Do you remember the stormy times in the 70ies when we waited three hours in front of the entry gates of the big music arenas just to get the best standing rooms? One of the major attractions in that period besides of Led Zepellin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Genesis, Alice Copper etc. was the band around the flute player Ian Anderson – Jethro Tull.
one of their best albums, maybe the most famous one, is Aqualung.
In the 70 ies we did not care so much about the sound quality of the music. Nevertheless today we do! As Aqualung wasn’t delivering a good sound in the beginning people were and are discussing about the different quality of various pressings. You’ll find a lot about this on the net. I decided to check it by myself. Having collected some pressings I ended up with the following copies of this legendary classic:
a) 1st UK pressing London 1971
b) 1st US pressing Los Angeles 1971
c) MFSL Japan
d) Quadradisc Burbank, Cailf. 1974
e) DCC Los Angeles 1997
f) Classic Records 45 rpm Los Angeles 2010
g) 40th Anniversary Box EU 2011
I used for all pressings the same phono chain, starting with the Continuum table and the Cobra arm carrying a Goldfinger v2. The first track – Aqualung – I played on all records.
I know that it is a very subjective assessment. When you hear the records in a row under the same condition, all records flat by the vacuum of the Continuum, you easily detect the different nuances on bass, brightness, voice and balanced soundstage. So everyone may compare with his own findings. My ranking in terms of sound quality is as follows:
1st: Classic Records 45 rpm
2nd: US 1 press
4th: 40th anniversary
5th: UK 1 st press
7th: Four channel