Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jethro Tull - Aqualung (Hecho En Mexico)

While Aqualung is certainly a worthy thrift store record find, it is also a very common, extremely well-known album you can easily read about at a thousand other places. To keep it interesting, we delved deep into the most remote, cobweb enshrouded passages of our cavernous archives chambers to bring you exclusive details of a rather obscure pressing of this popular record.

This particular copy is something of a curiosity owing to the fact that it's a Mexican release with the song titles printed in Spanish. What's more, the back cover layout is completely different from the US (and probably all other) versions. It lacks the usual gatefold style cover and accompanying interior artwork as well.

label from Jethro Tull - Aqualung (1971 Reprise/Gamma GX 01-459)
Jethro Tull - Aqualung (Mexican pressing)
1971 Reprise/Gamma GX 01-459
An early pressing on the Reprise label, it was manufactured and distributed in Mexico by Gamma Records. Also worth noting is that it features the old, original "tricolor steamboat" label design supposedly retired by Reprise at least two years before Aqualung's release.

Recorded with new bass player Jeffrey Hammond, and with Benefit LP session keyboardist John Evan now contributing as a full-time member, Aqualung hit the shelves in 1971 to mostly favorable reviews. It would go on to become Jethro Tull's best-selling album and is often regarded as their finest hour by critics and fans alike.

Jethro Tull - Aqualung (1971 Reprise/Gamma GX 01-459)
Back cover of Aqualung, Mexican pressing
(click to enlarge)
"Hymn 43" was the only song from Aqualung offered up as a single. But the evocative title track, with its distinctive main guitar riff and haunting acoustic interludes, along with the hard-driving "Locomotive Breath" (aka "El Aliento De La Locomotora") emerged as the most popular cuts from the album, and perhaps from the entire Jethro Tull discography — at least if how much a song has been beaten into the ground... er, I mean chosen for airplay by big "classic rock" radio stations is any way to judge its overall popularity.

Metal Confusion
More jeers than cheers, along with confusion and disbelief filled the air in 1989 when Jethro Tull shockingly eclipsed widely projected winners, and shining stars of metal, Metallica, and took home the first ever Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance with their admittedly un-metal, not-so-hard rockin' Crest of a Knave album. Well, they would have taken home the award that night had they actually been at the ceremony to accept. Figuring there was no chance they could actually win, the band's record company told them not to bother making the trip out to LA. In this recent interview, Ian Anderson reflects on those heady, tumultuous days when he and his band became the reigning kings of metal.

sticker on cover of Mexican pressing of Jethro Tull - Aqualung
Jethro Tull may not have been the best choice for that particular award, but their music has undoubtedly inspired more than a few metal musicians over the years. Iron Maiden bassist, founder, mastermind and longtime Jethro Tull fan, Steve Harris, for one, cites them as an early favorite and an important influence on his songwriting style.