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

THICK AS A BRICK

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.63 | 3029 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 5

My first contact with 'Thick As A Brick' was in the middle of the 70's, in the school, where my friends lent me a recording of the album made on a cassette which was taken from the original vinyl disc. When I listen to the album for the first time I became truly amazed. This is a concept album with only one theme. Unfortunately it was interrupted in the middle, because as all we know in those times, the vinyl records were unable to store more information than 30 to 35 minutes, on each side of the disc. However, when we were listening to a copy of a recording on a cassette tape recorder with inferior quality, especially if it was a mono version, like mine, the sound quality was extremely poor. Although those were my conditions at the time and I had to live with them.

In my humble opinion, 'Thick As A Brick' is the best and most progressive release by Jethro Tull and it's the father of all concept albums. Probably, 'Thick As A Brick' is with 'Selling England By The Pound' of Genesis, 'Close To The Edge' of Yes and 'Wish You Were Here' of Pink Floyd, the four best progressive albums of the 70's. It's their fifth studio album and was released in 1972. It reached number 1 on the U.S.A. Billboard Pop Albums Chart. Even on Progarchives, these four albums are always in the top four of the site, as the best four prog albums ever made.

The line up on 'Thick As A Brick' is composed by a quintet and was the line up which lasted longer on Jethro Tull's life, remaining the same until 1975. It was formed by Ian Anderson (lead vocals, flute and acoustic guitar), Martin Barre (electric guitar and lute), John Evan (piano and organ), Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (vocals and bass guitar) and Barriemore Barlow (drums, percussion and timpani).

The music on 'Thick As A Brick' was all composed by Anderson. It's an album with a very complex musical structure and where many musical instruments were used. Besides the use of the usual classic rock instruments, already mentioned by me, many others were used, and some of them are very uncommon in rock music, such as harpsichord, xylophone, violin, trumpet and a string section.

The concept of the album was a straight collaboration between the band and an eight years old child, who wrote a very complex poem, that talks about the challenges of to get old, for a contest. It was about a fictional kid (Gerard 'Little Milton' Bostock). In those times, and even today, many believe that Gerald Bostock is a real person. The child was disqualified because the judges considered that his poem was a little bit immoral because it talks about the sexual life of a father and son, and the problems of their relationship. So, the judges preferred to give the prize to a twelve years girl, who wrote a simple essay about the Christian ethical values entitled, 'He Died To Save The Little Children'.

Anderson picked up the child's poem and created a notable piece. The combination of both things is so original and perfect that 'Thick As A Brick' became as one of the most beloved albums by most of the progressive rock fans.

Which is most interesting and surprising is that 'Thick As A Brick' only saw the daylight, because Jethro Tull's previous studio album 'Aqualung', released in 1971. It all started with the controversy between Anderson and the critics. The Critics considered 'Aqualung' a concept album, which was firmly rejected by Anderson. In response he said if they wanted to know what is a truly concept album, they would see on Jethro Tull's next studio album.

The original LP cover was a spoof of a local newspaper with news, stories, competitions, adverts, etc. It was a mock newspaper that satirised the British society of those times and its hypocrisy. The false newspaper, with twelve pages, also included the entire lyrics of the song. References to the lyrics are scattered throughout the articles. Unfortunately, and in many cases, this cover had to be reduced or even completely suppressed because of the printing costs. Fortunately, I'm lucky to have one copy of one of those LP's versions on my vinyl disc collection.

Conclusion: 'Thick As A Brick' is an extremely ambitious and brilliant album. It combines successfully and perfectly well, hard rock, jazz, and folk with great melodies which turn the album into a truly progressive rock opus. The music on this concept album is absolutely brilliant from the first to the last minute. Every single note sounds beautifully. I've always considered it a truly masterpiece, and even now when more than forty years passed, it still sounds great and better than ever. If there are perfect works, this is one of them. If you haven't got it yet, you're losing one of the jewels of the progressive rock music. It's very easy to get into its music, and is much easier to listen to than many other progressive albums. This is an essential album for any progressive fan, and definitely, it crowns the genre of the progressive folk music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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