Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson - Thick As A Brick 2 (EMI) ****
It's hard to understand why this album was not released as a Jethro Tull record. The band had not released anything since 2000, so it would've been a wonderful come back, and far more commercially reaching than a solo record. On the other hand, by not releasing it as a Jethro Tull record shows that Ian Anderson does not like to take an easy way out. But, let's talk about the music here.
"Thick As A Brick" was a Jethro Tull album released back in 1972. It was a career defining record, and the band plays this material live regularly. So, what in the world made Ian Anderson wanting to go back and revisit the theme 40 years later? That's a question only the man himself can answer.
The album combines the past and present musically. Some old themes are revisited, and they make a very nice connection between now and then. The general feel of the album is very modern with some ghost of the past appearing on the horizon. Anderson is a very clever writer, and he appears to be having a lot of fun here. He has a solid back up band, and Florian Opahle is a great guitar player. Very fitting and complementing to Anderson's style.
"TAAB 2" as it is titled for short, is a very demanding record. It helps to already be familiar with the original. Anderson certainly had his die-hard fan base in mind when he undertook this project, but the process can work backwards as well. In fact, this writer wonders if that's not the trick? Anderson is combining the elements of rock, burlesque, and English wit all into one here, not to mention some impressive flute work!
In the age of hard-line commercialism, quick success stories with zero longevity, Ian Anderson stands brave and presents something very unusual, yet long awaited! "TAAB 2" requires repeated listens, but offers great rewards, and once in a lifetime touch of mastery. Can't wait to see this live!