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


Ian Anderson


Prog Folk

3.74 | 411 ratings

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4 stars I must admit when I heard that Ian Anderson was going to release a new album I wasn't too enthused. When I subsequently saw that it was going to be called "Thick As A Brick 2" I was even less enthused especially when Martin Barre is missing AND it wasn't a release under the Jethro Tull moniker. Cash Cow here we come for Anderson.

But I said to myself "don't jump to conclusions until you've listened to it". And to be fair, I also put in a rule that I had to listen to it a dozen times, yes 12 times before I wrote this review. I have come up with a rating of 7 out of 10 or 3.5 stars, which I suppose I should round up to 4 and not down to 3. This puts TAAB2 in the very good album category. This surprised me somewhat as Anderson has largely been uninteresting with his past 2 solo efforts and his vocals have IMHO been embarrassing for almost 25 years since developing his well known vocal cord problem. On this release, technology has managed to largely hide his vocal shortcomings. Which is fairly impressive...and I thought you couldn't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear! That's not to say that Anderson's vocals are near his 60-70s output, it's just that they sound better than anything after 1987's Crest of a Knave.

OK let's critique this album: There are 3 classic tracks any of which would make it on a "Best Of" Tull album...they are in order of classicalness: 1. Adrift and Dumbfounded: Maybe the prog song of 2012. Anderson has finally done it the twenty tens i.e. written a classic that stands up against anything he has written before. 2. Kismet in Suburbia: I like this a lot. Very clever structurally, musically and lyrically. 3. Pebble Instrumental: Why weren't there more instrumentals along this line on the album? The other songs range from very good (A Change of Horses, Shunt and Shuffle, Banker Bets and Banker Wins) to good (From A Pebble Thrown, Swing It Far, Power and Spirit) to OK (Give til it Hurts). There are only 3 passages that recall (copy) TAAB1: 1. the opening of the first track "From A Pebble Thrown" is taken from the ending/start of Side 1/2 of TAAB1, 2. The opening organ passage of "Old School Song" is the "John Evan Hand Clapping, Foot Stomping Favourite of live gigs" from side 1 of TAAB1 and 3. the final verse of TAAB1 finishes off TAAB2. The last I found unnecessary and would have been better to finish completely different to TAAB1.

Apart from Anderson, the only other musician that stands out on this album is Florian Ophale. He plays superb lead throughout (Barre's "Mini me" a guitar playing sense of course). On a negative note: it's lucky that Anderson cannot sue himself for plagiarism as the melody that emanates through three of the longer songs (Banker, Bets, Banker Wins; Wooten Bassett Town and What-Ifs, Maybes And Might-Have Beens) is largely ripped from the song "Heavy Horses". I keep singing "Heavy Horses move the land under me, behind the plough gliding, slipping and sliding free..." to all these 3; very musically lazy.

Also the flute riff on "Shunt and Shuffle" is almost the same to that on "Beltane". I was listening to it and thought, "where the hell have I heard that before?" and yep listening again to "Beltane" I found it.

In "A Change of Horses" a large part of the music for this track is too close to Anderson's "In The Times Of India (Bombay Valentine)" from his 1995 album "Divinities: 12 Dances with God"...which I believe is a masterpiece but "A Change of Horses" is not a masterpiece. So overall it is a very good offering and it surprised me BUT Ian please bring back Barre, Perry, Giddings and Peggy and make that final prog instrumental classic of the 21st century...and then retire in 2018.

Three and a half stars.

BarryGlibb | 4/5 |


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