Thick As A Brick is quite possibly the BEST SOUNDING ALBUM Jethro Tull ever made. It’s dynamic; has really solid, deep punchy bass; transparency and sweetness in the midrange; tubey-magical acoustic guitars and flutes; in other words, the record has EVERYTHING that we go crazy for here at Better Records. I can guarantee you there is no CD on the planet that could ever do this recording justice. The Hot Stamper pressings have a kind of MAGIC that just can’t be captured on one of them there silvery discs.
We play quite a few original British and domestic copies of this record when we do these shootouts and let me tell you, the sound and the music are so good I can’t get enough of it. Until about 2007 this was the undiscovered gem (by me, anyway) in the Tull catalog. The pressings I had heard up until then were nothing special, and of course the average pressing of this album is exactly that: no great shakes. But with the advent of better record cleaning fluids and much better tables, phono stages and the like, some copies of Thick As A Brick have shown themselves to be AMAZINGLY GOOD SOUNDING. Even the All Music Guide could hear how well-engineered it was.
We Love the Complexity
When you can hear it right, the music really comes to life and starts to work its magic. All the variations on the themes separate themselves out. Each of the sections, rather than sounding repetitive or monotonous, instead develop in ways both clever and engaging. The more times you listen to it the more nuances and subtleties you find hidden in the complexity of the music. (Just the number of time-signature changes on either side is enough to boggle the mind. Of course, if you listen very carefully you can hear that most of them are accompanied by edits, but it’s fun to listen for those too!)
Simply put, the more you play it the better you understand it and the more you will like it. (This is of course true for all good music.)
We happened to do the shootout for Thick as a Brick the same week as Commoner’s Crown, and let us tell you, those are two records with shockingly real dynamics in the grooves of the best copies. If you like your music loud — which is just another way of saying you like it to sound LIVE — then the better copies of either album are guaranteed to blow your mind with their dynamic energy and power.
It’s the Engineer?
That can’t be a coincidence, can it? Well, it can, but in the case of these two albums it seems it isn’t. The engineering for both records was done by none other than Robin Black at Morgan Studios. Robin co-produced Commoner’s, takes the main engineering credit, and is solely credited with the mix. He is the sole engineer on TAAB (along with lots of other Tull albums, including Benefit and Aqualung).
Apparently he has no problem putting the dynamic contrasts and powerful energy of the live performance into his recordings and preserving them all the way through to the final mix. God bless him for it.