Jethro Tull, Aqualung
Chrysalis, 1971: Ian Anderson (lead singer-songwriter and different instruments including the flute), Martin Barre (guitars), John Evan (keyboards), Jeffrey Hammond (bass) and Clive Bunker (drums).
Along with KISS, Aerosmith and the Carpenters (Yes, the Carpenters were very, very big in the early 1970s!), I can most connect this album with my high school years. I used to bring the album to school, and along with two of my friends we would go to the high school library, on the pretense of studying, and then go into the back study room where there was an old record player and listen to Aqualung. We played the heck out of that record. I can pretty honestly say now that that was pretty weird, but who isn't weird in high school? Besides it was great music (and still is).
The cuts on the album are all filled with commentary on the social issues of the early 1970s; many of those have turned out to be rather timeless issues like social class, poverty, prostitution, God, the quest for riches, the hypocrisy of society, the failings of organized religion. These all seemed to be part of a society careening madly out of control after the 1960s. So, the songs all roughly revolve around the single concept of society's ills, but the criticism is bitting.
By far, the most important song on the album was the lengthy "Aqualung" itself, probably Ian Anderson's most famous song, but it was not the single released from the album because it was too long at over six minutes. In some ways, it was an angry song.
The album features dark guitar chords, great guitar solos (especially the one on "Aqualung"), the unusual flute playing of Ian Anderson (the start to "Cross-Eyed Mary" and the locomotive engine on "Locomotive Breath") and great lyrics, starting with the opening line of the album, "sitting on a park bench...spitting out pieces of his broken luck." Each phrase is like the spitting out a concise, really focused piece of satirical diatribe.
The album reached no.7 on the Billboard chart and eventually sold over seven million copies.
Finally, how many rock bands that you know featured a flute player. Jethro Tull is the only one that I know of!