Ian Anderson – Thick As a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock

Whenever I hear of sequels to concept albums, I’m almost always sceptic. As much as I would like a ‘Part II’ to some of my favourite prog rock records, it’s a venture usually doomed to disappointment from the start. After all; take an album like Queensryche’s ‘Operation Mindcrime II’, which, while quite good in its own right, could not hold a wicker to the masterpiece original. Especially when a band like Jethro Tull has been out of the broad public’s eye for a few decades, releasing a sequel to one of their most successful albums could seem like a way to inspire some of their past glory. Ian Anderson seems to have presented an exception to that rule with ‘Thick As A Brick 2′, however. Seen as one of the greatest prog rock albums to ever grace a record player, it’s understandable that the original ‘Thick As A Brick’ is not threatened to be toppled here by its 2012 incarnation. Regardless, I think I speak for more than myself when I say I was pleasantly surprised with what Ian has done here. In no shortage of cynical wit, Anderson has revived the passionate energy that made Jethro Tull such a great band in the first place.

Assuming that the majority of people reading this are already well-versed in the original ‘Thick As A Brick’, might I say that ‘TAAB2′ faithfully recreates the charm and flair of the first, without being an utter reprise. Ian Anderson finds a comfortable medium between the fresh and familiar. As with the first album, this is a satirical story about one Gerald Bostock, who- last we heard from him- was a child and angered the prudish loons of his parish for a particularly scathing poem he wrote. Forty years have passed since ‘Thick As A Brick’, and Gerald has aged in real-time. While the original was an expression of cynicism well beyond Gerald’s years, Ian Anderson’s lyrical approach is more conventionally narrative this time around. Through the course of the album, we hear of some of the things that have happened to Gerald since ’72. Suffice to say, Anderson has not lost his penchant for tongue-in-cheek jabs and social satire.

Although this is labelled as an Ian Anderson record (as opposed to Jethro Tull), it very much sounds like a full band, and I would not take exception to someone calling this a Jethro Tull record. Many of these musical ideas are immediately charming, and between the quirky Anderson spoken word segues, harder rocking guitar riffs, flute mania and quirk, ‘TAAB2′ never feels boring. Where it appears less successful than the original however is in the overall structure. Although many of these musical ideas are on par with Tull’s output in ’72, the album lacks the ‘epic’ quality that boosted ‘Thick As A Brick’ to the near-perfect realm. Many passages are self-contained, and there is not the same sort of overarching composition that could produce a ‘central musical theme’ to this work. Perhaps if one or two of these original ideas were emphasized and made into effective motifs, Papa Brick could have reason to get a little worried.

‘Thick As A Brick 2′ actually manages to triumph over the original in a couple of ways. Most notably, the production and performance here is fantastic. With none other than Steven Wilson at the technical helm, Gerald Bostock is in good hands. The richly organic nature of the band’s performance is something that I felt was missing in the original, and it makes Ian Anderson’s quirky tale come to life. Although the original ‘Thick As A Brick’ is not one of my favourite classic prog albums, it has always had my well-deserved respect and appreciation. While more devoted lovers of that album may turn their noses up this time around, this is one of 2012′s most pleasant musical surprises.


1. From A Pebble Thrown (3:04)
2. Pebbles Instrumental (3:30)
3. Might-have-beens (0:50)
4. Upper Sixth Loan Shark (1:13)
5. Banker Bets, Banker Wins (4:27)
6. Swing It Far (3:28)
7. Adrift And Dumfounded (4:25)
8. Old School Song (3:06)
9. Wootton Bassett Town (3:43)
10. Power And Spirit (1:59)
11. Give Till It Hurts (1:12)
12. Cosy Corner (1:24)
13. Shunt And Shuffle (2:12)
14. A Change Of Horses (8:04)
15. Confessional (3:08)
16. Kismet In Suburbia (4:17)
17. What-ifs, Maybes And Might-have-beens (3:36)


* Ian Anderson – vocals, flute, acoustic guitar
* John O’Hara – keyboards
* David Goodier – bass
* Florian Opahle – guitar
* Scott Hammond – drums



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