Thick as a Brick
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|Thick as a Brick|
|Studio album by Jethro Tull|
|Released||10 March 1972|
|Recorded||December 1971 at Morgan Studios, London|
|Genre||Progressive rock, art rock, hard rock, folk rock|
|Label||Chrysalis , Reprise|
|Jethro Tull chronology|
The cover of the 1997 25th anniversary re-release. Note the vertically elongated front page image and the completely different leftmost panel.
|Robert Christgau||C− |
Album informationThick as a Brick was Jethro Tull's first deep progressive rock offering, coming four years after the release of their first album. The epic album is notable for its many musical themes, time signature changes and tempo shifts--all of which were features of the progressive rock scene which was emerging at the time. In addition, the instrumentation includes harpsichord, xylophone, timpani, violin, lute, trumpet, saxophone, and a string section--all uncommon in blues-based rock.
Band leader Ian Anderson was surprised by the critical reaction to the previous album, Aqualung, as a "concept album", a label he firmly rejects to this day. In an interview on In the Studio with Redbeard (which spotlighted Thick as a Brick), Anderson's response to the critics was: "If the critics want a concept album we'll give the mother of all concept albums and we'll make it so bombastic and so over the top." Ian Anderson has been quoted as stating that Thick as a Brick was written "because everyone was saying we were a progressive rock band, so we decided to live up to the reputation and write a progressive album, but done as a parody of the genre." With Thick as a Brick, the band created an album deliberately integrated around one concept: a poem by an intelligent English boy (named Gerald) about the trials of growing up. Beyond this, the album was a send-up of all pretentious "concept albums". (The simile "Thick as a brick", in English, is an expression signifying someone who is "stupid; slow to learn or understand".)
Anderson also stated in that interview that "the album was a spoof to the albums of Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, much like what the movie Airplane! had been to Airport." The formula was successful, and the album reached number one on the charts in the United States.
On April 3, 2012, Ian Anderson released a long-delayed sequel, Thick As a Brick 2, on the EMI label, continuing the story of Gerald Bostock. The original in a deluxe CD/DVD edition with a large book will be reissued by EMI on November 6, 2012.
Live performancesBeginning in March 1972, the band performed most of the album (excluding some of the edits on side 2) on tour for nearly a year. The performances grew in length to about 90 minutes, as the original piece was expanded with additional instrumental interludes and the instrumentals "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Bouree." At the conclusion of what was side one of the LP, a 5-minute "news and weather" comedy routine was inserted, giving the band (and audience) a break from the non-stop music. At concerts in Germany and Italy, the routine was presented in the native language. The performance of side two of the LP was expanded with the addition of a long drum solo. The remainder of the set list (with occasional changes throughout the tour) consisted of "Cross-Eyed Mary", "A New Day Yesterday", "Aqualung", "Wind-Up", "Martin's Guitar Solo", "Locomotive Breath" and "Wind-Up (Reprise)." "Wind-up" included an unreleased piece referred to by bootleg fans as "The Hard Headed English General". Later live performances of "Thick as a Brick" were a shortened version of the first side, as heard on the live album Bursting Out (1978).
Ian Anderson performed the entire album live on tour in 2012, the first complete performances since the 1972 tour.
Cover art and packagingspoof of a 12-by-16 inch (305 by 406 mm) multiple-paged small-town English newspaper, entitled The St. Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser, with articles, competitions, adverts, etc., lampooning the parochial and amateurish local journalism that still exists in many places today, as well as certain classical album covers. Jethro Tull's official website states about the mock-newspaper: "There are a lot of inside puns, cleverly hidden continuing jokes (such as the experimental non-rabbit), a surprisingly frank review of the album itself [written by Anderson under a pseudonym], and even a little naughty connect-the-dots children's activity." The "newspaper", dated 7 January 1972, also includes the entire lyrics to "Thick as a Brick" (printed on page 7), which is presented as a poem written by an 8-year-old literary prodigy, Gerald "Little Milton" Bostock, whose disqualification from a poetry contest is the focus of the front page story. This article claims that although Bostock initially won the contest with "Thick as a Brick," the judges' decision was repealed after a multitude of protests and threats concerning the offensive nature of the poem, furthered by allegations of the boy's psychological instability. Throughout the newspaper's many articles are subtly scattered various references to the lyrics, to Gerald Bostock, to Jethro Tull, and to other peculiar parts of the newspaper itself. The satirical newspaper was heavily abridged for conventional CD booklets, but the 25th Anniversary Special Edition CD cover is much closer to the original, and the 40th anniversary boxed version contains a nearly-complete replica of the original newspaper, missing only an article spoofing former U.S. Tull distributor Reprise Records.
Track listingAll lyrics written by "Gerald Bostock" (Ian Anderson), all music composed by Ian Anderson.
|1.||"Thick as a Brick, Part I"||22:40|
|2.||"Thick as a Brick, Part II"||21:06|
|25th Anniversary Edition bonus tracks|
|3.||"Thick as a Brick" (1978 live version at Madison Square Garden)||10:50|
|4.||"Interview with Jethro Tull" (Ian Anderson, Martin Barre and Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond)||16:30|
|40th Anniversary Edition bonus track|
|3.||"1972 Radio Ad"||0:59|
Differences among various CD releasesBy 2012 the album received four major releases on CD: the first release (1985), the MFSL-release (1989), the 25th Anniversary Edition (1997), and the 40th Anniversary Edition (2012). Whereas the first release and the MFSL-release run with identical speed, the 25th Anniversary edition runs 0.5% slower. The 1997 edition also has increased loudness (see Loudness war) and does not feature Ian Anderson whispering "Yeah" after the coda of Part II.
The 40th Anniversary Edition was released in November 2012, and includes a CD, a DVD, and a book. The CD contains a new mix of the album. The DVD contains a 5.1 surround sound mix (in DTS and Dolby Digital), the new stereo mix in high resolution, and the original stereo mix in high resolution. The album was also rereleased on vinyl at the same time. This edition lists part one at 22:45 and part two at 21:07.
The website for the 40th anniversary edition lists these digital parts:
- Really Don't Mind/See There a Son Is Born
- The Poet and the Painter
- What Do You Do When the Old Man's Gone?/From the Upper Class
- You Curl Your Toes in Fun/Childhood Heroes/Stabs Instrumental
- See There a Man Is Born/Clear White Circles
- Legends and Believe in the Day
- Tales of Your Life
- Childhood Heroes Reprise.
In pop cultureThe song itself has been played on many classic rock radio stations across the globe. Most opt to play the single edit, clocking in at approximately three minutes. However, some prefer the longer 7-minute version which contains the Side One main theme, "Come On Ye Childhood Heroes", and the closing theme from Side Two.
In 1983, Chrisye released a cassette called Resesi (Recession) which had a cover inspired by the album. The album was rereleased on CD in 2004.
At the end of the The Simpsons episode "Girls Just Want to Have Sums", Martin Prince sings "Thick as a Brick" until Lisa Simpson hits him with a folding chair to shut him up. The actual song plays over the closing credits.
Car maker Hyundai used the song in one of their commercials in the early 2000s.
The 2012 follow-up: Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock?On 1 February 2012 Ian Anderson announced via the official Jethro Tull website that there was to be a follow-up album, TAAB2: Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock?. According to the Jethro Tull website, the sequel is "a full length Progressive Rock 'concept' album worthy of its predecessor. Boy to man and beyond, it looks at what might have befallen the child poet Gerald Bostock in later life. Or, perhaps, any of us."
The album was released on 2 April 2012. It describes five different scenarios of Gerald Bostock's life, where he potentially becomes a greedy investment banker, a homeless homosexual man, a soldier in the Afghan War, a sanctimonious evangelist preacher, and a most ordinary man who runs a corner store and is married and childless. The original Thick as a Brick consists of only two long tracks comprising a single song, while TAAB2: Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock? lists 17 separate songs merged into 13 distinct tracks (some labelled as medleys), although also all flowing together much like a single song. To follow the style of the mock newspaper on the original Thick as a Brick, a mock online newspaper was set up, simply titled StCleve.
Chart positions of the original 1972 album
|Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart|
- Ian Anderson – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, violin, trumpet, saxophone
- Martin Barre – electric guitar, lute
- John Evan – piano, organ, harpsichord
- Jeffrey Hammond (as "Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond"): Bass guitar, Vocals
- Barriemore Barlow – drums, percussion, timpani
- David Palmer – Brass and string arrangements
- http://www.allmusic.com/album/r174955 link
- Robert Christgau: CG: jethro tull
- Jethro Tull Press: Rolling Stone, 22 June 1972
- Starostin, George. "Thick as a Brick review". http://starling.rinet.ru/music/index.htm (Only Solitaire: George Starostin's Music Reviews).
- "Acoustic Guitar Central - An interview with Ian Anderson". Retrieved 15 August 2009.
- "Thick as a brick" in Wikictionary
- ""Thick as a Brick" Played in Special 2012 Tour".
- Thick as a Brick - The Official Jethro Tull Website
- Core albums 1968 - 1977
- Official website
- 40th Anniversary website, track listing
- Thick as a Brick (1972) at Allmusic
- Thick as a Brick (1998) at Allmusic (UK)
- Complete lyrics
- Jethro Tull, Progressive Rock and Thematic Approach, essay by Dave Morris
- Scans of the pages of the LP cover mock newspaper