In 1972, Jethro Tull Threw a 'Brick' to the Top of the Charts

Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson in 1972
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Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

In the summer of 1972, Jethro Tull ascended to the pinnacle of the Billboard 200 with their fifth studio LP Thick As a Brick, a concept album which purported to be a collaboration with a precocious 8-year-old named Gerald Bostock.

Spoiler alert: it really wasn’t.

Following the success of 1971’s Aqualung, Jethro Tull decided to go all in on the concept-album craze that was all the rage at the time...except they really didn’t. Although you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who picked up on it at the time, Ian Anderson had, in fact, been inspired by the work of Monty Python to get a bit cleverer with the band’s work and poke fun at the whole prog-rock genre and its grandiosity while also delivering the concept album to end all concept albums.

"The album was a spoof to the albums of Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer,” Anderson told The Arizona Republic in 2013. “Much like what the movie Airplane! had been to Airport.”

The original packaging of Thick As a Brick was designed to resemble a newspaper, one which assured readers that the contents therein were the band’s musical adaptation of a poem written by 7-year-old genius Gerald “Little Milton” Bostock, a work which had won Bostock an award from the Society of Literary Advancement and Gestation.

Wait, so the acronym for the society is SLAG? You know, maybe we were wrong about no one having picked up on the parodic nature of the album at the time.

Thick As a Brick was designed as a single track (if one which was necessarily split between the two sides of the album), which made it decidedly difficult to release a song as a single, but a highly edited-down version of the title track has effectively been in regular radio rotation for 45 years, just to give you an idea of how successful the album has been over the years.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone who was around at the time of its original release, though: Thick As a Brick was a smash straight out of the box, giving Jethro Tull their first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200.

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