Saturday, October 15, 2011

Aqualung (1971)

I had some hope I might actually like this after 40 years. I never warmed to it much at the time, though I did love the first three Jethro Tull albums—Benefit, probably the least of them objectively speaking, is an eternal favorite for being one of the first albums I ever owned. This Was had Mick Abrahams and Stand Up was just charming. I saw a Tull concert in support of Aqualung that I remember liking pretty well. A bit on the histrionic side, naturally enough I suppose, but some very sharp and memorable moments that are with me still. And taken a track at a time as it would come on classic rock radio, the title song or "Cross-Eyed Mary" or "Hymn 43" or "Locomotive Breath" or whatnot, I thought it was pretty good too, hooks and atmosphere and groovy hard-rock guitar, etc. But alas maybe its moment has simply come and gone for me; listening to the whole thing now has proved little better than a numbing chore. Partly it's because I don't often connect with such big hairy brawny concept albums (I know, there are exceptions) and partly because somehow this particular concept leaves me a bit squeamish. It's not that I have anything against anti-religious sentiments, but when the rage reaches certain levels of vitriol I often find myself looking around nervously for the exits. I don't doubt the severity of the problems. But as one of the damned, I was fortunate enough to escape many of them. Honestly, I'm glad my Midwestern United Methodist Church never ran any of the trips on me—if anything, it was "too liberal" and threw the curse of a lasting impression of tolerance on me. So no horror stories, thank God, and not much of the seething resentment to share, except of course for Fred Phelps and his ilk, and we all know dicks like that are a special case. I don't doubt that for some this album is a tonic, even a life-saver, in its time and place. As for the matter of whether Ian Anderson (pic) and Alan Moore (pic) are actually the same person, that's just a rumor from irresponsible quarters and I refuse to traffic in such things.

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