1-24-12 Jethro Tull – “Aqualung” (5.1)
Disc o’ the day: Jethro Tull – “Aqualung” in 5.1
I arrived at the Jethro Tull party right about the time “Benefit” was a new album. I had heard individual tracks before that on Warner / Reprise sampler albums. But I sunk my teeth into “Benefit” and became a fan and supporter of Jethro Tull, who were a young band at that time!
So, I was very ready for their commercial break-through, “Aqualung” in early 1971. At the time, it didn’t seem like a “commercial break-through”, it was just another Jethro Tull album that was pretty good (though not as good as “Benefit”). Nice packaging! Oh, the US & UK LP copies were different! But in 1971, I was really paying attention.
Later in 1971, a significant EP by Jethro Tull was released in England, “Life Is A Long Song” – I snapped that one up and liked it even better than “Aqualung”!
Last year, a 40th anniversary multiple-disc “Aqualung” boxed set became available, at a price tag of approx. $150.- 2CD’s, a DVD, a Blu-ray disc and an LP. Like the 40th anniversary King Crimson discs, “Aqualung” has now been mixed / re-mixed by Steve Wilson – a new stereo mix, and a glorious 5.1 mix! (If you’re not satisfied, the original “Quad” mix is also included on the DVD; it’s reasonably different from the LP’s stereo mix!). Plenty of rear speaker action in this 5.1 mix!
“Lick Your Fingers Clean” (originally an unreleased ’71 single) was on the 1997 “25th Anniversary Edition” of “Aqualung”, and it appears here again, together with the entire “Life Is A Long Song” EP – two of the five tracks of which have now been mixed into 5.1! And there’s some alternate versions of “Aqualung” material, the ‘early take’ of “My God” being particularly interesting.
The new stereo mix of “Aqualung” reveals some nice-sounding bass, especially on “Cross Eyed Mary”. A guitar part has been changed here and there, as well. But the sound is very clear, and – no doubt – approved by the band / Ian Anderson.
If you’ve been a Jethro Tull fan for a while, you might want to cast deep into your pockets and invest in this 40th anniversary boxed set of “Aqualung”. It’s actually very nicely done. It’s also my first ever Blu-ray disc (Which I cannot play at this time!).
This is a fine Jethro Tull album, but the bonus material actually eclipses it, for a change. I’m so glad the charming “Life Is A Long Song” EP hasn’t been forgotten in the annals of time – I know the band were playing some of it live, when they toured the US in the late 90’s – so they know it, too. Bravo!