Thick As A Brick 2 - a personal appraisal. This is the album Jethro Tull fans will love. Ok so I'll grant you there is no Martin Barre and it is in reality an Ian Anderson solo album but with a line up of David Goodier (bass), John O'Hara (keyboards and accordion), Florian Opahle (guitar) and Scott Hammond (drums), Ian Anderson has a group of musicians keeping the Jethro Tull flame alight. So what do you get for your money. I'll spare the details of it being a follow up to the original Thick As A Brick as it stands up well to being a stand alone album in its own right. Purporting to be what happened to Gerald Bostock, the mythical writer of the original album, it could very well be the story of anyone who can't find their goal in life and who drifts along in life, from his public school days, the army, banking and sundry other occupations. The album (in its 2cd version) comes with a 24-bit stereo mix, 5.1 surround mix, a dvd of the making of the album, interviews, a lyric reading video by Ian Anderson and pdf files of the lyric translations and the St Cleve.com web pages. Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree was involved with the mixing of the album so you know it will be good. As for the songs, A Change Of Horses and Adrift And Dumbfounded (both of which have been played live for at least a couple of years) are two of the stand out tracks on the album. Of the "new" songs, Wootton Bassett Town, Banker Bets Banker Wins and Kismet in Suburbia are typical Jethro Tull songs which will not disappoint the devotees and will please many. I suppose two questions remain and they are would the inclusion of Martin Barre have made any difference to the final album and how does Florian Opahle stand up to the cut and thrust of playing on an album at last with Ian Anderson. Yes it would have been a different album with Martin but not by much. I miss Martin's guitar playing which has a certain sound and drive which is hard to duplicate by anyone else but is fundamental to a Jethro Tull album. As for Florian, he has made the guitar part his own in any Ian Anderson Band set-up and has proved that he is no Martin Barre clone and has his own sound. Bearing in mind he hasn't the years of experience that Martin has, he certainly has made a great job of the guitar on this album and in the years to come I think he will go on to become an outstanding player in his own right. Of the other musicians, David Goodier's bass playing is a bedrock to the overall sound and he forms a great partnership with the drums of Scott Hammond and John O'Hara is a revelation on keyboards now that he has added the fuller sound of a 21st century Hammond organ set-up. And what of Ian Anderson: the "breathy" flute playing is back, something that to many people has been missing for a few years, and his voice sounds much better than it has been for quite sometime. Granted that it will never be as powerful as it once was, he has taken the wise precaution to narrate a few parts on the album and to write music more suited to his vocal chords as they now are. Bearing in mind that only a few years ago many Jethro Tull/Ian Anderson fans were wondering if we would ever get another album, this is a return to form and in many ways, a unique and certainly original album.