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Music / Aqualung (Jethro Tull Album)

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How do you dare tell me that I'm my Father's son
When that was just an accident of Birth
I'd rather look around me — compose a better song
`Cos that's the honest measure of my worth.
— "Wind-Up"

Aqualung is the fourth studio album by Jethro Tull, released in 1971 through Chrysalis Records in the UK and Reprise Records in the US. It is their final album to feature drummer Clive Bunker, the first without bassist Glenn Cornick and the first with bassist Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and keyboardist John Evan, the latter of which appeared on Benefit as an unofficial member. It is best known for the eponymous hit single "Aqualung". Other well-known tracks include "Cross-Eyed Mary" and "Locomotive Breath".


Side One

  1. "Aqualung" (6:31)
  2. "Cross-Eyed Mary" (4:06)
  3. "Cheap Day Return" (1:21)
  4. "Mother Goose" (3:51)
  5. "Wond'ring Aloud" (1:53)
  6. "Up To Me" (3:14)

Side Two

  1. "My God" (7:08)
  2. "Hymn 43" (3:15)
  3. "Slipstream" (1:12)
  4. "Locomotive Breath" (4:23)
  5. "Wind-Up" (6:01)

Bonus Tracks (1996 Remaster):

  1. "Lick Your Fingers Clean" (2:49)
  2. "Wind-Up" (Quad Version) (5:24)
  3. "Excerpts From The Ian Anderson Interview" (13:59)
  4. "A Song For Jeffrey" (2:51)
  5. "Fat Man" (BBC) (2:57)
  6. "Bourée" (BBC) (3:58)

Bonus Disc (40th Anniversary Release):

  1. "Lick Your Fingers Clean" (2:49)
  2. "Just Trying to Be" (1:37)
  3. "My God" (Early Version) (9:42)
  4. "Wond'ring Aloud" (13th December 1970) (1:51)
  5. "Wind Up" (Early Version) (5:21)
  6. "Slipstream" (Take 2) (0:54)
  7. "Up The 'Pool" (Early Version) (1:12)
  8. "Wond'ring Aloud, Again" (Full Morgan Version) (7:07)
  9. "Life Is A Long Song" (3:19)
  10. "Up The 'Pool" (New Mix) (3:12)
  11. "Dr. Bogenbroom" (3:00)
  12. "From Later" (2:08)
  13. "Nursie" (1:37)
  14. "US Radio Spot" (0:52)

Principal Members:

  • Ian Anderson - lead vocals, flute, guitar
  • Martin Barre - guitar, recorder
  • Clive Bunker - drums, percussion
  • John Evan - piano, organ, mellotron
  • Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond - bass, recorder, vocals

"And the tropes bloom like madness in the spring":

  • Album Title Drop: "Aqualung".
    Aqualung my friend
    Don't start away uneasy
  • All Women Are Lustful: Cross-Eyed Mary in "Cross-Eyed Mary", who prefers the company of "leching greys" over school boys her age.
  • Anti-Hero: Aqualung, described as a dirty old man who lusts for young girls, has a Half Way Plot Switch near the end where he becomes a victim of a society who forces him to convert to their religion and ways.
  • Be Yourself: The central theme of this album.
  • Bowdlerize: When "Locomotive Breath" was played on American radio, the phrase "Got him by the balls" was often censored.
  • Comically Cross-Eyed: "Cross-Eyed Mary".
  • Concept Album: Commonly called one, despite Anderson's protests to the contrary. So he wrote Thick as a Brick.
  • Corrupt Church: "My God", "Hymn 43" and "Wind-Up" all depict organized religion as a bunch of liars, causing the protagonist to lose his faith in God.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover, painted by Burton Silverman.
  • Despair Event Horizon: "Locomotive Breath"
    In the shuffling madness of the locomotive breath
    Runs the all time loser, headlong to his death
  • Dirty Old Man: Aqualung, the title character, who apparently is a dirty, old, lustful, homeless man. The album cover illustrates his appearance magnificently.
  • Epic Rocking: "Aqualung", "My God" and "Wind-Up" are all over six minutes.
  • Evil Old Folks: Aqualung, a lecherous old man who is a paedophile. Or so it seems.
  • Fille Fatale: Cross Eyed Mary who "gets no kicks from little boys/Rather make it with a leching grey", especially if they're well off although it's implied that she flirts with Aqualung.
  • Four More Measures: The opening riff in "Aqualung" is played twice to open the song and three times to close it.
  • Gratuitous French: "Aqualung"
    Salvation à la mode and a cup of tea
  • Grow Old with Me: "Wond'ring Aloud".
    Wond'ring aloud
    will the years treat us well.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: "Cross-Eyed Mary".
    Cross-eyed Mary finds it hard to get along
    She's a poor man's rich girl
    and she'll do it for a song
    She's a rich man stealer
    but her favour's good and strong
    She's the Robin Hood of Highgate
    helps the poor man get along.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "Cheap Day Return", "Wond'ring Aloud" and "Slipstream" are all under two minutes.
  • Mighty Whitey: Subject to a Take That! in "Hymn 43".
  • New Sound Album: This marked the shift from the band's jazz-blues origins in favour of Progressive Rock.
  • One-Woman Song: "Cross-Eyed Mary", "Mother Goose".
  • Oop North: "Up the 'Pool" is about Blackpool. The singers even adopt the accent during the repeat of the first verse.
  • Progressive Rock: One of the cornerstones of the genre.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Anderson was inspired to create the album when he and his wife Jenny saw an old homeless man sitting on a park bench.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Wind-Up"
    And so to my old headmaster and to anyone who cares
    Before I'm through I'd like to say my prayers
    And you can excommunicate me on my way to Sunday school
    And have all the Bishops harmonize these lines
    I don't believe you, you had the whole damn thing all wrong
    And he's not the kind you have to wind-up on a Sunday
  • Robin Hood: Cross-Eyed Mary is described as "the Robin Hood of Highgate, helps the poor man get along." It's implied that she steals from the wealthy, older men she sleeps with and passes at least some of it to street people like Aqualung.
  • Shout-Out: "Mother Goose" references Mother Goose and Long John Silver, the pirate from Treasure Island.
  • Special Guest: During the solo for the song "Aqualung", Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin (who were recording Led Zeppelin IV at the same studio) walked into the recording studio and waved to Jethro Tull's guitarist Martin Barre. There are a few differing accounts of this story but one version says that Barre waved back, sustaining a note with his left hand and waving with his right. Ian Anderson claims that if you turn up the volume you can even hear him wave. There IS a short sustain in the solo, so this may be true. Another version is that Barre started improvising when Page walked in to try and impress him.
  • Stock Sound Effects: "Aqualung" imitates "deep sea diving" sounds.
  • Studio Chatter: Some of it can be made out.
  • Take That!: "My God," "Hymn 43," "Wind-Up," and "Lick Your Fingers Clean" are all harsh strikes against organized religion. Anderson's been accused of slamming religion in general, but the ending of "Locomotive Breath" contradicts that.
  • Train Song: "Locomotive Breath", which sounds like a train chugging, complete with Ian Anderson saying "Oh-Oh" in between. The song is an extended metaphor comparing the life of the main character, an "all-time loser", to a runaway train.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: Charlie's wife in "Locomotive Breath" cheats on him with his best friend.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Mother Goose".