Jethro Tull
Thick as a Brick



by Thomas Bambaataa Ghidrah Towers USER (67 Reviews)
September 29th, 2005 | 848 replies

Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Out of the ashes of the 60s new sounds emerged and began to bud, just as that decade went. Progressive rock surfaced and gave anonymity to music, letting strange concepts and extravagant music step in front of the band itself. In 1972 it finally blossomed with classic releases by Genesis and Yes. Even though they are known as two of the greatest prog bands ever, it was another band that mastered the continuity of a prog album: Jethro Tull. Thick as a Brick was the first album to have a single song on an LP (the song split in half due to the technology back then, but it is one song.)

Of course Jethro Tull knew if you're going to be the first to do something, you better do it right. And they did, despite both sides/songs being over 20 minutes each, they contain no filler at all. On top of that, Thick as a Brick wasn't your typical prog album; instead of mystical themes and spacey virtuosity, Jethro Tull maintained a hard rock/pseudo folk feel to their music. The album's story is about a boy who writes an intricate poem for some kind of contest, but is disqualified for using a four letter word (the word itself never revealed). The judges used the word as an excuse to kick him out; they're disturbed about the poem's entirety and moral. They instead choose a girl who wrote a simple essay about Christian principles. As strange and amusing as it may seem, the whole concept was a statement on British society's unwillingness to confront controversial issues, which still finds itself relevant in today's world.

This epic starts out with the most famous 3 minutes of the whole song, featured on Best of Jethro Tull (just shows how much attention span some people have). While this acoustic folk intro stands on its own as a pleasant song, it can only get better. At 3.05 the song reveals a more hard rock side, like this LP's predecessor Aqualung. But it is still very organ driven as well, an organ solo springs into action very quickly, with a short but sweet guitar solo by Martin Barre. The music themes change very quickly, at around 5 minutes the song changes into a dramatic sounding tune. Still, singer/flutist Ian Anderson keeps it all together with his vocals. With all the drum-filled, guitar driven speed changes, at no point does Thick as a Brick come off as pretentious. The halfway mark for part one comes in seamlessly, as Jethro Tull keep a good pace throughout by varying a lot, but not enough to make the listener get lost from the beginning. That being said, halfway through the song a new theme is introduced, rather abruptly, by John Evans' organ. This marks Thick as a Brick's folksiest moment yet, directed by Anderson's signature flute. That transitions into a jazzy tune which goes on until part one is ended by four frenzied notes repeated into a fade out.

The sudden agitation in mood continues into part two, Thick as a Brick is reintroduced by the same four notes, until quickly breaking into the 3/4 jam first heard at 3.05 in part one, with a more frantic feeling. This feeling is outlined by the burst of music through the guitar and organ, and with a drum solo by Barriemore Barlow accompanied by awkward flute fills. At around 3 minutes the whole thing starts to swirl, themes mixing together, while bassist Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (yeah that's his name) does some spoken word. The music stops. Part two hasn't proven to be as smooth as part one so far. The music starts again. And stops again. This pattern continues a bit, until Barre's acoustic initiates some folksy Tull again. Definitely a change from part two's beginning, the music returns to a pastoral feel, Anderson's voice sounding as good as ever, pinballing between a strange optimism and somberness. At around 12 minutes the song bounces into a catchy, upbeat theme, one of my favourite moments in the album. Thick as a Brick moves into one more theme, a very fast one, before reprising the first 'song'. And so, it ends as it began:

So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
As unbiased as possible, I can say that there are no faults in this album. The only one would probably be that a lot of people wouldn't want to listen to 20+ minute songs, but that's their own fault anyway. Jethro Tull successfully combine hard rock, jazz, folk, and great melodies into a progressive rock opus. Even so, it's way easier to get into, and listen to than other prog rock albums. A definite essential for any fan of the genre.

Thick as a Brick -----------> 5 stars

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user ratings (837)
other reviews of this album
e210013 (5)
The father, or mother as Ian Anderson said, of all concept albums....

vanderb0b (5)
One of the most essential progressive albums to ever be created, Thick As A Brick deserves a spot in...

Hellwhore (5)
Jethro Tull wrote an extremely ambitious and unique album... and it worked astonishingly well!...

AvantKiller (5)
The only way to hear a 40 minutes long song without being boring, is definetly this. "Thick as a Bri...

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 30th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

any comments???

Storm In A Teacup
September 30th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Aqualung and Thick as a Brick are my favorite albums from Jethro Tull.

October 31st 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Thick As A Brick is a superb example of progressive rock. IMO it is far superior to Aqualung (still a good album though)

November 8th 2005


My uncle adores this album. Ive listened to it once all the way through but it has never crossed my mind since. But Ive never never too big a fan of progressive

Theres good writing afoot!

November 8th 2005


I prefer Aqualung, but this is still quite a good record. Ace review, as usual, Mr. Galapogos.

January 19th 2006


An extremely long album if you listen to it all the way through, but when you start it... it's hard to stop. The song gets addicting, and Ian Anderson and the rest of Jethro Tull are amazing for coming up with Thick as a Brick. I give it a 5, definitely a classic.

February 3rd 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

I can think of no other album more deserving of a 5/5.

February 4th 2006


I dont nkow what to make of these guys. Its such a unique sound that I really enjoy. Nice review

February 4th 2006


Sweet album. Probably my favourite by Jethro Tull, and a really important album if you're interested in prog as well, even if it can be a bit daunting.

March 11th 2006


Pure musical genious.....didnt care much for the bonus interview track though

September 3rd 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

I LOVE this album!

I got all J-Tull albums and this is my second favorite after "Minstrel In The Gallery"

Good job on the review

February 14th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

Ahh... amazing album! though it takes forever to listen to... this album is just great to pop in and be amazed with Tull's greatness.

May 19th 2007


This music is great.This Message Edited On 05.19.07

May 19th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Really great album.

May 23rd 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

hawt album right here.

January 3rd 2009


Oh my god this is absolutely intense. So far, 4.5 or maybe even a 5.

February 1st 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

Really dig the drum solo in the beginning of part II

March 24th 2009


This looks pretty essential.

April 21st 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, album is pretty damn good.

May 14th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

The drum solo in part II is wicked.

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