Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music
“Aqualung” isn’t only a great album, it’s somehow a feel of live from the early 70’s. Maybe not as ambitious and essential in progressive rock terms as “Thick As A Brick”, but in terms of folk prog an absolute masterpiece concept record, too. I always feel like I am travelling back in the 70’s when I listen to classic tracks like “Locomotive Breath”, “Cross-Eyed Mary”, “Mother Gose” or the title track.
In 2011, Jethro Tull’s iconic album Aqualung was released in celebration of its 40th anniversary. If you didn’t pick it up then, you’re in luck, because if you’ve checked your calendar, you know that it’s been five years, so it’s time for us to release a 45th Anniversary Edition!
The leap from 1970's Benefit to the following year's Aqualung is one of the most astonishing progressions in rock history. In the space of one album, Tull went from relatively unassuming electrified folk-rock to larger-than-life conceptual rock full of sophisticated compositions and complex, intellectual, lyrical constructs. While the leap to full-blown prog rock wouldn't be taken until a year later on Thick as a Brick, the degree to which Tull upped the ante here is remarkable…
Released at a time when a lot of bands were embracing pop-Christianity (à la Jesus Christ Superstar), Aqualung was a bold statement for a rock group, a pro-God anti-church tract that probably got lots of teenagers wrestling with these ideas for the first time in their lives. This was the album that made Jethro Tull a fixture on FM radio, with riff-heavy songs like "My God," "Hymn 43," "Locomotive Breath," "Cross-Eyed Mary," "Wind Up," and the title track. And from there, they became a major arena act, and a fixture at the top of the record charts for most of the 1970s.