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Ian Anderson - Thick As A Brick 2: Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock? CD (album) cover

THICK AS A BRICK 2: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO GERALD BOSTOCK?

Ian Anderson

 

Prog Folk

3.76 | 333 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I doubt if the world was anxiously waiting to learn what happened to Gerald Bostock, the fictional child prodigy and author of the controversial prose poem immortalized by Jethro Tull in the 1972 album 'Thick as a Brick'. But here it is, exactly forty years later: a belated update that works better as a tribute rather than a sequel, acknowledging a classic LP after four decades of well-deserved notoriety.

The original was Tull's first full-blown Progressive Rock concept album, and needs no introduction here. The follow-up (not a legitimate group effort, but a glorified solo album credited to 'Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson') is a fairly robust Prog throwback capturing much of the adventurous musical spirit and complexity of the 1970s.

But it's still a backwards looking album, even with the clever reboot of the original cover concept, trading the gatefold mock newspaper for a link to an actual (bogus) web site: the St. Cleve Parish on-line newsletter (www.stcleve.com). It's actually quite amusing in a low- key, English sort of way, although the effort to set it up probably took more time than making the album itself.

This time around the narratives (plural: apparently Mr. Anderson couldn't settle on a single fate for poor Gerald) are more literal than the esoteric symbolism of the earlier album, perhaps an indication of how we've changed since the idealistic early '70s. The music itself is often very engaging, following the same Celtic-Folk trajectory of later Tull albums. But it's the concept and lyrics that ultimately drive the sequel, and none of it fits together as seamlessly as the original. Instead of a single 40-minute song cycle, the new album presents an episodic, fragmented series of (quoting the closing song title) 'What-Ifs, Maybes and Might-Have-Beens', interrupted by awkward spoken-word bridges.

It's too bad Ian Anderson couldn't have arranged a reunion of the original players, too. The backing band here (minus Martin Barre, alas) sounds much like Jethro Tull in the last few decades: totally professional but strictly anonymous, which may be exactly what an autocrat like Anderson expects these days.

Derek Shulman and the ubiquitous Steve Wilson are both name-checked in the credits, the former for pushing the idea (hey, Derek, how about a Gentle Giant sequel to 'Three Friends'?) and the latter for applying his usual mixing skills. High marks all around, but in the end the album had no chance to recapture the novelty and excitement of the original. Gerald Bostock isn't the only one here who grew older, and neither is Mr. Anderson...we've all put a few miles behind us since 1972, and let's face it: nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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