Ian Anderson, Thick As a Brick 2
Jethro Tull’s audaciously ambitious 1972 concept album, “Thick As a Brick,” made prog-rock history. For the album’s 40th anniversary, frontman Ian Anderson — sans Tull — has crafted a sequel that’s just as ambitious as its predecessor. Like the original, Thick As a Brick 2 comprises one continuous, album-length suite with a linear lyrical narrative but multiple shifts in feel. Wisely, Anderson eschewed overt musical modernization in favor of a style that’s more in keeping with the folk/rock/classical amalgam of Tull’s ’72 prog milestone. Anderson’s melodic motifs are consistently compelling, and his trademark sardonic wit remains sharp as he examines the possible paths taken by Gerald Bostock (the fictional child around whom the original album’s concept revolved), who would now be 48 years old. Trying to follow in the footsteps of such a classic-rock staple could easily have been disastrous, but Anderson triumphs against the odds. Even without his Tull mates, he convincingly picks up where he left off four decades earlier, proving that there are still vital sonic statements to be made within the old-school prog-rock realm.