Jethro Tull – Aqualung (1971)

Artist Credit
Ian Anderson Arranger, Audio Production, Composer, Flute, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Member of Attributed Artist, Primary Artist, Producer, Vocals, Voices
Jennie Anderson Composer
Bernie Andrews Audio Production, Producer
Johann Sebastian Bach Composer
Martin Barre Descant, Descant Recorder, Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Member of Attributed Artist, Recorder
John Bungey Interviewer, Primary Artist
Clive Bunker Drums, Member of Attributed Artist, Percussion
John Burns Engineer
Bob Conduct Engineer
Terry Ellis Audio Production, Producer
John Evan Keyboards, Mellotron, Member of Attributed Artist, Multi Instruments, Organ, Piano
Jeffrey Hammond Alto Recorder, Bass Instrument, Guitar (Bass), Member of Attributed Artist, Vocals (Background), Voices
Allen Harris Engineer
Jethro Tull Primary Artist
Dee Palmer Arranger, Conductor, Keyboards, Saxophone, Synthesizer
Burton Silverman Painting Concept
John Walters Audio Production, Producer
Tony Wilson Engineer

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.

The lyrical concept — the hypocrisy of Christianity in England — is stronger than on most other ’70s conceptual efforts, but it’s ultimately the music that makes it worthy of praise. Tull’s winning way with a riff was never so arresting as on the chugging “Locomotive Breath,” or on the character studies “Cross Eyed Mary” and “Aqualung,” which portray believably seedy participants in Ian Anderson’s story. The fable imagery of “Mother Goose” and the vitriolic anti-authoritarian sentiments of “Wind Up” both serve notice of Anderson’s willful iconoclasm and his disillusionment with the spiritual traditions to which he was born. Varied but cohesive, Aqualung is widely regarded as Tull’s finest hour.

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