Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ian Anderson's Thick As A Brick 2 review

 Ian Anderson - Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock?
Ian Anderson
Thick As A Brick 2
Rating: *** 1/2

Forty years have passed since Jethro Tull released their classic album, Thick as a Brick. In celebration of its fortieth anniversary, Tull’s leader Ian Anderson has decided to release an unexpected sequel to the 1972 album. The album, Thick as a Brick 2, is nowhere near as good as the original album. Still, it’s a solid effort from Anderson and manages to be a good album.

In 1972, Jethro Tull released their fifth album Thick as a Brick. The album consisted of one song only, split into two parts. The album followed the concept around a boy named Gerald Bostock, who is disqualified from a poetry competition as his poem is deemed inappropriate. The poem is performed by Jethro Tull for their new album of the same name. Thick as a Brick had original been written by Anderson as a response to the critics who thought Aqualung was a concept album. Anderson’s idea was to make Brick the “mother of all concept albums”. As for why Anderson decided to release the sequel as a solo album (his fourth solo effort), Anderson has his reasons (which you should probably look up and read for yourself. He’d explain it better than me!). The most obvious reason why Thick as a Brick 2 isn’t a Tull album is because there are no members from Jethro Tull on it (even long time guitarist Martin Barre).

The concept for Thick as a Brick 2 is pretty clever: the album asks the question “Whatever happened to Gerald Bostock?” No one knows…but Anderson has a few ideas. Unlike the original album, Brick 2 consists of 17 tracks. The tracks are split into nine parts, all of which predict what might’ve happened to Gerald Bostock. Bostock could be a banker, homeless, a soldier, a chorister, or an ordinary man.

“From A Pebble Thrown”, along with “Pebbles Instrumental”, serves as the introduction to the album. Anderson might be using the idea of throwing pebbles as the parallel universes of Gerald Bostock. When a pebble is thrown in a body of water, there are ripples. Perhaps each ripple is a different path Gerald has taken. Whatever the case may be, both tracks are great and are not too far away from the Tull sound. “Banker Bets, Banker Wins” explores the idea of Gerald as a banker. As a song, “Banker Bets, Banker Wins” is a real “blast from the past” sounding track. The droning of the keyboards, the guitar playing, and the stomping beat really make this song stand out. “

Swing It Far” and “Adrift and Dumfounded” ponder the idea of Gerald as a homeless person. Of the two tracks, “Adrift and Dumfounded” is the stronger one. The blend of acoustic guitars with keyboards on this one is just amazing. Also, the instrumental section is quite impressive. “Old School Song” and “Wootton Bassett Town” deal with Gerald as a soldier. “Old School Song” is probably my personal favorite song off the album. If you are a fan of the original album, you may notice that the entire song relies on the 12:30 mark of the first part of the original. Also, the song is quite catchy. The weakest of the parallels is probably the one with Gerald as a chorister. Still, I think “Give Till It Hurts” is quite funny. Other highlights include the aggressive “Shunt and Shuffle”, the eight minute epic “A Change of Horses”, and “Kismet in Suburbia”.

If you’re a fan of Jethro Tull and/or Ian Anderson, Thick as a Brick 2 is worth picking up. It’s different from the original album, that’s for sure. Still, it manages to be an enjoyable album. The way I see it, sequel albums are usually not very good. I would consider Thick as a Brick 2 as one of the stronger ones.

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