Aqualung is the fourth studio album by the rock band Jethro Tull. Released in 1971, Aqualung, despite the band’s disapproval, is 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”. Aqualung’s success marked a turning point in the band’s career, with them going on to become a major radio and touring act.
Recorded in Island Records’ studio in London, it was their first album with John Evan as a full-time member, their first with new bassist Jeffrey Hammond and last album featuring Clive Bunker on drums. The album is something of a departure from the band’s previous works, featuring 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 has sold over 7 million units worldwide according to Anderson, and is thus Jethro Tull’s best selling album. The album was generally well-received critically, and has been included on several music magazine “best of” lists. The album spawned one single, “Hymn 43”, and has been cited as an inspiration by bands such as Iron Maiden.
Ian Anderson: vocals, acoustic guitar, flute
Martin Barre: electric guitar, descant recorder
John Evan: piano, organ, mellotron
Jeffrey Hammond (as “Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond”): bass guitar, alto recorder and odd voices (and backing vocals on “Mother Goose”)
Clive Bunker: drums and percussion
Glenn Cornick: bass guitar (played with the band at rehearsals for the album in June 1970, some of which may also have been recording sessions, although he is not credited on the album).
John Burns: recording Engineer
David Palmer: orchestral arrangements and conduction
Burton Silverman: album artwork