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Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.63 | 3506 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Incredible. Masterfully composed, wittily written, and, what is most important, so entertaining.

From the already elaborately explained newspaper-style cover to the piece itself, this album is tons of fun, never letting the listener lose interest in what is going on. As should be obvious, it consists of a single piece, an epic poem set to about forty-four minutes of continuous music (interrupted only by the limitations of the LP), but its preposterous length alone more nullifies than justifies the praise it is given.

Firstly, the poem is amazing, an excellent harsh and witty critique of social mediocrity, in rock music terms as if John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" was written by a very sinister Ray Davies and then extended to a whole page, or more simply, a work of Ian Anderson, who had firmly established himself as one of the "poets in rock 'n' roll" with this work. The newspaper packaging also deserves a mention for its "literariness" and wit, and makes the original LP even more worth getting.

Musically, this album (and Jethro Tull's vast opus in general) achieves what only two other bands in rock music have truly achieved (the hinted at being King Crimson and any band led by Frank Zappa,): dynamics. The band's ability to maintain the same intensity and precision while playing both loud and quiet is, to say the very least, formidable, and, coupled with distinctive articulation and disciplined agogics, very rarely seen in rock music (or even 70s progressive rock, for that matter). The composition itself is in F major, with mostly simpler chromatic modulations using folky modal harmonies, not going farther than c minor or D major. While admittedly not initially constructed as a whole, the themes and motifs presented, along with how they vary throughout the piece (and the aforementioned tonal construction) give a sense of coherence, ingenious at best, and not distracting at worst. This also leaves little space (in this album's case, none whatsoever) for instrumental plodding (something its successor would at times be found guilty of), making "Thick as a Brick" sound very accessible, but still rewarding after repeated listens.

All in all, an album showcasing Jethro Tull at their creative peak, with a brilliant composition and a strong and well-articulated message. Spoof or no spoof, this album epitomises all the good things about progressive rock (and the artistic approach to pop music in general). Hats off.

Ludjak | 5/5 |


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