I could only describe TAAB as a single song opus, inside a rock musical and wrapped up in a concept album. It was one single track, broken only by flipping the album over to play side two.
Sgt. Pepper and Tommy didn’t even try that trick.
Seen by his fans and contemporaries in ’72 as eccentric, Anderson’s remained that way in my mind all these years. And now that he’s returning to this great work to remake it as Thick as a Brick II, it’s a perfect illustration of that.
I graduated from high school in 1972 and the original TAAB came out that summer. I bought the 8 track and proceeded to wear it out in my ’63 Corvette’s “under dash” player, with an aftermarket, spring-driven reverb unit installed right next to it. The album spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Top 40 Album chart and two weeks at No. 1.
The album (or 8 track) came with a “newspaper” called the St Cleve. It was a brilliant self-review of the album, done by Anderson, complete with local news stories and his view of everyday working class England at the time. Complete with obits and stories of the Bostock child, closer to the back, lyrics to the songs. All were fabricated, of course, to fit the album’s story line.
Spin the hands on the clock 40 years, and Anderson’s produced “Thick as a Brick 2,” that carries the story forward from the original album staring eight-year-old Gerald (“Little Milton”) Bostock, Ian’s mythical child character and star of the original album. It also offers various answers to the once burning question, “Whatever happened to Gerald Bostock?”.
“If you look at the big picture of Jethro Tull fans over the years, it would probably impact in a positive way maybe half of them, if they gave it a listen,” says the 65-year-old Anderson, known for his manic one legged pose and flute solos. “Which is probably where ‘Thick as a Brick’ was back in 1972.
“Sometimes it’s nice to sit down to a bit of a banquet and enjoy it. If you want to snack on fast food, you go buy an album that’s got lots of three-minute tracks on it … But this is a project, something you can get your teeth into — and for those of us who have any left, it’s good to do that.”
Anderson isn’t billing this as Jethro Tull, even though a couple of the original members are with him. Why? He wants no expectation that this is going to be a greatest hits concert; it’s TAAB2. The point of the production is to explain a handful of scenarios concerning what became of Bostock, not a replay of the classics “Aqualung,” “Cross-Eyed Mary” and “Locomotive Breath.”
Speaking of graduating in 1972, I’ve stayed in touch with a good friend named John Wayne, who now lives in Reykjavík, Iceland. In talking with him about this last week, he told me he’d gone to see TAAB2 in June at Harpa Hall, a 1600 seat venue, much like the Kauffman Center. John said it was a great show. Anderson was asked just before the concert where the name “Jethro Tull” came from and he attributed it to his agent who thought it was “a cool name for a band”.
“Jethro Tull,” in real life, was actually a British agriculturist who invented the seed drill in 1701
This Saturday, your well-coiffed Scribe will be sitting front and center to hear and make decisions between, Gerald the banker, Gerald the homeless man, Gerald the military man, Gerald the preacher and, finally, Gerald the most ordinary man.
I’m sure it’s going to be a great show for those with the acquired taste of Tull.
I count myself among them.