June 3, 1972: Jethro Tull ‘Thick as a Brick’ Hits #1

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ThickAsABrick25thAnnivA milestone of both progressive rock music and conceptual albums, the nearly 44-minute long-player that consists of one song was intended as a parody of both, influenced by the absurdist humor of the Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch comedy show airing on BBC TV at the time. Yet Thick as a Brick also succeeded in being one of the most musically accomplished albums and cleverest concepts of the progressive era.

The flute-playing, codpiece-wearing Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson conceived the record as a response to critics tagging the group’s previous LP, Aqualung, as a concept album – he insists it was not – and the complex and at times bombastic music of such bands as Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He credited the lyrics to an epic poem written by an eight-year-old genius schoolboy, Gerald Bostock, a character he created who took on a life of his own among Tull fans.

This ad for the album appeared in the May 6, 1972 edition of Record World

The cover lampoons small town English newspapers, folding out into a 12-page replica of the fictional St. Cleve Chronicle & Linwell Advertiser. Included was a review of the album pseudonymously written by Anderson that captures the ingenious duality of the whole affair and rates it as “at worst entertaining and at least aesthetically palatable.”

Related: Our 2023 interview with Ian Anderson on Tull’s past, present and future

Thick as a Brick was Tull’s fifth album and the band demonstrated remarkable growth in popularity: their first four albums peaked at #62 (1968’s This Was), #20 (1969’s Stand Up), #11 (1970’s Benefit) and #7 (1971’s Aqualung) on the U.S. sales chart. Thick as a Brick reached the #1 spot On This Day. (Its 1973 follow-up, A Passion Play, did as well). Surprisingly, no music from the album was released as a single.

Related: Our Album Rewind of Thick as a Brick

Jethro Tull are on tour. tickets are available here and here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. music all day
    #1 music all day 3 June, 2022, 22:59

    Music from “Thick As A Brick” album was released as a single:

    “Thick As A Brick, Part 1” A-side, 3:02

    “Thick As A Brick, Part 2” B-side, 3:08

    Single was released in a lot of countries across Europe, including Belgium where it reach #44 on the singles charts.

    Single “Thick As A Brick, Part 1” is also included on album “M.U. – The Best Of Jethro Tull”.

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