THE LONG PLAY

 


The Long Play with Al Neff" is a continuing Sunday evening Feature on The GOAT. This year, Every Sunday Evening, Album Rock WXYG, The GOAT will feature a full album at 8:00 PM from the halcyon musical days of 1971.
1971 was Quite an amazing year in Album Rock history. Gonna be a tough choice every week. So many great ones to choose from.

We hope you’ll tune in Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 8:00 PM for Aqualung from Jethro Tull.
Aqualung is their fourth studio album and was released on March 19,1971, by Chrysalis Records. It is widely regarded as a concept album featuring a central theme of "the distinction between religion and God", though the band have said there was no intention to make a concept album, and that only a few songs have a unifying theme. According to one reviewer, the album has "dour musings on faith and religion" which for him have marked it as "one of the most cerebral albums ever to reach millions of rock listeners". Aqualung's success signaled a turning point in the career of the band, which went on to become a major radio and touring act.

Recorded at Island Records' studio in London, it was their first album with keyboardist John Evan as a full-time member, their first with new bassist Jeffrey Hammond, and last album featuring Clive Bunker on drums, who quit the band shortly after the release of the album. Something of a departure from the band's previous work, the album features more acoustic material than previous releases; and—inspired by photographs of homeless people on the Thames Embankment taken by singer Ian Anderson's wife Jennie—contains a number of recurring themes, addressing religion along with Anderson's own personal experiences.

Aqualung is Jethro Tull's best-selling album, selling more than seven million units worldwide. It was generally well-received critically and has been included on several music magazine best-of lists. The album spawned two singles, "Hymn 43" and "Locomotive Breath".

'My God' was recorded on 11–12 April 1970, followed by Wond'ring Aloud on 21 June, both at Morgan Studios. After an American tour, bass player Glenn Cornick was fired from the band, and was replaced with Jeffrey Hammond, an old friend of Ian Anderson. Aqualung would be Hammond's first album with the band. It would also mark the first time John Evan had recorded a full album with the band, as his only prior involvement was to provide several keyboard parts on the previous 1970 album, Benefit. In December, the album became one of the first to be recorded at the newly opened studios of Island Records in Basing Street, London. Led Zeppelin were recording their untitled fourth album at the same time. In an interview on the 25th anniversary edition of the album, Tull's bandleader Ian Anderson said that trying to record in that studio was very difficult, because of its "horrible, cold, echoey" feel. There were two recording studios at the location; Led Zeppelin worked in the smaller studio while Tull got the larger, which was the main body of a converted church. The orchestral segments were arranged by Dee Palmer, who had worked with the band since 1968's This Was, and would later join as a keyboard player. The master reels were assembled at Apple Studios on 2 March 1971. Aqualung would be the last Jethro Tull album to include Clive Bunker as a band member, as he retired shortly after recording to start a family.
The songs on the album encompass a variety of musical genres, with elements of folk, blues, psychedelia, and hard rock. The "riff-heavy" nature of tracks such as "Locomotive Breath", "Hymn 43" and "Wind Up" is regarded as a factor in the band's increased success after the release of the album, with Jethro Tull becoming "a major arena act" and a "fixture on FM radio" according to AllMusic. In a stylistic departure from Jethro Tull's earlier albums, many of Aqualung's songs are acoustic. "Cheap Day Return", "Wond'ring Aloud" and "Slipstream" are short, completely acoustic "bridges", and "Mother Goose" is also mostly acoustic. Anderson claims his main inspirations for writing the album were Roy Harper and Bert Jansch.

Aqualung has widely been regarded as a concept album, featuring a central theme of "the distinction between religion and God". The album's "dour musings on faith and religion" have marked it as "one of the most cerebral albums ever to reach millions of rock listeners".[6] Academic discussions of the nature of concept albums have frequently listed Aqualung amongst their number.

The initial idea for the album was sparked by some photographs that Anderson's wife Jennie took of homeless people on the Thames Embankment. The appearance of one man in particular caught the interest of the couple, who together wrote the title song "Aqualung". The first side of the LP, titled Aqualung, contains several character sketches, including the eponymous character of the title track, and the schoolgirl prostitute Cross-Eyed Mary, as well as two autobiographical tracks, including "Cheap Day Return", written by Anderson after a visit to his critically ill father.
The second side, titled My God, contains three tracks—"My God," "Hymn 43" and "Wind-Up"—that address religion in an introspective, and sometimes irreverent, manner. However, despite the names given to the album's two sides and their related subject matter, Anderson has consistently maintained that Aqualung is not a "concept album". A 2005 interview included on Aqualung Live gives Anderson's thoughts on the matter:
“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, Oh! Okay, 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.”

Drummer Clive Bunker believes that the record's perception as a concept album is a case of "Chinese whispers", explaining "you play the record to a couple of Americans, tell them that there's a lyrical theme loosely linking a few songs, and then notice the figure of the Aqualung character on the cover, and suddenly the word is out that Jethro Tull have done a concept album".

The thematic elements Jethro Tull explored on the album—those of the effects of urbanization on nature, and of the effects of social constructs such as religion on society—would be developed further on most of the band's subsequent releases. Ian Anderson's frustration over the album's labelling as a concept album directly led to the creation of Thick as a Brick (1972), intended to be a deliberately "over the top" concept album in response.
The album's original cover art by Burton Silverman features a watercolor portrait of a long-haired, bearded man in shabby clothes. Though Anderson has claimed that the image came from a photograph his wife took of a homeless man on Thames Embankment and has said he felt it would have been better to have used the photograph rather than commission the painting, this is not an accurate recollection. The main image was created by Silverman based on photos Silverman's wife took of him on the streets of London. Anderson also has said he remembered posing for a photograph for the painting that became the cover. This claim, too, does not hold up to scrutiny. Silverman did draw a few sketches of the band while they were recording, but Anderson did not participate in a dedicated photo session for the album cover.[24]
Three paintings in total were commissioned and purchased by Chrysalis Records head Terry Ellis in 1971. Silverman was paid a flat fee of $1,500 for the artwork. There was no written contract. The artist says the watercolors were only licensed for use on the album and not for merchandising; he approached Anderson asking for his support should he attempt to seek compensation for what were at-the-time unforeseen additional uses, such as printing it on T-shirts and coffee mugs. In a letter sent to Silverman, Anderson rejected his request.

The original artwork for both the front and back covers are missing. They were apparently stolen from a London hotel room, or perhaps from Chrysalis' office during a robbery. The original artwork for the interior gatefold painting was not taken during the robbery and is held by Terry Ellis.

The album is generally lauded and viewed as a classic. AllMusic's Bruce Eder called Aqualung "a bold statement" and "extremely profound". In a review of the album's 40th anniversary re-release, Sean Murphy of PopMatters said that Aqualung "is, to be certain, a cornerstone of the then-nascent prog-rock canon, but it did—and does—exist wholly on its own terms as a great rock album, period". Murphy also praised the additional material featured on the release, finding that the new content was "where a great album gets even better". Steve Harris, the bass player for the heavy metal band Iron Maiden, has called Aqualung "a classic album", lauding its "fantastic playing, fantastic songs, attitude [and] vibe". Iron Maiden would go on to cover "Cross-Eyed Mary" as the B-side of their 1983 single "The Trooper".
Aqualung has also been appraised highly in retrospective listings, compiled by music writers and magazines. Even Martin Barre's solo on the album's title track was included in Guitarist magazine’s list of "The 20 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time" at number 20.

Tune In and Turn On, Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021, and every Sunday evening at 8:00 PM for The GOAT'S "The Long Play with Al Neff.”

Don’t forget, right after the “Long Play”, we do a “Replay” of this week’s GOAT GUEST DJ SHOW.



 

 

 

 

 

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