This week sees the release of Ian Anderson’s latest solo album, Thick As a Brick 2. It’s the sequel to Jethro Tull‘s classic Thick As A Brick from 1972. Since Tull is still an ongoing group, why make this a solo record?
“I’ve done most of my shows over the last ten years under my own name. The shows that are billed as Jethro Tull are the shows where we do the ‘best of.’ I enjoy that, I enjoy playing with (Jethro Tull members) Martin Barre and Doane Perry. When it’s something a little different, when it’s a project like an orchestra or a string quartet or acoustic tours or in this case doing Thick As A Brick, I feel more comfortable having my own ‘Roger Waters moment.'”
He explains further: “Thick As A Brick is my baby, back in 1972, I wrote this, the guys hadn’t got a clue what this was all about, they trusted me, they did their best to play it, but it was my baby. Their contributions were huge and very important as musicians, but the concept, the lyrics the whole nature of the thing, the arrangement, it was mine, and Thick As A Brick 2 was mine. It’s actually not my baby, it’s my grandchild.” To recap: if you’re going to see a concert billed as Jethro Tull, expect the hits, but Anderson’s tours are a bit different. This time around, Anderson will be playing material from both Thick As A Brick albums.
Indeed, Anderson is now in full-on Thick As A Brick mode, and has gone so far as to create Facebook and Twitter profiles for the album’s central character, Gerald Bostock. Recently, a photo from the set of the cult favorite TV show Walking Dead was posted to Gerald’s Facebook page. That’s because Andrew Lincoln, who plays the show’s star, Rick Grimes, is Ian’s son-in-law. But don’t ask him about the cliff-hanger season finale. “It’s quite hard for me to watch… Andy’s one of the family. It’s like my wife, she can’t watch me on stage, it’s just too weird. The idea that you’re at a concert, and just a few hours later, you’re gonna slip naked between the sheets with someone you’re watching on stage… It’s quite hard to detach yourself from someone that you know in the family capacity and then somehow divorce yourself from that when you watch them do their shtick. I can’t quite shake the idea that Officer Rick Grimes is in Cornwall on a brief holiday with my daughter and he will be sleeping with her tonight.”
Back to Gerald: Thick As A Brick 2 is broken into sections of his life’s journey, detailing what would have happened since the first Brick LP. The “Gerald The Banker” section features the song “Banker Bets, Banker Wins,” which leads to a conversation about the current financial crisis and the generosity (or lack thereof) of the mega-rich. ”We do see people like Bill Gates, who have been very successful in life, and chosen to give back to society. It would have been interesting to see if Steve Jobs would have done the same thing. I don’t believe that, at any time during the reign of Steve Jobs, there any sense of giving in the charitable sense. That did not seem to be part of his game plan.”
“Indeed, it was something that I wanted to talk to him about when we were supposed to meet last year. Sadly, that meeting didn’t take place. He was forced to cancel the meeting. At that point, we knew he was dying.” The two started communicating when Anderson allowed Jethro Tull’s music to be sold at the iTunes store, and Jobs reached out. ”I don’t know how he got my email address, though,” quips the singer.
Thick As A Brick 2 is out now; Anderson’s U.S. tour kicks off September 18 in Miami.
— Brian Ives CBS Local