Music professor Allan Moore offers a critical overview of a seminal classic prog-rock album in Jethro Tull's 'Aqualung'.
Performed in a sonorous British accent by Graeme Malcom, this installment of the 33 1/3 series breaks down Jethro Tull's 1971 album with a granular attention to detail. Moore not only dissects each track musically, but offers his critical insights into the lyrics of the band's vocalist and flautist, Ian Anderson. In Moore's interpretation, Anderson channels "Jethro Tull" (an 18th-century farmer) in some of these songs.
Given a magisterial performance by Malcom, Moore's audio book will shed new light for diehard Jethro Tull fans on their best-known album.
Formed in 1968, Jethro Tull are one of rock's most enduring bands. Their 1971 album Aqualung, with its provocative lyrical content and continuous music shifts, is Tull's most successful and most misunderstood record. Here, music professor and fan Allan Moore tackles the album on a track-by-track basis, looking at Ian Anderson's lyrics and studying the complex structures and arrangements of these classic songs.
©2004 Allan F. Moore (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
This is a pretty decent stab at a conventional academic analytical deconstruction of this old favourite. As such it's a clear, rational, track-by-track dissection and a pretty balanced descriptive assessment --although the closing argument for these songs transcending their period seems somewhat forced to me. Doubtless such an exercise has value in itself but it's a bit like experiencing a lecture at Rock School. Consequently I found it became ponderous to listen to in a single sitting.
Fans hoping to find a rich wealth of period colour and insights into of the band's experience recording the album will be disappointed. Details of the sessions are largely absent as are band stories etc. No meaningful attempt is made to evoke the stylistic character of the rock of the period or to place the band's central and innovative contribution to Prog at the time. Some historical context is sketched-in but only to specifically illuminate the author's interpretation of theme and content.
There is nothing to convey the sense of what struck most fans as so fresh and exciting about Tull's style and what made them feel so pertinent, original and timely. Any young rock fan hoping to catch something of the vibe of that period and what it felt like to be their age back then listening to Tull, will find precious little insight in this somewhat dry essay.
Although the fair-minded assessment is informative in purely musicological terms, it gets a bit plodding in places and fails to adequately convey the rich, atmospheric flavour of the album and how that reflected it's historical context. This for me was a major disappointment.
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