Thick as a Brick is the fifth studio album by the rock band Jethro Tull. It was released in March 1972. The two sides of the album are a continuous piece of music. It is a parody of the concept album genre.
The album was recorded in late 1971 and features music composed by Ian Anderson and arranged with the contribution of all band members. Barrie “Barriemore” Barlow replaced the band’s previous drummer Clive Bunker on this album. The live show for the album included playing of the full record and various comic interludes. This is the first album considered by many critics to be Jethro Tull’s release to entirely consist of progressive rock music. It received mixed reviews upon its release, but was a commercial success and topped various charts in 1972. It is regarded as a classic of progressive rock. Anderson produced a follow-up to the album in 2012, focusing on the adult life of the fictional Gerald Bostock.
The original album cover was designed as a spoof of a 12-page small-town English newspaper, entitled The St. Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser. It had articles, competitions and advertisements lampooning the typical parochial and amateurish journalism of the local English press. Chrysalis Records, the band’s record company, complained that the sleeve would be too expensive to produce, but Anderson countered that if a real newspaper could be produced, a parody of one would also be practical.
The mock newspaper, was dated 7 January 1972 and includes the entire lyrics to “Thick as a Brick” (printed on page 7), It is presented as a poem written by Bostock, whose disqualification from a poetry contest is the focus of the front-page story. This article claims that although Bostock initially won the contest, the judges’ decision was repealed after protests and threats concerning the offensive nature of the poem, along with the boy’s suspected psychological instability.
The newspaper’s contents were written mostly by Anderson, bassist Jeffrey Hammond and keyboardist John Evan. Some of the pieces were obviously silly, such as “Magistrate Fines himself”, but there was also lengthy story entitled “Do Not See Me Rabbit” about a pilot in the Battle of Britain being shot down by a Messerschmitt Bf 109. The layout was designed by Chrysalis’ Roy Eldridge, who had previously worked as a journalist. Most of the characters in the newspaper were members of the band, their management, road crew, or colleagues. Recording engineer Robin Black played a local roller-skating champion. Anderson recalls that the cover took longer to produce than the music.
The satirical newspaper was pared down for conventional CD booklets, but the 25th Anniversary Special Edition CD cover is closer to the original. The 40th anniversary boxed version contains most of the content from the original newspaper.