Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by
music nerds dads.
Music editor Emily Nokes has admitted in advance that this doesn't count as a record-nerd album. But dad rock has a place in the world, and when she found out that I'd passed on buying an enormous oil painting of Aqualung's cover in a thrift shop, she assigned this album as punishment. Weirdo.
Anyway, the first song on this album, also called "Aqualung," is one that absolutely everyone, including me, has heard somewhere before. Because it opens with one of those guitar riffs that has now become a punch line—if someone's playing air guitar (or real guitar) in your comedy, one of the first options you'd consider to instantly signify silliness is the person playing this opening: "[dun-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh] Sit-ting on a park bench..."
But here's the important info: (1) Do you remember the next lyric after that? Well, if you don't (c'mon, you don't), you're about to get hella bummed: It's "Eyeing little girls with bad intent." And there's a line about "Watching as the frilly panties run," too. Does anyone else think it's super-gross and weird that one of our epic '70s guitar-joke songs is a song about a pedophile? (2) Almost more importantly, do you remember how the word "aqualung" is pronounced in this song? It's "ack-qua-lung." Short a sound. So as he wails intensely over the guitar, it's "aaaaaaaaack-qua-lung," over and over. Come on! (I'm aware that Ian Anderson is from the UK; that's no excuse.) With that combination of singing about pedo creeps and mispronouncing the title of your own song, I'd say let's just toss this one and move on.
Luckily, the rest of the album has some gems for you and dads everywhere to rock out to. When Emily asked if I'd ever listened to Jethro Tull, I said, "No, but I get Jethro Tull jokes." My little brother played flute in school, which unleashed a nonstop stream of Tull jokes for the next who knows how long. So, actually, I thought this album was a little light on flute, since I was so ready for it. Except on "My God," the flute just shows up every once in a while to say, "Hi, yeah, I'm flute in a rock song! Whoa, right? Okay, bye!" and leave.
The best song on this whole album is only a minute and a half long. "Cheap Day Return," the third track, is a lovely gold-tinted folk moment that disappears all too fast in favor of longer, flutier, sillier, Renaissance Faire jams.
Actually, if you picked some of the other calm, folky jams and put them on the right mixtapes, they would read as excellent dreamy '70s music, perfect for road trips and hanging out in fields of wheat at sunset—not a musical punch line to be found.
I give this a "flute soooolooooooo" out of 10.