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Ian Anderson

Thick as a Brick 2

Review by Gary Hill

I like this disc a lot. That said, there are a couple things that just seem odd to me about it. For one thing, it’s strange that the sequel to a Jethro Tull disc was recorded without the band and released just as an Ian Anderson solo album. That said, this feels like a Tull disc, which is also a bit strange considering it’s Anderson solo. I personally like this one better than the original disc. It comes with a bonus DVD that includes a different mix of the album and some video that takes you inside the creation. Fans of Tull should love this, but it really doesn’t seem all that closely tied to the original album. 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
From A Pebble Thrown

This really feels to me like it could have come from the original Thick As a Brick album in a lot of ways, but it does have some crunchier guitar elements bringing more of a modern sound to the proceedings. Still, this is very much like a classic Tull song.

Pebbles Instrumental
Here we get a mellow introduction. Then it moves out to more of a classic Tull instrumental and there is plenty of Anderson’s flute to be heard. It should be said that while listed as an instrumental, there are a few bits of vocals in the midst of this thing. There’s some classic Tull guitar and flute interplay, but also some hints of world music at times.
Might-have-beens
Here we get a short poetry recitation with some nature sounds in the background.
Upper Sixth Loan Shark
Acoustically driven music open this and builds upward. It’s fairly delicate and gentle.
Banker Bets, Banker Wins
This powers out as a more modern Jethro Tull sound. This is really quite a rocker, but there is still a retro vibe in some ways. It becomes quite a prog jam.
Swing It Far
Starting with music box sounds, Anderson recites the lyrics at the start. Then it works out to a balladic rock treatment as it builds on the general themes, both musical and lyrical. A little after the one minute mark it cranks out into some hard rocking Tull-like jamming. From there it drops back down, though. This is a very retro sounding number with some modern tones in the mix. It’s one of the most dynamic songs in the set.
Adrift and Dumfounded
Acoustic guitar starts this off and then retro keyboards come over before the vocals join. In a lot of ways, this feels like a continuation of the previous track. It turns out into a killer progressive rock jam as it works through. Later in the piece it powers out into a soaring kind of excursion with a lot of energy. Various instruments skate across at different times. It drops down from there into a mellower motif after a time.
Old School Song
A retro organ sound opens this, then it works out to a progression with a lot of energy. Flute plays over the top of a lot of it. The vocals have a weird distant sound to them. For my money, that doesn’t work especially well. Still, this cut, although perhaps not as strong as some of the other stuff here, still stands pretty tall. We get more “normal” vocals later and this really does have a vintage Tull sound to it.
Wootton Bassett Town
In a lot of ways this doesn’t vary that much from the rest of the disc. Still, there’s a more modern Tull sound to a lot of this. In addition, there is definitely a symphonic texture here.
Power And Spirit
Much of this song is gentle and intricate. Still, it rocks out at points, too. It’s another dynamic tune that feels a lot like vintage Tull.
Give Till It Hurts
This is a short cut with a folk ballad done Tull style approach.
Cosy Corner
This has an old time music feeling to it with Anderson speaking over the top of the retro arrangement. This is more artsy than rock and really doesn’t feel like Tull. It’s another short bit.
Shunt and Shuffle
Now, this feels like it could be an out-take from Aqualung. It’s a real Tull rocker.
A Change of Horses
World music elements bring this one into being. That element holds it for a time, but it grows out later into harder rocking sounds. This is a classic Tull textured number in a lot of ways, yet there is also a European café element to parts of it. Still, this track is over eight minutes in length and that space is used to create a very dynamic piece. It works through a lot of changes and alterations as this ride develops.
Confessional
A harpsichord sound opens this and the track builds out in a mellow prog motif from there. The first vocals come over in a typical Tull ballad-like approach. After a time, though, this becomes some seriously hard rocking prog.
Kismet in Suburbia
Hard rocking sounds make up the central theme of this cut. It’s quite recognizable as a Tull song, without question.
What-Ifs, Maybes And Might-Have-Beens –
Starting mellow, this is very definitely a classic Tull song. It rocks out heavily and really works extremely well. There are a number of changes and it ends with some sections lifted from the first installment of Thick As a Brick.
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