Grateful Dead- From the Mars Hotel (1974): 23 September 2019

Grateful Dead – From the Mars Hotel (1974)

Welcome back to YDCS! This week we’re taking a listen to one of my favorite albums by the Grateful Dead, From the Mars Hotel. The Grateful Dead tend to inspire passionate feelings on both sides of the aisle, but From the Mars Hotel is the easiest transition into their music. We’ve already covered American Beauty on YDCS which was much more inspired by blues and acid rock. This seventh studio album still pulls from the blues roots that inspired the band in the first place but we hear more “jam rock” coming out of this album than the former. It’s one of the least acid-rock inspired albums in their repertoire, features a number of the band’s biggest hits, and is generally an easy-going kind of album to listen to.

There’s really a lot to like about From the Mars Hotel. All of the songs on the album work really well together as a cohesive unit but there’s enough variety to keep listeners interested. I found that a significant part of that came from putting songs with significantly different tempos back-to-back and using jazzy, syncopated beats to give up-tempo songs a groovy drive. There’s a lot of big hits on this one so enough talk, time to get to the album. I hope you enjoy it!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

U.S. Blues: You’ve got to open an album with a catchy song to capture interest, and “U.S. Blues” does a decent job of that. It’s not the strongest song on the record but it has its moments where it shines. I love the fuzz from the guitar that reminds you that this isn’t just a blues track, it’s a rock track too. “U.S. Blues” is a good song in its own right but pales slightly when you compare it to what’s coming up on the rest of the album. This is like the appetizer, good but you want more. Dad’s Rating 6/10

China Doll: “China Doll” is the first of a few slow tracks on this album. Slow tracks normally bore me and this is no exception. It takes a special ballad (like some of the others on this album to be frank) to hold my attention, and “China Doll” is one of those songs that remind you that you’re listening to the Grateful Dead and they were likely high when they wrote the song.  Dad’s Rating /10

Unbroken Chain: “Unbroken Chain” is one of the band’s best songs, both in terms of instrumentation, harmony, and story. Dissecting that, the instrumentation on this track is beautiful. The keyboard plays a more central role until the midsection where this becomes a spacey (maybe of Mars?!), faster-paced song. The synthesizer that creates spaceship noises helps to pull the whole song together and link the different solos. The vocals are top-notch and show off the range of Phil Lesh’s musical ability. Finally, the story. The rumor among Deadheads was that “Unbroken Chain” would be the last song the band performed live and would never be played before then. Almost true to form, “Unbroken Chain” was only performed on the band’s penultimate tour in 1995 then again at their last concert later that year. The story, the beauty, and the balance come together here for a fantastic song. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Loose Lucy: I’m a big fan of “Loose Lucy,” and I’ve kept it on repeat for a good portion of the week. What appeals to me is the groovy, slightly funky instrumentation driven mostly by the keyboard. Instrumentally this isn’t the most complex song on the album but it’s a fun track to groove out to. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Scarlet Begonias: “Scarlet Begonias” is one of my favorite songs, hands-down. There’s a lot to like about this song too, starting with the drums. The syncopated beat that Kreutzmann lays down initially gives the song a jazzy feeling, but then the dual guitars playing off-beat syncopated harmonies changes it to almost a reggae-track. You can use a variety of genres to try and define “Scarlet Begonias,” but it ultimately comes down to ‘jam.’ Matter-of-factly, the Dead would often turn this song into an extended jam session during their live performances because it lends itself so well to that idea. “Scarlet Begonias” is one of those songs that is simple on first listen but reveals more of itself the more you listen to it, and I’ll always have a soft spot for it among my favorite songs. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Pride of Cucamonga: “Pride of Cucamonga” was the only song from this album that was never played live. Yes, among the hundreds and hundreds of live Grateful Dead recordings you will never hear “Pride of Cucamonga.” Interestingly, the song starts off as a soft, easy-listening blues rock track, takes a break with a hard rock middle, and transitions back to the soft rock sound to finish off. This is a fun song that shows great musicality in the backing keyboard, attention-grabbers in the shouts of “oh-oh” during the chorus, and great band cohesiveness. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Money Money: This track sounds the least traditional Grateful Dead song on the album, and I’m okay with it. I dislike when albums sound the same throughout and “Money Money” pulls from all over the place to create a really unique song. The song is peppered with jazz chords to give it a funk sound but the guitar and vocals tell a different song and could have almost been copied from a Motown record. This is a great song that doesn’t get pulled out of the catalog much. I hesitate to call it a hidden gem because From the Mars Hotel is a landmark album for both the Dead and jam rock, but it definitely deserves a listen. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Ship of Fools: “Ship of fools, sail away from me.” That’s such a poetic way to end an album. When you listen to this track, you can feel the passion in Garcia’s voice, and the gospel inspired instrumentation helps lift the song to new heights, pausing only for a soft guitar solo as if it were a choir soloist. Wrap this one up. Dad’s Rating 9/10

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Night Ranger- Dawn Patrol (1982): 17 September 2019

Night Ranger – Dawn Patrol (1982)

Another week and another album on YDCS! We’re taking a foray into the 1980s today with the debut album from Night Ranger, Dawn Patrol. This act out of California was best known for some of the biggest rock hits of the 80s in “Sister Christian,” and the first song on this album, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” featuring a heavy rock sound that was anthemic at the time but trended towards mainstream at the end of the decade. By the end of the 80s, a host of acts that included Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Ratt, Winger, and Bon Jovi.

Like a lot of people, I was only really familiar with the band’s biggest hits like the ones previously mentioned, “(You Can Still) Rock In America” and “When You Close Your Eyes.” I was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised to find that Dawn Patrol features that exact same heavy rock sound throughout the album. I dislike when albums feature the same sound across every song. If a song is meant to be a single act or story I understand it and actually like it, but when every song is about something different and sounds exactly the same as the one before it, I have about a two-song tolerance for that before I start getting irritated. My chief complaint with Dawn Patrol is that it falls into this trap. It has a few good songs on it, but the ordering and large amount of filler ends up hurting the album as a whole. There are still some bright spots and the self-titled song “Night Ranger” was a pleasant surprise, but the album left some to be desired. Let me know what you think!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Don’t Tell Me You Love Me: “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” was born destined to be a big hit and nails all the marks for a power rock track. Big guitars, big harmonies, big solos, and generally insubstantial lyrics. I enjoy this song a lot, but like most of the songs on the album, I would classify them as ‘fun’ not ‘good’ from a musical standpoint. Many of the songs don’t display much musicianship and play to man’s more base listening preferences. Having said that, this track does it so well that it almost crosses the line from ‘fun’ to ‘good,’ and that takes chops. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Sing Me Away: I like that this second song on the album, while decidedly more downtempo than the first, feels more technical than the first. The chorus is a joy to listen to and I enjoy the vocal harmony that the band uses here; it gives the song more depth and makes it more interesting. Not a bad one! Dad’s Rating 6/10

At Night She Sleeps: Unusually, I don’t have any strong opinions about a song. “At Night She Sleeps” just sounds like any other power rock song from the early 80s. It’s not particularly special and easily forgettable. This is a hallmark of album filler. It’s not bad, just neutral. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Call My Name: As power ballads go, this is a pretty good one! The buildups through the verses are adequate and the choruses are loud and passionate. I wish that there was more energy behind the song though. Everything feels a little flat and forced in a way. A power ballad should inspire you and make you want to cry and rock out at the same time. While “Call My Name” hits the marks from a technical perspective, it’s the passion that’s lacking.  Dad’s Rating 6/10

Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight: I will give “Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight” credit for one thing and that’s making me remember “He like to rock, he like to roll,” and having that stuck in my head. Otherwise, I find the lead vocals grating on this track and there’s not enough interesting instrumentation to hold my attention. It’s on this point in the album when all of the power rock starts to blend together into something that resembles the soundtrack from Heavy Metal. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Can’t Find Me A Thrill: “Can’t Find Me A Thrill” suffers from the same problem that we’ve been running into up to this point, it sounds exactly like the rest of the album and there’s no break or identifying features that make it stand out. If you’ve been listening along, you could skip this song at this point and not be any worse for wear. Dad’s Rating 4/10

Young Girl In Love: I was hopeful that “Young Girl In Love” would bring something new to the table. A ballad, an instrument that isn’t a guitar playing power chords, anything. I was disappointed. The sparks of hope here are that there can only be so much power metal on three more songs on the album and the vocal harmonies on the chorus break up the song the tiniest smidgen. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Play Rough: A BREAK FROM POWER CHORDS!! Nevermind…Dad’s Rating 3/10

Penny: I actually like “Penny!” Where a lot of the songs on the album could be classified as filler material, “Penny” feels like a well-planned out song from the beginning. In the first few seconds I sensed more musicality here than I had on a lot of the songs from that short guitar solo, and it actually reminded me of songs similar to what Duran Duran or Def Leppard would record. This is power rock done right. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Night Ranger: We’re finishing the album with something that sounds different! The syncopated melody and keyboard melody that appears throughout the track helps break this song up from the other songs on the album. The transition to a pseudo-speed metal track towards the end is a fun little twist and interesting way to end the album too. It might be a little while before I take on another power rock album, but this has been an interesting experiment to see where Night Ranger came from and what else they were capable of on their first album.

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Heart- Little Queen (1977): 9 September 2019

Heart – Little Queen (1977)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! I hope you enjoyed Boston last week. This week we’re going one year past the release of Boston to 1977 and the second studio release from Heart, Little Queen. Following the success of their first album, Dreamboat Annie, that was largely based on the success of its singles “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You,” there was a breakdown between the band and their label. Ultimately it came down to a difference in contract negotiations that led the band to sign with a new label for this album. Their old label still released another Heart album without the band using incomplete studio recordings that would become the third studio release, Magazine. Because of this, Heart had two albums on the charts at the same time, although Little Queen outsold Magazine handily. Little Queen spawned the band’s biggest hit, “Barracuda,” and solidified Heart as a major player in the hard rock genre. The album went multi-platinum and the band went on to create thirteen more albums, although none quite as successful as this one.

Little Queen surprised me. I didn’t expect to find much that I would like other than “Barracuda” since that’s the one Heart song that everyone knows, but I ended up finding so much more. There are a LOT of deep cuts on this album that deserve a listen and are going into my rotation, most notably “Dream of the Archer” and “Little Queen,” and to a lesser extent, “Say Hello.” All three of them are unique in their musicality, and I didn’t think I would like a ballad like “Dream of the Archer” as much as I did. It’s absolutely beautiful in its execution and I’m going to remember the vocals from that for a long time to come. This is also another one of those albums that is best listened to in one sitting in order. A lot of the songs flow from one right into the next seamlessly and breaking them up ruins the experience. Please enjoy this offering from Heart, and I hope you find a new favorite deep cut!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Barracuda: What a powerhouse of a song to start an album off with! “Barracuda” is an absolute classic and everything I like to hear in a rock song. It’s loud, it’s powerful, it’s driving, and it’s iconic. Ann Wilson’s vocals are shatteringly good and are matched equally by Nancy Wilson’s stampeding guitar part. This is a top-notch way to start an album. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Love Alive: “Love Alive” is one of those hidden gem songs that you probably wouldn’t know about unless you were a Heart fan; I know this was my first time hearing it. This is right up there as one of the best songs on the album. “Love Alive” is a dynamic song that starts out with a beautiful acoustic guitar piece and toned back vocals before building into a faster tempo rock song. Of note is the little acoustic riff every time Ann sings “Keep my love alive.” That’s a fantastic little part that you hear throughout the song. High marks for “Love Alive.” This is definitely worth the listen! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Sylvan Song: “Love Alive” flows right into “Sylvan Song,” and I would almost consider them one in the same. This is a complete instrumental piece that ultimately plays into “Dream of the Archer.” The guitar on this is beautiful and elegant, and the use of the synthesizer in the background towards the end gives it a real depth of building presence. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Dream of the Archer: This is the third song to flow into one another, and I place it slightly above “Love Alive,” but not quite enough to earn a 9. “Dream of the Archer” is a beautiful piece that almost seems to be inspired by medieval music thanks to the contribution of the autoharp. Ann’s vocals crescendo and decrescendo throughout the piece, matched by the more and less frantic strumming on Nancy’s guitar, almost as if they’re taking you through a journey or a ‘dream.’ What an apt name for a song! The guitar piece stands out again on this track. It’s both light and powerful in its delivery at the same time. The soft vocal harmonies throughout the track lend credence to the musicality of the song. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Kick It Out: We’re back to a more traditional hard rock sound with “Kick It Out.” This is an average rock song and there’s not much to make it stand out. In a way, this track is a disappointment in the vocal department. We’ve heard Ann belt it out on other songs, and that makes this feel like a lackluster performance. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Little Queen: This is one of my favorite songs on the whole album. Period. I’ve had this song on repeat for the whole week! The album’s namesake (and hidden gem in a way) delivers with a funky, bass-driven track and some smoky vocals. All I can say is sit back and prepare to relax. It’s not as ‘hard rock’ as “Barracuda,” but it’s musically dynamic and fun to listen to! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Treat Me Well: “Treat Me Well” is a stripped back ballad and is the only song on the album that Ann Wilson doesn’t sing lead vocals for, instead handing over the microphone to her sister. There’s honestly not a lot to say about this song. This is a simple ballad that I’ll forget about by the end of the album. It’s boring and doesn’t stand up to the rest of the slower tracks on the album. It’s not bad, just forgettable.  Dad’s Rating 4/10

Say Hello: This song intrigued me on first listen, then again on second and third listens. There’s a really unique syncopation going on here (music that’s played on the off-beat as opposed to the on-beat) that gives it a jumpy, positive sound. “Say Hello” almost has a latin flair working for it, and it’s like nothing I’ve heard on a rock album yet. This is a cool, off-kilter song that deserves a listen for its uniqueness, and it might become one of my favorites in time. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Cry To Me: We’re back to ballads, but Ann has taken the lead again. I think that’s for the best honestly. Ann’s voice is much more dynamic and capable than Nancy’s. Even though this song has a similar tempo to “Treat Me Well” (which often makes me lose interest to be completely honest), “Cry To Me” is much more memorable. The high notes that Ann hits are beautiful in their lightness, and I could listen to them all day long. This is a memorable ballad. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Go On Cry: Two songs about crying, let’s do it. “Go On Cry” is another song that is a continuation of its former song. “Cry To Me” leaves us at a lull that the final song on the album takes two minutes to build in to, and the buildup through this track is so well done. The backing vocals give what would normally be a funky buildup a hauntingly funky feeling. I give a shout out to the drums for the jazzy, fast-paced, driving rhythm that they’ve developed. That’s really cool to hear over melting vocals and a wailing guitar. I’m particularly fond of how the album leaves you with a sense of quiet completion at the end of this song. Not every album needs to have a big finish, and Heart prove that it can be done here. They build up just to pull it back down and fade out. That’s unique and I’ll remember that for a while. Dad’s Rating 6/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Boston-Boston (1976): 2 September 2019

Boston – Boston (1976)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! This week we’re listening to one of the biggest debut albums ever released, the self-titled album Boston. While not as prolific as their contemporaries, Boston made up for their smaller catalog with incredibly high-quality albums and infectious songs that receive more than their fair share of radio play to this day. Boston was released in the year 1976, and I would posit that this album was one of the two released in 1976 that was responsible for bringing rock music from the outskirts of the music scene to the mainstream, the other being Fly Like An Eagle by Steve Miller Band. Think about rock music prior to 1976 and after 1976. 1976 was acts as a divider between the second generation of rock, led by acts like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix, and the third generation which was characterized by the big arena rock acts like Twisted Sister, Poison, Bon Jovi, KISS, and Van Halen. Although many of the albums from the second generation were chart-toppers, rock started getting more attention thanks to albums like Boston.

Boston is a classic arena rock album and there isn’t a single bad song on the record either. Every song fits together perfectly, one into the next, there’s a demonstrated high level of instrumentation, the songs are dynamic, and they ROCK! The band made extensive use of vocal harmonization, big guitar solos, and backing keyboards that would start to come to the front of rock bands over the next few years as rock started to be influenced by New Wave. Despite this, many of their songs have calm elements that bring the listener through the highs and lows of the song with the band, and this dynamicism is why I think the band is so popular; they illicit an emotional response between the highs and lows from the listener, going from anticipation in the calmer sections to rocking out. Boston managed to put together one of the best-selling debut albums of all time and didn’t drop off afterwards, but this week please enjoy their self-titled debut, Boston.

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

More Than a Feeling: We’re starting the album off with a big one, “More Than a Feeling.” This song does what every good debut album should do; give the listener an idea about what they’re going to be listening to! “More Than a Feeling” is a perfect example of Boston’s sound; calm, strummed lows, energetic highs played with big riffs, and vocal harmonization. It all adds up to a big track and a classic rock legend. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Peace of Mind: “Peace of Mind” is one of the best songs on the album. Period. Take everything that was good in “More Than a Feeling” and turn it up to 11. “Peace of Mind” feels like the more refined version of “More Than a Feeling,” and I would be willing to bet that it’s because they sped the tempo up a bit for this song. This is an easy listening, feel-good song that is perfect for blasting on your next car trip when your getting away from it all for some ‘peace of mind.’ Dad’s Rating 10/10

Foreplay/Long Time: Do you remember when I said that “Peace of Mind” was one the best songs on the album, I had to say ‘one of’ because it shares an album with a monster of a song in “Foreplay/Long Time.” This is Boston. This is what they stand for and what they sound like. If you ever had to explain this band to your friend from another planet who’s never heard them, this is the song you play. Musically this song is practically perfect. The long intro teases you along until launching into the first of two massive guitar solos on the song. The strummed choruses provide the perfect amount of breathing room between big (and I mean big) verses. The vocals are blisteringly powerful and only slightly tempered by the vocal harmonies. “Foreplay/Long Time” may just be one of the best rock songs ever written. High highs and low lows, this song takes you through them all. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Rock & Roll Band: “Rock & Roll Band” doesn’t get as much love as the first three songs on the album or the song that follows it up, “Smokin’,” but it rocks just as well as the others. I prefer this song over “More Than a Feeling” to be completely honest. I think the energy is better, both in terms of the vocals and instrumentation, and I think the guitar solo is better. Just my personal preference! Dad’s Rating 9/10

Smokin’: Can you believe that you’ve listened to over half the record already?! That’s the magic of Boston, you lose track of time because of how good the songs are! “Smokin’” is another one of those songs where everything comes together perfectly. As an added bonus, there’s a solid keyboard solo too, which is worth point out since we haven’t heard the keyboard take that leading role yet on the album. This is another top-notch song with that classic Boston sound. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Hitch a Ride: “Hitch a Ride” is one of the weakest songs on the album, and I think it’s because we’ve been bombarded with massive arena rock songs up to this point and a song that’s more of a ballad than a rocker is just a bit jarring. It’s certainly not because Boston’s sound doesn’t translate well into a ballad, because they did a great job of it here, and I can’t fault the track ordering for the first five songs because it’s absolutely amazing the way that it is. The song does build throughout, showing fantastic musicianship to make a ballad interesting and engaging, but I wish it showed a little more catchiness and memorability. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Something About You: If you’ve learned anything up to this point, then it’s don’t trust the first 20 seconds of a Boston song. “Something About You” is a return to that fantastic sound that we’ve heard all throughout the album, but transitions nicely from “Hitch a Ride” with that soft opening. Nothing more to say here, this is another great song! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Let Me Take You Home Tonight: At first, I wasn’t sure how “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” fit into the picture with its Western-style opening, but that’s a great cover for a soft ballad. I much prefer this to “Hitch a Ride.” It addresses all of my complaints about looking for something catchier and more memorable. The western sound actually doesn’t feel that out of place either and is incorporated nicely with a beautiful vocal harmony (one of the best on the album). And it wouldn’t feel right if the song didn’t spiral up into a big finale full of freewheelin’ guitars, so they did it. I’m particularly fond of how this is the closing song on the record. “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” is just about as fitting as they come to close out a record. Well played. Dad’s Rating 9/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Jethro Tull-Thick as a Brick (1972): 26 August 2019

Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick (1972)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo after a week off. I was travelling for work this past week and didn’t get a chance to prepare a review in advance, but hopefully I’m making up for it with a good one! This week we’re covering one of my “Desert 10 Albums” (more on those in another article!); Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull. For the un-initiated, Jethro Tull are a still active English, progressive rock group led by front man and lead flautist (flute player), Ian Anderson. The band has shifted styles throughout their active years and have covered almost every genre out there, leading them to infamously win the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance over Metllica’s …And Justice For All, and Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking! Remember, this band has a lead flautist…that’s all I’m saying!

During their peak in the early 1970s, Jethro Tull released their commercially successful fourth studio album, Aqualung. The lead single was a massive hit and is still played on classic rock radio to this day. At the time, critics described the album as “progressive rock” sounding similar to contemporary groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Yes. Anderson stated multiple times that the band never set out to make a progressive rock album and considered Aqualung to be just a collection of good rock songs. To stick it to all of those reporters, they used the platform of their fifth album to create the mother of all concept albums that would poke fun at bands like Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the music critics who thought Aqualung was prog rock, and would satirize the (what Anderson thought was overblown and self-righteous) prog rock genre as a whole. The result was one of the best progressive rock albums of all time.

Thick as a Brick is one song laid across two sides of the same album that tells the story of a poem written by a fictional boy named Gerald Bostock. Generally, the album tells the story of a “wise man” and a “poet and a painter,” and analyzes what true wisdom is versus what it means to be ‘thick as a brick,’ or dumb, through Monty Python-esque absurdity and a musical accompaniment. I love Thick as a Brick. The music is constantly evolving, and I find something that gives the song a new meaning every time I listen to it. I’m particularly fond of how critical the band was of prog rock in the press after Aqualung, then went on to make an album lampooning the genre as a whole, but it kind of backfired in the sense that it became one of the best prog rock albums ever written. Because this is really one song split into two parts, I’ve condensed my review into one song. I hope that you find something that speaks to you in this album, whether it’s the musicality, the lyrics, the story behind the recording, or something else. Ladies and Gentlemen, Thick as a Brick.

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Thick as a Brick (Parts 1 and 2): Musically, Thick as a Brick is all over the board. Let’s start with the use of multiple suites. The medieval-like melody that you hear at the beginning of the song will carry throughout the entire album with multiple variations, often downshifting to a minor key during more serious and darker portions of the story of the Wise Man and the Poet/Painter and shifting up during the lighter portions. Thick as a Brick shifts seamlessly between light, airy sections that seem to be straight of a fairytale and feature heavy contributions from xylophones and the flute and are juxtaposed by frenetic sections that are driven by a fast-paced electric guitar. Musically, the song is flawless. There are multiple extended flute solos that I look forward to whenever I know they’re coming up. Flute solos aren’t often heard in rock music, and you may be thinking to yourself “How on Earth does a flute solo fit into a rock song?” Trust me when I say that it’s the ingredient that has been missing the whole time. It adds a different, lighter feeling to the song as a whole, making it almost feel bouncy. Flutes aren’t the only odd instrument used in this half-farce of a progressive rock album; it includes significant contributions from a lute, both acoustic and electric guitars, a full string orchestra, and a Hammond organ. I’ve never actually heard a song that featured as much organ as this song or used it as a driving instrument in this way. The only album that comes close is Close to the Edge by Yes. Credit where credit is due, if you’re trying to make fun of a band like Yes, overuse of flute solos, an organ, and multi-minute long drum fills are the way to do it. (For the record, I like Yes very much too, but an idea to lampoon one of my favorite bands that’s execute this well has to be given credit.)

At this point, you may be wondering if one side of the album is better than the other. And this is where I’ll tell you that “No, there isn’t.” Part 1 and Part 2 act as opposites structurally. Part 1 opens on a soft melody leading to a high-energy closing that is picked up in Part 2 before closing the record on a lighter note again. Part 2 is ever-so slightly more instrumental than Part 1, but I think the instrumentation in Part 1 is more interesting to listen to. It’s the first time you as the listener are being introduced to the melodies that carry the song and will be twisted and variated throughout the song. Thick as a Brick is one of those songs that is best listened to with headphones on when you have a spare thirty minutes, and I highly encourage you to take time to listen to it this week. This is a flawless album that has gone on to influence many of the biggest acts in rock and roll and is an important piece in the development and legitimacy of prog rock as a whole; even if it wasn’t supposed to be. Dad’s Rating 10/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.