A2Z 2021 Jethro Tull Day 20 – Thick as a Brick – BONUS: whole album! (1972)

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Thick as a Brick is their fifth studio album, released in March 1972. It contains a continuous piece of music, split over two sides of an LP record, and is a parody of the concept album genre. The original packaging, designed like a newspaper, claims the album to be a musical adaptation of an epic poem by fictional eight-year-old genius Gerald Bostock, though the lyrics were actually written by the band’s frontman, Ian Anderson.

The album was recorded in late 1971, featuring music composed by Anderson and arranged with the contribution of all band members. It was the first to include drummer Barriemore Barlow, replacing the band’s previous drummer Clive Bunker. The live show promoting the album included the playing of the full suite, with various comic interludes. Thick as a Brick is considered by critics to be the first Jethro Tull release to entirely consist of progressive rock music. It received mixed reviews upon its release yet was a commercial success, topping various charts in 1972. Today it is regarded as a classic of progressive rock, and has received several accolades. Anderson produced a follow-up to the album in 2012, focusing on the adult life of the fictional Gerald Bostock, titled, “Thick as a Brick 2” or TAAB 2 (pronounced tab-tu.)

Ian Anderson was surprised when critics called the band’s previous album, “Aqualung, a “concept album”. He rejected this, thinking it was simply a collection of songs, so in response decided to “come up with something that really is the mother of all concept albums“.Taking the surreal English humor of Monty Python as an influence, he began to write a piece that would combine complex music with a sense of humor, with the idea it would poke light-hearted fun at the band, the audience, and the music critics. He also intended to satirize the progressive rock genre that was popular at the time…

Anderson has also said that “the album was a spoof to the albums of Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, much like what the movie Airplane! had been to Airport” and later remarked that it was a “bit of a satire about the whole concept of grand rock-based concept albums“. Although Anderson wrote all the music and lyrics, he co-credited the writing to a fictional schoolboy named Gerald Bostock. The humour was subtle enough that some fans believed that Bostock was real. Reviewing the 40th anniversary reissue, Noel Murray suggested that many listeners of the original album “missed the joke.”

Source: wikipedia

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out
My word’s but a whisper your deafness a shout
I may make you feel but I can’t make you think
Your sperm’s in the gutter your love’s in the sink
So you ride yourselves over the fields
And you make all your animal deals
And your wise men don’t know how it feels
To be thick as a brick

And the sandcastle virtues are all swept away
In the tidal destruction the moral melee
The elastic retreat rings the close of play
As the last wave uncovers the newfangled way
But your new shoes are worn at the heels
And your suntan does rapidly peel
And your wise men don’t know how it feels
To be thick as a brick
And the love that I feel is so far away:
I’m a bad dream that I just had today
And you shake your head
And said it’s a shame

Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth
Draw the lace and black curtains and shut out the whole truth
Spin me down the long ages, let them sing the song

See there, a son is born and we pronounce him fit to fight
There are blackheads on his shoulders, and he pees himself in the night
We’ll make a man of him, put him to trade
Teach him to play Monopoly and how to sing in the rain…

The poet and the painter casting shadows on the water
As the sun plays on the infantry returning from the sea
The do-er and the thinker, no allowance for the other
As the failing light illuminates the mercenary’s creed
The home fire burning, the kettle almost boiling
But the master of the house is far away
The horse he is stamping, their warm breath clouding
In the sharp and frosty morning of the day
And the poet lifts his pen while the soldier sheathes his sword
And the youngest of the family is moving with authority
Building castles by the sea, he dares the tardy tide to wash them all aside…

The cattle quietly grazing at the grass down by the river
Where the swelling mountain water moves onward to the sea:
The builder of the castles renews the age-old purpose
And contemplates the milking girl whose offer is his need
The young men of the household have all gone into service
And are not to be expected for a year
The innocent young master, thoughts moving ever faster
Has formed the plan to change the man he seems
And the poet sheaths his pen while the soldier lifts his sword
And the oldest of the family is moving with authority
Coming from across the sea, he challenges the son
Who puts him to the run…

What do you do when the old man’s gone, do you want to be him?
And your real self sings the song, do you want to free him?
No one to help you get up steam
And the whirlpool turns you way off-beam…

I’ve come down from the upper class to mend your rotten ways
My father was a man of power everyone obeyed
So come on all you criminals! I’ve got to put you straight
Just like I did with my old man twenty years too late…

Your bread and water’s going cold, your hair is short and neat
I’ll judge you all and make damn sure that no-one judges me…

You curl your toes in fun as you smile at everyone
You meet the stares, you’re unaware that your doings aren’t done
And you laugh most ruthlessly as you tell us what not to be
But how are we supposed to see where we should run?
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…

I see you shuffle in the courtroom
With your rings upon your fingers and your downy little sidies
And your silver buckle shoes
Playing at the hard case
You follow the example of the comic-paper idol
Who lets you bend the rules…

So, come on ye childhood heroes!
Won’t you rise up from the pages of your comic-books, your super crooks
And show us all the way?
Well, make your will and testament
Won’t you join your local government?
We’ll have Superman for president
Let Robin save the day

You put your bet on number one and it comes up every time
The other kids have all backed down and they put you first in line
And so you finally ask yourself just how big you are

And you take your place in a wiser world of bigger motor cars
And you wonder who to call on (softly)…

So, where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you though?
They’re all resting down in Cornwall
Writing up their memoirs for a paperback edition
Of the Boy Scout manual…

[part 2 begins at about the 22 minute mark]

[LATER]
See there! A man born and we pronounce him fit for peace.
There’s a load lifted from his shoulders with the discovery of his disease.
We’ll take the child from him
put it to the test
teach it to be a wise man
how to fool the rest.

[QUOTE]
We will be geared to the average rather than the exceptional
God is an overwhelming responsibility
we walked through the maternity ward and saw 218 babies wearing nylons
cats are on the upgrade
upgrade? Hipgrave. Oh, Mac.

[LATER]
In the clear white circles of morning wonder,
I take my place with the lord of the hills.
And the blue-eyed soldiers stand slightly discoloured
(in neat little rows) sporting canvas frills.
With their jock-straps pinching, they slouch to attention,
while queueing for sarnies at the office canteen.
Saying: “How’s your granny?” and good old Ernie:
he coughed up a tenner on a premium bond win.
The legends (worded in
the ancient tribal hymn)
lie cradled in the seagull’s call.
And all the promises they made are ground beneath the sadist’s fall.

The poet and the wise man stand behind the gun,
and signal for the crack of dawn. The crack of dawn.
Light the sun. Light the sun.
Do you believe in the day?
Do you? Believe in the day!
The Dawn Creation of the Kings has begun.

Has begun.
Soft Venus (lonely maiden) brings the ageless one.

The ageless one.
Do you believe in the day?

Do you believe in the day?
The fading hero has returned… to the night.

To the night.
and fully pregnant with the day,

wise men endorse the poet’s sight.
Do you believe in the day?
Do you believe… in the day…

Let me tell you the tales of your life
of your love and the cut of the knife
the tireless oppression, the wisdom instilled
the desire to kill or be killed.
Well let me sing of the losers who lie
in the street as the last bus goes by.
The pavements are empty: the gutters run red
while the fool toasts his god in the sky…

So come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year
and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear…


Let me help you to pick up your dead
as the sins of the father are fed
with the blood of the fools
and the thoughts of the wise and
from the pan under your bed.
Let me make you a present of song
as the wise man breaks wind and is gone
while the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose
and the nursery rhyme winds along…

So! Come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year
and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
See! The summer lightning casts its bolts upon you
and the hour of judgment draweth near.
Would you be the fool stood in his suit of armor
or the wiser man who rushes clear…

So! Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won’t your rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super-crooks
and show us all the way.
Well! Make your will and testament.
Won’t you join your local government.
We’ll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day…

So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you through?
They’re all resting down in Cornwall writing up their memoirs
for a paper-back edition of the Boy Scout Manual…

So you ride yourselves over the fields
and you make all your animal deals
and your wise men don’t know how it feels
to be thick as a brick.

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37 Comments Add yours

  1. The lyrics are amazing, almost like listening to someone chatting to themselves. I’ll probably sit back and listen to the album this evening, just for old times sake!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      TAAB is one of their albums I’ve listened to way more than others. Cool I hope you do.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Thick as a Brick” is another of my very favorite Tull songs!! Thanks for the flash-back! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  3. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    I’ve always liked this album. A friend of mine had it and he would play it continually while we played air hockey in their game room in the late 70s…he was a 12 year old Jethro Tull fan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      So awesome. Now that is the kind of friend I would love to have 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

        He was a rich kid…his dad played bass for Lee Greenwood…good guy.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          You’ve rubbed elbows with a lot of celebrities or the friends and relatives of them. Nashville is a happening place! This little berg gets nobody 😦

          Liked by 1 person

          1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

            Yea but at the time you don’t think about it…lol.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Aphoristical says:

    It’s hard to pick individual songs from this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      It’s one big song 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aphoristical says:

        Where the hell was Biggles? ✈️

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Frédérique says:

    Another album that I discover, thank you 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      You’re most welcome, Frederique 🙂

      Like

  6. Iain Kelly says:

    A mix of tracks there, some I liked more than others, but I must say ‘Thick as a Brick’ is a great title for an album 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      🙂 Yes it is! Usually he’s more subtle lol

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ahtdoucette says:

    Wow, this is a long one. I like how it starts “don’t mind if you sit this one out.” It feels like one of those reverse psychology tricks because I was like I don’t know if I feel like listening to a song this long – but now I’m all into it. Darn you, reverse psychology tricks. Plus the happy little flute along with the sarcastic, mouthy lyrics are making me grin. I feel like this song is just what I need today. Will leave it on while finishing my daily writing stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      So glad you’re giving it a chance. It’s worth hearing all the way through at least once.

      Like

  8. Listened to much of the album while eating my chicken soup but must admit I am in the thick-as-a-brick group as I too “missed the joke.” I can imagine this would keep a nightclub hopping all night, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I didn’t realize it was a joke either until I looked for material on the song for the A2Z. It may have been then but it has stood the test of time. Glad you enjoyed it, Gail.

      Like

  9. Marleen says:

    I saw Ian Anderson in 2013; t’was an enjoyable concert.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I bet it was. Lucky you!

      Like

  10. Arlee Bird says:

    This album blew me away when I first heard it and it remains a favorite of mine of the rock genre to this day. It’s really a work of genius. I saw Tull in concert twice in 1975 and they are one of the best live acts I have seen. What a show they put on!

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Yes, it’s an album right up there in the greatness stratosphere. To have seen them twice in 1975 must have been such a thrill. Can’t even imagine how cool it must have been.

      Like

  11. That’s one masterpiece of an album! It’s kind of ironical that nowadays it’s considered a progressive rock classic, even though Anderson’s original intention was to make fun of the genre. Well, I suppose it worked out well for them. It’s amazing Jethro Tull played the entire thing live – lots of stuff going on here to remember!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Yes, one of those places I plan on visiting in the time machine is a live performance of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. memadtwo says:

    I remember when this was ubiquitous on the radio. And not one mention of satire. That’s the most successful kind I suppose. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I haven’t heard TAAB2 where the fictitious composer is now an adult, but I hope to at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. J. says:

    Wow. This is quite something… another one for me to add to the list, though I’m not sure I’d revisit this often (not a slight on the music and lyrics, but I must admit that I find it somewhat overwhelming!). Kinda ironic that it’s considered a prog classic given Anderson’s intentions, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      J, I think Ian had a ‘tude back then, not unlike many other rock gods 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Anne Nydam says:

    He must have had such a blast with this!
    Black and White: T for Tatooine

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I pull this out often. The opening cut just grabbed back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      It was fun going through it and reading all of the lyrics when I put it together. So many times I listen to music but never know the lyrics. This is one of them (except for the obvious lyrics!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to pay more attention to lyrics. Not so much anymore. I get them wrong all the time. I actually did a take on that.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m not going to have time to listen to the entire album but I appreciate the introduction. It’s safe to say I haven’t heard of it or any its content.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Cathy, it’s easy to find out on youtube if you change your mind…

      Like

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