Jethro Tull, like many bands of the ‘60s and ‘70s, created solid classics that have endured. Aqualung is one such album. Released back in 1971, Aqualung’s largely acoustic songs tell great tales of Aqualung the wanderer, who "eyes little girls with bad intent," and Cross-Eyed Mary, who gets gawked by Aqualung "through the railings" as she plays in a playground. While the album might lead you to believe that it’s a concept album with characters crossing songs, Ian Anderson (vocalist, flutist) would prefer you believed otherwise.
With its iconic cover and the classic FM favorite, “Locomotive Breath,” Aqualung was a hit right from the start. With sales in the millions, the record easily became one of Jethro Tull’s greatest albums. It is with no surprise that the album is revisited from time to time with new remastering and celebrative anniversary sets with extra songs (25th anniversary edition was released in 1996).
As recently as June, it was ‘leaked’ that Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) had completed a remix of the album for a planned 40th anniversary set, which had been rumored for a September release. With much of the Tull forums lighting up with the news, the album reissue became hotly anticipated.
In some circles, there is clear news of what will make up the reissue. And it’s a whopping package to be sure. According to an unclear Amazon date, the two versions that will be released are scheduled for November 8 (as an import title to the US) while Amazon UK lists the title for October 31 for that part of the world. Amazon has botched it by listing the 40th Anniversary set for 2010 instead of the obvious 2011. But the real treat is in knowing what is being made available. The actual dates can sort themselves out later although Amazon has the title for pre-order now.
The larger set of Aqualung is a treasure trove of assorted musical gems. The Collector’s Edition Box of will contain new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes. But the goodness expands as the set issues not only the original album on one CD, but also a second disc of collected ‘70/’71 sessions tracks, early versions, and a US radio spot. An included DVD will contain the anticipated DTS 5.1 Surround 96kBps/24-bit mix of the entire album as well as new higher quality 96/24 stereo mixes of all of the bonus music found on the second CD. More bonuses come in the inclusion of the original quad mix on the audio DVD in 96/24 DTS, and 48/24 Dolby.
If the two CDs and the DVD filled with 5.1 mixes and higher quality stereo mixes weren’t enough, there will be an added Blu-ray disc (BD) which will contain all of the tracks found on the DVD plus an additional set of original album track mixes as a high resolution 96/24 flat transfer. The original quad mix will gain an additional mix with DTS-HD Master Audio on the BD.
A 12” by 12” 48-page hard-bound box will be included in the box set. With photos, lyrics, a 6,000 word essay, memoirs from band members, Steven Wilson notes on the new Aqualung mixes, line-up notes, 1970/1971 tour chronology, scans of the original tape boxes, an unreleased Ian Anderson interview, and two Q&A sets, the book promises to be complete.
To round out the box, a 180-gram weight LP of the new stereo mix is packed in. The LP will be housed in a reproduction of the original gatefold jacket.
If that’s too much Aqualung for you (and for some it is), then there is the accessible two-CD digipak set for you to consider. The CDs are simply the new stereo mixes and the collection of bonus tracks, with the inclusion of a 36-page booklet.
Rumor has it that Thick As A Brick, released in 1972, will get its 40th anniversary package in 2012.