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Ian Anderson - Thick As A Brick 2 [Aka: TAAB2] CD (album) cover


Ian Anderson


Prog Folk

3.73 | 400 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 121

'Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock ?' is the fifth studio album of Jethro Tull's front man, Ian Anderson, and was released in 2012. It's a follow up or a sequel, as you wish, of 'Thick As A Brick', the famous and highly acclaimed classic conceptual album released by Jethro Tull, in 1972, the mother of all concept albums, according to Anderson. However, before write about 'Thick As A Brick 2', I need to write a few lines about Jethro Tull, Ian Anderson and 'Thick As A Brick', to situate the context, why Ian decided to release this sequel in our days.

Jethro Tull is considered with Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Camel and Rush, one of the best and most important progressive bands ever. Ian Anderson was always the band's image, the front man of the group, the brain of the band and the eccentric figure of Jethro Tull. 'Thick As A Brick' is in general considered the most progressive and the best release of Jethro Tull and the father of all conceptual albums. It's also in general seen, with 'Selling England By The Pound' from Genesis, 'Close To The Edge' from Yes and 'Wish You Were Here' from Pink Floyd, one of the four best progressive albums ever made. It's also a special album for me. My first contact with this album was in the 70's, at school, where one of my school friends lent me a recording, made on a tape recorder with low mono sound quality. Since I listen to it, since I became amazed with it.

So, forty years have passed since 'Thick As A Brick' was released and as most of you can remember, when it was released, it was involved in some controversy. The album was a collaboration between the band and an eight years old child, who wrote a complex poem that talks about the challenges of to get old, for a contest about a fictional kid, Gerard 'Little Milton' Bostock. In those time, and even today, many belie that Gerald Bostock was a real person. However, the child was disqualified because the judges considered that the poem, had little moral, and talked about the sexual life of father and son and the problems of their relationship. So, the judges preferred give the prize to a twelve years old girl, who wrote a simple essay about the Christian ethical values entitled, 'He Died To Save The Little Children'. So, Ian Anderson became very upset with that and he picked up in the child's poem and created a notable piece of music.

According to Anderson, when in our days he was thinking about the original album 'Thick As A Brick', he began to think: 'I wonder what the eight-year-old Gerald Bostock would be doing today? Would the fabled newspaper still exist?' So, it was in this context that appeared 'Thick As A Brick 2'. This new album is completely focused on Gerald Bostock, the fictional boy genius of the original poem on 'Thick As A Brick'. The story presents five divergent hypothetical life stories for him, including a greedy investment banker, a homosexual homeless man, a soldier in the Afghan war, a sanctimonious evangelist preacher and a most ordinary man who runs a corner store. By the end of the album, all five possibilities of live seem to converge in a similar concluding moment of gloomy of pitiful solitude.

It's also important to be said that Anderson and his fellow musicians delivered a finest progressive piece of music with this release. Certain musical themes taken from the original album make this second part very recognizable, but you never get the idea that the music sounds outdated. A modern approach and new recording facilities prevent you from listening to a 70's album. The flute playing of Anderson has always been his trademark and also this time it's prominent in the music. Maybe he doesn't sing as good as forty years ago, but the way he sings nowadays actually suits the music quite well. Compared to almost all of the albums of Jethro Tull recorded after 'Crest Of A Knave', the music has much more progressive rock elements. For instance, outstanding keyboard and electric guitar parts can be enjoyed throughout the album. Just like the first part of 'Thick As A Brick' the music sounds as if it's only one solid piece.

Conclusion: Anderson made a great job here. Inevitably, comparisons will be made with the original album. But this sequel has to be judged on its own merits. It's a very valuable successor of the first one and a wonderful addition to any prog collection. But it's a puzzle for me why Anderson decided to release this work as a solo album. By The way: Whatever happened to Mr. Barre? I really don't know. He's sorely missed, but his young replacement Florian Ophale acquits himself more than adequately. But, what made Anderson release 'Thick As A Brick 2'? I think that are two main reasons. First, his great love for music and his consciousness about the importance of 'Thick As A Brick'. Second, there is the philosophical existential question, which many of us have done for so many times. What would happen to me if I had followed another path in my life? Who would I be today? Of course, there aren't answers for these questions. However, I think I'm able to answer to one question. What would happen to progressive music if Anderson had followed another path? Surely, the progressive world was poorer, today. So, god blesses you Ian, for you are what you are.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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