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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 9 October 2007
When I was getting into Jethro Tull in the mid-to-late 70s, I was drawn to both the newer albums of the time ('Songs from the Woods', 'Heavy Horses' etc.) as well as the classic earlier albums ('Aqualung', 'Stand Up' etc.), but wasn't sure if buying an album with my prized pocket money with apparently no track listing, and a newspaper for a cover was going to be a major disappointment or not. I'm pleased I took the plunge, because for me it remains their best album and the one I return to even in my older years!

Firstly, the whole thing just flows... from its classic acoustic guitar start through all the guitar and keyboard-orientated sections (some amazingly powerful) and then takes you back home right at the end. Great recurring themes and tunes (very melodic at times), a variety of time signatures, and an engaging lyrical theme - make this not only a Prog Rock concept album masterpiece, but a Classic Rock one too!

Do I follow all the lyrics? - well, not really. But I can see it's about a boy's journey towards adulthood (autobiographical by Ian Anderson?) into the world where freedom is despised and conventionality is praised. In fact, I always think Ian did a better job with this album than Roger Waters did with parts of 'The Wall' in expressing this anti-establishment sentiment.

What the album really benefits from are some really great tunes that stay in your head and have you humming the notes for hours after listening to them (something lacking in the likes of 'A Passion Play' and some later albums). However, I agree with an earlier reviewer that despite this melodic accessibility for a concept album, the album needs to be focussed on (rather than played in the background) to get the most out of it.

On the new CD version itself and in recent interviews, Ian likes to treat it as a humourous attempt to make the ultimate 'tongue-in-cheek' prog rock concept album. Well I just don't buy that (well not all of it anyway) and think for credibility reasons he's trying to distance himself (in hindsight) from what is often a mocked concept by the music industry (to be fair some concept albums deserve it!). The idea of 'creating' a concept might have been a fun one for the band at first, but you only need to listen to the complexity and exhurbence of the playing and most importantly the acidity and bite in Ian's lyrics to know they were well into the concept. Whatever the thinking behind it, it's a 70s masterpiece and well worth a few pounds of anyone's money, especially those younger listeners rediscovering 70s prog via Yes and Genesis reissues or the likes of 'Spock's Beard'. It's just a shame the CD can't give you all the 'Monty Pythonesque' newspaper articles - but long live Gerald 'Little Milton' Bostock (wherever he is!)
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on 19 June 2001
I have been listening to my Dad's Vinyl collection and I asked my Dad about this particular record. He played it to me and I was astounded at how well the music was played. The strange time changes add to the superb playing of Anderson, Hammond, et al. The lyrics are so cleverly done (and in some places downright weird). I really like the sleeve that came with the vinyl, especially the way it really is like a local newspaper with poorly spelled words and bad typing, accompanied with a brilliant crossword (with which Me and my dad have struggled). Overall I have to say that this is, along with Aqualung, one of the best albums I have heard by Tull. I also recommend to any budding Tull fans to check out Gentle Giant ("In a Glass House" or "3 Friends"). Hope you enjoy this album (and others) as much as I did.
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on 21 February 2000
One of Jethro Tull's most impressive, memorable, yet strangest albums from the early '70s. The concept of a continuous song (but suddenly changing here and there), was clever at the time. Based upon the theme of a young poet acclaimed then denounced because of his 'strongly-worded' entry in a competition. The replica newspaper describing both articles - and much more besides! - was included with the original vinyl version. Yet two more extras were added to the 25th Anniversary of 'Thick As A Brick - LATE EDITION' CD: 'Live at Madison Square Garden' and 'Exclusive Interview with...'; the former can also be found on Tull's 20th Anniversary Video, (the first Live Transatlantic Recording) while the latter concerns Ian, Martin Barre, and Jeffrey Hammond offering insight to the uncertain, sufferable times during its creation in '72. Following the success of 'Aqualung', Tull were by this time sunning in the limelight, having achieved tremendous popularity in the music world, with one of the most important albums of their career. I deem this a five star classic wonder because of the Anniversary Package bonus tracks - although Jethro Tull really went to town by designing the realistic 'St. Cleve and Herald' community newspaper! Thus proving themselves multi-talented, Ian insisted that live performances resemble 'Monty Python' sketches, and add a little humour to the throng. Although Britain's audiences were doubtless rolling in the aisles, it was met with much puzzlement in Europe and Japan where early 70's bizarre British humour hadn't yet caught on. But that didn't matter - the band was there to earn money, perform (in more ways than one) to eager fans, and enjoy the good old days!
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on 5 October 2002
As the proud owner of a vast array of Tull albums most of which are all on vinyl, I have to say that without a doubt the most magical masterpiece of all was and still is Thick as a Brick. Tull is unique in the fact that if you work your way steadily through their albums, whilst there is a common characteristic which threads its way through the centre - each piece is amazingly quite different. Thick as a Brick encapsulates all the flexibilty, ingenuity and music genious of Tull and even 30 years after its production could still be mistaken for a brand new release. It is timeless and is as exciting now as it was when first created and I would say has to go down in music history as one of the top compilations ever produced.
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on 27 September 2001
In the early 1970s Jethro Tull pushed musical boundaries as far as any prog-rock band while lacking the pomposity, cheesiness and tunelessness that make the likes of ELP, Yes and Genesis painful listening. The only band playing in a similar direction who could a candle to Tull in the early 1970s were Van Der Graaf Generator but 'Thick As A Brick' surpassed anything any other progressive band had done. It is a magical listening experience with more tempo and key changes than you can shake a flute-shaped stick at, moments of power and moments of quiet reflection and breathtaking musicianship, arrangements and lyrical content. Despite all this it rarely gives way to pomposity and almost never drags. Overall an astonishing achievement. So what about the CD reissue? Well, one of the great things about CD is that you don't have to turn it over half way through. The original vinyl album had a fade-out at the end of side one and a fade-in at the beginning of side two simply because a break was necessary after twenty three minutes. Yet these are still present on the CD which suggests that the original vinyl master had been used rather than the master tapes. The interview is good but the live 'Thick As A Brick' is from some years later and is anachronistic. I used to have a great bootleg performance from 1972 with all sorts of high jinks going on. A decent mixing desk recording from the same period would have made an excellent addition.
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on 21 March 2013
What can one say that has not already been said about this timeless classic of twentieth century popular music? A 40 minute long continuous piece of music, in two movements, TAAB represents the creative apex of the progressive rock genre, and is comparable in ambition and sophistication to the extended pieces written by Ellington and Gershwin in an earlier era. I will never forget the thrill of listening to TAAB for the first time in early 1974, at the tender age of 13, when my best friend lent it to me in cassette form. TAAB was on one side of a C-90 cassette, while Tull's 1973 successor album, 'A Passion Play', was on the other side. I can't remember whether I listened to both albums in one sitting or two, but what I can say with complete certainty is that I have never heard so much outstanding music in such a short period of time!

At the time of its release, TAAB certainly had its detractors in the music press. They accused Anderson of being pretentious. The same charges were levelled against Duke Ellington when he first started experimenting with extended form composition in the popular music field back in the 1930s. In the case of TAAB, you have to ask yourself why this album was so highly rated by the small minority of critics who did have a genuinely deep understanding of the history of twentieth century popular music - Derek Jewell being the most obvious example. He was the Sunday Times popular music critic in the 1970s, ran the weekly BBC Radio 3 programme 'Sounds Interesting', and was also the author of an excellent biography of Ellington. Unlike the critics who later jumped on the punk bandwagon, he thought TAAB was a magnificent example of progressive rock at its best. So who was right? The question virtually answers itself.

I think we can also safely dismiss Anderson's subsequent claim that TAAB was intended to be a spoof of the progressive rock genre. This sounds like an ex post re-writing of history, designed to conceal the seriousness of purpose with which he approached the making of the album back in 1972 and (by implication therefore) justify Tull's later retreat into commercialism in the 1980s. If TAAB was intended as a 'spoof', why did Tull attempt an even more serious, ambitious extended form work ('A Passion Play') the following year? It doesn't make any sense. Surely one parody would be enough? In fact, if you listen to TAAB, it rapidly becomes obvious that the band were genuinely trying to extend the boundaries of rock music. This was their conscious purpose, and they succeeded brilliantly.

If you are a Tull fan, you will already have this album and any new critical reviews will no doubt be superfluous. If you're new to Tull, or perhaps jaded with the lack of ambition and inspiration that characterises today's commercially driven music scene, you might like to try this album. In my humble opinion, it's the greatest of all the progressive rock albums of the 1970s. I find it difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes Ian Anderson and Tull superior to others in their peer group. In the end, it may simply be the absence of any obvious shortcomings. Yes were an amazing band, slightly let down by their confusing lyrics. Pink Floyd were another major creative force during this period, but personally I found their music a bit negative and depressing. I think they peaked with 'Dark Side of the Moon' and were less consistent thereafter. But with Tull we had the entire package - intricate, ambitious musical arrangements, beautiful melodic material, superb playing by first class musicians, and of course Ian Anderson's supremely literate lyric writing. We shall not see their like again.
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on 9 August 2007
When my brother first introduced me to Thick As A Brick in the early '90s (he had an LP) I was captivated by it. Sometime later I bought it on CD and one day, on my way to work on the train, decided to listen to it through my earphones. A special bond was about to be forged.

This will sound melodramatic, but I mean it: I tell you that album was made for that train trip. The first three minutes of the music and the train ride are calm and easy. Suddenly, both music and train become loud and frantic. At various times throughout both, the speed and energy rises and falls in close synchronisation. Although it's far too difficult and lengthy to go into all the details, I must say it was quite uncanny how well the music in my ears was so appropriate to the vision in my eyes.

I will always remember those days fondly, and Thick As A Brick will forever occupy a very special part of my heart and mind.

It's a very pleasant, positive sounding album in many respects, thanks to the chord progression and the use of flute, xylophone (or is it glockenspiel?), acoustic guitar and the synthesiser of the day (was it the Moog? I'm not quite sure). At the same time, if one examines the lyrics, one finds them to be less than positive and very metaphorical, as they are concerned with society and its often absurd rules and ways, and there is an inferred criticism towards these rules.

Instructions for listening:

You must not put this on in the background and do other things that distract you from the music: you absolutely must give it your undivided attention. It deserves nothing less, especially if you want to get the complete feeling and imagery it delivers. Immerse yourself in this masterpiece and you will be richly rewarded.

This album went to number one in the US and number five in the UK. It's widely regarded as perhaps Jethro Tull's finest work - their magnum opus - THE concept album. One of my favourite albums, closely followed by their next album "A Passion Play", an album that polarises people, but that's another story.
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on 16 July 2003
Buy this Album. Whatever your taste in music, you are not complete unless you have turned off the lights, closed your eyes and listened to this Album in one sitting wearing good quality headphones whilst laying on the settee (and I mean All of it!!!).
Don't move until it has finished and you'll find your life richer. Seriously.
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on 5 November 2006
A distaste for prog-rock pomp has blinded many a soul to the quality tunes and playing which lie at the heart of this record. By Anderson's own admission, simply a set of songs glued together (in often clunky style) but with sufficient recapitulation and thematic cohesiveness to justify the effort. The production is excellent (after the rather dodgy Aqualung) and the instruments shine through even today. A lovely subtle beginning, too. Just acoustic guitar, "really don't mind if you sit this one out", a tootle of flute. A very nice song in its own right.
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on 9 December 2005
I listened to this album countless times in a darkened room at considerable volume often back to back with Passion Play. Very much an album for adults. I still have the gatefold newspaper of the original vinyl issue safely tucked away somewhere in the attic. A classic and wholly original concept
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