F2-21003 Thick As A Brick
Produced by Ian Anderson
(though no credit appears as such)
Released on February 18, 1972
GOLD RECORD (5/25/72)
Find it at GEMM
F2-21003 cover
[high resolution scan]

I ’m not sure I can make heads or tales out of this brick, but I’ll try anyway. That it’s a concept album is clear, purported to be a collaboration between Tull and an eight-year-old poet named Gerald “Little Milton” Bostock. Gerald is Ian’s alter ego; whether he represents the young Ian or simply Ian’s childish fancies is somewhat cloudy. A single work broken into two sides, Thick As A Brick is really a collection of songs (or, rather, musical themes) spliced together. I say themes because the record does utilize several melodies over again, functioning as refrains after a sort. For example, the “So your ride…” segment appears toward the beginning and again at the end, “See there! A son/man is born…” appears on the first and second side to introduce a new stage in the character’s development, and so on. Anyway, as for the heads and tales: the first comes into play with the opening thickness theme, delivered in a delightful reverie that expanded on the style introduced with Aqualung’s short acoustic pieces. That peace is soon dispelled as the lead voice (a euphemism, since where Gerald ends and Ian begins is unclear to me) travels “back down the years and the days of my youth.” Here, the work becomes an Oedipal conflict between the young boy and his father, who has gone off to war. Later (and the reference to “later” in the lyric sheet is a signpost that the tale has advanced a generation), the young character is grown to adulthood and serving as a barrister it would seem. But the barrister’s world is one of illusory pleasures, and his son grows up to be a man of peace. It’s tempting to look at this as Ian’s family tree (he being the man of peace, I suppose), but I’ll merely advance the theory without lending it my full support. At the end, the dying old man (who started this story as a young boy) reflects on life and the afterlife, drawing the same cloak of invincibility around himself at the end (as in the beginning) by claiming “your wisemen don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.” From birth to death, then, the great play all played out. As for the music (oh, yeah, right), it’s more organic in tone than Aqualung, acoustic guitars and John Evan’s keyboards intermingling in a fertile setting with minimal use of the electric guitar. There are still the light and dark shadings, but it all meets in a visible middle distance rather than Aqualung’s extreme ranges. Ian, as the liner notes explain (should you have the stamina to pore over the tiny type for tidbits of truth) “extended his virtuosity to violin, sax and trumpet” on this recording, which expands the music considerably (the sax in particular would seem to assume some of the electric guitar’s original role). This album also marked the debut of Barriemore Barlow, poor thing, who outside of one devilish drum solo was left with the unenviable task of pinning a rhythm on a moving donkey. Thick As A Brick remains a brilliant, ambitious record. At the time, it confounded critics, who felt Anderson had grown too big for his britches. For the rest of us, tearing down the wall separating art and music is a lofty goal, which Thick As A Brick does as well as any album.

PV 41003 front cover PV 41003 back cover PV 41003 inner gatefold
PV 41003 back cover PV 41003 front cover PV 41003 inner gatefold


  1. THICK AS A BRICK    (Ian Anderson/Gerald Bostock)    22:45
  2. THICK AS A BRICK    (Ian Anderson/Gerald Bostock)    21:05

    CD reissue bonus tracks

    Arranged by Jethro Tull


Quoted directly from the St. Cleve Chronicle: "Mr. Ellis told me that apart from a short orchestral passage, the members of the group played all the instruments themselves. In addition to his usual flute, acoustic guitar and singing roles, IAN ANDERSON extended his virtuosity to violin, sax and trumpet, while MARTIN BARRE played a few lines on that delightful mediaeval instrument, the lute, as well as his electric guitar. JOHN EVAN played organ, piano and harpsichord, JEFFREY HAMMOND-HAMMOND played bass, guitar and spoke some words, and new drummer BARRIEMORE BARLOW added the timpani and percussion parts."
David Palmer -- conductor of orchestral section, probably
Terry Ellis -- executive producer
Brian Ward -- photography

return to JETHRO TULL discography

UK/FRA February 18, 1972 Chrysalis LP CHR 1003 gatefold cover, newspaper, green label
US/AUS'L/CAN 1972 Reprise LP MS 2072 gatefold cover, newspaper
US   Reprise 8T REP-M-8207  
BRA 1972 Reprise LP RLLP 2007  
ARG/GER 1972 Chrysalis LP 6307 502 gatefold cover, newspaper
JPN 1972 Reprise LP P-8233R  
NET   Chrysalis LP 5C 062 93254 gatefold cover, newspaper
UK/US/CAN   Chrysalis LP/8T CHR/8CH 1003 gatefold cover, blue label reissue
GER   Chrysalis LP 202 654 320 reissue
US   Chrysalis LP/CS PV 41003 gatefold cover
US/JPN   Mobile Fidelity LP MFSL-1-187 original master recording
US 1985 Chrysalis CD F2-21003 lyric sleeve
UK 1986? Chrysalis CD CDP 32 1003  
JPN 1993 EMI/Toshiba CD TOCP-7815  
UK 1998 EMI CDX 495400 25th anniversary remaster w. bonus tracks
US February 9, 1999 Capitol CDX 95400 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
JPN June 23, 2003 EMI/Toshiba CDX TOCP-65883 digital remaster w. bonus tracks


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