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

THICK AS A BRICK

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.64 | 2292 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album represented the first attempt by Jethro Tull in prog rock bandwagon. The band's official website claimed that this album "was the first rock album to be one continuous piece of music" (released sometime in Feb 1972). Judging from its cover, it seems unique to me as the band has a 12-page newspaper to support the album, "The St. Cleve Chronicle" original cover packaging; written by Ian Anderson, Jeffrey Hammond, and John Evan. The paper itself took longer to produce than the music. The music itself comprises two parts. If there was CD in seventies, the music would flow 43 minutes straight. I guess.

Sound quality of original CD is good. As for musicianship, all musicians demonstrate their capabilities at their fullest, I think. This can be seen in many parts of the music where individual player is given chances to fill solo while other instruments played as background. Exception is for bass, there is no solo but its appearance is clear throughout the album. Let's go over the music in great details.

Part 1 is nicely opened by an acoustic guitar touch followed by Ian's voice "Really don't mind if you sit this one out" continued with flute as background. The melody right here seems to be a "central theme" that will be used repeatedly throughout the song. One good shot is that after Ian sings first two paragraphs of the lyrics with the same melody, the music flows nicely to a transition piece which starts with "And the love that I feel is so far away ..". The tone is then moving up to "Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth .." when Ian's voice is gearing into higher tone. This segment of music is really enjoyable. It kills me, really.

When it hits approx min "3:01" the music is uplifting with an up tempo and, unlike the first 3 minutes where the flute and acoustic guitar dominate, hamond organ sound is now taking the lead as melody accompanying Ian sings "See there, a son is born, and we pronounce him fit to fight". Don't overlook the dazzling bass guitar playing here. It's so dynamic. When the music segment enters at min "5:15" the flute solo come into play. Wonderful!

The band creates another transition again. This time with a lyric, i.e. when Ian sings "The poet and the painter casting shadows on the water.. etc". When he finishes with this piece of paragraph, the music flows with a nice instrumental piece with lead guitar plays dominant role followed by flute. Brilliant! Again, the bass playing is really nice as well as the sound really walks the music, as if it plays the melody. It's an excellent harmony.

If there is a downside of Part 1 is that there are many repetition of melody at the end section of Part1. The band tries their best to use different instrument to repeat the same melody, but to me it sounds boring. I rarely can finish up Part 1 completely due to this reason. The feeling is really different with enjoying Genesis "Supper's Ready" where you badly expect the encore is completely listened to as it concludes the song nicely. Or, when you listen to YES's "Close To The Edge" - definitely you wanna finish the whole track because the encore is wonderful!

Let's continue Part 2 of "Thick". Again, they use the same melody as Part 1 when Ian sings "See there, a man is born, and we pronounce him fit for peace". With this melody, even the drum solo at beginning of Part 2 (the first 3 minutes) does not really help. The nice transitions that the band has created in Part 1 is not happening here in Part 2. The melody is really unstructured here. It's a collection of jams, I think. I don't know what the boys are trying to do with this part. Funny thing happens when the melody used at the intro of Part 1 is used again here with different lyrics. Enuff is enuff my friend .. I'm so tired listening the same melody over and over . Uuuggghhhh .

Fortunately the band brings new melody when Ian sings "The poet and the wise man stand behind the gun". This is a nice piece of melody, I think. It helps a little bit to elevate my emotion. The organ sound at the background creates a strong musical nuances of this track. I like this segment very much. But is it worth it for me to reach this segment I have to undergo many "unstructured" music elements as I said before? Lack of structure. I can not bear listening to Part 2 completely as I've seen nothing compelling at the end of the tunnel. It's not "Supper's Ready" or "Close To The Edge" or "The Gates of Delirium" where the encores are something we expect to hear completely.

Here comes my rating: *** for sound, ***** for musicianship, *** for songwriting / composition (the album structurally lacks composition; even though there are nice melody here and there, but overall its structure is fuzzy.. and confusing), **** for performance. I recommend this album as one of your collection. Not that due to the fact that this album hit US Chart #1, but it's a classic prog album. Don't blame me for the boring part of repeated melodies. What do you think? - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Gatot | 4/5 |

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