Go Vinyl!: Jethro Tull Aqualung

Jethro Tull's Aqualung (front cover)

I’m not buying CD’s anymore. They’re the worst. The cases and then the discs… you have no where to put them and they just take up space and they break and they get scratched. Its awful. So I’ve made a pledge to purchase music in two forms from now on. Digi and Vinyl… or both. Some of the newer albums or reissues come with complimentary digital downloads. It’s heaven. My “Going Vinyl” feature will showcase new editions to my fledgling but growing Vinyl collection. Today’s issue… Jethro Tull’s Aqualung… after the JUMP.

My first exposure to this album (or rather, its title song) was on the Howard Stern show. Maybe I had heard the hook previously, on one of those rock compilation CD commercials… but I had no clue about how epic this thing was. The riff, if put into text goes, “Bur bur bur bur burnnnnn bur.” Stern, Artie, Fred… and special guest Yucko the clown were infusing the “Sit-ting on-a-parrrrrk-bench” part with their own raunchy and sometimes explicit outbursts. And when I say it went on forever… it went on 4 EVAR. I remember driving my car and listening to the replay on Sirius and having to pull over for fear of crashing my car from laughing.

Fast forward to present day (the album was released in 1971)… I’m in Greenfield, MASS… window shopping. I went into a music store thinking they’d have vinyl, only to be disappointed by its large selection of instruments and Ben Afflek DVD’s. Little did I know that next to this shop was an equally disappointing Video Game store where cartridges went to die. EXCEPT… for the two milk crates of vinyl records stuffed in some dusty corner. My fingers flipped through the slim pickins and pulled out this gem. The album cover, slip and record were all in amazing condition. The shop owner asked for 5… I offered 4… SOLD. I already had the digital copy of the album on my iTunes, so this was the perfect scenario.

The album itself has been labeled a “concept album” by everyone except its creators. Vocalist Ian Anderson (via Wiki) shares:

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 bunch of songs.

Burton Silverman provided the gritty and disturbing potraits for the front, inside and back cover… with the title character, “Aqualung” getting the majority of the attention.

And finally, I had wanted to include a short video of me spinning the record on my cabinet at home… and I will do my own versions in the future with my newly acquired vinyl, but for now enjoy this embed from somebody else who is also a fan.

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