Pazz and Jop 1971 – #20

Jethro Tull – Aqualung

We end our journey through 1971 with this, umm, classic. It’s hard to be objective about Jethro Tull: everything about them cries out pretension, from the name (taken from an agriculturist who died in 1741) to the prominence of flute in their music to the image I have never been able to clear from my memory banks of Ian Anderson in tights looking like a demented Pan. The whole thing is ripe for parody, and maybe that’s part of the problem: I’ve seen too many things over the years making fun of Tull-like bands to take the real thing very seriously.

But the real problem is that it simply isn’t very memorable. As I listened to this for a second time, I couldn’t think of anything to say about it. I don’t really dislike any of this, but that’s because I don’t have much of a reaction to it at all. Yeah, the flute is unique for a rock record, there are some lovely piano bits, the guitar definitely rocks, and I give a shit about almost none of it. I can imagine lots of effort being put into interpreting the profundities found on the lyric sheet, but I can’t be bothered to try. No one track stands out enough to call it my favourite, and there is nothing here worth hating. It just is. And so 1971 ends with a whimper. That 1972 will begin with a bang is an understatement.

(I thought about leaving out the Spotify link since I can’t recommend this record, but figured that if you wanted to punish yourself, it’s not my place to get in the way.)

(Originally posted on Facebook, May 8, 2021)

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