By now, 40 years after its initial release, most folks have become very familiar with the classic album by Jethro Tull called Aqualung, so the purpose of this review is not to dissect what is already viewed as an 'old friend' to hundreds of thousands of rock fans worldwide. To celebrate the 40th Anniversity of Aqualung, the band and Chrysalis/EMI have contracted Porcupine Tree masternind Steven Wilson to remix the album and bonus tracks, and to put it mildly, this is a version of this classic album that you need to hear.
Housed within a lovely deluxe digipack that contains a thick booklet, Aqualung has never sounded better. Wilson has really cleaned up the original stereo mix, so there's a sonic clarity to cuts like "Cross Eyed Mary", "Mother Goose", "Wond'ring Aloud", "Up to Me", "Locomotive Breath", "Hymn 43", "Wind Up", and the legendary title track that was not present previously in the original CD release or subsequent remasters. Drums, guitars, flute, bass, and vocals are so crisp and crystal clear, and Wilson chose to keep the 70's analog spirit in check, rather than attempt to modernize the mix, which was a great choice. Of the bonus cuts, "Lick Your Fingers Clean" just bursts out of the speakers with power and clarity, and you'll get the same feeling on "Up the Pool", "Just Trying to Be", and alternate & early versions of songs that made the actual album.
The booklet provides some great recent commentary from Ian Anderson on the significance of Aqualung 40 years later, though it's odd that so much print is given to the fact that it remains a 'progressive rock classic' when Anderson has stated for years that Tull never was a prog band to begin with. Plenty of vintage photos, info, and words from Steven Wilson round out this excellent booklet.
So, do you really need to buy Aqualung yet again? Well, in this case, you probably do if you really want to hear this album in the way it was meant to be heard. As he's done with the recent King Crimson remixes, Wilson has done a remarkable job here, and we can only hope he tackles more classic prog albums from that era in the months and years ahead.
1. Aqualung (New Stereo Mix) 6:35
2. Cross-Eyed Mary (New Stereo Mix) 4:09
3. Cheap Day Return (New Stereo Mix) 1:21
4. Mother Goose (New Stereo Mix) 3:52
5. Wond'ring Aloud (New Stereo Mix) 1:53
6. Up To Me (New Stereo Mix) 3:14
7. My God (New Stereo Mix) 7:11
8. Hymn 43 (New Stereo Mix) 3:17
9. Slipstream (New Stereo Mix) 1:12
10. Locomotive Breath (New Stereo Mix) 4:41
11. Wind-Up (New Stereo Mix) 6:00
1. Lick Your Fingers Clean (New Mix) 2:49
2. Just Trying To Be (New Mix) 1:37
3. My God (Early Version) 9:42
4. Wond'ring Aloud (13th December 1970) 1:51
5. Wind-Up (Early Version - New Mix) 5:21
6. Slipstream (Take 2) 0:54
7. Up The 'Pool (Early Version) 1:12
8. Wond'ring Aloud, Again (Full Morgan Version) 7:07
9. Life Is A Long Song (New Mix) 3:19
10. Up The 'Pool (New Mix) 3:12
11. Dr Bogenbroom (2011 - Remaster) 3:00
12. From Later (2011 - Remaster) 2:08
13. Nursie (2011 - Remaster) 1:37
14. US Radio Spot 0:52