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Friday, May 01, 2009

29 in 2009 - Jethro Tull: "Aqualung"

Jethro Tull: Aqualung
Originally Released: March 19, 1971
Genres: Rock, Progressive Rock
Rating: 7 out of 10

What do I know about Jethro Tull? Well, prior to the release of Rock Band 2, I knew that Jethro Tull was some English farmer who is wrongly credited for the invention of the seed drill (or hell, some agricultural invention). Then Rock Band 2 came out, featured the song "Aqualung" and I was blown away! That's partially why when I wrote the introduction for the 29 in 2009 series, I made sure to mention that I was unfamiliar with Tull. I really wanted to hear the rest of this album!

Hearing the whole thing really makes Ron Burgundy's jazz flute solo in Anchorman so much more hilarious than it was before. Hell, the flutes are pretty much the coolest thing this album has going for it (aside from "Aqualung's" legendary guitar solo). Every time a flute solo pops up, I can't help but smile at what I'm hearing. It's a different musical experience than I'm used to to say the least!

Aqualung is a strange album. Divided into two parts, the first contains multiple character portraits (such as the homeless, despicable title character) while the second takes on a much more religious, or anti-religion theme. Each side of the album is equally as unbalanced, with great songs mixed with throwaways. On side one, the obvious hit is "Aqualung," while "Cross-Eyed Mary" shows the flaws of Ian Anderson's otherwise beautiful voice. I can't even listen to it now. It's too much for me. On side two, I've found myself particularly impressed with "Wind Up" while "My God" once again finds Anderson making a fool of himself.

Anderson is at his best when his voice is less grating and more smooth. The fabulous "Mother Goose" is a pretty decent example of this, though his best vocal work is on the 3 short acoustic songs on the album; "Cheap Day Return," "Wond'ring Aloud," and "Slipstream." These songs are way too good to be this short (all are under 2 minutes), and deserved to be fleshed out more, in my opinion. Minor gripes aside though, Aqualung is still a pretty solid album; even exciting at times. The guitars, the lyrics, the moods, and yes, the flute all make for an album that you simply can't forget! After all this 29 in 2009 business is over, I wouldn't be surprised if I checked out some of their other works. If you guys know any good ones, let me know.

Rating: Classic

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