Thick as a Brick
|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.
Thick as a Brick is the fifth studio album by the English band Jethro Tull, released in 1972. The album is notable for only including one song, which spans the entire album. Thick as a Brick was deliberately crafted in the style of a concept album (and as a "bombastic" and "over the top" parody). The original packaging, designed like a newspaper, claims the album to be a musical adaptation of an epic poem by a (fictional) 8-year-old boy, though the lyrics were actually written by the band's frontman, Ian Anderson. The album was a commercial success and topped the US charts.
- 1 Album information
- 2 Live performances
- 3 Cover art and packaging
- 4 Track listing
- 5 In pop culture
- 6 The 2012 follow-up: Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock?
- 7 Chart positions of the original 1972 album
- 8 Personnel
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Thick as a Brick was Jethro Tull's first progressive rock offering, coming four years after the release of their first album (1968). 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. In addition, the instrumentation includes harpsichord, xylophone, timpani, violin, lute, trumpet, saxophone, and a string section—all uncommon in blues-based rock.
Band frontman Ian Anderson was surprised by the critical reaction to their previous album, Aqualung (1971), 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 a super-intelligent English schoolboy, named Gerald Bostock, about the trials of growing up. Beyond this, the album was a send-up of all pretentious "concept albums". (The idiom "thick as a brick" is an expression signifying someone who is "stupid" or "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" and later stated that is was a "bit of a satire about the whole concept of grand rock-based concept albums." Reviewing the 40th anniversary reissue, Noel Murray suggested that many listeners of the original album "missed the joke".
After initial rehearsals using the Rolling Stones' basement studio in Bermondsey, recording started in December 1971 at Morgan Studios in London. Unlike previous albums, where Anderson had generally written songs in advance, only the initial section of the album had been worked out when the band went into the studio to record it. The remainder of the suite was pieced together in the studio. Guitarist Martin Barre remembers the whole band coming up with various ideas for the music, and that some parts were recorded in a single take.
The formula was successful, and the album reached number one on the charts in the United States. On 3 April 2012, Ian Anderson released a long-delayed sequel, Thick as a Brick 2, on the EMI label, focusing on the character of Gerald Bostock. The original in a deluxe CD/DVD edition with a large book was reissued by EMI on 6 November 2012.
Beginning 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 packaging
The original LP cover was designed as a spoof 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], a little naughty connect-the-dots children's activity, and a naughty view of Milton's "chum" Julia as well." 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.
|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 releases
By 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 first pressing of the DVD/CD box contained a faulty DVD with significant audio errors. A corrected replacement edition was issued later, with only a horizontal line beneath the "album duration" note on the disc label to identify it. 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 culture
The 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.
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."
TAAB2 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 (1972) consists of only two long tracks comprising a single song, while TAAB2 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 (1972), 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 – organ, piano, harpsichord
- Jeffrey Hammond (as "Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond") – bass guitar, spoken words
- Barriemore Barlow – drums, percussion, timpani
- Additional personnel
- http://www.allmusic.com/album/r174955 link
- Robert Christgau: CG: jethro tull
- Jethro Tull Press: Rolling Stone, 22 June 1972
- Scaruffi, Piero (1999). "Jethro Tull". pieroscaruffi.com. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- "Acoustic Guitar Central - An interview with Ian Anderson". Retrieved 15 August 2009.
- Nollen 2002, p. 81.
- Smith, Bradley (2007). The Billboard guide to progressive music. Billboard Books. p. 114. ISBN 9780823076659.
- Anderson 1972, p. 7.
- Nollen 2002, p. 83.
- Murray, Noel (28 November 2012). "Thick As A Brick and the pleasures of the very, very, very long song". AV Club. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- Nollen 2002, p. 82.
- Morse, Tim. "Classic Tracks : Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick". Mix 72: 176.
- Nollen 2002, p. 84.
- ""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
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
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