Thick As A Brick

Jethro Tull

Chrysalis Records, 1972

REVIEW BY: Riley McDonald


Of the many prog-rock albums that are out there, few of them are as well-renowned, as unique, or as flat-out good as Jethro Tull's 1972 follow-up to the wildly successful Aqualung. Thick As A Brick is different from most because the entire thing, clocking in at about 43:36, is just one song. Because of the success of the aforementioned album, Thick As A Brick was able to catapult its way to No.1 on the U.S. charts, solidifying Tull's position as a rock giant for several years to come. But beneath its commercial success is an album lyrically, structurally, and musically complex and brilliant.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

To me, the high point of this album is its opening. A great folk riff plays in the background to a stunning vocal performance by Anderson that's extremely catchy, and will stay stuck in your head for days.

However, instead of continuing on a folky path, the album explodes into one that leads the listener down several different musical paths. At times it can be super-jazzy and lively, at other times soft and slow, and at others a culmination of the two. Flute passages permeate the album, making it all that much more enjoyable, as is Martin Barre's guitar licks, which, as usual, never fail to disappoint.

The lyrical imagery of this album is damn near overwhelming. For example:

"The Poet and the painter casting shadows on the water- as the sun plays on the infantry returning from the sea- The doer and the thinker; no allowance for the other- as the failing light illuminates the mercenary's creed."

Along with it go a boatload of vivid symbols and social commentary, making it quite possibly Tull's most intricate album to date.

My only quibble with this album is that it starts to drag around the 26-minute mark, when some odd little quotes seem to pop up out of nowhere. Fortunately, it gets back on track shortly after that to deal out another 17 minutes or so of musical brilliance. The album ends like most concept albums do, with the beginning being played again. This symbolizes that things have come full circle, and to me, they couldn't have ended the album in a better way.

In all, this would be Tull's apogee for their writing and playing skills. While this writer tends to enjoy the more laid-back, balls-out, hard rocking of Aqualung, for many prog-rock fans, this disc is their Holy Grail.

Rating: A

User Rating: A-



© 2004 Riley McDonald and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Chrysalis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.