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Jethro Tull

Aqualung 40th Anniversary Special Edition (EMI)

Nov. 6, 2011
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Aqualung became one of progressive rock's signal albums upon release in 1971, even if Jethro Tull's link with much of what would be called prog was tenuous, even coincidental. On the 40th Anniversary Special Edition, the original album (recorded under less than ideal conditions) is given a clean remix by one of the leading lights in 2011 prog, Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson; a second disc includes early versions of Aqualung tracks plus remixes of a few contemporaneous recordings previously heard on Living in the Past.

The killer guitar riffs of Aqualung's
hard rock tracks garnered most of the airplay 40 years ago, but all these decades later the songs that shine brightest owe more to the British folk revival than to '70s rock. “Mother Goose” is an enchanting acoustic ramble spiked with frontman Ian Anderson's pungent wit and “Wond'ring Aloud” is a sensitive, not saccharine ballad redolent of the mystic-ancient influences shared by Led Zeppelin, who happened to be down the hall in the recording studio during the making of Aqualung, building their “Stairway to Heaven.”

Lyrically, Aqualung
explored Anderson's struggle to locate the spirituality within religion and to find God within each person, even those as bedraggled and socially despised as the old homeless man of the title track. Some of the words are extraordinarily poetic and beautiful.


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