A difficult one to review this. Should I just review the music, should I review the product or should I review the fact this product exists at all? Let's do the music first, just in case there is anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with this classic album. For me this is my favourite Tull album, a wonderful smorgasbord of hard rock and acoustic folk rock. As Dom Lawson says in his interesting essay on the album, the opening chords to the title track is one of Prog Rocks great intros blasting out of the speakers. You know something special has arrived, the song then calms down to gentle acoustic verse, before it slowly builds back up to the rocking levels of the intro. No wonder this has been a concert favourite for so many years. Another classic rocker follows, Cross Eyed Mary before we get a series of the gentler acoustic tracks such as Cheap Day Return and Mother Goose, a particular favourite of mine. It's this mixture of acoustic and electric that makes the album so interesting. On some of the albums that followed, David (Dee) Palmer's orchestrations were allowed, in my opinion, to smother the music, they were too intrusive, but here they are rightly kept to minimum, only being used to bring a bit of extra depth when needed.
This is one of the great Prog Rock albums that deserves special treatment, which brings us nicely to the product. I've got quite a few of these Steven Wilson re-mixes with 5.1 surround sound, and I've been impressed with all of them, this one is no different. DVD 1 has the album and seven of the associated 70/71 recordings in 5.1 plus a further 3 of the associated recordings in LPCM stereo. Like the other 5.1 re-mixes Mr Wilson has done, this sounds mightily impressive, as I've said before is there any better music for 5.1 than early to mid seventies Prog Rock? I would say not. You not only feel as if you're sitting in the centre of the recording, but the instruments sound so clear as well, as if they are in the room with. At times you feel as if Ian Anderson is playing the flute just behind you (On one leg of course), and Clive Bunkers drums are in the corner. The acoustic guitars sound beautiful and you can also hear all the other instruments that bring so much depth to album, and all so clearly. Which is itself a small miracle given that the album was originally recorded in less than perfect conditions, as described in the various essays and interview included in the very informative booklet. The second DVD has a couple of flat transfers (Can someone explain to me what these are please), including the full 'Life Is A Long Song' EP, and a promotional video for the title track from that EP. Lastly, it also includes the original Quad Mix of the album in surround sound. I've really enjoyed listening to this version, it's not just a slightly different mix to the 5.1 on disc 1, it's slightly louder and of course missing the centre speaker which really does give it quite a different feel. Lastly there is the two cd's with the album and associated 70/71 recordings, including the EP, in a stereo re-mix. Again these sound wonderfully clear. If you've never had a copy of this album on CD, but don't want to fork out for this edition, at least try and get hold of this mix and not the pre 2011 mix, this is far better.
And all this leads to the fact this edition exists at all. A little bit of history here for those who are unaware. Aqualung was the first of the Jethro Tull albums to get the full on Steven Wilson re-mix treatment back in 2011 on its 40th birthday. There were a number of editions, including a two cd version and, for those with deep pockets a box set that included the two cds, a DVD, a Blu Ray, a vinyl disc and hard back book. If memory serves me correctly it went for about £80 (Currently going for £150). I couldn't justify that kind of outlay, so went for the two disc version and was very pleased with the sound on it, but for those that did spend serious pennies on the box set this may well leave a bad taste in the mouth. When I first saw the product details I thought those who bought the box set already had everything on here and had no need to buy this edition and then on saw on Steven Wilson's remix Facebook page that there are some differences. The packaging says this is also mastered by Mr W., which seems to be stretching things a bit. It seems they have just removed the remastering that was done in 2011 and MR W has just 'set the correct relative volumes between tracks'. Added to that some audio glitches from 2011 have been corrected, three additional surround sound mixes have been added, and the original stereo mixes of 'Life Is A Long Song' and 'Up The Pool' have been added. Now these may seem fairly minor to many of us, me included, but if you've spent upwards of £80 on what you believe is the ultimate version of an album then you're going to be pretty peeved if 5 years later another version is released with a few more extras and the advertising indicates your super duper deluxe version has some sound glitches on it. No wonder many artists are accused of trying to cash in on their fans, and it does mean that for some there maybe a slight stench of rip off around this release.
There is no such stench for me though, I'm delighted with this release. At £20 it's value for money just for the DVD content. As for the not remastered cds, they are quieter than the 2011 release, which may not satisfy everyone, but they still sound very good. Definitely recommended.
Back in the tenement fog of Monday the 31st of October 2011 – I got terribly excited about the 2CD variant of the '40th Anniversary' Reissue of Jethro Tull's "Aqualung". Remastered with real skill and care by Porcupine Tree's STEVE WILSON – compared to the audio dreck we'd had for nearly 30 years – the 2011 2CD set was/is a sonic revelation. Out of my financial reach at the time (and the same for most everyone else I suspect) – there was also a 2011 5-Disc 'Collector's Edition' of "Aqualung" with LP, CDs, DVD and BLU RAY that was pricey then and has become something of an extortionate collectable ever since.
Well along comes Chrysalis in April 2016 and offers up a cheaper alternative - a fully-loaded 'Adapted Version' of that Super Deluxe 'Collector's Edition' Box set – this time with 2CDs and 2DVDs clipped inside a beautifully packaged 80-page Book Pack. It's the same Remastering from 2011 but 'newly' handled in 2016 'only' by Steve Wilson with some multitrack transfers by KRIS BURTON. The Audio is fabulous - it's packaged better and at under a twenty-spot - priced to sell. Here are the snots running down my nose...
UK released Friday 22 April 2016 - "Aqualung: 40th Anniversary Adapted Edition" by JETHRO TULL on Chrysalis 0825646487080 (Barcode is the same) is a 4-Disc REISSUE BOOK SET consisting of 2CDs and 2DVDs (1 is Audio, 2 is Audio and Video) that plays out as follows:
Disc 1 (43:45 minutes):
2. Cross-Eyed Mary
3. Cheap Day Return
4. Mother Goose
5. Wond’ring Aloud
6. Up To Me
7. My God [Side 2]
8. Hymn 43
10. Locomotive Breath
11. Wind Up
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 4th album "Aqualung" - released 19 March 1971 in the UK on Chrysalis ILPS 9145 and 3 May 1971 in the USA on Reprise MS 2035. It reached number 4 and 7 on the UK and US LP charts. No 45's were released to support the album in the UK - but "Hymn 43" was put out as a 7" single in the USA with "Mother Goose" as its B-side on Reprise 1024 (see Disc 2 Track 1 re UK singles).
Disc 2 – Associated 1970 & 1971 Recordings (51:25 minutes):
A Steven Wilson Stereo Remix (Tracks 1 to 10)
Flat Transfer (Tracks 11 to 15)
1. Lick Your Fingers Clean - an album outtake that first appeared on the 1996 25th Anniversary reissue - this is a 2011 'New Mix'. It was supposed to be released as a single in 1971 on Chrysalis WIP 6098 in the UK but was withdrawn
2. Just Trying To Be - first appeared as the last track on Side 2 of the July 1972 double album "Living In The Past". This is a 2011 'New Mix' at 1:37 minutes
3. My God (Early Version) - a 9:42 minute outtake complete with studio dialogue at the beginning
4. Wond'ring Aloud - a 1:51 minute outtake recorded 13 Dec 1970
5. Wind Up - an 'Early Version' at 5:21 minutes with Ian Anderson on piano. This is a 2011 'New Mix'
6. Slipstream (Take 2) - a 54-second outtake
7. Up The 'Pool - an 'Early Version' at 1:12 minutes (released version is Track 10)
8. Wand'ring Aloud, Again - a 7:07 minute 'Full Morgan Version' with the band and extra verses
9. Life Is A Long Song (New Mix)
10. Up The 'Pool (New Mix)
Life Is A Long Song (Original EP, Flat Transfer)
11. Life Is A Long Song
12. Up The 'Pool
13. Dr. Bogenbroom
14. From Later
Tracks 11 to 15 were recorded in May 1971 and made up the "Life Is A Long Song" 7" EP released September 1971 on Chrysalis WIP 6106 in the UK (the picture sleeve is featured in the last collage pages of the booklet along with its sheet music). They reappeared as Tracks 3 to 7 on Side 4 of the "Living In The Past" double LP in 1972.
16. Reprise Radio Advert - is a 52-second "US Radio Spot" featuring Ian Anderson talking about the album and God with music snippets from several tracks
NOTE: Tracks 3, 4, 6 7 and 8 were PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED in 2011. The original Disc 2 in 2011 had 14 tracks – this 2016 16-track version adds on the flat transferred remasters of "Life Is A Long Song" and "Up The 'Pool" (tracks 11 and 12) as extras.
DVD ONE (Audio):
'Aqualung' remixed in 5.1 surround and presented in DTS 96/24 AC3 Dolby Digital and 96/24 LPCN Stereo
Associated 1970 & 1971 Recordings. Seven tracks remixed in 5.1 Surround and presented in DTS 96/24 and AC3 Dolby Digital, and 10 remixed in 96/24 LPCM Stereo
DVD TWO (Audio & Video):
A flat transfer from the original Stereo master of the album in 96/24 LPCM Stereo
Original 1974 Quad Mix as 4.1 presented in DTS 96/24 and AC3 Dolby Digital Surround
A flat transfer from the original Stereo master of the 5-track EP "Life Is A Long Song" in 96/24 LPCM Stereo
The 1971 "Life Is A Long Song" promotional film with new remixed stereo soundtrack
The 4-discs are housed in a gatefold BOOK PACK with an 80-page booklet attached to the centre (the 45-page variant in the original 12" x 12" Collector's Edition reduced in size). It has the 6000-word DOM LAWSON Essay on the whole "Aqualung" process (recording, tours, singles, aftermath), recollections from Engineer John Burns, songwriter and band leader Ian Anderson's own track-by-track recollections, notes from remastering Engineer Steven Wilson on the whole transfer process (July 2011), lyrics to all songs (including the extras) in the same script as was depicted on the original LP inner sleeve, an article on Island Studios and the usual plethora of pictured memorabilia. This looks and feels substantial and at twenty quid (or less) is a deal for fans and newcomers alike.
A smart move is to have the entire "Life Is A Long Song" EP on Disc 2 (5 tracks) rather than the three that appeared on the 2011 2CD version. Disc 2 now has 16 tracks rather than 14 – and they've included the lyrics too - so someone in the Chrysalis camp has heard those moans. As you can see Disc 3 is DVD Audio only while Disc 4 is DVD Audio and Video – but what an array of stuff. I've never seen the "Life Is A Long Song" promotional film – but they've even remixed it with a new stereo soundtrack. I find the channel separation in the 1974 'Quad Mix' to be utterly bizarre and fascinating at one and the same time. I must admit having lived with the Wilson Remaster – I find the flat Stereo transfer just that – flat as a bleeding pancake. But I hadn't heard the Surround 5.1 mix before and listening to it (admittedly on a mate's system) is a truly stunning experience. Stuff comes at you from every direction – clarity and instruments colliding like a wild dodgem ride on a recording you thought you knew inside out. Another smart move is to keep both DVDs Region 0 - Region Free in other words. Other nice touches include the painting-artwork of Burton Silverman reproduced beneath the front and rear see-through trays (the inner gatefold of the original vinyl LP) - the CDs are green in colour as per the original Chrysalis labels – the DVDs carry the LP cover and inner sleeve shot - and even the booklet numbers the pages in Roman numerals in keeping with the original album artwork.
As I said before – the 2011 Audio is a sensation. STEVEN WILSON explains in suitably techno gobbledygook the lengths he and his team went to get the best possible sound out of the 8 and 16-track master tapes without compromising the integrity of the original recordings. Multi-track Transfers were done by KRIS BURTON and Mastering carried out by PETER MEW at Abbey Road (a name long associated with quality reissues - see Listmania and tags). The results are amazing. However for 2016 (as I said above) - the liner notes have 'only' Steven Wilson listed as the mastering engineer this time out and are definitely credited as new (2016 copyright). Harking back to say "My God" (the song that opens Side 2) - the clarity on this most brilliant of tracks is truly hair-raising and better than what I had before (beautifully done).
Even as the opening riff of "Aqualung" rattles around your speakers accompanied by the sleazy "...sitting on a park bench..." lyrics - the audio quality is in your face, but not in a forced way. Suddenly the track has real muscle and the details leap out at you. It's breathing for the first time. "Cross-Eyed Mary" has superlative bass end now and the treated guitar 'so' good. But for me the real fireworks start with the double combo of the acoustic "Cheap Day Return" with the acoustic/rock of "Mother Goose". The improvement is GLORIOUS - and when the guitar kicked in half way through "Mother Goose" - I'll confess to blubbing out a little proggy tear. "Up To Me" is fantastically good too - huge guitar riffage. The improvement continues on Side 2 with amazing clarity on "My God" - especially those acoustic passages. The riff in "Hymn 43" is just huge now and the quiet lead into "Locomotive Breath" is not drenched in hiss - but clean and powerful. The album ends with "Wind Up" which has the best lyrics Anderson ever wrote about personal beliefs and it sounds just wonderful (lyrics above).
I had thought after the blast of the album that Disc 2 would be throwaway - not so. A truly lovely gem tucked away on the "Living In The Past" 1972 double is "Just Trying To Be" which I had on a 1999 Mobile Fidelity remaster (see review) - well here the sound quality is beautiful and far better. I was also taken aback by the full 7-minute band version of "Wand'ring Aloud, Again" which properly stretches out - it's a superb bonus. It takes the "Wand'ring Aloud" album track from "Aqualung" at 1:53 minutes length and adds on the "Wand'ring Again" outtake at 4:15 minutes length that turned up on the 1972 "Living In The Past" double and segues way them together with an extra bridge in the song and more lyrics (hence its new title here is a make up of both song titles). It's very cleverly done and because there are new bits in it - it's been called 'Previously Unreleased'. The roughest sounding outtake here is the 'Early Version' of "My God", but again his passion in the vocals is the reason for inclusion. And again the clarity on the 5-track "Life Is A Long Song" EP is far better than that on the MF release. Great stuff...
Fans who bought the original 2011 2CD 'Collector’s Edition' may feel they don’t need this – but I'd argue the extras and the new sound make it yet another 'must own'. The curious should just dive right in as the cost is now within the bounds of most people's pockets...
2017 is the 45th Anniversary for 1972 - so roll on "Living In The Past" - Jethro Tull's July 1972 double album of odds and sods. I've always loved the beautifully packaged "Living in The Past" and it deserves no less than the same lavish treatment...
PS: see also my reviews for Steven Wilson's remaster of 1970's "Benefit" (the album before "Aqualung"), EMI's superb 'Collectors Edition' of their 1968 debut "This Was" and Mobile Fidelity's 1999 2CD stab at "Living In The Past"...
on 4 July 2000
In 1971, Jethro Tull introduced the world to a mysterious, shady beggar 'Aqualung', so known because of his terrible cough. In the title song, Ian sings of this destitute vagabond's adventures and dirty habits. But where does Aqualung come from: is he a war veteran driven insane, or once a wealthy aristocrat? Whatever, Cross Eyed Mary is an acquaintance of his, similar in character. Ian then takes us to the village train station, whilst reminiscing of those wonderful rail memories in Cheap Day Return - a lovely acoustic song, only I wish it was longer. Mother Goose is the centre attraction at the Summer Fair as Aqualung rambles around. Amusing rendition. Then, it's by the river bank our unlikely hero is Wond'ring Aloud of past love lost in time; Up to Me is the more boisterous of times remembered, arguements with friends and relations, parties and raucous affairs. It is here Tull become more religious and philosophical. My God represents a more grim side to God's creation of Mankind, a strange yet appropriate sound to the deeper meaning of this song. Then, hearts are lifted as Tull take us to Church, Ian singing the loud 'Hymn 43'. Slipstream then carries us along Death's road, with God watching us contentedly. Locomotive Breath is perhaps one of the best ever Tull songs on any album. It's about a man who seems to be losing everything as he nears old age, ('sees his children drop at the stations, one by one') and the train represents how the man is frustrated at how God 'stolen the handle' and his luckless life has 'no way to slow down'. Clever symbolism involved here, and reflects our fears of dying. Wind-up is exactly that (well, on the original album) but it describes Aqualung's doctrinated childhood - through Ian Anderson's eyes. Now we come to the 25th Anniversary influence. Lick your Fingers Clean is mad, a romp, but part of the Aqualung theme. Not bad, I thought. There was the bonus of a Quad version 'Wind-up', while we were treated to an interview with an ageing Ian Anderson, who discusses the album at length, its making, the ideas that went into it. Nice touch to a re-vitalized Aqualung. The last three tracks I'd already in my collection; and I wasn't really overkeen on the snazzy Prism Sound that in my opinion spoiled the songs. That was lost a star. I preferred the original sound, so for this otherwise excellent album that's a shame. But thumbs up Jethro Tull in this second outing for one of their best albums!
Bought this sublime Tull album (yet again) to replace my outgoing version (the woefully remastered 25 year Anniversary edition. What next? A 50th golden anniversary version?).
Anyway, I won't comment on the material (what could I add that hasn't already been expressed - and probably better too?) This review is just a comment about this Steven Wilson remixed version. Simply put he has made a stunning job of it. The sound is bigger, warmer with added detail that really brings out the nuances of the instrumentation. In fact at times it is a revelation: I am hearing new sounds hitherto buried in the mix. And yet, thankfully, this is far from as radical as it may sound as the whole enterprise has been clearly done with the skill and love of someone who clearly wants to remain as sympathetic to the source material as possible. In short this sounds just the same as the album you already love - just so much better (and - according to Ian Anderson - like the album was supposed to sound like originally were it not for the technical and recording difficulties the band experienced while recording it).
In conclusion, if you have any other version of this seminal album (perhaps other than on vinyl) don't hesitate and buy with confidence: you're in for an aural treat.
on 29 December 2006
Hands up, I've listened to this, on and off, since it was first released. But I'm amazed at your two-star reviewer's inability to bridge the 35-year gap between now and the original release.
Far from being happy hippy idealism, Anderson's songs (apart from the odd bit of whimsy) address his discomfort with the hypocrital aspects of organized religion, and the lot of those at the bottom end of the social scale ("Aqualung", "Cross-Eyed Mary").
Yes, the vehicle is rock music - but these subjects are still fuelling the best of (for instance) French rap today.
"Aqualung" is certainly the rawest of Jethro Tull's albums, as far from the artistic pretensions of "Thick as a Brick" and "Passion Play" as you can get in terms of their albums. This might have something to do with the album's mission statement, which is printed in old fashioned type on the linear notes: "In the beginning Man created God; and in the image of Man created he him....But as all these things did come to pass, the Spirit that did cause man to create his God lived on with all men: even within Aqualung. And man saw it not. But for Christ's sake he'd better start looking." Ironically, this is one of the few Jethro Tull albums where the lyrics are not printed despite the fact this is arguably the album where the lyrics mattereth the most.
The first "side" of the album, entitled "Aqualung" after the first and title track, offers nothing overt other than the idea of dismissing organized religion as "salvation à la mode and a cup of tea." However, the second side, "My God," makes its argument in earnest from the opening verse: "People - what have you done/locked Him in His golden cage/Made Him bend to your religion/Him resurrected from the grave." The Church of England is explicitly condemned for having supplanted the authenticity of the Christian religion with plastic crucifixes. "Hymn 43" continues this line of argument by suggesting that: "If Jesus saves - well, He'd better save Himself from the gory glory seekers who use His name in death." "Slipstream" offers a metaphorical look at sinners trying to save themselves at the last moment: "And you press on God's waiter your last dime/as he hands you the bill." That "Slipstream" comes right before "Locomotive Breath" makes sense when you look at the latter's lyrics in light of the former.
But Ian Anderson's diatribe against the organized religion of his country does not extend to God, as is amply proven by the concluding song, "Wind Up." To underscore the importance of what is being sung at this point, the music tends to get out of the way of the lyrics, especially the final lines: "I don't believe you/you had the whole damn thing all wrong/He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays." When the teachings of the church consist of nothing more than "half-assed smiles and the book of rules," this necessitates a more personal dialogue with God. In Anderson's world God replies with a firm answer. When Anderson declares "I'd rather look around me - compose a better song/`cos that's the honest measure of my worth," he is staking a claim to more piety and sanctity than the edifices he is indicting.
The second side of "Aqualung" aspires to being much more than mere rock 'n' roll. The message is simplistic, but still compelling. "Aqualung" represents Ian Anderson speaking in relatively clear words; from here on the will cloak his lyrics in metaphors and his own brand of mysticism. But for me it is ultimately the clarity of the lyrics and the intended message that makes this the strongest of Jethro Tull's albums. There are certainly more pleasing melodies down the road, but that does nothing to diminish the raw power of this effort.
The bonus tracks are unnecessary, but the interview is a nice touch and for those who are disappointed that "Bouree" is not on the album it should be, here it is.
on 6 November 2008
For their fourth offering Tull continued with the folk tinged rock, introduced on 'Benefit'. Viewed by many as a concept album, I prefer to class it as split themed, as each side of the original vinyl contained songs that were about a subject rather than building up to tell a story.
Tracks 1 - 6 (side 1) features an even split of electric and acoustic numbers, dealing with destitution and homelessness. Title track 'Aqualung' with it's superb opening riff which immediately grabs your attention, followed by the uptempo 'Cross eyed Mary' provide a lively opening before the acoustic numbers kick in, 'Cheap day return', 'Mother goose' and especially 'Wond'ring aloud' are the best Tull acoustic fayre to date, while 'Up to me' has more than a little humour in evidence.
Tracks 7 - 11 (side 2) deals with the more controversial subject of English religious denominations. 'My god' part acoustic, electric and choral, opens the ball, followed by the rocking 'Hymn 43' while the acoustic 'Slipstream' leads into what must be the ultimate Tull encore number, 'Locomotive breath' more than chugs along. 'Wind up' closes the original album at a more leisurely pace before exploding into life mid section.
Bonus material is ok especially the IA interview.
on 16 July 2009
this is one of the best albums in rock and roll. any jethro tull fan or non fan knows this so i will skip the part of reviewing the cd. however i must tell you not to spend your money on this cd because the cd that came out in the 80's is ten times better. first of all the quality is poor so poor that i regret buying it. i was misled by the fact that it said remasterd this cd is not remastered and the bonus tracks suck. in order to listen to this cd i have to turn the volume up so high that when i insert another cd it blasts the speaker right out of its sockets. do not waste any money on this cd and just keep the one you have with its original 11 tracks and wait until one day they get it right.
on 27 September 2012
Many die hard Tull fans would consider this to be one of their best,if not THE best album, but this die hard Tull fan has never really rated this one quite so highly. Lyrically this album is very good,with Ian Andersons' song writing achieving a new purpose and maturity on this their fourth album. However,despite some fairly good compositions such as 'Wind-up' and 'Mother Goose' this album musically sounds just a tad bland compared to the previous two efforts 'Stand-up' and 'Benefit'. Except that is, for 'My God', a jewel of a track amongst some lesser compositions, and for that song alone I give this album four stars. Great,meaningful lyrics and grim,dramatic music with superb guitar work from Martin Barre and a fine flute solo from IA with the rest of the bands' monk-like psuedo-religious chanting mark this out as one of Tull and IA's greatest creations. ''.....and the graven image you-know-who, with his plastic crucifix...''--is he referring to Catholic hypocrisy,(an earlier version of this song would seem to suggest that), or is a plastic crucifix a junkies' syringe? You can draw your own conclusions.I'll never know why this song was ever dropped from their live shows, when 'Aqualung' and 'Locomotive Breath' persisted all the way up to the bands' recent tours. Yes, I suppose they are both good tracks, but I certainly wouldn't include them in my own personal Best Of Tull collection. I saw them live five times and apart from the flute solo section which was incorporated into a medley, I was more than a little disapointed never to see them play 'My God' live, the 'Songs from the Wood' tour in '77 being my first outing to a Tull gig.
on 16 April 2012
Aqualung is the first Tull album I owned and it was an old beat up vinyl cover I dug out of someone's garage sale in the 70s. Immediately, as the awesome riff began of Aqualung, I knew this was a band I would be getting into big time. I adore this riff and it is one of the best in rock history. Reportedly the riff was based on Beethovens classic dadada duuuuum, dadada duuuuuuuuum. It works well enough and carries this track to infamy. Those lyrics are pure genius: "snot running down his nose, greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes... feeling like a dead duck, spitting out pieces of his broken luck". The driving erratic rock riffage is broken by an acoustic interlude "sun streaking cold the old man wanders lonely taking time the only way he knows..." and then we have the rocked up section, "do you still remember December's foggy breeze...." (I forget this part of the lyrics but I love the music) and then Martin Barre's awesome lead break screams through the mix. It is pure prog bliss and my favourite Tull track. It was all listed in the top 100 best guitar songs of all time.
The rest of the album pales in comparison but is still terrific music such as Cross Eyed Mary with its chaotic pentameter and time signature, flute and guitar - it works! Mother Goose and Hymn 43 and My God - its absolute genius. There are some strange interludes with acoustic guitar that run for less than a minute and these are mixed with great overblown tracks such as Locomotive Breath - amazing! This became a single and ripped up the charts. The album is one of the most popular Tull, and the band have played it in its entirety many times and even performed it on radio. The conceptual content of the album is complex - It all seems to be wrapped in a concept about the dangers of religion and poverty, or something, but if you just let the music wash over you, Aqualung is a most invigorating, and at times perplexing, experience. Anderson said emphatically it's not a concept album, "just a bunch of songs", but we fans know better don't we? Overblown concept albums are a Tull trademark and here it sits. The cover is an iconic enigmatic image of a dirty tramp and this became Tull's image, uncharacteristic of a rock star and everything Tull purports to be; a rock band that refuses to conform to the traditional image.
In conclusion Aqualung is as good as everybody has claimed, and of course it exists in many forms. I recommend the CD with the bonus tracks and for that matter the Aqualung Live CD is a pleasant blast of a fresh approach to the music. I simply cannot recommend this more highly - a masterpiece of prog genius.