Jethro Tull - Aqualung
Island Records
Progressive Folk Rock
11 songs (42:55)
Release year: 1971
Reviewed by Crash

Ooo… Jesus me. Are there many bands that defined my early taste in music more than Jethro Tull? That is a long list, for sure. But Tull always seemed to stand out from most. Maybe it was the way that Ian Anderson gently stroked the shaft of his flute, using it as a penile force to be reckoned with. Maybe it was the fact that in many instances, the band wasn’t a rock band at all but just an excuse for Anderson to be insanely British and folk everything up. I’m still not sure what makes this band tick. They have all of the ingredients of an extremely lame pudding. But somehow through this “Canterbury Tales” approach to hard rock, it actually worked. It didn’t just work, it created a phenomenon.

It would be not far off to say that if it wasn’t for the Tull that folk music in hard rock and metal would sound mighty different. The bridge between the two might not even have been built yet if it wasn’t for Anderson and crew. Specifically, the album that did it was Aqualung.

Anderson is their insane ringleader, stealing the spotlight with his vast array of talents. His cackles and personality completely shadow his lack of range and when he decides to let the music speak for itself, flute and acoustic guitar are usually more prevalent any distorted guitar. Luckily, guitarist Martin Barre is a master of the subtle touch. Rarely the focus, but always the backbone, the band would be nothing if it weren’t for the legendary guitar riffs all over the album. Every person and their dog knows the title track as well as they should, being one of the great story songs that only gets better with age. Cross Eyed Mary takes it to a higher level, as the personality of the title character only gets stranger and stranger.

I really could write an ode to each individual song, but I will do my best to sum it all up nice and evenly. The album is fairly streamlined for what someone would call “progressive rock”, but that’s ok. It’s a sound all their own and whether it be the rockers or the ballads there is nothing out of place. Just listen to Locomotive Breath for the ballsiest flute solo ever put to tape.

I mean it. Really. The album is literally without flaw. If someone can name one, I never want to hear it. If you are a Tull virgin… you owe it to yourself to skip the album version and watch a live version of My God. So much anger and contempt is held within each breathy gasp Anderson makes, it sounds like he is about to explode. He keeps his cool however and makes his point incredibly bluntly. It is quite surprising to me that this album did not cause a stir with the Christian public, as side two is nothing but songs condemning Christianity for putting God in a box. Pretty serious stuff for a seventies rock band, I’d say. Politics in music was nothing new by this time, but without the blatancy of Dylan they somehow were able to get their point across to exactly who needed it. With everyone else, it just flew over their heads.

Rock music needs bands like Jethro Tull. These off kilter bands remind us that rock doesn’t have to be painted as black and white as it seems. Like peanut butter and pickle or Jagermeister with anything, most people will never see why it or how it deserves the praise. That’s fine by me. Jethro Tull will always sit fine in my stomach, right alongside the peanut butter pickle Jager sandwiches.

Killing Songs :
All! But everyone will have personal favorites.
Crash quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Jethro Tull that we have reviewed:
Jethro Tull - Jack In The Green (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
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