Released in 1971 Aqualung proved to be turning point for the band Jethro Tull. It took them relative obscurity to a powerhouse of the popular music world. It is estimated that over the years some 7 million copies of the album have been sold.
The band has been headed by front man Ian Anderson since its beginning in the mid 60â€™s. Of all of the musicians of that era that I admire, he is the one that I have never interviewed. We came close a few years ago, but the project never came to fruition.
So why my interest in Aqualung again? Well last night I was watching the movie Armageddon for what seems like the 1000th time, and in the script there is a reference to Jethro Tull (the man not the band). It was enough however to rekindle my interest in Ian Anderson and so this morning I dusted off Aqualung and took it for a spin.
It is every bit as exciting and fresh today as it was 40 years ago.
Aqualung is widely accepted as being an exploration of mans perception of God and religion. While I can certainly buy into that rather lofty description I view it slightly differently. To me it is dark social commentary on mans inhumanity to man.
The title track Aqualung plunges you into a world of hurt. The world of a homeless beggar..
A man with few redeeming features. Certainly Aqualung is not someone that you would be likely to invite into your home.
Track two Cross Eyed Mary continues the theme but in a different yet equally disturbing way.
Another favorite track has to be Locomotive Breath. I searched for a video of a live performance and found this amazing one.
There is no doubt about it, Ian Anderson knows how to get into a song!
Aqualung is not entirely doom and gloom. There are songs of a lighter nature and one of my favorites is Wondâ€™ring Aloud.
Ian Anderson is a great singer/songwriter and consummate showman. Aqualung remains one of my favorite albums of all times. The songs are so well constructed and so well executed that you can do nothing but marvel at them.
Here is a little bit of trivia for you, in 1983 none other than the band Iron Maiden released a cover of Cross Eyed Mary.
Metallica have also been known to play it.
In some ways I was surprised by those last two videos. While it is hard to put Jethro Tull in a genre box, if I had to it would be prog folk rock. It hardly seems the raw material for Metal bands.
Take Aqualung out for a spin, it is a great adventure.