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Jethro Tull - Aqualung CD (album) cover

AQUALUNG

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.34 | 2328 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 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*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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