REVIEW: Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson – TAAB2 Thick As A Brick 2

Jethro Tull’s IAN ANDERSON – TAAB2 Thick As A Brick 2 (EMI 2012)

Holy crap!  This is a great album!  I have no hesitation in ranking this among my favourite Jethro Tull albums.  And yes, I consider this a Jethro Tull album.  All that is missing is Martin Barre.  The story goes that Martin does not enjoy the studio process, and the album is billed as “Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson”.  Something like that Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi disc.  Or, Blackie Lawless & W.A.S.P.  David Coverdale & Whitesnake.  The list goes on!

This is what I would consider quintessential Tull:  Lots of fluttery flute, nice acoustic moments, and very traditional sounding bits. All this with stunning electic riffs, and complexity of arrangement like a roller coaster.  And my God, what an album!  I have confidence in saying that Thick As A Brick 2 is a fine sequel.  Not The Empire Strikes Back, nor The Wrath of Khan…it’s more Aliens.  Catch my drift?  Don’t expect the same thing.  What you loved about the original might be here in different form.  This is a sleeker Brick, 40 years older, dealing with the modern age and the passage of time.

The concept is this:  Where would Gerald Bostock from Brick 1 be, 40 years after that newspaper?  Ian Anderson images five”might-have-beens”.  Perhaps Gerald would become a big money banker.  Or an opposite of that; homeless.  What forks might Gerald take in the road?  And where do they end?  This story inspired Anderson to write some excellent music.  And yes, the album is divided into songs.

There are numerous musical themes that recur, tying the album together.  There are also musical clues from Tull albums past.  The biggest hook on the album is the main riff in “Banker Bets, Banker Wins”, a stunning triumph.  “Swing It Far” is like harder Tull, and it’s splendid.  There are numerous excellent flute, organ, guitar, and piano solos, but also plenty of hooks and catchy riffs.  Just listen to “Old School Song” as an example.

Ian has assembled an excellent band:  David Goodier is the current bassist in Jethro Tull.  Also from Tull is keyboardist John O’Hara.  On guitars is the very talented Florian Opahle.  On drums is Scott Hammond, who has filled in with Jethro Tull.  You can see why it is easy to consider this a Tull album.

Of all the new albums released so far in 2012, Thick As A Brick 2 is one that I have played most frequently, it has simply captured me.  In spite of this, I still have not even watched the included DVD!  A 5.1 mix of this great album is included, as well as making-ofs and interviews.  I’ll have to get around to watching this (when the wife isn’t watching her damned sports).

5/5stars

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17 comments

  1. Nice. Tull is not a band I’ve gone too far towards. And ya know, instead of complaining about her damn sports (and isn’t this a role reversal here, usually the damn lady complains about the damn guy watching too much damn sports?), you could just watch the damn DVD in your damn computer while the damn game is on in the other damn room. You do have the damn technology, my good man. Damn.

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  2. I just love Jethro Tull! I have to be honest, though, and say that I haven’t followed their career beyond J-Tull.com although I have been tempted to pick up some of Ian’s solo records. I’m intrigued about this now… the live track sounds really promising.

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  3. HMO – You haven’t missed much! Since J-Tull.com, all they have done is a Christmas album and a few assorted hits and live things. That’s it. TAAB2 is probably as close as we’ll ever get, if Martin Barre doesn’t record albums anymore.

    isaacandsophie – The 5.1 surround sound is the thing. My big living room system is where the wife watches her sports :) In the meantime I have only listened to it in 2.0.

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  4. Ha ha, nice to see someone else who likes this album. Usually I only read people whinging about it spoiling nostalgia or the circumstances of its creation rather than whether its good in and of itself.

    I definitely agree about “Banker Bets, Banker Wins” …what a catchy song!

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    1. If TAAB2 had just been another album, unrelated to the original, I think those same fans would love it. As soon as you put the number “2” on something, fans seem to lose their minds. I wonder if the only thing Ian could have done to upset more people would have been to cast Ben Affleck as Martin Barre! ;)

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      1. Ha ha. Martin Batfleck.

        I know what you mean. The amount of grief Operation Mindcrime 2 gets (for what is essentially their best, heaviest, proggiest post-Promised Land) album is unbelievable.

        I remember as soon as this album got announced thinking “Ooooh, that was a mistake, everyone will complain.”

        Good thing it actually turned out brilliant anyway.

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        1. I was one of the guys who liked Mindcrime 2 a lot when it came out — I rated it 4/5 at the time. Since then, I have to reconsider. I listened to it a couple times recently and I was surprised that it wasn’t grabbing me and I couldn’t remember the songs.

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        2. I think its got two or three duds, and doesn’t end on the strongest note, but most of the album really gets me going.

          “Signs Say Go” “Murderer?” and “The Chase” are all among my favourite tracks by the band. I’d love to see Toddryche drop some of them in the setlist after a few years.

          Also, for some reason, “The Trial” really reminds me of Tool. I think its the bass.

          Although, priorities. “My Global Mind” and “Bridge” should get an airing too, first.

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        3. I absolutely would love to hear ToddRyche drop some later material in the set. Whether they will or won’t, we’ll have to see although I imagine they’d have no issue playing songs that they had a hand in writing. I think at this point they are forging ahead assuming that they will be able to keep the name. When the case is resolved I think they’ll be a lot more comfortable to spread out. Right now they differentiating themselves from the other band and I get that strategy.

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        4. Agreed.

          It makes sense to keep doing the whole “First Five Releases Only” thing to win back all the lost fans.

          I just hope they don’t delete everything between 1991-2012 forever. It’d be overkill to lose all the good material from then for the rest of their career.

          That being said, when I saw them live, the early-material setlist was absolutely perfect. The only way to get any better is if they get bigger and get to have longer shows, so they can keep all the early classics, play more of their new songs, and then pepper in a few sneaky songs from the “bad years”

          I read loads of people online crying out for Promised Land in particular.

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        5. I’d go for Promised Land material in a heartbeat. I rate that album as my second favourite, up against Rage For Order. I saw them on that tour (reviewed the show here somewhere…) and I think the timing of that album with grunge was unfortunate. That album strikes as deeply personal, regarding DeGarmo’s lyrics. Tate nailed it on that album, but perhaps Todd could do it.

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        6. I do think the public did miss out on some absolutely great music by being to strict on guilty-by-association bands.

          Be that taditional metal, hair metal, punk, prog, nu metal, metalcore. If you belonged to one scene, it seems a lot of people hated other scenes too much instead of just picking and choosing which bands they liked overall from all music.

          I watch documentaries about Punk where they dismissed all Prog ever. I see documentaries about Punk or Grunge where they dismiss all Metal ever, I see Metal musicians who release something in the same decade as nu metal get slated forever even if they didn’t actually sound anything like it.

          People need to both be more open minded and stop jumping to conclusions based on timing.

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        7. Oh yes indeed. In a nutshell, they did a three sided album (on a CD.) Side one was all funky rock songs. Side two was more sentimental, ballady stuff. Side three was a 20 minute song split into 3 parts complete with symphony.

          It was a very brave move, coming off a huge hit like More Than Words. Even though there was a ballady side, there was nothing like More Than Words. It was more serious, somber, deeper. Although one song called Tragic Comic was a minor hit.

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