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Ian Anderson - Thick As A Brick 2 [Aka: TAAB2] CD (album) cover


Ian Anderson


Prog Folk

3.75 | 393 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars So, Thick As A Brick 2, the sequel to one of the most revered albums in prog and, indeed, rock music history. I might as well, at this early stage of the review, reiterate the rather important point that the original by Tull was conceived by Anderson as a total mickey take of concept albums in general, and also as a bit of a backlash against those who lauded the sublime Aqualung as a concept album (it wasn't).

Actually, the sequel to said send-up of our beloved genre owes a little bit more, ironically, to Aqualung than the first TAAB incarnation, certainly conceptually, for this is the sound of Anderson providing us all with assorted musings on the state of society, and life in general, much as Aqualung was a general muse about the role of religion in society. All he has done, of course, is to place said musings in the context of possible outcomes in life of Gerald Bostock, the original fictional character at the heart of TAAB.

Personally, I rather wish he hadn't released this as a straight sequel, although, in commercial terms, it was, of course, an absolute no-brainer. TAAB 2 was always going to sell better than "Thoughts on Possible Outcomes In Life by Ian Anderson".

Having said that, this is truly an excellent effort, and easily the finest work released by Anderson under his own moniker (and, yes, there isn't a great deal of competition out there).

Very deliberately, this has the sound and feel of a Jethro Tull album. I suspect that Anderson, to his great credit, refused to release it under the Tull name because of Martin Barre's non-participation. Having said that, the "replacement", Florian Opahle, does a more than creditable job on this, as, indeed, do all of Anderson's "hired hands".

Whilst the opening passages are reminiscent of the original album, I actually think that the overall feel and direction of this album owes far more to my favourite Tull period, that being Songs From The Wood through to Broadsword & The Beast, in other words, the band's and Anderson's most overtly folky period. Indeed, much of the material here would have sat very well within Songs and Heavy Horses, and I can think of no higher compliment than that.

The one thing that Anderson certainly hasn't lost is his roguesish and impish sense of humour and gift for providing sharp satire within a musical context. Thus, we have Gerald as a banker (whose ranks come in for a rotten pasting, deservedly, of course), as a homeless man (a la Aqualung, but this time with molestation thrown in for good measure), a soldier, an evangelical preacher (at which point Anderson throws in his most waspish disdain for said grouping), and, lastly, as Joe Ordinary (where he marvellously describes the lives of the majority of people reading this review).

As said before, the band play very well throughout, and very special mention must go to Steven Wilson's incredible job at the knob twirling helm. The whole thing sounds lush and warm. In addition, Anderson flute fans will find much to enjoy here.

Having listened to this a few times now, I rather wish I had booked tickets to travel to see Anderson perform this live. I never did regard TAAB as the finest Tull album, but this is, by a huge margin, the finest Anderson solo release, and it is, from start to finish, an absolute joy to listen to.

So, as a piece of parting advice from this reviewer, forget the comparisons to the original. They are somewhat pointless. Just go out, buy, and thoroughly enjoy what is a fantastic album from someone who is, after nigh on 45 years, still one of the most enjoyable artists on this planet.

Four stars. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

lazland | 4/5 |


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