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Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

4.63 | 3237 ratings

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5 stars The last thing this essential album needs is yet ANOTHER review on this site! But, I love this album so much that I cannot resist presenting a few of my observations and feelings about it. It would take me weeks to write a proper review - such are my deep feelings and thoughts conccerning TAAB. So, I apologize if I'm unable to be more concise and clear, but hopefuly I'll get some of my points across. If not, you can label me as thick as a brick, or as dumb as a crumb (when discussing this album with people in the past, I've found that a lot of US residents aren't familiar with the UK meaning of the word 'thick' which is synonymous with unintelligent or 'not the sharpest crayon in the box').

It's widely reported that this album is Ian's parodic volley to the claims that 'Aqualung' was a concept album, so consider this - the album comes wrapped like a serving of fish and chips in the one thing society throws away every day, a newspaper, something to be consumed and disposed of. HA! That symbolic metaphor has always slayed me, even moreso 36 years on, since this work of art has already proved to have strong lasting power.

Now, let's also consider this - if 'Aqualung' was supposedly not a concept album, and 'Thick As A Brick' is clearly a concept album (regardless of whether it's meant as a parody of the genre), the two are so similar in their lyrical themes that Ian (purposely?) contradicts himself by making TAAB an outright justification that, indeed, Aqualung WAS a concept album. At the risk of making this a double review of both albums, I submit the following idea - side 1 of 'Aqualung' focuses on the downtrodden and the outsiders either looking for or in need of salvation (a la mode and a cup of tea), while side 2 focuses on the salvation offered by organized religion in contrast to the salvation of a true spirituality. A line from 'Wind Up' states ''I'd rather look around me, compose a better song, 'cause that's the honest measure of my worth''. On TAAB, Ian seems to be saying that THIS is the song he's speaking of with the line ''Let me make you a present of song''. Couple this idea to another line from TAAB - ''Let me sing of the losers who lie in the street as the last bus goes by. That sure sounds like he's speaking of the homeless Aqualung to me, and I can't help but feel that both albums belong together - I could stretch it to even include 'A Passion Play' to form something that's more triptych than trilogy (with Aqualung as the center panel), but I'm trying to stay focused on TAAB. So, in keeping with the scattered layout of my review, I'll refer back to the title track of 'Aqualung', which is in fact three songs rolled into one (a 'concept song'? heh!), and similarly, 'Thick As A Brick' is also three songs rolled into one (could this possibly be why he really doesn't mind if you sit this one out? - wink wink nudge nudge? - ha!), divided by two sides, and who knows - everything probably all adds up to pi anyway.

Next, let's look closely at the content of the 'newspaper' - it's intensely self-referential, which on the surface seems to have nothing to do with anything at all, just a bunch of nonsensical made-up characters, but the deeper you delve into it's own little world, the more it seems to be about the whole great wide world. Gerald Bostock (HA!), the 'poet'/'child prodigy' is front page news where he is nicknamed ''Little Milton'', which I see as a reference to Milton/Paradise Lost as well as Little Milton the blues singer, both social-commentators in their own way. The song is supposed to be based on his poem, which is printed in full in the newspaper, which also contains of a review of the album, which is based on the poem, which contains names that are also mentioned in the news articles. Pop (culture) will eat itself indeed.

Musically, the album also follows this theme of the cycle of consuming to disposing, and it regurgitates and recycles itself seamlessly. Not to be rude, but those that only hear repetition are really missing the point. It's one of those things that's incredibly complex and super-simple at the same time. And isn't that an element that qualifies certain art as 'profound'?? This album is beyond 5 stars, in fact it is one of the greatest artistic expressions of the human condition ever created, right up there with the Bible - which coincidentally was being reprinted in the 20th century in a 'layman-friendly' version, where the words were simplified for those that couldn't get with all the begats and thees and thous not to mention - eth at the end of every other word - the paperback cover looked quite like the cover of 'Thick As A Brick' with it's newsprint-style and it was even retitled as TODAY'S NEWS/The Living Word. Have I gone too far?? (hee hee) - ehh, you can take my review with a grain of salt or ignore it completely as the ravings of a loon - either way, this album stirs me up, provokes my mind to stimulate things I might not have thought about otherwise. That the album is soaked in a rich sense of humor is just icing on the cake. I've been listening to it consistently since I first bought it 28 years ago and it remains as fresh as tomorrow's newspaper.

classicalgasp | 5/5 |


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