Ian Anderson’s “Pirate Music”

For me, Jethro Tull has a unique place in the classic rock lexicon.

One of my favorite musical memories is an entire day of sitting in a room listening to the Songs from the Wood album, hearing these epic tracks stretch out and condense themselves on an old cabinet style record player scavenged from somebody’s front yard.

So imagine my surprise when, a few years ago, the word came out that the band was going to follow-up on Thick as a Brick, an album that’s one of their best-known and prog-rockish pieces.

When TAAB2 came out, I rushed out and bought it, and was initially really disappointed that they didn’t keep the old one-track format, which made the original music more unique, less accessible and less conventional. But over time, the sequel grew on me.

I don’t listen to vinyl anymore, but I can still enjoy the album through the degraded sound experience of the busted-up speaker system in my 2001 Nissan Altima, as I shuttle my kid to and from the day care center. My son’s take on the album is that various tracks are “Jake and the Neverland Pirates music” and that Ian Anderson is “Captain Hook.”

One of the biggest drawbacks of TAAB2 is the subject matter – IMHO there’s entirely too much focus on strange and possibly predatory relationships between Gerald Bostock as a kid, and another character. Just like with the masterful novels of Dennis Lehane or some of the last decade’s best-thought-out television cop shows, it left me kind of wishing they’d left a little bit of the darker stuff out. Regardless, there’s a lot of really interesting social and economic commentary in the album that can cast some light on the weirdness we’ve been through over the last 15 years. And we’ll need that light, as we keep explaining to our kids why it is that certain crummy things are endemic in our social system.

Anyway, there’s also a lot of the classic musical artistry of Jethro Tull in TAAB2. Which is why I was delighted to be able to cover this album in a piece at ANewDomain. So if you want some of the highlights of this album from someone who has listened to it over fifty times, take a look! – and let me know what you think. I thought taking a contrasting approach between the 1970s album and the new one would show a little bit of how TAAB2 is different from the original. And if you do take a listen to it, feel free to put some of your thoughts down on the NewDomain page. I’d ask for comments on this post, but the thousands of spam comments I get make it hard to approve any actual ones. Happy listening!