Ian Anderson – Thick As A Brick 2

Ian AndersonThick As A Brick 2 (Capitol)

Does the world really care what happened to Gerald Bostock?

I certainly don’t, but then again, I’m not a fan of Jethro Tull. Familiar with the band, yes. In fact, among the few rock albums that made an impression on me as a kid was the original Thick As A Brick, which my father had purchased on 8-track for some odd reason. Fascinated as I was by 8-tracks (as I was not allowed to touch dad’s record player without supervision) this album made its impact on my pre-adolescent mind primarily for its odd pairing of the flute with screaming electric guitars, which even then I was positive was not a legitimate use of said instruments. Dad had plenty of jazz records and tapes (including some Herbie Mann), and I was of the opinion that the flutes belonged on those recordings, an attitude I must admit to still embracing, at least in the context of Jethro Tull. More guitar, less flute, and certainly the minimum of Ian Anderson’s over-enunciated vocals makes for better Tull.

I recognize that said opinion is not likely to be shared by most, and raises the question of why someone prejudiced against Mr. Anderson would bother taking on the task of reviewing a solo release by the aforementioned flautist. Because, frankly, I’m sick of baby boomers, their fawning nostalgia, and all the other ways they continue to live in a mass state of delusion about the world and their place within it.

But before we get to all that, let’s take a moment for the briefest analysis of the music. What made the original Thick As A Brick such a classic was Martin Barre’s guitar playing. The original just plain rocks in a way that’s enveloping enough that you can ignore all the silliness and flute-work. But Barre does not play on Thick As A Brick 2 and the guitars are played down in Anderson’s solo work. The flute and vocals, on the other hand, ride high in the mix of TAAB 2, which sounds like a thoroughly modern recording, bright and polished. “Digital,” if you will. While there are still some rocking sections of TAAB 2, there aren’t enough of them to overshadow the narrative interludes, in which Anderson comes off sounding like a particularly annoying linguistics professor.

But the best reason to dislike TAAB 2 isn’t the music, it’s the way this whole project is mired in a sentimental conceit. Thick As A Brick is a 40-year-old album, released in 1972 when Anderson was still in his mid-20s. He’s a senior citizen now – Living In The Past, indeed! While I don’t begrudge him for trying to cash in on his legacy by recording this unimaginative sequel, I do despise his fans for putting him in this position. Because it’s pretty clear that most classic rock artists who didn’t die before they got old see a much more lucrative future in turning back the clock than turning out anything new.

While there are classic rockers who continue to release new music that’s actually new – see Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen – this wave of dusting off classics we’ve been drowning in recently needs to be stopped before we see Tommy 2 or Really Close to the Edge. Yes, it’s easy to get excited when a great band announces it will play a classic album in its entirety at a special concert or that a favorite artist is headed back into the studio to “rediscover” an older and less mature sound, but there’s also something downright mean about expecting a musician to stay fixed in time. Unless, of course, you lead your own life oblivious to the changes time has wrought.

11 thoughts on “Ian Anderson – Thick As A Brick 2”

  1. Review? Certainly not an objective one. Or a very well informed one. All I can tell about this album form your writeup is that you are prejudiced against the flute and sequels and that you like guitar. Too bad you don’t know more about the things that make great albums and music. if you did, you might have written something worth reading.

  2. I saw Tull perform the original TAAB at Oxford Town Hall in April m1972 and thought it was terrible maybe because I was three rows from the front the gig was deafeningly loud and I had bronchiteous at the time, not circumstances to be objective in! Forty years on and I saw IA do it again with TAAB2 at Oxford New Theatre and this time thought TAAB was exceptional with TAAB2 being if not a brilliant follow up being pretty good. I don’t thnk TAAB was ever as good as Aqualung and was disappointed that although a couple of the lyrics of TAAB2 make allusions to songs on Aqualung, we didn’t get a couple from the album as an encore. At the end of the day it’s all rather subjective if you like it you like it if you hate it (as in mycase) you might eventually get to like it in the right circumstances.

  3. I’m not sure why you bothered with a second paragraph, having properly established the uselessness of your opinion for any people who actually, you know, appreciate Jethro Tull.

  4. If flute doesnt belong with rock guitars, that basically invalidates the work George Martin did with The Beatles, which proved without a doubt that acoustic and amplified instruments worked hand in hand.

    Let’s just say that St Peppers blew all those preconceptions away to a point where naysayers really are p…ing in the wind.

    I always thought of ‘Passion Play’ as the ‘Thick As A Brick’ follow up. But having an official TAAB2 is even better.

    Ian Anderson has paid all his dues and more, including playing on cover albums of other Prog Rock recreations (Back Against the Wall). It’s great to hear prog rock classic bought back to life with modern production or orchstras etc. like every single other genre enjoys.

    For those that don’t like it, may I suggest that they back off to thier own walls.

  5. Clearly this review was made by someone who is not a fan. This show was FANTASTIC. Anyone who truely likes Thick as a Brick will love this show. It was meticulously performed. Unlike many classic rockers who cant bother to prepare, it was clear that that Ian Anderson and his touring band had every note rehearsed. I had never heard Thick as a Brick II. Sounded interesting, but Thick as a Brick was a vertuoso musical theater performance.

  6. As a Guitarist all of 13 years of age when TAAB 1 was released, many a day was spent listening to the recording. Many of us adopted not only the ever changing style of Tull, but also the “Dress Code” of long tangled hair, knee high moccassins, and Dad’s old floor length Dress Coats.
    Ian and the boys, and the “Monty Python Crew” gave us separation from our peers in music, dress code, and provacative thought. The twelve bar blues gave way to new time signatures and and exploration of this new language of music to our virgin ears.
    It would certainly do the “Nay Sayers” well, to go back and find themselves somewhere in the “Thick as a Brick” recording. Or
    you can continue to listen to the same crap that got you to where you are today. Being overly critical of this masterpiece in time only shows that in 1973, you where talking when you should have been listening.
    “One day you’ll wake up, in the present day.”

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