‘Thick as a Brick’ gets an update after 40 years, impressing fansLOS ANGELES — One thing that never really dies is a truly progressive rock album. A case in point is Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick,” originally released in 1972, before disco, punk and rap. Back then, “Brick” was significant for its 44-minute song created around the idea that it was an epic poem written by a boy. Now, Jethro Tull’s singer, flautist and frontman Ian Anderson is commemorating the album’s 40th anniversary with a follow-up to the original, “Thick as a Brick 2,” and a tour.
As a sign that “Brick” still continues to lure fans, the new record recently entered U.S. charts at No. 55, Anderson’s highest debut in 25 years. Anderson, now 64 years old, recently spoke with Reuters about his new album, tour and the ever-changing music scene.
Q. Is it true you were asked many times to do a follow-up to “Thick as a Brick” but always avoided it?
A. Yes, my attitude has always been unwaveringly no, as I don’t want to go back in some nostalgic way to rekindle the music. But last year, I started to think about what might have become of the fictitious child poet, Gerald Bostock, who wrote the lyrics for the original album, and what might have happened to the St. Cleve Chronicle, the 16-page newspaper which formed the packaging. And that inspired this whole idea of what might have happened to Gerald 40 years later. So I wrote down a number of possibilities, and saw that instead of just exploring one, it gave me a chance to examine a number of those life changing moments that happen to us all.
Musically and stylistically, the new album really picks up where “Thick as a Brick” left off. Did you feel any pressure to go for a more contemporary sound?
No, in terms of instrumentation I deliberately wanted to stay with the instruments that were then, and are now, the archetypal ones of rock — the Les Paul guitar, which is like a Stradivarius, the Fender Jazz bass, the Hammond organ, the flute. These are the tools of my trade, so I wanted to keep the same sonic palette I had on the original album and stay away from conspicuous synthesizers and digital instruments. And artistically and musically it’s fun to make a few references — a nod and a wink — to earlier musical ideas and motifs.