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CD-Review-Ian-Anderson-TAAB2-2012

 

IAN ANDERSON
Thick As A Brick 2
Chrysalis/EMI, March 2012

 

By Shane Pinnegar

 

What a curious oddity is the concept album – the very nature of having to cram the narrative of a cohesive story into the more traditional structures of rock and roll songs lends itself to compromise and clunkiness.

 

Ian Anderson pulls it off remarkably well in this sequel to his classic Jethro Tull album “Thick As A Brick” from 1972. The original had only 2 tracks, each over twenty minutes in duration, whereas TAAB2 (as it is known in Tull circles) follows a more regular album format with 17 tracks over almost 54 minutes.

 

The first few songs set the story – Gerald Bostock, who on the original album was a schoolboy purported to have co-composed the lyrics with Tull, has had a rather full life over the past forty years as a banker, homeless person, military man, evangelist and more.

 

As with anything he does, Anderson has pulled together a thoughtful and well rounded script, if you like, with the character of Bostock brought to life convincingly through his travels and travails.

 

Musically speaking, Anderson’s band have hit a home run – more delicate in parts than some of Tull’s output and featuring a tastefully measured amount of his trademark flutestry, this could still have easily flown under the Tull flag. Anderson has said he tours under his own name at times because Tull fans expect a “heavier” element to shows, but TAAB2 is not so acoustic to have precluded going out under the mighty Jethro Tull banner, so who knows the ultimate reason for that.

 

There are some great songs here – Swing It Far, Old School Song and Give Til It Hurts are reminiscent of the best Tull/Anderson tunes – they rock, they swing, they feature diverse instrumentation and memorable melodies, and they have clever, witty lyrics that propel the story along.

 

The cover updates the St Cleve Chronicle newspaper theme of the 1972 original, and in 2012 there is even a website featuring the fictitious paper – www.stcleve.com!

 

A worthy revisit to a long-loved classic, Anderson has successfully extended and updated the Gerald Bostock/TAAB story with all the dignified class he is known for.

 

 

Review Published 13 April 2012