Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Train:Locomotive Breath

purchase [Locomotive Breath]

I confess that I was old enough to be in the demographic of those who purchased the Monkees <Last Train ...>. No excuses: that (and many others like Aretha and the Temptations and the Box Tops) was how I got into "pop". But I wasn't writing @ SMM  back in 2009 when a variation of the train theme came around once afore. There were posts galore - like pages and pages of posts!

But even back then, despite their best efforts, the SMM team couldn't exhaust the <train> theme.
Before I get to Aqualung's Locomotive Breath, it's worth pointing out that the chug-chugging locomotive motion is a staple of rock, not far removed from the "twist", that arm & leg flailing dance style that generated such fear about lost generations gyrating to evil music. It must not have been lost on Ian Anderson when he and his wife penned Locomotive Breath.
(Let's not go deeper into the Spanish etymology behind "loco")

One reviewer pointed out that there are few songs that truly capture the energy of the train: the massive engine that pulls heavy metal wagon after wagon over hill and dale (and the men that feed the beast inside a la John Henry) Louis Jordan's Choo Choo Ch'Boogie is a great song and it gets us part way there towards the train experience but it lacks the weight/heavy that Jethro Tull brings to bear.

Locomotive Breath takes it a step further. In reality, there's always Ian Anderson's style: nearly breathless chugging that emulates the true choo-choo of the locomotive the song names.

Aqualung itself is a fine album in many ways. It was the album that made Jethro Tull big, and Locomotive Breath was one of the charting hits. That's not to say that their albums Stand Up and Benefit weren't pretty good, but it was Aqualung that turned the corner for them.

There is a snippet of an interview with Ian Anderson at SongFacts' page for the song and a link to the full interview which you might read if you want to go deeper.

Whatever Anderson's original intentions for the album, and however the band finally recorded the song, the train effect is ... effective. The flute as a vehicle and in particular, Anderson's breathy flute style is well-suited to the locomotive metaphor.

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