205. Jethro Tull - Aqualung (1971)
2. Cross Eyed Mary
3. Cheap Day Return
4. Mother Goose
5. Wond'ring Aloud
6. Up To Me
7. My God
8. Hymn 43
10. Locomotive Breath
11. Wind Up
I love Jethro Tull, I always have since I was a kid, another one of those things I was brought up with. Some may say they are pretentious, that they try to cram messages that are too big into what is essentially folksy-rock, that Ian wanks off with his flute and so on. I say nay! It is brilliant. Technically they are amazing, from the fat riffs to the expert flute playing.
I will admit that some of their lyrics are simplifications of complex ideas and that is nowhere more obvious than in Aqualung, a whole album about the evils of organised religion and the immancence of God. I am an atheist and I really don't give much of a toss about the supposed message, still in most tracks they manage to put their point across very effectively.
This isn't a concept album as you know it, it is a loosely related collection of songs that get more meaning from the other songs in the album. This allows Aqualung not to become some kind of theme driven album like Tommy and to be much freer than most other concept albums.
In the end it is a collection of pretty great songs - actually, there is not a skippable one in the whole package and this is a great thing indeed. So buy it now on Amazon UK or US.
1. Locomotive Breath
3. My God
4. Cross Eyed Mary
The first side of the LP contains a series of six character sketches, including two sketches of people of questionable repute (title character Aqualung and Cross-Eyed Mary) and two autobiographical tracks including "Cheap Day Return", written by band leader Ian Anderson while returning from a visit to his critically ill father. The overall message of the lyrics on the second side is said to be "pro-God but anti-church", and makes the statement that organized religion can actually restrict a person's relationship with their God instead of enhancing it. Anderson always denied any attempt to create a concept album.
The album was one of the first albums to be recorded at the newly opened studios of Island Records in Basing Street, London. Led Zeppelin were mixing their untitled fourth album at the same time. In an interview on the 25th anniversary edition of the album, Anderson reportedly said that trying to record in their studio was very difficult. There were two recording studios at the location; Led Zeppelin worked in the smaller studio while Tull got the larger, which was probably the original chapel based on Anderson's description of its "orchestral" feeling.
The album's original cover art by Burton Silverman features a portrait of the title chartacter, Aqualung, which many have considered to be inspired by Ian Anderson, though Anderson denies it. The rear cover shows a less-lecherous looking portrait of the same character sitting on a street-curb with a dog, a scene reminiscent of the band's photographic portrait with age make-up and a pack of dogs on their first album, This Was. The inner art on the fold-out cover showed portraits of the five band members in typical stage attire performing irreverent acts in a chapel--perhaps simultaneously depicting the theme of the second side of the LP while commemorating the band's recording-studio environment.
Aqualung peaked at #7 on the Billboard Music Charts' North American pop albums chart. The single "Hymn 43" hit #91 on Billboard's pop singles chart. In 2003, the album was ranked number 337 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Here you go Locomotive Breath:
And A spoof of Ian Anderson:
Hey Aqualung indeed!