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"...St. Cleve Chronicle..." - Thick As A Brick: The Steven Wilson 2012 Stereo Remix by JETHRO TULL (2015 Chrysalis 1CD Reissue)
on 26 March 2018
For those of us who can't afford or won't pay the price for the now deleted and suddenly extortionate "40th Anniversary Edition" BOX SET from 6 Nov 2012 - there's now this simpler yet beautifully presented June 2015 single-CD reissue of Tull’s 1972 epic "Thick As A Brick". It comes resplendent with 'The 2012 Steven Wilson Stereo Remix' and a big old chunky 24-page booklet. And at under six quid – isn't a rip-off either.
Riding on the shirt tales of 1971's hugely popular "Aqualung" and although heavyweights like Lester Bangs mauled the new 1972 album - Tull's "Thick As A Brick" took the charts by storm on both sides of the Atlantic (especially America) – No. 5 in the UK and an astonishing No. 1 in the USA. Speaking of critically controversial yet commercially successful records - when you think that Yes then put a triple-live-set “Yessongs” and a double-studio album of four full-length sides "Tales From Topographic Oceans" ‘both’ at Number 1 in Blighty in May and December of 1973 – 1972 and 1973 really were the Progressive Rock years - whether the Press liked it or not. We (Joe Public) certainly did.
But in the cold light of 2018 – does a 44-minute piece of Rock Music from 1972 still stand up (if you’ll forgive the pun)? Well with this sparkly new sprinkle of remaster fairy dust from the Wilson Prog-meister – you'd have to say that Little Milton's Girl Pregnancy Row is in fine fettle. Let's unfold the newspaper and find out if an 'On-Form Eileen' really has 'pulled them out'...
UK released 29 June 2015 - "Thick As A Brick: The Steven Wilson 2012 Stereo Remix" by JETHRO TULL on Chrysalis 0825646146468 (Barcode 0825646146468) is a straightforward 2-Track Single CD Reissue of the 1973 album that plays out as follows (43:44 minutes):
1. Thick As A Brick (Part 1) [Side 1] – 22:39 minutes
2. Thick As A Brick (Part 2) [Side 2] – 21:05 minutes
Tracks 1 and 2 are their fifth studio album "Thick As A Brick" - released 10 March 1972 in the UK on Chrysalis CHR 1003 and 10 May 1972 in the USA on Reprise MS 2072. Written and Produced by IAN ANDERSON - the album peaked at No. 5 in the UK and No.1 in the USA.
JETHRO TULL was:
IAN ANDERSON - Lead Vocals. Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Violin, Saxophone and Trumpet
MARTIN BARRE - Electric Guitar and Lute
JOHN EVAN – Organ, Piano and Harpsichord
JEFFREY HAMMOND-HAMMOND - Bass and Vocals
BARRIMORE BARLOW - Drums, Timpani and Percussion
David Palmer arranged the String Section towards the End of Side 2
The 7 Jan 1972 foldout newspaper sleeve gimmick of the original vinyl album supposedly penned by an 8-year old child prodigy called Gerald Bostock (smug winner of a school poetry competition) is discussed in the booklet. The entire 12-page edition legendarily took longer to create than the album to record and came complete with a crossword, fake advertisements, bowling and fishing news etc - all written tongue-in-cheek by band members Ian Anderson, Jeffrey Hammond and John Evan (if you want the entire contents of the 'St. Cleve Chronicle & Linwell Advertiser' edition you can access it at jethrotull.com/taab-booklet). The 'Late Extra' square that was used to announce the contents of the new CD Remaster has rightly been replaced with the original 'UFO Sighting Sensation' paragraphs to the right of the album sleeve in the new booklet (although the JETHRO TULL Title is gone for some reason). Judges disqualify Little Milton In Last Minute Rumpus...it's all there.
DOM LAWSON has his ‘Full Story?’ liner notes for the 2012 '40th Anniversary Edition' Box set reproduced and original album Engineer ROBIN BLACK has Page 22 on the intricacies of the recording – speed mistakes on the tapes that had to be fixed and mentions GEORGE PECKHAM who mastered the album at Apple Studios in January 1972. The lads in trench-coats looking slightly seedy, then bare-chested in a hotel room with some semi-naked lassie on the phone (what was that about) and one of Ian giving it his one-legged pose as he plays live. It's comprehensive stuff - although funny enough this would be one occasion when I feel the booklet would have benefitted from the lyrics - but they're available online. The CD colouring reflects the original British Chrysalis Records label and there's a set of band-member photos from the period beneath the see-through CD tray.
But the big news over previous editions is the new 2012 STEVE WILSON Remix and Remaster which is beautifully clear and full of life (none of your 'Special Edition' edits on this reissue). The Clarity is obvious and like his work on 1971's "Aqualung" Wilson seems to have removed a haze from the original sound that was muddying up the listen. Around 10:55 when JT start that Organ vs. Saxophone passage - the kick is fantastic and it's like that throughout. To the music...
When that keyboard Prog March starts at about 11:50 – I'm transported back to Genesis and all things Charisma. I keep expecting Peter Gabriel to start singing about Giant Hogweeds or Cuckoo Cocoons. There’s no doubting the wallop of the Remaster. And as they get towards your comic-book idols bending the rules (about 18:10) – the Audio is gorgeous and the music returned to a variant of that lovely Acoustic Guitar melody that opens the Side (cut as a 7" single edit in the USA). Huge keyboard notes and guitar chops fade out Side 1 and again wonderfully clear as they echo those notes and heartbeats see the Side out. Side 2 opens with the 'teach him to be a wise man' portion - rapid Prog Rock at its most expressive - stunning drumming from Barlow as he lets rip. The 'overwhelming response' and 'all fluffy' voices flit from speaker to speaker as Tull go all King Crimson on us before returning to that fabulous Anderson Acoustic guitar. I take my place with the lord of the hills - he sings - the music returning in some ways to "Aqualung" and its most melodic moments. And again the Audio is storming as the Electric Guitar gives way to Acoustic at 5:35 minutes. By the time we get to 6:45 (light the sun) - we're into a full-on acoustic instrument exploration complete with Harpsichord flourishes. The pavements are empty, the gutters are full - Tull tell us as they do March of the Lemmings come 14:30. Where the hell is Biggles when you need him lyrics bring the wild Prog flourishes to an end with a few David Palmer string moments and that Acoustic melody - wise men don't know how it feels - well they do now.
For sure the whole shebang requires some serious commitment on the part of a listener - especially the denser parts of Side 2 - but "Thick As A Brick" is also musically adventurous in a way that much new music isn't.
Taking our bow and quoting the witticisms of the rear sleeve - do you want to be part of the 'Chrysalis and Bostock Firm Foundation Deal' for pre-teen enlightenment and listen to forty-four minutes of complicated Rock (all royalties go to this cause you know and not Ian’s pocket or his wife's Maserati). Well of course you do...