24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Minstrel Returns To The Gallery!
The central supporting pillar of the great rock edifice that is Jethro Tull has always been Ian Anderson. His is a signature sound and he's one of the best lyricists in the business. Following up 'Thick As A Brick' after so many years must have been quite a challenge, but the muse has clearly gripped Mr Anderson and inspired him to deliver this wonderful album. My God,...
Published on 24 May 2012 by David Lusher
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A grower
I bought this album before going to see Ian Anderson perform both Thick as a Brick albums. The first album came back to me immediately but the second album did not seem to be as inspired. I enjoyed the concert but was not minded to listen to the album very often. A friend said that he felt the album grew on him, so I have listened a few more times and he is right, the...
Published on 4 Jun 2012 by Mr. Richard M. Hughes
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Minstrel Returns To The Gallery!,
The central supporting pillar of the great rock edifice that is Jethro Tull has always been Ian Anderson. His is a signature sound and he's one of the best lyricists in the business. Following up 'Thick As A Brick' after so many years must have been quite a challenge, but the muse has clearly gripped Mr Anderson and inspired him to deliver this wonderful album. My God, this is a good listen! It's poetic, it's rock, it's prog, it's just superb. The musicianship is, of course, first class. Having seen Tull live in recent years, I have been a bit worried about Ian's voice. But there is no hint of weakness, age, or infirmity here. His rich dulcet tones, harmonies and mischievous vocal delivery are all there. Hammond organ, piano, flute, brass, guitars both electric and acoustic, drums, bass are all here too. This is a quality suite of songs that would do justice to the original album. There are snippets of music leaping out of the speakers that pay homage to the original 'Thick As A Brick', but these are welcome passages that greet listeners of a certain age like old friends. There is never any hint of "Here we go again, the same old stuff" because these bits and bobs don't quite go over old ground, but stride out with confidence into pastures new. And the old dog is still bothering God and has added bankers to his hit list. Tull fans should celebrate this release. New fans should give it a fair hearing, and rummage through Dad's music collection to get out the original 'Thick As A Brick' album and play it with the volume turned up. Highly recommended.
138 of 146 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson - Thick As A Brick 2,
This is a hard album to judge in any objective way. If you are a newcommer it may be hard to understand and yet most people who are likely to buy the album are also likely to think it should have never been made in the first place, for several different reasons.
First of all, Jethro Tull's 1972 album Thick As A Brick is a beloved classic of the genre, that doesn't really need a sequel both because it worked on its own and because it was a deliberate send up of concept albums themselves. Besides that, the story of this sequel is about the life of the fictional writer of the previous album Gerald Bostock and not the lyrics of the actual album itself. Therefore in essence, this is more of a sequel to the album's artwork or meta-narrative than its narrative, which is a weird thought.
Secondly, this album is not released under the same Jethro Tull band-name that the previous Thick As A Brick was. This situation is almost like Roger Waters releasing The Wall 2 as a solo album, which is another weird thought, and sure to cause confusion when filing. You could find yourself thinking too much about whether you file it as an Ian Anderson album, a Jethro Tull album or under a new category called `Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson.'
Another point is "why now?" It has been so long since the first one. Ian's voice has changed so much, his playing style has changed so much and the music scene has changed so much. Surely Ian would know how defensive of the original everyone would be after this much time. No album will look good when it has to be compared to something that people have loved for decades.
Finally, Martin Barre, who has been on every single Jethro Tull album ever, except their debut, is absent. The album is called Thick As A Brick 2, but doesn't have Martin Barre on board. This is arguably the weirdest thought of all, but then Ian wrote so much himself that you can understand his decision, even if you don't agree with it.
With all those things stacked against it, some people will dismiss the album altogether and say that it should never have been made. However seeing as it actually HAS been made, the main question that people should be asking is how good is it?
In my opinion it is actually pretty good, but only if you allow yourself to get really objective about it. It in no way lives up to its predecessor, but then no one realistically expected it to. It doesn't much sound like the original at all, more like a mixture between Heavy Horses, Chateau D'isaster and Dot Com.
Tracks like `Shunt And Shuffle' are energetic and heavy, there is a mixture between tasteful moments (`A Change Of Horses'), humour and whimsical silliness (`Cosy Corner' and `Give Till It Hurts') and a lot of flute work, which is what I always like about most of Ian and Tull's work. Interestingly, the lyrics bring up A Passion Play and Locomotive Breath, make of that what you will.
Structurally, the album does not follow the same formula as the original album, specifically it isn't just one giant song from start to finish, although as it is still a concept album it does flow together a bit more than just a standard album would. 'Old School Song' actually sounds like the original album too and there are a few musical ques from the original; for example the album begins like the gap between sides one and two and the record ends with a completely unexpected reprise of the original albums `So You Ride Yourselves Over The Fields' bit, with the word `two' added on.
There are these few connections with the original, in addition to the lyrics and artwork but in all actuality most of the material, for example `Wooten Basset Town' and `Upper Sixth Loan Shark' are much more like the last two proper Jethro Tull Studio albums, Roots To Branches and the aforementioned Dot Com. If you stripped away all the Thick As A Brick elements, it'd still be one of the strongest albums with Ian on it in years. Basically, If you like Ian's newer talking-vocals and the big power chords and mid paced songs that pick up for the solos, then this is going to be right up your street.
If however you don't like Ian's solo albums or the sort of albums that Tull have been making since 1989's Rock Island, then this is definitely not going to be something that you enjoy.
Overall; if just being related to Thick As A Brick isn't enough for you, then maybe give Thick As A Brick 2 a miss. However if you do like albums like Dot Com and The Secret Language Of Birds, and if you don't feel too upset about the lack of Barre and the whole name situation, then by all means give it a shot. It is actually a pretty solid album with enough enjoyable songs to keep you interested, if you are willing to forgive its flaws.
*** If you should buy the special edition, this version is housed in a double-digipak and comes with a booklet featuring linear notes, the CD and a DVD which contains alternative mixes of the TAAB2 album (but not TAAB1 in case you were wondering.) You can pick the audio of the album in a choice of formats: DTS 5.1, Dolby AC3 5.1 or 24/48 Stereo LPCM.
Furthermore, this disc contains PDF files of the fake St Cleve site that this album uses as analogous to the original album's fake newspaper, as well as PDFs of the lyrics in various languages, a 15 minute making of video, a 15 minute interview video and a 20 minute lyric reading video in front of green screen backgrounds. Altogether, this is a neat DVD and is worth checking out if you can get the version for a reasonable price. ***
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Bets, Ian Wins,
You can tell this album has everyone talking from the number of reviews in such a short space in time. I've not rushed to share my thoughts because this piece of music takes time to settle. You need to listen and let it grow. My conclusion, and of course it's only an opinion, is that this is the best piece Ian has written since Aqualung. It is positively inspired. Most will disagree when I say it is a better, and far more varied, album than the original TAAB.
For me this work finally confirms the man as a genius. The music is complicated, it's clever, it's certainly progressive and definitely contemporary. I think the theme of 'what ifs' is a masterstroke and has given him lots of scope to work in themes close to his heart. There has been much talk of who is in the band and who is not, but in the end it really doesn't matter. These guys can play beautifully and Ian and Steven Wilson have engineered the sound perfectly.
As said by an earlier reviewer, at this stage of his life it's an album of a quality we had no right to expect. Enjoy the past, but embrace this 'present'.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars taab 2,
It was always going to be a challenge for ian anderson to surpass the excellent thick as a brick album from `72, but he does a fine job on this follow up, although it doesn`t flow like the original, the songs are strong, just wish it was a jethro tull album with martin barre.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Awesome! Buy It Now.,
After some indifferent albums over the past few years this is a must buy for any proper Tull fans, I usually can tell if Im gonna like a Tull/Anderson album after 1 or 2 listenings, and this one has got me absolutely hooked, Its certainly different but its addictive, I think there has been a few negative comments made because its a different line up than usual, Ignore them and buy this its a masterpiece.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And your wise men don't know how it feels...,
Thick as a Brick was an early purchase for me back when I was originally getting into Jethro Tull. I've read the St. Cleve Chronicle, the newspaper that the album was wrapped in, from cover to cover on more than one occasion, and the album is one of my favourites.
Over the last decade, however, I've been somewhat concerned that Ian Anderson isn't quite the performer he was back then. Age and various operations for throat problems seem to have brought up a number of songs that I couldn't really get to grips with. However, I heard a clip from this album a little while ago and it sounded pretty damn good, so I decided to give it a go. After all, Ian and company have given me plenty of good times to remember back in the day.
This, however, is not Jethro Tull. Even Martin Barre is missing from this, and he has only missed one official JT album to my knowledge. It's a bit risky, especially given what happened when Ian first tried to do a solo album, and history shows what happened with "A". Thankfully, Ian's his own boss these days, so though Jethro Tull gets a name check in the title, this is certainly not a Jethro Tull album. Having said all that, however, the musicians on this have put a lot of effort into making this sound pretty close to the original, from the obvious opening and closing bits which could have been lifted off the original second side to the instrumental arrangement which even includes a Hammond organ, all hooked up much as it was when John Evan was tickling the plastic ivories!
Just as with the original, this is all about Gerald Bostock, the fictional writer of the original lyrics, but this time we get to see what might have become of him forty years later. OK, so he isn't a poet or a painter, but he does try the life of a banker, a soldier, a chorister, an anonymous shopkeeper and a homeless person. Each persona is described before the whole story is converged and wound up.
It's all good stuff and Ian's voice isn't as strained as I've heard it get in some live performances, so it's certainly worth a listen. It compares reasonably with the original despite the difference in personnel, technique and content, and is an interesting slant on, as the song puts it, the What-ifs, Maybes and Might-Have-Beens.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious, flawed, but much to enjoy,
Nine years after the last Jethro Tull album, seven years after the last Ian Anderson solo album, we have the strange hybrid "Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson" recording a follow-up to 1972's prog rock odyssey "Thick As a Brick". If we can feel our way past the (inexplicable) absence of Tull stalwart and guitar hero Martin Barre, there's plenty to like here. The classic newspaper concept of "Thick As A Brick" is here reproduced as a news website, with a self-mocking reference to Anderson as an "ageing rock star" playing a charity gig in support of an old people's charity. Ha-ha, and indeed, ho-ho. The album is subtitled "Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock?" and follows the possible futures of the fictional child prodigy behind the original recording, offering Anderson a chance to bookend his career nicely. "Thick As A Brick" was an angry album, satirically and sardonically condemning the world of early '70s Britain with its political humbug, religious hypocrisy, military histrionics and sexual hangups. The opportunity is here for "Thick As A Brick 2" to answer, where did the children of the '70s go? What happened to them? How did it all turn out?
Musically, this is all very much in the style of late Tull (since 1995's "Roots to Branches") and Ian Anderson's solo material, albeit with the world music motifs toned down. However, a serious attempt has been made to capture the musical textures of 1972 - that's a real Hammond organ in there and the mandolin and keyboard riffs deliberately echo the original. It sounds great, with exemplary production and even some old-school stereo flourishes so beloved of the late '60s and early '70s. Although billed as a set of discrete songs, it's a coherent piece with musical motifs being built, re-visited and amplified throughout. Stylistically, it ranges from delicate acoustic balladry through spoken word meditations, oompah-pah music hall nostalgia, synth-propelled soundscapes and crunching hard rock. And when it rocks, it rocks pretty hard. A rather fey young man called Florian Opahle is on guitar duties and manages to sound for all the world like a younger, slicker Martin Barre (which would be great if a certain inspired hamfistedness wasn't part of the charm that Barre brings to later Tull recordings and live shows). David Goodier (bass) and John O'Hara (keyboards) are from Tull's current roster and Scott Hammond (drums) comes to the party from a jazz background. It's a tight, professional outfit.
But what about the tunes? Well, it's a game of two halves really. There are stretches of great, driving hard rock that will satisfy the most jaded Tull fan and insist on being heard with the amp up to 11. These are knitted together with fussy acoustic passages which, frankly, just waste everybody's time. They might be very clever and, if I was musically literate enough I might detect all sorts of intricate time signatures, sophisticated chord progressions and mysterious tunings. But I'm a simple soul and I come to Ian Anderson for a melody. He is, after all, the author of some acoustic guitar passages of ravishing loveliness (like, oh, "Reason For Waiting", "Life Is A Long Song", "Wond'ring Aloud" or "One Brown Mouse"). However, his facility for this sort of thing seems to have deserted him completely. It's funny really, because you'd think that hard rock was a young man's game and gentle melodies were something composers settled into in their older, quieter years. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. Anderson (alongside other '60s survivors like Robert Plant and Pete Townshend) can still rock like gods, but they can't compose an acoustic tune that will stay in your head any longer than it takes for the kettle to boil. Maybe it's something to do with the unabashed romanticism of youth or its lack of self-consciousness. Be that as it may, there's a definite lack of BEAUTY here which no amount of cleverness can really make up for.
In any event, this is a "concept album" so you might expect the music to be subordinated to the lyrics. The quieter passages are really opportunities to carry forward the stories of Gerald Bostock, punctuated by noisy rock-outs. So, to the lyrics then...
After a lyrically opaque preamble, we get short vignettes of two songs each, tracing the different possibilities for a middle class child like Gerald, born in 1964. Gerald's timelines divide; in one he becomes a fat cat banker, in another a homeless victim of sexual abuse, in another he's a war hero or an Anglican vicar or a humble shopkeeper. The timelines seem to converge at the end, with different versions of Gerald settling into essentially similar ruts of suburban recluse.
Now this is a great idea (although Gentle Giant did something similar in - ironically - 1972 with their prog rock concept album "Three Friends"). Unfortunately, Anderson doesn't entirely pull it off.
'Gerald the Banker', for instance, is a standard-issue fat cat nabbed by authorities in the end for cheating on his taxes. There's no subtlety in this caricature, nor any apparent awareness that the scope, influence and moral purpose of banking has been reviewed since 2008. The homeless Gerald struggles with his identity as a gay man, but tracing this to a childhood relationship with a pederast house master only flags up Anderson's discomfort with the subject: is Gerald's homosexuality a traumatic response to childhood abuse? Or was he, as Lady Gaga would say, "born this way"? The story suggests the former, which is an uncomfortable notion for many gay men struggling with very real issues of sexual identity. So, another big topic fumbled badly. Nonetheless, there's real pathos in "Adrift And Dumfounded" that makes it a worthy successor (conceptually if not musically) to "Aqualung".
'Gerald the Military Man' is another recording where Ian Anderson laments the waste of valiant youth squandered in corners of foreign fields (check out "Mountain Men" on "Crest of a Knave" for a fuller treatment). As a sub-Sassoonian view of war it's, frankly, a bit cliche and this pair of songs add little to the argument. With 'Gerald the Chorister' you'd expect Anderson to be on firmer ground since excoriating attacks on organised religion are his lyrical stock in trade. "Power And Spirit" is an interesting exploration of the psychology of faith from a not-entirely-cynical perspective. It works as a fine companion piece to "Roots To Branches". The ball gets dropped again with "Give Till It Hurts" which is a by-the-numbers satire on US-style televangelism (which seems an odd vocation for the none-more-English Gerald). Couldn't Anderson think of anything else to attack Christianity for since 1972? Not the resistance to the ordination of women or gay marriages? Not concealing child abuse or opposing birth control? It just seems a bit of a cop-out to be banging on about the collection plate in 2012.
In fact, the most successful story is 'Gerald, A Most Ordinary Man' which mixes satire with genuine tenderness and paints a complex, ambivalent picture of the morally upright but imaginatively destitute life of the market town and the suburb. The touching references to Fray Bentos pies and a life built around model railways is one of the most affecting things Anderson has written in years and it's perhaps no coincidence that the music here is the most varied, energetic and nuanced of the whole set.
The final movement brings all these stories together, somewhat incoherently, and rocks out gloriously. The coda, which closes with the familiar refrain from the original "Thick As A Brick", is inevitable, yet unfortunately showcases the lack of anything as musically simple and satisfying in this collection.
Look, if you're a Jethro Tull fan you'll have long before now come to terms with the fact that Ian Anderson's glory days are behind him and he'll never again compose anything as angry as "My God" or eccentric as "And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps" or as outright lovely as "Dun Ringill". So, with reduced expectations, there's a lot to enjoy in this collection, even if many of the conceptual possibilities have not been grasped as a lyricist of greater range or wider social concern might have done with a similar remit.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A grower,
I bought this album before going to see Ian Anderson perform both Thick as a Brick albums. The first album came back to me immediately but the second album did not seem to be as inspired. I enjoyed the concert but was not minded to listen to the album very often. A friend said that he felt the album grew on him, so I have listened a few more times and he is right, the album really is a grower.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's in a name?,
I wonder if Ian Anderson will come to regret opting for "Thick As A Brick 2" as the main title for this release? It simply invites comparison with Thick As A Brick. And, let's face it, how many sequel books have you read or sequel films have you seen which capture the originality and excitement of their predecessors? Personally, I would prefer it if Ian had just called it "Whatever happened to Gerald Bostock?" This, I think, would have been a fairer reflection of what this album represents, namely a consideration of the what-ifs, maybes and might have beens of life as seen through the fictional author of the Thick As A Brick poem, forty years on. And so it is important to understand what to expect from TAAB2. It is, after all, an Ian Anderson, NOT a Jethro Tull, release. It could so easily have been a Tull album but Anderson has opted to market himself as "Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson". This, coupled with the absence from this project of stalwart Tull guitarist, Martin Barre, suggests that we may already have enjoyed our last Jethro Tull album. In recognition of Barre's contribution to Tull over more than 40 years, it seems as though both are being allowed to trade on the Tull name whilst going their separate ways (look out for "Martin Barre's A New Day" playing the music of Jethro Tull in concert and possibly on future releases).
Anyone familiar with Ian Anderson's solo work will recognise the musical style of TAAB2. The characteristic blend of acoustic guitar, flute and piano accordion. Here though it is supplemented with some searing electric guitar and hammond organ lines, a la 1972, which should satisfy ardent Tull rockers. There are musical references to TAAB 1 throughout but in no way is this intended to be a remake (no Tubular Bells II here). It purports to be another continuous piece of music but in truth is more of a suite of 17 separate pieces, linked together. This will satisfy the digital downloaders, who can pick and choose their favourite sections if the whole does not appeal. If you have seen IA in concert in the last couple of years, you'll probably have heard Adrift and Dumbfounded and A Change of Horses already. Lyrically, there are references to several of Tull's key works. This is very much the Ian Anderson of today reflecting on the Jethro Tull of the past.
That Ian Anderson had the inspiration and inclination to make this album, at a time when most ordinary folk are contemplating pipe and slippers, is something for which we should be eternally grateful. If you are expecting 'son of Thick As A Brick', you will be disappointed. Come to this with an open mind and an open heart and your investment will be well rewarded. Perhaps, through it all, Anderson is challenging us to remember that he himself could have gone in a different direction. What if he had chosen a different path and not gone into music in the first place? We would have neither TAAB nor TAAB2. As it is, we have both. I, for one, am very grateful.
If you are inquisitive to know something of what goes on in the making of an album like this, the DVD is worth the additional cost.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best since Crest of a Knave,
Although released under the flag of Ian Anderson and no other Tull members are involved (nor mentioned in the booklet, not even in the thanks to department), this is classic Jethro Tull from start to finish. It may not be on par with Aqualung, Thick as a Brick or A Passion Play, it's far better than anything Ian Anderson has released since Crest of a Knave. Solid retro prog with memorable melodies with a rocky edge thrown in now and then. Good singing from Anderson and loads of flute as well. As an old school Tull addict, I would have loved to hear the mighty Martin Barre on this album, but to be honest: I don't really miss his guitar work on this cd.
The album title is maybe a little misleading. Musically there are some hints of the original Thick as a Brick album, but the connection between that classic and this piece is more lyrically. This doesn't change the fact that I highly recommend this cd to all fans of classic Tull or 70's prog.
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