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Thick as a Brick: Overrated on Progarchives

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dougmcauliffe View Drop Down
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    Posted: July 11 2019 at 21:01
mini rant here

I will never understand why this album is so highly rated, its ranked at number 3. That means that its supposed to be better than Wish you were Here, Court of the Crimson King, Foxtrot, Animals, Red, Pawn Hearts, and several other legendary prog albums. Its not a bad album or anything but to me its not even in the same league as most the top 50. Every other album in we'll say the top 20, has awesome soaring highs. TAAB is filled with several forced transitions and I just cant fathom how it could be top 3. 4 Star album

Please tell me i'm not alone in this

Since i'm speaking of this, I'll also throw in that I think Moving Pictures is overrated on PA, certainly not better than Hemispheres or Farewell to Kings. Side one is very very good, but side two is mostly quite dull specifically the last two tracks.


Edited by dougmcauliffe - July 11 2019 at 21:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote AFlowerKingCrimson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 21:05
Because for a single track that is 45 minutes long or whatever it is it flows really well with no boring parts(unless you consider drum solos boring). 
Yes is for Rush fans who grew up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Snicolette Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 21:12
I agree, with you, Mike.  Also, being there, in it's time, arguably there had been other LP length pieces, joined together in other ways...but in it's scope of poetry, imagery, musicianship, the concept in and of itself and slightly taking itself in a humourous pose.....and then,  in it's live performance as well, it well deserves it's place in progressive music history and, I would argue, it's position in these archives.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dougmcauliffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 21:21
Originally posted by AFlowerKingCrimson AFlowerKingCrimson wrote:

Because for a single track that is 45 minutes long or whatever it is it flows really well with no boring parts(unless you consider drum solos boring). 

I agree, its never boring, but I just don't think it reaches the highs of the albums around it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fischman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 21:23
Not only is Thicka as a Brick not overrated, Moving Pictured most definitely overrated. Side two is fantastic!   The Camera Eye is one of Rush's greatest songs ever that ties its both its epic length and metaphors together with great dexterity and brilliance, both musically and lyrically. WItch Hunt, while musically rather simple by Rush standards, may be their most effective mood creator ever, along with being the single greatest lyrical exposition of the the nexus of fear and religion ever recorded. I was originally not a big fan of Vital Signs, but it's really grown on me over the years.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Dark Elf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 21:50
I guess you had to be there. Obviously, you weren't.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote twosteves Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 21:55
I like the album a lot even though I'm not a huge Jethro Tull fan-- but think it is overrated. There is a monotony to it but I still listen to it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cstack3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 22:02
Originally posted by dougmcauliffe dougmcauliffe wrote:

mini rant here

I will never understand why this album is so highly rated, its ranked at number 3. That means that its supposed to be better than Wish you were Here, Court of the Crimson King, Foxtrot, Animals, Red, Pawn Hearts, and several other legendary prog albums. 

I hadn't realized that and I can agree with you.  It is a fine LP from a band that was on fire in that time period (I saw them on the TAAB tour, with Glenn Cornick's excellent band "Wild Turkey" opening), and they were fantastic!  Given that, I don't exactly understand how the rating system at PA works, so I just shrug when I read that stuff.  We each have our own personal ratings system & mental list, which is one reason why I enjoy participating on this website so much. 

Thanks for your post, Doug! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote uduwudu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 22:55
Originally posted by The Dark Elf The Dark Elf wrote:

I guess you had to be there. Obviously, you weren't.


If you had to have been contemporary to Brick's release to feel the effect then it is truly transitory pop music and has had it's day.

Mind you I don't agree with that. It's a great idea - to me a little laboured in the 2nd half aka side 2.

It's style has been and gone but the related ideas that do move along in the first half, the energy of the performance, lyrical wit and tunes still resonate.

I remember reading a long time ago some of the reviews - paraphrased into - couldn't find a chick in 1972 and listening to this got me through this so therefore it's great. Gott in himmel. This put me off reading these conflated emotions aka reviews. Lucky I like the thing.

It's just the same as the "my first real record bought with my very own money when I was ever so little so it's great" type notions.

Maybe just knock a star off these reviews and you get more accurate rating.

I've no problem with this or Moving Pictures either. Actually it was the prog epic Camera Eye I thought lost a little tension after it built up so I give the album maybe 4  - 4.5 stars. Witch Hunt and Vital Signs I always thought were very original and had a lot to say. And they don't get stuck in playing white person rock. Not all the time anyway.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Progosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 23:22
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

Originally posted by dougmcauliffe dougmcauliffe wrote:

mini rant here

I will never understand why this album is so highly rated, its ranked at number 3. That means that its supposed to be better than Wish you were Here, Court of the Crimson King, Foxtrot, Animals, Red, Pawn Hearts, and several other legendary prog albums. 

I hadn't realized that and I can agree with you.  It is a fine LP from a band that was on fire in that time period (I saw them on the TAAB tour, with Glenn Cornick's excellent band "Wild Turkey" opening), and they were fantastic!  Given that, I don't exactly understand how the rating system at PA works, so I just shrug when I read that stuff.  We each have our own personal ratings system & mental list, which is one reason why I enjoy participating on this website so much. 

Thanks for your post, Doug! 
 
As I understand the rating system it is a combination of the number of stars as well as the number of ratings. Also, ratings by themselves are given a lower score than ratings that correspond with reviews. Here is the link: http://www.progarchives.com/top-prog-albums.asp?salbumtypes=1. Or use the Top Prog Albums link on the home page. All of the top five albums have well over 3,000 ratings and are all within 0.04 points of one another. That is not a big point spread! The top list does not correspond to my own preferences. For example, I much prefer Relayer (#20) to Close to the Edge (#1), while Foxtrot (#6) is my least favorite PG era Genesis, Supper's Ready notwithstanding. Jade Warrior's Last Autumn's Dream is in my top ten easily, yet is not even in the top 100 or anywhere near it. These ratings do not reflect the tastes of any one individual, but are rather a kind of average. Nobody should ever dictate what another listen to or enjoy - that is up to each one of us. And yes, I find a lot of peculiarities in the top 100, but then I am not every progger on the planet.
The world of sound is certainly capable of infinite variety and, were our sense developed, of infinite extensions. -- George Santayana, "The Sense of Beauty"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richardh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2019 at 23:55
and while we are at it I would throw in Dark Side of The Moon and In The Court Of The Crimson King.

Thing is though that these and the ones previously mentioned are significant in the history of prog so get a slightly bigger rating than maybe they deserve. However I would take issue with the idea that Moving Pictures is below Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres. Those are very different animals. Rush re-invented themselves in the 80's with Permanent Waves and not many bands can do that and retain artistic integrity. Tom Sawyer , YYZ , Red Barchetta and Limelight are all fantastic tracks while the rest are not bad. If the argument was that overall Permanent Waves is a better more consistent album than MV then I might have gone with that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sean Trane Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2019 at 02:23
Originally posted by dougmcauliffe dougmcauliffe wrote:

Originally posted by AFlowerKingCrimson AFlowerKingCrimson wrote:

Because for a single track that is 45 minutes long or whatever it is it flows really well with no boring parts(unless you consider drum solos boring). 
I agree, its never boring, but I just don't think it reaches the highs of the albums around it.
Not only is TAAB under-rated, but it should be #1 on this siteTongue
Originally posted by The Dark Elf The Dark Elf wrote:

I guess you had to be there. Obviously, you weren't.
 
Well, too young to buy it at its release, but it was my second or third exposition to Tull
 
Stand Up, my dad had bought it on the strength of Bourée at the time of release, but this toddler dug the hole thing already at age 6.
 
I can't remember for sure whether I bought Aqualung or Brick first at age 11, but Brick certainly played a big part in my learning English, along with Supertramp's Crime of the Century (my first album bought ever), and my English teacher having us read Sgt Pepper's lyrics.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote someone_else Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2019 at 03:03
I wouldn't call Thick as a Brick overrated. I would rate four of the six albums you mention by name lower than Thick as a Brick. In one or two cases I'd have to round up a bit to come to four stars. Thick as a Brick is a classic in the prog catalog and it takes a more or less appropriate place in the ranking.

Moving Pictures is one of the twin peaks in the catalog of Rush (the other being Hemispheres; Permanent Waves is a good third). The first two tracks on side 2 belong to their best works.

The rating system (a weight of 20 for a review by a collab, 10 for a review by a non-collab, 1 for rating only) is OK. The ranking may be a bit crappy since the QWR system mixes things up a bit due to dependencies: the ratings of other albums in the list influence the Query Weighted Rating value of an album.


Edited by someone_else - July 12 2019 at 03:05
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Frenetic Zetetic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2019 at 05:42
I've grown to appreciate this record more and more as time goes on. Perhaps as I get older I ease up on my tolerance for the folkier side of prog, despite really enjoying when YES delves into said territories (of Topographic exploration! Cool).

What I think it really comes down to, as others have stated, is it's a single 45 minute piece that flows pretty darn well. CTTE is 17-18 minutes...but this is 45! By this logic TFTGO should be the winner due to running time, but obviously we have subjected preference over the quality of those two very different recordings!

With the above in mind - I think it's the simplicity and artistry that keeps many holding it at #3/#100. I absolutely prefer stuff like Godbluff (and VDGG in general to Tull), but I'm not surprised by the reasoning it's probably held so high even here in the middle of 2019 (which is, what, 48 years out from said album's release?!).


Edited by Frenetic Zetetic - July 12 2019 at 05:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Logan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2019 at 06:23
I have found it interesting how at the Rate Your Music chart, using progressive rock as a filter, Thick as a Brick is at number 14 and three Can albums are in the top 10. As someone posted in Prog Archive's forum, RYM tends to appeal to hipsters. At PA, not only do no Can albums appear in the top 250 "all categories" albums chart, but neither does any Krautrock (the PA chart seems rather too "vanilla" to me to be of much personal interest). I personally like how Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom makes the top 20 at Rate Your Music (that could be my number one album), and Soft Machine's Third, Faust's IV and two Neu! albums make RYM's top 30. My tastes are not very conventional by Prog standards. I'm not big on much symphonic prog (I hardly ever listen to Genesis or Yes), my favourite Pink Floyd albums tend to be pre-Dark Side of the Moon, and regarding Rush, while I liked the band as a teenager, I haven't really been into it since (a Rush-head friend got me into it then put me off it). My favourite album in PA's top 20 is Pawn Hearts, and seeing Wobbler in the top 20 looks weird to me (a 2017 album up against all those classics sticks out like sore thumb to me, and I haven't heard it in full so I can't judge the music for myself).

While I do believe that one can objectively say that individuals have made claims which demonstrate that individuals have overrated and underrated things, and I don't think it's all subjective when it comes to music (for instance, one can rate performance -- if, for instance, you ask a 3 year old beginner pianist to play Ligeti's "Devil's Staircase", they could not pull it off as well as a professional, trained concert pianist with bigger hands and a much bigger hand stretch), I tend to find the whole underrated/ overrated thing a bit silly when it comes to music and art. It really tends to just come down to "others don't like something the same as I do" and quite rarely is a really good argument being presented to demonstrate that others got it wrong and you got it right. If one tries to objectively make such a claim, then I'd say that the burden of proof falls on that person.

As was said earlier, every person would have their own lists, and other than curiosity, I tend not to put much stock on top lists. To each his or her own tastes. Besides, it's not really a straight-forward, simple algorithm that generates the list.

"I will never understand why this album is so highly rated, its ranked at number 3. That means that its supposed to be better than Wish you were Here, Court of the Crimson King, Foxtrot, Animals, Red, Pawn Hearts, and several other legendary prog albums...."

Never say never, as the saying goes. I don't take that to mean that it's supposed to be better, that's your inference, I merely take it to mean that it's ranked higher due to a combination of factors (which includes the algorithm used to determine rank -- change the algorithm and the rankings will be altered). There's little in it for those at the top, and little tweaks would change the order.

My personal list would be very different from the top 250 albums at PA. I don't think people are wrong to enjoy Thick as Brick more than I do anymore than I think it's wrong for some people not to enjoy the RIO, Canterbury, Zeuhl, Acid Folk, Krautrock, Progressive Electronic and Indo-Prog/ Raga Rock "sub-genres" as much as I do. If I believed that my tastes represented some kind of greater objective reality, then I would think that Close to the Edge is highly overrated. That album has never personally struck me as "great". I see that user "unfriendly" gave Thick as a Brick, Close to the Edge, and Foxtrot a one star rating, and user "nevermore" gave Foxtrot, Wish You Were Here, Close to the Edge, Thick as a Brick and Selling England by the Pound one star ratings, which strikes me as "off". Shame there are no reviews by said users to go along with them.

Perhaps I'd give Thick as Brick maybe a 3 or 3.5 right now based on memory. It's not an album that I was ever wowed by, but it's been decades since I last listened to it in full (I used to find it a slog, though I loved parts of it) and so I wouldn't consider rating it for the site without listening to it in full again. My favourite Jethro Tull may be Stand Up, which would get 4 stars from me, but still wouldn't crack my personal top 250 albums (and I still like Jethro Tull, but just rarely gets listened to at all as I'm more into other music).

Edited by Logan - July 12 2019 at 06:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sean Trane Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2019 at 07:07
Originally posted by Logan Logan wrote:



Perhaps I'd give Thick as Brick maybe a 3 or 3.5 right now based on memory. It's not an album that I was ever wowed by, but it's been decades since I last listened to it in full (I used to find it a slog, though I loved parts of it) and so I wouldn't consider rating it for the site without listening to it in full again. My favourite Jethro Tull may be Stand Up, which would get 4 stars from me, but still wouldn't crack my personal top 250 albums (and I still like Jethro Tull, but just rarely gets listened to at all as I'm more into other music).
 
If you do give it another spin, please do it doing nothing else but reading the lyrics as the Mad Flauter is singing them. The whole concept is quite important to get the full essence of the album... Of course the whole newspaper is part of the concept, with almost everything having to do with the story of the album... and when not, it's incredibly Python-esque  (the sport crossing croquet and rugby coming with full league standings) ... Even the small adds are answering each other in a hilarious fashion... Of course,; ut's one of those album that really needs the vinyl-size artwork to be &able to enjoy it at the fullest
 
 
Rarely have lyrics and vocals had so important a role as a social criticism  - and not only in my life - and I view this as just as deep as Floyd/Waters lyrics, wxith the added twist of humour.
 
this needs 120% attention.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Manuel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2019 at 07:35
I guess it all depends on personally taste. For me, Thick as a Brick is rated very high, even more than Close to the Edge, but again, it's only my opinion.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Logan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2019 at 07:40
^ If I listen again any time soon, I will try to follow your advice. I hadn't paid much attention to the lyrics, nor given the cover great attention (originally I was listening to it on vinyl). Tull is something that I would like to return to more. As a teenager, Aqualung was one of my very favourite albums.

I do love Waters lyrics, by the way, and to digress, I rate The Wall much higher than many here despite mostly listening to pre-Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd these days (Pink Floyd was my favourite band for many years).
"You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit the views" (Doctor Who - "The Face of Evil" 1977).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Blacksword Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2019 at 08:18
Never been a huge fan of Tull, so you'd be asking the wrong person. I do like TAAB, and I don't like the term overated, but it's not a favourite of mine.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote octopus-4 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2019 at 08:29
I'm one of those who thinks that TAAB is good but overrated. I think it has some fillers and it would have been a great 30 minutes epic. I suppose it's because of the vynil limitations, but I don't perceive it a s a masterpiece. It' my own opinion, but I think Aqualung is their best adn it's the JT album that I listen to more often.
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