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Jethro Tull - Aqualung CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.36 | 2782 ratings

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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.

LakeGlade12 | 3/5 |


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