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Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick CD (album) cover

THICK AS A BRICK

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.64 | 2294 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
5 stars This is a wonderful piece of music : almost fourty-four minutes of the greatest music we all love. Ian though will tell that it took them more time to create the cover than the actual music !

I guess it must have been one of the longest track at the time of release. Still, in some live renditions they will extend it even more (I got hold of a live verson of "Thick" in Japan - Tokyo NHK Hall, August 23rd, 1974 : it last for over sixty-eight minutes). Ian will say that during the first show of this tour, the band performed rather poorly. They were actualy petrified to perform "the thing" on stage.

I guess that we have to start with side one to describe this masterpiece. So, here we go.

This wonder starts like a gentle folkish tune. Subtle and nice : the theme of the album that we'll hear several time throughout the track is introduced. Then, the listener is brought all of a sudden into a quite rocking number in which the band (not only Ian) shows all its skills. Fluting of course coming shortly afterwards. This track is truely fabulous because :

It is a complex song due to the constant change of theme (more to come shortly), complex lyrics as well.

It is accessible due to its melodious passages.

It is a mother of prog due to those countless great instrumental parts.

How the band managed to go through such a piece and deliver is a miracle (IMO).

The whole of side one is a pure marvel : no weak nor boring moments, no exaggerated extravaganza. Very few long pieces of music in rock history have reached this level. I would say it is on par with (hold on) : "Echoes", "Shine On You (all parts), "Supper's Readdy", "Close", "The Revealing" and a little known jewel from the wonderful Italian band La Masscheria Di Cerra "Il Viaggio Nell' Oceano Capovolto" (both parts) on the album "Il Grande Labirinto".

B-side of the original album is somewhat weaker, I must admit. The start, specially : a bit of a drum solo, some weird noises... for just a bit over four minutes (that's only 10 % of the track, right) ? Onwards, we almost reach the level of part one. Maybe less accessible, more tortured but great.

I purchased the remastered CD edition. There are two additional bonuses which are IMO really worth. The first one is an edited live version of "Thick" : it was recorded at the Madison Square Garden Concert (in 1987). You might say : how is this possible ! What a crime ! I would say : yes and no. Yes because to reduce this masterpiece to a twelve minutes song is a bit of a massacre and no because they performed the very best part of it, making this "medley" a great, although condensed version of the Mother song.

The second bonus consists of an interview telling us a bit the "behind the scene" story of the recording of "Thick". It lasts for about seventeen minutes. Of course, I do not listen to it quite often but like for the remastered one for "Aqualung", the first time I discover the story, I was quite interested (but you should know by now that I like details). So, once in a very while I listen to it again (as now for the purpose of this review).

We will learn that they were scared to s h i t in playing this song live : hell ! How could they achieved this one without forgetting a piece ? They did not know at the time than "Thick" would be a concept album. It should only be another Tull album like "Aqualung" (for Ian, this was not a concept album : "Just a bunch of songs" or "Benefit" ...(not too bad a reference...).

At the end of the day, Ian will admit that yes, "Thick" WAS a concept album (but very British oriented : humour like the Monty Python which was not always understood abroad). They rehearsed for about TWO weeks the whole bunch of "Thick" and eight days of recording were enough to produce this pearl of rock music. When you compare this to the endless months that some actual bands need to produce an album, I think it is interesting to put this into perspective.

The album went Nr. 1 in the US. In 1972, "Thick" was voted number three album of the year by the Melody Maker poll. Ian topping the ranking of the category "Misc Instrument" ahead of Keith Emerson.

If you ever want to buy, without doubt, do grab the remastered version.

I have listened to this album countless imes. For the purpose of this review I have listened to it another four times within two days. The experience is always as wonderful as ever. It's the kind of album you can spin on regularly without being bored : I guess that this is the true trade mark of a masterpiece. Which kind of rating can I use ? Five stars.

ZowieZiggy | 5/5 |

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