I have mixed emotions about this album for several reasons- it has moments of greatness, but is not my all-time favorite Tull album (if I had to pick one, it would probably be Stand Up, released in the UK on the Island pink label, reviewed here). It is also not a great recording. Which is why I wound up with so many pressings of Aqualung over the years, including UK and U.S. (on Reprise here in the States), a fairly rare set of Classic Records copies cut at 45 rpm on both “Clarity” and Quiex “black vinyl” (I believe these were originally sent out to reviewers as partial sets with a couple sides to demonstrate the virtues of Classic’s then new “Clarity” vinyl formulation, but I have the complete album cut on both types of vinyl at 45 rpm, for a total of 8 discs); a Classic 33; some early U.S. “white label promos,” an old Mo-Fi, a DCC and most recently, the Steve Wilson “remix” on vinyl. This remix was originally released as part of a deluxe package that included various digitally readable formats in which I had little interest. But Wilson had done a great job in salvaging Tull’s Benefit through his remix, so when Aqualung “remixed” appeared as a stand-alone piece of vinyl a month or so ago, it wasn’t a hard sell. I threw that on top of the pile to compare, since many have claimed this one, despite its digital origins, was “the best.”
We will see.
Sorry for the teaser, but this one is going to take a little time. I am going to try and do this shoot-out in one session, which may be a long-ish listening session. I may enlist the support of another set of ears, just to do a “reality check” because critical listening becomes fatiguing and I wouldn’t mind having some back up with this many different copies in play.
I caught these guys just before Aqualung was released, so the show included a number of the songs from the-then forthcoming album. (Glenn Cornick was playing on this tour, his last with Tull). Leslie West and Mountain opened for Tull, with the great Felix Pappalardi.
Soon to come….