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Jethro Tull

Prog Folk

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Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick album cover
4.64 | 3664 ratings | 305 reviews | 72% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Thick as a Brick - Part 1 (22:39)
2. Thick as a Brick - Part 2 (21:05)

Total Time 43:44

Bonus tracks on 25th Anniversary remaster (1997):
3. Thick as a Brick (live at Madison Square Garden 1978) (11:48)
4. Interview with Ian Anderson, Martin Barre and Jeffrey Hammond (16:28)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ian Anderson / vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, violin, saxophone, trumpet
- Martin Barre / electric guitar, lute
- John Evan / Hammond organ, piano, harpsichord
- Jeffrey Hammond / bass, spoken word
- Barriemore Barlow / drums, timpani, percussion

- David Palmer / strings arrangements & conducting

Releases information

ArtWork: Chrysalis' Roy Eldridge (design) / Anderson, Evan & Hammond (contents)

LP Chrysalis - CHR1003 (1972, UK)

CD Chrysalis ‎- F2 21003 (1985, US)
CD Chrysalis ‎- CDCNTAV5 (1997, Europe) 25th Anniversary Remaster w/ bonus 1978 NY Live recording (previously unreleased) and an interview with band members

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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JETHRO TULL Thick as a Brick ratings distribution

(3664 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(72%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
Good, but non-essential (6%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

JETHRO TULL Thick as a Brick reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lucas
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Jethro tull's first of a long series of progressive rock records (until 1979) and probably the best. JT were the ones, along with Renaissance, to blend acoustic folk music and progressive rock. They succeeded in their approach and brought eight studio albums, from 1972 to 1979, with top quality music. Thick as a brick is a concept album that builds with very good vocal performance by Ian Anderson, very strong acoustic parts and excellent drumming by Barriemore Barlow, replacing Clive Bunker. David Palmer plays an important role, adding a symphonic dimension to JT's music. This is to recommend to everyone in search of beautiful vocals and intricate (intriguing?) music.
Review by maani
5 stars Probably the most "subtle" prog-rock album, Thick as a Brick flawlessly brings together folk, rock, minstrel, quasi-classical, musical theater, and progressive sensibilities, and creates an atmosphere of understated grandeur. This album is both "deeper" and yet less complex than it sounds, achieving a near-perfect balance of styles that is accessible even to those who don't "get" prog-rock.
Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars If I'm ever banished to that fabled "desert island," and allowed to bring only a single Jethro Tull album, this would likely be the one (though it would be tough to leave AQUALUNG, MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY, SONGS FROM THE WOOD and HEAVY HORSES behind).

Why does this disc get the nod as possibly my favourite of Tull's extensive oeuvre? Well, for a start, the music really resonates with me. The various themes and melodies, arranged as a single, album-long suite, are brilliant, and insinuate their way into the pleasure-center of your brain, n'er to depart. I love Barre's guitar and Anderson's flute as usual, but the inclusion here of so much Hammond organ (courtesy of John Evans) really fleshes out the sound, and gives this effort a classic Prog feel. Season that with generous dollops of workmanlike fiddle from the multi-talented Mr. Anderson, and you've got a delectable auditory stew -- a feast for the ears of epic proportions. That's not all: I also think the lyrics are brilliant -- some of the best Anderson has ever penned (the credited lyricist, little "Gerald Bostock," was, of course, fictional). My tastes in poetry may be somewhat plebian -- I confess that I prefer Byron to Keats or Shelley -- but to me, lines like "The poet sheathes his pen, while the soldier lifts his sword" and "The doer and the thinker, no allowance for the other" are simply brilliant. I always find new lines to ponder and enjoy when I listen to this awesome disc, and I listen to it fairly often.

If you're not familiar with the music of Jethro Tull, I'd suggest starting with AQUALUNG, then, if you like that, pick up this album next. If you're already a Tull fan, but don't have THICK AS A BRICK, then run, don't walk, and beg, borrow, buy or steal it! A MUST!

Review by Sean Trane

The mad flauter had warned the press and took the world in a storm. As a spoof, this album depicts the story of a Young Poet winning some Baptist Church Contest with a brilliant but sombre poem but being disqualified by the authorities as a deranged and immoral youth when they discovered his tender of 8 and his assistant/lover a 17 years old fully developed female partner.

The music developed here is one long 43 min number cut in two for Vinyl Complications and is in the form of classical music, which might sound pretentious if it was not so tight sounding and inventive. All of the musicians are at the top of their game, every note in place and none superfluous. Right from the first few acoustic guitar notes, you know you are in the mother of all progressive trips. Those very first notes come back three times every time bringing you back to reality, but to make you sink deeper into madness. Side 1 is flawless and makes grumble as the needles lifts off the wax, that you have to get up and change side. There are some lengths on side 2 as the music becomes more difficult, but the lyrics remain astounding of reality as the Upper Class tells the Lowly Masses what is a good taste and where the Moral Melée should be, simply flabbergasting.

The only thing I ever regretted is that they never played it live as a whole, but recently I heard a bootleg pointing out that they might have done so, but the sound was just horrendous.

Get the original vinyl as the St-Cleve Chronicle newspaper: it is simply hilarious poke at the English society depicting all the quirks and quacks of rural England. It will make you want to read everything on it as they even review their own album and have created a sport halfway in between croquet and rugby and made general standings.

If one album must epitomize this site, this might be the one as the other groups were never keen on humour (Caravan and Genesis aside, Zappa being some kind of Alien)

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Geared towards the exceptional (not the average)

"Thick as a Brick" is unquestionably the most progressive, and indeed the best release by Jethro Tull.

The album is one complete piece from start to end, with repeating lyrics and melodies throughout. The lyrics are amusing and witty, including references to Superman, Batman and Robin (Robin DAY was a BBC journalist by the way), and the Boy Scout Manual(!).

The music is a strange mixture of acoustic folk and full blown prog. The album opens with what sounds like an amusing little folk ditty with Anderson singing over acoustic guitar. Sharp bursts of bass, drums and guitar intrude, apparently unnoticed by Anderson until the full band surges in and we're off on 40 minutes of pure fantasy. Anderson's flute never sounded better, but the whole band are working as a unit on this album, giving a depth of quality missing from most of their subsequent albums. Old military sounding themes make way for driving rock bursts, brief orchestration towards the end blends seamlessly with the frantic build up which preceded it. There is true musical magic at work here.

While there is only one track as such, the section towards the start of side 2, with the chorus "Do you believe in the day". Is surprisingly sensitive and beautiful.

The original LP sleeve was a multi-page parody of a local English village newspaper, and was worth the price of the album on its own. It was a worthwhile investment too, good condition copies now selling at grossly inflated prices.

The essential Jethro Tull album.

Review by loserboy
5 stars For me this is one of the true essential Progressive recordings of all time and certainly is JETHRO TULL at its finest moment. What makes this recording work so well for me is the careful attention to the song writing that occured during these sessions. Like many great masterpieces the songs are long and are given the space to build into some breathtaking proggy moments. As per normal JETHRO TULL, musicianship is exceptionally high and Anderson's flute playing is highly inspiring.

Review by lor68
4 stars Another controversial work, according to the critics, but I like this unique suite, which in so many circumstances is memorable... as another "progressive effort" (usually They are not labeled as a "Progressive" band, but never mind...) the present album is remarkable and creative as well: I don't think of this classic issue as the most prolix composition by JETHRO TULL, however the vocal parts and the instrumental excursions are well balanced and alone well worth checking out!!

Ok probably this is the most unconventional album by J.T. (regardless of the controversial "A Passion Play"), even though nowadays such a long suite (one for each side) should be out of time.I try to explain what I mean: the choice regarding a long instrumental album, without any technological support and moreover lacking the subdivision of each single phase (this latter usually characterizing a classic suite), was strange and against the stream at that time, but it should be a bit unacceptable still today, as the folk sound inside a symphonic plot or a contest of classic music at least, has to be managed in a different way.

However the suite "Thick as a Brick" is divided into two songs only, in which the dynamics change a lot, in spite of the main role of the flute which is the leading instrument all along the development of the composition. wow that's quite surprising!! The rhythmical accompaniment of the organ (as well as its melodic harmonization) is delightful, cause of its contribution to the music crescendo of the last section, considering also the pretty dynamic execution and the simple but stunning harmonic "colours". At the end if you regard of the continuity of this artistic opera, you can listen to it from the beginning to the end, without being annoyed in any moment.essential concept, whose re-mastered version earns a lot!!

Add another half star, at least!!

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What a masterpiece! Thick As A Brick" is a real classic one! I think it is the best TULL album! 1972 was a wonder year for top prog albums: "Close To The Edge", "Foxtrot", "Fragile", "Prologue", "Three Friends", and "Thick As A Brick".

But "Thick As A Brick" is quite different from "Foxtrot", and more particularly, if I want to compare with another album more alike: "Moving Waves": the keyboards and songs are more in a specific pattern on "Thick As A Brick": organ, tons of drums, speed changes...but how much efficient!! All the instruments are extremely present and well played! Yes, the album sounds the same and has the same style from the beginning to the end, but one must admit that the result is a very outstanding arrangements technically perfectly played! The music is quite complex, and the bass, the guitars, the keyboards ans drums seem to talk to themselves!!

Extremely recommended!

Review by Carl floyd fan
5 stars One of the best prog albums of all time with many mood swings and changes of pace. Ian Anderson has a tremendous voice and many talented musicians backing him up. Pick this one up ASAP, you can't consider yourself a prog fan unless you have this one! Even if you don't like this type of prog, this is the exception!
Review by daveconn
4 stars I 'm not sure I can make heads or tales out of this brick, but I'll try anyway. That it's a concept album is clear, purported to be a collaboration between TULL and an eight-year-old poet named Gerald "Little Milton" BOSTOCK. Gerald is IAN's alter ego; whether he represents the young IAN or simply IAN's childish fancies is somewhat cloudy. A single work broken into two sides, "Thick As A Brick" is really a collection of songs (or, rather, musical themes) spliced together. I say themes because the record does utilize several melodies over again, functioning as refrains after a sort. For example, the "So your ride." segment appears toward the beginning and again at the end, "See there! A son/man is born." appears on the first and second side to introduce a new stage in the character's development, and so on.

Anyway, as for the heads and tales: the first comes into play with the opening thickness theme, delivered in a delightful reverie that expanded on the style introduced with "Aqualung"'s short acoustic pieces. That peace is soon dispelled as the lead voice (a euphemism, since where Gerald ends and Ian begins is unclear to me) travels "back down the years and the days of my youth". Here, the work becomes an Oedipal conflict between the young boy and his father, who has gone off to war. Later (and the reference to "later" in the lyric sheet is a signpost that the tale has advanced a generation), the young character is grown to adulthood and serving as a barrister it would seem. But the barrister's world is one of illusory pleasures, and his son grows up to be a man of peace. It's tempting to look at this as Ian's family tree (he being the man of peace, I suppose), but I'll merely advance the theory without lending it my full support. At the end, the dying old man (who started this story as a young boy) reflects on life and the afterlife, drawing the same cloak of invincibility around himself at the end (as in the beginning) by claiming "your wisemen don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick". From birth to death, then, the great play all played out. As for the music (oh, yeah, right), it's more organic in tone than "Aqualung", acoustic guitars and John Evan's keyboards intermingling in a fertile setting with minimal use of the electric guitar. There are still the light and dark shadings, but it all meets in a visible middle distance rather than "Aqualung"'s extreme ranges. Ian, as the liner notes explain (should you have the stamina to pore over the tiny type for tidbits of truth) "extended his virtuosity to violin, sax and trumpet" on this recording, which expands the music considerably (the sax in particular would seem to assume some of the electric guitar's original role). This album also marked the debut of Barriemore Barlow, poor thing, who outside of one devilish drum solo was left with the unenviable task of pinning a rhythm on a moving donkey.

"Thick As A Brick" remains a brilliant, ambitious record. At the time, it confounded critics, who felt Anderson had grown too big for britches. For the rest of us, tearing down the wall separating art and music is a lofty goal, which "Thick As A Brick" does as well as any album.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album represented the first attempt by Jethro Tull in prog rock bandwagon. The band's official website claimed that this album "was the first rock album to be one continuous piece of music" (released sometime in Feb 1972). Judging from its cover, it seems unique to me as the band has a 12-page newspaper to support the album, "The St. Cleve Chronicle" original cover packaging; written by Ian Anderson, Jeffrey Hammond, and John Evan. The paper itself took longer to produce than the music. The music itself comprises two parts. If there was CD in seventies, the music would flow 43 minutes straight. I guess.

Sound quality of original CD is good. As for musicianship, all musicians demonstrate their capabilities at their fullest, I think. This can be seen in many parts of the music where individual player is given chances to fill solo while other instruments played as background. Exception is for bass, there is no solo but its appearance is clear throughout the album. Let's go over the music in great details.

Part 1 is nicely opened by an acoustic guitar touch followed by Ian's voice "Really don't mind if you sit this one out" continued with flute as background. The melody right here seems to be a "central theme" that will be used repeatedly throughout the song. One good shot is that after Ian sings first two paragraphs of the lyrics with the same melody, the music flows nicely to a transition piece which starts with "And the love that I feel is so far away ..". The tone is then moving up to "Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth .." when Ian's voice is gearing into higher tone. This segment of music is really enjoyable. It kills me, really.

When it hits approx min "3:01" the music is uplifting with an up tempo and, unlike the first 3 minutes where the flute and acoustic guitar dominate, hamond organ sound is now taking the lead as melody accompanying Ian sings "See there, a son is born, and we pronounce him fit to fight". Don't overlook the dazzling bass guitar playing here. It's so dynamic. When the music segment enters at min "5:15" the flute solo come into play. Wonderful!

The band creates another transition again. This time with a lyric, i.e. when Ian sings "The poet and the painter casting shadows on the water.. etc". When he finishes with this piece of paragraph, the music flows with a nice instrumental piece with lead guitar plays dominant role followed by flute. Brilliant! Again, the bass playing is really nice as well as the sound really walks the music, as if it plays the melody. It's an excellent harmony.

If there is a downside of Part 1 is that there are many repetition of melody at the end section of Part1. The band tries their best to use different instrument to repeat the same melody, but to me it sounds boring. I rarely can finish up Part 1 completely due to this reason. The feeling is really different with enjoying Genesis "Supper's Ready" where you badly expect the encore is completely listened to as it concludes the song nicely. Or, when you listen to YES's "Close To The Edge" - definitely you wanna finish the whole track because the encore is wonderful!

Let's continue Part 2 of "Thick". Again, they use the same melody as Part 1 when Ian sings "See there, a man is born, and we pronounce him fit for peace". With this melody, even the drum solo at beginning of Part 2 (the first 3 minutes) does not really help. The nice transitions that the band has created in Part 1 is not happening here in Part 2. The melody is really unstructured here. It's a collection of jams, I think. I don't know what the boys are trying to do with this part. Funny thing happens when the melody used at the intro of Part 1 is used again here with different lyrics. Enuff is enuff my friend .. I'm so tired listening the same melody over and over . Uuuggghhhh .

Fortunately the band brings new melody when Ian sings "The poet and the wise man stand behind the gun". This is a nice piece of melody, I think. It helps a little bit to elevate my emotion. The organ sound at the background creates a strong musical nuances of this track. I like this segment very much. But is it worth it for me to reach this segment I have to undergo many "unstructured" music elements as I said before? Lack of structure. I can not bear listening to Part 2 completely as I've seen nothing compelling at the end of the tunnel. It's not "Supper's Ready" or "Close To The Edge" or "The Gates of Delirium" where the encores are something we expect to hear completely.

Here comes my rating: *** for sound, ***** for musicianship, *** for songwriting / composition (the album structurally lacks composition; even though there are nice melody here and there, but overall its structure is fuzzy.. and confusing), **** for performance. I recommend this album as one of your collection. Not that due to the fact that this album hit US Chart #1, but it's a classic prog album. Don't blame me for the boring part of repeated melodies. What do you think? - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Two of the main characteristics of Progressive Rock are the ability of making conceptual albums and recording epics (songs that last much more than the average and narrate a story), Thick as a Brick contains both, the plot is about a fictional kid (Gerald "Little Milton" Bostock) who writes a complex poem for a contest, but who is disqualified because the judges used a s an excuse a four letters word (never mentioned clearly), but are really worried about the whole poem and the moral, sexual and father son relation problems, so they give the price to a 12 years girl who wrote a simple essay about Christian Ethics called "He Died to Save the Little Children".

Seems to be a simple and maybe funny story, but it's really a hard satire about hypocrisy in British society, which sometimes hides behind false morality to avoid talking about controversial issues which they know are true but want to keep in the dark. Others believe it's some kind of description of Ian Anderson who behaves as a kid even though is concerned about more important things. We'll never know the truth (unless Ian tells it some day).

The original presentation of the album is impeccable, a 12 pages cover simulating the St. Cleve Chronicle (a small town newspaper), that include the lyrics, the whole story, credits and even a rape accusation against Little Milton by an older girl, one of the best covers in history.

The music is simply amazing, goes from incredibly beautiful acoustic sections to medieval keyboard parts with some, hard rock and folksy influences, but I won't talk about it because can't be described in words, you have to listen it to believe. Ian with his flute, acoustic guitar and vocals is simply perfect, but probably John Evans is the big surprise, keyboards are complete and carries the weight of the whole album, not a redundant note or unnecessary sound, everything is right in it's place.

Martin Barre is crucial, especially in the hard parts when his guitar adds personality and strength to the music. Barriemore Barlow is always accurate even though he doesn't shine, does what is necessary to keep the rhythm section with Jeffrey Hammond- Hammond who does excellent support.

Again I refuse to make a long description of the music because it would be unfair to talk about movements, influences, high points, etc. because "Thick as a Brick" is THE ALBUM, Jethro Tull were at their peak and nobody can fairly describe 43 minutes of wonderful music in a way that would make real justice.

The lyrics are in fact the text of Little Milton's poem (who is credited as co-author, another Ian's joke) and deserve to be listened with special attention because are very complex and touch issues very controversial.

There's not much more to say, simply because Thick as a Brick is almost perfect, if you haven't heard it yet, you're loosing one of the key albums of ´prog' history and a true masterpiece that must be owned by everybody.

5 stars are not enough but is the maximum rating.

Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
5 stars Having read the reviews thus far, there is very little I can add - however, I do feel moved to put forward yet another 5 star review for this album; I do not give 5 stars lightly (if at all), but this is one of those very few albums which fully and truly deserves the accolade.

Thick As A Brick is not only Jethro Tull's finest hour, but also one of the greatest progressive rock albums ever recorded - this is not merely praise from a huge Tull fan, but plain fact.

The evidence - TAAB is effectively a single track in which the texture and mood of the music constantly change, as do the time signatures, but without ever sounding contrived or forced. Throughout the album the musicianship of what most consider to be the 'classic' Tull lineup is exemplary; John Evan's Hammond work is especially stunning here, but neither Barre, Barlow or Hammond-Hammond (what a name!) put a foot wrong throughout the album (even during the oft criticised freeform section at the beginning of part 2) - all this ably supported by David Palmer's (or Mrs Dee Palmer as she is now known...) subtle but effective orchestrations .

All the above is topped off by Ian Anderson's incisive lyrics - a non-stop truly inspired stream of conciousness he has never quite matched before or since - "take me back down the years, to the days of my youth, draw the lace and black curtains, and shut out, the whole truth".

In short - this is an album which I consider to be utterly flawless and would recommend anyone who appreciates good music/writing (whatever the genre) should own. This is especially true if you get hold of the re-mastered issue, with reproductions of all the original artwork, a live version of the abridged TAAB from Madison Square Garden in 1978 (the last tour to feature this lineup, with the exception of Hammond, who had already been replaced by John Glascock - a year later, it was just Anderson/Barre), and a very entertaining 16 minute interview with the chaps about the making of the album.

Review by penguindf12
5 stars One listen to this album will not do it justice. At first glance, it is a folksy song about some medieval countryside "war of the roses" type thing, but this is what Anderson wants you to think. Digging deeper, reading the annotations at, and THINKING about it (as the album instructs) will open new doors.

The album begins with a simple classic guitar and flute reflecting the unthinking listener's inability to understand what he is saying. My brother, a Metallica fan who openly dislikes complex music (minus DREAM THEATER: it's one of the only bands we both enjoy), said it sounds like "hobbit music." That is what this part tries to do: mock the listener who does not truly listen with biting lyrics. When Anderson sings "And the love that I feel...", the perspective switches to that of a brainwashed member of modern society. He wonders how he became "thick as a brick" and "comfortably numb" (so to speak) and explores his own life as the masculine bass charges forth and those who control his life speak: "See there! A son is born, and we pronounce him fit to fight" although he obviously is NOT fit to fight.

Then the complex third part comes with its intense rural imagery (read and develop opinions for yourselves), and his absent father returns to command the now-grown son in "the whirpool" section of the song. His father is cast off by the independant son, who falls prey to certain ways... and emerges "LATER" as a sort of upper-class lawyer, just like his father. The son has not thought for himself, and is now a mirror of his hated father. He tortures those he sees unfit to exist, judging all. Then the perspective may or may not switch to that of HIS son; it is never specified. But nonetheless, "childhood heroes" are called upon to think for you, and the first part ends...

...and the second opens. Fiercly. A man is born, he is now conformed to society. A quick "that doesn't match!" section with awkward instrumentation and vocals, then the son (or grandson, I don't know...) is now a "wise man," sort of like a celebrity or famous musician which everyone worships (there are a lot of connections between this album and The Wall: guess its just another thick as a brick in the wall... heh heh...) and he rises to power over the neat little conformist hippies who worship him. Then he and a poet join forces to create a new wave and promise a new day, telling those below what to think. A vicious cycle...

But Anderson steps in as the wild man to give us a "final warning." He tells us that if we do not think for ourselves, the sandcastles will always be swept away and the pendulum will continue to swing and utopias will never be built... and then the song retreats behind a door to cry out to the "comic book heroes" to think for us, but they will not respond. The hour of judgement draweth near, but OF COURSE still do not think for ourselves. It is up to you to change this ending and bring about the end of suffering.

Overall, it is one of the best albums I have ever heard. Highly reccommended.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Thick as a Brick ' was my return to Jethro Tull's earlier work as I kind of elected to circumnavigate everything excepy Aqualung. More fool me. This recent acquisition has made buying the Tull back catalogue all the more fun. What an album, typically progressive and both parts are one and the same really. Highly recommended and it is a masterpiece. Barre's guitar to the frenzied but methodical meanders makes Thick As A Brick a must for any Progressive rock enthusiast. For me the ' Close To The Edge' equivalent for Jethro Tull but I still have to get Benefit, Stand Up, A Passion Play, Minstrel...
Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
5 stars The prog albums of prog albums.

If you are going to own only one progressive rock album (which I imagine would be quite unusual for anyone who frequents this site) this is the one to own. There is nothing I can add in my review of this behemoth that hasn't been said already so I'll keep it short. Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick has everything the classic prog rock fan wants...complexity, variety, bombast, excellent solos, many musical ideas, keyboards, an avant passage, rock, pointless lyrics (:P), excellent musicianship, length, quiet acoustic passages and loud, kick you in the face rock sections, replayability...and more. Its amazing what satire can produce, and this is one of the best examples.

All in all, this is a prog masterpiece, this is a masterpiece of music. If you are new to the genre you have approximately one week to get this before the gods of progressive rock come down and smite you. If you are a veteran of the prog scene, you have this already, and if you don't you should be banished into the neatherworlds of 70s/80s pop music. Any way you slice it, this is a classic and a cornerstone to any music collection, progressive or otherwise. 5 stars, extremely recommended.

Review by belz
5 stars 4.7/5.0 This album is a must for any progressive music fan. It's hard to believe that you can create so much rhythm with flute and guitars. The rhythm in the voice on the album reminds me of Gentle Giant in some way while the music itself makes me think about Harmonium's "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison". The group does not need no drum to create rhythm and the drum is very light on that album; neverthless this is a strong rhytmic album.

In every part this is a masterpiece and I would give even a higher rating than 4.7/5.0 if it wasn't for some "slower" parts on the second side. However, as always, one has to remember that it's the slowest parts that create the climax so one can really enjoy the more rhytmic parts...

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Often coined as their "masterpiece" and best release, Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick" surely is one of the most popular progressive rock recordings over the last 35 years. Though I like it's successor, "A Passion Play" better, this one still has very high qualities both lyrically and musically. It's a very constructed and well-thinked album, with very few weak spots and a light yet serious style to it. It definitely stand out as one of Tull's best albums, though it might drag on for too long, luckily not often though. Highly recommended!
Review by 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.
Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is another Progressive Rock album that, in my opinion, every fan of the genre should own. Up to 1975 I listened to all JETHRO TULL releases and, although I enjoyed them all, this album is my favourite of the TULL albums I know.

If it had not been for the limitations of the vinyl media of the time, the music would have been one long track. As the LP had to be turned over there is an enforced hiatus in the music, but it's hardly noticeable with the CD.

The 1998 EMI/Chrysalis CD release with digitally remastered music has, apart from the original two LP sides, a 12-minute live performance of (part of) the piece at Madison Square Garden in 1978 plus an interesting 17-minute interview with Ian Anderson, Martin Barre and Jeffrey Hammond. (Count how many times they manage to mention Bermondsey in the interview!) Anderson mentions that this album was a tongue-in-cheek concept album as his reaction to "Aqualung" being labelled a concept album in the music press, when it was not. He wanted to create a complex, confusing send-up of the band, music critics and the audience, and not necessarily in that order. Apparently Anderson took about 2 weeks to write and rehearse the music with the band (!) and they then took around 8 to 10 days to record the album (!), and the band spent more time writing and completing the album cover artwork than writing, rehearsing and recording the album!

The booklet that comes with the 1998 EMI/Chrysalis CD release duplicates the original spoof newspaper (The St. Cleve Chronicle) that served as the LP cover and insert, plus a centre spread with Melody Maker clippings etc. Given the CD format, the font is very small, but you can just about read it! One of the 'articles' contains the lyrics of the music.

All I need to say about the music itself is that it is extremely good, with an amazingly simple yet incredibly effective riff that appears regularly throughout the piece. The musicianship is of the highest order and the instruments - both acoustic and electric - very pleasing. Without doubt 5 stars.

Review by Yanns
5 stars Despite all the other reviews here, I find that I have to review it myself as well. In 1972, Thick as a Brick was released, the concept an idea of Ian Anderson, one of the most wonderfully crazy people in the music business. The result: masterpiece. He managed to come up with a 44-minute song (it really is one song) with no filler whatsoever. Many 16-20 minute songs I know have filler, and this is more than twice as long. The album is pure perfection, and I view it as the greatest song of all time. On my reviews, I go song by song, so here goes:

Thick as a Brick: One of the all-time cornerstones of Progressive Rock and Prog Folk, let alone rock in general. As the first song (and album) to be contained on two sides of an album (actually, the entirety of each side), it broke new ground: hence, the word "progressive." Every section is imaginative and perfect. The famous acoustic guitar and flute intro is perfect, but the song gets so much deeper later on. Also, on side 2, the song goes through probably the most glorious section of music I ever heard. This is the "Do you believe in the day?" section of the song. Words cannot express the feeling and the perfection of this section and of the entire song.

If you don't own this album, then you must within 1 day, or else you can't be a true prog fan. You will understand what I mean once you get it and listen to it. Not just once, but again and again (it's like this for all prog albums, mind you). Perfect. 5/5 stars.

Review by Zitro
4 stars 4/2 Stars

This is the artistic peak of Jethro tull. They flawlessly mix folk, classical music, rock, and progressive styles into a 40+ long epic. The first 2 minutes of the song is very well known worldwide, since that unforgettable folk piece is on 'greatest hits' albums, and is very memorable. The rest of the album is a progressive rock bliss full of musical changes, and excellent lyrics, though it suffers from repetition and some incoherence between side 1 and 2.

The story is very hard to fully grasp. It revolves around that newspaper article about a genius young poet not getting a reward for his poem 'Thick As a Brick' because of the content (but the poem is excellent in itself). This album goes through the central theme of young people are not usually allowed to think for themselves independently, and instead are made to think/become like adults want them to. The lyrics are very poetic and methaphoric (difficult to understand their meanings), and also contain touches of great witty humor.

You have to get this album. If you are not familiar with this band, I recommend you to listen to Aqualung first to get used to their unique sound. Then try this masterwork.

My grade : B+

Review by Bob Greece
5 stars Truly a masterpiece of progressive rock.

The best song on this album is Thick as a Brick (ho ho!). One song on a whole album - how progressive can you get? This album stands out amongst other Jethro Tull albums of the same period. Compared with Aqualung, the sound quality is better and the band play together better as a whole. Compared with their other one-song album A Passion Play, this album contains lighter and more humourous lyrical content and IMHO better tunes.

Personally though, I prefer the live shortened versions of this album available on albums such as Live Bursting Out. The latest version of this CD contains a live version of Thick as a Brick from Madison Square Gardens in 1977, which alone is worth the price of the CD.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars No many words to say about Thick As A Brick: there will never be great objection to call it THE real MASTERPIECE of the progressive rock! I agree with the opinion of Dan (7 22 2005) who remembers that, if you are searching for the commistion between folk music and classical music, you can't get better than Jethro Tull (eventually also Strawbs, in my personal opinion). To a miliar stone from 1972 a five star rating from 2005!!
Review by richardh
5 stars First of all I have to say I'm something of a Jethro Tull novice with the only other album by them in my collection being Aqualung.Its quite obvious to me though that this is something special.Prog rock at it sbest should be challenging and enjoyable.Both can be found here is abundance as you are taken on a ride of complex time signatures and ever shifting moods .Percussion is very strong throughout and the keyboard solos are top notch.I like this very much.I cannot think of one thing that makes this not deserving of 5 stars.Bravo!
Review by Tony Fisher
4 stars Don't get me wrong - I really like this album. Indeed, I have 2 vinyl copies and a CD, so it must have something. It's just that, much though I really like children, I can only eat one at a sitting. And it's the same with this. It's excellently composed and played, I can play any bit and guarantee to enjoy it, I like the cover art (the piss take of a provincial newspaper - especially on the vinyl) and the story is an endearingly silly concept (an Anderson piss take).The lyrics are deep and though provoking. But try as I might, I can't play the whole album in one go because it just doesn't quite do enough to captivate me in the same way (say) Camel's The Snow Goose does. One side at a time is enough or else I get bored. More folky and progressive than their earlier blues inspired stuff, it's a lot better than Benefit or Stand Up and only Aqualung bears comparison. A masterpiece? Nearly - worth 4.5 stars but that's all. Sorry Ian!
Review by Eclipse
5 stars Everyone should praise Ian Anderson as one of the most creative minds on music, a person able to create amazing melodies, intelligent lyrics and play several instruments with notable passion for his art. He is obviously the one responsible for JETHRO TULL's success, since he always composed some of the most important tiles of the prog-rock wall.

One of them is this epic "Thick As A Brick", which is just one 40+ minute long song that remains interesting from start to finish, even though the same theme is played oftenly through the two parts that divide the work due to vynil restrictions. Each minute is interesting and important, no weak points are found here, so how do you define someone who composes such an amazing piece of art? A genius might be right word, don't you think? With his folk influences Ian delivers great flute passages with folk rhythm (mainly near the ending) - mixing other styles as a more hard rock one in some times - and the other members of the band work perfectly on their instruments. They all play as a true band here, being the guitar not over the keyboards or vice-versa. There's no need to "virtuosity show-off" here, they are lightened as a true group making their sound as the best they could produce.

This is their masterpiece, their definite one. It is essential at the most pure sense of the word, and if you want some more music to delight yourself get the new CD containing an extra live track (not special, but it is interesting to listen to this live) and an interview with Ian and the band.

Definitely a masterpiece!

Review by slipperman
5 stars SUPERB!!! This is the ULTIMATE Jethro Tull album, and not just because it's an ambitious one-song prog epic. It's because 'Thick As A Brick' has the flow of a masterfully-written short song; it's because every member's performance is remarkable; it's because the sounds are gorgeous, especially John Evan's rich array of keyboard sounds; and probably the most important element: Ian Anderson's melodies are among the best he would ever write: emotionally-stirring, super-memorable, addictive, an absolute pleasure to behold.

Performed with total conviction, the rhythms and changes are all top-notch and the band's amazing chemistry is obvious. It doesn't hurt, of course, that Anderson is at his most inspired, vocally, reeling off his best-ever chunk of prose like the master he is. Every time I think I have the storyline figured out, I doubt myself on the next listen...but no matter: as an assembly of words and verses, they read well on paper and sound even more convincing coming out of Anderson's mouth. Feel free to pile on even more superlatives and praise. It deserves it. 'Thick As A Brick' is one of very few albums that I've listened to over and over in the same sitting. It's fresh and new every time. An absolute perfect prog classic.

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars If there is one Tull cd I would pick up, if I must decide myself to take only one record by them with me on a desert island, it would be "Thick As A Brick", even it would be a close race with "Aqualung", my first taste with the band. The mother of all concept albums remains as the first record by them, where the progressive sensibilitys stood not only in the background, but took control as the main-part of the songwriting and arrangements. Mastermind Ian Anderson was on his highest point of creativity, the music on both of the TAAB parts are complex, catchy and highly memorable at the same time, which makes the record to such a highly acclaimed masterpiece for the fans of Jethro Tull and progressive rock listeners. The album reached big status in the underground as it reached the light of day and still is the high-water-mark of the whole band history, even I think that "A Passion Play" is extremely underrated and nearly can reach the brilliance of TAAB, but though I prefer this, because of it's more ambitious perfection and memorable essence. I got the remastered version with two bonus tracks: A shorter live version of "Thick As A Brick" recorded at Madison Square Garden in 1978, with excellent sound, and an interestening interview with Ian Anderson, Martin Barre and Jeffrey Hammond, who explain very well the construction of the album. Watch out for this cd version, it's superb!

Rating: 98 % on MPV scale = 10/10 points = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music

Review by con safo
5 stars A truly essential album to any prog fans collection.

"Thick As A Brick" is Jethro Tull in top form, so tight and complex as if the band itself is one single entity. Ian's flute has never sounded better, and heavy use or organ gives this album a great sound. The piece itself is 40+ minutes long, and is separated into 2 tracks. The composition is truly brilliant, with many recurring themes reappearing throughout. (but slightly altered) The album is a mock-concept of sorts, a supposed collaboration between 8-year old poet Gerald and Jethro Tull. The concept follows a child (perhaps Ian himself) through birth, childhood, adulthood, and eventually death. Ian's sarcastic and humorous lyric style is extremely clever, and delivers the concept in a way only JT can!

JT went over the prog deep end with this album, embracing the prog sound with magnificent results. The music itself is very folky at parts reminiscent of Aqualung, but it goes far beyond the simpler folk tracks of that album, using a lot of classical influences. Evan's organ is superb, adding fantastic texture throughout. The song flows seamlessly through many different themes, never meandering or boring, you are always aware that all of this is one song, as it is written with the finesse of a classical composer. Truly a work of genius! 5/5 - con safo

Review by Menswear
3 stars This is only my very humble opinion, but this record is not doing a lot for me despite my affection for our favorite hobo flutist. Anderson's voice is to me one that speaks for millions of youths, whatever their age or the ages. Some segements are delectable in terms of melodies (the main theme for instance), some are more melancholic...ahh, the Tull at his zenith.

On another hand, the duper segments I talked about could be chopped from a good 20 minutes of repetitive themes and therefore the redudance is spoiling the magic. I get the same feeling of the Moonchild song from King Crimson, there's a line, but too weak to climb up my repertoire.

Perhaps to people this record is speaking more of teenage good old dayz than the concept itself?

Review by FishyMonkey
5 stars There's not much to write about this without breaking down nearly every minute of the two pieces, and I do not want to do that. What I will say is that this album...simply worked immediately. I never get bored during any part of this, my attention never fades. I never get bored of Ian Anderson's playful and wonderful flute solos and flute parts, nor of the wonderful acoustic melodies, nor of the high quality drumming all around. Ian Anderson is truly a master of pleasing and lovely floating melodies. His voice is the perfect blend of edge with serenity, as is the whole album. Whereas Aqualung was much more of a rocker than TaaB, this album still retains some of that edge while focusing considerably more on subtleties.

I don't even know what to write about this that hasn't been said already. Whether it's a jazz flute style solo, a hard rock section, soft acoustic, xylophone parts or whatever, it all rocks. This album is perfect.

Review by Neu!mann
5 stars Here's an album which certainly doesn't need another five-star recommendation, after racking up more than 200 reviews to date and winning the number two spot in the Prog Archives all-time popularity poll. But hearing it end-to-end (for the umpteenth time in 30+ years) is always an experience worth repeating, so why not also repeat some of the glowing accolades as well?

Any good Jethro Tull fan will of course cling to a favorite album, but to these ears the band's fifth studio effort was their first true masterpiece. More so than even "Aqualung", by comparison now an overexposed and somewhat dated early Prog artifact still riding the slipstream of its long-standing classic rock status. After 1971 Ian Anderson could have simply rested on the laurels of his newly minted superstardom, but he chose instead to put his then sterling reputation at risk with a record almost guaranteed to drive his critics to dumbfounded apoplexy.

It was a concept album, of course, as was just about every other record released at the time. But "Thick as a Brick" was the genuine article: a concept album in both content and form, mocking the philistine attitudes of cultural complacency in a single 40+ minute "song" cycle filling the entire album (with only one break, where the original vinyl LP had to be flipped over). The whole thing was meant to represent a rock-and-roll arrangement of a controversial poem written by a fictional 8-year old prodigy at odds with middlebrow conservatism, blending equal parts theology, scatology, obscure symbolism, and ribald satire into one long tragic- comic meditation on the entire human condition, here presented in a tongue-in- cheek "newspaper" poking fun not only at the anticipated critical response to the new album, but also at the conventions of album cover art overkill.

Describing the music itself would be a fool's errand. Suffice to say the rhythm-and- blues roots of early Tull were finally exorcised here, thanks in large part to the brilliant ensemble work of maybe the best line-up ever assembled under the Jethro Tull banner. The ferocious drumming of newcomer Barriemore Barlow shines through the typically anemic mid-'70s production job; old pal John Evan was allowed his modest share of the limelight on keyboards (after laboring in a supporting role on previous Tull albums); and Martin Barre continued to prove himself one of the most overlooked and underrated electric guitarists of his generation.

But this was clearly Ian Anderson's magnum opus. Consider the first four Jethro Tull albums, from their late '60s debut "This Was" through 1971's "Aqualung". Then listen to "Thick as a Brick" again. In 1972 it represented an unexpected and daring aesthetic leap forward for the band, and over 30 years later you can judge its success by how ill-suited it still is to the pre-fab, corporate music machine of our brave new millennium.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Listening to "Thick As A Brick" after more than 20 years without hearing it made me go back to my teenager years, in the ides of 1973-1974, when prog-rock was really KING.

I remember clearly that releases from our esteemed bands were shown ostensively in the shops, radios played their most catchy (sometimes cheesy) songs and talkings about prog were a high school and college daily matter. There was also "The Grand Parade of Covers", a kind of fad, here in Terra Brasilis, with young males and young ladies walking up and down, bearing album covers like saying which were their preferences. The most popular tribes were those sporting Floyd's 'cow cover' or Tull's 'soup of letters cover' (I had either but managed to keep them always safe at home) and I think this contest was virtually tied, a proof of the great popularity JT enjoyed here.

In fact, Jethro Tull are still very popular and dear and new fans are always being added; and the band have partially (or majorly) to be thankful to "Thick As A Brick", an amazing work, a real challenge, with its 43' plus total time; a length more common to be seen for old-time classical pieces. But we all benefited, since to be exposed to such a lengthy work was a learning experience for all hearers (specially the youngest) and a fine preparation for similar releases (from several bands) to be unveiled in years to come.

The saddest part of the history is that "Thick As A Brick" first releases had no lyrics attached and like no internet search gear existed then, the majority of non-English listeners had to appreciate exclusively the music; although many swore that the lyrics were plotted in the newspaper-like cover. Even today that I'm aware of the lyrics "Thick As A Brick" is, for me, much more an instrumental piece (however, "A Passion Play" was released since the beginning with full lyrics, a matter that we enjoyed immensely 1/3 of a century ago).

Even making me go back to the past, I wouldn't say that "Thick As A Brick" is dated or aged badly. But my feelings changed a bit, now instead of considering it a thunderous opus, I slowed the tone and for my recent hearings I observed some incontestable dull moments, and these moments are not particularly located - they appear in many parts of the song. Fortunately there are great and memorable moments, specially the flute solos and intermezzos. Ian Anderson, founder, leader, singer, flutist, ghost and elf of Jethro Tull never more achieved such an interaction between singing and playing as he did in this album. Other members worked greatly: it's nice and pleasant to hear Jeffrey H-H's bass lines, Barre's guitar riffs and Evans's keyboard handling - this line-up was probably Tull's best.

Well, after all histories, tales, feats and deeds, it's time to rate for not becoming "the bad dream I had today". An excellent addition to any prog music collection. Total: 4.

Review by fuxi
3 stars I agree with some other reviewers that this album has been overrated. I fail to see why it is so popular. In my opinion, a whole load of classic Tull albums deserve four or five stars (e.g. STAND UP, BENEFIT, A PASSION PLAY, MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY and even WAR CHILD), but THICK AS A BRICK simply sounds too repetitive.

All the best bits of the album are included in a 'condensed' version on that excellent live-album, BURSTING OUT. When I listen to the original THICK AS A BRICK, I invariably get bored. One reason for this may be that I originally discovered BRICK three or four years after A PASSION PLAY, which is similar in structure. A PASSION PLAY lacks the hymn-like main melody that is BRICK's great strength, but thanks to its varied instrumentation, it sounds more colourful than its predecessor. Apart from guitar-organ-flute-bass-drums, A PASSION PLAY also has saxophone on it, glockenspiel and a whole arsenal of quirky synthesizers! No wonder The Tangent have expressed (on their website) special affection for A PASSION PLAY - not for THICK AS A BRICK.

Review by Prog-jester
5 stars This is a masterpeice,and you know it better than me ;-) ."Thick as a Brick" is essential TULL,excellent for TULL's beginners,and a musthave for every progger.I adore the "Do you believe"-part from the side B,it's one of the most pleasant tunes I ever heard!!!Lush keyboards,fiery flute and emotional vocals from mr.Anderson,great guitar solos and the result is the Masterpiece of Progressive Rock.If TULL would have been a one-shot band (JETHRO TULL - "Thick as a Brick" 1972...and nothing more!!!),I'd love it more than some band's catalogues taken together!!! ;-)
Review by NJprogfan
5 stars It would be crazy to try and add anything to the above multitude of reviews. What I will add is a story. Over this past weekend, my daughter of 7 and I went on a ride to the post office. In my car was this album. My daughter gets very mellow in the wee hours of the morning, so she sat in the backseat and listened to about 15 minutes of the first side. After stamps were purchased, we went home. She didn't make any remarks about the music. The following day, we took a ride to a boardwalk that had rides. The first ride we went on was called the "Himalaya". You know, that ride that spins forward and back at high rates of speed. As we sat waiting for the ride to begin. Playing over the loudspeakers was "Thick As A Brick". Not the radio version, but the whole thing! My daughter nugged me and said, "Dad,'s the song you played yesterday." The fact that she remembered, especially the beginning acoustic guitar, blows my mind. Seeing that she's into music more geared to her age, she remembered this 34 year-old classic. And classic it is, of monumental proportions. If you're new to the prog scene, this is one that you must purchase, especially when it comes to the work of Jethro Tull. Top five classic, without a doubt! BTW, the version I have has an 11 minute version of the song live from NYC 1978 and an interview of Ian Anderson, Martin Barre and Jeffrey Hammond. Try and find it if you can, the sound is fantastic. Caio!
Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars On a swelteringly hot Monday afternoon, yours truly - too knackered by the humid heat to even remotely think about doing something 'serious' - got the brilliant idea to write what may very well be the 1000th review of one of her favourite albums of all time. As in the case of such other widely recognised masterpieces as CTTE or the mighty ITCOTCK, with "Thick as a Brick" (TAAB for friends) it was love at first hearing - the first, melancholy, acoustic notes of the intro still manage to evoke a response deep within me that many other records will never, ever achieve.

"Really don't mind if you sit this one out/ My words but a whisper, your deafness a shout..." - then Martin Barre's amazingly heavy guitar explodes in typical fashion, backed by Barriemore Barlow's thunderous drums. It is but the beginning of a stunningly intricate, intriguing cavalcade through JT's 'spoof' mother-of-all-concept-albums - which, funnily enough, is much more successful than dozens of seriously-meant works of similar bent. Complete with one of the most brilliantly thought out covers in the history of rock, the album is allegedly based on a long poem written by an 8-year-old boy living in a a stereotypically narrow-minded, English country town. I remember that, at the time I first heard TAAB, I took the whole story seriously and was amazed by the depth of insight, not to mention the corrosive wit of the lyrical content, wondering about how such a young boy could have come out with lines such as "your sperm's in the gutter, your love's in the sink". Much later, of course, I learnt about the spoof - the interview with Ian Anderson, Martin Barre and Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond included in the record's recent remastered edition is very entertaining, and the best proof of how prog was not above showing a sense of humour.

In the good old times of vinyl records, TAAB was divided in two, and this division is preserved on CD (but more on this later). Unlike most albums which are comprised of songs, it is difficult to analyse individual sections of TAAB. The interplay between the instruments is superb, though, with Anderson's highly individual, storyteller's voice dominating the whole proceedings. Time signatures shift and change suddenly, taking the listener from a soothing acoustic soundscape to a much heavier, tense one.

My favourite section of all is probably the one starting with "See here, a son is born", introducing a deft change of mood from the wistful, pastoral tones of the beginning. Barre's electric guitar work is its usual brilliant self, perfectly complemented by Anderson's acoustic playing and the spectacular background provided by one of the tightest (though sadly overrated) rhythm sections of that period, courtesy of Messrs Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and Barriemore Barlow. John Evan starts out with some beautiful piano runs, then midway through the first section his Hammond organ plays in unison with Anderson's flute.

The instrumental sections and the vocal ones interweave smoothly, giving each musician his own chance to shine. The almost military rhythm of one section gradually slows down and flows into another, beautifully accented by piano and acoustic guitar. "I see you shuffle in the courtroom/With your rings upon your fingers.". Those who tend to overlook Barrie Barlow in those endless, boring "best drummer" polls should get a good listen of his performance on this record - and all of us who love great music cannot but regret Jeffrey H-H leaving the music world for good after the "Minstrel in the Gallery" album.

The first part terminates with nearly strident, frantic interplay between drums, keys and flute, which fades out into silence and is then taken up again in slow motion. Hearing it as a continuous movement on CD is even more impressive than when you had to flip the vinyl over. Then, the rhythm gets high again with the reprise of the "See here, a son is born" theme, which features some truly spectacular drum rolls, accompanied by bells and flute. This is probably the most 'avant-garde' section of the album, almost dissonant at times, with Anderson half-singing, half-reciting lines about God being "an overwhelming responsibility" and "cats on the upgrade". Then, "In the clear white circles" brings back the pastoral atmosphere of the beginning, culminating in the minstrel-like, wistful atmosphere of "Do you believe in the day?", with Anderson's vocals at their plaintive best on Evan's solemn Hammond backing. This is followed by the dynamic, march-like "Let me tell you", which includes some impressive flute runs by Anderson - then segues directly into the reprise of the "So! Come on you childhood heroes" theme from the first part, only with a harder edge: "Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday." - pure, weird brilliance on the part of one of the greatest lyricists in rock. A soothing string section heralds the initially chaotic, then suddenly peaceful reprise of the beginning. "So you ride yourselves over the fields/and you make all your animal deals/and your wise men don't know how it feels/to be thick as a brick."

What else can be left to say? This is perfect album from the best incarnation of a truly great band, a milestone of every genre of prog and rock music. Don't miss it.

Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars An adventurous and fun listen, I think Tull shows their best on this album. Highly imaginative and energetic, to listen to this album is pure joy. You'll be tapping your feet along in no time. This is the definitive prog folk album. Although some disagree as to Tull's listing as a folk band, this is the closest to a perfect prog folk album in my opinion.

Anderson's vocals are powerful and moving, and the dynamic play of the band is tight and cohesive. It's a truly enthralling listen. There are a few sections that I am not too fond of, specifically the end of Pt 1, but there's too much good material on this record to be listened to.

This is a milestone in the field, a necessary part of every music listeners collection. Tull's signature album. Wonderful layered melodies with those quirky and intelligent lyrics.

Review by Melomaniac
5 stars My favorite Tull album. I enjoy every note from every instrument that can be heard here. Everything is in it's place. A majestic 43 minutes long piece, a magnum opus with lyrics to match. Deserves it's place among the great epic songs from the 70's (Close to the Edge, Gates of Delirium, Atom Heart Mother, Echoes, etc...). No lenghts or filler, everything is essential.

Tull's Essential Album, definitely worth the "Masterpiece" mention.

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Thick As A Brick' was released in 1972. On the remastered CD is an interview with Tull members (Anderson, Barre , Hammond-Hammond) that gives some clues about the genesis of the record. Because a lot of people believed, according to Anderson, that 'Aqualung' to was a concept album (which it is was not), he wanted to write in return "the mother of all concept albums". (which is even from todays standard still the case).

Influenced by the absurd & surreal humour of 'Monthy Python',the band came up with a story of a 12 year old boy, who had won a poetry contest with a poem entitled "Thick As A Brick", that a rock group named Jethro Tull (really existing) put into music. Funny side- effect : Anderson tells, that still nowadays people ask, what has become of the boy who wrote the poem. To make the impact even stronger they produced a cover in form of a 'real' foldout newspaper, the St.Cleve Chronicle, narrating on the front page the stor' of the poem in the middle of a made up newspaper with all it's columns. BTW it took longer to create the newspaper, then to finnish the reord.

The music itself presents one longue composition, separated in two parts due to the contraints of a vynyl record. Contary to, let's say 'Suppers's Ready' which is a collection of songs that existed already and were segued into a suite, 'Thick AS A Brick' is based on the theme /variation model. Centered around a main theme (song), the composition combines this main-theme with several side themes (songs),presenting the verses of the 'poem', all linked by instrumental passages, that use more or less the melodic and harmonic material of these themes.The band rehearsed the whole record in 'live' condition, giving the record great band dynamics.

Side One starts with the main theme, one of the most beautiful songs that Anderson has written, supported by acoustic guitar and flute, a stunning contrast to the tongue in cheek lyrics of the 'poem'. The following themes altenate up-tempo and slower passages, with great dynamics. Towards the end of side one occurs a reprise of the main-theme played by piano and Glockenspiel and side one ends with a last theme, that bounces back and fourth with stereo panning until fading into a wind noise....

...that starts Side two evolving into a reprise of an earlier theme, that gives place to a long instrumental rubato passage with interwoven dialogue parts, fading in and out, followed by a variation of the main theme.Towards the middle of side two occurs a march- theme with solemnly vocals and 'TAAB' ends with a great arrangement of David Palmer, alternating a quick instrumental passage with a slow string movement, until the main theme returns and closes a perfect record.

'Thick As A Brick' hasn't got a wrinkle and it's still the 'mother of all concept albums'!

Review by T.Rox
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Thick As A Brick: an album of one song and possibly THE best album of all time!

I first heard this album 30 odd years ago in my teens and have loved it from that time. TAAB is a truly magical experience. This epic song has a great diversity of musical moods throughout its full length: great melodies; great rocking moments; Ian Anderson's infectious flute work; the infusion of traditional 'folk' instruments. For over 40 minutes of music there is no filler whatsoever and the transitions between the many and varied passages are seamless. The lyrics are quite comical at times, a musical interpretation of a poem, although I am not sure to this day what the the real story in the words is . but that doesn't matter because they fit the music brilliantly. (What we do know is that TAAB was JT's attempt to mock the very concept of concept albums after the previous JT release, Aqualung, was branded as a concept album by the musical press.)

As a listener I enjoy every minute of TAAB, each and every time I listen to the album. I have also been involved in Community Radio in small towns of Outback Australia for a few years, and as I have left one place to go to another my parting gift to the stations' listeners as been playing TAAB in its entirety, so prominent is this album's position on my musical radar.

For those lucky enough to have a copy of the LP with its original newspaper style packaging look after it; I am sure its value will increase in years to come. (I rarely get the LP out these days to minimise the possibility of damage to the cover.)

To my mind this is the most essential of all progressive rock albums! If you don't own it, add it to whatever wish list will get a copy of TAAB into your collection. You will not be disappointed.

Perfect! It's a shame there is nothing higher than five stars to be given out, so 5 out of 5 it will have to be!

Review by Australian
5 stars "Thick As a Brick "is almost undoubtedly the best album Jethro Tull has ever produced and it follows the band's experimental notions to the extreme with 20 minute plus songs, extended instrumental sections and ambitious lyrics. The Lyrics for "Thick As a Brick" were written by twelve year old boy named Gerald Bustock. I remember telling one of my friends this and he replied "What kind of twelve year old kid writes like that?" I really have trouble working out what exactly the concept of "Thick As a Brick" is about. There's something about wise men, people going to war, comic book characters and various other things. I suppose it is just a comical album full of strange, quirky music and concepts which perhaps certain people would understand.

The music itself is amazing and there are several tunes which just get stuck in your head and what ever you do they just can't get rid of them! Luckily the tunes are good, not crappy pop songs you'd hear on the radio(these days), these "Thick As A Brick" tunes consist of wonderful band interplay with either the guitar or flute taking the limelight. These certain melodies are repeated several times, usually with a vocal section separating them but man are they amazing! The 40 minutes the album runs for is pure bliss, everything is perfect about "Thick As A Brick." I'm out of things to say really, lets just say it goes up with stuff like 'Close to the Edge' as the very best progressive music around. I'm gonna keep this review short.

1.Thick as a Brick pt1 (5/5) 2.Thick as a Brick pt2 (5/5) Total = 10 divided by 2 Number of songs) = 5 = 5 stars Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music

The remaster of "Thick As A Brick" comes with a Jethro Tull interview in which they speak of certain aspects of the creation of "Thick As A Brick", interesting stuff. It also comes with an 11 live version of "Thick As A Brick." I'd recommend "Thick As A Brick" to absolutely everyone, it is essential to every prog fan and is one of the very best. GET IT!

Review by Chus
5 stars Reading the reviews above I don't conceive how many people would call this one "boring" and then praise Close To The Edge. Surely, Thick As A Brick is repetitive, but Close To The Edge also falls short of ideas after a while and you get about 6 or 7 minutes of pure piano rambling without much direction, seemingly just stretching the song so that they could compete with the rest of the "prog" scene.

Don't get me wrong, Yes has a lot of musicianship and they can surely arrange great harmonies, but they also tend to drag some of their songs beyond measure.

Now to the actual review: I give it 5 stars, because quite frankly, whilst A Passion Play has grown on me a bit more, this one is a bit better in terms of arrangements, and you could actually listen to more themes than on APP plus the synths are not all over the place (if there are synths at all). On the other hand, this one has Anderson's marvelous vocals a bit drowned with naive production; or perhaps it's just his singing in this album that's not particularly good.

But this is surely a masterpiece, a bit flawed but, hell, Selling England By The Pound has "More Fool Me", thus I think it's a draw between the two, despite the musical contrasts.

Review by hdfisch
5 stars What else to write that hadn't been said already about this "mother of all concept albums"? It had been just a stunning work by JT and reading through the faked "St. Cleve Chronicle" being full of subtle hints to the lyrics alone is a big fun. The band's approach to album concepts and themes was always quite different from the one of other seminal Prog bands, not that much based on epics, history or fantasy. Thus "Little Milton's" poem this album here is based on can hardly be compared to concepts of other big works from that era though the topic hadn't been that far way from the one of "The Wall" released seven years after. Just with the difference that Floyd chose a very serious approach whereas Tull did it in a more ironical, tongue-in-cheek way, much in the spirit of Monthy Python. The lyrics are rather confusing if reading through them and much had been written between the lines. As far as I've got them it's all about critics on the mainstream society, its hypocrisy and its attitude to go "rather for the average than the exceptional". Taking his fictitious prodigy as an example Anderson was expressing his big concern about youth and in particular highly talented kids and their chances in a society where business comes before artistry. The music composed for this great masterpiece emphasizes very well the lyrics covering multiple genres like folk, jazz, classical and hard-edged psychedelic rock. Despite its complexity and being structured in two side-long tracks this record is surprisingly quite easily accessible and it's rather enjoyable than tedious to listen to it in one session. There aren't any obvious lengths but many highlights instead and the musicianship presented by all band members is just to be called brilliant. Finally I can just confirm previous reviews in saying that TaaB is certainly a masterpiece of progressive music and one of the definite must-have albums in any Prog collection!!
Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars This is a wonderful piece of music : almost fourty-four minutes of the greatest music we all love. Ian though will tell that it took them more time to create the cover than the actual music !

I guess it must have been one of the longest track at the time of release. Still, in some live renditions they will extend it even more (I got hold of a live verson of "Thick" in Japan - Tokyo NHK Hall, August 23rd, 1974 : it last for over sixty-eight minutes). Ian will say that during the first show of this tour, the band performed rather poorly. They were actualy petrified to perform "the thing" on stage.

I guess that we have to start with side one to describe this masterpiece. So, here we go.

This wonder starts like a gentle folkish tune. Subtle and nice : the theme of the album that we'll hear several time throughout the track is introduced. Then, the listener is brought all of a sudden into a quite rocking number in which the band (not only Ian) shows all its skills. Fluting of course coming shortly afterwards. This track is truely fabulous because :

It is a complex song due to the constant change of theme (more to come shortly), complex lyrics as well.

It is accessible due to its melodious passages.

It is a mother of prog due to those countless great instrumental parts.

How the band managed to go through such a piece and deliver is a miracle (IMO).

The whole of side one is a pure marvel : no weak nor boring moments, no exaggerated extravaganza. Very few long pieces of music in rock history have reached this level. I would say it is on par with (hold on) : "Echoes", "Shine On You (all parts), "Supper's Readdy", "Close", "The Revealing" and a little known jewel from the wonderful Italian band La Masscheria Di Cerra "Il Viaggio Nell' Oceano Capovolto" (both parts) on the album "Il Grande Labirinto".

B-side of the original album is somewhat weaker, I must admit. The start, specially : a bit of a drum solo, some weird noises... for just a bit over four minutes (that's only 10 % of the track, right) ? Onwards, we almost reach the level of part one. Maybe less accessible, more tortured but great.

I purchased the remastered CD edition. There are two additional bonuses which are IMO really worth. The first one is an edited live version of "Thick" : it was recorded at the Madison Square Garden Concert (in 1987). You might say : how is this possible ! What a crime ! I would say : yes and no. Yes because to reduce this masterpiece to a twelve minutes song is a bit of a massacre and no because they performed the very best part of it, making this "medley" a great, although condensed version of the Mother song.

The second bonus consists of an interview telling us a bit the "behind the scene" story of the recording of "Thick". It lasts for about seventeen minutes. Of course, I do not listen to it quite often but like for the remastered one for "Aqualung", the first time I discover the story, I was quite interested (but you should know by now that I like details). So, once in a very while I listen to it again (as now for the purpose of this review).

We will learn that they were scared to s h i t in playing this song live : hell ! How could they achieved this one without forgetting a piece ? They did not know at the time than "Thick" would be a concept album. It should only be another Tull album like "Aqualung" (for Ian, this was not a concept album : "Just a bunch of songs" or "Benefit" ...(not too bad a reference...).

At the end of the day, Ian will admit that yes, "Thick" WAS a concept album (but very British oriented : humour like the Monty Python which was not always understood abroad). They rehearsed for about TWO weeks the whole bunch of "Thick" and eight days of recording were enough to produce this pearl of rock music. When you compare this to the endless months that some actual bands need to produce an album, I think it is interesting to put this into perspective.

The album went Nr. 1 in the US. In 1972, "Thick" was voted number three album of the year by the Melody Maker poll. Ian topping the ranking of the category "Misc Instrument" ahead of Keith Emerson.

If you ever want to buy, without doubt, do grab the remastered version.

I have listened to this album countless imes. For the purpose of this review I have listened to it another four times within two days. The experience is always as wonderful as ever. It's the kind of album you can spin on regularly without being bored : I guess that this is the true trade mark of a masterpiece. Which kind of rating can I use ? Five stars.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars No, Ian. You can make me feel, and you can make me think as well.

Listening can be real joy and pleasure sometimes. That's the case when I am listening to "Thick As A Brick". This album is not 100 % coherent, homogeneous or structured or flawless, but doesn't make it less worth. Well, I guess I have to start with the weakest parts and links. Okay; on side B there are few moments that could be described us unnecessary, such are brief drum solos (with mellow flute melody layered upon) and those short drum solos (with spoken words behind) are breaking the continuous float of the entire album, even more than unavoidable ending of vinyl's sides (which is actually done quite nicely). But these are all minor omissions because the album is focused all the time, and simply gorgeous and spectacular at the same time.

After a constant re-listening of this album, I started tracing parts where band recorded particular pieces of the epic, gluing them together in a studio. Or maybe that's just my imagination.

The weakest instrument on the record is undoubtedly bass guitar, but Ian wrote the lines that would fit perfectly into the music - therefore this piece is not pretentious. Or, to be more precise, it IS pretentious in a good way, but it's not overfilled with useless virtuosity or unnecessary showmanship. A perfect dosage of everything was one of the keys why this album gained stardom status.

This is Tull's music at its best, Ian's acoustic guitar and flute are beautiful, used on the right places, not terribly complicated but cleverly composed. John Evan's finest moment is here; most expressive Hammond work, epic, mellow, rumbling and whispering when necessary. Beautiful, carefully chosen tone. Only Dave Stewart in his finest moments in NATIONAL HEALTH and KHAN is on a same level, considering the sound palette.

Barre is untypical here, he showed his other side here and surprised us all. Some outstanding work, most notably multi-layered guitar solo in the first climax (somewhere in the middle of the A side).

Drumming is also perfect, the way which crazy Barlow fills the 5/4 tempo is one fine example; like a rolling drum-set monster joined with an alarm-clocks stampedo!

All the musicians themselves are great, but the music in general is much more than sum of it's parts, again. That is unique, essential "Tullness" which we all love. It's all spiced up with studio tricks - the band started using studio as a powerful tool and another musical instrument somewhere during recording of the "Benefit" album, and this is the peak.

Sound production, overall mix and dynamics are excellent, even the trivial echo and reverb tricks are enjoyable to listen to. For the example, the A side ends with a guitar chord with heavily gained echo through highly emphasized high pass filter, leaving only hiss of noise after a few reflections, while the other noise source (hiss again) - the sound of the wind is cross-faded with echo. Brilliant. The B-side opens in a same way, and starts with repeated theme of, edit #2 (I think), but not exactly the same; the melody is almost identical, the arrangements are unintelligible, but the bands is actually playing one bar more in the tempo; the tempo changed from 5/4 to 12/8 almost being unnoticed by a listener. The album is full of these brilliant details that are not so visible at the beginning.

Although the majority of people consider JETHRO TULL as a prog-folk band, this album is clearly symphonic (with a solid amount of folk tailored in), and is also worth mentioning those few seconds of string quartet near the end of the album. At first I taught that was unnecessary, but after years of listening (and some observation) I think it's essential; it's a very brief part, and it's a counterpoint of the album not musical-wise like in a baroque music, but more idea-wise. We must not forget the Ian's ability to write very short yet extremely successful pieces, most notably on "Aqualung" but the ultra-brief and orchestrated miniature "Grace" that will appear on "Minstrel In The Gallery" three years later is also worth mentioning; and in conclusion this short piece of orchestrated music inside the album-long epic is really a statement of contrast, launching all together with other ingredients this album into the constellation of most daring masterpieces that will continue to grow on you and provide you pleasurable new discoveries every time you play it for the years to come.

Review by 1800iareyay
5 stars After the commercial success of Aqualung, Ian Anderson found himself dogged by the belief that the record was a concept album, as side two dealt with the difference between God and religion. Anderson decided he would write the mother of all concept pieces to shut the press (and the fans) up. The result was Thick as a Brick, and album consisting of one song broken up over the two sides of the LP. The album concentrates on an epic poem written by a young English boy named Gerald Bostock who receives the nickname "Little Milton." The poem deals with adolescence and growing up, and it becomes a main part of the lyrics. Then, the album tells how the critical praise he has received is stripped away when literary judges discover that the prepubescent boy has an adult lover.

The album mocks the pretentiousness of the concept albums prevalent in prog, but it in turn became one of the greatest concept albums of all time. Anderson and co. add a distinct symphonic influence to their folk sound, but Anderson still dominates with his flute. Flautists must own this record as well as most of the Tull catalogue, but anyone who can control their ADD long enough for a 43 minute song will be rewarded with one of the wittiest and subtlest albums you'll ever hear.

Review by FruMp
5 stars Probably my second favourite album of all time, absolutely timeless classic, tull's best album, a masterpiece of progressive music. Ian anderson has created a piece of music that has all the bases covered, it can appeal to a wide range of people, it contains fantastic musicianship, it contains interesting and clever lyrics, it's funny, incorporates a good range of musical styles and concepts and is just fun - not only that but the packaging is first rate and contributes to the album significantly.

For those who don't know the album is about a boy's poem for a writing contest and how he is disqualified as can be read on the newspaper article on the front cover of the album. The song starts off innocent enough staying close to tull's folk roots with some beautiful flute then at roughly the 3 minute mark we're treated to a wonderfully energetic and dynamic jam where everyone shines, anderson's lyrics come to the fore, john evans and martin barre offer equally brilliant melodies - indeed a trend on the whole album while barrie barlow holds everything together brilliantly on skins along with jeffery hammond on bass. Make no mistake the musicianship on this record is top notch. And so the song presses on going from lyrics sections to jams without ever being boring.

My highlights on the album would have to be the end sections of both halves with andersons trademark witty lyrics and also about the 7 minute mark on the second part where it delves into a darker area with some fantastic acoustic guitar work and trilled flute.

Overall a fantastic album where pretty much everything is done right, this is recommended to any prog fan, it is one of the shining moments of progressive music and is always a great listen it's so rich and full that it will take a long long time to get stale if it ever does.

Review by russellk
5 stars Everything good you've heard about this album is true. You've either listened to this record dozens of times or you're fourteen; if the latter, grab your dad's copy now.

Why is it so good? Because it is an exemplar of what made progressive rock such an important part of music's development. Outstanding compositional values, quirky humour, intelligent anti-establishment lyrics, superior production, passion and emotion, an overarching concept, attention to detail and even great artwork are all parts of progressive sensibilties. The late 1960s and early 1970s will always be the core of progressive rock because the music was part of societal progression, both leading change and reflecting it, in a way it has not been since. Just as the 1980s was a complacent decade, the late 60s - early 70s was an experimental time: what do we do with our new-won permissiveness? How do we break down the remaining barriers? The heart of this period is captured here in JETHRO TULL'S 'Thick as a Brick'.

The title is the only unprepossessing thing about the album. Opening with an acoustic guitar and IAN ANDERSON'S distinctive voice, we are led through a complex journey of melody and rhythm as a young man seeks to explore his place in society. There is no filler here - even the jam at the 7 1/2 minute mark provides a necessary separation between mirror-image verses. Bass, drums, flute, keyboards and vocals all work together to provide a clear focus for the listener. Side 1, the stronger of the two sides (which is like saying Atlas is stronger than Hercules), comes to a most satisfying conclusion as the hero searches for a comic-book character to come to his aid amidst a blaze of swirling organ and guitar stabs.

Side 2 takes a short diversion into avant-garde, stream-of-consciousness musings, then returns with a vengeance 'in the clear white circles of morning wonder'. 'Do you believe in the day?' Stellar. Music should soar like this. I sometimes find myself wondering what sort of record this would have been had it been packaged as separate songs: I suspect nowhere near as powerful. The only awkward moment of the album comes as the band rushes to reprise the main theme, reintroduced without subtlety and in a rush (as though they realised they were runing out of vinyl).

So. Humour (check out the best album packaging in the history of music: the 12-page St Cleve Chronicle, outlining the conceit behind the record), great tunes magnificently played, and all the other elements of progressive rock put together in an unforgettable album. Had I been involved in producing something as magnificent as this, I would feel my life well spent. Yet JETHRO TULL were humble about their achievement. Witness the faux-review on Page 7 of the St Cleve Chronicle: 'a fine disc which, though possessing many faults should do well enough.'

Well enough for me, thanks.

Review by The Whistler
5 stars (Thick as a Brick Pt. 5+)

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, here’s this guy, he seems to review exclusively Ian Anderson byproducts, and he’s giving five stars to Thick as a Brick. I wonder if the review is going to be written something like this...”


Well...if you want to stop reading now, go ahead. That’s pretty much all I’m going to say, only without the caps and the spelling (for the most part). I mean, what else can I say about this album that hasn’t been said? Thick as a Brick is my current best bet for greatest prog album ever; it sums up everything that is good about prog rock, about music, about life. Okay, at least everything that is good about prog. Thick contains the epic scale, ghostly beauty, and progressive weirdness that can be found throughout the genre, and STILL be good. So Thick is less an album...and more a force of nature. “Aha,” say you, “Whisty, you’ve gone mad with power!” Uh, what power?

But wait! What if I told you that Thick as a Brick wasn’t prog at all! THICK AS A BRICK ISN’T PROG (that’s to catch the attention of the people who stopped reading when I told them to)! How could I say something like that? Well, remember that Thick is a joke. It’s Ian’s backlash at the critics that he never liked anyway, who had the gall to believe that Aqualung was a concept album! Ha! So the Tullers set out to create an album that was the concept album of concept albums, on purpose. Complex music, mind-boggling lyrics (it's about...what, the death of childhood? The whole father son/man is born/where's Biggles stuff? Hey, it's as good a guess as anyone else's), an album that contains only one song. One really, REALLY long song. And it’s all a joke. Written by Gerald “Little Milton” Bostock, child prodigy. Yep.

We start with an unforgettable opening, dubbed “Thick as a Brick,” a prime candidate for best movement of the Thick as a Brick suite. It’s a downbeat folksy ballad with descending verse and the twisty chorus, but I love the lyrics: “And the love that I feel is just so far away.” Damn. That Bostock kid is a pretty good poet for an eight year old.

This shifts flawlessly into “See Now a Son is Born,” is a wrathful rocker (the lyrics are still firmly tongue in cheek). Barre attacks the melody with angry riffage, but this steadily turns into the cold, vaguely psychedelic “Poet and the Painter,” another good candidate for best movement. It’s one of those rare times (in fact, outside of the odd King Crimson tune, only time) a song both rocks and is truly beautiful. A painful flute build from Ian and some equally painful soloing from Martin. Cant' you just see them English seashores? I can.

There’s a little buildup, with John Evan showing off the new moog device. I should mention that Thick is really sandwiched together by two forces, and one is John. The other is Jeffrey, and that really comes out in “I’ve Come Down from the Upper Class,” a violent folksy...jig. Yep. It’s an Elizabethan march, complete with pounding organ and some of the best flute on the album (it’s sort of a fan favorite; I can see why). Jeffrey plays all kinds of neat tricks with his bass in it, it’s great.

Another quick break, this one a reprise of the opening movement, done with lullaby-like care. This turns into “Where the Hell Was Biggles,” another decent shot at best movement. It’s a sort of...I’m not sure what it is. It’s a sort of symphonic keyboard/orchestral duel, with a fantastically cold bridge. Those lyrics always get me: “The other kids have just backed out and put you first in line.” You just have to hear it.

Side one ends with orchestrals that dissolve into hard guitar/organ interplay. It’s a final enough stop, but you know something else is coming. And so it does; side one spills perfectly into side two, which opens with windy sound effects, lilting flute lines and a reprise of “See Now a Son is Born.” This also contains a drum solo and some spoken parts, but don’t fret! The drum solo, courtesy newcomer Barrie Barlow, is energetic and backed by the rest of the band (get that!), and the spoken parts, courtesy one Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, are hilarious.

“The Lord of the Hills” (my title), echoes back to the opening theme, an energetic, acoustic bit. It’s somewhat more upbeat, but it foreshadows a dark instrumental break. Said break transforms into “Do You Believe in the Day,” complete with gorgeous, soaring vocals. It starts out acoustic, but midway ascends with angry organ and guitar parts.

This gradually builds into “Let Me Help You to Pick Up Your Dead,” a fast paced baroque rocker, with the emphasis cast once again upon flute and John’s toys. Blazing instrumental parts abound, and eventually turns one more time into a stately reprise of “Where the Hell Was Biggles.” Then the band and the orchestra start playing faster and harder until they all fall away in the wake of Ian’s acoustic strumming, finishing the album the way it started.

So, what are we left with? An album in which nothing is wasted: all the song parts are brilliant, and all the instrumental breaks are engaging and inspired (unlike SOME band’s classic epics that are repetitive and boring, right Rick?). An album in which everyone, everyone, plays his guts out, over and over again. It’s like the bible of Tull. It’s more diverse than some bands are in their entire careers, and consistently good within and throughout. Still, I wouldn’t recommend you read the bible cover to cover without a little commentary, and neither do I recommend Thick (or any sidelong epic) as your first listen.

Now, some people say that the first side significantly outweighs the second. And, uh, well, they’re right. Sort of. The first side is the most perfect twenty minutes in music history (or at least, it’s damn good for a single song). The second side is a little weaker, but so little you shouldn’t hardly notice. Besides, all that trying to find the best movement stuff? It’s bull. Thick CAN function on a smaller song level, but really, it’s one complete unit, and to disgrace part of it is to disgrace it all.

So, why isn’t Thick prog you ask again (after all, I read though your review to get back to that, didn’t I Mr. The Whistler?). Well, answer me this: what is Ween’s album The Mollusk (which I consider a modern cousin of Thick in more than one way)? Is it a total spoof, or is it homage? In truth, I suppose it’s a little of both. And I realize that’s the gayest copout answer I could possibly give, but I mean it. Thick is complex, bombastic and, well, THICK, but it’s still a joke. It’s also a damn good joke. In fact, it’s the greatest joke ever written, because it manages to parody and idealize, and at the same time, be just as good as every other complex, bombastic progressive project before and since its creation. An essential masterpiece of the genre. Get it. Get it today. Why haven’t you gotten it yet? Don’t you love me and/or Ian anymore? Think of the children. Think of “Little Milton.”

(So, what of the “good albums with bad bonuses” curse? It’s gone! Holy crap, if the fact that the greatest album ever has good bonuses on the remaster isn’t proof enough that God loves you, I don’t know what is. There are two tracks: the first is a live version of “Thick,” taken from the Madison Square Gardens show. Great intro from Ian, and arguably the best secondary version of the song, where they play about half of the first side. Martin even improves the overall guitar work, granting the song more energy on stage (I love how "Poet and the Painter" becomes an epic trade off of the tune between him and Ian, John, whoever). And none of the epic feel is lost thanks to John's sturdy keyboard backbone. Ian is brilliant, just like every live show, God bless ‘im. Some guy shouts “yeah” really loud halfway though, God bless him too. The second track? An interview, but unlike the Aqualung interview, it’s consistently good! Equally informative and amusing, Ian preaches (“natty codpiece”), Martin complains (“Let’s go for a run”) and Jeffrey barely gets a word in, but when he can, he recants the good and mostly bad times making and touring the album (“John’s rabbit head”). The greatest album ever just got greater; if you weren’t quite psychologically won over by the album alone, with the bonuses, it’s NESSECARY as a prog rock landmark. Get it. Again.)

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars While I'm not the world's biggest Tull fan I recognize this album as a truly great piece of music. It is an undeniable statement that is a Tull fan favorite and justifiably so.

TAAB is 40-plus minutes of exemplary, exciting rock and roll courtesy of Anderson, Barre, and Barlow. Furious and intertwining electric guitar, flute, and vocal are accented by superb percussion and occasional piano. Everything is thoughtfully arranged and clear sounding. The lyrics feature some biting and humorous social commentary by Anderson, never one to hold back his feelings. The album holds up well with the other great albums by classic bands that came out in the first half of the 1970s. I think it sounds a bit less dated than some of those other classics.

If you are new to the Tull you really can't go wrong starting here. I have the 25th anniversary edition which is nice because it has an interview with Ian about the album as well as a bonus live excerpt from Thick recorded back in 1978.

Review by SoundsofSeasons
5 stars This album is a labor of love, no question. The newspaper clip cover is no joke, its as cool as it looks. The music is very personal and heartfelt, you really feel emotion when listening to it. I know this album is perfection, considering ive never read and sang along with an entire album and then done it all over again, went to bed cause it was too late, and woke up the next morning wanting another encore. The story is fantastic, the progressive music is fantastic, the flute is absolute perfection. This was an album made for its fans old and new, and was built to last like a great timeless movie. Whether or not you even think you could see yourself listening to Prog-Folk, your are going to go out and get this album. No questions, your just going to do it. Thank the rest of us later.
Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

THICK AS A BRICK is another cornerstone of the JETHRO TULL . Like everybody band back then, it was ''trendy'' to come up with concept albums and long suites. JETHRO TULL would not be immune of these desires of ''grandeur''. But they succeed perfectly with this recording.

This is not much i can add as it seems this is the most beloved album here on PA. So what makes it great?? First of all, this is the most progressive LP ever JETHRO TULL recorded with the next one PASSION PLAY. The sound is diverse, there are so many time changes, it's difficult to count them!! You have folk music, you get classical music, some great BARRE guitar sounding -as usually-. This is instropective, then it goes wild, a new twist is always on the way when you don't expect it!

What makes it also more progressive is the definitely noticeable presence of the keyboards of JOHN EVAN, mainly the hammond organ that can be heard throughout the album.I have never heard an organ solo before in a JETHRO TULL album. There is even the sound of a moog, imagine that!. The bassist JEFFREY HAMMOND-HAMMOND is doing quite well as he plays a lot of groovy lines. But MARTIN BARRE will never be considered as a prog guitarist; he rocks and he rocks well; just listen to his solos; he plays with fury, passion, energy. He is not looking to play the nice sounding note; He is here to rock!

One more time, we have a change in the line-up as the original drummer CLIVE BUNKER is replaced by BARRYEMORE BARLOW. Have you ever noticed the names of some JTULL members, as they sound very different from your regular guy?? BARRYEMORE BARLOWE and HAMMOND-HAMMOND , more ''strange'' names in the future. Sounds very old traditional Britain !

THICK AS A BRICK is a very nice piece of music, the whole 43mns of it.All what you want from a prog standpoint is here, the vocals of IAN ANDERSON are more powerful than ever, the musicianship is tight , great organ, great guitar,,,,but! this is not an album i listen to often. I don't now why as i am listening more to other JETHRO TULL releases -less loved generally- such as STORMWATCH or TOTRNR. Don't ask me why, that's just me, i guess!!

PS: the LP cover was great; like a newspaper; too bad my copy got destroyed ! The CD looks horrible compared to it! 4 STARS!

Review by Chicapah
5 stars In response to music critics' insistence on branding "Aqualung" as a concept piece, Ian Anderson & Co. set out to create a good- natured lampoon of concept albums and "serious" groups like Yes and King Crimson in general. But something went awry on the way to completing their absurd farce. They produced an undisputed masterpiece of progressive rock. With only a sketchy blueprint to follow as they put this LP together under the gun and by the seat of their pants, they began throwing random ideas into the collaborative pot right and left. The difference was that they were absolutely brilliant ideas. Not to mention the fact that drummer Clive Bunker had left and was replaced by the extremely talented Barriemore Barlow. His superior technique injected a confidence into the band that obviously inspired them to reach beyond themselves and what they thought they were capable of.

Starting with one of the most memorable melodies in rock history, Jethro Tull pulls you into the exhilarating world of "Thick as a Brick" like a strong undertow that you are incapable of resisting. As if to warn the casual, ill-prepared listener that this won't be anything like "Cross-Eyed Mary" or such, the first words sung are "Really don't mind if you sit this one out/my words but a whisper, your deafness a shout/I may make you feel but I can't make you think/your sperm's in the gutter, your love's in the sink." Not your typical rock & roll lyrics, to be sure. In fact, the words are as surreal and difficult to comprehend as James Joyce on a binge but fit perfectly in this complex composition. There are three major themes that recur in ingenious forms throughout the album. The first one I just mentioned, followed by the second, a harder-edged rock/jazz riff where Ian's vocal floats overhead. It's also here that John Evans' fluid Hammond organ supplies a broader dimension to the sound. The third motif is a pseudo military march feel that allows Anderson's sprightly flute to amaze. A very controlled but spirited jam follows, kept in check by the efficient rhythm section of Barlow on drums and the steady Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond on bass. There's an almost classical segment next that swirls around your head like a swarm of butterflies as the organ, piano and flute cleverly intertwine. Evans provides a stunning organ break as they continue to redefine the march theme without ever becoming redundant. Somehow they effortlessly return to the original melody and proceed to perform fantastic variations on it. Ian's multiple flute tracks are wonderful. Part one ends with punchy accents and an arresting, dynamic fade out.

Part II starts with a psychedelic take on the previous closing pattern before busting into the furious rock/jazz riff once again. Showing that this project is indeed a total group endeavor, Barriemore gets to shine brightly as he performs one of the most tasteful drum solos ever recorded. With melodic episodes interspersed over his ride things never get boring or tiresome. Next they drop into a sort of free-fall improvisation with random voices popping in and out before re-introducing the first theme in yet another imaginative variation. A quieter segment follows that has an almost hymn-like reverence that evolves into a somewhat mysterious-sounding march where John's room-filling Hammond organ makes its welcome presence known again. This mind- boggling work of art never lets up for a moment as they segue into a very intricate, abstruse yet thrilling section complete with vocals that is darn near indescribable. It is sublime. To wrap things up neatly they revive both the march and the rock/jazz riff before delicately reprising the intriguing original theme that leads gracefully to the ideal terminus of "And your wise men don't know how it feels/to be thick as a brick." Sheer magnificence.

And, as if the immaculately remastered studio recording wasn't enough, they throw in an energetic concert performance from Madison Square Garden in 1978 to give a different perspective. Mind you, it's only an 11:47 snippet of Part I, but it is very refreshing and I only wish some other groups' reissues were done in the same way. Yes, for example, includes rough studio run- throughs and single edits that are only worth one or two listens at most. A live take would be much more enjoyable and relevant.

The cherry on the sundae is an interview with Ian, Jeffrey and guitarist Martin Barre in which they discuss this landmark project. You'd think a world famous band riding on the crest of their biggest success to date would be living the ritzy rock star lifestyle but their description of the dingy, dirty basement where they formulated and rehearsed most of this album dispels any false illusion of opulence in just a few sentences. It makes "Thick as a Brick" even more awe-inspiring when you hear about the less-than- favorable conditions it was created in. They also discuss the horrid food at the greasy spoon nearby, the scary challenge of initially playing the entire thing on stage, the Monty Python mindset they employed for the elaborate album cover and other humorous anecdotes. Again, this is the kind of packaging that makes a reissue truly remarkable and elevates the worth of this CD to indispensable status. What a treat.

The end result is Jethro Tull at their very best and a glorious example of unselfish ensemble cooperation and coordination of stellar musical brainstorming. Its overall tightness is exemplary, especially in an age where guide tracks and tempo-correction software was non-existent and the ever-changing pace had to be regulated solely by the drummer. The true irony is that what they thought would be a bit of silly fun turned out to be their first #1 LP and we proggers are the fortunate beneficiaries for all time to come. Any fan of quality, genuine progressive rock should have this in their collection and I highly recommend this reissue in particular. This album defines the word "masterpiece."

Review by Kotro

Laughter is one of the many things that separate man from beast. Throughout the ages its therapeutic worth has been attested by medicine men and all kinds of healers. Laughter is the best medicine, so they say. It's good for the body and for the soul. In older times it was said to give courage to men so they could face fearlessly the greatest of perils. From Erasmus of Rotterdam to Umberto Eco, great scholars of yesterday and today have praised it and put humour to use themselves, bringing joy and delight to their readers. Many were the heroes who got through their provations with the finnest wit and humour, from Ulysses to Sousa de Macedo. But there is more than just "written" humour. After all, there is nothing better to evoke laughter than hearing a good joke. Especially if it's full of hidden meanings and ends up criticising our way of being. Thus the latin motto ridendo castigat mores - to correct morals through laughter. The expression, some say coined by Molière, has for centuries been the motto of all those who choose wit and jest to expose the obtuse morality or simple lack of it in their surrounding world. At first used to describe the style of some playwrights, both previous and posterior to the French comedian, it was later applied to a whole new array of jokesters whose masterly use of satire allowed them to cast joyous hilarity on the eagerly aware listeners.

Woody Allen remains one of the masters of that trade. His stand-up years were especially prolific in that matter, as one of my favourite jokes from him can attest. It is the (in)famous "Moose Story", where after a succession of incredible (and belly-ache hilarious) events, mostly all of them making fun of contemporary customs or timeless idiocies, a Jewish couple end up permanent members of the very exclusive New York Athletic Club, without being invited or even having the club aware of their presence. Woody ends, referring to the Club, with a sound "And the joke's on them, 'cause it's restricted." That's all I'm going to tell you about that joke, for it is meant to be heard from its author, not read in a simple progressive rock review done by a mere scribbler. There is, however, another joke I would like to talk to you about. You all know the story: genius musician and talented band decide to show the critics a two-finger salute, by creating one of the greatest examples of sustained satire known to man, in the shape of a 45 minutes progressive rock album. Complete with cover - a lot of work was put into this amazing apparatus. 12 pages of sham news, adds and events, all filled with delightful tongue-in-cheek humour and utter nonsense. A hard work (according to the boys from the band, it took longer to make than the record itself) that culminates in the most brilliant piece of cover art ever made, with a clear nod to Monty Python.

The music, however, is pure Jethro Tull - a great array of acoustic ballads and heavy folk-rock tunes jumbled together in a single piece, being, however, much more keyboard dominated than previous albums where flute and guitar held rule. Yet one of the great hazards of epics is the flow of the song. Jethro Tull have no such problem. The entire piece, throughout its many inner variations flows beautifully. Side 1 is by far the best known part, with the famous 3-minute-acoustic-opener-turned-radio-single. Oh, but it is so much more than that! It is followed by a jump towards a heavier and faster-paced sound after that, giving way to some great hard-rockin' soloing from Evans and Barre, and great, almost martial percussion. Ian gets his turn to blow some of his jazzy flute into the works. Again a softer passage, vocals over church organ. More guitar work by Barre, a very strong presence throughout Side 1 (much stronger live, though), a spotlight he shares with keyboardist John Evans. The song just keeps on flowing, switching between softer and heavier bits, subtle fade-outs followed by loud sonic bursts. An especially famous and amusing section occurs halfway through minute twelve: the crescendo initiated by the keyboard, then complemented by the remaining instruments, turning into a small violin led jig, with some more flute jam. After such a folksy passage, what should we expect? At this point, we have no idea, but Ian opts for a lullaby (awe!!!). Don't worry, soon enough the folksy-rocky-gutsy melody is back, holding up the joints of Side 1, just before fading away into wind (literally), bringing the first part to an end. Despite all the success of Side 1, better composed and built together, I have a great cherish for the less tighter Side 2, which begins with trumpet sound being carried by the wind, introducing an alternative take on the first heavy section of Side 1, through some great jamming, especially by drummer Barriemore Barlow and keyboard wizard John Evans. It then reverts, like a musical mirror effect, to the same opening acoustic melody opening Side 1. After a gentler keyboard driven passage, we get to my favourite sections of the song - the slower, beautifully vocalized and instrumentaly accompanied Do you believe in the day? , and the following instrumental part, where we finally get to hear Martin Barre in Side 2. Afterwards, there is space for some more fast-paced improvisation with great flute playing and even harpsichord, and some more of Ian's singing (greatly improved since Aqualung!). The song finally ends in a cacophony of excerpts of the album jumbled up with some symphonic arrangements that suddenly fade, and all we hear towards the very end is the end of the very first acoustic section, bidding us farewell with the immortal words, So you ride yourselves over the fields and/ you make all your animal deals and/ your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick.. Magical.

The thing is, a joke is only a joke when the people you are telling it too know it's a joke. In Ian Anderson's case, he forgot to mention it. And so a lot of people took him seriously at the time, actually thinking poor Gerald Bostock a real person (having him credited not only in the cover, but on the vinyl record as well, didn't help either). With Thick As A Brick, Ian tried to be funny - and succeeded. He created the "mother of all concepts albums", in a manouvre to ridicule critics and fans. But in then end, the joke's was on him, because it actually turned out to be a real masterpiece of progressive rock.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ian Anderson is known to have ridiculed the critics' frequent use of certain labels in order to describe the music of JETHRO TULL, including the very terms "progressive rock" and "concept album". He was allegedly so mad at the press pronouncing their previous album "Aqualung" a conceptual work, so that he decided to deliberately make a "concept album" to satisfy the public, as a parody on the then popular YES or EL&P. But, wow - what a parody that was!

"Thick As A Brick" is an exceptionally devised and produced musical work that can most closely be tagged as rock with serious symphonic structure. Although not entirely digestible in one sitting - I usually have problems to maintain attention around the middle of the side 2 - the album is an ultimate classic progressive rock record that was hardly ever beaten. Although I will not give full 5 stars due to personal sensation that the album is overloaded and saturated with excessive musical themes and repetitions, do not be distracted - it is the masterpiece!


P.A. RATING: 4/5

Review by Fight Club
5 stars Thick As A Brick is undoubtedly the greatest and most musically complex album released by Jethro Tull to date.

The album is an exceptional piece of music from the first note to last. Each member performs at his fullest and is given a good amount of time to solo (except there's no bass solo, however, it still runs circles around the playing of most others). The story's concept (based on a poem by an author I cannot recall at the moment) is actually very amusing. Tull's lyrics are always witty, which I find as an added bonus to great music.

Now the music here ranges from the strange folk to the insane progressive. It's quite an interesting mixture that Jethro Tull seems to pull off much better than anyone else. If you don't know this already, the album is one 40 minute song. You're probably thinking "[%*!#] it, I ain't listening to a 40 freakin' minute song!", but I guarantee you won't be disappointed! This is 40 minutes of pure ecstasy. The band seems to just jam endlessly and it gives me so much joy that even after 40 minutes I don't want it to end. It's musically complex and quite fun! Truly a masterpiece of music.

Review by jammun
5 stars I suppose if it hadn't been the early-70's, I might have seen this one coming. Following the commercial success of Aqualung, one expected more of the same, perhaps done bigger and better. Instead we got Thick As a Brick, Jethro Tull's greatest achievement. Give them credit: this was a huge risk, and somehow it managed to reach #1 in the U.S. (though something tells me many of those who bought it never sat through the album start to finish!).

Given that it consists of essentially one long song, it's difficult to review; one can't easily point out this or that great song. So let's just say the band had never so masterfully blended acoustic and electric, fast and slow, loud and soft. The keyboards were for the first time fully integrated and a are driving force in the music. The themes and melodies that drift in and out of each 'section' are some of Tull's most beautiful. The segues between the sections are generally seamless. Thirty five years later, I still enjoy sitting down and listening to TAAB in its entirety.

I can generally find some fault with any Tull release, but TAAB is five-star all the way, not just because it's Tull's finest moment, but because it fits comfortably and rightfully on the shelf with all the other great prog albums of the era, or any era.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I feel like the radio version of this song kind of spoiled me for this album. I mean the song was ok and pleasant and everything, but based on it I would never have bought this record. That is until I got into progressive music and saw that this was in most peoples top ten. I now bow to the brick, it is indeed thick. I say that after spending a week listening to it with fresh ears. I now see what all the fuss is about. It's kind of cool that this record was Anderson's response to critics who kept calling "Aqualung" a concept album. So he went out to make a spoof on concept albums. I have to say Ian Anderson is one of the most talented and humerous people in the prog world. I just read he is going to be honoured by the queen, I wonder if he'll be present for it. Haha. He is so anti-establishment, and there is a lot of that in this album, often brought out in a funny way. Just read the newspaper that originally came with it to see that. Or the newspaper articles in the liner notes if you have the cd.

It starts off with what I used to hear on the radio. Anderson's vocals, acoustic guitar and flute leading the way. Piano and bass add to the sound after a minute. This all changes 3 minutes in.Let the adventure really begin. It starts much more aggressive. Organ and bass are prominant. Mood and tempo continue to shift. Vocals return after 6 minutes. Some nice guitar 7 1/2 minutes in that rise to a climax before 9 minutes. The organ is great 11 minutes in, becoming very GENESIS-like. Love that passage. Another change 16 1/2 minutes in.The vocals a minute later are full of energy and confidence. This is such a pleasure to listen to, it's so catchy and well played. Some nice organ late. Side one is near perfect in my opinion.

Side two takes a while to get going but when it does we are treated to an uptempo melody with some fantastic drumming. The drum solos are a bit much though, but check out the brief organ 3 minutes in. It's like the song is stalled until after 4 minutes when flute, acoustic guitar and vocals arrive. One of my favourite sections on the whole album is the darker passage that arrives 7 minutes in. For 6 minutes the solemn vocals and then organ just moves me emotionally. It then brightens 13 minutes in as it becomes faster paced with flute and drums leading the way. I really like the section 16 1/2 minutes in with vocals. A theme from side one is repeated 2 minutes later. Some orchestration. After 20 minutes the intro from side one is repeated. Great way to end it all.

It would be redundant to recommend this one. I'm sure you have it already.

Review by SaltyJon
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Thick as a Brick is probably one of Jethro Tull's most widely known and loved albums here on PA. As far as I go, though, it overstays its welcome, usually seeming to drag on as I near the end of the album. As far as the style of the album goes, I was (and still am) pretty excited. The instrumentation of progressive folk albums can be hit or miss with me, and for the most part it's hit on this one. Not too many synthesizers, a focus on acoustic guitar much of the time, etc. The style of the song is in general good as well, but as I said it starts to bore me near the end of the first half or through the second half. Overall, I think it's a good album, but not great, deserving of a 3-star rating. The packaging of the album is fun, with the newspaper insert.
Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This was my introduction to Jethro Tull's sound and it was a love at first sight (...or a listen).

Every since listening to Thick As A Brick I've been desperately searching through the rest of the band's catalog to assure myself that this just wasn't one of those rare magical album releases. So far only Aqualung managed to come close to this staggering album and after purchasing another three Jethro Tull albums I gave up the search of another masterpiece of equal caliber. It's still a mystery to me how a band like this could make such a risky decision that in result payed off so well. Maybe it was the spirit of the early '70s rock movement or just the raw genius of Anderson/Barre?

The composition is divided in many sections where my favorite comes towards the 7th minute of part 1 that I call Master Of The House and it starts with the lyrics: "The Poet and the painter casting shadows on the water...". There are of course many more great moments here that increase with each new revisit of this great album. So no matter how you approach it, at the end of the day, it's the total result that really counts and this one reaches quite high in my book.

***** star songs: Thick As A Brick (part I) (22:45)

**** star songs: Thick As A Brick (part II) (21:05)

Total Rating: 4,52

Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars Another one that goes without saying, but of course I have to say something. Basically what we have here is a very well-weaved piece that takes up both sides of a vinyl record. One can only assume that this hadn't been done yet (at the time). While such a bold move can be quite risky, Jethro Tull execute this piece with considerable ease, both in comosition and performance. It is unbelievably fluent, and very tight. While I can get really frustrated with King Crimson, as an example, among other important 70s prog bands, for sounding sloppy or too raw on some of their important records, it is not true of Jethro Tull, and they're the ones playing 40+ minute pieces! So, in short, as far as the musical material goes, it is filled with wonderful melodies, some catchy, some mildly funny, some serious, etc, awesome instrumental passages including some great flute work by Ian, and some very solid lyrics. I also think the packaging with great, what with the newspaper theme throughout the liner notes.

Thick as a Brick is one of the greatest records of all-time, and as far as Tull's releases go, its only rival is its successor, A Passion Play, though that one still is not quite as good. I own more Tull records than the two I have mentioned, but I will admit I never listen to any of the other ones. Every time I'm in the mood for Tull, I look at my collection: I see Aqualung, and I see Minstrel in the Gallery, but why would I pick one of those, when I also see those two masterpieces in between? That would be like eating Qdoba when I could go an extra block or two or three (I could go on...) down the road to eat Chipotle. Not everyone will know what I mean when I say that, but I like to promote the glory of Chipotle when I have the opportunity.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars He may not mind, but you shouldn't sit this one out

Thick As A Brick is always touted as one of the top prog albums of all time. Deservingly so, because if this album were the benchmark that any other album had to reach to be considered ''Essential" we all might not have too much music in our collections. It seems that something just clicked with this album. Everything came together in the most convenient of ways for Anderson and co.

Apparently the idea for the album arose after Ian Anderson read bundles of press for the Aqualung album stating that it was a concept album, something that he had not intended. It was at this point that he decided to actually make a concept album - The concept: a spoof on concept albums. With the sleeve depicting a British newspaper stating that a child had to have his poem withdrawn from a contest because of it's content has had a lot of people actually believe the made up story over the years, thinking that the ''Little Milton'' was a real person who wrote the song that the band would play. Not so, of course, but it's still a wonderful concept.

The song is a satirical look at society as Tull often does, and of course, a dissection of it right here and now would be terribly redundant. What does matter though is that the lyrics are written wonderfully, and the old masters of satirical poetry would be proud. The music is also excellently performed. Anderson's floating flute driving behind the heavy guitars which comes it at all the right moments to drive the song if ever it were to get boring during it's 45-minute duration.

An album with little to no flaws, even if Part 2 gets off to a comparatively slow start, this is certainly one for every collection. Few may find something to not like about it. As another review so appropriately stated: ''.I now bow down to the Brick, for it is indeed Thick''. Saying anymore about the album would be reaching into redundancy, this one gets a blazing 5 stars.

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I don't know what else I can add to what is already said. You know the history Ian Anderson's reaction to the critics that called Aqualung a concept album decided to make the mother of all concepts by creating a complete hoax. Anderson went so far as to create a newspaper of the cover complete with a bawdy "connect the numbers" drawing. The whole thing is very Monty Pythonish. The lyrics are roughly a satirical look at English Society in general.

The music is far better thankfully creating as Ian Anderson said some very sophisticated music, for it's time. As the entire piece is one song split into two parts because of the album side restriction the song conveys many different moods and feels sometimes reprising different passages from the first part in the second part. The music is dramatic, folksy, rocking, jazzy and bluesy throughout the piece. It is the high point for Tull and this particular band. The players are all in top form with John Evans, Martin Barre, Barrymore Barlow and Jeffery Hammond-Hammond all in great form. Ian's flute and vocals are never better and it all blends into one big package that soars. I really have never grown tired of this Masterpiece and it has stood the test of time.

From the best era of Jethro Tull we have the best album and a complete classic example of what was Progressive Rock. 5 Stars

Review by obiter
5 stars Well here we go ...

Is this good, well hell yes! Simply one of the must haves. I'm not a fan of the whole album by any stretch of the imagination but the opening couple of minutes attains a level that so few albums even aspire to that it has to be an essential part of any self respecting prog collection.

I don't reckon this should be, by any means, the greatest prog album (which the charts indicate) I cannot however fail to give this 5 stars as it is without doubt one of the essential prog masterpieces (I prefer Hidria, Tool, Ozrics and Magma inter alia)

Lyrics are witty and effortlessly challenging. The opening is what undergraduate poser guitarist wannabes wish they could play: it's easy to go on, but since this is an album any remotely self-respecting prog-head should listen to .. i leave the rest to your own devices,

simply essential ... although it may not be your cup of tea

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
5 stars "I really don't mind if you sit this one out"

With each and every new album from 1968's This Was to 1972's Thick As A Brick, Jethro Tull moved forward. Even the rate was constantly increasing and with the previous Aqualung they had made a very big leap forward already. But an even bigger leap was made here with this brilliant album. As most people who visit this site already know, Thick As A Brick is one of the most popular and well-respected progressive Rock albums of all time and deservedly so. This album really belongs up there with Yes' Close To The Edge and Genesis' Selling England By The Pound.

The whole album consists of only one long song divided up into two parts. The ability to keep a song as long as that interesting throughout its running time is really impressive, even if I would say that it tends to drag slightly towards the end of the first part. I can't help to wonder what this song would have been like if the CD was invented back then. I mean if they would not have been forced to divide it up into two parts, but could present it as one long piece. Then, I guess, it could have been one or two minutes shorter. Still, this album is an absolute masterpiece of progressive music.

A true must-have!

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Thick as a Brick is the fifth studio album from Jethro Tull. Jethro Tull was one of the first prog related bands I ever heard and as a consequence I have a special relationship with the band. My brother had these three albums: Stand Up, Aqualung and Songs From the Wood and for many years they were the only Jethro Tull albums I listened to. There came a time in my life when I began collecting progressive rock albums in a systematic way and of course I also purchased the full discography from Jethro Tull along the way. It was first then I realized how many different albums and different styles Jethro Tull has done in their career. I always thought they were a great band but now I found that they were unique and outstanding. Thich as a Brick came as a surprise for me. I had never heard of the album before ( I was a young teenager at the time, I hope I´m forgiven) and the idea of one song ( in two parts) filling up the playing time of a whole album was very new to me. I played this album to bits and it soon became my favorite from Jethro Tull and it still ranks among my alltime favorite progressive rock albums.

The music on Thick as a Brick is progressive rock with a folky touch. Ian Anderson´s flute playing is beautiful and challenging. But the flute only occurs occasionally. There are other features on the album that are even more remarkable like the acoustic guitar playing, the strong and varied rythm section and the organ from John Evans. The lyrics are great and humerous. The composition is not extremely complex but definitely progressive and varied. The song is quite obviously made up of many smaller songs and put together afterwards which is not my favorite long song style. As opposed to many other long songs this concept works brilliantly on Thick as a Brick though.

The musicianship is excellent on the album and it finally seemed that Jethro Tull had found a stabile lineup ( not for long though).

The production is very good and everything is clear in the mix.

This is one of the few classic progressive rock albums that everyone has at least listened to once and everyone has an opinion about. Personally I greatly enjoy this album and it´s a deserved 5 star album in my book. It´s not a completely perfect album but it has it´s own charm and it´s unique. I´d say this is one of the best places to start if you´re curious about progressive rock. I know it was for me.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars There isn't much to say about this album that haven't already be said by many other reviewers here and elsewhere. Thick As A Brick is surely Jethro Tull's most progressie work to date. Well, A passion Play is too, but I think they were far more successful with TAAB than Passion... The band was very tigh, Ian Anderson was at his creative peak and did they deliver a fantastic piece of music! I must say I've always loved a lot of JT's tunes, but I'm not really fond of their whole albums. Thick As A Brick is an exception, since I loved the music as a whole (and, besides, there is really one track in the whole album, but many segments are way too different, they could be seen as tunes of their own too). Production here is quite better than previous releases. The cover is another classic and quite a novelty at the time, very interesting.

I think I should then write a big, detalied review about this album, since it is a favorite. But I really think there is not a lot to coment. Just hear it a few times and see why this one of the best prog records of rock's history. if you are fluent in english (specially british english, with its dry humor and wit) you'll like this CD even more. A classic album and a must have for any prog fan. Five stars.

Review by LiquidEternity
5 stars I must say, this is it.

There are a lot of popular prog albums around. But there's this thing about most popular prog albums, and that's that they're popular with mostly just prog fans. Thick as a Brick is the album, I've found, to perfectly unite the common listeners and the music nerds into one group. Something about this album resonates with almost everyone who listens to it. Almost everywhere I've looked, it's topping lists of the best prog albums of all time still. Clearly, something aligned for the band with this release, but I'm afraid it never aligned anywhere near this well at any other point in their career. Still, for a high point of a band history, pretty much every other band has done worse than Jethro Tull.

As far as a concept album goes, it's more or less standard fare. The idea of the 45 minute song is a fun one, though I and most others have gotten used to it being divided into two pieces. Nevertheless, those two tracks turn the previous albums' tendencies towards rock into straight progressive rock with a lot of folk thrown in there. The shift is dramatic if the music is surveyed chronologically. Muddy electric guitars suddenly become crisp acoustic ones, the flute becomes an undisputed lead instrument, and the keyboards suddenly have a much higher place in the band's pecking order. Also, as evidenced by the two wonderfully long solos in the beginning of the second part, the drumming is mighty impressive.

I can't even say that everything's already been said about this album without accidentally quoting a dozen other reviews, anyways. This is looked at much more thoroughly by others more qualified to do so, but I still feel like adding my voice to the choir here and saying, yes, this album is undeniably a classic. Buy it now.

And that's my advice. If you like progressive music at all--it doesn't matter if your a big neo-prog fan or if you are into technical death metal--this release is completely essential.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Rating number 501 - well, here we go.

'Thick as a Brick' is a bonafide masterpiece - it is Jethro Tull's magnum opus, the best thing the band has done.

The one long track that spans 2 vinyl sides begins with the subtle flute and story telling vocals of Ian Anderson. The newspaper style liner notes give us the insight to what it is all about holding the key to the true meaning of the album. I adore concept albums so I will once again indulge here. The concept centres on Gerald Bostock who wrote a poem called er....... Thick as a Brick, funnily enough. He did this to win a contest sponsored by a mock organisation called the Society for Literary Advancement and Gestation (yes, that's right.... SLAG). The result of Gerald reading his vision over the BBC radio culminates in his disqualification and he is declared as in desperate need for psychiatric therapy.

Is this Anderson's stab at the prog movement itself where lyrics were becoming more surreal, following from the psychedelia of the late 60s? In any case, the story continues to follow the progress of poor troubled Gerald as the band 'Jethro Tull' have put his poem to music and presented rather strange album. Anderson has stated in an interview that he is trying to capture the alienation and dehumanisation of a young child surrounded by bureaucratic do- gooders who rob them of childhood innocence. In this he attacks the English public school system in the same as way as Pink Floyd (The Wall), and to a lesser extent early Genesis. Thick as a Brick attacks conformity head on and the suppression of autonomy or individualism.

Within this framework is an incredible mixture of serene acoustic passages, juxtaposed with monster rock riffs and scintillating flute as only Anderson can play. The album should be listened to in its entirety to appreciate the intricate structure and heavy multi-layered instrumentation. It is better than 'Passion Play' that tends to get bogged down in its conceptualisation and complexity. Instead 'Brick' is a masterpiece of musical virtuosity and outstanding lyrical content. It is quintessential Jethro Tull and never disappoints even on the 20th listen.

One of the best prog albums of all time.

Review by progrules
3 stars I often wonder, are there bands and albums you should stay away from because they are not meant for you ? Personally I believe that and if it's true then this album and probably also band is a good example in my case. I never in my life had a certain feel for Jethro Tull, their music passed me by without really catching my interest. And that's not because it's bad or poor, not at all. It's just that it's not for me, I can't even explain why but it's a plain fact. I even think that if this album hadn't been our no.1 of all time I wouldn't have bought it (or if it would have been full price because this was for sale when I bought it).

But of course when it is no.1 I think it is a duty for a prog reviewer to at least give it a try and give your opinion about it. And in this case it's not even a matter of having not much with Jethro Tull that is the point here, it's more a matter of having not much with Prog Folk that is my problem. And also there I don't really know why. Because it's a sympathetic and pleasant genre of prog. Not much wrong with it, but it just doesn't trigger me in the right direction.

Now about this album, well in fact half of the story is already told now because the above mentioned is mainly what it's all about but the three Thick as a Brick tracks are good epics and that's the best description I can think of. It's no more and no less than that and of course the wondering why so many people are obviously enchanted or impressed by it. Is it because of childhood memories ? Or other sentimental reasons ? I can understand why people like this but a masterpiece ??? Sorry I can't hear it not even if I put my personal taste aside and try to be objective. Also then I conclude: a good piece of music and that's it. I really believe in our all time list no.2/6 are better and of those I can see the masterpiece status but not this no.1.

In the end the most enjoyable part of the disc is the interview that is really interesting even for a non fan like me. Of course it will not change the ultimate rating which can only be 3 stars for me.

Review by MovingPictures07
5 stars This is seen by many as the Tull's finest moment, and I have trouble arguing with that. The concept, the lyrics, and the music are all perfectly crafted and really elucidate what creating truly progressive music is all about.

A masterpiece.

1. Thick as a Brick (Part 1)- Opening with a famous acoustic part accompanied by the signature sound of Ian Anderson's flute, this song certainly is one amazing ride. Anderson's amazing, well-crafted lyrics are sung with proficiency and emotion all throughout and I'd say that these are easily some of the best lyrics I've ever heard. Not only that, but the music is fantastic. The whole song is one large concept to these ears and every aspect of the music fits in nicely. The musicianship is exceptional, the composing even better, and this is easily a masterpiece of early 1970s music. Flawless. 10+/10

2. Thick as a Brick (Part 2)- This continues right where Part 1 left off, and is no exception to the amazing attributes of the first. It is quite odd actually looking at both parts separately because I'm so accustomed to it being one song, but they do have their differences. The music in this part is less accessible in some segments and has a different feel. The lyrics are still up to their standard of excellence and so is the music. I can't really complain, though I think overall this part isn't without flaw, but still definitely deserves 10 out of 10 because it is so creative, innovative, and well-mastered. 10/10

This piece of Jethro Tull's unique blend of hard rock, folk, and prog really is something that should be heard by everyone and is one of the founding cornerstones of the progressive movement.

Your collection wouldn't be quite right without this one!

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My first experience with this epic album came in the form of a taste- all I knew of this music was the initial three minutes, a worthy but extreme truncation to fit part of this album on the compilation, The Very Best of Jethro Tull (having included the album in total would have made that title much more accurate, but would not have made it quite as marketable, I suspect). The recurring themes of this two-part epic fail to become stale, and they can easily implant themselves on the memories of their hearers. With only a few exceptions (mostly in part two), the composition flows together easily from one motif to the next. The unmistakable (and often snide) vocal technique of Ian Anderson continually breathe life into the composition, and his flute work gives the whole intricate piece that distinctive Jethro Tull flavor. The lyrics are complex and chock full of cultural references, not the least of which is the Boy Scout handbook. Even the artwork was more than art- it was a humorous satire of English life with enough content to keep one reading for quite a while. I also enjoy the irony that the lampoon of extended progressive rock music has become one of the most heralded examples of it.

"Thick as a Brick (Part One)" It all starts with that iconic acoustic guitar part, Ian Anderson's distinct voice, and his signature flute. The first three minutes are not easily forgotten, and the vocal melody bounces up and down, like rapid waves. After three minutes, though, the soft honeymoon is over, and the progressive folk textures that pervaded the beginning give way to much heavier rock. A wild organ and guitar solo are performed over a walking, nay, jumping bass line. The transition five minutes in is slightly weak, in my opinion, but the well-orchestrated music that follows more than compensates. Six minutes in, Anderson gives a fantastic vocal performance, singing one of the most important themes of this piece. Two crunchy guitars solo over each other, with flourishes of flute and organ scattered throughout, before Anderson repeats the earlier theme over a stark piano at first while the rest of Jethro Tull comes in. The organ, flute, and bass play together in a short polyphonic segment before Anderson begins singing the next part. Later, the organ is as strong as ever, occasionally giving the listener a sneak preview of the musical theme that dominates the second half of the first part. Variations of this theme occur until the acoustic guitar introduction sneaks into the composition. Soon enough, the final motif (and one of the most fun) emerges. The lyrics remain first-rate but suitably obscure, and Anderson sings them with his usual sarcastic tone. The final moments of part one consist of the jarring riff used to bridge the acoustical introduction to the rest of the song. Overall, this is far stronger than part two, and stands out as the greatest accomplishment of Jethro Tull.

"Thick as a Brick (Part Two)" The second half begins with almost a minute of noise and a muffled version of the last bit of part one. The whole band then kicks in with one of the themes from before. The drummer gets in a rapid solo that has musical interludes peppered over it. There's some odd spoken word and a few inexplicable silences before the acoustic introduction from the first part favors us with yet another appearance. Six minutes in, there's something fresh, particularly some fabulous acoustic guitar work, as well as one of the greatest vocal melodies in progressive rock music, which lingers for quite some time but never overstays its welcome. For much of the following segment, there's a jarring riff played softly and then loudly several times. While it would be tempting to say that the flute takes the role of the lead instrument throughout much of the last ten minutes or so, it would be more accurate to note that the wind instrument follows the rest of the band tightly, rarely deviating. The fun vocal section from the end of the first part finds its way into the end of this part, only the instrumentation is a tad grittier. Instead of the raucous section used to close the first part, a string section followed by a terse but lively organ solo give way to a reprise of the chorus used in the very beginning of the album. Anderson chuckles, and the forty-plus minute opus ends.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
3 stars A good album by Jethro Tull, but Thick as a Brick combines very much things I don't like in music. If I have to give more than 3.5 stars, I just shan't do this. Of course, the album contains some very good ideas, but they aren't developed so perfectly. I believe they are revealed in training manner. I mean these ideas have been collected and converted into an album. Something like a session in studio, but regretfully only one session! I highly appreciate one merit in music and it is: the harmony! I can't find enough harmony in Thick as a Brick. The album lacks of quality, because of the presence of so much repetitions. The other negative moment is fading away of the sound in such a illogical moments. The sole positive moment here is the musicianship - almost perfect, but the songwriting is average! I shall compare the album to Osanna's Palepoli. These two albums have the same structure, but I think Palepoli is better album and I gave it 4 stars. Here the case is different for me - 3.5 stars. In my opinion the most overrated album on PA site!
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars really...

Firstly I must admit that JETHRO TULL are not among my beloved bands.However,I consider ''Thick as a brick'' a very attractive work for all prog fans.The legendary folk rock outfit was formed in Luton,UK by their main man/singer/flutist Ian Anderson.First four albums of the band,''This was'' (1968),''Stand up'' (1969), ''Benefit'' (1970) and ,of course ''Aqualung'' showed a gifted band developing a sound starting from bluesy heavy rock to a more refined version of ther early sound.However,it wasn't until 1972,when the band strongly established themsleves into the progressive rock era with ''Thick as a brick''.It was a concept rock album about a boy writing a poem regarding the trials of growing up and it consisted of just one track of about 44 min. length,split in two parts.Without leaving their heavy/bluesy roots behind,JETHRO TULL created their more sophisticated effort ever with tons of driving flutes,excellent keyboard work (on Hammond and piano),nice guitar riffs,a rhythm section in amazing form and of course the characteristic vocals of Anderson dominating their sound.The album is full of changing tempos,rhythms,moods and atmospheres,not a boring minute in here and ''Thick as a brick'' should certainly be part of any serious rock fan's collection!A nice concept work by a legend of rock music.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars When I first joined ProgArchives Thick as a Brick held the No. 1 spot on the reviewers list of all-time greatest Prog Albums. As a teen moving into the prog world in about 1972 (Uriah Heep's Demons and Wizards though The Beatles and Led Zeppelin had certainly warmed me up for the plunge), I found that I never seemed to be drawn to the music and phenom of Jethro Tull. Though I loved themes from A Passion Play, overall they were not a sound I gravitated to. As a matter of fact, being supremely fascinated by speedy, flashy guitar players (Page, Akkerman, McLaughlin, DiMeloa), I remember distinctly holding some disdain for Martin Barre's "mediocre" skill. But, with the 2008 resurrection of progressive rock in my world, I decided to try everything I'd missed. Thus, this review. I've now owned TaaB for almost a year. I have listened to it attentively, repeatedly, and spaced apart by weeks. While I do appreciate it much more now, I still must say that there are enough flaws and "boring" parts (Side 2's organ work and drum solo) that I could never rate this album the standard by which all other prog LPs are measured. However, Side 1 is nearly a flawless composition of group coherence and catchy melodies (even if the story is at times a bit obtuse). Anderson vocalizations are powerful, Barre's work (often double tracked) is good, and Hammond and Evans are wonderful. I must admit, however, that I like the eleven minute live from Madison Square Garden, 1978, "excerpt" on the new remastered CD better. Long enough to catch many of the highlights, short enough to let the listener move on to a variety of the group's sample pieces. Still, TaaB is, overall, a very pleasant listening experience. And, though it stands up fairly well over time, the weaknesses of Side Two cause me to offer an overall rating of a strong four.

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars I sort of believe in the day...

An apex of prog rock, let alone Jethro Tull, THICK AS A BRICK is seen by many as the standard of which all prog albums are set. It's definitely a far from bad album and I might say that it's one of Jethro Tull's finest kettle of fish. However, I cannot say it is THE single best work of Tull or prog.

I much prefer the late 70's direction Jethro Tull took, one where more folk elements crept into their overall sound with SONGS FROM THE WOOD being the best example. Certainly, this isn't a weak album as ''Thick as a Brick'' the song is a finely crafted slab of work. It's filled to the brim of everything a proghead could want; spot-on instrumentation, a lengthy piece, odd timings, loads of Hammond organ and flute, witty lyrics, an overall concept, should I go on?

The one problem of having this single-song album is that it suffers from inflammation of the composition. While it does a great job on Side A of making the piece seem shorter than it is, too many times, I find bored with what's musically presented to me (on both sides). It's an egregious task just to try and take the entirety of the album in one sitting, and many times, the piece takes a bit to long to tell me where it's going.

Still, it's a fine testament to the body of Jethro Tull's work. Any prog fan needs to check this out to figure out what it is we call ''prog''. However, I will not overhype the album and refrain from giving it a masterpiece rating; you have to check out the album to see if you like, but if you're a prog fan and weighing the other collabs' ratings/reviews, it's very unlikely any prog nut will reject this one.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When one has such an extensive collection as yours truly, it becomes apparent that there are few albums that come around for regular spins and I can think of none as effective as this Thick as a Brick, a trustworthy companion on countless memorable occasions going back 35 years now. Its still as poignant as ever, a jaw-dropping marvel of songwriting and musical brilliance , a classic arsenal of hyper-tight ensemble playing featuring a destructive up-front bass missile, AkAk gun drum salvos, wrenching guitar, sweeping keys, revolutionary flute adornments and Anderson's rather desolate expression of timeless lyrics ("The kettle almost boiling") . Martin Barre's fist extended solo is a masterpiece and deserves place in the Hall of Fame! (Heavy Metal category or not!), a screechingly bluesy affair that bites, scalds and shears with wanton abandon! Along with a couple of Yes, Genesis, Floyd and Crimson tracks, this is the epitome of prog music, a trendless creation of sonic genius that stood the test of time and should be a standard of any musical education, certainly as far as rock goes. All the ingredients are here, nothing amiss, nothing to criticize, a mini-prog bible of sorts. To think the events around its recording were so innocently seedy: a dirty and damp studio, a tight group of primo musicians squeezing the sponge as one, laughing, eating, drinking and carousing together, like a big dysfunctional rock family! I remember the immense impact TAAB had upon its release, every hirsute desperado flocking to the vinyl record shops, who were often unable to supply the rabid demand, as if it was some huge headline newspaper edition. (Which is why the remarkable cover still rings true as cleverness today, never reproduced quite as perfectly!). The Brick has been dissected by many thousand pundits, so I won't add anything to their often august comments. This is not essential, it's immortal. 5 stoned masons
Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars More research needed in this area, because I don't get the story. That's nothing strange, as knowing what each words means is far more easier, than understanding entire story on-fly. And it's strange, I was going to have this review given as few words justification (because most of people here gave the same rating) 5 stars, but I found myself one star bellow, which is quite strange for me.

And sinister, some albums simply fails to be seen as anything else than "masterpiece". I know, this music deserves it, even I like Aqualung more (and this does not make me newbie in genre automatically, I just like it more

I don't like ending of first part, I don't like drum solos here and few calmer parts. But that's nothing, when compared to the good sides of the rest of these "songs". Despite two tracks, two parts, I take them as collection of shorter ones, blended skillfully together. There's also some kind of theme melody, repeating over these 40 minutes few times.

4(+), as I said more research needed, because there is potential for sure, but I don't feel confident enough for giving it five, even if I "should". I want, but I'll give it as soon as I'll feel like giving it.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Thick as a Brick finds Jethro Tull reborn and reinvigorated after the slightly dreary Aqualung. Seemingly without effort, they pull off one of the most accomplished prog rock albums of all time.

TaaB is quite different from anything they had ever done before. It's not the brooding blues rock of the beginnings, nor the straightforward stadium rock of Aqualung. The closest reference to previous work would be the album Benefit, but with that album's progressive leanings stretched to the maximum and with a unifying vision that is probably unsurpassed in prog history.

There's the continuous interplay between acoustic and amplified sections, between sung parts and instrumental parts, between folk, rock and improvisations, between playful ditties and dramatic hymns. And the most remarkable of all is how all these different pieces seamlessly fit together.

It is the sound of a band that plays with confidence and maturity, giving each member the opportunity to put in their best and shine throughout. They simply dash through the proceedings with an unrelenting energy and passion I have rarely heard from them. In its entire 45 minutes, there is not one weedy moment, not one transition that doesn't work.

It's not easy listening and a big chunk to bite through but ultimately rewarding. It's one of the most fascinating albums of the 70's but I can't say it has aged well on me. 4.5 stars

Review by friso
4 stars Jethro Tull - Thick as A Brick

* This review has been edited due to new insights.

This is the kind of progressive music that stood the test of time. Jethro was being accused of making an concept album when releasing Aqualung, so they wanted to live up to their given reputation just for the sake of it. Never would they have though at the time that they would make a masterpiece.

The album has all the known Tull elements; Flute, folky chord-progressions on acoustic guitar, some rockin' moments with electric guitar, great drums, electric organs and of course the one in a trillion vocal style of Ian Andersen. Elements of the music that aren't present on all other Tull albums are the progressive compositions, the conceptual form of the album and the refreshing use of musical themes. The album is one big track, divided due to the limitations of the vinyl record. The original cover was a fold out news paper which takes more then an hour to read. Jethro Tull later told the press the making of this newspaper took as long as the recording of the album.

Though many refer to the conceptual song-writing as the main attraction of this album, I must admit I think the strenth lies in the induvidual song parts. I'm not that blown away by the way the long compositions evolve and the theme changes aren't always that smart. Many melodies and vocal themes are very catchy and most instrumental parts show why the worlds needs a progressive genre.

The way Jehtro Tull plays progressive folk-rock is strong, but I think they were out-smarted in this field by many others (Jan Dukes de Grey, Comus, Pearls Before Swine). The problem with Tull is, I don't really like their sound too much. I miss on the authenticity and though the voice of Anderson is strong, he does sound a bit dinstanced from the music. A more cohesive sound would have made this the masterpiece I would like to have found in Thick as a Brick. It has become one of the highest rated three albums of PA and I must admit I can make a list of at least a dozen albums that I would rather have seen on that position. Still, Thick as Brick stands out as one of the better albums of the progressive folk genre and it deserves four stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars Well deserving of it's place as one of the top prog albums of all time, the one and only track here (on the CD version) is also one of the greatest long-form rock song ever recorded. Moreso than just about any prog epic, this varied piece manages to flow seamlessly from movement to movement, and recalls earlier themes, with added complexity without making it sound contrived.

And while Ian Anderson's spectacular composition cannot be downplayed, and the rest of the band is astounding, the game ball for this recording should be awarded to keyboardist John Evan. His solos and his ensemble playing carries the band through some seemingly impossible segues. So much so that Martin Barre, who usually performs this role on guitar, appears to be pushed from the sonic forefront.

A nearly perfect album.

Review by Prog Leviathan
5 stars My thoughts on Thick as a Brick are best expressed in a metaphor:

Consider my house of classic prog-rock. Pink Floyd, Genesis, ELP, and King Crimson are the four walls, while Yes is defintely the roof. What's missing? Everything on the inside! Which is the best way I can describe this masterful album by Jethro Tull-- it is the element that makes a a house homey and not just "there".

Packed with wit, charm, ambition, energy, and style, Thick as a Brick is a classic prog present from Ian Anderson. The rock is straight-ahead and intense while the folksy elements are tongue-in-cheek, dynamic, and loads of fun. A vintage slice of classic-prog heaven.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals:5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Review by progaeopteryx
5 stars I'm not a Jethro Tull fan. I like some of their stuff, but most of isn't my cup of tea. For instance, I really like their Crest of a Knave album, but I don't care much for Aqualung, an album considered a classic of not only progressive rock, but the rock genre as a whole. So what could I possibly add to an album that already has over 600 ratings on Prog Archives as of October 10, 2010? Nothing substantial I suppose, and maybe nothing really worth reading. So why am I writing a review?

The reason why is that I'm speaking for those that can't really get into Jethro Tull. And for those of you that are like me, I can only say, that if you really want to give this group a chance, buy this album. Thick as a Brick is THE album where Jethro Tull puts it all together and clearly deserves the status of "masterpiece" on this esteemed web site. It is as good as anything in Prog Archives' Top 10 albums and combines a multitude of genres into something that is uniquely Jethro Tull, including folk, acoustic, classical, symphonic prog, and heavy-edged rock, all with a strong theatrical touch.

So, for those of you that can't get into Jethro Tull (like me), you're really missing something special with this album. Now if only I could get into their other stuff more... Time will only tell.

Easily five stars!

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Thick As A Brick, otherwise known as The Only Jethro Tull Album This Reviewer Ever Liked. The only other albums that even slightly tickled my earbulbs are Aqualung and Minstrel In The Gallery. Here we have the Weird Al Yankovic of prog: a whole album that is nothing but a parody of the concept albums and side-long epics of the time. Strange then that this ended up being a great example of everything GOOD about prog! This one-song album actually went to #1 on the Billboard charts. Because of that Anderson & co. decided they would do it again(hey, there's nothing better than free money). A Passion Play on the other hand is a great example of everything BAD about prog. TAAB sounds natural while APP sounds forced.

No sense in analyzing this album to death. There is almost nothing about it I would change. It still boggles my mind how these guys came up with an album full of such great music and playing, yet never did anything else that comes close. I can listen to this all the way through every day if I wanted to. Any other Tull album and there will some tracks I will want to skip. This is like a cross between what ELP and Genesis were doing at the time, but somehow better. I've always loved the line: "Your sperms in the gutter/Your love's in the sink". I have no idea what that means but it sounds great. It took a not very proggy band to make fun of prog to make one of the greatest prog albums *ever*. Funny how the universe works.

To me, a 'Best Of Jethro Tull' set would include this album, along with another disc of the best songs from their '69-'75 albums and singles. That would be all the Tull I would ever need. If you don't already have this, go get it. I'm the biggest Thick As A Brick fan-boy in the multiverse. But Jethro Tull would not even make my Top 50 Bands list. Go figure. 5 stars. If only every prog album could be this good.

Review by Negoba
4 stars Prog Canon, Yes ? Masterpiece, No

Enough has been written about THICK AS A BRICK that certainly no one needs background information at this point. But I do want to render an opinion and throw my vote into the rating average. I picked this album up early in my PA career, as it was then and is now the highest rated album on the site. And I must say, that on first listen and now 50th, my opinion is pretty much the same. This is a very good album, but it's not a masterpiece and I don't even think it's Tull's best work.

I've had a Tull greatest hits album for decades and I must admit that the first piece of the the 40 minute composition that is the single version is brilliant. At 3:0 0 the electric guitars come in and from there we're on a roller coaster ride which takes us to excellent highs and lows that are still pretty darn good. But it wears me out and it doesn't hold my attention. It doesn't have an overall dramatic contour that a concept album needs. Like Ian Anderson's melodic sense, the initial movement is good but he only has so many tricks up his sleeve. Further, he shows his cards relatively early.

All the usual Tull strengths are here, great flute work, sharp lyrics, some nice classic rock jamming, and even occasionally some composed interweaving lines. There are a few sections that are prog heaven with swinging organ supporting soaring flute. But there are also guitar and drum section that are simply classic 70's rock n roll that would have been a nice part of a concert but don't do much for me in the middle of a prog concept album. I know that in fact TAAB is a parody of a concept album, but there a few Spinal Tap (parody of themselves) moments. Thud thud drum solos have no place in good music for me, and there are several thud thud moments in TAAB.

The real problem for me is that in the midst of a great song is too much filler and I get bored. The 12 minute live version that now accompanies the album is much better, and gets everything accomplished that the 40 minute version does.

I'm not silly enough to deny that this should be part of every prog fan's library. And I'm not vindictive enough to give a very strong piece of prog a 3/5 because I think so many other albums are better. But I prefer the first half of Passion Play and Aqualung to TAAB and would probably never listen to the full version if I hadn't kept thinking to myself "What am I missing?" Well after many many listens, I think I can say this album just doesn't do for me what it does for others.

Review by tarkus1980
5 stars Well, here it is, Ian's tour de force. I still say that, in general, Anderson's 'prog' abilities were sorely lacking, but this is a MAJOR exception. It may not be the greatest prog album of all time, but it's easily in the top five, if you ask me (among ones I've heard, I mean). Ian would eventually start filling his albums with the aspects of prog rock that tend to make me fidget and squirm, but this time around he managed to fill an album almost completely with everything that I love about prog rock.

Funnily enough, the album was largely created as a parody of prog rock. As on Aqualung, Ian creates the appearance of a concept (this time, it seems to be about the way people are forced to take upon certain societal roles against their wishes and despite their youthful promise that they would be different than their parents), but if anything, that mocking tone helps give the album a sense of levity that wouldn't always be around later. But really, I care about this album not because of a concept, but because the music is flabbergastingly stupendous.

Before you feel nervous about listening to such an album (a one-track, 45-minute album), though, you need to know a few things. First of all, it isn't really one song. Rather, it consists of a number of great 'normal' songs, albeit sometimes not completely fleshed out with "proper" beginnings and endings, connected to each other with instrumental passages instead of having pauses between them, with a few reprises throughout as needed. If you want, think of this as the Abbey Road suite taken to its most bombastic and technically immaculate extreme (that is, the most extreme before losing the fundamental melody strengths of the original). Some people have said (approximately) that this album is essentially just the opening theme and variations upon it, but that frankly makes me wonder if they've bothered to keep track of the other songs that pop up. There aren't that many individual song ideas on this, granted, but there are certainly enough; any album that can freely shuffle war marches, differently-styled bombastic acoustic ballads and unconventional organ-driven 'rockers' (among other things) with the ease that this album does is going to get a thumbs up from me.

Since (naturally) this isn't an album one can easily dissect into individual sections for analysis, I'd instead like to focus on some of the aspects that really grab my interest and respect. The first thing I really love about this album is how, through the entire first half and most of the second, it never feels like it's just sitting there fiddling its diddle, treading water or killing time until it's time for another 'main' theme. Every song has instrumental and vocal hooks out the wazoo, and when the band engages in a lengthy instrumental passage, it makes that passage wild and crazy and (as far as I'm concerned) incapable of sounding boring. There is an exception to this, of course; near the beginning of the second side there's an overlong drum solo (which, granted, is both very fast and very loud, but is still a generic drum solo), as well as a blotch of Zappa-style noises, and this kinda puts a crimp on the immaculate momentum the album has built for itself to this point. Other than that, though, everything feels justified and "in place," if you will; they even make sure to link up the start of the second half to the end of the first half (which seemed to be kinda echoing off into the distance) by dragging it back from the same distant void and acting as if the break was only an illusion. Neat!

I'm also extremely fond of the lyrics, which (a) are an awful lot of fun despite the (theoretically) serious subject matter (they really do a good job of keeping Ian in his 'mischievious little scamp' role that he could pull off so very very well) and (b) do an excellent job of repeating certain themes in just the right way, with just the right variations, to invariably hook in the listener. The "See there a son is born and we pronounce him fit to fight..."/"See there a man is born and we pronounce him fit for peace" split between side one and side two is a good example, as are the repeated allusions to our "comic paper idols" and "Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?" and so on.

And sheesh, I know I mentioned that the instrumental passages are great, but it really cannot be stressed enough. Evans, Barre, Anderson and Hammond-Hammond (Barrow is fine too, though he doesn't particularly stand out) sound like an insane unstoppable machine (is it really true this album was recorded in only three takes? Holy Hell!!), combining tightness and aggression of an unbelievable level with chances for each to have their moments to shine as individuals. The biggest standout is, of course, the terrific flute solo around 37 minutes in, but that's hardly the only standout.

Beyond this, I don't really know what to say. Please buy this album and appreciate what an amazing musical machine this group was in the good old days, as well as to see what prog rock is fully capable of before the pomposity overcomes the music itself.

Review by thehallway
4 stars A four-star review for the highest-rated album on Prog Archives is likely to sound more negative than positive. Jethro Tull's 'Thick as a Brick' has all the usual fan-boy terms thrown at it, apparently more than any other album; "Masterpiece", "Essential listening", "Pure prog bliss".... the list goes on. But I don't feel it's justified. The album is a spoof!

Granted, it is a very good spoof, good enough to be a concept-album in its own right, but still a mere piss- take of the 'Tarkus's' and 'Close to the Edges' that came before it. And those songs are much better for me. What 'Thick as a Brick' lacks is enough variation to keep it interesting; for its massive duration almost every theme is repeated several times, sometimes in a row, and all of these themes are similar in their composition.

Acoustic balladry opens the piece, and is nice. I doubt the first 3 minutes would work very well as an individual song, but the poetic lyrics help it to survive by making it obvious that it is just one small part of a much bigger concept (helped by the headline on the album cover). Then we explode into a rocking section with a 5/4 riff, characterised by flute bursts and a very Emerson solo from the Hammond Organ. Prog rock works for Jethro Tull, but how long can they keep it up for? New sections arrive that each fall into one of two categories: either this fast-paced, riff- based hard rock style, or a kind of medieval folk ditty which could be sung be a minstrel with a backing band. Some of the verses towards the latter half of side one are forgettable, and we become slightly sick of the re-used themes until saved by the pleasant march that closes this half. It's satisfying overall, but nothing extraordinary.

That would have been a nice place to stop, and wouldn't have spoiled the concept much. Tull could have packed side two with short pieces based on lesser headlines in the newspaper.... or something. The second half of 'Thick as a Brick' starts well with some themes from the first part mixed with crazy moments and drum solos. I love the track until this stops, because the new sections just drag on like the band is on depressants. Every time it comes to a point where I think "reprise main theme and end!" it just adds another verse, or another instrumental run-through of some of those overused hard riffs. Eventually the song ends, rather nicely actually, but I'm left with a discontent feeling.

If Anderson thought a little more about changing the instrumentation, then maybe this album would be more digestible for me. There is an omnipresent hammond and flute that just annoy me by the end; it would be nice if they were occasionally be replaced by synthesizers or mellotrons or electric guitar (which is underused). While other large-scale pieces from other bands often feel like 'suites' or 'journeys', this one really does just feel like "a long song". I really enjoy most of side one, and some of side two, so 30 minutes would be an optimum length for me. I did think 'Selling England by the Pound' was overrated, but perhaps not as much as this very 'okay' album!

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Thick As A Brick' - Jethro Tull (9/10)

It comes among the greatest of ironies that an album poking fun at the pretension of the prog rock world turns out to be one of the scene's most loved masterpieces. Suffice to say, Jethro Tull received a lot of acclaim for their fourth album 'Aqualung', with many listeners overanalyzing the record, looking for things that- in Ian Anderson's opinion- weren't there to begin with. Keeping in line with the band's tongue-in-cheek personality, the fifth album and follow-up to 'Aqualung' would address these misinterpretations by delivering an overblown prog epic that pulls out every trick in the concept album canon. 'Thick As A Brick' now has a reputation that precedes it, and for good reason; with their parody of concept albums, Tull has created a very complex album musically; one that delivers an unraveling experience over many listens. Although I may not agree that it is the 'greatest prog album of all time' like some tend to claim, I cannot help but to revere and appreciate this bombastic masterpiece.

Much of the album's concept is conveyed through the album's artwork; a mock newspaper that satirizes British society, its trivial fixations, and hypocrisy. The lyrics of the two-part epic are meant to be the winning poem that an 8 year old literary genius nicknamed 'Little Milton' sent in for a contest and won, only to have the prize taken away on the grounds that his poem sought to disturb the peace. Indeed, the lyrics on 'Thick As A Brick' are quite militant, calling out things as they are, and constantly criticizing various aspects of society and the complacency of people. Unlike the sort of prog rock that Tull was satirizing here, the fairly aggressive topics are handled with humour and personality, and Ian Anderson gives a fair dose of his personality through the vocal performance, which is very nicely done. Although his voice is made a little too nasal at points during this epic, his voice works quite well for the most part, and compliments the music nicely.

Like all good epics, Jethro Tull throws ample amounts of recurring melodies, themes and whatnot into the structure of their forty minute opus, rarely feeling needlessly repetitive. The whole thing builds up and climaxes masterfully, made even more vibrant by the band's dynamic and heavy performance. Jethro Tull really surprised me by some of their complexity and heaviness towards the more active sections of 'Thick As A Brick', as I went into this expecting a much lighter folk ordeal. And indeed, there are plenty of Medieval folk moments for Anderson to croon to here, but 'Thick As A Brick' is certainly a creature of dynamic, and it makes for a listen that keeps throwing interesting things at the listener until the end. Needless to say, Tull's music on the record cannot be digested with only a few listens; upon the first listen, I found myself a little lost on the more complex parts. Believe me when I say that 'Thick As A Brick' takes many listens to sink in. It may not be a perfect record, but it takes some time before a listener becomes familiar enough with the album to see how cleverly the band has stitched these ideas together.

Is 'Thick As A Brick' the greatest prog album ever made? Once again, a resounding no, as its flaws are a little too evident even after a couple of listens to call it perfect. However, Jethro Tull does rightfully earn a place at the upper echelon of prog with this one, and make no mistake; if you are a progressive rock fan, you should make a point to set some time aside for this one.

Review by Warthur
5 stars As far as parodies of progressive/underground rock go, Thick As a Brick is miles away from Zappa's classic We're Only In It For the Money. Whereas Zappa's album is bold and upfront about the comedy, Tull showed a more subtle sense of humour by producing an album consisting of just one really long, epic song - and like the best Swiftian, deadpan works of satire, it looks like an earnest attempt at prog rock rather than a parody of the genre's excesses!

Truth be told, I rather suspect that the band took a thoroughly prog direction after this album simply because they had so much fun making it. From the fake newspaper stories in the packaging, which must have been great fun to dream up, to the enormous range of instruments the group bring to bear on the album, the gang seem to have taken this as a chance to indulge themselves - but in doing so, they do make a really great composition, with top-notch instrumental work breaking up the refrain of the chorus throughout.

Of the two albums Tull made in this vein, this might be the less serious one, but I also think it's superior; the Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles might be an accurate reflection of the structure of actual medieval passion plays, but it also sucks all the momentum out of A Passion Play, which also ends up feeling rather forced - as though the band didn't really want to make another album in the same vein as Thick As a Brick, but felt that they had to following its runaway success. On Thick as a Brick, meanwhile, the joke is still a joke, and it's this playfulness which sets the album apart. The first five-star Tull studio album.

Review by baz91
5 stars It's not too hard to see why Jethro Tull's 'Thick As A Brick' is at the top of the ProgArchives top albums list, if not lingering thereabouts. This is an album of such high calibre that most progheads can agree that it is worthy of 5 stars. I am certainly of this opinion too. An album like this doesn't come around very often, and when it does, it deserves all the praise it gets.

First things first: the music. The album consists of one single track, Thick As A Brick, lasting just under 44 minutes. The music is continuous, except near the middle, where you would have had to flip the vinyl over. For my money, this is one of the best ways you can spend 44 minutes. The music is so interesting and exciting and intricate, that you can quite easily listen all the way through and not get bored. You can ponder over the curious lyrics, marvel at the virtuosity of the group, and simply rock out throughout this ambitious album. Some people have tried to fit their own meanings to the song, and it's very interesting to read their line-by-line analysis of the lyrics. It's true that the second side is not quite as good as the first, but the difference in quality is quite negligible really, and doesn't take away from the album too much. On the whole, the music is happy and uplifting, with just a few negative sections thrown in for good measure. The best thing about the music is that it never becomes cheesy or uninspired; the magic continues for the duration of the record. The band really get the best of all worlds onto this record; complicated time signatures, awesome singing, weird lyrics, brilliant solos and wonderful recurring themes abound! One of my favourite moments is near the beginning of the second side where drummer Barriemore Barlow launches into a breakneck drum solo, a first class drum solo at that!

The music by itself is enough to warrant this album 5 stars, but if you want to have the proper album experience, BUY THE VINYL EDITION! Scour eBay and all other vinyl selling websites for this album. Beg, borrow and steal until you have it! Even if the vinyl itself is scratched when you find it, you can always get the CD to listen to the music. It's not the LP that's important, but the lavish sleeve which folds out as a full 12-page newspaper, complete with fictional news stories, TV tracklistings, a crossword and even a dot-to-dot section (a naughty one at that!). Moreover, the stories on the newspaper give a completely different story not told by the lyrics: eight-year old Gerald Bostock has written a poem (Thick As A Brick) for a competition, and is disqualified from a competition for using the word G__r. The newspaper then goes on to explain how beat group Jethro Tull have decided to work with Bostock and put his words to music, making the album itself a concept within a concept. There's even a review of the album itself on page 7! The newspaper basically satirises the kind of small newspapers you'd expect to find in towns with a small population. With 12 large pages of tiny writing, you can be sure to get hours of entertainment out of this wonderful intricate sleeve design. Quite simply, it's my favourite sleeve of any album, because so much time and effort has gone into making it. If only so much effort were put into other albums, we could hear brilliant music everywhere.

While I've never been a huge fan of Jethro Tull, there can be no doubt that this album is an absolute masterpiece. A lot of hard work, musicianship, and ingenuity was put into this album, and the results show. This is a perfect album and, quite frankly, you'd be thick as a brick not to add it to your collection.

Review by lazland
4 stars Sometimes you just feel like a break from listening to, and reviewing, new music, or evaluating stuff for the site. You want to put your feet up, relax, put on a hoary old classic, and indulge yourself (and, hopefully, others) with a few well chosen words.

This evening is one such moment, and what better hoary old classic than this one, eh? So, let's skip back to the heady days of 1972, and consider the album that is considered by many to be THE epitome, and, indeed, the height, of this crazy genre we call progressive rock.

So many words have been written about this, it's hard to see what one could possibly add. The first thing to say, of course, is a fact that, to this day, many people really do not seem to appreciate. This album was deliberately designed as a send up of the entire genre that we all love so much.

Jethro Tull were a blues band, with some progressive sensibilities. When the awesome Aqualung was released, a great load of critics with beards (in those days, you were a bloke if you did rock reviews. Women still tended the sprogs and did the household tasks. Germaine Greer had not, at this time, changed the world) declared it to be the most important concept album of all time, indeed a tome that would rank one day alongside the Holy Book itself as influencing human philosophy.

All fine stuff, except that it was not, of course, any such thing. Anderson had, very cleverly, included an overarching theme about the nature of religion amongst some exceptional blues rock tracks, but it was absolutely not a concept album. So, rather typically for the rascal, he decided to give the critics what they wanted - an overblown, to hell with all good taste, concept album to defeat all concepts.

It came wrapped up in its own newspaper. This was almost as well produced as the vinyl itself. The "story", or concept, is based upon a poem written by Gerald Bostock, a boy. Except, of course, that there was no such boy, and the very title itself, Thick As A Brick, was rather old English slang for one of exceptionally limited intellect, an accusation that Anderson threw with glee at the majority of both the English rock press and, indeed, most of the blokes sat at the gigs and buying the records (again, not many women attended. Prog was almost exclusively a spotty blokey thing).

Of course, the whole thing took on a life of its own, and is regarded as the archetypal prog concept album, and, to be fair to Anderson, what he produced, although a parody, was, musically, virtually beyond reproach. Quite deliberately a symphonic suite, awash with swirling mellotron, other keys, complex rhythms, time signatures, and repetitive themes, it ironically became very quickly representative of an entire genre and way of producing music. Not to be seen on Top Of The Pops this, with The Sweet, Bolan, Bowie et al, this was the album to end all albums, and fans of "serious" music lapped it up.

In hindsight, I do not regard this as being Tull's finest hour. For me personally, this was still to come in the more folk orientated phase of the band's career. The pastoral representation of a fast disappearing Britain spoke volumes to me, certainly far more than a pastiche of a concept. In addition, the album at almost forty four minutes of a single track does make one lose attention somewhat, certainly at either end of the old vinyl sides and a rather unnecessary (if very good) set of drum solos. Cut down to the length of the version which appeared on the seminal Bursting Out live album, it would have been perfection.

As it is, I will rate it as being four stars, i.e. an excellent addition to any prog rock collection. In terms of the genre's history, it is absolutely essential. But I feel that Anderson, the rest of the band, and music historians, if all were to be utterly honest, would proclaim that musically and socially Tull had, and would have, better moments.

There you have it. Looking at the vast majority of reviews, I have written what most would consider to be blasphemy. Damn good, yes, but not damn perfect.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars I've always been a fan of Jethro Tull's earliest work and especially their 'Aqualung' album, but 'Thick as a Brick' never really appealed to me. This album has been reviewed and revered repeatedly over the decades, even though the self-indulgence and excess it demonstrated (and rather intentionally it seems) helped bring about the demise of the progressive rock heyday.

I personally suspect many of the people who speak in hushed and reverent tones about this album probably never even sat through several, let alone one, end-to-end playing. If you have then you know everything you need to know about the record. It's an interesting though somewhat sarcastic piece of music, written by a guy who didn't have a lot of respect for progressive rock as an art-form and whose band would to their consternation be forever associated with a genre they didn't even believe in.

At some point in the future, possible after I've reviewed everything else I find more interesting, I'll revisit 'Thick as a Brick' and see if there's something more useful I can say about it. Until then I'll just say that I think it is overrated, just as the term "overrated" is overrated. But I can't think of anything better to describe the record without wasting any more time on it, and I'm not inclined to do that.

Three stars just because it is a classic and I do like the band. Just not this record.


Review by rogerthat
4 stars In reviewing Thick As A Brick, I have to be mindful of a peculiar aspect. Do I review the first, powerful impression of the irresistible hook that kicks off this magnum opus? Or do I review the album proper, the whole thing and decide the rating accordingly?

There's no doubt, at least to me, that the first impression of Thick As A Brick, of in fact the first few minutes, is very appealing. It's one of the catchiest, most memorable passages of music in all prog that I have heard. It may not have quite the same effect on every listener, as the reviews evidence, but its enduring popularity does suggest that a good many are thus converted to Jethro Tull and some of these in turn to prog. They were thus the only prog rock band from that era other than Pink Floyd who enjoyed crossover appeal while ELP and Yes enjoyed tremendous popularity in an era that appreciated prog in a big way. A seemingly innocuous bit of acoustic guitar establishes an irresistible hook and, by means of re-iteration, keeps the listener hooked to the track till the very end.

Does the presence of a powerful hook necessarily indicate that it's a great composition? After all, Thick As A Brick is not a four-to-five minute long rock song to get by on a hook. It is a 45 minute sprawl. It dwarfs Echoes and Karn Evil 9 comfortably for sheer length. Prog's resident paleontologist Robert Fripp must have shuddered at the very sight of this excessive stegosaur.

And therein lies the catch. It IS in fact a 45 minute rock song, folk rock to be precise, in the true sense of the word. It is not faux classical in rock clothes or any other kind of music that attempts to imitate a sonata structure and relies on long interludes and/or linear development of melody. It is a set of witty folk rock poems joined at the ends rather adeptly with, again, rock-ish passages of music. The proverbial wall of sound is conspicuous by its absence. Sonically, it remains a rock song from start to finish.

With the result that it runs out of variations by the end. The sheer power of the hooks can mask the lack of variation for only so long. It is not so evident the first few times you listen to the track but after a while, it is rather noticeable. You are acquainted with the music very well by now and want to dig in, looking for depth. And...uh oh, it's not there! There's no great mystery here to unravel. What you see is what you get. It's unlikely you will get too bored of repeating this album, perhaps because it's too long to devote too many single sittings to. On the other hand, it doesn't really get better with persistence either, as a masterpiece ought to. It's basically the same album you heard the first time around, nothing more to see, move on.

I come back here to Echoes. Echoes starts with a simple motif which gradually snowballs into an epic of stunning ambition. This simplicity is reflected in the lyrical treatment of not only Echoes but a lot of Pink Floyd's work in general. The depth lies in the thoughts that Waters seeks to express but they are expressed through relatively simple, lucid means.

Anderson on the other hand attempts to tickle you with witty line after another. There's some commentary in there but it's a bit buried in the details, in contradistinction to the music. Actually, it's not really too cryptic, lest my words suggest as much, but I am just too busy laughing along with the lines to attentively follow the story. Thick As A Brick is entertaining while it lasts but lacks some necessary focus and direction to make a deeper impact. It's like a chaotic comedy caper in that sense.

Which brings me back to that hook. That's what Thick As A Brick is, a funny and very catchy prog rock opus. And...that is the be all and end all of all prog? Could that then be Anderson taking the piss out of the genre he takes not so subtle jabs at every now and then? For all their exalted taste and rarefied airs of seriousness, progheads cannot resist a hook either. Not even if said hook is not quite enough to sustain a 45 minuter.

Me, I am not completely convinced about that. Yes, Thick As A Brick is tons of fun while it lasts and certainly essential listening as far as prog goes. If nothing else, at least to experience a very unique dimension of prog, one that even Jethro Tull could not successfully replicate. But that's as far as I can go. If it's hooks and funny folk rock I want, I think the rock songs on Aqualung do that job just fine. Thick As A Brick is quick out of the blocks, but overstays its welcome. Four stars.

Review by Muzikman
5 stars Thick As A Brick (40th Anniversary Special Edition)

Thick As A Brick, first released in 1971, is a classic progressive rock recording by Jethro Tull. As the years pass its relevance and legend continue to grow. The band's founder and leader Ian Anderson has said, implied or interjected comments into conversations over the years pointing to the fact that it was not a progressive recording. As any good prog fan knows (as well as Anderson) this is indeed a progressive rock album and a widely known masterpiece of the genre.

The band's lineup for this classic slice of prog was as follows: Ian Anderson (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, violin, trumpet, and saxophone), Martin Barre (electric guitar, lute), John Evan (piano, organ, harpsichord), Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (bass guitar, vocals), Barriemore Barlow (drums, percussion, timpani) and David (now Dee) Palmer (brass and string arrangements).

This special 40th Anniversary edition comes in a book format with plenty of information, interviews and stories about the session and it includes 1 CD, the original version of the album, and 1 DVD that offers several different formats for your listening pleasure in part one (or side one) clocking in at 22:45 and part two (or side two) ticking off at the 21:07 mark, giving us a grand total of 43:52 of pure prog pretentiousness at its very best. It was intended and is one continuous song and the band most definitely succeeded in producing one of the more popular forms of the genre. The DVD is a marvel of sound reengineered by Steven Wilson. It contains a 5.1 surround sound mix (in DTS and Dolby Digital), the new stereo mix in high resolution, and the original stereo mix in high resolution. The album was also rereleased on vinyl for all of your collectors and those that still appreciate the LP format.

I listened to every version on the DVD and "really didn't mind sitting this one out." As expected some great things come about throughout the listen. Wilson is a musical genius in every sense of the word and Ian is quite aware of this and I am sure every succeeding anniversary edition that is released will be handled by his knowing hands. He also did a splendid job with the lavish Aqualung 40th Anniversary Box Set which I also had the distinct pleasure of covering. If you watch the DVD on your computer as the music is playing or on your home theater you will see the book in front of you and the pages turning every few minutes however it is a bit easier on the eyes to read direct from the physical packaging. The book format gives full attention to the original intention of the newspaper The St. Cleve Chronicle, which adorned the cover of the original album. There are some pretty funny titles in the St. Cleve like "Fly High With Aunt Molly's Recipe" and "Council Is Wound Up." It may be the first time many listeners really paid attention to the all of text provided in the fictitious rag (including me).

TAAB never becomes monotonous, in fact it is forever in a musical flux and quite unlike anything I have ever heard. That is what makes it such a joy to take in all in one sitting. Considering the band was faced with the daunting task of trying to keep up with momentum of the brilliant and groundbreaking Aqualung, they fared quite well. This was no easy task mind you and as we know now they were able overcome any and all barriers to continuing their successful run and in the same instance their audience grew more with this very unique offering. One factor that really drove this recording along was the combination of Ian's flute and John Evan's outstanding keyboards. This does not take away anything from the rest of the accomplished musicianship however after many listens over the years and most recently every single version provided in this set, it becomes obvious that these two instruments give it the unusual and most appealing atmosphere and that classical/world influence that invited the plethora of other instruments to join in completing each passage with an expertise rarely accomplished by any other band since (Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells comes to mind).

What else can you say after a band provides a session such as this? As Ian sings "Vote superman for President" it makes you stop for a moment and wonder why he did not hold that title in 1972 after producing this amazing work. What may be even more of a spectacle is to catch Ian and his band performing the entire album live along with TAAB2. It would be an amazing show to witness.

Key Track: Thick As Brick Part 1 & 2

Review by GruvanDahlman
5 stars Though I at most times prefer A passion play, I really cannot tell them apart when it comes to describe their inner, true qualities They are prog masterpieces and are timeless, full of quirky britishness and wonderful melodies.

When composing tracks lasting over five minutes you have to calculate with the risk of the listener growing bored, at least at times. Ultimately, alas, it stands as a true test if genius writing and performing twotracks lasting over 20 minutes, WITHOUT boring the listener and making him or her feel like they've just listened to a three minute piece. That is brilliance in a nutshell.

The music ranges over blues, folk and hardrock in a torally seamless and effortless work. Everything seems to be in it's proper place. The musicianship is extraordinary, with the blues rock roots firmly in place. I guess I adore Thick as a brick by way of it's dirty, rootsy sound, hailing from when prog was still at some sort of infancy.

An extra notation must be given to the keyboard player John Evan whose wonderful, delicate and harsh stab on ye olde organ makes me shiver with delight.

Summary: Thick as a brick is without a doubt a work of gods and a true masterpiece everyone ought to have in their collection. It's like the air you breathe, you can't live without it.

Review by b_olariu
5 stars Thick As A Brick from 1972 marks the start of a series of progressive rock albums from the already masters Jethro Tull, Andrson toying with this genre since Aqualung, but only now the term of prog rock is fully desearved. This is considered one of the first concept albums in prog rock history, the story behind is quite intresting aswell the music. Only two pieces here, but each one with top notch musicianship and quite original ideas. As always on a JT album the lyrics are thoughtful and going hand in hand with the music. I'm not really in the mood to make a bif review, this album is already a milestone in prog circles for almost half a century so only remains from me to give 5 stars. To me Thick as brick is in same league with their next one Passion play aswell a 5 stars album for me. An essential album in anyone collection.
Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 5

My first contact with 'Thick As A Brick' was in the middle of the 70's, in the school, where my friends lent me a recording of the album made on a cassette which was taken from the original vinyl disc. When I listen to the album for the first time I became truly amazed. This is a concept album with only one theme. Unfortunately it was interrupted in the middle, because as all we know in those times, the vinyl records were unable to store more information than 30 to 35 minutes, on each side of the disc. However, when we were listening to a copy of a recording on a cassette tape recorder with inferior quality, especially if it was a mono version, like mine, the sound quality was extremely poor. Although those were my conditions at the time and I had to live with them.

In my humble opinion, 'Thick As A Brick' is the best and most progressive release by Jethro Tull and it's the father of all concept albums. Probably, 'Thick As A Brick' is with 'Selling England By The Pound' of Genesis, 'Close To The Edge' of Yes and 'Wish You Were Here' of Pink Floyd, the four best progressive albums of the 70's. It's their fifth studio album and was released in 1972. It reached number 1 on the U.S.A. Billboard Pop Albums Chart. Even on Progarchives, these four albums are always in the top four of the site, as the best four prog albums ever made.

The line up on 'Thick As A Brick' is composed by a quintet and was the line up which lasted longer on Jethro Tull's life, remaining the same until 1975. It was formed by Ian Anderson (lead vocals, flute and acoustic guitar), Martin Barre (electric guitar and lute), John Evan (piano and organ), Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (vocals and bass guitar) and Barriemore Barlow (drums, percussion and timpani).

The music on 'Thick As A Brick' was all composed by Anderson. It's an album with a very complex musical structure and where many musical instruments were used. Besides the use of the usual classic rock instruments, already mentioned by me, many others were used, and some of them are very uncommon in rock music, such as harpsichord, xylophone, violin, trumpet and a string section.

The concept of the album was a straight collaboration between the band and an eight years old child, who wrote a very complex poem, that talks about the challenges of to get old, for a contest. It was about a fictional kid (Gerard 'Little Milton' Bostock). In those times, and even today, many believe that Gerald Bostock is a real person. The child was disqualified because the judges considered that his poem was a little bit immoral because it talks about the sexual life of a father and son, and the problems of their relationship. So, the judges preferred to give the prize to a twelve years girl, who wrote a simple essay about the Christian ethical values entitled, 'He Died To Save The Little Children'.

Anderson picked up the child's poem and created a notable piece. The combination of both things is so original and perfect that 'Thick As A Brick' became as one of the most beloved albums by most of the progressive rock fans.

Which is most interesting and surprising is that 'Thick As A Brick' only saw the daylight, because Jethro Tull's previous studio album 'Aqualung', released in 1971. It all started with the controversy between Anderson and the critics. The Critics considered 'Aqualung' a concept album, which was firmly rejected by Anderson. In response he said if they wanted to know what is a truly concept album, they would see on Jethro Tull's next studio album.

The original LP cover was a spoof of a local newspaper with news, stories, competitions, adverts, etc. It was a mock newspaper that satirised the British society of those times and its hypocrisy. The false newspaper, with twelve pages, also included the entire lyrics of the song. References to the lyrics are scattered throughout the articles. Unfortunately, and in many cases, this cover had to be reduced or even completely suppressed because of the printing costs. Fortunately, I'm lucky to have one copy of one of those LP's versions on my vinyl disc collection.

Conclusion: 'Thick As A Brick' is an extremely ambitious and brilliant album. It combines successfully and perfectly well, hard rock, jazz, and folk with great melodies which turn the album into a truly progressive rock opus. The music on this concept album is absolutely brilliant from the first to the last minute. Every single note sounds beautifully. I've always considered it a truly masterpiece, and even now when more than forty years passed, it still sounds great and better than ever. If there are perfect works, this is one of them. If you haven't got it yet, you're losing one of the jewels of the progressive rock music. It's very easy to get into its music, and is much easier to listen to than many other progressive albums. This is an essential album for any progressive fan, and definitely, it crowns the genre of the progressive folk music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by kenethlevine
5 stars We tend to forget, or perhaps ignore, that even FM rock radio in the 1970s was commercially driven, so, while TAAB was hugely successful from day one, it eventually posed more radio programming problems than it solved. By the mid 1970s, all one got to hear was a 5 minute "gut job". I remember finding it quaint at the time but it certainly didn't incite me to rush out and buy the way a self contained piece like "Benedictus", "And You and I", "In the Court of the Crimson King", :The Musical Box", "New Horizons", or "Conquistador" might have, and did. I'm not trying to downplay the role of those fine works from the full concepts behind them, but instead to reinforce how TAAB is the indivisible entity. I say this even though, or maybe because, interviews with Mr Anderson reveal that, for all its cohesiveness, TAAB in fact includes bits and pieces that had been lying about for the prior few years, somehow plucked from dusty corners and amalgamated with verve and communal spirit. They are not worthless without each other, but they stick up for each other, which is the clear sense I get about this band at this moment in time.

Apart from the extended set, the progression from "Aqualung" is remarkable; indeed the blend of acoustic and electric guitars, flutes, and organ is propelled by the concept to the extent that it makes the prior work seem like riff rock by comparison, and I do mean that kindly. Part 1 includes several themes that incorporate folk, rock and blues masterfully, and I think the folk wins out,in the best parts, chiefly "The Poet and the Painter" and "Childhood Heroes".. Part 2 does revisit the key themes of Part 1 in deliciously subtle and more direct ways, but I must especially single out the jaw dropping beauty of the ":Do You Believe in the Day" segment. The bonus material amounts to a live version of Part 1, which reveals just how "live" the original was, to the credit of all concerned, and an interview that is certainly valuable as an insight into how it all transpired.

It's hard to fairly evaluate a masterpiece 40+ years after its apparition, but I can't blame JETHRO TULL for the foibles of radio programmers and my lack of friends who were fans, or even being introduced to the band via "Bungle in the Jungle". I also seem to have reluctantly acquired the taste for Mr Anderson's voice after years of grimacing like a baby when his whir pierced a stately melody at the worst moment. Here's to Gerald Bostock from one of his thickest fans!

Review by jamesbaldwin
3 stars In my opinion, "Thick As A Brick" is a good album but not a beautiful album. Not one of the greatest in prog history. It's important, I know, for prog history, because for the first time a group produced an album with only one suite. But musically, the inspiration is not high. Melodies are not remarkable.

First side: the beginnig is very good, maybe the only melody easy to remember in the hole album. But minute after minute the rhythm became too much supported or repetitive, near to math rock of Gentle Giant, and the final is compulsive.

Second side: overexcited beginning, then acoustic melodies, then a lot of variety of arrengements; but It seems to me that the passages are forced. In the end returns the initial melody.

This is an album without anticlimax but even without climax. Homogeneous, and with a good execution; the arrangements are very neat and varied. Ian Anderson proves to be able to brush music from many musical styles (the early blues is just one of many contributions to the record) and to know how to do without his flute for long breaks. But the suite does not flow easily, it results too built, more forced than spontaneous.

It seems to me that one reason for the great consideration Thick As A Brick enjoys is due to the fact that the whole album is composed by a suite. The Jethro Tull are to be commended for the evolution they have had, in fact this album is a very great effort for this band and even for the progressive rock, but, in my opinion, a record made by a single suite doesn't make automatically the greatness and the beauty of an album.

Vote: 7,5/8. Three stars.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars With this album, JETHRO TULL was increasingly becoming a more Progressive Rock band in musical style. If their previous "Aqualung" album still had a more Rock music influenced side (the Side One of the album) and a more Folk / Acoustic music influenced side (the Side Two of the album), this album from 1972 has more complicated musical arrangements with the keyboards played by John Evan having a more central role. Anyway, this album is a continuous musical piece with one song titled "Thick as a Brick", divided in two parts (for the two sides of the original LP). The complicated lyrics were allegedly written by a boy called "Gerald Bostock" (being really written, like the music, by Ian Anderson). The boy's story is told in the cover, with this boy really being an invention from Anderson. So, this is a conceptual album from the band. As I wrote before, the lyrics are hard to understand, at least for me. But the music and the arrangements are very good. But I like more their next album, titled " A Passion Play". But the main musical theme of this album (maybe the first 10 minutes of the album) is the best part of this album, with Anderson's flute melody and acoustic guitar. This part was also played a lot in the radio in my city.

The cover design for this album was done to look like a newspaper. It was a very much elaborated cover design. Coincidentally, also in 1972, but some months after the release of this album, an album from JOHN LENNON and YOKO ONO, titled "Some Time in New York City", was released, and it also had a cover designed to look like a newspaper. But maybe the "Thick as a Brick" album had more success than that album. "Some Time in New York City" has been very much criticized by its musical and lyrical content, sometimes being considered as Lennon's worst album. In comparison, "Thick is a Brick" is a very much appreciated album by a lot of Prog Rock music fans. It still is, as I write this review, in Number Three in Prog Archives' s "Top Prog Albums" list.

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Thick As A Brick is one of those classic albums that I've just never really felt anything for, no matter how technically good it may be.

What this album knocks out of the park is the concept. If you ever find a vinyl copy of this, I'd consider it to be worth your while to pick up if not just for the sleeve; the whole "newspaper" is pretty clever, and an amusing read. That said, I don't listen to ambitious concepts. I listen to music. So how does the music on "Thick As A Brick" stack up? Honestly, pretty well. The music on here is a lot more complex than Jethro Tull's output usually is, and is probably the first (and one of the few) albums they put out that I would actually consider to be prog. The interplay in the band is really quite something. The music, while never getting very eclectic, is certainly erratic. Time and tempo changes galore, with saxophone, flute, Hammond organ and electric guitar licks all playing off one another. I wouldn't put their playing on the same pedestal as, say, Yes or Gentle Giant, but I'd say that it probably equals what Genesis was putting out around the same time in terms of technical prowess.

Of course, what good is technique if not but a means to convey and express? Like I said, the music on here is erratic, never standing still for too long. Oddly enough, though, it doesn't seem to cover much territory. The sound of the album never seems to change too much; it's either stuck in typical folky Ian Anderson "nonny-nonny"-type balladry, with a sprawling libretto of nonsense lyrics, or it develops into one of the complex, uptempo blues rock passages that the band uses to bridge Ian's vocal vignettes. And I think that that may be my main problem with the album; there's really a lot of potential for greatness here, but "Thick As A Brick" really suffers from being just a vehicle for Ian Anderson's own ambitions. Although it's probably part of the satire, the whole album just strikes me as unapproachable on any visceral level; it seems to just be prog for prog's sake.

Perhaps if Tull took the talent on display here and applied a more authentic, human creative vision (a la "Songs From The Wood", perhaps?), then I'd be among the vast swaths of people praising this album. But as it stands, I just can't really bring myself to enjoy "Thick As A Brick". Not that it's any loss not being able to get into this album - there were dozens of prog albums being put out the same year that blew it away in ambition, technique, innovation, emotion, eclecticism, or often many of these at the same time. This just happened to be one of the more famous ones. So while I wouldn't consider "Thick As A Brick" to be a bad album, I wouldn't consider it essential by any means, and there are hundreds of albums that I'd recommend over it. 3 stars.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars This is one of those albums that have been reviewed so many times that nothing new can really be said about it. So I'll keep it short. This is one of my all time favorite albums ever, but I do have several all time favorites. Just like most of the people on this site, I absolutely love this album, and I did the first time I heard it 40 years ago. I thought it was cool that it was only one long song split up into two parts, but in reality, it is several songs all glued together into one long masterful work. It is the band's best, just a bit better than "Aqualung". But unlike Aqualung, this one is more progressive. Everyone knows the story, I'm sure, that after many reviewers said that Aqualung was a concept album, Ian Anderson kept refuting that claim. So he thought he would make a real concept album just to show them what one really was, and so "Thick as a Brick" was born.

The ever changing melodies are all perfect with excellent guitar solos, addictive keyboard riffs, plenty of that signature flute and the different themes, melodies and songs flow from one to another almost seamlessly, and it is amazing how many of the parts of this huge suite are so memorable. Even with the way this album is formatted, it never gets tiring and it doesn't feel as thick as you think it would. Some people went so far as to say that it wasn't progressive enough, that it was too accessible. So in response to that, the next album "A Passion Play" was born, again it was set up the same way as this album, but so progressive that you can easily say that it is a thick album. Just because this one is more accessible, however, doesn't mean it isn't progressive, because it is. The fact that so many people love this album attests to it's brilliance, that Tull could make an album so progressive and yet be appealing to so many people.

Anyway, if you haven't heard this and become familiar with it, then you are missing out. The odds are that you will love it, but again, everyone has their opinion. To me, this is a masterpiece and is an essential album for all prog lovers.

Review by DangHeck
5 stars My relisten to this excellent and vital record has been a long time coming: long-awaited, really. I mean, I can't even tell you, but I know it's been years... For context, I'd like to note that I've never been a fan of Tull truly, but fans of classic Prog (in the very least) must recognize that when they're great, they are [or can be] excellent. Next to Thick as a Brick, in my mind, are Minstrel in the Gallery and Songs from the Wood. Prog must-hears they certainly are. Thick as a Brick in the greater context of Progressive Rock as "popular music", as it truly was popular at the front-end of the decade, is quite interesting. For Tull, it follows one of their most beloved and widely celebrated albums, Aqualung, but is also striving to be not only "the mother of all concept albums" (according to Anderson) but a timely parody of Prog Rock itself. Ironically then, history says it all: it's now considered one of the great albums of the genre (with one of the greatest and most iconic album covers of all time). Here we go!

It may have been years, but this intro to "Pt. I" is just so iconic and memorable. It's in me [I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that this is the theme of the whole piece and is repeated throughout to great effect... /s]. At the start, acoustic bits with trills of electric instrumentation; Ian sounds great and the melody is just... timeless. When minute 1 hits, more instrumentation builds in with piano and flute. It really is interesting to be able to compare this to the biggest Prog Rock album of the very early '70s. Love it. What I take for a bridge around minute 2 is just sooo tasty. A lot to love. Again, iconic. The folksy bits hereafter are a bit reminiscent of early-Hackett-era Genesis. Excellent. And then... The Bombast! So excited to be here today. Super hot organ solo starting before minute 4.... followed by a perfectly of-the-time guitar solo. Super hot. In the next section, all falls way. It's still that theme of absolute triumph. And you said, a kid wrote these poems? hahaha. Even if they did write individual parts with the intention of individual songs, certainly the so-called singular track listing (of "Pts. I" and "II") and the well-tied compositional flow of the album would tell you otherwise. Awesome, blazing section of soloing in the eighth minute. Everyone is on. The organ is once again heading us off as we arrive in and through our 12th minute. Fantastic theme. Like... if... Genesis had a baby with ELP? I'm missing some other something... GG? It's great. Who cares? In addition to all else, this section continues with instrumentation such as fiddle, which we haven't really heard before from the band. What a great element. That certainly ties their potential connection to Gentle Giant ever closer (I mean, I genuinely didn't realize how well-rounded Ian was as a musician). Impressive stuff. Another very neat shift occurs within this section around minute 15. So triumphant still, and yet again, I get calls to Genesis. Epic! Certain classical trills remind then of early Yes. Lovely lovely stuff. Required listening here and throughout.

Onto "Pt. II", it picks back up with an ambient sound of a harsh blowing wind from the end of the first side. Continuing in the general theme of the album, yet here we are in a raucous, darker place. The drums roll rapidly and the instrumentation calls a battle to mind. Much like the mini-epic "The Battle of Epping Forest" by Genesis, released a year after this. This is some intense stuff. The drums, the bass and, most notably, the force to be reckoned with, the keys are just on fire. I think here, too, this is perhaps a successful call to the intense classical efforts of early ELP. I really love when it falls away entirely to silence around 3:40. What fell away briefly picks back up and then... like I said, it was brief, it too ends as well. And we're back into the main chordal theme of the whole, but with a slightly different melody than before. The acoustic guitar is just so lovely here. As with the start of "Pt. II", this all has a noticeably darker effect. The main melodic theme comes back in here in that moody tone around minute 8. Such a great sound. I love how they're showing you can do a lot compositionally with a single theme. Just adds to the tying together of the whole epic. We are back into the thick of the apparent battle around minute 11, after that thematic section ends. This all crescendos, getting increasingly louder and more electric. The guitar and the keyboards are just perfectly matched here. In its greatest crescendo, it once again reminds of Genesis. I suppose it could have been inspired by The Musical Box and then the previously referenced but unmentioned Selling England by the Pound was perhaps then inspired by this. Just a thought. I don't really know what the consensus or general knowledge of this is. As a fan of Genesis, I have to wonder. Huge shift then around minute 18 as we return to the theme. Awesome rhythm here to end 'er all out.

I love this album so much. It's so epic, through and through. I'll definitely hope to listen to it more frequently. But it's also reminding me of my past loves. As you can see, I'm a huge fan of Genesis and they're a big big deal to me, especially for when I was initially getting deep into Prog. But like their albums, Thick as a Brick is simply vital. Grateful to make my final Jethro Tull pitstop here. So grateful. Nothing is perfect, but this is damn close!

Once I was finished, I also made sure to listen to the 16-minute interview that was available in their digital release, first available through its 25th Anniversary edition. I highly recommend it, if anyone hasn't heard it.

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