Jethro Tull - Aqualung(40th Anniversary Adapted Edition) [Chrysalis - 2016]Here we have the definitive edition of Jethro Tullís highly influential & respected fourth album Aqualung. This 1971 release saw the British band blending together folk-rock, prog-rock, and hard-rock into one of the more memorable, clever, consistent, and undated rock albums of the 1970ís.
This 2016 reissue of the album has to be one of the most classy, definitive, yet fairly compact releases youíre likely to come across. The four discs- two CDs, and two DVDs come in a hardback book format- this features in its middle a full colour 80 page book. The CDís take in the albums original album, featuring a recent stereo mix by Steve Wilson. And a full disc of associated recordings from the time. The DVDís feature a 5.1 surround sound version of the album. As well as original stereo & quad mixers from the 70ís, plus a short promotional film.
Itís fair to say Aqualung still stands as one of Jethro Tullís great albums, and one of the more approachable prog albums of the 1970ís. The albums eleven tracks are a prefect blend of memorable song writing, precise yet never over indulgent musicianship, clever & at time scathing/ amusing lyrics, and a rewarding-yet- never too tying conceptÖ the distinction between religion and God. The tracks are effortless, creative/ complex yet always accessible blends of mostly electrified folk-rock, hard rock, and Prog rock- but with out any of the genres overindulgence or ego. The album effortless shifts pace from throbbing & urgent hard-rock. Onto pared & moody acoustic guitar or piano singer songwriter fare. Though to memorable, yet cleverly composed progressive rock. All weaved with the bands distinctive musical flare, wordy & thought provoking lyrics, and of course their trademark flute embellishments- which are the finest & most fitting in rock history.
The 80 page full colour book is really something very special; as it really takes in everything youíd ever want to know about the album in a wholly rewarding form. It features: a lengthy & highly informative write-up about the band & the album from Classic rock Magazineís Dom Lawson. A selection of memoirs from band members & related about the time/ album. Texts from the UK tour programme. A whole host of pictures- taking band photos, tour itinerary, flyers etc. Full lyrics, full tour date listings, interviews with the albums original engineer, and Steve Wilson about his remix.
The second CD takes in 16 tracks, and this features in Life is a Long Song EP from 1971, as well as a selection of rare tracks, and radio ads. And this adds in another layer of period context to the set- sure the tracks on this disc are not quite as top draw as the original album tracks, but they are still very worth & interesting in the context of the set itís self.
As for Mr Wilson remix- it really is one of the best remixes Iíve heard, bringing out the layers of sound, instrumental definition & vocal clarity- as well as the general great compositional flow of the whole album. Making the more urgent hard rock moments even more punchy, and the more pared back & atmospheric moments more epic yet detailed. And the DVD mixes give you ever mix option possible- if you wish, but really for me the first disc & the 80 page booklet are the key features here- with the other three discs really adding in very nice bonus.
All in all this is with out doubt this one of the reissue highlights of 2016, and really a must have for anyone who has even a passing interest in rock music from the 1970ís. Added to that you can presently pick this up for a truly bargain price of just under £20.00, which is great, great value for a set such as this. Roger Batty