By Evan Fleischer
Coming off of three consecutive releases seeing little critical acclaim, English rock band Jethro Tull brought a different approach to their fourth studio endeavor. Released March 19, 1971, Aqualung, saw a flood of critical success. The album featured an experimental approach to the previously explored folk rock sound of the band, adding distorted guitar riffs and orchestral structures to their repertoire.
Anderson dives into an extended concept of religion on melodramatic tune, “My God,” a seven-minute rock ballad containing a flute and choral interlude mid-song.
Title song album opener, “Aqualung,” starts the album with an unforgettable guitar riff, then lead singer, Ian Anderson, follows the guitar melody in a gritty vocal track. The hard hitting, robust sound of Aqualung follows through to the second track of the album: “Cross-Eyed Mary.” This classic-rock epic begins in an upbeat build-up, decorated by Anderson’s reputable abilities on the flute, then breaking into a vigorous verse. “Mother Goose” brings an acoustic relief following the riff-driven rock featured previously on the album, bringing Jethro Tull back to their folk roots.
Anderson dives into an extended concept of religion on melodramatic tune, “My God,” a seven-minute rock ballad containing a flute and choral interlude mid-song. Anderson continues his criticisms of religion, specifically Christianity, on “Hymn 43,” singing, “Our Father high in heaven, smile down upon your son who is busy with his money games – his women and his gun.”
The album closes with “Wind Up,” a theatrical piano tune. The song builds to reach the dramatic climax of the record, resembling the driven sound of “Aqualung” and “Cross-Eyed Mary” earlier on the album.
Aqualung serves as one of Jethro Tull’s highest grossing records of all time, reaching its peak at 7th on the Billboard charts in June 1971, also spending 76 weeks on the charts. Aqualung resonates with youth culture even 50 years after its initial release and holds as a nostalgic piece for those who were there to experience Tull’s upbringing.