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Released - April, 1971 on Chrysalis Records. Produced by Ian Anderson and Terry Ellis
Vocals, Flute, Acoustic Guitar
Additional Personal: David Palmer
All song lyrics & music written by Ian Anderson except "Aqualung", lyrics by Jennie Anderson
So how come current day rockers don't make concept albums any longer? Perhaps because the feel to write such an album just isn't around today, it's just not the "in" thing to do. But in reality, I just don't think modern day rockers have it in them to make such statements (and write such albums). Aqualung was one of the greatest concept albums made, and still holds up well today. The fact that some Jethro Tull fans claim Aqualung is not a concept album, well that just blows me away! To them I say, please, listen to this album again, what part of its concept are you missing out on?
Ian Anderson, the main man behind Jethro Tull, wrote this entire album, other than the title cut, which was written by his then wife Jeanne. Most of what Ian writes here is about a messed up society and the problems brought on by religions. No question this album was anti-church, and as a young Atheist I was drawn to it when it was released. Mind you, Ian in these songs makes it clear that he believes in God, he just blames religions in general for all the fuckups in life.
Aqualung starts off with it best song, "Aqualung", the title cut. What a great number, as we learn the story about a cold, homeless, dirty old man, who seems to gets his kicks eyeing little girls (and boys too, as we learn in the next song) "with bad intent". Aqualung seems to be cast here as what is all wrong with society, and sets up the feel for the rest of the album, as it goes on to indirectly explain why Aqualung turned out the way he did.
"Cross-Eyed Mary " is up next and is the third best song found on the LP. Mary is a young, school age prostitute who's clients are mainly old men, and who seems to even fancy Aqualung a bit. The album then moves on with one of its four short songs, "Cheap Day Return", the main problem with this one (and the others) is - well, it's too short! But it's followed by the great "Mother Goose", really not a lot is said in this number, but it has a great flow to it and like most of the songs on this LP, Ian's flute is great.
I'll skip over the next two short songs, "Wond'ring Aloud" and "Up to Me", as I already covered how I feel about them above. But for the rest of the album, the songs start to deal heavily with it's anti-religion theme. "My God" has great lyrics to it, perhaps the most anti-church song out of them all, pretty much blaming religions for turning God into what they want him to be. "My God" is followed by "Hymn 43", this is almost another take of "My God", but in a totally different way. This song is much more upbeat and lively, but the overall message is the same, only difference in the lyrics is, instead of talking about God, this one talks about Jesus: "If Jesus saves - well, He better save Himself".
After "Hymn 43" is yet another short, but forgetable song, '"Slipsteam", however, after it comes the album's second best number, "Locomotive Breath". Not really about a train, in this case the "train" is a poor fool who's life is more of a train wreak, as his kids are deserting him and his lady sleeps around with his best friend, and in the end we learn that it wasn't really Charlie who "stole the handle", but that God did, and is who's at blame for all this.
This masterpiece of an album closes out with "Wind Up", the lyrics to this song are nothing short of a ten, even if the delivery isn't as strong. I just love the opening two lines to this one, gosh, I can identify with them, as you can send your kids off to school, but in force teaching them some things, as in "how to play the game", well the lucky ones will learn on their own how not to play the game. Of course the school Ian writes about in this song is not regular school, but Sunday School, and I can't help but agree 100% with what he has to say about it, as I was forced to go to Sunday School myself when I was a preteen, and I felt the same way about it and its teachers: "I don't believe you.... you got the whole damn thing all wrong!"... Amen!
In closing, the remastered CD comes with several extra tracks, including a interesting interview with Anderson on the making of the LP. Hardcore fans of Tull will claim other Tull albums like Thick as a Brick, are better than this one.Well if you're deeply into this band, perhaps that is the case, but if you're more like me, hands down, I think your gonna dig Aqualung more. For me, it is their best album by a mile!
- Keno, 2005