Ayreon: The making of Into The Electric Castle

Front cover

Into the Electric Castle is the third album of progressive metal/rock opera project Ayreon by Dutch songwriter, producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen, released in 1998. Being a concept album, as every Ayreon album, it narrates a science fiction story with exaggerated, flamboyant characters influenced by B-grade science fiction movies. There are eight main characters (each one sung/played by a different vocalist, as is standard in every Ayreon album) from different times and locations. They find themselves in a strange place; guided by a mysterious voice which tells them that they must reach the Electric Castle if they want to survive. Into the Electric Castle is also the first collaboration between Lucassen and Ed Warby, who has since become Lucassen's most regular collaborator: he played drums on every following Ayreon album except Universal Migrator part 1: The Dream Sequencer, in the Star One project of Arjen and in his solo album Lost in the New Real. The album was a commercial success and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from music critics. Although Ayreon has never played live, five songs from Into the Electric Castle were included in Star One live album Live on Earth and two in Stream of Passion album Live in the Real World.

Welcome to the New Dimension


After the previous Ayreon album, Actual Fantasy, sold below expectations, Arjen sought to deliver a top-quality recording with Into the Electric Castle. If the album had not been a success, Lucassen said he would have no longer continued the Ayreon project. Into the Electric Castle received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, who praised Lucassen's writing and composition abilities and the performances of the singers. Sputnikmusic reviewer stated "if you’re a fan of progressive metal, or even progressive music in general, your collection will not be complete without Into the Electric Castle". Metal Storm acclaimed the album, stating "with so many excellent vocalists, a great number of musical styles incorporated and a duration of over 100 minutes, the only thing greater than Arjen's ambitions, is the actual result: a true masterpiece of progressive rock music." Allmusic reviewer Robert Taylor praised the album, saying that "The massive coordination of such a large project is admirable, but to pull it off with such impressive results is stunning."

Tower of Hope


The story begins with a strange voice (Peter Daltrey) calling out to the eight characters that are taken from various planes of time. The mysterious voice tells them they are in a place of "no-time and no-space". Urging them to continue, the voice gives them a task: to reach The Electric Castle and find out what's inside. After various steps, they come to the Decision Tree where the voice tells them one of them must die. They must then go through the Tunnel of Light, but the Highlander (Fish) refuses to reach the light, stays behind, accepts his death slowly, and lays himself down to die while the others continue. Then in the Garden of Emotions, the Egyptian (Anneke van Giersbergen), overwhelmed by her emotions, becomes convinced that Amon-Ra is coming to seal her fate. She loses her will to continue and wanders alone until she lays herself down and dies as well. The surviving characters finally reach the Electric Castle, penetrating the Castle Hall. On the Tower of Hope a breeze draws the attention of the Indian (Sharon den Adel), luring her away towards the sun despite the warning of the Knight (Damian Wilson) and the Futureman (Edward Reekers). On the breeze, she encounters Death itself (George Oosthoek and Robert Westerholt) who take her while she screams. The characters then come to their final test: the voice said them that beyond them stands two gates, with one of them leading to oblivion and the second to the desired time of the heroes. One of the gates is old, deteriorated, and ugly, and the other made of gold and appears at first glance to be paradise. The Barbarian (Jay van Feggelen), in his arrogance and pride, walks through the golden gate regardless to his companion's choice, and fall into oblivion forever. Finally, the Knight, the Roman (Edwin Balogh), the Hippie (Arjen Anthony Lucassen) and the Futureman, who had chosen the right gate, discover the true nature of the voice: it is called "Forever of the Stars", and claims that its kind is an alien race who lost all emotions. It also claims its kind caused the emergence of humanity on Earth, and that the eight heroes was an experiment in understanding and/or rediscovering emotions. Feeling tired, the voice tells them to go on ahead and open the door, and that they won't remember what has happened. Back in their real time, the heroes all wonder what had happened, with the Futureman wondering if his memory has been erased, the Roman feeling stronger whatever really happened and the Knight thinking he found the Grail in a magic dream. The voice of the Forever of the Stars is then heard, asking them all to remember Forever.

Cosmic Fusion

Track listing:

CD 1
1. Welcome to the New Dimension (3:05) 
2. Isis and Osiris (11:11) 
a) Let the Journey Begin
b) The Hall of Isis and Osiris
c) Strange Constellations
d) Reprise 
3. Amazing Flight (10:15) 
a) Amazing Flight in Space
b) Stardance
c) Flying Colours 
4. Time Beyond Time (6:05) 
5. The Decision Tree (We're Alive) (6:24) 
6. Tunnel of Light (4:05) 
7. Across the Rainbow Bridge (6:20)

CD 2 
1. The Garden of Emotions (9:40) 
a) In the Garden of Emotions
b) Voices in the Sky
c) The Aggression Factor 
2. Valley of the Queens (2:25) 
3. The Castle Hall (5:49) 
4. Tower of Hope (4:54) 
5. Cosmic Fusion (7:27) 
a) I Soar on the Breeze
b) Death's Grunt
c) The Passing of an Eagle 
6. The Mirror Maze (6:34) 
a) Inside the Mirror Maze 
b) Through the Mirror 
7. Evil Devolution (6:31) 
8. The Two Gates (6:28) 
9. Forever of the Stars (2:02) 
10. Another Time, Another Space (5:20)

Evil Devolution

 Into The Electric Castle lyrics:


Edwin Balogh-Roman
Sharon den Adel-Indian
Jay van Feggelen–Barbarian
Anneke van Giersbergen–Egyptian
Arjen Anthony Lucassen–Hippie
Edward Reekers–Futureman
Damian Wilson–Knight
Robert Westerholt and George Oosthoek–Death
Peter Daltrey–the Voice

Arjen Anthony Lucassen–all electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, bass, minimoog, mellotron and keyboards
Ed Warby–drums
Roland Bakker–hammonds
Robby Valentine–all pianos, synth solos on "Isis and Osiris a) Let The Journey Begin", "Amazing Flight a) Amazing Flight in Space", and "Tower of Hope", Mellotron "The Mirror Maze a) Inside the Mirror Maze"
Ernő Oláh–violins
Taco Kooistra–cello
Jack Pisters–sitar
Rene Merkelbach–synth solos on "The Decision Tree (We're Alive)" and "Evil Devolution" and harpsichord on "Valley of the Queens"
Clive Nolan–synth solos on "Amazing Flight c) Flying Colours"
Ton Scherpenzeel–synth solos on "Cosmic Fusion c) The Passing of an Eagle"
Thijs van Leer–flute on "Amazing Flight c) Flying Colours", "Time Beyond Time", "Valley of the Queens", and "The Castle Hall"

Arjen Anthony Lucassen–producing, mixing
Oscar Holleman–mixing
John van den Oetelaar–layout and image handling
Thomas Ewerhard–additional layout for the special edition
Jef Bertels–cover art and all other paintings
Peter van 't Riet–mastering
John Verheijen–scanning

This is Arjen Lucassen's Inside The Electric Castle footage, about the guests and the making of the album.

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Gryphon: Red Queen to Gryphon Three (1974)

Front cover

Red Queen to Gryphon Three is the third studio album by the progressive folk band Gryphon, released in December 1974. The album was released on Transatlantic Records in the UK with a blue cover, while Bell Records released the album in Canada with the cover border in black. It's a concept album around the game of chess that is usually regarded as the band's magnum opus. The music, which frequently evokes a medieval mood, blends and alternates among baroque, renaissance, English folk and progressive rock music styles. Themes are presented, developed and recapitulated in the style of classical music.

Track listing:
1. Opening Move 9:42
2. Second Spasm 8:15
3. Lament 10:45
4. Checkmate 9:50

Opening Move


Graeme Taylor–guitars
Richard Harvey–keyboards, recorders, krumhorn
Philip Nestor–bass guitar
Brian Gulland–bassoon, krumhorns
Dave Oberlé–drums, percussion, tympani

Additional Personnel:
Ernest Hart: organ
Pete Redding: acoustic bass

Arranged by Gryphon
Produced by Gryphon & Dave Grinsted
Recorded & Mixed by Dave Grinsted at Chipping Norton Studios, August 1974
All songs published by Heathside Music

Second Spasm

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Arjen Lucassen

Ayreon is a musical project by Dutch songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist musician and record producer Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Ayreon's music is mostly progressive metal but combines it with genres like folk, classical and electronica, symphonic and space rock. The majority of Ayreon's albums are dubbed rock operas or metal operas because the albums contain complex storylines featuring a host of characters, usually with each one being represented by a unique vocalist. Lyrically, the stories tend to evolve around fantasy, science fiction or human emotion. Ayreon's music is characterized by the use of traditional instruments in rock music (guitars, bass guitar, drums, analogue synthesizers, electric organs) mixed with instruments more native to folk and classical music (e.g. mandolins, violins, violas, cellos, flutes, sitars and didgeridoo). Lucassen writes the music and the lyrics, sings and plays most of the instruments on all of the Ayreon albums, alongside many guest musicians. His most regular collaborator is drummer Ed Warby. In addition, flute player Jeroen Goossens has featured on every Ayreon-release since 2004's The Human Equation. Arjen  Lucassen sings and plays guitars, bass, keyboards, synthesizer, hammond organ, mellotron, mandolin, various other instruments and does the drum programming. Due to its particular nature, Ayreon never play live; however, several Ayreon songs were included in two live albums by other Lucassen's bands: "Live on Earth" by Star One and "Live in the Real World" by Stream of Passion. Arjen explained where the name Ayreon came from, saying: "Though I do like the similarity of the sound of my own name Arjen and the project name Ayreon, this is purely coincidental. Yet no one seems to believe that! Originally I called the leading character of the first Ayreon album 'Aries'. But then I had to change it because it had to fit the meter of the song. I wanted the new name to sound old fashioned because of the medieval influences, so I used the old-English sounding 'AY' (Aylesbury, Ayrshire). But I also wanted it to sound modern because of the futuristic parts (2084) so I used 'ON' (electron, neutron, etc.), hence 'Ayreon'."


The first Ayreon album, released in 1995, is The Final Experiment, which has a mixture of science fiction and medieval themes. The album features thirteen singers and seven instrumentalists, most of them Dutch. The Final Experiment is often mentioned as one of the first metal operas and a reviver of the rock opera genre. The album was originally titled Ayreon: The Final Experiment, with the artist listed as Arjen Lucassen, but upon re-release, the title was changed to The Final Experiment, and the artist was changed to Ayreon. One of the vocalists on the album is Barry Hay, the leading vocalist and frontman of the Dutch rock band Golden Earring.

The Charm of the Seer

Actual Fantasy from 1996 is the only Ayreon album without a continuous story. With its individual fantasy stories, it can still be considered a concept album, though. There are only three singers and three instrumentalists on Actual Fantasy. Themes inspired by songs on this album can be found on later Ayreon releases, particularly the two Universal Migrator albums. The album did not sell as well as its predecessor.

Back on Planet Earth

The double album Into the Electric Castle followed in 1998. The album features eight singers, each playing a role of a single character, and eleven instrumentalists. Arjen has stated that he wanted this particular album to be a more flight-and-fancy-free record, or "pure escapism" than the previous albums' more serious tones, and portrayed his characters in more of a B-Movie light. The album  features a continuous story of invented characters of different historical eras, with the use of analog equipment giving a vintage feeling. Notable contributions are those of Fish (ex-Marillion) on vocal sections and Thijs van Leer vocalist, Hammond organ player and flautist of the Dutch progressive rock band, Focus, on flute. Peter Daltrey of Kaleidoscope (Fairfield Parlour) is the narrator. The album was a huge success and is widely regarded as one of Ayreon's best albums.

Isis and Osiris

Across the Rainbow Bridge 

The Castle Hall

The twin Universal Migrator albums (The Universal Migrator part 1 & part 2) were released in 2000. The first album, The Dream Sequencer consists of soft, atmospheric progressive rock with plenty of electronic passages, whereas the second album, Flight of the Migrator, exhibits more aggressive patterns, closer to classic progressive metal. Both of the albums feature around ten singers supported by many instrumentalists. Some of the most notable guests are vocalists Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden (who made an appearance on the Flight of the Migrator album), Johan Englund of Tiamat, Russell Allen of Symphony X and Neal Morse of Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. More contributions are those of Clive Nolan of Arena and Pendragon on synth and Michael Romeo of Symphony X on guitar.

Carried by the Wind

Dawn of a Million Souls / Journey on the Waves of Time / To the Quasar / Into the Black Hole / To the Solar System

Shortly following Universal Migrator came Ayreonauts Only, an album generally meant to be only for diehard fans of Ayreon. The album itself was the second to not follow a specific storyline; instead it contained alternate versions (with different vocalists or instrumentalists) of existing songs, or the original demos used when recording them. In addition, it contained a preview of Arjen's then-upcoming project, Ambeon. It is the only Ayreon album not to see re-release on InsideOut Music. In 2004 came The Human Equation, the 6th and most famous album of Ayreon to date. With The Human Equation, Ayreon turned away from the usual science fiction and fantasy themes, dealing with human emotion. As on Into the Electric Castle, there are several singers, each playing their own role. With the exception of Ed Warby (drums) who has been with Arjen since 1998, the musicians chosen for this album had never appeared in previous albums, including guest appearances from the elite of progressive rock and metal: vocalists James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) and Devon Graves (Psychotic Waltz), as well as Ken Hensley (ex-Uriah Heep) on Hammond among other big names. 

Day Twelve: Trauma

Day Fourteen: Pride

Day Sixteen: Loser

Starting in 2004, after changing from Transmission Records to InsideOut, Arjen began rereleasing his Ayreon catalog on the new label, with enhancements ranging from basic (The Universal Migrator, issued as a two-disc set instead of two separate albums) to drastic (Actual Fantasy Revisited with completely re-recorded drums, bass, synth and flute). In 2005, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Ayreon, The Final Experiment was reissued with a bonus semi-acoustic disc. At the end of September 2006, when Arjen's new studio was finished, he began working on a new double album entitled 01011001, which was released on January 25, 2008. This album was noticeably darker than previous Ayreon releases, Lucassen attributes this to a depression and his divorce in the preceding year. The sci-fi concept returned in 01011001; the first disc's name is Y, the name of the fictional planet where the forever come from and the second disc's name is Earth, where the forever supposedly populated to experiment feeling. The name of the album, 01011001, is the binary code for Y. On this album, Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain Of Salvation) contributes vocals and Derek Sherinian (Planet X, ex-Dream Theater, Yngwie Mamlsteen etc.) on keyboards.

Ride the Comet

The Fifth Extinction

River of Time

The Sixth Extinction

On April 25, 2008, Arjen released a new Ayreon EP named Elected. The EP features two tracks from 01011001, one from The Human Equation and an Alice Cooper cover (Elected), with vocals by Arjen and Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia). On September 16, 2008, Arjen announced on his official website the release of Timeline, his second compilation album, that will reunite selected songs from all Ayreon albums and an unreleased one in three CDs and a DVD. The album was released on November 7, 2008 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and all of the EU on November 17, 2008. It was released in America on January 13, 2009. Between 2009 and 2012, Arjen put Ayreon on hiatus. He finished working on his new side project, Guilt Machine, in 2009. Since then he has started working on the second Star One full-length album and, upon its completion, is said to have intentions on recording a solo album under his own name. Regarding the release of another Ayreon album, he stated the following: "As for whether there will be another Ayreon album, I'm never sure. Ten years could go by before I decide to do another one. I have to say that a lot of the reviews for 01 said it had some cool moments but it had that typical Ayreon sound, that there was nothing new being offered, and I think I can agree with that. I decided I'm going to stop with this Ayreon story, with this sound, and concentrate on other projects first. Then, if I decide to go back to Ayreon I'll do something different with it. I have no idea how, but if there's going to be another one it should be different." On August 23, 2012, Lucassen published on his YouTube channel that he started composing "a new project". He officially revealed it to be an another Ayreon album (due in 2013) on October 9, 2012. Responding to fan comments on his website, Arjen stated on October 12 that it would probably take a year before the album was completed. He also stated that the album would be the start of a new story apart from the previous Ayreon albums, and confirmed the presence of drummer Ed Warby as usual. The double album, The Theory of Everything, was released on October 28th, 2013. Guest musicians are, amongst others: John Wetton (Asia, King Crimson etc.) on vocals, Rick Wakeman (Yes), Keith Emerson (ELP) and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) on keyboards and Steve Hackett (Genesis) on guitar.

Phase I: Singularity

Studio albums

The Final Experiment (1995):
1. Prologue (3:17)
Act I The Dawning
2. The Awareness (6:36)
3. Eyes Of Time (5:06)
4. The Banishment (11:08)
Act II King Arthur's Court
5. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy (2:46)
6. Sail Away To Avalon (4:02)
7. Nature's Dance (2:28)
Act III Visual Echoes
8. Computer-Reign (Game Over) (3:25)
9. Waracle (6:44)
10. Listen To The Waves (4:59)
11. Magic Ride (3:36)
Act IV Merlin's Will and Ayreon's Fate
12. Merlin's Will (3:20)
13. The Charm Of The Seer (4:12)
14. Swan Song (2:44)
15. Ayreon's Fate (6:56)

Actual Fantasy (1996):
1. Actual Fantasy (1:35)
2. Abbey Of Synn (9:34)
3. The Stranger From Within (7:36)
4. Computer Eyes (7:31)
5. Beyond The Last Horizon (7:34)
6. Farside Of The World (6:21)
7. Back On Planet Earth (7:01)
8. Forevermore (6:10)

Into the Electric Castle (1998):

CD 1
1. Welcome to the New Dimension (3:05) 
2. Isis and Osiris (11:11) 
a) Let the Journey Begin
b) The Hall of Isis and Osiris
c) Strange Constellations
d) Reprise 
3. Amazing Flight (10:15) 
a) Amazing Flight in Space
b) Stardance
c) Flying Colours 
4. Time Beyond Time (6:05) 
5. The Decision Tree (We're Alive) (6:24) 
6. Tunnel of Light (4:05) 
7. Across the Rainbow Bridge (6:20)

CD 2 
1. The Garden of Emotions (9:40) 
a) In the Garden of Emotions
b) Voices in the Sky
c) The Aggression Factor 
2. Valley of the Queens (2:25) 
3. The Castle Hall (5:49) 
4. Tower of Hope (4:54) 
5. Cosmic Fusion (7:27) 
a) I Soar on the Breeze
b) Death's Grunt
c) The Passing of an Eagle 
6. The Mirror Maze (6:34) 
a) Inside the Mirror Maze 
b) Through the Mirror 
7. Evil Devolution (6:31) 
8. The Two Gates (6:28) 
9. Forever of the Stars (2:02) 
10. Another Time, Another Space (5:20)

Universal Migrator part 1: The Dream Sequencer (2000):
1. The Dream Sequencer (5:08) 
2. My House On Mars (7:49) 
3. 2084 (7:42) 
4. One Small Step (8:46) 
5. The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B Cocq (7:57) 
6. Dragon On The Sea (7:09) 
7. Temple Of The Cat (4:11) 
8. Carried By The Wind (3:59) 
9. And The Druids Turn To Stone (6:36) 
10. The First Man On Earth (7:19)
11. The Dream Sequencer Reprise (3:36)

Universal Migrator part 2: Flight of the Migrator (2000):
1. Chaos (5:10) 
2. Dawn of a Million Souls (7:45) 
3. Journey On The Waves Of Time (5:47) 
4. To The Quasar (8:42) 
a) The Taurus Pulsar 
b) Quasar 3C273 
5. Into The Black Hole (10:25) 
a) The Eye Of The Universe 
b) Halo Of Darkness 
c) The Final Hour 
6. Through The Wormhole (6:05) 
7. Out Of The White Hole (7:11) 
a) M31 
b) Planet Y 
c) The Search Continues 
8. To The Solar System (6:11) 
a) Planet Of Blue 
b) System Alert 
9. The New Migrator (8:15) 
a) Metamorphosis 
b) Sleeper Awake

The Human Equation (2004):

CD 1
1. Day One: Vigil (1:33)
2. Day Two: Isolation (8:42)
3. Day Three: Pain (4:58)
4. Day Four: Mystery (5:37)
5. Day Five: Voices (7:09)
6. Day Six: Childhood (5:05)
7. Day Seven: Hope (2:47)
8. Day Eight: School (4:22)
9. Day Nine: Playground (2:15)
10. Day Ten: Memories (3:57)
11. Day Eleven: Love (4:18) 

CD 2
12. Day Twelve: Trauma (8:59)
13. Day Thirteen: Sign (4:47)
14. Day Fourteen: Pride (4:42)
15. Day Fifteen: Betrayal (5:24)
16. Day Sixteen: Loser (4:46)
17. Day Seventeen: Accident? (5:42)
18. Day Eighteen: Realization (4:31)
19. Day Nineteen: Disclosure (4:42)
20. Day Twenty: Confrontation (7:03)

01011001 (2008):

CD 1-"Y"
1. Age of Shadows (including We Are Forever) (10:47)
2. Comatose (4:26)
3. Liquid Eternity (8:10)
4. Connect the Dots (4:13)
5. Beneath the Waves (8:26)
a) Beneath the Waves
b) Face the Facts
c) But a Memory...
d) World Without Walls
e) Reality Bleeds
6. Newborn Race (7:49)
a) The Incentive
b) The Vision
c) The Procedure
d) Another Life
e) Newborn Race
f) The Conclusion
7. Ride the Comet (3:29)
8. Web of Lies (2:50)

CD 2-"Earth"
1. The Fifth Extinction (10:29)
a) Glimmer of Hope
b) World of Tomorrow Dreams
c) Collision Course
d) From the Ashes
e) Glimmer of Hope (reprise)
2. Waking Dreams (6:31)
3. The Truth Is In Here (5:12)
4. Unnatural Selection (7:15)
5. River of Time (4:24)
6. E=MC2 (5:50)
7. The Sixth Extinction (12:18)
a) Echoes on the Wind
b) Radioactive Grave
c) 2085
d) To the Planet of Red
e) Spirit on the Wind
f) Complete the Circle

The Theory of Everything (2013):

CD 1
Phase I: Singularity (23:29)
1. Prologue: The Blackboard
2. The Theory Of Everything part 1
3. Patterns
4. The Prodigy's World
5. The Teacher's Discovery
6. Love And Envy
7. Progressive Waves
8. The Gift
9. The Eleventh Dimension
10. Inertia
11. The Theory Of Everything part 2
Phase II: Symmetry (21:31)
12. The Consultation
13. Diagnosis
14. The Argument 1
15. The Rival's Dilemma
16. Surface Tension
17. A Reason To Live
18. Potential
19. Quantum Chaos
20. Dark Medicine
21. Alive!
22. The Prediction

CD 2
Phase III: Entanglement (22:34)
1. Fluctuations
2. Transformation
3. Collision
4. Side Effects
5. Frequency Modulation
6. Magnetism
7. Quid Pro Quo
8. String Theory
9. Fortune?
Phase IV: Unification (22:20)
10. Mirror Of Dreams
11. The Lighthouse
12. The Argument 2
13. The Parting
14. The Visitation
15. The Breakthrough
16. The Note
17. The Uncertainty Principle
18. Dark Energy
19. The Theory Of Everything part 3
20. The Blackboard (reprise)


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Jethro Tull: Aqualung (1971)

Aqualung is the fourth studio album by the rock band Jethro Tull. Released in 1971, Aqualung, despite the band's disapproval, is regarded as a concept album featuring a central theme of "the distinction between religion and God". The album's "dour musings on faith and religion" have marked it as "one of the most cerebral albums ever to reach millions of rock listeners". Aqualung's success marked a turning point in the band's career, who went on to become a major radio and touring act. Recorded at Island Records' studio in London, it was Jethro Tull's first album with keyboardist John Evan as a full-time member, their first with new bassist Jeffrey Hammond and last album featuring Clive Bunker on drums. Something of a departure from the band's previous work, the album features more acoustic material than previous releases; and —inspired by photographs of homeless people on the Thames Embankment taken by singer Ian Anderson's wife Jennie— contains a number of recurring themes, addressing religion along with Anderson's own personal experiences. Aqualung has sold over 7 million units worldwide and is thus Jethro Tull's best selling album. The album was generally well-received critically, and has been included on several music magazine best of lists. The album spawned one single, "Hymn 43".


After an American tour in 1970, bass player Glenn Cornick was fired from the band, and was replaced with Jeffrey Hammond, an old friend of Ian Anderson's. Aqualung would be the first recording Hammond would do with the band. It would also mark the first time John Evan had recorded a full album with the band, as his only prior involvement was to overdub several keyboard parts on the previous album, Benefit. The album was one of the first to be recorded at the newly opened studios of Island Records in Basing Street, London. In an interview on the 25th anniversary edition of the album, Tull's bandleader Ian Anderson said that trying to record in their studio was very difficult, because of its "horrible, cold, echoey" feel. The orchestrals were arranged by David Palmer, who had worked with the band since 1968's This Was, and would later join as a keyboard player. Aqualung would be the last Jethro Tull album to include Clive Bunker as a band member, as he retired shortly after recording to start a family. The songs on the album cover a variety of musical genres, with elements of folk, blues, psychedelia and hard rock. The "riff-heavy" nature of tracks such as "Locomotive Breath", "Hymn 43" and "Wind Up" is regarded as a factor in the band's increased success after the release of the album, with Jethro Tull becoming "a major arena act" and a "fixture on FM radio" according to AllMusic. In a stylistic departure from Jethro Tull's earlier albums, many of Aqualung's songs are primarily acoustic. "Cheap Day Return", "Wond'ring Aloud" and "Slipstream" are short, completely acoustic "bridges", and "Mother Goose" is also mostly acoustic. Anderson claims his main inspirations for writing the album were  folk musicians Roy Harper and Bert Jansch.


Aqualung has widely been regarded as a concept album, featuring a central theme of "the distinction between religion and God". The album's "dour musings on faith and religion" have marked it as "one of the most cerebral albums ever to reach millions of rock listeners". Academic discussions of the nature of concept albums have frequently listed Aqualung amongst their number. The initial idea for the album was sparked by some photographs that Anderson's wife Jennie took of homeless people on the Thames Embankment. The appearance of one man in particular caught the interest of the couple, who together wrote the title song "Aqualung". The first side of the LP, titled Aqualung, contains several character sketches, including the eponymous character of the title track, and the schoolgirl prostitute Cross-Eyed Mary, as well as two autobiographical tracks, including "Cheap Day Return", written by Ian Anderson after a visit to his critically ill father.


The second side, titled My God, contains three tracks, "My God," "Hymn 43" and "Wind-Up", that address religion in an introspective, and sometimes irreverent manner. However, despite the names given to the album's two sides and their related subject matter, Anderson has consistently maintained that Aqualung is not a concept album. A 2005 interview included on Aqualung Live gives Anderson's thoughts on the matter: "I always said at the time that this is not a concept album; this is just an album of varied songs of varied instrumentation and intensity in which three or four are the kind of keynote pieces for the album but it doesn't make it a concept album. In my mind when it came to writing the next album, Thick as a Brick, was done very much in the sense of: 'Whuh, if they thought Aqualung was a concept album, Oh! Okay, we'll show you a concept album.' And it was done as a kind of spoof, a send-up, of the concept album genre... But Aqualung itself, in my mind was never a concept album. Just a bunch of songs."

Cross-Eyed Mary

Drummer Clive Bunker believes that the record's perception as a concept album is a case of "Chinese whispers", explaining "you play the record to a couple of Americans, tell them that there's a lyrical theme loosely linking a few songs, and then notice the figure of the Aqualung character on the cover, and suddenly the word is out that Jethro Tull have done a concept album". The thematic elements Jethro Tull explored on the album, those of the effects of urbanisation on nature, and of the effects of social constructs such as religion on society, would be developed further on most of the band's subsequent releases. Ian Anderson's frustration over the album's labelling as a concept album directly led to the creation of Thick as a Brick (1972), intended to be a deliberately "over the top" concept album in response.

My God

"Lick Your Fingers Clean" was recorded for Aqualung, but was not included on the album. The song was drastically re-worked as "Two Fingers" for Tull's 1974 album, War Child. "Lick Your Fingers Clean" was eventually released in 1988 on the 20 Years of Jethro Tull collection. It was then released as a bonus track on the 1996 and 2011 reissues of Aqualung. Another song, "Wond'ring Again" was recorded in early sessions in 1970 and considered for release on the album before Anderson decided to drop it from the final tracklisting. It was subsequently released on the compilation album, Living in the Past, in 1972. However, elements of the song, essentially its coda, were included on Aqualung as "Wond'ring Aloud". Glenn Cornick played bass on the song and says it is his favourite song he recorded with the band. Cornick also played bass on early studio recordings of "My God" and "a couple of other songs".

Album cover

The album's original cover art by Burton Silverman features a watercolour portrait of a long haired, bearded man in shabby clothes. The idea for the cover came from a photograph Anderson's wife took of a homeless man on Thames Embankment, and Anderson later felt it would have been better to have used the photograph rather than commission the painting. Ian Anderson recalls posing for a photograph for the painting, though Silverman claims it was a self-portrait. The artwork was commissioned and purchased by Chrysalis Records head Terry Ellis. Artist Silverman claims the art was only licensed for use as an album cover, and not for merchandising; and approached the band seeking remuneration for its further use. Silverman and Anderson have different accounts of level of enmity involved in this. The original artwork for both the front and back covers are now privately owned by an unknown family, apparently having been stolen from a London hotel room.

Locomotive Breath


In April 1971, Aqualung peaked at number 4 on the UK Album Chart; when the CD version was released in 1996, it reached number 52. It peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Music Charts' North American pop albums chart. The album would go on to sell over seven million copies, and is the band's best-selling album. Aqualung was one of only two Jethro Tull albums released in quadraphonic sound, the other being War Child (1974). The quadraphonic version of "Wind Up", which is in a slightly higher key, is included on the later CD reissue of the album as "Wind Up (quad version)". The album's only single was "Hymn 43", which was released on 14 August 1971. It reached number 91 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, spending two weeks in the chart. The song was the first single released by the band in the United States. It was later included in the video game Rock Band 2 as downloadable content; which also featured the album's title track. Aqualung received favourable reviews from contemporary music critics. Rolling Stone magazine's Ben Gerson lauded its "fine musicianship", calling it "serious and intelligent", although he felt that the album's seriousness "undermined" its quality. Sounds said that its "taste and variety" made it the band's "finest" work. Aqualung was voted the 22nd best album of 1971 in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics' poll. In a retrospective review, Allmusic's Bruce Eder called Aqualung "a bold statement" and "extremely profound". Steve Harris, the bass player for the heavy metal band Iron Maiden, has called Aqualung "a classic album", lauding its "fantastic playing, fantastic songs, attitude and vibe". Iron Maiden would go on to cover "Cross-Eyed Mary" as the B-side of their 1983 single "The Trooper". In a review of the album's 40th anniversary re-release, Sean Murphy of PopMatters said that Aqualung "is, to be certain, a cornerstone of the then-nascent prog-rock canon, but it did and does exist wholly on its own terms as a great rock album, period". Rolling Stone included it on their list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", at number 333, whilst UK magazine Q listed it a number 7 in their "40 Cosmic Rock Albums" countdown. Martin Barre's solo on the album's title track was included in Guitarist magazine's list of "The 20 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time" at number 20.

Track listing:
Side 1–Aqualung
1. Aqualung (6:34)
2. Cross-Eyed Mary (4:06)
3. Cheap Day Return (1:21)
4. Mother Goose (3:51)
5. Wond'ring Aloud (1:53)
6. Up to Me (3:15)
Side 2–My God
1. My God (7:08)
2. Hymn 43 (3:14)
3. Slipstream (1:13)
4. Locomotive Breath (4:23)
5. Wind-Up (6:01)


Jethro Tull:
Ian Anderson–vocals, acoustic guitar, flute
Martin Barre–electric guitar, descant recorder
John Evan–piano, organ, mellotron
Jeffrey Hammond–bass guitar, alto recorder and odd voices (and backing vocals on "Mother Goose")
Clive Bunker-drums and percussion

Additional personnel:
John Burns–recording Engineer
David Palmer–orchestral arrangements and conduction
Burton Silverman–album artwork

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqualung_(Jethro_Tull_album)

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