of acoustic pieces on this album. I like them all about equally and they're all masterfully-crafted acoustic songs despite only being about a minute in length. How can a song mainly played on acoustic guitar and vocals be so great? This continues to show you how. 9/10

10. Locomotive Breath- After a soothing piano intro that almost feels a bit like a ragtime piece, this song breaks into a repetitive yet effective rocker. It goes in the same pile for me as Mother Goose and Up to Me, where the songs are still extremely good, the musicianship is notable, and everything flows exceptionally but the songs barely reach masterpiece status. The train-like rhythm of this song is effective. 8/10

11. Wind-Up- This is a controversial closer. I really like it and I think it's definitely a brave, experimental way to end this album. The lyrics continue Anderson's cynical commentary on organized religion and the story-like structure of this song works well in complement. 9/10

This is a REALLY good album with some of Anderson's best lyrics, compositions, and a great overall effort from the band that really deserves the attention that it gets. It is not quite a masterpiece, however, and Tull managed to create those in the forms of other albums that were to follow.

You still have probably heard this album; if you haven't, it is highly recommended as an excellent addition to your collection.

Report this review (#191402)
Posted Monday, December 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Bursting out!

If Jethro Tull was a caterpillar on This Was and Stand Up, and a cocoon on Benefit, they became a butterfly with Aqualung. What I am saying is that the band took a gigantic leap forward here and produced their first great album. It remains to this day one of Jethro Tull's best albums and it has very strong material from start to finish. My God, the title track, Wind-Up, Locomotive Breath, and Cross-Eyed Mary are all timeless classics and some of these became mainstays in the bands set list. These are also the songs that rock the hardest. The shorter songs are more mellow and folky and they perfectly balance the hard rock songs making for a varied and complete album.

A classic album that even if it doesn't quite reach the progressive heights of its follower Thick As A Brick, remains an absolutely essential addition to any Prog collection

Report this review (#195572)
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Here we have Jethro Tull's rough mix of hard rock and primitive prog.The result is an album which sounds at times lost,but dark and brilliant sounding overall.Though it is very unlikely that Aqualung holds greater resemblances to Led Zeppelin IV,both albums released in 1971 are half heavy/half acoustic(and even got to be recorded during the same period and studio).

I'll start out by pointing my greatest complain towards this landmark of progressive rock:Ian Anderson's flute work could have been kept aside here,only coming up in more pastoral moments.What we have instead are somewhat misplaced flute solos in totally unsuitable moments,such as in the last minutes of Locomotive Breath.If there's anything else to be pointed out,is the perhaps excessive use of acoustic mini-tracks that serve mostly as transitional pieces.But considering they're all quite pleasent,this shouln't be taken too seriously.

The song to which everyone immediately fall in love with is obviously the opening self-titled composition,a number which simply sticks in your head.Divided in three acts,Aqualung is a genioulsy structured song with very strong lines and a remarkable guitar solo(here,there are no flutes at all).

But other compositions in the album should also please pretty much everyone:Locomotive Breath,with a mind-blowing grand piano introduction(a strong mood-settling moment)and a very heavy pace,the more straight rocking Hymn 43(a direct critic towards theological hipocrysies)and the uncanny arrangement of Cross-Eyed Mary.Those are album highlights,and unfortunately there's not much else worthy of attention outside the album's context,even though My God and Wind Up are very strong pieces by the time they show up.However,they probably don't work out anywhere else as well as they do here.

Aqualung is a concept album,even though the subject here is at times very abstract.The first half of the recording is not much more than a collection of singular ideas,while the second part deals strongly with religion.Quite honestly,this 'concept' could be removed(and lyrics slightly changed)without doing any harm at all to the album.

This is still not Jethro Tull's best moment,but Aqualung is the first album to present the band in it's fully developed form.Curiously it's the only recording by the group which survived the test of time(at least in a major perspective),and has gained a cult status now in the 21st century.4 stars is the fair rating to Aqualung,but I should remind everyone that this is of course only appliable to Jethro Tull's standards(setted high above the major share of prog bands).

Report this review (#203744)
Posted Thursday, February 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Aqualung is the first Tull album I owned and it was an old beat up vinyl cover I dug out of someone's garage sale in the 70s. Immediately, as the awesome riff began of Aqualung, I knew this was a band I would be getting into big time. I adore this riff and it is one of the best in rock history. Reportedly the riff was based on Beethovens classic dadada duuuuum, dadada duuuuuuuuum. It works well enough and carries this track to infamy. Those lyrics are pure genius: "snot running down his nose, greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes... feeling like a dead duck, spitting out pieces of his broken luck". The driving erratic rock riffage is broken by an acoustic interlude "sun streaking cold the old man wanders lonely taking time the only way he knows..." and then we have the rocked up section, "do you still remember December's foggy breeze...." (I forget this part of the lyrics but I love the music) and then Martin Barre's awesome lead break screams through the mix. It is pure prog bliss and my favourite Tull track. It was all listed in the top 100 best guitar songs of all time.

The rest of the album pales in comparison but is still terrific music such as Cross Eyed Mary with its chaotic pentameter and time signature, flute and guitar - it works! Mother Goose and Hymn 43 and My God - its absolute genius. There are some strange interludes with acoustic guitar that run for less than a minute and these are mixed with great overblown tracks such as Locomotive Breath - amazing! This became a single and ripped up the charts. The album is one of the most popular Tull, and the band have played it in its entirety many times and even performed it on radio. The conceptual content of the album is complex - It all seems to be wrapped in a concept about the dangers of religion and poverty, or something, but if you just let the music wash over you, Aqualung is a most invigorating, and at times perplexing, experience. Anderson said emphatically it's not a concept album, "just a bunch of songs", but we fans know better don't we? Overblown concept albums are a Tull trademark and here it sits. The cover is an iconic enigmatic image of a dirty tramp and this became Tull's image, uncharacteristic of a rock star and everything Tull purports to be; a rock band that refuses to conform to the traditional image.

In conclusion Aqualung is as good as everybody has claimed, and of course it exists in many forms. I recommend the CD with the bonus tracks and for that matter the Aqualung Live CD is a pleasant blast of a fresh approach to the music. I simply cannot recommend this more highly - a masterpiece of prog genius.

Report this review (#208444)
Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aqualung 5/5

Jethro Tull's most famous album to those outside the prog community: nonetheless if they wanted to hear an essential album, this would certainly be one to spin a few times. This album has a distinct feel to it, much more refined in its heavier moments than Benefit and a lot more nostalgic feeling in its implementation of piano, acoustic guitar, flute, etc (See 'Locomotive Breath', 'My God' or 'Wind Up'). Recorded at the same time as Led Zeppelin's IV, and in the same studio Ian expressed that there were difficulties in recording Aqualung in the new Island Records studio- apparently many new gadgets and gizmos.

Anyway, this is album is slightly lower than Stand Up or Thick as a Brick, but still warrants a 5. A concept album with a group of character sketches on Side 1, and a treatise on organized religion and its effect on the individual on Side 2. Ian contends it is not a concept album ('just a bunch of songs') and thankfully he held fast, rubbing his nose at the concept of a concept album in the near future. Now to the music.

'Aqualung' begins with the now famous riff everyone is subconsciously born knowing. Personally, the acoustic sections around Martin Barre's solo are better than the riff as there is coldness and doubt in Ian's voice, almost reminiscing and regretful. Martin's solo grabs at the listener's heart and twists it around in a flurry of directions, and just when one thinks he's done- he goes for the gauntlet. If there was a moment in which he elevated himself to the level of Ian in the group, this is it folks. Truly one of my favorite guitar solos for its timing, placement and efficiency.

'Cross Eyed Mary' begins with this tasty flute intro, lovely mellotron in the background as the drums enter with Ian progressing from longer notes to quick staccato phrases. Then come Ian's vocals, a complete contrast to the loveliness of the intro- another example of Martin Barre doing excellent things on guitar with new member Jeffrey Hammond adding texture on bass. The band descends into an interesting instrumental section with Ian and Martin both trying solos on for size.

'Cheap Day Return' is the first of the short acoustic pieces and is my favorite of the bunch, beautiful melody, distinct lyrics and a folk dream. Too short, but that is another discussion; this song was written after Ian visited his critically ill father so there are obviously a wide variety of feelings and emotions. 'Mother Goose' continues the folk theme, with timbre that resembles Stand Up until Martin's guitar comes in with these long extended notes: an essential song that displays the integration of Stand Up and this album. Notice how as Martin and Jeffrey enter, the song picks up momentum. 'Wond'ring Aloud' is another beautiful acoustic piece, Ian and his guitar play this gorgeous melody before John Evan enters on piano. Orchestration adds another layer of texture as Ian weaves a lyrical gem. 'Up to Me' finishes out Side 1 with energetic outbursts by both Martin and Ian; a much more earnest prog-folk piece featuring a wide variety of drums from Clive Bunker. So thus finishes the first side of Aqualung, one of the finest side with a coexistence of acoustic and electric Tull.

'My God' opens Side 2, and is arguably the strongest piece on this album, though not as eclectic as the music on Side 1, its raw tenacity and simplicity is a marvel. Beginning with an acoustic part by Ian, this slowly builds as John Evan enter with the same riff on piano and enter Ian's vocals. The vocals are self explanatory, an exploration of religious themes (He is the god of nothing/ if that's all that you can save/ you are the god of everything/he's inside you and me/so lean upon him gently/and don't call on him to save) with Ian's tone going from reflective to contemptible as he rejects organized religion but accepts the existence of a God. A Martin Barre solo takes the piece into Ian's dramatic solo, with church choir effects in the background! The piece returns to its acoustic introduction after Ian's solo before returning with the massive riff of Martin Barre.

'Hymn 43' continues the religious concept of this side with Ian's smug tone. Out of all the songs I find this to be the weakest. The same cannot be said for 'Locomotive Breath', with a piano introduction out of the 1940's (try not picturing Michael Corleone sitting in a chair ruminating!). Martin provides a nice guitar track alongside John's piano, and then the piece descends into the main riff. Jeffrey's bass anchors the bottom of the track with a thick and powerful punch as Martin's guitars weave around the main theme. Ian provides a classic jazz flute solo, and then John (?) begins this fuzzy effect that mirrors Jeffrey's bassline. 'Slipstream' is sandwiched between the two and features similar orchestration as the other two short acoustic numbers.

And then the album closes with 'Wind Up'. The intro and coda are mixed a bit too softly with nicely textured piano and acoustic guitar, but this does provide a nice contrast to the Martin's guitar outburst in the middle of the piece. The piano section after this electric part is very nice, Evan providing another part that seems like something out of the early 20th century. This is one of Tull's finest albums and an essential album in any progressive rock collection. Enjoy!

Report this review (#208563)
Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sitting on a Prog Bench,

My favorite Jethro Tull album. Perhaps tied with Thick as a Brick. One thing that always draws me to Jethro Tull would be the lyrical content. Salvation a la mode, the armies down the road...

Anderson has a majestic way with poetic images that dig themselves into your mind and become a large part of the music. He is metaphoric, visceral, and intelligent with his lyrics. The music is also excellent. Hard rock/folk rock hybrid that shows its venom on parts of tracks like Aqualung and the amazing Locomotive Breath, and shows the beauty on tracks like Mother Goose, other parts of Aqualung, and cheap day return, with its folk intricacies.

Then there is quite possibly my single favorite Jethro Tull song. My God. The lyrics are powerful and emotive, the playing is ominous and strong, and the flute solo in the middle... it is simply mind blowing. This is an original and progressive piece of intelligent music. And out of all the prog behemoths: Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd, I'd say Tull had the strongest, or at least some of the strongest lyrics.

Some could say there aren't so many progressive moments, here, but I feel that there are enough of them to warrant a rating of 5.

Best Moment - My God

Worst Moment - I couldn't name one.


Report this review (#208748)
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I do not see how many people see this album as Jethro Tull's masterpiece. There is some praise for the lyrics and the concept, but Anderson himself strongly denied that it was a concept album. While some parts are similar in sound to Thick as a Brick (their true masterpiece), this album has almost none of what makes TAAB an amazing album. The album does a good job mixing hard rock and folk music, and features some good flute parts, but overall the music is not very interesting. There are few chances for the members of the band to shine like on TAAB, and I dont find the vocals and lyrics to be great either. To me, this album shows the band still progressing (no pun intended) and evolving to what would later allow them to create a prog masterpiece. In fact, I dont find many of the songs on the album to be all that progressive. My God is probably my favorite song on the album, and even it isnt nearly the quality of their masterpiece which would follow. The only essential Tull album for all prog fans is Thick as a Brick, and Aqualung isnt even one of their best albums to me. I would recommend it to fans of the band, but it is not an album that I can see every prog fan enjoying. This album is still good, but I really do not see it as essential.
Report this review (#209910)
Posted Thursday, April 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars While certainly not my favorite Jethro Tull album, Aqualung is probably one of the most commercially successful (or at least recognizable) progressive rock albums ever. Two of the songs get frequent radio airplay even today, and for the most part, the rest of the music is straightforward and easy to follow. There is a steady blend of electric guitar riffs and calm acoustic work present here, but I've always preferred the latter when it comes to this group. The acoustic guitar-centered bridges are but a glimpse at the greatness that would be Minstrel in the Gallery. For someone unfamiliar with Jethro Tull, this is probably one of the best records to start with.

"Aqualung" A staple of classic rock music, with that iconic riff, this is one of those songs that serves as a bridge between progressive rock and the radio-listening multitudes. I particularly love the acoustic-based middle section that speeds up, but the whole thing is great.

"Cross-Eyed Mary" Rising Mellotron, thumping bass and flute, joined by thudding drums bring in one of the finest rock songs on the album.

"Cheap Day Return" Gentle acoustic guitar makes for an absolutely brilliant, if terse piece.

"Mother Goose" Probably my favorite song on the album, this one has great acoustic guitar and an amazing but simple flute riff.

"Wond'ring Aloud" I love these little acoustic bridges Ian Anderson comes up with.

"Up to Me" Having a great acoustic riff and an interesting vocal melody, this song fits right in with the rest. The middle section is somewhat different, gentler, and rather mischievous.

"My God" Here's the worst track on the album, mainly because the guitar is so much louder than it needs to be, and because the composition is not nearly as strong the previous songs. The piece is very disjointed, featuring a strange flute "solo" spot with a lot of voices behind it. The song drags, maintaining that repetitive riff, and exists as one of Jethro Tull's weakest moments.

"Hymn 43" A sudden song with a simple piano-based chord progression, this one is fairly good, but not very memorable to me. It also has a good electric guitar riff.

"Slipstream" Here's one more acoustic bridge, and another breath of fresh air.

"Locomotive Breath" The other classic rock hit on the album, and perhaps Jethro Tull's most recognizable song, begins with a piano and electric guitar introduction before getting into the song proper. It boasts a great chord progression and a "breathtaking" flute solo (it sounds like Anderson is suffocating trying to play it).

"Wind Up" A quiet track (at least at first), this has some of Anderson's most cynical words when it comes to religion. It is one of the better tracks, I feel, even if it runs on a bit longer than it really needs to.

Report this review (#218801)
Posted Friday, May 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The mix of Blues, Folk, Hard rock and progressive rock, it is fairly rare, and it is a gem. "Jethro Tull" is basically a group unstable and crazy, completely marginalized and who seeks, he will draw his forces out poru "Aqualung". It is true that ets j'ia low for this album because it's the first I heard of this group, and was also using a vinyl that my favorite cousin had passed (unfortunately died a few years later). The bluesman Mick Abrahams disappears because it no longer bear the travel had given the group's success, and leaves room for a Martin Barre and is a true success. Martin Barre immediately took the controls of "Jethro Tull", and thanks to him the music is given more rock, more hard, beautiful ... but remains attached to folk. Between hard rock riff and medieval folk melody careful with this flute that spins. The card of "Jethro Tull" there is with "Aqualung", Ian Anderson literally explodes on the album with titles Baroque incisive text, you rich percussive. "Aqualuna" will open the flaw was "Thick as a Brick" for a future concept album.
Report this review (#228369)
Posted Saturday, July 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars "Aqualung" starts with uncompromising guitar riff which is now rated (by my and other people) as one of the greatest riffs in history of rock music. "Sitting on a park bench...", first I though it's story about some sleazy park guy, who tries his dirty tricks on girls, but then it turned to be about his loneliness instead. Quite heavy part indeed, one can get false feeling about genre of this album, but soon after, from 1:03-2:13, then part which will make you head-bang (at least a little bit) for sure, wild acoustic guitar accompanies something so unique in prog folk genre, Ian Anderson's Voice (capital letter intended). It's something so special, that I rate him amongst the best in (rock music) history. Basically, just his vocal and folky guitar to make me happy, but we're on PA, aren't we. But fortunately, other parts of music works as well.

This is repeated instantly in "Cross-Eyed Mary" (hello real life Mary, sitting beside me), with even basic instruments used (with addition of piano and Voice somehow emulates many things), wide variety of styles, joined together by one thing, wild tempo. And of course, another thing, IA's trademark instrument, flute. Or should I say furious flute, same as everything he touches ? Then, stream of songs in similar, prog folk theme continues. Lyrics are mostly British folklore influences (I suppose), or other, medieval sounding words .Continues until

"My God" comes. Which comes with first criticism of religion (third one is Wind Up). I don't see much inside this topic, but his arguments seems solid and truth. 3:26- to about 5:00, FF (furious flute) solo takes the place. Probably the greatest flute moment I've ever heard, performed with such virtuosity and energy, that you can almost feel his passion (for play). And imagine how he's standing on one leg, when live version was performed. "Hymn 43" continues in breaking-worship-myth as second one from god trilogy, full of tongue in cheek lyrics (again, it's how I feel them, my personal opinion). Quite aggressive song though, even Aqualung is first shocker, this one is just gravedigger of emotions. Don't take me bad, it's good song, but after Aqualung, I was ready for everything here. "Locomotive Breath" starts as something very bluesy, every sounds here, piano, scratching guitar, pace of song, everything indicates blues rock. Of course, Jethro Tull, masters of deceiving comes with their unique sound, after this blues intro. So called song on which you can put your hat on. No, this song won't slow down, because it's dragger of this record. And we're now ready for

"Wind Up" closes original trilogy. Although not believer (no way), I admit that if to believe, then for your own way of doing it, not "wind it up on Sundays" as he correctly mentioned. Really beautiful melody, in intro part (first two minutes) and also in later in more rocking part (last four minutes). My favourite section to be honest. From bonus part of remastered version, one that caught my attention is surprisingly this "Interview" part. He has such calm voice. So this saying about how he's wild on stage and shy guy in reality. Other songs are good, two goes in a way of first prog folk section, then different version of Wind Up, whistling Boureé and "A Song For Jeffrey" different version.

Five stars for such prog folk monument, where there's no weak piece.

Report this review (#236089)
Posted Monday, August 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Aqualung is generally regarded as one of Tull's best albums. Well, I don't buy it. There certainly is some good music here but more then half of it consists of weak, plain rock songs. Worst of all, the few moments that are enjoyable are brought down by the production, done very dry and sparse, which has made the album age badly, like many other early 70's classic rock albums.

To start, there's the performance. This album is the first Tull album that sounds as if the band couldn't be brought to display any kind of enthusiasm for the song material. It sounds as if they were constantly holding back, never daring to push their limits and put in some fresh ideas.

The reason for this is obviously the song material. While Aqualung and My God are strong classic Tull tracks, the rest of the album is a big let-down. I fail to see how a fan of prog rock can find anything to enjoy in the uninspired hard rock of Cross-Eyed Mary and Locomotive Breath or in the unaccomplished balladry that fills the remainder of the album.

Because of its historic relevance I will still grant it 3 stars. With only two relevant songs, my personal appreciation is far below that.

Report this review (#237769)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm tasting the smell of toast as the butter runs. Then she comes, spilling crumbs, on the bed.

And i shake my head as i rate this album. Jethro Tull is the last one of the classic great prog bands i really gotten into. Thick as a brick is something that kicks in for everyone, but this is Tulls hard rockin' masterpiece. It consists of plenty of absolutey fantastic tunes. There's really no bad tracks here, i always listen to the album from start to finish and adore it as a whole. There's a little bit for everyone on this album, the harder tracks like Aqualung and Locomotive Breath, and softer ones like my favourite Wondring Aloud and Wind Up. This album also features one of the greatest guitarr work ive ever heard, the guitarr solo on Aqualung is out of this world.

When the album ends you really see that The Mad Flauter has spoken and you just want to play the album again. A masterpiece.

Report this review (#244651)
Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Jethro Tull's 'Aqualung' shows the band fully transforming from a bluesy psychedelic rock band (that happened to have a flute) to a folky classic rock band. By now the band seems to be driven forward by public opinion; when accused of being a folkrock group they started infusing their music with folk. When 'Aqualung' was adopted by the progressive rock crowd and deemed 'a concept album' the band started making progressive rock on their next album. This album is however more tied to the late sixties folk(rock) revival and the broadening sense of what classic rock could be. The opening track 'Aqualung' has an amazing main prog riff, but I've never felt strongly about the other parts it offers. The album has a few moments that really catch my attention like the fine 'Cross-Eyed Mary' (I actually prefer the Iron Maiden cover) and the moody 'My God'. The folky bits sound fine and when the voice of Ian Anderson is mixed right (and not doubled), he sound fine.
Report this review (#255007)
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oh my!! This record is on my list of top 10/life altering/desert island/insert random category/greatest of all time!!! I didn't really discover this album until around 1983 (jr./sr. year of high school), had heard the title track, obviously, but had no idea how magical the rest of the record was!!! Prog wasn't really a concept that I understood, cared about, or realized, but now when I look back, this was definitely one of the bands/records that would help to mold my prog tendencies!! Back then, it was just a cool folk/rock record by a guy named Jethro?!?!?!......something-or-other........then, bought the record.....saw it was a BAND....not a DUDE!!!!.....had to get my hands on anything else these guys did...and,alas,a love affair was born. 5-star plus, and on my i-pod playlist 4-ever!!
Report this review (#261045)
Posted Saturday, January 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Aqualung - Jethro Tull (3.21 stars) Original Release: 3/19/1971


Aqualung (4 stars) Anthemic guitar line accompanies a lyrical description of a filthy pedophile-beggar who dies in the cold. But the majority of the song's midsection features an acoustic guitar which softens the tone towards a character that the lyrics now invoke sympathy for. Also there is an upbeat section with piano and acoustic guitar that then turns into a reflective, soulful guitar solo that in turn becomes a rock solo after the first four measures. Great character sketch of one who has fallen to the absolute bottom.

Cross-Eyed Mary (3 stars) Lyrics seem to describe a Lolita-prostitute that has relative success over her poor piers. Flute and mellotron start the song quiet and like the coming of some monster theme the intro builds. Organ and guitar put a hard rock edge on the lyrical description of the song's protagonist. This song is a good compliment to Aqualung (there is even a lyrical tie-in). There is only a brief flute and guitar solo, but overall this is a good, funky hard rock song

Cheap Day Return (3 stars) Acoustic guitar passes briefly through a few melodies creating a sense of anticipation. The song is short and the lyrics capture a moment, a day, that the vocalist looks back with derision to.

Mother Goose (4 stars) Lyrical encounter with various circus-fantasy figures strolling through the city. Acoustic guitar and flute play a happy melody which draws out a sense of insanity from the lyrical events. This song stands out for me mainly in its lighter series of engaging melodies.

Wond'ring Aloud (3 stars) Vocalist seems to be recalling images of his wife/lover who makes food and love for/to him. Also there is a sense of drawing from these experiences deeper principles of life. Acoustic guitar then piano then strings instrumentally decorate this short ballad.

Up to Me (3 stars) Lyrically this song looks at the world as an extension of one's self and avoiding giving up personal responsibility. Flute and vocal laughter promise antics while the acoustic guitar plays the anthemic line. The trickster-like sense of this song is appropriate to the theme of self-awareness.

My God (3 stars) The lyrics speak of what the church has done to God, commoditized Him amongst other things. Acoustic guitar starts off warily. This song has variety of melody and an instrumental section that fills out the song's length with progressive qualities. With the guitar we finally get a good aggressive flute solo (which has been lacking somewhat from previous albums).

Hymn 43 (3 stars) The lyricists pleads to Jesus, but is sorry for how He has been abused. This song is a piano rocker right off the bat with a guitar anthem. There is definitely something of the holy roller passion in the vocals as well.

Slipstream (3 stars) Short song that seems to be a warning to the materialists in the pews. Sweet vocals, strings and acoustic guitar counter the sarcasm of the lyrics. The strings end in a vaguely chaotic dissipation created by some studio effects.

Locomotive Breath (3 stars) Return to a character sketch of desperation; this time about a man for whom everything is going wrong/spinning out of his control. A peaceful piano intro. with Chopin-esque qualities gives way to a soulful guitar and piano movement, then a 4/4 rock rhythm, still calm but sassy. Further instrumentalism includes a guitar and piano anthem. A throbbing bass pushes this rock 'n' roll train along.

Wind Up (3 stars) Bitter resentment directed at the church in the form of a flat denial of their grasp on the truth. A quiet guitar and vocals accompanies this lyrical message. This melody repeats and builds instrumentally and in volume until the final guitar anthem kicks in. The ballad then turns into hard rock. This process repeats from quiet to loud to quiet, perhaps, suggesting a winding up and down movement.

Album: This fourth Jethro Tull album is yet another collection of songs but with a more coherent sound across the whole album. The character sketches and the God-church songs represent a couple of themes on this debatable two-concept album. Certainly the guitar has found a clearer more confident voice. There is also a flirtation with the progressive rock form in a couple of the longer songs. Jethro Tull continues to rotate through different sounds turning by degrees from blues to hard rock. Some of the songs I recognize from the radio I may have already heard too many times and so their character may not impress me as much as it should (particularly "Cross-Eyed Mary" and "Locomotive Breath").

A couple of songs on this album strike me as progressive rock songs: Aqualung and My God. Other songs indicate their penchant for complex composition but they have not yet broken through into this, at the time, still emerging genre. Overall I not yet as engaged with Jethro Tull's sound on this album (rather I prefer particular songs) as I am on many of their later albums.

MP3 recommendation:

Four star songs (4 stars) 1. Aqualung (4 stars) 2. Mother Goose (4 stars)

Report this review (#265680)
Posted Friday, February 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A review for the poor old sods . . .

I don't usually do reviews of this type anymore because I realized quite early in my reviewing career here that so much has already been said about these classic prog 'staples', my opinion thrown on top of the daily-growing pile of opinions isn't going to do much to sway a potential newcomer's decision. However, after reviewing several lesser-known albums from lesser-known artists, it's always fun to return to the familiar now and again. In this particular case, I felt the need to review Jethro Tull's ''Aqualung'' because it's one of the handful of great records that first sparked my interest in advanced music. Had it not been for these albums in particular, I may not be where I am today in my musical journey. In fact, I may not even be a musician. So I owe it to these classic artists and their influences to pay my respects.

''Aqualung'' was the first Jethro Tull record I ever heard, and still remains my most personally beloved. Is it Tull's best? probably not, and from a realistic standpoint, I'm not even sure I can rate it a full five stars, as much as I would want to. I was actually ready to sing its praises to the Nth degree just yesterday, but after speaking with one of my colleagues, he made me realize that my personal love for this record may be clouding my judgment. So I slept on it. Today, after giving it some careful thought, I have come to realize two things:

1) As much as I love this piece of classic prog-rock, the album does start to run out of steam toward its end, and I would be giving it too high a mark at the full five rating.

2) No Jethro Tull record has ever held my interest from beginning to end.

Perhaps it is simply because I still need to mature more in my musical tastes, but despite how great a Jethro Tull outing may be (of which there are many), none of them have been able to keep me completely engaged for their whole length. I promised myself early on when I first started investing time in this website that I would limit my five-star reviews only for the records that impressed me the absolute strongest. Some bands have released more than one album that has done so, but as of now, Jethro Tull has not. I would like to think albums like ''Aqualung'', ''Thick As A Brick'' and even ''Roots To Branches'' (One of J-Tull's most grossly underrated works) are all around the same caliber, and they all seem to be the best the band has to offer.

But just because a band's best possible efforts are in my collection, it does not mean I absolutely must rate them all five stars. Four stars for me don't mean an album ISN'T 'essential' per se; that rating simply means that while the record is among the band in particular's best work, it doesn't reach the same heights for me that it may for others, and that is absolutely a personal thing. I now believe five-star ratings should be reserved for the albums that speak to me the most on a personal level, and as such you will most likely see much less five-star scores coming from me from now on.

Right, now that I have explained my intentions, here, let's get to the review. it will be shorter than most, but as I said, so much has already been said about this record, I will merely explain what it means to me on a personal level, then move on.

The album's first track is also the title track, and among many circles, the most well-known track. It has a very wonderful chorus section, catchy, electric guitar-driven verses, and of course the graphic, appalling description on Aqualung, the subject of the first half of this album, many say. I'm still on the fence as whether or not this truly IS a concept album. Ian Anderson apparently claims that it isn't, but the connection between the tracks lyrically and musically suggest otherwise. Either way, this character (a bum living off the street, watching the crowd and having bad intentions) seems to be the subject of the first few tracks, intentionally connected or not, and tis is one hell of a starting place. Much more heavy rock-oriented than folk, and not particularly 'prog', it still gets the job done and straps the listener in for the wild ride to come. ''You poor old sod, you see it's only me''.

'Cross-Eyed Mary' seems to be yet another tale involving the Aqualung character, though he takes somewhat of a backseat here. Ian Anderson's signature flute makes its first appearance on this song, and along with it enters the first truly 'prog-folk' elements. It's a great song, and absolutely strengthens the album as a whole.

'Cheap Day Return' is the first time in which I can understand why Anderson doesn't consider this a concept record. This song has absolutely nothing to do with the Aqualung story. In fact, It's apparently a personal tale of when Anderson himself was traveling, on his way to see his terminally ill father. This is also a very nice track. Also quite short; the second-shortest song on the whole album. Though it doesn't need to be any longer. It's just some lovely acoustic guitar work accompanied by Anderson's tender, folk- style singing. This is more like a bridge between songs rather than a full-fledged song in and of itself.

The most fun-loving track on the record, 'Mother Goose', was a personal favorite of mine when I was a kid, and it still stands out as one of the better entries. Not much else to really say about this one . . . just listen for yourself, and you'll enjoy it.

Once again, a short, acoustic bridge section in 'Wond'ring Aloud'. Very beautiful track that also has some nice piano and strings coming in near the short track's end. I didn't fully appreciate this song until i got older, but now find it quite enjoyable. It certainly shouldn't be skipped when listening to ''Aqualung'' in full.

'Up To Me' is truly a Rock 'n' Roll / Folk hybrid. The flute rocks out just as much as the electric guitar does, and and twice as energetic at times. It's not all energy, though, as a softer middle section comes in to tame it. Actually a song that I honestly feel could have a been a little bit longer. Too short for such a cool track. Still a decent length, however.

Alright, so Side B begins, and the apparent 'theme' of this side (if there even is one!) is all about how organized religion has stifled many people's spiritual growth and help the church higher that God himself. Some people this this song is speaking out against the big guy upstairs, but those people obviously weren't paying attention to the lyrics. It's quite clear what Anderson is talking about, here. This may possibly be my favorite song on the album. It's powerful, has a very generous length (longest track on the record, clocking in at just over seven minutes), and has the best instrumentation out of all the tracks. The flute solo at the song's center is reason enough to love this mighty track, but so much more is there, as well. Just go listen to it! It's brilliant.

'Hymn 43' is very southern gospel music meets R&B. The piano work is really groovy, and Ian Anderson's singing style here makes him sound as if he could have come out of the heart of Louisiana, rather than Fife, Scotland, where the frontman was actually born. He definitely knows how to play the parts with his voice. Anyway, this is a great track too, although by this point if you're a first-time listener, the last track may have worn you out already.

'Slipstream' is the final acoustic interlude on the record, and wow, is this beautiful! I love how the strings bow and ebb at the end. Very unusual and . . . well . . . prog!

'Locomotive Breath' has one of the more interesting intros. The piano begins playing something that sounds very classically- influenced, then quickly shifts into ragtime, finally ending up in Jazz land. Wonderful. The rest of the instruments don't really come in until around the 1:22 mark, and when they do, I would expect more of that same freshness that began with the piano, but honestly, by this point, i feel the album has begun to run out of steam. This particular locomotive's breath is far from hot, and I think this is actually one of the weaker tracks the album has to offer, despite the cool-as-hell beginning. Still better than most music that was happening at the time, but by Tull standards, not as strong, in my opinion.

Okay. The last song on the record. It's really good. Great, even. Again, that southern vibe is quite prevalent, and once again Anderson is taking swings at religion. The lyrics are once again brilliant, and the music is up to par with the rest of the album's output. It starts out very soft, melodic and peaceful, then soon kicks into high gear with that trademark rockin' folk style that only Anderson and crew could pull off. It makes for a fabulous ending to a very fabulous album.

For the most part, this is an album you should not be without if you are a fan of this type of music. i would say having it in your collection is strongly encouraged, if not 'essential'. Like I said, this is a four-star album, if I am just honest with myself. As much as I love it, I do not listen to it as often as I do my typical five-star records. Having said that, I would indeed think you quite out of your mind to NOT buy this album. It's quite popular, even among non-prog listeners, and is available at nearly every store that sells music, so if you haven't picked this one up already, you really should. I just don't find it as 'essential' as others, perhaps. It's still worth owning, though.

Happy listening.

Report this review (#268016)
Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This is one of the true classic albums, not just of progressive rock, but rock in general. Besides having truly interesting, and some fine experimental music, the lyrics are some of the most brilliant ever recorded. And Ian Anderson credits his first wife, Jennie, for the lyrics of the band's most famous song.

The music flows perfectly from song to song, and the lyrics seem to flow as well. But my favorite part of the album is side 2, where Anderson provides a scathing critcism of organized religion, and the hypocrites who use religion as a method of power. In Hymn 43 he writes "If Jesus saves, then he'd better save himself from the gory glory seekers who use his name in death." Who could deny that after more than thirty years the lyric are still relevant? And while some say that the set of songs are a statement of atheism, I disagree. While it's not necessarily Christianity, there is a spiritualism in "He is the god of nothing -- if that's all that you can see. You are the god of everything -- He's inside you and me." Even a devout atheist like me can be moved by such lyrics.

This is an album everyone should own (even my teenaged son loves it).

Report this review (#270844)
Posted Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Everything has been said about this album and there's nothing original I might add. This isn't a conceptual album like many say cos it doesn't tell any story. There are 11 short stories mostly about people who weren't lucky and didn't become rich. Side B is dedicated to God but I don't think religious people are satisfied with the way Anderson put it. That way or another this very original release is a timeless classic even if production wise it ain't something brilliant. When you listen to Aqualung you treat it as a whole. It's incredible because we have many different generes included and it amazes me how guys can easily go from one theme to another totally different. There's hard rock on Aqualung (Aqualung, Cross Eyed Mary, Locomotive Breath, parts of My God and Wind Up). There's British folk on Aqualung (Mother Goose, partly My God). Three little ballads (Cheap Day Return, Wond'ring Aloud, Slipstream) and of course blues (Up To Me, Hymn 43). Jehtro Tull mixed it all and did it the perfect way. This album doesn't sound good (poor quality production) but it doesn't matter cos somehow this dirty sound fits this record. This is a masterpiece and will ever be. 5 stars easily. Too bad those times are gone.
Report this review (#277420)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars An excellent milestone in the climb up the progressive mountain (not just for Tull but in music generally). 'Aqualung' is full of delightfully dark lyrical imagery, hard-edged chordy rock, whimsical acoustic dabblings, and plenty of husky impulse flute.

Jethro Tull are new to me but this album is obviously the topic of much discussion; it's hard to miss it. Some say it's a concept album. Some say it's simply an album with concepts. I'd rather take the latter view because it gives it more scope for a better review. If 'Aqualung' was a concept album it wouldn't be a very good one (too inconsistent). Regarded as a normal rock album with some recurring themes, the album is much stronger, and certainly more progressive. What I like is the flow: There are two extended highlights, the famous title track with it's pyramid structure and jagged opening chords. And the overlooked 'My God', with a similar construction allowing for solo-extension in a live setting (it might not be overlooked actually, I don't really know enough about the band to say). These both introduce the two sides of the album, a good start. Then there are a few straighter rock songs with respectable riffs, and a couple of softer pieces which are developed nicely. On top of this, and what really makes the album flow, are the little acoustic interludes that split up the meatier tracks. They aren't incredible compositions but they fit so well, in a way that wouldn't work within the symphonic style of some other prog bands. This means that 'Aqualung' works better as a whole album rather than in terms of individual songs, but at least the filler is only filler in a structural sense; there's no specifically BAD music. I also must mention here that I'm loving the jazz piano that introduces 'Locomotive Breath'. What a nice touch.

I'd like to point out, because I'm surprised no one else has yet, that I find some of the later parts of this album sound a little (don't shoot me) "punk"-esque. Not explicitly and of course more musically, but the bare elements are there in the chordal structures, and I do remember Johnny Rotten of the 'Sex Pistols' stating a Tull influence. Just a thought....

This album is perhaps as overrated as it is misunderstood, but no one can deny it's place in the prog hall of fame because of the great riffs, themes, solos and jams it has to offer. Only a few minor issues from me; the songs aren't as prog as I first thought, Anderson's singing is ametuer, and the flute is a little too omnipresent.

Report this review (#279280)
Posted Saturday, April 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can I say about Aqualung? It is truly a milestone, a holy shrine for progressive rock. Everything, from the music to the conceptual lyrical themes is planned down to an inch of perfection and this really shows. Any fan of rock music cannot deny the greatness of this album, for it has songs like the title track, proper rockers, and then just the epicness of tracks such as "My God". Not only a true influ8ence for prog, but for folk rock and metal alike. When I first heard about this album, I expected a lot, people kept going on about it, and I wasn't dissappointed whatsoever. The fact that it can still send shivers down ones spine after almost 40 years for teenagers like me is reason enough to give it 5 stars.
Report this review (#284825)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars With the release of Aqualung the band had finally completed their transition from the blues based rock band to a mix between (hard) rock and folk rock. This album is also famous for being labeled as a concept album, ever since its release, to a discontent of Ian Anderson who claims that he never intended it to be as such. Whether this is really the case or not might be debatable, at least we can all agree that Aqualung was an important title in Jethro Tull's discography.

Personally I tend to divide the album into three sections where the first and last 10 minutes of the album consists of much edgier, almost hard rock, material while the middle section is mainly Prog Folk. Considering that there are already more than 120 written reviews of this album before mine, I'll skip the track-by-track description in favor of summarizing that the material here is top-notch making for a great album experience that, to me, is only overshadowed by the even greater achievement that the band showed with their next release. This doesn't really play in favor of this album since whenever I decide to listen to a Jethro Tull album my first choice always falls on Thick As A Brick meaning that Aqualung hasn't been played as much in my household. This is a phenomenon that most bands with only a handful of excellent recordings suffer from with me.

In conclusion I can only summarize that Aqualung is a great album by Jethro Tull and it's a real pity that there aren't many more where that came from. If you've only heard the title track and are unsure if you want to give this album a shot then I can assure that you are hesitating in vain. This is an essential album for fans of Prog Folk and an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

***** star songs: Aqualung (6:31) Cross-Eyed Mary (4:09) Locomotive Breath (4:25) Wind-Up (5:42)

**** star songs: Cheap Day Return (1:23) Mother Goose (3:52) Wond'ring Aloud (1:56) Up To Me (3:18) My God (7:10) Hymn 43 (3:18) Slipstream (1:13)

Report this review (#286756)
Posted Wednesday, June 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Prog-rock? Classic-rock? Does it matter? With "Aqualung, Jethro Tull does plenty to please fans of both, with driving, energetic rock tunes intermixed with thoughtful and ambitious compositions.

The title track opens with an irresistable and legendary guitar riff, starting off one of the all-time great classic rock FM standards. A great guitar solo, chorus, intriguing lyrics, and dynamics all make this the winning track on the album, but things are almost as good in the follow up "Cross Eyed Mary", which features some great flute by Anderson. The middle of the album shifts gears considerably, giving us a series of folksy ballads highlighting the groups acoustic playing and sensativity. Anderson's vocals on these tracks are great, as is the organic feel to the performances and songwriting. The prog returns with the organ and mellotron heavy "My God"-- also featuring excellent flute solos. The closing tracks, the jamming "Locomotive Breath" and passionate "Wind-Up", are a winning pair, putting a nice close on an enjoyable album.

My only complaint is that the material book-ended by the excellent start and close of Aqualung feel very rushed, almost to the point of being incomplete. While overall these songs are quite good, they are practically a teaser to what the band is really capable of.

While not ambitious or powerful enough to warrant 5-star status in my book, Aqualung's style does a lot to charm the listener into a wide range of moods, and definitely earns its place in any rock lover's library.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#289779)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hard to dispute all of the 4 and 5 star ratings for AQUALUNG. It is a great album-rock or prog. I'm sure, like myself, it was many people's introduction to the wonderful world of Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull. Best moments: "Aqualung", "Cross Eyed Mary", "Up to Me", "My God", "Locomotive Breath", "Wind Up". Low points: None. This album is a seamless flow of great tracks with biting social commentary, great musicianship, and still holds up well after all these years. Not as progressive as THICK AS A BRICK or PASSION PLAY, but it still deserves it's rating standing. 5 stars!
Report this review (#296177)
Posted Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is probably Jethro Tull's most popular album for there is a lot of hits in it. I'd say it's my favorite altough it is a great record. In it there's incredible tracks like My God and Locomotive Breath wich are classics along with Aqualung, Hymn 43, Crossed Eyed Mary, etc. In fact, there's no real filling song in the album since they're all good. It's really a solid album by Jethro Tull and it is well composed for a pre-Thick as A Brick album. It's full of cool aggressive flute solos from master Ian Anderson and it's lyracally impeccable.

A solid record from Jethro Tull even though it was only the dawn of their best era.

Report this review (#301548)
Posted Saturday, October 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album has some of my favourite songs, but it also can be quite boring. Here there are very strong themes like Aqualung and Locomotive Breath, but there also are some songs that can be boring as hell.

The first song," aqualung", is for me the best song of the group, it's near perfection with a really good guitar solo, one of the bests. Cross Eyed Marry has a very good introduction with Ian Anderson in the flute, but the rest of the song is always the same. With the following songs I never pay many atention because I don't like them very much, they all are very folksy and they bore me, however, they also can be interesting. I love "my good", well, I love the riff of "my good", there are very good contrast changes, but I always found that the flute part has not sense. "Hym 43" i find it a quite boring theme, it doesn't say many things to me, the same of Slipstream. "Locomotive Breath" it's the song that introduced me to Jethro Tull and I liked very much, the Piano Introduction is perfect and it makes that song speciall, the rest of the song its good to, but the strong part of that theme is the introduction. "Wind-up" it's other of my favourite tracks of the album, very complete with a very beautifull melody in the acoustic part, wich I love, and a very good rocking part, the combination of booth makes a very good song.

Aqualung it's a album with very good themes but, with an other couple of themes that need to be improved, this would be a perfect album if there were no some of the themes that seems to be only for filling the empty space.

Report this review (#301889)
Posted Sunday, October 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As a teen I got to know Jethro Tull through the album-oriented FM radio station broadcasting in Detroit, WABX. I loved the songs, "Aqualung" and "Locomotive Breath"--both of which received a lot of airplay on ABX, but found myself disappointed a few years later when I added the album to my record collection. I listened to the album a lot--each side anchored by one of the stellar songs mentioned above. Not a single other song ever registered with me; no other song remains memorable to me. As I listen to them now I remember them but I understand why I've not gone back to them. Just not my cup of tea. Vibrant. Rock and Bluesy with Ian ANDERSON's wonderful signature vocals, poetic lyrics, and dynamic flute play. But I find nothing else very praiseworthy about these other songs or their musicians. 3.5 stars rated up for the two masterpieces.
Report this review (#330949)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great classic album. Like Ian Anderson said, this isn't a concept album (like the follow up was) but just a bunch of songs. What an excellent bunch of songs though! Overall, it's much more engaging than Benefit and although the songwriting is just as good, the music has a different feel to it. Aqualung is much fresher, more inspiring and heartsome.

The beginning tells the story of the character "Aqualung". It's an unforgettable JT song as is "Cross-Eyed Mary", kicking off the album on a strong note. There are many primarily acoustic tracks like "Cheap Day Return", "Wand'ring Aloud", "Slipstream" which are short and sweet and act as "bridges" between the main songs.

Some personal favourites include "Mother Goose" (actually one of my all time favourite Jethro Tull songs), "My God" and the adrenaline releasing "Locomotive Breath", with their great folky melodies and arrangements.

Aqualung would be a very enjoyable and memorable eddition to your collection. 4 shining stars.

Report this review (#335310)
Posted Friday, November 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Full article first published on

Critics have often tried to pigeonhole the album Aqualung into one of several categories: concept album, progressive rock, folk rock, hard rock, et cetera, ad nauseam. In fact, the repeated critical mantra of 'concept album' so annoyed Tull front man, Ian Anderson, that he vigorously denied the label: "I always said at the time that this is not a concept album; this is just an album of varied songs of varied instrumentation and intensity in which three or four are the kind of keynote pieces for the album but it doesn't make it a concept album."

Finally, in exasperation, Anderson and Tull made a fateful decision, "Well, if they thought Aqualung was a concept album, O-O-K, we'll show you a concept album." And thus was born the monster of all concepts, the 42 minute-long single song epic "Thick as a Brick."

But the brilliance of Aqualung is that it transcended what was termed 'hard rock' back in 1971, and offered a refreshing synthesis of several styles and moods. Rather than the droning four-chord assaults of such bands as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, Jethro Tull presented virtuosity, variation and volume in Aqualung, making it one of the greatest examples of 1970's rock, and Tull remains one of the few bands to create albums on their own terms, rather than the profligate whims of record corporations. Conformity was never one of Ian Anderson's strong suits, which is why you won't be seeing Tull in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame anytime soon, but you will see the Bee Gees (and ABBA, for pity's sake!).

The lyrics are dryly witty and sarcastic at times, particularly regarding Christian hypocrisy (like in "My God", "Hymn 43" and "Wind Up"), whimsical ("Mother Goose"), reflective ("Wond'ring Aloud"), or vulgar ("Cross-eyed Mary"), but the overall effect is a seamless travelogue of England itself, a journey that includes both the pastoral landscapes of Hampstead and the gritty streets of London or Birmingham. We hobnob with whores, pedophiles, losers, and bums, as well as schoolboys, nurses, and bishops at tea.

The title song "Aqualung" is a microcosmic mini-epic of the album itself, containing bits and pieces of the album's philosophy and irreverence (the lyric "snot is running down his nose" made all school boys snicker with glee in '71 -- there weren't really many references to 'snot' on an album prior to this), and it is still played daily on every classic rock station 'round the world, just like "Stairway to Heaven" and the "Bohemian Rhapsody".

The poetic allusiveness of the lyrics is exceptionally strong and evokes England to its very core ("feeling alone, the army's up the road, salvation a la mode, and a cup of tea"), while reminding us that the death of the homeless beggar, who snatches his last rattling breath with "deep-sea diver sounds", is the reason the album is called Aqualung in the first place (an 'aqualung' is a breathing apparatus used by deep-sea divers, consisting of a mouthpiece attached to air cylinders, causing the distinctive echoed gasping sounds as oxygen is breathed in).

The flute, that rock music novelty which has become indelibly identified with Tull, is not necessarily the focal point of this album; on the contrary, the album's greatest hit, the song "Aqualung", contains not a hint of flute. Of course, Ian Anderson's manic attacks on the instrument are pronounced and plentiful on "Locomotive Breath", "Up to Me" and "My God", where the flute becomes a weapon and not some effeminate, whimpering thing. Indeed, the flute is a heavy metal instrument both literally and figuratively.

But it is Anderson's interludes on acoustic guitar that really sets this album apart from the run-of-the-mill 70's stock rock offerings. The acoustic guitar work on songs such as "Aqualung", "Mother Goose", "Slipstream", "My God" and "Cheap Day Return" is integral to the overall effect of the album, sometimes subtle and nuanced, and at other times biting and inflected. Anderson's acoustic guitar, used in tandem with Martin Barre's restrained but precise and powerful electric leads, gives the character sketches that fill the album their moods, whether introspective or indignant, angry or amused.

When Aqualung rocks, it really rocks, but it also presents other tonal dimensions that make it a unique and exceptionally strong album. I give Aqualung a five star rating as an essential album, particularly in context with the music of its era.

Report this review (#391930)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review #6 Jethro Tull's1971 album Aqualung.

I am quite surprised that at the time of writing, Aqualung has only been rated by approximately 600 people on PA. I thought everyone in the world had a copy of Aqualung!

I will not go on and on about this album, other than to say that this is the one that made Tull BIG. Boy even "Ron Burgundy" immortalizes Anderson and Aqualung in "Anchorman"!

Aqualung is ground breaking by it's ecleticism. Heavy metalish, abrasive, uncooth, controversial in one instance; soft, reflective, acoustic in another and that happened not only between songs but also within songs as well. Long songs, (very) short songs. Commercial, radio-friendly songs (Aqualung, Locomotive Breath, Cross-Eyed Mary) and non commercial pieces (My God, Slipstream, Up To Me, Cheap Day Return, Wond'ring Aloud) for that matter. Anderson hit pay dirt big time.

Lambasted by some religious groups, Aqualung holds up today and must be recognized as one of the truly remarkable albums of progressive rock's golden era.

Report this review (#393140)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Sitting on a park bench eyeing little girls with bad intent.Snot is running down his nose greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes. Hey Aqualung! "

This was my second foray into Jethro Tull, after the magnificent masterpiece "Thick Is A Brick. " I must admit I was a little disappointed, but this is still a good album, mainly because of its title track, which is fantastic.

Legend has it that, while Jethro Tull recorded a song in the studio, Zeppelin was recording in the studio at this lado.Barre Martin commented:

"The only thing I remember about cutting the ground is that Led Zeppelin was recording next door, and as I was playing Jimmy Page entered the control room and waved at me. As I do not I stop playing I do not know, but I moved on in some way. "

If this is true or not,not matter.The fact is that this song is arguably fantastic.The rest of the album is less interesting (although the second song, "Cross-eyed Mary", has quality), but good to hear.

Although Ian Anderson refute this idea, I might consider this album as semi-conceitual, since each song on side A case of a character on the B side específico.enquanto that the songs are, in the words of Anderson, "pro-God but anti-church. "

3.5 stars.

Report this review (#393486)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Tull's best selling album, going to #4 in the UK and #7 in the US. The last album with drummer Clive Bunker and the first with bassist Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and keyboardist John Evan. Dave (later Dee) Palmer does the orchestrations here as he (later she) would do on other Tull albums before joining as a keyboardist in 1976. The orchestra parts are most noticeable on "Slipstream".

The title track is now a classic and features a fantastic riff. I like the effect on the vocals during the acoustic section. Nice contrast between the hard rock and the more folky and jazzy middle section. Great guitar solo from Martin Barre. "Cross-Eyed Mary" is my favourite Tull song. Some Mellotron here. Great instrumental build up at the beginning. Always loved how the flute solo gets followed by a short guitar solo. Great ending. "Mother Goose" is a good folky song. Nice subtle use of electric guitar over halfway. "Up To Me" is a good folky blues-rocker.

Aqualung was not a concept album. It being labeled such lead Ian Anderson to come up with TAAB. But the original side two seems to be about religion, specifically criticism of religion. After an opening section with acoustic guitar, piano and vocals, "My God" has later the full band coming in a slow-paced hard rock vein. Flute solo in the middle with some choir-like vocals. "Hymn 43" is a good early 1970s style rock song. Not very proggy though.

"Locomotive Breath" is another highlight and after the title track, is the most well known song from the album. Great opening with piano. Love what the bass is doing during the main part of the song; it's mixed in a way that makes it stand out for some reason. "Wind Up" starts out folky and poppy but then turns into a rocker. Goes back to the folk-pop part at the end.

This is a great classic rock album from the 1970s, but Tull made at least three more proggy albums. It would be hard to imagine that the group who made this album would come up with Thick As A Brick next. Aqualung was recorded at the same studios where Led Zeppelin did their popular fourth album. For whatever reason, Tull couldn't make this sound as good. One of the biggest problems with this album is the sound which could have been a lot better. Not extremely proggy but extremely good. I give this 3.5 rounded it up to 4 stars.

Report this review (#417106)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I was a little child, this cover frightened me as I alluded it to the bogeyman. The first chords almost confirm my initial toughs. But then, the heavy riffs, both guitar and piano, fade away and an acoustic guitar appears with a distant nasal voice weeping hopes for the spring.

The title track is the signature of the sound for this classic prog group, especially on the production level. The sounds here are so cerebral, heavy and soft, clever and catchy, harmonious and visceral. Easily this tune brings you back some point in the distant time among medieval sounds and epic psychedelic electric guitar riffs. An incredible portrait for a homeless, or better said every homeless.

"Cross-Eyed Mary" remains the energy and style from what "Aqualung" has already traced, but of course with the incursion of thus mythical flute. The instrumental intro growths and explodes into Anderson's gritty vocal cords. Hard rock at its finest.

"Cheap Day Return" makes a pause for serenity in this musical bridge into a farer past trough "Mother Goose". Almost purely acoustic, like any other Elizabethan troubadour, the young narrator describes a circus day in a cold sunny english day. Another soft acoustic bridge with "Wond'ring aloud". An intimate ballad before enter the modern times in the "Up to me"; cocking tale of an immature working class man, who cynical describes all kind of misfortunes that closures the first side of the LP and the first part of the album. An innuendo of social criticism.

Then after a short pause, that already acid acoustic guitar opens the way for "My God", this album epic accusation of tyranny and hypocrisy of religion. Coming as an angry voice from medieval times, discharges all their strength in the instruments, singing hopeless choirs inside an empty forgotten church. Once again the production helps this piece to become marvelous. Jazzy riffs bring back to present days among the electric guitar fierce still echoing the dying choirs. "Hymn 43" keeps rocking ironically against the church within blues and jazz streams.

Another acoustic bridge with "Slipstream" sliding into the gloomy sober then powerful track, the dynamic "Locomotive Breath", still playing within it blues-jazz influences and with the hard rock as well.

Then again, the echoing distant voice from the title track spokes laments accompanied by a soft piano and acoustic guitar in "Wind Up". Soon other instruments join to the piece, volume up and triggering a raging wave of irony, rocking that gritty voice demanding to a lending ear out there. The most known and crucial album form Jethro Tull, since here there's an after and before 'Aqualung' in the band's discography. If you haven't listened to this one, what are you waiting for?

Report this review (#432975)
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Along the road leading to prog, an old man is sitting on a park bench and watching girls. Nasty old pervert!

The most famous album of the band and, in my opinion, after "Stand Up" probably the best. By some considered the first progressive album of Tull, is in fact a transitional album on the way which brought the band to "Thick As A Brick". This is not a concept album, as explained by Ian Anderson, but only some vaguely related songs. The main change is the permanent entry of John Evan in the lineup. Moreover, more attention to the production and sound engineering, much refined, compared to the previous "Benefit". Howewer, the most sophisticated style is not always a good thing: the strings in Slipstream and Wond'ring Aloud are, without doubt, unnecessary.

The beginning of the album is beautiful, with four great songs. Aqualung, an absolute Tull classic, is the beautiful opening track. The guitar riff that opens the song is stunning, and the acoustic section, filtered with the voice of Anderson, legendary. The flute is absent. By contrary the second track Cross-Eyed Mary, immediately starts with the flute and goes on in a way at times closer to hard rock. Cheap Day Return and Mother Goose are mainly acoustic tracks, two little masterpieces, very enjoyable even on first listening.

Other notable tracks are My God, a song of complaint about the evils of organized religion, with a splendid central part where Anderson plays a furious flute solo, Hymn 43 conventional piece of rock with a great guitar riff, Locomotive Breath (another classic always performed in concert) and the final song, Wind Up.

Not bad but not great too, the divertissement Up To Me. The brief Slipstream and Wond'ring Aloud are, unfortunately, ruined by the strings of David Palmer, but do not affect the final quality of the record.

You've never heard an album by Jethro Tull and want advice on which album to listen first? Then, "Aqualung" is probably for you. It is the most classic work of the band and one of the more interesting. It is also very enjoyable, absolutely not challenging and therefore easy to assimilate even at the first listen. Precisely for this reason the only risk is feeling a bit tired after few plays, however, remains an essential album for fans and definitely recommended to all. Final Rating: 8 / 10.

4 stars.

Best song: Aqualung

Report this review (#439994)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although I can't quite give it the five-star endorsement most of the other reviewers and raters have - there's just a few too many super-brief acoustic filler tracks, and the album slumps a little in the middle. But then again, that slump is from "excellent" to merely "good". Not, in any way, a concept album - the character sketches of the first side aren't really linked to the theological musings of the second, and both sides have several songs that don't fit those themes even slightly - but still a big step forward for Tull, with John Evan joining as a full member (and his keys play a major role in firming up the band's new sound). Not the band's absolute masterpiece, but a very strong beginning to their fully-prog era.
Report this review (#476985)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars It´s not easy to write a review on such legendary album. The fact that hundreds of other people here in PA have left their remarks about the album already doesn´t help much either. However, before anyone start to ask if I do even know this CD I decided I should give my impressions about it. Aqualung is probably Jethro Tull´s most famous and iconic album. It made a huge impact in the 70´s and it was a international success, including Brazil, my country. it was the first ever JT LP I ever heard and probably the first I saw too (at school when I was 15, I believe). However, after all these years and having recently purchased the 25th anniversary edition, I can´t say it is JT´s best. I give this honour to Thick As A Brick. However, it still an outstanding work. And a must have for any prog lover.

The strength of this CD is based primarely on three tracks: the title track, Cross-eyed Mary and Locomotive Breath. Those three are classic, first rate prog songs that should be the envy of any songwriter. No need to comment about such well known works. They are simply perfect, breathtaking tunes and I just can´t get enough of those. More than three decades later and I still hear them with much pleasure. However, the remaining stuff on the album is hardly in the same level. Mother Goose is a nice acoustic piece with funny lyrics and My God has some interesting musical experiments that are a bit unsual for the JT style of the time. It´s quite progressive, but not necessarily good or too pleasant. The anti-christian lyrics sound a bit forced and naive by today´s standards. The music is not really that good to make us forget the words to appreciate them just for the melodies. But they are not bad either. It was the first labum to feature John Evan as a permantent member and he does add a lot of textures with his excellent keyboard playing.

The recording production was not the best and even Ian Anderson admits that. The 1998 remastered did very little improvement as far as I can say. It was a major disappointment, considering some outstanding remastering work I´ve seen lately. The bonus tracks are several, but don´t really add much. Lick Your Fingers Clean is the only song that is really new to me, while the quad version of Wind Up doesn´t differ much from the original one. There is a 13 minute interview with Ian Anderson from 1996 commenting about the album (oddly enough, maybe the most interesting bonus feature here). The three last bonus tracks are from a 1998 BBC session (Song For Jeffrey, Fat Man and Bourneé) and those are only for hardcore fans.

Rating: 4 stars. Maybe 4,5 for its historical importance.

Report this review (#477511)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Even if you're a progfan there will always be bands or subgenres you more or less automatically stay away from because it somehow isn't your thing. And for me that's the case with (amongst others) Jethro Tull. I mean, I don't hate or even dislike this band, but there are just a couple of songs I really can get into in their entire discography and one of them is actually on this classic album.

And then we're talking about Locomotive Breath, the only track from Aqualung that really gets me going. To me just two other songs from this release are pretty much worthwhile and those are the title track (evergreen) and My God (flute !). But the other eight make me wonder why this album is one of the most popular prog albums ever. Not for my taste for sure. The eight shorter songs are at best nice but even that is hard to acknowledge for me to be honest. It will have something to do with Anderson's voice probably, a real love or hate kind of voice I feel.

And if the three longer (and better) songs wouldn't have been on this album I probably would have gone for just two stars. But the mentioned three give the album at least some status. And so I can bring myself to giving three but it's the best I can do. Maybe some day someone can explain to me why this album is supposed to be so great despite 8 weakish songs.

Report this review (#481220)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Just amazing. Surpassing even the brilliant 'Benefit' (which, nevertheless, still remains my favourite Jethro Tull album), 'Aqualung' is like a great book; it keeps you glued to your seat from start to finish, allowing you to catch your breath with some of its acoustic numbers, before bombarding with the heaviest sounds the band had produced to that point. Martin Barre shines here and the band is tighter than ever, with Ian Anderson's snarling 'angry young man' vocal performance, which I find very charming. The production suffers a little, but it's a negligible problem (which could be sorted out in the upcoming re-release).

This album leaves just an incredible impression, with both its music, lyrics and the overall sound of the Jethro Tull chamber ensemble. I recommend it to every music fan.

Report this review (#542043)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the cornerstones of Jethro Tull's discography and long life as a band. This album is an icon and worshipped by many.

The music on this album is a mix of hard edged folk rock and prog rock. The style Jethro Tull made their own. This album is the blueprint for this style.

This album takes no prisoners from the opening riffs of the title track to the final chords of the final track. The best two songs are the title track, Wind-Up and Cross Eyed Mary in my estimations. The rest of the album is also great. What I feel is missing here is the real dot over the i of a track as the follow up Thick As A Brick has. But by all standards; this is an album everyone need to own. Mostly due to the mythical reputation it has got. Enough said.

4.5 stars

Report this review (#574025)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review of "Aqualung" 40th Anniversary Box Set

There are two albums that defined the Jethro Tull legacy, Aqualung and Thick As A Brick. There were claims that Aqualung was a concept album to which Ian Anderson said poppycock! The album revolved around social issues that are still prevalent today. Ian and the band challenged the beliefs of church and state and even God! Oh my! Well none of that ever scared us away now did it? Why did so many people insist it was a concept album, perhaps because it sounded more prog? The music stood on its own thank you very much and it did not need any fabricated labels to make it all legitimate. Anderson has never been happy with the recording quality and finally after all these years we get to hear Aqualung in all its sonic glory as it was originally envisioned.

There are more choices for listening experiences in this set than you could possibly imagine. The Aqualung 40th Anniversary Box Set includes the following: 1 180gm Vinyl LP, 2 CDs, 1 DVD, 1 Blu-ray disc, a album sized 48 page hardback book that includes details of the albums recording sessions, engineering perspectives and stories from all the band members, lyrics of every song including some of the alternative versions and rare archive pictures. All this comes housed in a quality hard cardboard case with new artwork. When you open the gatefold vinyl LP cover there are the 4 discs that fit into pockets that cleverly match with the bodies of the two characters portrayed. The ever popular Steven Wilson was enlisted by Ian Anderson to handle the knob turning and once again he has outdone himself making his services so well known that he probably could spend the rest of his life remastering prog rock classics and put his recording career into permanent retirement. We don't want to see that happen though as Wilson has produced plenty of brilliant music of his own over the years with Porcupine Tree and several other projects and most recently released an eclectic double solo album titled Grace For Drowning.

There are some striking changes to this legendary recording that everyone should hear now, especially if you are an Aqualung or prog rock fan. Some folks may think that all this attention to one release is overkill but I must say now that after taking in this entire experience presented here that I have a completely different viewpoint now of the recording. All the engaging stories behind the album are like having your own private window into a time machine and that is an added bonus.

A few of the tracks that benefited the most from the new versions are "Aqualung", "Cross- Eyed Mary" and "Wond'ring Aloud", which showed how diverse the band could be. Speaking of variety, "From Later" is a bonus track that may surprise many folks. It is a lighthearted instrumental jazz-rock fusion track that sounds as if it could have been playing on any progressive jazz radio station in the 70's or now as a matter of fact.

Evaluating this massive set was a work in progress for over a week. I found many things to take into consideration and plenty to rant and rave about. I ran into similar problems as I did with previous remasters (e.g. King Crimson reissues, Bowie-Station to Station box) such as the New Mix-DTS 96/24 5.1 Surround version not producing any sound. DTS never works on any remaster for me so the Quad version did not work either however the 96/24 LPCM and the New Mix Dolby Surround Sound 48/24 5.1 Surround Sound versions were superlative in many instances, as was a fantastic pristine version of the Quad Dolby 48/24 4.1 which yielded similar qualities but different results for the discerning ear. On the New Mix Dolby Surround Sound 48/24 5.1 Surround version I noticed a very obvious fluctuation with volume throughout some of the songs, from sharp exciting highs to a sudden drop out of the overall sound and in the same instance I could recognize the improvements when it was holding the EQ/VU properly. I also could not get the Blu-ray disc to work properly. I saw a forum dedicated to this release where one individual said similar things and I know there is no problem with my stereo system. I think you need a system that is top notch that is only a few years old (mine is 5.1 surround sound but several years old now) so perhaps this is why I have experienced repeating problems in certain formats. And finally, one omission that made no sense at all to me was the inclusion of any video footage. With everything that went into this beautiful set I find it very disappointing. In the end I guess it depends how discerning a listener you are and what you have come to expect with all the different versions that are offered. Since I already knew the DTS was going to be a problem it did not upset me and I was able to enjoy everything else immensely and recognized all of the fantastic improvements that Wilson was able to engineer throughout each specific version. The negatives did outweigh the positives.

I heard many things I had never heard before which is what this is all about. The new stereo mix is exceptional as well and with the 14 additional tracks it certainly is an attractive set to own. What I found interesting with the 5.1 surround sound versions of the bonus tracks was that they were perfect; I heard no volume fluctuations whatsoever. The LP version is astoundingly crisp and clear and quite a treat for the ears compared to the original version. This is nothing like the 5.1 surround sound with the added instruments and other elements popping up here and there to perk up your ears and senses, yet it is a vast improvement upon what was previously available in typical vinyl releases for overall sonics and crispness.

Largely this is a very impressive set in regards to sound, packaging and extras. This is for audiophiles, collectors, JT fans and above all music fans that are interested in the process of making an album and hearing from the cast of characters who had a hand in making it all come to life. I now have a deeper understanding and appreciation for Aqualung and one that I could have never had if it were not for this amazing and revealing set. Jethro Tull 1971: Ian Anderson (lead vocals, flute), Clive Bunker (drums), Martin Barre (guitar), John Evan (piano and organ) and Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (bass).

Key Tracks: Aqualung, Cross-Eyed Mary, Wond'ring Aloud

4.5 stars

Report this review (#576306)
Posted Sunday, November 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Aqualung" is the bridge between Jethro Tull's psychedelic rock/folk period and their progressive rock/folk period. This album is not yet progressive, although too artistic to call it hardrock or folkrock. I prefer the term artrock/folk like I also use for artists like David Bowie and Spooky Tooth which never became truly progressive but are prog-related.

The opening track "Aqualung" is a brilliant opener. The riffs are quiet memorable and the dynamic moves from hardrock to folkrock works out perfect. This song really sets the mood! The record is quiet dynamic with changes from hard-rock, art-rock to folkrock and accoustic folk. There is a nice balance between the more artistic parts and the straight ahead parts.

Ian Anderson's vocals seems to have somewhat more soul then on other records, although he never became my favourite vocalist. His flute capacities on this record are the best to date however and the guitar solo's are very effective.

This is one of the best Jethro Tull records and a good one to start with. For the more progressive side of JT one can better try out "Thick as a brick" or "A Passion Play".

Report this review (#896983)
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars ...and then there were Aqualung.

Maybe the most elementary quality of Aqualung is simply the lack of any weak track or weak part in the tracks. There is no blind spot. Probably the result of carefull production over music that the band members werent quite sure of its quality. Its funny how Aqualung is the most british heavy rock blended with acoustic as possible. Not even Led Zeppelin (of whom Jethro Tull were closely in music at the time than the actual Progressive Rock groups) managed that. All Jethro Tull pre-TAAB elements are present: everything that made Ian Anderson be Ian Anderson; the power house of Clive Bunker; ecletic Martin Barre; and the lovely and surprisingly never-in-the-wrong-manner keyboards of Jon Evans inbricated between and given rythm to Anderson poetry.

The funny about Aqualung is that there were a message, something that Anderson were trying to say - what did not made a concept album, obviously. The back cover is a must read to everyone who wants to understand the album, as he joins the two main themes (God/Religion and Aqualung/the lower classes) in biblical and english manners.

We still have in the background to analyse the album the striking success and sales that Aqualung managed, the absurdly timeless of its music, capable of winning every audience, no matter what music preference or simply anything.

Thats how legends are made.

Report this review (#897359)
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Aqualung is an album that rests in the record stacks, iPods, and hard-drives of countless fans of rock music, prog or otherwise. Its accessibility makes it easy to appreciate for the casual listener while the uniqueness that set it so far apart from the majority of its contemporaries secured this album a solid place in the vast and varied history of 70s rock. Without this album, it's highly unlikely that Jethro Tull would be as big as they are today or have the ability to take on the daring projects that followed this one. So why only 3 stars? Because while the album itself may have been innovative at the time, the music itself isn't all that interesting by prog standards. When I'm listening to an album, I want it to reach out and grab me, pull my emotions in a wide range of directions, challenge my listening abilities, and surprise me with something new and substantial with each new listen. This album does none of those things for me. Unique as it may have been at the time, that doesn't warrant masterpiece material in my book.

Rather than pick apart each track and assess its merits like I try to do for other reviews, I'd prefer just to stick to the basic assessment of the album as a whole in regards to why this is non-essential listening. It's strung together well enough, featuring tracks of very modest lengths connected in some cases by shorter selections. I resist using the phrase "filler material" for two reasons: one because the phrase itself implies the tracks weren't written with any artistic intent behind them, which I don't believe is the case as the melodies and instrumentation are actually quite pleasant; the other because I actually prefer some of these moments to passages, if not the entirety, of the longer songs, to be perfectly honest. The songs themselves also do not age well in my opinion, based on my listening preferences as stated above. After only a few listens, I felt like I had everything this album has to offer figured out, and that feeling has not subsided after the countless additional listens I open-mindedly undertook after that initial unsatisfactory realization. I'm not saying the tracks are inherently bad at all. I just don't care if I never hear them again. Performance- wise, I wasn't all too keen on Ian Anderson's singing style either. I understand it fits the folky atmosphere cultivated by the album, but it didn't appeal to me and only grated on my nerves more and more with repeated listens. The instrumental work was good, but not particularly exciting. You could tell they were talented musicians in their own right, but their inability to capitalize on that as they would do in future albums seemed to hamper the final product. And if you want to make the "less is more" argument or say "that was done to make the lyrics and vocal part stand out", you'll have a hard time convincing me to change my mind as there didn't seem to be a lot of substance in their songwriting and I wasn't reached even remotely by what he was saying. Again, personal preference wins out, and I prefer listening to works that communicate more depth and substance than this album did.

Do I fault people for thinking this is a masterpiece? Absolutely not. You're entitled to think of it whatever you like. I realize according to the sheer number of 5 star ratings this album has garnered that I'm in the minority of people who don't particularly care for it. The whole rating system is one built of subjectivity and personal preference, and that should be kept in mind at all times whether one agrees or disagrees with a review. I won't rate this album any lower because I don't believe it warrants the status of an album that should only be bought by collectors, fans, or completionists exclusively. There's nothing glaringly wrong with it, and calling it a failure would be a gross exaggeration. But I'm happy to say I'm being totally honest with my feelings by saying it's non-essential. I don't believe in giving a higher rating to a mediocre release just because of how unique or culturally significant it seemed to an audience at the time of its release. No album deserves to be put on a pedestal above its qualitative merits based on the actual listening experience and lasting musical impact, and this one is certainly no exception. 3 stars for an over-hyped, mediocre release that would be vastly eclipsed by the following two releases on a musical scale, even if they don't quite have the popularity to match this album within the rock community as a whole.

Report this review (#903909)
Posted Friday, February 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album starts out with one of the most recognisable tracks in rock - the brilliant "Aqualung" - ode to a "soul of the road", a hobo. This track is one of the all time greats as far as I'm concerned and with it Jethro Tull finally established themselves as an act with great importance to the music world. "Cross eyed Mary" carries the album forward - an ode to a prostitute with reference as well to the previous track's Aqualung character. A very good Tull rocker. The short "Cheap Day Return" follows and is an enjoyable short acoustic track. "Mother Goose" is a good folksy acoustic track. "Wond'ring Aloud" - another short folksy interlude. "Up to Me" is a pleasant folk rocker. "My God" - an attack on organised religion is one of the stand out tracks on the album with it's strong flute work blending into a contrast of music moods with a sarcastic, angry tone to the entire track. "Hymn 43" is again an attack on religion, or rather those who use religion for personal gain. "Slipstream" is a short emotive acoustic track that I really like. "Locomotive Breath" - what could I possibly say about this one? An all time rock anthem that is instantly recognisable. Essentially it is about a life spiralling downward - alcoholism? "Wind Up" - an attack on those who bend and shape religion and life to suit their own needs. This is a very good, important album that speaks with a social concience. This album, for me, is what made me a Tull fan in no uncertain terms and it is a must have album to all who enjoy rock music. Way better, to my ears, than the previous "Benefit" album which I have never been able to get a handle on. A solid five stars from me for what it is and what it represents although it is not the pinnacle of Tull's work in my opinion.
Report this review (#942347)
Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Jethro Tull's "zenith" for me - easily beats TAAB. Some great themes appear and reappear on here (notably tramps and religion :P). Every track is an absolute masterclass in prog folk, and there's such a distinct sound on here.

Starting off with "Aqualung", I was initially disappointed, but soon I got very much into it. The main, opening riff is really quite clever with an almost baroque vibe running through. Ian Anderson's harsh folky vocals fit it quite well, but I'm unsure with the line "feeling like a dead duck". Not too imaginative, but anyway. Great chord progressions, and that signature Anderson resolve of the A major to A minor sounds so brilliant.

"Cross-Eyed Mary" contains some of my favourite flute playing on the album in the intro, and captivates you quickly. Lovely airy trills bursting out, with a nice little chromatic descent and quiet piano to add flavour. The guitars were perhaps a little too distorted, and while on this, the production of the whole album is really a bit sketchy. Considering they had the better studio when Led Zeppelin recorded their untitled masterpiece, it goes to show how much better it could have sounded. Perhaps too much pressure on the record company to release their follow-up from "Benefit", or just spent too much time on the songs? Anyway, great lyrics (especially on the chorus) and a nice atmosphere instrumentally (as with most of the album). Great continuation on the theme of "Aqualung" the tramp.

Coming onto "Cheap Day Return", I might as well talk about the other 2 folk interludes on the album "Wond'ring Aloud" and "Slipstream". Whilst all of them are great guitar tracks to play along to, they delay the album flow in some ways, and could in some cases be better off without them (especially "Cheap Day" into the following track...)

"Mother Goose" is one of my favourites on the album. With a capo on 5th, Anderson gets a great timbre out of the guitar, playing quite open chords that really resonate and complement those excellent flute harmonies. Great lyrics again, and quite complex rhythms on the chorus for a folk song, and some excellent little rolling percussion noises (bongos perhaps??) Very consistent and probably in my top 5 Tull songs. I'd be proud to write such a great little tune!

"Up To Me" has a great riff as the guitar and flutes play in synchronicity. Not so sure about the lyrics or the verses for that matter, but still very much like it. Also, the "odd voices" by Jeffrey Hammond always added something to the warmth of the atmosphere and the tramp theme for me. Overall, a great end to side 1 but lacks something at a time when the album could have done with bit of a kick...

Side 2 begins with my all-time favourite "My God". Everything on this is simply genius and outstanding, etc., etc. The lyrics, the chords, the vocals, the intro, the verses, the atmosphere, but most of all the brilliant songwriting and musicianship of Ian Anderson. This can be heard on the middle section, with that unbelivably talented flute solo which my parents hate with a burning passion for some reason! The track also brings you into the religion theme, mainly through the strong lyrical themes, but also that little choir in the middle section which adds a certain holy/pastoral (can't think of the word :L) texture.

"Hymn 43" also continues the godly thing, but perhaps drags it on too much, and the muted strokes after "Oh, Jesus save me!" also make me cringe a little. Just a bit embarrassing for such a capable guitarist as Martin Barre but I've grown to accept it. The chord progressions, however, are very interesting and do give it something else that keeps you into it. Unfortunately, that's about all it really has to offer. At least they kept it short though.

"Locomotive Breath": an obvious favourite among fans. The piano intro (and playing throughout the song) is really quite underrated; sets the scene brilliantly. I also quite like the story about the train not being able to stop - the music really fits it, as it chugs along at a brisk pace :P I could go on about it for ages but I best keep it short.

"Wind Up" isn't really the best way to end such an album. Plods along a bit - even though it goes through a more lively stage, feels a bit like a ballad with some pretty dull lyrics about his "old headmaster" and "grooming" which I find also a bit cringeworthy. Does have a good atmosphere, and all of the instruments are in place, but it just feels like they're playing the wrong song in a finishing mood. Maybe I just don't get it though. Chords again are quite interesting but I think they missed a few tricks, and could have been much more adventurous. Maybe it lacks a strong chord change? I don't know :P

A(+) - An all-time prog classic that you really must own to call yourself a prog rock fan. Despite a few grey areas, a timeless classic with 4 or 5 absolute killer songs!

Aqualung: ***** Cross-Eyed Mary: ***** Cheap Day Return: *** Mother Goose: ***** Wond'ring Aloud: **** Up To Me: **** My God: ***** Hymn 43: **** Slipstream: **** Locomotive Breath: ***** Wind Up: ****

Report this review (#984576)
Posted Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars After a lot of songs dedicated to him, Jeffrey finally joined the band.

Aqualung is my icon of nostalgia. I can clearly remember when I was a little boy, around 5, and I have found a lost cassette tape from my daddy's friend, with an awesome tracklist. I didn't understand the meaning of the lyrics, but I loved the Long John Silver's reference. I asked my parents, but they didn't knew the name of the band or the album, but they knew the lyrics from the first track (probably a hit). Years after, when I officialy discovered Aqualung, I went crazy. This album was my first contact with progressive rock, even without knowledge.

This was the best and most progressive Jethro Tull album since their debut. The title-track is actually three songs, changing according to the mood of Aqualung, the main character of the concept. The A Side deals with the poor people and society problems. The B Side is about the medieval church lies, the church which uses the name of god to earn money, and the church which really wants to get closer to God. Very provocative and intelligent stuff.

Aqualung is a great introduction to Jethro Tull's music as well to the progressive world.

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Posted Friday, June 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Jethro Tull wasn't a very big band before this album, but it allowed them to enter mainstream popularity and would later become their highest seller. Aqualung is a not-concept album, which pretentious critics love to say otherwise, full of folksy progressive rock released at a time were folk-influenced rock was very popular. A light and airy atmosphere conceals darker lyrics that mostly question faith, and the extensive flute playing is both enjoyable and impressive. The first half is more flute-focused and maintains an up-tempo, mythical mood, while the later tracks are mostly contains chugging guitar chords and heavier instrumentation, (in addition to insane flute sections), making a more rock-oriented sound. Ian Anderson's vocals are able to adapt to and enhance either atmosphere quite nicely.

A great progressive rock album full of equally great tracks like "Aqualung", "Cross Eyed Mary", "Up to Me", "My God", "Hymn 43", "Locomotive Breath", and "Wind-Up".

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Posted Monday, July 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10, as y'all know very well.

The maximum apex possible. They have grown older enough to make such a classic album that is still played on the radio. That's Aqualung.

Aqualung - 8/10

Absolutely eternal classic for the whole rock world.

Cross-Eyed Mary - 8/10

Just great, as expected.

Cheap Day Return - 6/10

Short acoustic one, the first of three, but they're all nice.

Mother Goose - 8/10

Acoustic-driven Tull.

Wond'ring Aloud - 6/10

Second short piece.

Up To Me - 8/10

A simple and cool one.

My God - 9/10

Complete Tull experience.

Hymn 43 - 8/10

And more Tull.

Slipstream - 6/10

Last short piece.

Locomotive Breath - 10/10

The best "normal" song by Tull (If you don't consider Thick As A Brick).

Wind-Up - 9/10

More fascinating numbers.

The grand Aqualung. The perfect "perfect" album. They reached the summit, and unfortunately started declining slowly...

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Posted Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.2 Stars. A crossed-eyed concept album.

I have to honest in saying that JT are far from being one of my favourite Prog bands. While they have released a few amazing albums over their career (TAAB and Songs from the Wood are the first to spring to mind) a lot of their stuff sounds like normal folk-rock with some imaginative lyrics and a very light sprinkling of Prog.

That is the main impression I get from Aqualung. Don't get me wrong, there are some lovely simple songs to be found here such as Wond'ring Aloud, Slipstream or Wind-Up. There is some Prog here as well such as the title track or My God (the best song on the album), but in comparison to the other Prog giants they are not as complex and nowhere near as atmospheric. I'm also not a fan of Ian Anderson's voice which I've always seen as limited in its range. So you can guess that JT will never be one of my favourite bands, but as a reviewer I have to give each of their albums a fair hearing.

Aqualung is basically 2 concept albums rolled into one. The first half is lyrically quite disjointed, but vaguely involves Aqualung the character and the gritty world he lives in. The second half is about fundamental problems with the modern Church as an organisation (not the religion itself). Personally I don't think these two different halves match and it adds an air of confusion around the whole album.

The album starts with "Aqualung" which is one of the more complex songs to be found here, unfortunately I still don't like it. The vocals are really rough and gritty and so is the song for the most part. To be fair the middle section is much better shows more of the beauty that can be obtained from this genre while still being able to rock out. I often skip the intro and outro of the song and focus on the centre.

"Cross-eyed Mary" starts with some nice flute-work and a promising build-up in drama. But then it turns into another ugly rock song. I'm sure this is all done on purpose as the song is about a ugly girl, but that doesn't make this any more pleasant to listen to. I think the heart of the problem stems from the fact that it doesn't rock hard enough to get my attention and the lack in folk-rock pleasantness also leaves me disappointed. Its also not very complex (except for the nice flute solos) so all that is left is a boring rock song with unpleasant singing and lyrics.

"Cheap Day Return", "Wond'ring Aloud" and "Slipstream" are all short folk tunes in essence. They are all very pleasant to listen to but sadly the moment I get into the songs they finish! Even Ian's voice is nice on these songs, as they all fit perfectly into his vocal range and he doesn't have to strain himself.

"Mother Goose" is one of my favourite songs on the albums as it contains all the things I like about JT. Their is a simple and catchy melody that links the whole song, but they keep on shaking it up to keep things interesting. Also the lyrics are hilarious and weird (in a good way!).

"Up to Me" is a flute driven rock song. While it shares similarities to the first two songs Ian does not strain himself as much and the flute adds a layer of extra depth to the song. Much better than Cross-eyed Mary!

"My God" is the best song on the album by a mile. It starts slowly, with more drama and rock being added over time. At the moment the song starts to become repetitive a cool electric guitar comes on which is followed by one of the best flute solos you will find in the Prog rock genre. Those several minutes alone are enough to justify buying this album!

"Hymn 43" goes back to the ugly rock song format, but at least the lyrics which makes fun of the double standards of the Church are amusing to listen to. Its also catchier then the other plain rock songs. "Locomotive Breath" is more of the same, except the lyrics are less interesting and the intro is quieter and quite long.

Finally there is "Wind Up" which is a folky and honest song about the problems in the Church. The song gains more energy and rock over time but the essence does not change. An all-round great song and a great closer.

So to conclude I have very mixed feelings about Aqualung. There are some classic songs to be found here, but there are also some boring and painful ones as well. So taking averages I have to give this 3 stars, no more and no less. A good album, but far from their best and its overrated in my opinion.

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Posted Sunday, September 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The legendary British Hard/Folk Rock band was formed in Luton in 1967, although its leader Ian Anderson (vocals, flute) originated from Blackpool.Guitarist Mick Abrahams, bassist Glenn Cornick and drummer Clive Bunker completed the original line-up, which was signed by Chrysallis.Abrahams left after the first album ''This was'' (1968), replaced by Martin Barre and this line-up recorded ''Stand up'' in 1969.Cornick was forced to exit Jethro Tull in 1970 after the release of the ''Benefit'' album due to his distant relationship with the rest of the members, Jeffrey Hammond enters the picture and keyboardist John Evan was promoted to a full-time member.Fourth album ''Aqualunq'' was recorded at Island Studios between December 70'-February 71' and was released in March, more or less a thematic work around faith and the relation between man and God.

Jethro Tull's musical roots can be found in a Heavy/Blues Rock style, which the band never actually abandoned, but through the sands of time they developed their own style combining Folk, Rock and Classical Music elements, leading to the first trully refined album of the group.''Aqualung'' stands for many as a classic of the Prog Rock genre, having a devastating power, performed through the hard guitar riffing, a nostalgic attitude due to the instant bluesy tunes, but also a strong progressive and British-styled content, characterized by Evan's interesting keyboard parts, Anderson's fiery solos and the addition of more complex themes in their music.More impressively the band did develop their new style in short but rich pieces without feeling to execute long or stretched compositions.The music on ''Aqualung'' contains balanced textures with laid-back passages, based on Anderson's poetic voice and the changing flute/acoustic guitar sections, and more emphatic moments with dense instrumental parts and a raw power, delivered via dynamic electric tunes, complicated tempo changes and in-your-face flute interventions.Still Evan is there to offer the appropriate elaborate touch with nice Hammond organ parts, pleasant piano lines and even some orchestral Mellotrons.As a result ''Aqualung'' starts its journey from the rural fields of UK, passes through the Blues Rock of the 60's and ends up in the upcoming wave of British Prog Rock, combining different levels of energy in a well-composed and nicely performed album.

Not a masterpiece in my opinion, but certainly an excellent album of energetic Prog Rock from the early-70's with great vocals and plenty of instrumental diversity.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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Posted Thursday, February 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ding-dong, Jethro Tull become a worldwide sensation with this one! A timeless masterpiece, let's review it track-by-track

Aqualung: The story of a grotesque beggar that became one of the most famous songs around the globe. Instant classic, nothing to say that hasn't been said already.

Cross-Eyed Mary: The rocker of the album that was even covered by Iron Maiden! The schoolgirl prostitute goes with old men like Aqualung because it makes them happy is a metaphor, serving probably as an anti-organized religion statement. Another classic song, not one of my personal favorites though.

Cheap Day Return: A short, bittersweet and beautiful song written by Ian as he was waiting for the train after visiting his father at the hospital.

Mother Goose: Another song about the street people, like Aqualung and Cross-Eyed Mary, this time more straightforward, you feel like meeting them one after another! Musically it's a fine folk tune, nice but not special.

Wond'ring Aloud: Fantastic. A sensitive song about a loving couple lining peacefully, enjoying the small joys of life. It's classical-inspired music suits the lyrics and Ian's singing perfectly, making it one of the most precious hidden treasures in their discography.

Up To Me: Our hero grows up and seems to enjoy that everything is up to him! More of a statement than an actual song, it's the most simplistic of the album with it's repetitive flute riff and monotonous singing. Catchy though!

My God: Wow! One of the best Jethro Tull songs ever. Deep lyrics about the twisted religious views that alternate the very essence of religion and God, accompanied by an abrupt rocking masterpiece including the very best flute solo I have ever heard in my life. Pure gold in every aspect.

Hymn 43: After the most serious and thoughtful way to criticize religion, here we have the playful and upbeat way. A mainstream rocker with an instantly classic riff, it might very well be the most underrated song of the album.

Slipstream: Probably written about his father's death and the way he deals with it, this song seems like the sequel to Cheap Day Return. At this point, it becomes clear why journalists and fans alike considered this album to be a concept at the time of it's release (outcasts - religion - life and death) only for Anderson to deny it and create an "actual" concept album later with Thick as a Brick.

Locomotive Breath: The second globally famous song of the album, a splendid tune about a guy who struggles to keep up with the frenzy pace of life in modern society, only to loose control, loose himself and everything he has, and seek religion as his last resort. By the way, best piano intro ever!

Wind-Up: Autobiographical (?) song with rich musical structure, once again distancing the hero's life from the norms of society (school and religion particularly) in search for self esteem and independence. Feels like 4 minutes at most while it's actually 6; that's how well it flows. Both musically and lyrically it sums up the whole album in a very impressive way!

RATING: You have to give it 5 stars! Philosophical, intriguing, rebellious at times, yet sensitive and romantic, with legendary music to uplift the lyrics and singing on a whole different level. I would dare to say that this album is part of the cultural heritage of the modern western civilization.

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Posted Friday, March 6, 2015 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars This iconic album of the early prog era reached a larger crossover audience than any other by JETHRO TULL thanks largely to the title track and "Locomotive Breath". which are also arguably the strongest. Among progressive fans, myself included, "Cross Eyed Mary" easily draws in with the others. From there, one's overall assessment of the album depends on one's opinion of the remaining long tracks and on how well the shorter pieces glue together the overall structure. Until recently, I would have fallen into the category of those who find few other highlights, but, having listened more to Aqualung the last month than in the previous 4 decades combined, my current assessment is that this is an excellent hard rock album marred by a few average pieces and acoustic bridges that detract more than they enhance.

The title cut and "Cross Eyed Mary" are both beyond flawless, featuring exemplary riffs that perfected those of unlikely peers like LED ZEPPELIN and even BLACK SABBATH, proving that prog could rock as hard as any genre, and could not only deliver socially relevant messages but tell stories at the same time. Curiously, TULL never really pursued this approach as wholeheartedly again. The title cut is similar in structure to the MOODY BLUES' "Question" which opened their 1970 album, but both its harder and softer passages are snappier. It seems to deliberately lay off the flute, which is then fully exploited in the brilliant opening to the equally alluring "Cross Eyed Mary", before it resumes the lyrical and musical themes of its predecessor.

From, here, the album is more hit and miss. The gentle and whimsical "Mother Goose", the sing along folk rock of "Up to Me", and the aforementioned infectious rocker "Locomotive Breath" are the major triumphs. "Oh God" and "Hymn 43" work together as did the two kickoff tracks on side one, but don't stand out very well on their own. In particular, while "Oh God" eventually includes a stellar riff and technically best flute and acoustic guitar, and is more experimental, it's also rather disjointed. "Wind Up" is a disappointing closer that continues the biting lyricism but is not musically worthy of a masterpiece, let alone its finale. It does marry the acoustic and electric again in one track.

To a first time listener following JETHRO TULL chronologically, it would be hard to predict where they would go from here, given the landmark shifts with every release. The classic rock mainstream has dubbed "Aqualung" the band's high water mark, and I think at least his once, those poor old sods got it right.

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Posted Sunday, August 23, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is 1971. Jethro Tull have just recruited a keyboardist, John Evans (who appeared as a special guest on their previous work). With a boom of creativity from the group's contemporaries, it was time to leave dry blues-based hard rock cliches behind and push the boundaries of their musical horizons. And so they certainly did. First, "Aqualung" greets us with outsanding cover art somewhat preluding moods to come on the album. What comes inside is a bliss. This piece of pure solid work still remains one of our favorite prog works after all these years. Although, I might not share the full-blown enthusiasm of many other prog reviewers and believe this relase does have its flaws, "Aqualung" undeniably deserves four stars. Not only for the music itself, but for its creativity and importance. Moods on this album is strongly influenced by English medieval and renaissance folk based on strong rhythm rooted in blues. Charles Dickens-like Englishness is another characteristic. Those are best visible on "Cross Eyed Mary", my favorite track. Amazing acoustic (and electric) guitar playing, virtuosic flute and great singing. These are probably the main atributes. I feel like the phenomenal keyboard skills of John Evans (which were to be revealed in following years, still not here) are not utilized enough. However, that is enough of my criticism. With this record, the band created a name for themselves as "the bards of progressive rock". All in all, saying that every prog fan needs this album is probably a brutal understatement, most of you highly likely have this album already. Anyway, enjoy the listen, get carried away to mysterious lands of Jethro Tull's music!
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Posted Friday, April 8, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars REVIEW #2 - "Aqualung" by Jethro Tull (1971)

Having been a vehemently blues rock band, Jethro Tull sought a new direction after recording of their 1970 album "Benefit", as bassist Glenn Cornick left the band - replaced by Jeffrey Hammond (subject of a few Tull songs) and John Evan joined the band on keyboards. Their next album would take them out of their comfort zone; ditching the upbeat and careless tones of folk in favor of the serious themes of prog. Band leader Ian Anderson spearheaded this lyrical approach, providing lyrical insights on issues from homelessness to the Church of England. The result is a transitional album that features infectious riffs and thought-provoking lyrics.

SIDE ONE: "Aqualung"

The album's title-track opener (5/5) is arguably the most famous song of Jethro Tull in general, and still receives radio airplay to this day on classic rock stations. Inspired by a photograph Anderson's wife took of a homeless man, it deals with a lonely old vagabond and his pedophilic tendencies. A strong track with a powerful message, it also features great guitar work by Martin Barre - especially the guitar solo, which is one of the best in prog. Following this impressive track is another piece of hard rock "Cross-Eyed Mary" (4/5), which is a slight continuation on the theme of the opener. Referencing "Aqualung" in passing (a move that spurred speculation that the album was a concept, which Anderson and Barre denied), a schoolgirl prostitute is now the protagonist. With abstract lyricism, the track can be childish lyrically, but is a great example of heavy classic rock, as the track has been covered by heavy metal bands Metallica and Iron Maiden among others. The rest of side one is a collection of lighter, acoustic pieces, beginning with the beautiful "Cheap Day Return" (5/5), a one-minute piece about Anderson visiting his sick father in the hospital. Save the similarly short and beautiful "Wond'ring Aloud" (5/5), the rest of the material on the first side is unfortunately mediocre, with "Mother Goose" (3/5) being average and "Up to Me" (2/5) being forgettable and a weak closing track. With the inclusion of unreleased material on the 40th Anniv. deluxe edition, it is odd that there was not stronger material on the final product, such as the longer edition of "Wond'ring Aloud" and "Lick Your Fingers Clean", which would eventually be drastically reworked and included on the album "War Child."

SIDE TWO: "My God" (A collection of songs critical of organized religion - very conceptual in nature.)

The first track of side two, "My God" (5/5) is equally as strong as the title track. With inflammatory lyrics critical of Christianity and very strong guitar work by Barre, this song is an instant classic. The serious lyrics of this track thrust the band onto a new plateau, out of the realm of blues rock and into prog. Followed by the hard rock staple "Hymn 43" (4/5), which would be the band's sole single off the album, the second side already reigns superior over the first - featuring a cohesive theme that borders on conceptual. A beautiful intercalary titled "Slipstream" (5/5) follows before leading up to another seminal work by the band, the behemoth "Locomotive Breath" (3/5), which, despite being regarded as a classic for the band, does not resonate with me very well. It strikes me as an average and even boring track, and I consider it over-rated as a result. Closing out the album is the track "Wind Up" (4/5) - the last great stab at organized religion on the album. Drifting between quiet and loud, this track also does well at capturing the listener due to Anderson's lyrical ability. It also is a fitting choice to end the album, as the ending lyrics are delivered powerfully and emotionally.

"Aqualung" walks the line between prog and blues rock. In some cases it is groggy (Aqualung, My God), and in some cases it can be more folk-based (Cheap Day Return, Mother Goose). There are even elements of contemporary classic rock (Cross-Eyed Mary, Hymn 43). The overall product is a very musically diverse album, consisting of both abstract lyricism and serious concepts that attract the intellectual prog fan. This album would shoot Jethro Tull into the mainstream and establish it as one of the seminal rock bands of the seventies. Its tendencies to behave like a concept album also drove the band to mockingly work on their next album, a parody of pretentious prog rock that would ironically become their most loved (at least on this site) album. A great step forward by the band, and one of the essential albums in the genre due to the title track alone, but it is barred from perfection by its weak ending to side one and a couple boring songs.

OVERALL: 4.1/5 (B-)

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Posted Thursday, October 27, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Iconic songs, quite annoying singing.

A lot has been said about this album. It has some amazing iconic tracks ("Aqualung", "Locomotive Breat"), and there is almost a semblance of concept album and social commentary here. I really like "Cross-Eyed Mary", "Wind Up", and "Wondering Aloud" too. But Ian Anderson's increasingly-rough singing style on this album can be annoying, and I rarely ever listen to this all the way through anymore. Thankfully he would change his singing style after this, helping make Thick as a Brick Tull's best album. I give Aqualung 8.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to the lower end of 4 PA stars.

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Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nş 111

'Aqualung' is the fourth studio album of Jethro Tull and was released in 1971. The album is divided into two distinct parts. The first part 'Aqualung' contains a series of themes with six characters, including individuals of questionable reputation and two autobiographical passages. The second part 'My God' contains a message that is generally described as 'pro-God but anti-church', and says that organized religion can actually restrict a person's relationship with his God, instead of improving it. The album had a kind of a split concept where the first side featured songs about poor people and social differences, while the second side was about the problems and evil of organized religion.

The band's lead singer and songwriter Ian Anderson was surprised by the critical reaction to 'Aqualung'. The critics said that 'Aqualung' was a conceptual album, a label he firmly rejected. He said that the album was just a collection of songs and nothing more than that. With their following studio album 'Thick As A Brick', the band set out to create a work that deliberately integrated around one concept, 'the mother of all conceptual albums', such as Anderson said once in an interview, in response to those who deliberately maintained that 'Aqualung' was a conceptual album.

'Aqualung' was recorded at the same time and in the same studio, in Island Studios in December 1970, with the fourth studio album of Led Zeppelin. While recording a section of the album's title song 'Aqualung', lead guitarist Martin Barre was moved to impress his counterpart, Jimmy Page and laid down a solo that was totally unorthodox for his style. The result is now an indelible part of Jethro Tull's legacy, as 'Aqualung' the song and 'Aqualung' the album, are among their most famous musical works, undoubtedly. This little example of Barre's guitar work is one of the things that, for better or for worse, make of 'Aqualung' one of the most unusual (top-notch) albums in all rock history.

'Aqualung' has eleven tracks. All tracks were written and composed by Ian Anderson, except the first track 'Aqualung' that was written and composed by Ian Anderson and Jennie Anderson, his first wife. The first track 'Aqualung', who gave its name to the album is without any doubt the best song on the album and is also, in my opinion, one of the best Jethro Tull's songs. It's a very well known song, heavy and dark, with acoustic elements. This is a perfect song to open this album. The second track 'Cross-Eyed Mary' is also one of the great songs on the album and makes a perfect sequence with the first song. This is a classic Jethro Tull's piece of music with a strong classic rock vein. The third track 'Cheap Day Return' is one of the shortest songs on the album. It's a very beautiful acoustic guitar song, one of the best I've heard. The fourth track 'Mother Goose' is another great song by the band. It's also another classic Jethro Tull's song and one of the best known. It's a nice acoustic folkie melodic oriented song. The fifth track 'Wond'ring Aloud' is the second short song of the album. Like the first, it's also a nice ballad, but this time with acoustic guitar and piano, and is very well orchestrated. The sixth track 'Up To Me' is a song with some interesting moments, but no more than that. Sincerely, besides being the last song of the 'Aqualung' part is also, in my opinion, the weakest song on that part. The seventh track 'My God' is also a great song with cynical and critical lyrics and with beautiful flute parts. Musically, is a song with some complexity and we can notice some more progressive elements than in the most of the albums. The eighth track 'Hymn 43' is a typical and good rock song with powerful riffs and with good combination of piano and flute. The ninth track 'Slipstream' is the third track on 'My God' and the last small song on the album. It's a nice acoustic ballad with a good orchestration. The tenth track 'Locomotive Breath' is another Jethro Tull's legendary track with great piano, guitar and flute works. It's my favourite song on the second part of the record and it's also with 'Aqualung', 'Cross-Eyed Mary' and 'My God', one of the best tracks on the album. The eleventh and last track 'Wind Up' is a great rocking and exciting song of the album. This is a very good way to finish this incredible cult album.

Conclusion: I have 'Aqualung' in my vinyl collection since the 70's. There are so many classic songs on this album like 'Aqualung', 'Locomotive Breath' and 'My God'. But songs like 'Cross-Eyed Mary', 'Mother Goose' and 'Hymn 43' are immediately recognized as well. It's really hard to believe that all this music comes from the singular mind of only a man, Anderson. This was Jethro Tull's first mega-hit album and the one that really broke them all over the world. Deservedly, it's now considered as one of the best prog albums of 1971. This is a very innovating album, filled with hard rock, folk and progressive rock influences all around. The contrast of songs is amazing and each track is very different. If you don't know this album yet, it will stick in your head for weeks. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite albums of all time. If you consider yourself a true classic rock fan, you must own this album. Or if you have any self-respect for your musical taste at all, buy this album. This is really a masterpiece, a must hear album for all progressive rock fans.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars UK band JETHRO TULL have been one of the household names in the music scene for almost 50 years. In fact, they became a household name due to this very album, "Aqualung", their fourth studio production and also an album that saw them depart from their previous albums quite a bit in style.

I do not know what got over the band when they made this album, as well as their next one (Thick as a Brick), but the mighty Tull would never again create albums of this particular stature. What is striking about "Aqualung" is that it sounds so authentic I guess. It is by far a flawless album, but it is the combination of elements that makes it work despite those flaws I guess.

Quite a few of the songs would be a bit lost without some key element or other. The addition of piano and strings to an acoustic folk piece for instance. The choice to cut some of the other acoustic interludes short also makes them stand out as something admirable rather than as mere fillers. The change in mood and atmosphere is perhaps the biggest detail of note here, especially on the almost perfect A side, wandering from the dark and despondent towards the light and whimsical. The manner in which this album place acoustic and hard rock based creations side by side with creations of a more distinct folk orientation another such detail. Up to and including some piano details with a sacral and perhaps even hymn-like touch at times, explored in the confines of an early hard rock context.

It is difficult to give a good description of this album really. The songs differ a bit more in style than one gets the initial impression of, as well as in approach. There is a folky vibe running through the album though, as well as a minor sacral undercurrent, but none of them are ever present. There's also some tasteful morsels of hard rock, concluding cut Wind Up comes across as a likely inspiration for many later hard rock and metal guitarists for instance.

Still, blues based hard rock, acoustic rock and folk-oriented rock are the main ingredients here I guess, explored in a rather eclectic manner and often with a sophisticated approach to either song structure or arrangements - or both - that makes this album a classic of progressive rock as well.

What makes this album tick is, for me at least, the vocals. Ian Anderson isn't a good singer, but you can get away with a lot if you have good voice control, and even more if you can add passion to your material. Which is the case here, throughout the album. Be it as a whimsical observer or a condemning preacher, Anderson have messages to tell and by Jove you are going to listen to them. About the use and misuse of people, power and God, but also about the sensual small joys of life. The highs of existence and the lows of existence. The messages, like the music, wander about quite a lot. But always with the voice of Anderson as a secure and interesting, dominating guide.

There aren't too many perfect albums around, but in my opinion "Aqualung" is, in sum, a production that comes pretty close to being just that. An eclectic production, ranging from simplistic folk of the singer/songwriter variety to hard rock of the kind that probably have had a bit to say in the development of NWoBHM, and quite a lot of blends of folk, acoustic rock and hard rock in between. But Anderson the preacher is the one on his pedestal invigorating everything, despite his qualities as a singer being a bit so-so, but where his sheer passion soars and brings the greater parts of the material to the same heights. One of the albums everyone with an interest in rock music needs to hear at least once.

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Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review # 85. Aqualung was Jethro Tull's 4rth studio album and most successful one by far. It is considered as a concept album, featuring a central theme of 'the distinction between religion and God'. Aqualung was a turning point in the band's career, that went on to become a major radio and touring act.

After the release of their first 2 albums (Stand Up & This Was) which seemed to be influenced mostly by the Blues, the band tried to change their sound with the release of Benefit in 1970; and with the release of Aqualung the transformation was completed.

Aqualung was the first album including John Evan as a full-time member, and also Jeffrey Hammond as the band's new bass player. It was also the last album including Clive Bunker on drums.

The painting on the cover was inspired from pictures of homeless people that were living around Thames, and were taken by Ian Anderson's wife. Aqualung, the main character, is one of those people, and on the first side of the album we listen to his story.

The music style is Rock (in Jethro Tull's point of view), which is "flirting" with Progressive Rock. Also, many influences from Blues and Folk can be found here.

It is Jethro Tull's best selling album with more than 7.000.000 copies sold worldwide. In the years to come it would inspire many artists and bands, such as Iron Maiden for example, who recorded a cover version of Cross-Eyed Mary in 1993 and released it as a B-side on the single Trooper.

Upon its release, it received very good critics, climbed at the charts both in USA and UK, but failed to reach the top. (Best chart position was No .4 in UK). The first single that came out from this album was Hymn 43, but failed to reach to the high positions of the charts. With the passing years two songs that became the trademarks of Jethro Tull, were included in this album: Aqualung and Locomotive Breath.

Aqualung was re-released on 2011 at the album's 40th anniversary. This release contains a new stereo and a surround 5.1 mix, made by Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree. Speaking for myself, I bought the vinyl edition when I was still a teenager, later on I bought it on Cd and then the special edition (again on cd) followed. Definitely a 'must have' for any Rock music collection. 5.0 Stars

Report this review (#1917918)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2018 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#1954363)
Posted Friday, August 3, 2018 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars Jethro Tull's 4th album was, at the time, a departure from their previous sound, or, at least a good part of it was. There are several acoustic songs on this album, and the band previously only did electric blues-rock for the most part. These acoustic songs however would become a great indication of the band's future sound, that mostly of Prog folk. For now, about half of the songs on this album are electric and half are acoustic. This, to me, makes for a great mix.

The album is considered by critics and scholars as a concept album that mostly addresses the distinction between religion and God. Side one of the album is entitled 'Aqualung' and side two is 'My God'. Even with the naming of album sides, the band has always maintained that it is not a concept album, and at the time, decided that if the world wanted to hear a concept album from Jethro Tull, then they would give them one, and so 'Thick as a Brick' was born, which was their next album. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here.

Of course, this is JT's most popular album. And it has a good reason to be. It has also been reviewed many times on this site. Up to this point, it is the band's best written album with the most impactful lyrics and musicality along with being a huge inspiration to other musicians.

We start off with the popular 'Aqualung' track which is about homeless people. Ian Anderson and his wife were looking at pictures that she had taken of homeless people and were interested in one individual in particular, and together they wrote the lyrics to this huge rock anthem. 'Cross Eyed Mary' is a continuation of this song, also written in a rock style. It deals with a child prostitute and the impression she has on Aqualung. 'Cheap Day Return' is an acoustic song about Ian's visit to his father. Following this is 'Mother Goose' which is a combination acoustic and rock song, and a particular favorite of mine. Another short and beautiful acoustic song follows called 'Wond'ring Aloud', then another acoustic/electric song follows in 'Up To Me'. This one has a great lilt to it and plenty of the signature flute. I find this one gives us a great example of where JT's sound that the band would become famous for.

The first two tracks on the 2nd side are connected through the religion vs. God theme and both are mostly electric, with a crazy choir interlude on 'My God'. 'Slipstream' is another quick acoustic number, 'Locomotive Breath' is the very popular song with a heavy rock sound and the final track is the acoustic/electric combo called 'Wind-Up', again with the religion theme.

Most prog fans are intimately familiar with this album and will agree that it is a very influential album. There is no doubt to me that this excellent album is essential to any prog fan, especially to Prog Folk fans. You should have this album in your collection. I consider it a perfect 6-star album that never wears itself out in my mind.

Report this review (#1988790)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Jethro Tull find their own style with this fourth album. In fact, "This Was" is unripe; "Stand Up" is an accomplished folk-blues record; "Benefit" is a transition work; and finally "Aqualung is their masterpiece, a strange mix between folk, blues and progressive rock. In fact, art rock made of single songs. This is the most beatiful standard of Jethro Tull, not the forced suite of "Thick As A Brick".

This album can be compared to "A Song For Me", released a year earlier, or to "Fearless", contemporary, both of Family. It's more art rock than progressive rock. Splendid folk acoustic guitars to draw beautiful melodies, hard rock solos of electric guitar, excellent singing, some longer songs, more eleborated, with refined arrangements (here the flute, for the Family the violin or the winds), or art rock tracks in progressive rock style. Family, especially in "Fearless", surpass Tull for the variety and sophistication of the arrangements (and for the best technique of the musicians), Jethro Tull surpass Family for the narrative unity of the album and the epicity of the longest and most beautiful songs.

The first of these songs is the mini-suite "Aqualung" (rating 8,5), which starts with a very famous hard rock guitar riff but then develops for the most part with an acoustic guitar and piano background, above which the treated voice of Ian Anderson sings. Grand finale with hard rock guitar solo and return of the initial riff. This song is in fact the manifesto of the Tull style, because it condenses all their music in less than 7 minutes, representing both the most folk and acoustic passages and the hard rock passages. Masterpiece.

"Cross-Eyed Mary" shows the flute of Anderson rise above a hard rock guitar and piano rug. Very sustained song based on rhythm and not on melody. Rating 7,5. "Cheap Day Return" is a short acoustic fragment (no rating). "Mother Goose" is an acoustic folk ballad: sound made of acoustic guitar and flute but most of all there are the lamentable vocals by Anderson. Melancholic and bucolic. Rating 7+. After the sensational beginning the quality has dropped, while remaining good. "Wondr'ig Aloud" is another acoustic fragment (two minutes) with a very good singing and arrangement. What a pity that is not developed in a whole song. Anyway, great small song. Rating 8. The last piece of side A is funny, "Up to Me", is festive; it is a disengaged song, which is perhaps the weakest point of the album (rating 7). First side that ends in falling.

The opening song of the side B, "My God" (rating 9) is in my opinion the absolute masterpiece of the album, much more than the opening track (Aqualung). With an Anderson who throws his arrows against religion, taking it with God, we see an initially acoustic song unfold which then presents an exceptional hard rock rhythm progression thanks to the guitar played by Martin Barre, protagonist of the sound of Tull as Anderson. Then we listen to a solo flute, and church choirs, which together constitute the most prog passage of the album, but what matters is that it is very musically inspired, it is not achieved by force. This piece, by itself, is worth more than the second side of "Thick As A Brick". As in the first side, the second song ("Hymn 43; rating 7+) is very rhythmic hard rock, candlesticked by the electric guitar and the flute. Then comes, even in this side, the usual acoustic fragment ("Slipstream", less than one and a half minute), but this time it is too short, not very developed, it does not reach the peaks of "Wondrig Aloud".

"Locomotive Breath" (rating 8) has a beautiful jazz pianistic start, really remarkable, then it develops too predictably and ends in a decline. Finally, the initial melody of Aqualung is shot In "Wind Up" to close the circle of the concept album. This reprise has the merit (compared to many other reprises) both to conclude the album's story from the point of view of the lyrics, and to differentiate itself markedly from the initial song, and this for me is very important, because often in many prog albums we listen to a Reprise very long, instrumental, and too much similar to the original piece of which they constitute the recovery. Here, intelligently, the Tulls can handle the same melody with enough variety on the theme, starting from Barre's solos, from piano pieces. Excellent ending that closes the circle. Rating 8,5.

Aqualung is an album unfriendly in terms of quality and arrangements, alternating short acoustic fragments to elaborate art rock songs if not prog rock songs. But from the narrative point of view it is unitary, and on the whole, the alternation of acoustic pieces with hard rock pieces is pleasant. In addition, the melodic quality of the songs is high. In my opinion, this is Jethro Tull's masterpiece, not Thick As A Brick. "Thick" as a setting for compositions is more progressive, but the musical value of "Aqualung" in my opinion is much higher. Masterpice of progressive rock music.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,89. Rating album: 9+. Five Stars.

Report this review (#2149461)
Posted Monday, February 25, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although it was always considered by music critics as a concept album, Ian Anderson has repeatedly mentioned that this was not his intention, but rather that it was conceived as a selection of themes that revolved around religion and the concept of God, but without constructing a unique story, recreating marginal and complex characters such as the tramp of the song that gives the album its name, Aqualung, the prostitute schoolgirl in Cross-Eyed Mary, passing through acid criticism of clerical institutions and their principles irreducible in My God, Hymn 43 and Wind-Up.

Aqualung is the album that marks a before and after in Jethro Tull's career, where they consolidate their unique musical style, merging blues, hard rock and folk on a progressive platform, in which acoustic guitars and Anderson's flute are the cherry that distinguishes them.

Particularly noteworthy are the powerful Aqualung, the blues rock of My God and, one of its hymns, the classic Locomotive Breath with its fast-paced rhythm after the introductory piano. On the other hand, I confess a weakness for the acoustic compositions stripped of instrumental envelopes by Jethro Tull, and it is in this way that the splendid Cheap Day Return, the melancholy of the piano by Wond'ring Aloud and Slipstream, complement and consolidate one of the best works of the band.

Report this review (#2412055)
Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Its nearly impossible to be objective about such an iconic album such as this. Not only the album but song that pretty much have been the cornerstone of this band to diehard tull fans and casual ones alike. Where with groups like Yes, Genesis,king Crimson, Gentle Giant, even Pink Floyd their favorite album is up for grab between at least of couple of choices. With Tull, only Thick as a Brick, and maybe Songs from the Wood come close to the popularity of this opus. Hell, the first 6 notes of the title song are only surpassed by Maybe Smoke on the water in the classic rock world. With all that said, and all of the hype, this album is still on my top 5 tull list, but probably 3 or 4, not 1 or 2. And some of this comes from being barraged with the big 3 hits on the radio, and being so burnt out on those I missed the other great stand-outs like Mother Goose, Wondering Aloud, My God, and Hymn 43. As has been said before its the phenomenon variety and mix of hard rock, folk, classical, and a little prog that make this album stand out in their catalogue. War Child came close as far as variety, but no where close in quality. Simply said, the only other Tull albums that come close in songwriting are TASB, and SFTW.
Report this review (#2463522)
Posted Friday, November 6, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review #61

Absolutely essential!!

The fourth work by JETHRO TULL has become a classic through the years. This new line-up of TULL made maybe the most iconic album in the discography of the band. After Glenn CORNICK left the band, IAN ANDERSON's childhood friend Jeffrey HAMMOND (the same Jeffrey of the song) took his place in the band as the new bass player and John EVAN became an official member of the group, the band was ready to make a new album: a solid and perfect masterpiece.

The hard rock is the main music style in this album: songs as "Aqualung", "Hymn 43", "Locomotive breath", "My god" and (my favorite) "Wind up" are the perfect example of this. The album includes also very beautiful acoustic soft ballads such as "Wondering aloud", "Cheap day return" and "Splipstream".

The opening song of the album is maybe the most popular of it; the guitar riff is unmistakable and the solo is majestic; the lyrics are brilliant as well: the story of a homeless (maybe pedophile) guy who is miserably poor and dying painfully in the streets.

If the album is or isn't a conceptual album and if the music is or isn't Progressive Rock have been subjects of discussion since the album first came out; Ian ANDERSON himself expressed that this is not a conceptual album, even so, the songs fit and match really well to each other and the lyrics look suspiciously related.

The hard rock songs, the soft acoustic songs and the ambitious lyrics about religion made of this album a very particular one, an unrepeatable masterpiece.

This album has become the most popular in all JT's catalogue and I believe it really deserves it.

Report this review (#2483902)
Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aqualung by Jethro Tull is Jethro Tull's fourth studio album that was released in 1971. It is considered by many to be a essential album in any prog collection and I cant really disagree. The album sounds very medieval thanks to Ian Anderson's fantastic flute playing. This and the fast tempos makes the album a really fun listen. The instrumentation by everyone is great and the production is also really good. The lyrics are also pretty good and have many great stories and topics that make the album even better. I love this album and can see my self coming back to listen over and over. 5/5 Easily
Report this review (#2507629)
Posted Sunday, February 21, 2021 | Review Permalink

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