Thursday, February 19, 2009

Album of the Day

A Passion Play, by Jethro Tull (1973): This the second album in a row that Tull produced containing only two tracks -one on each side of an old LP. They're both concept albums, but they come across very differently. The predecessor, Thick as a Brick, is, according to Ian Anderson, a response to critics and fans who incorrectly labeled Aqualung a concept album. It's supposed to be a parody of the form, complete with the backstory that the lyrics were actually a controversial poem written by a grade schooler. It also happens to be an excellent example of the form, that manages to be epic, playful, clever, and satirical with great aplomb.

What's odd is that the following A Passion Play strikes me as exactly the sort of bloated, rambling, and pretentious project that Thick as a Brick parodies. It sounds like the band is trying to hard. The music isn't as accessible and there's a odd spoken word break that sits (to paraphrase Monty Python) like a silver turd in the middle of the album. It's as if Anderson, having had his fun with Brick decided to do a "proper" concept next. Regardless, it's always struck me as a pale shadow of its predecessor.

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