I should have sat this one out. Ian Anderson, apparantly not thrilled with the current state of the Tull brand, has graced us with a whole new episode of his most famous work. A sequel, a continuation, a revisitation, 40 years later, Thickasabrick 2.0. This is the story of Gerald Bostock, who we first met in the original, as Anderson answers the question, whatever happened to him?
Okay, hands up everybody who was wondering that. I know the original Thick pretty well, having obsessed over its cool newspaper album cover and stadium-friendly prog rock back in '72, and other than being a funny character in the newspaper, I can't rightly say I felt any connection to him in the album-length epic song, which, as the joke went, was a word-for-word copy of the poem the ten-year-old wrote that caused a local scandal, blah blah. Anyway, this is Anderson's way back into the story.
I suppose you could try to follow the narrative, but that was the cool thing about the original, you didn't have to, the music was great, the lyrics interesting, and the sound fresh. There's not a new riff or new sound on this update, the same old trick of organ and lead guitar matching each other's solos, and while that might be cool if the song quality was there, instead it sounds a desperate attempt to find where the few million that bought the original are, rather than a sincere interest in what happened to poor Gerald.
And if you try to follow the concept, good luck. Anderson explains that there are several different scenarios here, all plausible futures for the precocious Gerald. Some include an awful early life, with an abusing headmaster, obnoxious cliched upperclass twit friends, there's something about bankers, and he eventually becomes a politician and very wealthy. I have absolutely no idea if he's the thick one, or if it's modern British society. Other stereotypical villains appear, including money-grubbing televangalists, and even Starbucks gets a nudge. Meanwhile Anderson does a wink-wink for old fans, dropping old song titles A Passion Play and Locomotive Breath into the muddle. All this is done with a voice almost unrecognizable, with much of its old devious power gone.