Jethro Tull
Aqualung


4.5
superb

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
August 4th, 2010 | 358 replies | 27,899 views


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Complex, eclectic, and beautiful, Aqualung is the quintessential Jethro Tull album.

8 of 8 thought this review was well written

In the climactic moments of Edgar Allan Poe’s A Descent Into The Maelstrom, a young fisherman and his bother sit atop the titular vortex. They stare into the abyss, prepared to take a life-changing plunge into the depths, unsure of their fate. After the release of Stand Up, an eclectic melting pot of various styles, and Benefit, which saw the band dabbling in folk music, Jethro Tull was in very much a similar predicament. The British blues band found themselves about to make what may be the defining decision of their career: they were about to throw themselves into the chasm known as progressive rock.

On Aqualung Jethro Tull still didn’t entirely get into progressive territory (although the unpredictable stylistic changes of the title track, among other such moments, occasionally seem to indicate otherwise), but the band is now not only more comfortable with experimenting than on previous albums, but is also not afraid to make more daring gambles. While Stand Up certainly did see the band flirting with different styles, Ian Anderson and his jovial jongleurs never before were bold enough to do something like writing a gospel song or playing a prolonged flute solo with no accompaniment aside from a Gregorian chant.

The constant experimentation results in Aqualung being the most diverse album of Jethro Tull’s career. Bold, hard-rocking tunes such as Locomotive Breath finds themselves among songs such as the folky, playful Mother Goose and the tender, affectionate Wond’ring Aloud (arguably Tull’s most beautiful composition). With no warning, guitarist Martin Barre’s vibrant electric onslaught can give way to calm, acoustic chords or zestful, effervescent flute leads. And yet, despite the incredible variety of moods and genres mingled on Aqualung, the album never feels disjointed or incoherent.

What’s surprising about Aqualung is that the large, sprawling compositions, such as the title track and Wind Up, are in no way the most captivating. Indeed, the focal points are actually the brief, mellow pieces crammed in between the more complex songs. As awe-inspiring as My God may be, even it can’t hold it’s ground against the minuscule Cheap Day Return’s irresistible, nostalgic melody or Slipstream’s wistful, evocative tune, accompanied by Anderson’s most elegiac and touching lyrics.

Lyrically, Aqualung is Jethro Tull’s finest moment. The first portion of the album consists of descriptions of six various personages: a benevolent, kindhearted nurse, a youthful woman of questionable repute, a grimy, perverted old man, and many other characters appear for us to observe. While the lyrics on the first half of the album are certainly interesting and fit the music well, the band’s lyrical genius really shines on the succeeding part, which is about Anderson’s views on religion. Notwithstanding his belief in the existence of a supreme being, the spirited singer expresses a strong disapprobation of organized religion. Despite the subject mater of the songs, it rarely seems like Anderson imposes his beliefs upon the listeners and, fortunately, the lyrics are lighthearted and humorous enough to not bore those that couldn’t care any less about faith.

With Aqualung, Jethro Tull finally created an entirely satisfying album. Catchy, diverse, and daring, it’s unsurprising that the album was the band’s most successful album. And yet, despite this accessibility, Aqualung manages to be complex and intelligent. The following year, Anderson and his bold balladeers would take the plunge into progressive rock, creating their masterwork, Thick As A Brick. As it stands, Aqualung not only shows a band on the brink of revolutionizing the genre, but is an incredibly enjoyable and essential album.

4.7/5

Recommended Songs
Wond’ring Aloud
Aqualung
Cheap Day Return
Locomotive Breath
Slipstream



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Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
August 4th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

5th part of the Tull discography. Spent forever writing this.

Deceptioneer
August 4th 2010



509 Comments


wanted this and thick as a brick forever. pos.

bailar11
August 4th 2010



2433 Comments


thick as a brick is the shit mang. this is slays just as much too. pos as well bro.

vanderb0b
August 4th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Enrique, Taylor, and Ghos pos'r!

Thick As A Brick is a bit better than this, but this is pretty close.

crazyblinddude
August 4th 2010



3389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review dude. I love this album. I agree with Thick As A Brick being slightly better than this, but this is still phenomenal. I'll pos.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 4th 2010



19887 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Excellent review for an excellent album, pos'd!

foreverendeared
August 4th 2010



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

awesome review. Love this album. I found it on vinyl and gave it to my dad for x-mas, but I was insanely tempted to keep it and get him something elselol

Counterfeit
August 4th 2010



17819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ghost pos'r makes ghost post.






Then he was gone

Nagrarok
August 4th 2010



8168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Didn't know you were doing the discography. I've heard this once, but I couldn't really get into it then. I should give it another spin, Tull are one of the few classic 70's prog bands I haven't gotten into yet. Very nice review.

vanderb0b
August 4th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, everyone.

@Nagrarok
This and Thick As A Brick are the best places to start, especially if you like heavier music. If you want softer/folky stuff, then Heavy Horses is the way to go.

Rhino
August 4th 2010



71 Comments


Yes, very well done review vanderb0b. I'm with Nag on this, never really got into Tull. I think I have a 'Greatest Hits' album, and Locomotive Breath shows up on my shuffles quite often, but I never really listened closely to them. Might have to give it another shot.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 4th 2010



5895 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is so good.

Digging: Electric Citizen - Sateen

qwe3
August 4th 2010



21353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

second best tull album yessir

MUNGOLOID
August 4th 2010



4275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

if jesus saves, well he better save himself.

Jethro42
August 4th 2010



12350 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Review is a very good read, vanderb0b. I own this album on vinyl..I need to get it out of the dust, badly. No bad songs on here. Am I alone to think that Led Zep's The Ocean would have borrowed the Up to me' feel?...

theacademy
August 4th 2010



28218 Comments


sitting on a pahk bench

vanderb0b
August 5th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

eying little girls with bad intent.

Thanks everyone

@Jethro
There is quite a similarity between those two songs, now that you mention it.

Nagrarok
August 5th 2010



8168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Am I alone to think that Led Zep's The Ocean would have borrowed the Up to me' feel?...


Well, Zep ripped off other artists more than once in a while.

edit: listened again and album is brilliant, especially the title track. I forwarded this to be flagged.

Jethro42
August 5th 2010



12350 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, review rules indeed, as the album does.
Nag, if you're interested: Cross-Eyed Mary, My God and Locomotive Breath are as catchy as the title track.

Nagrarok
August 5th 2010



8168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Those are probably some of my favourites so far as well.



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