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4.8 out of 5 stars42
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 31 October 2011
I won't go into detailed warblings about each track, much has been written over the years.

After many remastering attempts over the years, from dubious sourced tapes. Steve Hoffman came close, with his Ian Anderson sourced master tape, and the DCC 1997 issue.

This issue has, at last, been compiled from the original 16 and 8 track tapes, analogue to digital multi track transfer by Abbey Road, then passed on to Steven Wilson for expert remastering.
Keeping as close as possible to the original mix he has done an excellent job of bringing out a lot of previously hidden detail whilst managing to remove a lot of the previous issues/tape flaws.

If you have loved this album, but always been disappointed with the quality of previous issues, then this release is for you.

As a bonus the different versions on disc 2 are worth having, notibly the 9+ minute version of "My God" and early versions of "Wond'ring Aloud"

Thank you to EMI and Steve Wilson for at last giving us the album we Jethro Tull fans have long been hoping for.
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*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2CD VERSION ***

Little will prepare Tull fans for this. The sonic improvement and clarity on this 2CD remix/remaster is off-the-charts good - a truly fantastic improvement.

A little history is needed to explain this - the CD reissues of this acknowledge gem have been fraught with so-so versions - a duffer bare-bones 1st outing in 1987, a 25th Anniversary attempt in 1996 (which to my ears is one of the worst remasters I've ever heard) and a much better shot at it by the audiophile company DCC in the States a year later. Good rather than great. We'll at last - for it's 40th anniversary in 2011 - EMI UK finally gets it right.

Here are the details first - UK released Monday 31 Oct 2011, "Aqualung 40th Anniversary Special Edition" is a 2CD set on EMI/Chrysalis AQUAS 1 (5099908799920) and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (43:25 minutes):
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.

Disc 2 (44:51 minutes):
Track 1 is "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
Track 2 is "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
Track 3 is "My God (Early Version)" - a 9:42 minute outtake complete with studio dialogue at the beginning
Track 4 is "Wond'ring Aloud" - a 1:51 minute outtake recorded 13 Dec 1970
Track 5 is "Wind Up" - an 'Early Version' at 5:21 minutes with Ian Anderson on piano. This is a 2011 'New Mix'
Track 6 is "Slipstream (Take 2)" - a 54-second outtake
Track 7 is "Up The 'Pool" - an 'Early Version' at 1:12 minutes (released version is Track 10)
Track 8 is "Wond'ring Aloud, Again" - a 7:07 minute 'Full Morgan Version' with the band and extra verses
Tracks 9 to 13 are "Life Is A Long Song", "Up The Pool", "Dr Bogenbroom", "From Later" and "Nursie". 11 to 13 are new 2011 remasters. All 5 tracks 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 booklet). They reappeared as Tracks 3 to 7 on Side 4 of the "Living In The Past" double LP in 1972.
Track 14 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 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

The 2CDs are housed in a 3-way foldout card digipak with a 32-page booklet. Nice touches include the painting-artwork of Burton Silverman reproduced beneath the 2 see-through trays (the inner gatefold of the original vinyl LP), the CDs are green in colour as per the original Chrysalis labels and the booklet numbers the pages in Roman numerals in keeping with the original album artwork. There are knowledgeable and detailed liner notes by DOM WILSON featuring new interviews with principal songwriter and lead vocalist IAN ANDERSON. The booklet is peppered with new colour photos from the period and a nice collage shot of trade adverts, foreign pictures sleeves and promo-related stuff. But the really big news is the NEW SOUND...

Pages 26 and 27 give a detailed description by STEVEN WILSON on the lengths he went to in the remixing/remastering process 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.

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. The improvement continues on Side 2 - but even more so. 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 "Wond'ring Aloud, Again" which properly stretches out - it's a superb bonus. It takes the "Wond'ring Aloud" album track from "Aqualung" at 1:53 minutes length and adds on the "Wond'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's 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...

Niggles - the original album had an inner sleeve with lyrics - no show. This is a sloppy exclusion especially given the importance of words on this album.

I bought "Aqualung" when it came out in March 1971 as a spotty 12-year old and have loved it ever since. Finally this reissue does it justice. And the "Super Deluxe" box set has further 5.1 mixes that have received rave reviews too.

I suspect that Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree), Kris Burton and Peter Mew will be up for awards for their mastering skills on this reissue - a top job done and one of 'the' reissues of 2011.

Roll on "Living In The Past" the 1972 Double Album - it deserves the same lavish treatment...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 January 2012
There's plenty of detail on some of the other reviews so I'll be brief. Suffice to say that this is an excellent example of the kind of improvements remastering can do when done properly. It can be heard as the first few chords of the title track boom out of your hi-fi, but if you want to hear the real improvements then turn to the one of the acoustic tracks. I don't know what kind of trickery Steve Wilson used to achieve these results (I know he descibes them in the booklet, but it's all Greek to me)but they are quite outstanding when compared to the previous re-issue. There's no need to to go back and forth between the previous re issue and this one, the difference is as plain as the nose on your face. The booklet has an interesting essay on the creation of the album plus the aforementioned input from Steve Wilson and the bonus tracks are enjoyable but without being essential. If I were to have one small gripe, and this is being picky, I'd have fore gone the bonus tracks to have the extra disc contain the 5.1 mix of the album. Judging by Steve Wilsons results on Opeth's Heritage he clearly knows how to get this right.

Because of my experience with other re-masters (Quadrophenia, Paranoid) where there really was no difference between the new remaster and old edition I held fire on buying this for a while. If you're doing the same for the same reason, don't. I can assure you you won't be disappointed.

Oh and a quick word on the album itself. Prog rock at its majestic best.
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on 6 November 2011
[Review of 2-CD version] Veteran Tull fans could be forgiven for approaching yet another cd issue of Aqualung with some scepticism. Can we really fork out more cash on an album we've owned since God was a boy? Fear not, I must say this remixed anniversary edition does indeed remove a sonic veil from previous CD issues. Everything is clearer, crisper and has more impact. And the CD of extras is well worthwhile too. Some nice alternative and remixed versions here. Nothing too radical or different really, although a driving version of Wind-Up and an early version of My God are stand-outs for me. And I've always loved Up The 'Pool. (In his review here, Mark Berry gives a detailed and spot-on assessment of individual tracks on each cd.)

The enclosed booklet is nicely presented and is a pretty interesting read. I was a little surprised that lyrics aren't included, but maybe I can't truly claim to need them after all this time. But it would have been nice, and really useful for anyone new to the album. And I'm afraid that £85 to get them with the deluxe box set is a bit too steep. Unless I can swap a few of my earlier, inferior Aqualung cds for it ;-)

In summary, whether or not you're already a fan then buy this and (re)discover a masterpiece as it was meant to be heard. The sound alone makes it a five-star purchase.
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on 1 November 2011
Unbelievable. The BEAUTY of this 'new' sound is just a miracle. Lots of harmonies and instruments never hearded before, that give at the opus a new and more complex dimension; and a sense of richness in sound amazing to hear it. Listen to the fullness & great precision of the line basses, or the authority & majesty of electric guitars; and even the naturalness of voices & acoustic instruments... The depth of musical scene is amazing: I really don't believe that 40 years old tapes can sounds in this way.
And great choise in extras: the whole 4th LIVING IN THE PAST side, recorded in same sessions or five months later, plus VERY interesting alternate takes and first versions (MY GOD in particular).
About packaging, great value, with notes, photos, credits.
One of the best re-edition ever done, simply. Thanks, Mr.Wilson, God bless you.
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on 2 November 2011
My God, this is good! Simply breathtaking. The sound quality is unbelievable and finally matches the quality of the music. If you think you already know this album inside out, believe me, you don't! Just buy it. Your life is not complete without it!
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on 19 November 2011
This is the Special Edition I have Been waiting for, and has been at #1 on my wishlist since the dawn of 1997, or the CD. With Aqualung on Disc 01 and songs from side 2 and side 4 from Living In The Past (the double album) on Disc 02. Its a shame there is no Live Concert footage on DVD as a third Disc.

I have to agree with a Blu-ray Disc version being sold as a stand alone product. My #1 Album for this year is Steven Wilson's Grace for Drowning. I purchased both CD and Blu-ray audio-dvd versions, using the 96/24 stereo mix alone makes a must have experience over the CD version.

A new #1 on my wishlist!
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on 10 November 2011
I just opened my 40th anniversary copy and was taken back the 40 or so years to when I first heard it, a rather emotional moment which may make this review somewhat biased.
Nonetheless, that first experience was on vinyl with all its pops and crackles that were common then. That vinyl was replaced with a CD when it became available, allegedly for the better. Having heard this remaster it is clearly superior to both the previous copies I own.
This remaster is both musically and lyrically outstanding. I wholly recommend anyone who loves Aqualung to buy it.
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on 9 April 2014
there are currently a lot of "remasters" of various artists about these days mostly mediocre, the only person that seems to be able to make a huge difference is steve Wilson, the sound quality on this is top notch, far superior to any previous versions, I think its fair to say that it couldn't be bettered (to my ears anyway) the sound is three dimensional and full of depth and colour
they should let steve Wilson loose on things like the early classic Sabbath albums and lots of other classic albums that the supposed remaster treatment has been done too that they want to charge another £5 quid for but sound no different
you don't mind paying more if the sound quality is such an improvement as aqualung (steve Wilson has achieved similar with king crimson)
pay the extra and purchase this you wont be dissapointed
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This review is of the superb 2011 digital remastering of ‘Aqualung’, Jethro Tull’s classic 1971 album which made their name in America and elevated the group to international celebrity-status.

Working from the original (mainly) 16-track analogue recordings from Abbey Road Studios, the digital transfer and remastering work from Steven Wilson is exemplary, an object lesson in how to get the most out of 40-year old analogue material without resorting to ‘loudness mania’. ‘Aqualung’ contains quite a lot of acoustic material and the clarity and crispness of these pieces in particular has been noticeably enhanced to a level where you feel you never heard the music properly before now.

In the standard package, you get 2x CDs. The first is the original album release. The second contains a lot of extra material, most of it very good; especially the extended ‘My God’ - one of Ian Anderson’s most acerbic rants against organized religion - and the moderately successful single ‘Life’s a long Song’ excluded from the original vinyl album. There’s a well-produced booklet-insert, but (minor gripe here) containing no song lyrics.

Audiophiles will no doubt find fault with the fact that, unlike Steven Wilson’s recent classic King Crimson remasters, no 5.1-mix DVD is included in the ‘Aqualung’ 40th Anniversary release. But leaving that aside, this is a great package. If you don’t have this classic in your collection (previous CD releases have been unremarkable) buying this should be a no-brainer. The stellar sound quality alone means that all previous releases of this album can be consigned to history.
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