Released four decades after Thick as a Brick
, this sequel explores five different narrative arcs for the life of the original's protagonist Gerald Bostock, and in some respects the album's a pretty good follow-up, but in other respects not so much.
What's most notable about Part II
is how closely the production recreates the sound of the original, such that it's easy to imagine that - had the original Thick as a Brick
been a double-album - in terms of overall 'feel', this album could've sat alongside Part I
quite comfortably, with no glaring disparity between them.
As such - although this is touted as an Ian Anderson solo album, it's not especially typical of his solo output - as it sees Anderson redeploying the 'traditional' Jethro Tull sound of the early 1970's, which is certainly preferable to his many erratic departures from that sound in subsequent decades.
On the downside, Part II
is nowhere near as strong as the original album in terms of melodic ideas, though - aside from lyrical references to Aqualung
's "Locomotive Breath" and A Passion Play
- from time-to-time it also quotes musical phrases from Part I
. And whilst they on the one hand strengthen the sense of cohesion between the two albums, they also tend to underscore the absence of equally strong musical motifs in Part II
Of course, it was never likely to be the case that such a belated sequel would match the highly-acclaimed original. After all, Part I
was created when Anderson was at his artistic peak, long before he had throat surgery (resulting in some spoken-word sections on this outing), and what's more with an entirely different line-up of musicians behind him.
Still, just as the original Thick as a Brick
was accompanied by a parody of a local newspaper, there's likewise a fullblown website to accompany this sequel, at www.stcleve.com
(blue text is to highlight only, it's not a clickable link).
All in all then, my feeling is that diehard fans of the original Thick as a Brick
will be delighted with this follow-up, but anyone else would likely see it as like most sequels - a valiant attempt, but one that inevitably falls short - too much a case of "Living in the Past". Rated:
by Reviewer: bluemoon