Schingle's Blog

August 16, 2017

JT Rankings #3

Filed under: Folk tales and songs — Tags: , , , , , , , , — schingle @ 2:47 pm

#3 Aqualung

 

For music fans who are only vaguely aware of Jethro Tull, this may be the only album with which they are familiar.  “Aqualung” (1971) was so successful and popular that for the rest of their touring years, the group inevitably played a minimum of three songs from the disc.  The title song and “Locomotive Breath” were almost always played towards the end or as encores.  Any of the following could be heard on any given night:  “Cross-eyed Mary,” “My God,” and/or “Wind Up.”  All five of these songs are rockers, but most forget that there are quite a number of acoustic pieces as well on the LP and any of these had the potential to be played live.  It’s just that good and well-known of an album.  Among the acoustic favorites are: “Wond’ring Aloud,” “Mother Goose,” and “Cheap Day Return.”  Anyone, fan or not of JT, anyone would find this album an enjoyable listen.  It could easily be assumed that this would be ranked number one by a good percentage of long time JT fans.  Again, there really isn’t a bad song, a bad note on the album.  This was the group’s fourth studio album and the fourth different lineup.  Jeffrey Hammond joined the band as bassist and background vocalist to replace the departing Glenn Cornick.  The rest of the personnel remain the same as those on 1970’s “Benefit” with Ian Anderson as front man, flute and acoustic guitar player; Martin Barre on lead guitar, John Evan on Keyboards and Clive Bunker playing drums on his last album with Jethro Tull.  Ian Anderson got into some degree of trouble with critics at the time.  Critics insisted that “Aqualung” was a “concept album,” while Anderson claimed (and still claims to this day) that it was not.  There are a couple of running themes throughout the album.  Side one deals with shady characters in a less-than-upscale neighborhood (“Aqualung,” “Cross-eyed Mary”), while side two deals with Anderson’s rather naïve and negative(?) views towards organized religion (“My God,” “Wind Up”).  Still, the album isn’t meant to tell one consistent story, so most who truly pay attention would likely side with Anderson.  So, is “Aqualung” a concept album?  The best answer is probably: “What difference does it make?”  Aqualung is just a great conglomeration of songs from start to finish.  Very few fans of JT, or fans of rock/pop music would disagree at all.  Give it a listen, if you haven’t already.

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