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


Ian Anderson


Prog Folk

3.74 | 397 ratings

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4 stars The biggest problem Thick As A Brick 2 has is that it's called Thick As A Brick 2.

As most of you probably know or have already guessed, Thick As A Brick 2 is Ian Anderson's sequel to Jethro Tull's 1972 album, Thick As A Brick.

Other reviewers have correctly pointed out that it is not a direct sequel either musically or lyrically, but more of a spiritual follow up that focuses on the different choices one makes in life and how we often reflect on what different outcomes we could have achieved had we chosen differently. Anderson does this by using the Gerald Bostock character who was purportedly the child poet who penned the lyrics which made up the original album and looking at where he might have ended up at 50 years of age.

The album opens up with "From a Pebble Thrown" which is a short track that sets the tone for the album while the lyrics set up the concept. "Pebbles Instrumental" is an extension of this track with the excellent flute playing we've come to expect from Anderson.

"Might-have-beens" is a short vocal interlude which reaffirms the album concept. I'm not totally sure it is necessary as I think the first track did a fine job expressing the same thing.

We now enter the first of several possible outcomes for Gerald Bostock - Gerald the Banker. It starts with another short track with acoustic guitar, "Upper Sixth Loan Shark", which leads right into the next track, "Banker Bets, Banker Wins", a romping rocker that could pass for classic Tull if not for the modern references in the lyrics. It's definitely one of the highlights of the album.

The next section, Gerald the Homeless, begins with "Swing It Far" which starts with another short vocal section which comes off like Anderson reading a piece of poetry. It then moves into a melodic section before shifting to a modern-ish sounding rock section which helps the track stand out before quickly shifting back again.

This segues into "Adrift and Dumbfounded" which sounds a lot like Crest of a Knave era Tull to me with the almost Dire Straits-esque guitars and good organ and piano bits. Another very good cut.

Now we move into Gerald the Military Man which begins with "Old School Song" which reprises a bit of the theme from the original Thick As A Brick before moving into new territory yet keeping the same bombastic proggy sound.

"Wootton Bassett Town" is a dead ringer for a lost J-Tull dot Com track, in my opinion, which may turn some Tull fans off, but I liked that album and so too this song. It's very enjoyable latter day Tull.

Gerald the Chorister starts with "Power and Spirit", another track which begins low key before bursting out into a driving rock chorus. Musically, it again sounds like latter day Tull, but lyrically it could more strongly recall some of the tracks from Aqualung with its biting commentary on organized religion.

So too, the next track, "Give Till It Hurts", which is short but wastes no time in getting its point across. This song might sit comfortable between "My God" and "Hymn 43". The vocal pieces remind me of the sarcasm of Kevin Gilbert's "Suit Fugue".

The final potential Gerald Bostock destiny is Gerald: A Most Ordinary Man which begins with another short track, "Cosy Corner" and the long time Tull fan may notice a few sly references sewn throughout the spoken word vocals.

"Shunt and Shuffle" repeats many of the references from "Cosy Corner", but the music of this track again recalls classic 1970's Tull. Short, but enjoyable.

At this point in the album we move to the extended finale sequence which begins with the longest track on the album, "A Change Of Horses". The piece begins very atmospherically and quickly proves to be another one of the album's highlights with a very enjoyable instrumental break and distinctive playing. To me, this track most closely recalls Roots to Branches era Tull.

"Confessional" and "Kimset in Suburbia" both act as a finale to the album proper and tie up all of Gerald's "alternate lives". "Confessional" is another track which mixes melodic sections with a harder chorus section and explores all of the consequences of Gerald's actions to his various choices. "Kimset in Suburbia" is more of a straight rocker which sort of gives each life a final destiny.

"What-ifs, Maybes, Might-have-beens" returns to the musical theme of the opening track and acts as an epilogue to the whole affair and even ends with a reprise of the final moments of the original album where Anderson sings the final line with a slight alteration, "And your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick... two."

Thick As A Brick 2 is a great album and contains some of the best writing from Ian Anderson in years. The players are excellent and even though the album does not contain Martin Barre on guitar, many of the tracks sound like a dead ringer for classic Jethro Tull.

As stated at the beginning of this review, the biggest problem Thick As A Brick 2 has is that it's called Thick As A Brick 2, which means that it will invariably be judged against the original. Many people consider Thick As A Brick to be one of the greatest progressive rock albums of all time and very few albums would stand up favourably against it in a comparison.

Overall: No, Thick As A Brick 2 is not a masterpiece on the level of Thick As A Brick. The two albums aren't even really that much alike. However, that doesn't mean it isn't an excellent album. It is well worth your time and attention.

Highlights: "Banker Bets, Banker Wins", "Adrift and Dumbfounded", "A Change Of Horses", "What-ifs, Maybes, Might-have-beens"

FunkyM | 4/5 |


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