‘Thick as a Brick 2’: Ian Anderson revisits Jethro Tull album
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Have you, in the four decades since progressive rock band Jethro Tull released the concept album ‘Thick as a Brick’ in 1972, ever wondered, ‘What ever happened to little Gerald Bostock?’ Do you like flute with your rock & roll? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you’ll be interested to know that on April 3, 2012, Ian Anderson, the founder, lead flutist and singer for Tull, will be releasing a sequel to ‘Thick as a Brick’ called ‘Thick as a Brick 2.’
The release, which comes out as a combination CD/DVD package on EMI Records, sees Anderson revisiting the fictitious protagonist of the original work, Gerald Bostock, who was 10 years old at the time. Now 50, Bostock and other characters on ‘TAAB2’ are fleshed out by examining, according to Anderson, ‘the myriad of chance possibilities at every turn’ in a person’s life.
‘As we baby boomers look back on our own lives,’ writes Anderson in the liner notes, ‘we must often feel an occasional ‘what if’ moment. Might we, like Gerald, have become instead preacher, soldier, down-and-out, shopkeeper or finance tycoon?’ (What if Anderson had taken up bagpipes instead of flute?)
The packaging of the sequel updates the visual conceit of the original ‘Thick as a Brick’ too. When it was released in ‘72, the album arrived within a parody newspaper called the St. Cleve Chronicle. Forty years later, the CD arrives with a double-disc sleeve mimicking a website called www.stcleve.com, along with parody blog posts.
How does it sound? Suffice to say that unlike Bostock and the packaging, Anderson hasn’t time-traveled his aesthetic into the present. There’s not one synthetic beat, hip-hop break, dubstep bass-drop or, in fact, any mechanized sounds at all. There is flute. There is acoustic guitar. There are keyboards, piano, a glockenspiel, a fluegelhorn and many other instruments from centuries past, but nary a sample or digital effect.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
-- Randall Roberts