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4.0 out of 5 stars Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson - Thick As A Brick 2, 2 April 2012
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This review is from: Thick As A Brick 2 (Audio CD)
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. ***
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Apr 2012 15:20:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2012 15:20:51 BDT
Lee Lucas says:
I very much like this review, everything about it seems just about right. I intend to get this album this week and I was under the impression that is comes with a 5.1 recording of TAAB 1. Well I was until I just read some more info on it. I do hope it comes with this and not a 5.1 of TAAB 2 instead. I was wondering if you could confirm what it comes with. Because my main reason for getting this particular release was down to the fact that it came with a 5.1 mix of the original 1972 album, which to me is bound to be more worthy that any sequel could possibly be.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Apr 2012 15:54:48 BDT
Thanks for the kind words.

In answer to your question:
My copy, the digipak edtion comes with a booklet with linear notes a cd, and a DVD with PDFs of the fake St Cleve site, 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 greenscreen backgrounds.

Unless I'm using the disc wrong, The 5.1 mixes on my copy are only of TAAB2... so no TAAB1 unfortunately. Regarding TAAB2's 5.1 mixes, you can pick DTS 5.1 or Dolby AC3 5.1... or also 24/48 Stereo LPCM.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Apr 2012 16:22:19 BDT
5.1 mix of TAAB1 will be released later this year

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Apr 2012 16:38:49 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2012 16:39:21 BDT
Lee Lucas says:
Thanks very much for that speedy reply. This is a shame, but I think I still will purchase this having listened to the samples on the Tull website. It's sounds very good and quite acoustic to be honest. Even Ian's voice sounded better for some reason on them samples, to which he has really struggled with since the release of Crest of a Knave back in 1985.

His later albums are nowhere the class of the 70's stuff, that's for sure. I have them all and the line up of the band in the 70's were by far the best. Albums like Roots to branches and .COM are mediocre and far from solid albums. Like those back in the 70's. They are not even as good as Stormwatch, Broadsword & The Beast and Crest of a Knave to which I class as good albums. but not class like the ones that came before it.

Thick As A Brick as always been my favourite album by Tull, it's the only one that is progressive and it's pure class. It's very hard to pick a favourite album from this decade of Tull albums because they were all class from say Stand Up in 69 to Heavy Horses in 78. Every one of them albums were class. Stormwatch to me was the first time I seen a loop hole in the bands writing and class.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Apr 2012 16:43:56 BDT
Lee Lucas says:
Wow that sounds great. Thanks for that news.

Posted on 2 Apr 2012 17:49:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2012 17:51:02 BDT
Its worth a shot, but I wouldn't hold out too much hope if you really don't enjoy .COM all that much. Its a bit more eclectic and there's more acoustic moments, but with Ian's current voice and guitar style they're kind of in the same ball park.

Posted on 4 Apr 2012 08:28:27 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 4 Apr 2012 08:31:36 BDT]

Posted on 4 Apr 2012 14:01:55 BDT
This is a top review,describing the mix between Heavy Horses,Chateau and Dot Com is pretty much what I hear, plus a smothering of a new 'quite punchy' sound (Thanks to Steve Wilson) which gives it an updated edge! I love this album! Brilliant.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2012 16:28:00 BDT
Lee Lucas says:
I oredred it from here yesterday, cannot wait for it to arrive, so I can give it a blast. Looking forward to the 5.1 version very much.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2012 18:35:57 BDT
Ha, nice to see I'm not just hearing things. Cheers man.
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