Aqualung is the fourth studio album by the rock band Jethro Tull, released in 1971.
The first side of the LP contains a series of six character sketches, including two sketches of people of questionable repute (title character Aqualung and Cross-Eyed Mary) and two autobiographical tracks including "Cheap Day Return", written by band leader Ian Anderson while returning from a visit to his critically ill father. The overall message of the lyrics on the second side is said to be "pro-God but anti-church", and makes the statement that organized religion can actually restrict a person's relationship with his God instead of enhancing it. Anderson has denied any attempt to create a concept album (see below).
The album was one of the first to be recorded at the newly opened studios of Island Records
in Basing Street, London
. Led Zeppelin
were mixing their untitled fourth album
at the same time. In an interview on the 25th anniversary edition of the album, Anderson reportedly said that trying to record in their studio was very difficult. There were two recording studios at the location; Led Zeppelin worked in the smaller studio while Tull got the larger, which was probably the original chapel based on Anderson's description of its "orchestral" feeling.
Many of the songs are primarily acoustic. "Cheap Day Return", "Wond'ring Aloud" and "Slipstream" are short, completely acoustic "bridges", and "Mother Goose" is also mostly acoustic.
In an interview on Aqualung Live (2005) (track 16) Ian Anderson claimed that:
I always said at the time that this is not a concept album; this is just an album of varied songs of varied instrumentation and intensity in which three or four are the kind of keynote pieces for the album but it doesn't make it a concept album. In my mind when it came to writing the next album, Thick as a Brick, was done very much in the sense of: 'Whuh, if they thought Aqualung was a concept album, O-O-K, we'll show you a concept album.' And it was done as a kind of spoof, a send-up, of the concept album genre. ... But, Aqualung itself, in my mind was never a concept album. Just a, just a bunch of songs.
The album's original cover art by Burton Silverman
features a portrait of the title character, Aqualung, which many have considered to be inspired by Ian Anderson, though Anderson denies it. The rear cover shows a less-lecherous looking portrait of the same character sitting on a street-curb with a dog, a scene reminiscent of the band's photographic portrait with age make-up and a pack of dogs on their first album, This Was
. The inner art on the fold-out cover showed portraits of the five band members in typical stage attire performing irreverent acts in a chapel--perhaps simultaneously depicting the theme of the second side of the LP while commemorating the band's recording-studio environment.
peaked at #7 on the Billboard Music Charts
' North American
pop albums chart and number 4 on the UK Album Chart. The single "Hymn 43" hit #91 on Billboard's
pop singles chart. The orchestrals were also arranged by Dee Palmer
(named David Palmer at the time).
Aqualung was one of only two Jethro Tull albums which were released in quadraphonic sound, the other being War Child. This version featured several differences from the stereo release. "Wind Up" (included in the CD reissue of album) is in a higher key, and "Aqualung" begins with two solo repetitions of the opening riff instead of one.
All songs written by Ian Anderson
except where noted.
- "Aqualung" – 6:31 (Ian Anderson, Jennie Anderson)
- "Cross-Eyed Mary" – 4:06
- "Cheap Day Return" – 1:21
- "Mother Goose" – 3:51
- "Wond'ring Aloud" – 1:53
- "Up to Me" – 3:15
- "My God" – 7:08
- "Hymn 43" – 3:14
- "Slipstream" – 1:13
- "Locomotive Breath" – 4:23
- "Wind Up" – 6:01
The 1996 and 1999 remastered CDs added six bonus tracks and extensive liner notes:
- "Lick Your Fingers Clean" – 2:46
- "Wind Up (Quad Version)" – 5:24
- "Excerpts From the Ian Anderson Interview" [Mojo Magazine] – 13:59
- "Song For Jeffrey" (BBC) – 2:51
- "Fat Man" (BBC) – 2:57
- "Bourée" (BBC) – 3:58 (Ian Anderson, Johann Sebastian Bach)