Thick as a Brick was the fifth studio album from the British progressive rock group Jethro Tull. It released forty years ago in March of 1972.
Unheard of at the time, Thick as a Brick included one continuous track, forty-four minutes of one composition pieced together with a mixture of complex musical structures. It was a tour-de-force, a masterpiece of rock blended with English folk music, sprinkled with classical symmetry, and wrapped from the ground up with ahead of its time sound engineering. Brick stands the test of time and not-by-note presents what music is all about. It’s about taking great lyrics, creative instrumentation, and courageous steps beyond self-imposed boundaries.
Few rock and rollers can be dubbed with the title genius. Ian Anderson is one of them.
Thick as a Brick shot to the top of the album charts and held the #1 slot for a solid two weeks.
The Jethro Tull lineup for TAAB was:
Ian Anderson – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, violin, trumpet, saxophone
The creation of TAAB is pure Ian Anderson genius. Its lyrics are based on a poem written by a fictitious boy, Gerald Bostock, said to have been adapted to music by Jethro Tull. In reality Ian Anderson wrote all the lyrics himself.
A snippet of Thick as a Brick lyrics:
So come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year
and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
Let me help you pick up your dead
as the sins of the father are fed
the blood of the fools and the thoughts of the wise
and from the pan under your bed.
Let me make you a present of song
as the wise man breaks wind and is gone while
the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose
and the nursery rhyme winds along.
The album cover was pure spoof of a local newspaper, entitled The St. Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser, with articles, competitions, adverts, etc., lampooning the parochial journalism still existing in many places. There are hints of certain classical album covers embedded in the paper.
Jethro Tull’s official website explains the mock-newspaper, “There are a lot of inside puns, cleverly hidden continuing jokes (such as the experimental non-rabbit), a surprisingly frank review of the album itself, and even a little naughty connect-the-dots children’s activity.”
The “newspaper”, dated 7 January 1972, also includes the entire lyrics to the poem “Thick as a Brick” (and, thus, to the album of the same name—printed on page 7) as written by a fictional 8-year-old literary prodigy, Gerald “Little Milton” Bostock, whose disqualification from a poetry contest is the focus of the front page story. This article claims that although Bostock initially won the contest with “Thick as a Brick“, the judges’ decision was repealed after a multitude of protests and threats concerning the offensive nature of the poem, furthered by allegations of the boy’s psychological instability.
TAAB2 is to be a full length Progressive Rock “concept” album worthy of its predecessor. Boy to man and beyond, it looks at what might have befallen the child poet Gerald Bostock in later life. Look for Brick II on April 2, 2012.
Jethro Tull performing Thick as a Brick at Madison Square Gardens.
- October 9, 1978