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

THICK AS A BRICK

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.64 | 2324 ratings

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clarke2001
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars No, Ian. You can make me feel, and you can make me think as well.

Listening can be real joy and pleasure sometimes. That's the case when I am listening to "Thick As A Brick". This album is not 100 % coherent, homogeneous or structured or flawless, but doesn't make it less worth. Well, I guess I have to start with the weakest parts and links. Okay; on side B there are few moments that could be described us unnecessary, such are brief drum solos (with mellow flute melody layered upon) and those short drum solos (with spoken words behind) are breaking the continuous float of the entire album, even more than unavoidable ending of vinyl's sides (which is actually done quite nicely). But these are all minor omissions because the album is focused all the time, and simply gorgeous and spectacular at the same time.

After a constant re-listening of this album, I started tracing parts where band recorded particular pieces of the epic, gluing them together in a studio. Or maybe that's just my imagination.

The weakest instrument on the record is undoubtedly bass guitar, but Ian wrote the lines that would fit perfectly into the music - therefore this piece is not pretentious. Or, to be more precise, it IS pretentious in a good way, but it's not overfilled with useless virtuosity or unnecessary showmanship. A perfect dosage of everything was one of the keys why this album gained stardom status.

This is Tull's music at its best, Ian's acoustic guitar and flute are beautiful, used on the right places, not terribly complicated but cleverly composed. John Evan's finest moment is here; most expressive Hammond work, epic, mellow, rumbling and whispering when necessary. Beautiful, carefully chosen tone. Only Dave Stewart in his finest moments in NATIONAL HEALTH and KHAN is on a same level, considering the sound palette.

Barre is untypical here, he showed his other side here and surprised us all. Some outstanding work, most notably multi-layered guitar solo in the first climax (somewhere in the middle of the A side).

Drumming is also perfect, the way which crazy Barlow fills the 5/4 tempo is one fine example; like a rolling drum-set monster joined with an alarm-clocks stampedo!

All the musicians themselves are great, but the music in general is much more than sum of it's parts, again. That is unique, essential "Tullness" which we all love. It's all spiced up with studio tricks - the band started using studio as a powerful tool and another musical instrument somewhere during recording of the "Benefit" album, and this is the peak.

Sound production, overall mix and dynamics are excellent, even the trivial echo and reverb tricks are enjoyable to listen to. For the example, the A side ends with a guitar chord with heavily gained echo through highly emphasized high pass filter, leaving only hiss of noise after a few reflections, while the other noise source (hiss again) - the sound of the wind is cross-faded with echo. Brilliant. The B-side opens in a same way, and starts with repeated theme of, edit #2 (I think), but not exactly the same; the melody is almost identical, the arrangements are unintelligible, but the bands is actually playing one bar more in the tempo; the tempo changed from 5/4 to 12/8 almost being unnoticed by a listener. The album is full of these brilliant details that are not so visible at the beginning.

Although the majority of people consider JETHRO TULL as a prog-folk band, this album is clearly symphonic (with a solid amount of folk tailored in), and is also worth mentioning those few seconds of string quartet near the end of the album. At first I taught that was unnecessary, but after years of listening (and some observation) I think it's essential; it's a very brief part, and it's a counterpoint of the album not musical-wise like in a baroque music, but more idea-wise. We must not forget the Ian's ability to write very short yet extremely successful pieces, most notably on "Aqualung" but the ultra-brief and orchestrated miniature "Grace" that will appear on "Minstrel In The Gallery" three years later is also worth mentioning; and in conclusion this short piece of orchestrated music inside the album-long epic is really a statement of contrast, launching all together with other ingredients this album into the constellation of most daring masterpieces that will continue to grow on you and provide you pleasurable new discoveries every time you play it for the years to come.

clarke2001 | 5/5 |

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