Music Reviews 2012 – Ian Anderson – Thick As A Brick 2
I never thought I’d be saying this…..but Ian Anderson has captured my current interest once again. Anderson, the 64-year old genius and jester behind Jethro Tull, has recently issued the sequel to the 1972 Classic Tull Album – Thick As A Brick.
Ian Anderson, revered for his irreverence, creativity, and flute-gymnastics, has done it again–he has proven his enduring genius. Some 40 years after his Billboard #1 classic ode to Gerald Bostock, Anderson has now told us the rest of his story.
Actually, he has told several possible stories about what happened to the fictional schoolboy Bostock. Gerald “Little Milton” Bostock (pic above), child prodigy in 1972, was fictitiously, the author of the poem Thick As A Brick, which Tull put to music for the original album. In truth, it was all Anderson’s creation…then and now. The new album illustrates four possible outcomes for the adult Bostock. From ruthless banker, to homeless gay man, to military man in the war on terror, to TV evangelist and swindler, the adult themes give Anderson the means to stretch out his creative wings and deliver flute-led drama and tension. And he does~! For more on the premise, visit the official Tull website (http://www.j-tull.com).
This is the freshest Anderson/Tull record in well over a decade. It stands on its own merits. It doesn’t over-use the original themes, but does weave them in to key places for artistic symmetry. This record, is lyrically rich and full of modern imagery–from “Starbucks” to “tsunami’s on a foreign shore” to “banker bets, banker wins.” All while being more overtly progressive and using even more obscure instruments than the original Thick as a Brick. The original record used flute as it’s primary “obscure” rock instrument. Thick As A Brick 2 (TAAB 2) adds accordion and other flourishes–and if that doesn’t proves Anderson’s bollocks, what does? Who uses an accordion on a serious rock record? Ian Anderson does, and he makes it work.
After years of Chrysalis (Jethro Tull/Anderson’s long-time label) asking him to do a Thick As A Brick sequel, Anderson finally allowed himself to consider the notion in 2010. Just opening the door to the idea, seemed to open the floodgates of originality that made Anderson and Jethro Tull the centerpiece of my music collection.
I didn’t set out for that to happen, but it is true. I own more Jethro Tull albums (21) than any other group or artist. It is a statement. Or at least, it is a symbol of his prolificacy and my enduring band loyalty for the way the Tull Albums, Benefit, Aqualung, Songs From the Wood, and Crest of A Knave made me feel in their day. Not all of the Tull albums worked so perfectly–in fact “A” was the new Tull album just when I was embracing them on a major level in 1980. “A” was panned by both critics and fans alike. But, the overall body of Tull’s work is amazing. Jethro Tull is forever~!
Thick As A Brick 2 is a little more reflective of the times we live in. The original was one continuous song, separated by two sides of a vinyl record. The sequel has 13 modest length songs—that are designed to be played as one continuous tale. Despite the considerable technological differences, the feel is remarkably similar….and we now don’t have to turn the record over. Woohoo!
Thick As A Brick was Tull at their most indulgent best. And Anderson’s sequel is worthy. True Tull fans will totally dig it–of that I am quite certain. Will it draw in new fans? We’ll just have to see.
For those looking to embrace Anderson/Tull for the first time, I’d recommend that you start with the Benefit album, then Aqualung, then Thick As A Brick, then Songs From the Wood, then Bursting Out. Those albums demonstrate Anderson and Tull at their most creative and magical best. If you like what you hear on them, you can then proceed on to Heavy Horses, Stormwatch, Crest of a Knave and beyond. If you get that far, you will probably be a Tull fan for good.
Ian Anderson is irreverent, crotchety, quirky, and pompous—all in the best possible way. Anderson’s view of the world and its occupants is unique and entertaining–even at its most indulgent. He is part jester, part minstrel, spinning yarns with one foot on the opposite knee and right arm in the air (see flutist on album cover above).
Ian Anderson is ever the “Minstrel in the Gallery.” I am no king…but he has entertained and enriched my life nonetheless. I count myself fortunate to be in the gallery, witnessing the royal treatment. How about you?
My absolutely essential (and pared way down) Best of Tull playlist follows:
- With You There To Help Me – from 1970’s Benefit
- To Cry You A Song – from Benefit
- Sossity, You’re A Woman – Benefit
- Aqualung – from 1971’s Aqualung
- Cross-Eyed Mary from Aqualung
- Locomotive Breath – from Aqualung
- Thick As A Brick – from 1972’s Thick As A Brick
- Skating Away – from 1974’s Warchild
- Bungle in the Jungle – from Warchild
- Hunting Girl – from 1977’s Songs From the Wood
- Cup of Wonder – from Songs From the Wood
- Velvet Green – from Songs From the Wood
- Minstrel in the Gallery – from 1977’s Bursting Out
- Rover – from 1978’s Heavy Horses
- Clasp – from 1982’s Broadsword and the Beast
- Fallen on Hard Times – from Broadsword and the Beast
- Steel Monkey- from 1988’s Crest of a Knave
- Farm on the Freeway – from Crest of a Knave
- Budapest – from Crest of a Knave
- Another Christmas Song – from 1989’s Rock Island
- This Is Not Love – from 1991’s Catfish Rising
- Black Mamba – from 1999’s J-Tull Dot Com
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Hee! You can tell he had fun with that. (I loved the air guitar with the flute!) This is one of my faritove songs, but until recently has made me rather sad, reminding me of the person I love who gave me the album, who’s went to the Summerland too soon. Thanks for helping to bring it back to the other part of the circle, to spring and joy. Bright blessings!