" Aqualung," to many, is Tull's masterpiece. The title track and "Locomotive Breath," with their catchy riffs, would be joined by "My God," "Cross-Eyed Mary," and "Hymn 43" as classic rock staples. There's no arguing with it's commercial success, having sold more than seven million copies and continuing to outsell anything in the back catalog.

from left: Martin Barre, Clive Bunker, Jeffrey Hammond, Ian Anderson, John Evan. Photo by Barry Plummer. All Rights Reserved. Yet, "Aqualung" is arguably Tull's most misunderstood album. Critics dubbed it a concept album, particularly for Anderson's critical, skeptical views of organized religion, mostly on side B ("My God"). Anderson has disputed, almost resented, the assessment seeing the record as "just a bunch of songs." The labeling lead the band to really give the critics a concept album with the following studio release "Thick as a Brick."

"Aqualung" has a dominate theme but is certainly more, much more, than a concept album hindging on a solitary subject. Anderson explores the struggles of the less fortunate in our society (e.g., "Aqualung," "Cross-Eyed Mary," "Up to Me"), teenage angst and formal education difficulties ( e.g., "Wind Up," "Mother Goose"), and returns to his parental themes with "Cheap Day Return, a tune encompassing Anderson's feelings while traveling to visit his sick father.

"Aqualung" also cemented the exaggerated image, especially to those only casually acquainted with the band, that Tull was a "heavy rock" group. Years later, a Grammy for best heavy metal album (viz., "Crest of a Knave") would officially sanction the misconceived stereotype. Yet, "Aqualung" is where Anderson really begins to develop his personal style for acoustical guitar songs with "Cheap Day Return," "Mother Goose," and "Slipstream."

"Aqualung" did establish one of the most notable features of Tull's music: songs varying with intensity, mixing medium to heavy electrical sounds with lighter acoustical passages (e.g., "Aqualung," and "My God"). Indeed, every album up to "Under Wraps" (1984) would have at least one such styled number.

At the end of a brief U.S. tour, drummer Clive Bunker left to get married and form a band called "Jude" with Robin Trower. Anderson recruited Barriemore Barlow. Barlow remained drummer for the next eight years.

Released: 1971
Remastered special edition (extra tracks), 1996; DCC Gold Disc 1997

Charts: 4 (U.K.), 7 (U.S.)

Cross-Eyed Mary
Cheap Day Return
Mother Goose
Wond’ring Aloud
Up To Me
My God
Hymn 43
Locomotive Breath
Lick Your Fingers Clean*
Wind-Up (quad version)*
Excerpts from Ian interview
Songs for Jeffrey*
Fat Man*

quick fact
The first two verses of "Aqualung" were cowritten with Anderson's first wife.

"Hymn 43" became the first Tull single released in the U.S.

"Aqualung," the song, got its name from the gurgling sound of underwater diving gear which Anderson felt described the wheezing of the song's character. Anderson did not know that "Aqualung" was a trademark and not a generic phrase (the issue was settled quite amicably).

The cover, with "Aqualung" bearing an all too close likeness of Anderson, is one of Ian's least favorites. Yet, it set a precedent for future Tull characters being pictured as "Ian-like" including Ray Lomas from "Too Old to Rock and Roll" and the covers of "Songs from the Wood" and "Stormwatch."

past members


A special fare class of BritRail related to particular travel times.

aqualung front cover buy it now
album trivia

What is a "Cheap Day Return" ?

more discography: studio | compilations | live | box sets | video | solo work

   Ian Anderson - flute, acoustic guitar, vocals
   Martin Barre - electric guitar and descant recorder
   Clive Bunker - percussion
   John Evan - piano, organ, mellotron
   Jeffrey Hammond - bass guitar, alto recorder, and odd voices
aqualung back cover
The limited "25th Anniversary Special Edition Aqualung" features 20-bit remastered sound, five additional tracks (including "Lick Your Fingers Clean," the famed quad version of "Wind Up," and excerpts from an Anderson interview. The current release has the same tracks.

There's also a "gold" edition with just the original tracks.