This is a reissue, courtesy of earMUSIC Classics, of Ian Anderson’s ‘Thick as a Brick – Live in Iceland’, just a few years after it was originally released, back in 2014. Billed, as are seemingly all the earMUSIC Classics, as a “deluxe Collector’s edition”, the three discs (2 CDs + 1 DVD) are housed within a three-panel digipak that’s nice enough, but doesn’t really scream of “deluxe”. A very basic two page booklet is also included, with liner notes from Ian Anderson himself. It’s interesting that this has been billed as ‘Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson’ on the cover (as it was upon its original release, I understand)… surely the target market for this will already be aware of just who Ian Anderson is? I mean, the man’s a legend. Still, I guess having the Jethro Tull logo on the cover enhances the overall aesthetic.
So, we have a live recording across two CDs, and on the DVD, taken from a show recorded and filmed at the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavík, Iceland on 22nd June 2012. The performance covers two entire albums. The first is from Tull’s fifth studio album, ‘Thick as a Brick’, which was one long, contiguous piece of music about the fictional Gerald Bostock. The second is from ‘Thick as a Brick 2’, released forty years after its predecessor, aptly Anderson’s fifth solo studio album, with ruminations across its seventeen songs about what became of a much older Bostock, had he taken a variety of different paths in life. During 2012 and 2013, he took to the road to perform both albums back to back, and this show was fairly early on during those touring activities.
The CDs both sound clear and sonorous, with all the clarity and resonance one would expect from a recording that’s not all that old. The first ‘Thick as a Brick’ album is performed with admirable ambition and works a treat in doing justice to the original; whereas the second, with its speculated Bostock sagas, reflects more where Anderson was at as a musician at the time of the show, albeit still loaded with Tull-isms galore. Both are great in their own ways although, in terms of compositional astuteness and a well-rounded set of compositions, ‘Thick as a Brick 2’ works better for me than the one long composition that constituted the parodic concept behind Bostock’s early years.
Onto the DVD, then. Musically and performance-wise, it’s top quality stuff across the two sets that span nearly two hours. It’s nice to have the visual accompaniment to the CDs, to see just how it all went down that night. A few theatrics are included throughout, and Anderson, along with his chosen musicians, were evidently having a lot of fun with the material. In terms of supplementary material, three bonus live tracks are also included, as is an interesting fourteen minute Ian Anderson interview. And there’s a nice design to the menu and sub-menu transitions - there’s evidently been some creativity and thought behind these, rather than mere static selections. One thing I will say, though - I believe this also had a Blu-ray release back in the day, so HD fans might want to hunt down the BD. It’s interesting that the DVD has been included in this set, particularly as it’s being touted as a “deluxe Collector's edition”. If an HD rendering of the concert exists, then why not include it in its best possible form? All in all, though, a nice little package.
2CD + DVD
THICK AS A BRICK - LIVE IN ICELAND
Review by Mark Holmes
20th March 2020
CD1: 1) Thick as a Brick
CD2: 1) From a Pebble Thrown; 2) Pebbles Instrumental; 3) Might Have Beens; 4) Upper Sixth Loan Shark; 5) Banker Bets, Banker Wins; 6) Swing It Far; 7) Adrift and Dumbfounded; 8) Old School Song; 9) Wootton Bassett Town; 10) Power and Spirit; 11) Give Til It Hurts; 12) Cosy Corner; 13) Shunt and Shuffle; 14) A Change of Horses; 15) Confessional; 16) Kismet in Suburbia; 17) What-Ifs, Maybes and Might-Have-Beens
DVD: Bonus Material
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"The first ‘Thick as a Brick’ album is performed with admirable ambition and works a treat in doing justice to the original; whereas the second, with its speculated Bostock sagas, reflects more where Anderson was at as a musician at the time of the show..."