Aqualung Live

Jethro Tull

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Aqualung Live Review

by Greg Prato

Each era of rock music has had its own craftily marketed phenomenon -- it was the "live album" in the '70s, "unplugged" recordings in the '90s, and since the late '80s through the present day, the "tribute album." But the early 21st century saw another addition -- veteran bands revisiting classic albums and performing them in their entirety. Jethro Tull's most enduring release is largely agreed to be 1971's classic Aqualung, and in late 2004 Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, and their latest Tull mates dusted off the album once more in front of a small audience for XM Radio's Then Again Live series. Since 33 years had passed between the original and the re-reading, the performances on Aqualung Live are slightly more restrained. And while some of Barre's mighty riffs can still be spotted blaring away -- most notably the middle bit of "My God" -- other songs get an overhauling, such as the barely recognizable "Hymn 43." In addition to revisiting the full album, several interview segments are tacked on at the end of the disc, including some interesting bits about the original recording (it turns out that Led Zeppelin were also recording nearby) and the fact that, despite popular belief, Aqualung was not a concept album. Aqualung Live proves that Anderson and Barre are still at the top of their game, unlike some other "classic rock" acts whose playing abilities have diminished over the years. [Aqualung Live was distributed at shows for free during Tull's U.S. tour in the fall of 2005. Subsequently, it was made available as a special limited-edition release, with all artist and publishing royalties going to charities for the homeless.]

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