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Jethro Tull - Aqualung CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.36 | 2707 ratings

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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.

Windhawk | 5/5 |


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