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

THICK AS A BRICK

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.64 | 2353 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This was my first JT experience, back in my mid teenage years, when my prog head status was still in its forming stage. and what an experience it was! I had come to first know and enjoy this band right away, with this incredible masterpiece. Unlike some other cases, in which it is usually recommended that the initiated get started with a specific band's less complex material and then explore further into their most accomplished albums, "Thick as a Brick" would surely make a perfect entrance for any curious newcomer to JT listening. There's the obvious fact that this two part 40-minute suite is constructed within a pretty intricate and ambitious frame, something that theoretically, might scare the newcomer a priori. But, on the other hand, they might as well catch an accurate glimpse of JT's varied penchant for folk, blues-infected rock, and also Ian Anderson's signature solid interventions on flute (plus other occasional woodwinds) and acoustic guitar (plus other stringed things such as mandolin) in the context of a potent rock band that's pretty capable of articulating their sonic power into the colourful, complex melodic lines, harmonies and counterpoints habitual in Anderson's exhaustive writing labour. Conceived as a massive Monty Python-like mockery against the pretensions inherent to concept-albums (and a bunch of those had become quite popular in the rock charts during the late 60s and early 70s), Jethro Tull managed to create one of the best concept-albums ever: an irony that can only be achieved by the combination of genius writing, inventive arrangements, and top-notch performances. Besides Anderson's notable virtuosity and versatility (he also plays some stuff on violin, trumpet and sax), the ensemble as a whole works beautifully. Also, each individual member makes their own particular talent a crucial part of the band's overall greatness: Barre's exciting guitar leads and riffs (stealing the limelight in some of the rockier passages); Evan's exquisite skill on organ and piano (occasionally harpsichord, too); Hammond-Hammond's precise bass lines and extra burlesque (Jeffrey, Ian and John were, indeed, accomplished showmen); and last but not least, Barlow's outstanding drumming - including the incendiary solo that bursts out soon after the start of Part 2 -, complemented by his sensitive use of other percussive stuff (tympani, bells, glockenspiel). In order to keep a sense of integrity for the whole suite, the band uses some points of reference as reprises and recurring interlude variations: the ultra-popular opening theme, the 'See there! A son is born' section, and the 'See you shuffle in the courtroom' section. Two of my favourite passages are: the instrumental expansion of the first 'See there!' and the boy scout-like marching 'I've come down from the upper class' extravaganza - this is JT at the top of their playful genius. One of the most beautiful passages is the Renaissance-inspired 'The legends worded in the ancient tribal hymn' ballad section; another beautiful moment is provided by the string ensemble arrangement, courtesy of David Palmer, that announces the last instrumental interlude before the epilogue. The closure is a reprise of the opening motif's first chorus, which doesn't sound forced: actually, the whole sequence of previous motifs seem articulated in order to lead necessarily into this conclusion. 5 stars - yeah.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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