REFLECTION CLUB - REVIEWS
Still Thick as a Brick (2021)
listed alphabetically by names of magazines/music portals:
Babyblaue Seiten (Germany)
Betreutes Proggen (Germany)
Big Bang (France)
Classic Rock (Germany)
DME - Dmitry M. Epstein (international)
Dutch Progressive Rock Page (Netherlands)
Hi-Res Edition (USA)
Hooked on Music (Germany)
iO Pages (Netherlands)
Lee Speaks About Music (Great Britain)
Musik an sich (Germany)
Musiker Magazin (Germany)
Progressive Rock Journal (international)
Stone Prog (Germany)
The Progressive Aspect (TPA) (Great Britain)
Time For Metal (Germany)
Velvet Thunder (Great Britain)
Babyblaue Seiten (Germany)
Dear friends and sympathizers of the prog classic "Thick as a Brick" by Jethro Tull: in March 2021 a big surprise is coming your way. Multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert, who congenially caught our attention with his project Margin in 2014, has now set his aim on creating a total work of art along the lines of "Thick as a Brick".
To this end, Meinert in 2017 was joinded by several experienced musicians. They formed an international project called Reflection Club, which, in addition to Meinert (keyboards, bass, drums, background vocals) and Nils Conrad (electric guitar, also with Crystal Palace and For Your Pleasure), consists of U.S. flutist Ulla Harmuth and Englishman Paul Forrest (vocals, A-guitar, Jethro Tull Experience, ex-Dayglo Pirates).
Modelled on the superb Jethro Tull, this music album too includes a freely invented magazine with largely fictitious information on various topics. Probably only the song lyrics are factual. The album that goes with it is appropriately called "Still Thick As A Brick". It comes as a 72-page mediabook with the printed contents of the afore mentioned magazine, a CD and a surround DVD. The magazine in true to life format can only be purchased as part of the vinyl edition of "Still Thick As A Brick", which also includes the CD and DVD.
The newspaper accompanying the album is the music magazine "Rellington Stone". Among other things, it is propounded here that the lyrics for "Still As A Brick" were co-written by an old school friend of the project leader Meinert, who goes by the name of George Boston and has had a remarkable career in finance. In addition, we learn that "Rellington Stone" is currently in financial trouble. So just in the nick of time a certain Robin Meynard (not to be confused with Lutz Meinert) wants to present his new album "Still Thick As A Brick" in the struggling magazine and maybe save it from foundering. In addition to Reflection Club's new album, the current issue of "Rellington Stone" reviews several other recordings, interviews a studio owner, comments favorably on a concert by the pop project Pussy Powers, and reviews a theatrical performance by a Berlin comedy troupe billed as successors to Monty Python. All probably fictitious, as in the "St. Cleve Chronicle" by Jethro Tull.
In keeping with the claim that financial genius George Boston helped to write the lyrics, they address the world of finance. Paul Forrest's voice, which resembles Ian Anderson's in his prime, takes us through the trials and tribulations and mysteries of the financial world. If you play the DVD, view the corresponding pictures on a screen and follow the lyrics in the language of your choice, you will get a multimedia impression of what "Still Thick As A Brick" is about.
Musically, Reflection Club don't show any weaknesses in their bold aim to create a sequel to "Thick As A Brick". The ingredients that Ian Anderson and his colleagues used to assemble the two multi-part tracks in 1972 were largely adopted by Reflection Club, without neglecting their own ideas in the arrangements, naturally. By that I mean the elements of world music, the acoustic jazzy moments and the psychedelic accents. The vocal sections set to acoustic guitar, the flute melodies, the alternations between rock parts and delicate inventions, the jaunty themes, the creative drumming, the guitar and organ solos, the general sense of playful lightness, all of this will seem quite familiar to Jethro Tull fans.
In my opinion the way Jethro Tull pieced their ideas together into a whole on "Thick As A Brick" left something to be desired. Lutz Meinert and his contibutors do a much better job of achieving more homogenity. On the other hand, there seems to be differences in temperament between the 25-year-old Anderson of 1972 and Reflection Club, i.e. where Anderson sometimes tried to realize very wild and impetuous ideas sometimes, Reflection Club act comparatively levelheaded and balanced. Because of that "Still Thick As A Brick" could be classified somewhere between "Thick As A Brick" and "Thick As A Brick 2" in terms of temperament. Some parts remind me compositionally of "Wondr'ing Aloud", also by Jethro Tull. Whether there are also ideas of timeless beauty hidden on "Still Thick As A Brick", which just like parts of the original work, one would still like to play and listen to in 20-30 years, just like parts of the original work,only time can tell.
The composer Lutz Meinert conceded about the project that he didn't necessarily want to emulate "Thick As A Brick", but pay homage to Jethro Tull of 1972-73. I don't hear much of that on "Still Thick As A Brick", but there are certain passages, like one in "Bedlam", which show plenty of similarities with "A Passion Play".
With their fresh ideas and impeccable execution Reflection Club make up for the stigma of being mere imitators. Whether I'm right about that, everyone can check for themselves with the surround mix of the album on the DVD. "Still Thick As A Brick" really doesn't need to hide behind its great role model "Thick As A Brick".
Siggy Zielinski (02/2021)
rating: 11/15 points
Babyblaue Seiten (Germany)
I have an acute cognitive dissonance here. In - cre - di - ble album. My ears tell me the guy singing here is Ian Anderson. My brain tells me the guy singing here is named Paul Forrest. Paul Forrest? Never heard of him. Likewise, my ears tell me the guitarist's name is Martin Barre, the keyboard player is John Evan, the bass player is Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, and the drummer - just the drummer! - Barriemore Barlow. Cognitive Dissonance. Who are Paul Forrest, Nils Conrad, Lutz Meinert and Ulla Harmuth!!!?
"Still Thick As A Brick" is better than "Thick as a Brick 2" Now it's out. "Still Thick As A Brick" is better than "Thick as a Brick 2". Siggy is right, you could put "Still Thick as a Brick" between "Thick as a Brick" and "Thick as a Brick 2" in terms of temperament. That's why it's better. These albums are 50 years old: "Tubular Bells", "Thick as a Brick" - no wonder that people like Robert Reed and Lutz Meinert appear, who combine these anniversaries, their decades of fanhood as well as their own musical skills together, to bow down to those great idols, and transport this music, which changed the world back then (or at least that of some impressionable kids, who got to hear something they had never heard before) into the future.
Or maybe just prolong the past? Such projects are often accused of plagiarizing when they use the aesthetics of others because they are not able to develop their own. Here, however, the style of Jethro Tull is deliberately and blatantly taken up in order to bow down to the very same: Anderson, Barre, Evan, Hammond-Hammond and Barlow. And with what skill this is done! Starting with compositional idiosyncrasies such as typical chord progressions and familiar-sounding melodic twists, continuing with the arrangement and up to - yes - the percussion instruments used, "Still Thick As A Brick" is an update on "Thick As A Brick" that couldn't be more stylistically pure. In - cre - di - ble album. Lutz Meinert doesn't just want to emulate "Thick As A Brick", but pay homage to Jethro Tull from the 1972-73 era? You're Very welcome , Lutz. In 1973 "A Passion Play" was created, you may SO! GLADLY! make "Another Passion Play". Off to the studio with you.
Yes, yes, there's also a newspaper. It's not as good - not as good by a long shot - as the original, but hey - you might have had to be there at the time. No one buys "Thick as a Brick" to read the newspaper - and that goes for "Still Thick As A Brick" as well. But musically, Siggy is right, "Still Thick as a Brick" doesn't need to hide from the great role model "Thick As A Brick". A must-have, guys, definitely a must-have!
Nik Brückner (03/2021)
rating: 13/15 points
Babyblaue Seiten (Germany)
As a teenager, I was not a Jethro Tull fan. Although I had the right age at that time. There were many other bands that excited me much more and then there was the scarce pocket money and the fact that Ian Anderson & Co. somehow sounded like the Middle Ages. So it happened that I only became aware of the music of Jethro Tull a few years ago. In the meantime, many albums of the Englishmen are in my closet and now comes with "Still Thick As A Brick" yet another. Already after the instrumental PRELUDE Ian Andersons voice starts with " I think it's time to take a break, to take a time out". This sounds fantastic and so familiar that I turn up a little louder and fully enjoy. A quick look at the really nice booklet in paperback format and let's see who else is in the band. Strange, I can't find Ian Anderson's name at all. Also the other names are completely unknown to me, except Lutz Meinert. But isn't that the guy who made that psychedelic tea a few years ago? Yes exactly, Margin was the name of the band and the album regularly makes its rounds in my player. What in the world happened here?
Jethro Tull didn't record this album at all, but the Reflection Club, founded by Lutz Meinert. But Anderson does sing? No, he doesn't. The singer's name is Paul Forrest. But the colleagues have already explained all that sufficiently. The flute is also not played by him, but by a woman. You can't hear the difference. Well, so everything is just stolen? No. Voice, instrumentation, composition and arrangement, everything sounds 100% like Jethro Tull. Robert Reed did it with the "Sanctuary" albums and Mike Oldfield. So it's nothing really new. But you have to manage it in such a way that it sounds like the original, but not like a plagiarism. It's difficult to draw the line there, but the result is convincing in this case and shouldn't offend anyone.
11 tracks, 47 minutes of music, tip of the month on our blue pages and no music magazine without an article about this project. Sounds very much like hype. True. But unlike some others, this hype didn't fade away after 3 months. I will still listen to this album in 50 years. For that I would have to become 113, which might be difficult. But who knows? Timeless music
Marc Colling (04/2021)
rating: 12/15 points
Babyblaue Seiten (Germany)
Colleagues have already described the music of the Reflection Club perfectly. Music is something wonderful. Quite simply, it gives rise to feelings and memories. Music manages to lift the mood and warm the heart. It puts you in different situations and lets listeners dive deep into times long gone.
And this "Still Thick As A Brick" takes you musically back to 1972, when Jethro Tull released their probably best-known work "Thick As A Brick". And Reflection Club do not simply replay "Thick As A Brick". No, an eleven-part suite was created in the style of the album of that time, which should delight all Jethro Tull fans. The music on "Still Thick As A Brick" does not sound like a copy of the original, but rather like an extension of the original album. The atmosphere of the music is identical, but otherwise nothing sounds cribbed or stolen here. The original album served as inspiration and the music heard on it is now brought to life in a new form.
Conclusion: If you loved the music of Jethro Tull on "Thick As A Brick", you will certainly love "Still Thick As A Brick" by Reflection Club. On this album you don't hear a copy of the music of that time, but an extension that is worth listening to. Great.
Markus Peitner (05/2021)
rating: 12/15 points
Betreutes Proggen (Germany)
Again and again there are new releases that sweep you off your feet. And that, although we have been told for decades that rock is dead. Oh really? Then why do we get an incredible amount of new material from artists and bands every week? But let's not get into that, I'm digressing, and let's get back to the stool - from which I fell.
Multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert may still be a household name to many through his 2014 project Margin. With his latest incarnation Reflection Club, he deliberately leans his debut album "Still Thick as a Brick" on Jethro Tull's legendary long player with a similar name. Of course, something like that can quickly go to shit if you want to measure yourself against the greats. But the only thing that goes down the drain here is the impulse to bob along after the beautiful 'Prelude'. Very quickly it becomes clear that here art happens on a high level. The listener expects a sound-technically beautifully polished and produced complete work, which does not need to hide behind the great inspiration. Quite the opposite. I claim: this album has more depth than for example Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick 2".
The songs flow seamlessly into each other while the musicians around composer Lutz Meinert demonstrate their skills in a convincing way. Here everything is used what pleases the inclined progger heart. A pleasant singing, which reminds a bit of Ian Anderson, flute, acoustic and electric guitar, keyboard, drums, bass and exotics like a sitar. The songs are multi-facetedly arranged and virtuously recorded. The overall mix of this album is brilliant, transparent and suitably mastered.
In addition, there is a terrific Mediabook, including a band-owned newspaper "Rellington Stone", which is not lacking in wit and allusions. Furthermore a CD and a DVD belong to the complete package. Alternatively, there is also an LP version (check it out here).
One thing is clear, here is not only paid homage to Jethro Tull, but also shown how they could sound nowadays. Great cinema Mr. Meinert and colleagues. You can't get past this work! Play tip(s): 'Years on the Fast Track' , 'The Club of Hopeful Pinions' and 'Bedlam'.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
rating: 13/15 points (WE 13, AF 13, JM 13, KR 12, HR 13)
Andrè Fedorow (04/2021)
Big Bang (France)
Still as thick as a brick? Doesn't that mean anything to you?
It's curious, this title seems to recall the title of Jethro Tull's masterpiece, Thick As A Brick (TABB for the intimate or the lazy), to which Ian Anderson himself had given a sequel 40 years later, Thick As A Brick 2 (2012). Upon checking, however, it turns out that this Still Thick As A Brick is not TAAB Episode 3 by the Tull, but the album of a new band led by Lutz Meinert from Berlin, leader of the psychedelic rock band Margin, supported on acoustic guitar and vocals by Paul Forrest, the English member of the Jethro Tull Experience (would that explain it? ), Crystal Palace guitarist Nils Conrad and American flutist Ulla Harmuth, whose virtuosity on this instrument is in no way inferior to Ian Anderson's (another hint!).
Despite the word similarity (incredible that no member of the Reflection Club has noticed, isn't it?), Still Thick As A Brick seems to be neither a sequel to TAAB nor a simple cover of that mythical album (because in that case it would be a complete failure, I tell you!). Just like TAAB, which evoked the story of Gerald Bostock, Still Thick As A Brick wants to tell us about an uplifting personality, the famous financial magnate George Boston. Personally, I'd never heard of him, but as Reflection Club says, to learn more about him we need only read what Rellington Stone magazine has to say about him, a complete issue of which is included in the CD booklet.
Musically there is no shortage of similarities to TAAB, the most irritating being Paul Forrest's way of singing, with a slightly nasal voice very similar to Ian Anderson's from the seventies. We also find on Still Thick As A Brick this same sense of rhythmic disruption, this recurring acoustic guitar that develops very catchy folk-rock themes, this anachronistic but overwrought harpsichord, this delicious Hammond organ worthy of a John Evan, an instrument that comes to honour especially on the enthusiastic "The Foray Of The Sharks" (5:37) or the very Tullian rock "The Great Dance Around The Golden Calf" (3:35).
So, Still Thick As A Brick, original work or pure plagiarism? So many similarities with Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick.... I wonder if it's all down to coincidence. In any case, we shouldn't necessarily disparage the fact that artists clearly take inspiration from their predecessors to forge their own style. Wasn't Ian Anderson himself inspired by Cat Stevens in the early days of Jethro Tull? Listen again to "Katmandu" on Stevens' album Mona Bone Jakon.
But wait a minute! Damn right it is! I am, stupid (like bean straw)! Wouldn't Reflection Club have deliberately made a "in the vein of" record? Like Robert Reed did before with his Sanctuary trilogy, inspired by Mike Oldfield's early records? What a delicious idea! To take a record (TAAB) that was itself weird and paraodic and make it into a weird "second degree" record....
With this premise, and despite the constraints of this kind of exercise, Reflection Club has created a fascinating work, close in spirit to TAAB (without forgetting the very strong wink), but which manages to exist on its own, with some tracks less associated with the 70s style of Jethro Tull. The jazzy colours of "Nervensoothers" (3:10), for example, place it more between Camel and The Tangent. Moreover, the contributions of guests on sitar or violin, as well as some brass tones (probably played on synthesizer) enrich the atmosphere in a meaningful way.
And Reflection Club doesn't hesitate to vary the moods, abandoning typical Tull symphonic folk-prog to become tenderly pop-rock on the well-named "Sentimental Depreciation" (5:19). So after a few listens, from the excellent symphonic "Prelude" (2:00) to the comforting "Look Across The Sea" (4:24), a kind of sea shanty dominated by bagpipes, Still Thick As A Brick manages to make you forget TAAB for 48 minutes.
I have to admit that Reflection Club has more personality and originality than the title of their album suggests. Without reaching the level of creativity of its brilliant and indestructible role model, but with all the timeless flavour, Still Thick As A Brick creates an undeniable listening pleasure and should please most people, not only old fans of Jethro Tull. For the latter, if Ian Anderson's TAAB 2 didn't fully win them over, they can confidently lean on this Still Thick As A Brick to make up for it.
Alain Succa (07/2021) - magazin issue #114
Classic Rock (Germany)
Of course, every prog rock fan knows THICK AS A BRICK by Jethro Tull from 1972. For many it is their favorite disc of the British band, for multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert it is the most important source of inspiration for a similar work by his group The Reflection Club.
The album's title is deliberately closely based to the original, because as far as aaound and composition are concerned The Reflection Club walks on tried and tested Tull tracks. The entire work, however, consists of new songs that are only stylistically related to the classic, but specifically it shows fresh ideas and welcome excursions into other realms (jazz, blues, fusion). Star of the troupe is singer Paul Forrest, whose timbre is not only amazingly close to Master-Tull Ian Anderson, but who also exquisitely plays the flute and acoustic guitar. More Jethro Tull feeling is hardly possible.
Matthias Mineur (03/2021)
The progressive rock project REFLECTION CLUB is the brainchild of German multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert. Together with an international group of musicians, the good man has made it his task to create a homage to one of the greatest prog rock works of the 70s. "Thick as a Brick" by JETHRO TULL served as a blueprint for their album "Still Thick as a Brick". However, it has not become a copy of the said album, but something like the continuation of the groundbreaking super-work of 1972. Listening to it, one could almost believe that JETHRO TULL themselves could be behind it. The English singer, acoustic guitarist and flutist Paul Forrest (JETHRO TULL EXPERIENCE, DAYGLO PIRATES) sounds confusingly similar to Ian Anderson and convinces all along the line. Musically, REFLECTION CLUB are very close to their great idols, but they go a lot further and also fuse jazz/fusion or world music with the "Tull" guidelines. After listening to the almost 50-minute CD, I have to praise the fact that the band has really succeeded in capturing the spirit of the pioneers of prog rock in an exemplary way and catapulting this music into our time. On the enclosed DVD, the excellently produced album is also available in a successful surround and HD stereo mix, which is visualised by a slide show. For JETHRO TULL or prog fans, this is a real insider tip that should not be missed. You can get it from the record company's shop at https://madvedge.de/shop_de.html as a mediabook with CD, DVD and 72-page booklet.
Chris Strieder (09/2021)
DME - Dmitry M. Epstein (international)
Ultimate prog rock opus gets an ultra-tribute – reflected in, or rather refracted through, in über-aficionado’s perspective.
There’s been many a homage paid to JETHRO TULL over the years – in the shape of single songs, stylistic figures and entire cover ensembles – yet not albums set in this hugely influential collective’s universe. Or in parallel universe for that matter, because imitating Ian Anderson‘s idiosyncratic art or inhabiting the worlds he created feels both futile and nigh on infeasible… at least one could think so. The veteran seemed to have proved as much himself by shifting 1972’s “Thick As A Brick” in time and delivering "TAAB 2" four decades later. Only multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert decided to defy such a notion and set a challenging task of relocating the concept to a different place while keeping it within the same sonic framework, the result being a record titled “Still Thick As A Brick” – based on the familiar blueprint in terms of arrangements and presentation, up to the newspaper-like packaging of the platter.
Whereas less inspired composers would not avoid quoting their heroes in a work like this, the Berliner and his international team of kindred spirits – guitarist Nils Conrad, flautist Ulla Harmuth and singer Paul Forrest – never descend to the level of simple copying the much loved motifs; the foursome’s affection for and respect to the prog milestone is profound enough as to outline a passionate play on the easily recognizable aural palette that’s almost indistinguishable from the original. The 11-part suite, which unfolds in Rellington Town rather than St. Cleve, may allude to Anderson’s lyrics in several spots, yet its plot and flow don’t bear any similarity to the album he concocted as a parody of his peers’ proclivity for long form, and Meinert’s words and music are close to the socially charged symphonic folk of yore.
From the orchestral uplift of “Prelude” to the woodwind-driven comedown of “Look Across The Sea” which is the record’s anthemic electric-to-acoustic apex, there’s hardly a dull moment, even though RC’s pieces often lack the melodic immediacy of JT’s canon, and the dynamic swings the former offer equal the emotional amplitude of the latter. However, “Time Out” excels in shedding delicately balladry in favor of sharp riffs, and there are more jazzy passages in the modern staging of a critical spectacle, the piano-laden “Nervesoothers” jiving up the drift, as well as elements of raga. There’s also flamenco in “The Club Of Hopeful Pinions” that rocks quite hard around a fluttering flute until the organ-oiled, strings-drenched “The Foray Of The Sharks” smooths the heavy edges. All of it will make for a riveting listen and require repeated spins for a full grasp of what’s going on here.
Available, alongside other formats, as media-book, in which CD is accompanied by DVD containing the album as a slide show, and HD stereo and surround mixes, “Still Thick As A Brick” deserves to stand beside JETHRO TULL’s anniversary box sets on a discerning fan’s shelf.
Dmitry M. Epstein (03/2021)
Dutch Progressive Rock Page (Netherlands)
Tributes come in all shapes and sizes. From bands who like to pay their respects by covering a single track, to specially formed groups travelling the world to keep a certain memory/time-frame alive. Another possibility is record labels who ask musicians to participate in a homage. One example of this was the 1996 Jethro Tull tribute To Cry You A Song, featuring a wide array of well known (prog)-artists.
A fairly recent discovery is Fleesh, who alongside many covers from all kinds of genres, have also released several prog-orientated tribute albums. Their immaculate Renaissance tribute is especially noteworthy, for one could be under the impression it is actually the real deal. I hereby invite somebody to pinch me please, for Still Thick As A Brick by Reflection Club ups the anti, as it feels as if I've travelled to a magical parallel Tull-embraced universe, from which I don't want to wake up.
An album title like Still Thick As A Brick will no doubt prick the interest amongst progressive rock admirers and more specifically Jethro Tull fans, seeing as it refers to one of progressive rock's most iconic albums Thick As A Brick. A highly successful masterpiece dating back to 1972 it is one continuous composition spread across two sides. Equally original was the accompaniment of the intriguing newspaper package that claims the album to be an adaptation of a poem written by boy-genius Gerald Bostock, aged eight.
In fact it was all actually written by Jethro Tull's frontman Ian Anderson, who was surrounded at the time by Martin "Sir Lancelot" Barre, John Evan and the dynamical rhythmic tandem of Barriemore Barlow and Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond. A formation widely considered to be the 'classic' line-up of Jethro Tull. David Palmer's additional orchestrations elevated the musical experience to soaring heights.
It was Ian Anderson himself who released two very welcome sequels to this milestone (TAAB2 and Homo Erraticus). And although this is only a theoretical assumption, he can feel perfectly proud of Still Thick As A Brick, even though his actual involvement in this recording equals absolute zero!
Reflection Club is an international collaboration between Lutz Meinert (Margin) on keyboards, bass, drums and percussion, Nils Conrad (Crystal Palace) on guitars, Ulla Harmuth (flute), and Paul Forrest (Dayglo Pirates) on acoustic guitar and vocals. Together they expand upon the musical style of Jethro Tull between their illustrious period 1972 - 1973. In reality this led to the abandoned project of Chateau D'Isaster and the equally alluring 1973 follow up A Passion Play. On Reflection Club's time-line, it leads to a fantastic "Arc De Triomphe" experience.
The album comes in an elaborate 72-page media-book (Rellington Stone magazine), resembling TAAB's concept to the finest of details. Next to the fictional character of financial banker George Boston (author of the complex concept of the album), it features articles, lyrics, reviews, quirkiness, and many other references on the album's narrative. The book itself is an experience in itself, with many satirical parodies and Tom Jones-jokes squeezed in.
Accompanying the book and the actual CD is a DVD that next to a pristine Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound experience, visualises the story of the concept even further. A most splendid supplement to the concept, where suggestive slides and graphics visualise the complex story beautifully as the music progresses. The highlighting of the intricate instrumentations with it's counterpart graphics at the exact same moment, proves to be a great asset, and the gesture of sub-titles in four different languages is a nice bonus.
With the conceptual layout extremely well executed, the last hurdle to take on is TAAB's incredible and captivating musical diversity. An impossible task, and a road filled with traps on which nothing is easy, unless your name is George Boston! For STAAB makes an adventurous stab at success through its 11-part composition; composed, arranged and produced by Lutz Meinert.
Prelude sets the right atmosphere via a playful inventive close to the classical themes of the original TAAB. However it's the first few strokes of Time Out which are beyond belief and a recognisable confusion takes place. The acoustic melody caresses feelings of warmth and familiarity, while vocalist Forrest clones almost all of the vocal traits attributed to Anderson's personality, including the warmth of his voice.
The dexterity from the versatile rhythm section and flute, ensures further captivation and one is well and truly transported to 1972, with only the sight of Forrest standing on one leg amiss. Although in a live setting he would master this as well, in light of his involvement with the Jethro Tull Experience.
The dynamic Years On The Fast Track thrives on Conrad's guitar parts, slipping smoothly into his armour to undertake his knightly role and showcasing his mastery on the six string. Meanwhile the delightful rhythmic changes, overtly familiar keyboard sounds and gorgeous flute insertions from Harmuth flow with melodic deliciousness in a full Tull outburst. Rellington Town's folk feel brings further amazement, surrounded by precious xylophone accents and delicate flute arrangements.
As the album proceeds many other elements incorporating that luscious Jethro Tull vibe can be detected, always surrounded by vivid musicianship. Trying to capture them all within this review would take away far too much joy, but rest assured there's plenty of memorable brilliant movements. Tull-purists will have a field year.
Songs like Bedlam and Sentimental Depreciation both harbour lovely classical touches on violin, each song benefiting greatly because of this. And amongst the slight psychological nature of Nervesoothers even refined elements of jazz and fusion shine through amidst all this Tull blissfulness. The delightful recurring rockier passages in The Great Dance Around The Golden Calf and Bedlam effortlessly grab attention, and the Scottish Dambusters march of Look To The Sea rounds-off a deeply fulfilling tribute.
The effort and passion-play that has gone into the making of Still Thick As A Brick is amazing. Slightly more polished in comparison to TAAB, it sounds fresh and vibrant throughout and although many obvious references and influences can be detected, never once the thought of copycats has sprung to mind. It's a very rewarding and highly original take on TAAB, reflecting Jethro Tull' identity in the best way possible.
There is an obvious necessity for avid Tull-fans to take their time out and explore this release, while progressive rock fans can look forward to an enchanting concept album with impeccable performances. Meanwhile, fully submerged in STAAB's marvellous time-warp, I'm looking forward to see if Reflection Club have more tricks up their tails.
Jan Buddenberg (03/2021)
Sequels are in - even prog works don‘t get spared. And so in 2012, Ian Anderson followed up his band Jethro Tull's ironic 1972 flagship concept album "Thick As A Brick" with a second part about the further life of the fictional character Gerald Bostock. It‘s rather unusual, however, for the band Reflection Club now to present its very own sequel. The symphonic opening already provides pleasant memory shivers with the typical melody lead by strings, flute and organ. "Time Out" creates the authentic "TAAB" atmosphere with guitar, piano and vocals that are a bit softer and higher pitched, but still close to Anderson's timbre. Of course, with the next song "Years On The Fast Track" things get more intricate with crashing electric guitar (also oriented in tone to Martin Barre) and whipping drums. Flute and organ are frequently paced togethr. The grand narrative "Rellington Town" takes up later world music influences of Jethro Tull with sitar and percussion. The typical sound ingredients of "TAAB" are however used liberally, never degenerating into plagiarism. "The Foray Of The Sharks" walks a fine line between Tull and Genenis, "Sentimental Depreciation" resembles a bit of lounge music, "Bedlam" is a sublime, upbeat baroque festival including spinet, and with "Look Across The Sea" a worthy, anthem-like finaleis achieved.
A fat extra point for creativity must be given to the project of multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert, singer and guitarist Paul Forrest, electric guitarist Nils Conrad and flutist Ulla Harmuth for the elaborate Mediabook with CD, DVD and 72-page booklet: Instead of the "St. Cleve Chronicle", on the cover of the original, they include a complete music magazine, the "Rellington Stone". With a wink of an eye it throws a light on the fictional financial mogul George Boston, who is at the center of this impressive concept homage.
Top Track: Relligton Town
Walter Sehrer (02/2021)
Comments on the disc:
"A pastiche is not to be confused with plagiarism, but it does pick up the aesthetic vision and the stylistic means of the model – the more detailed the better - in order to create something distinctly new based on it. This with flying colors is exactly what happens on this convincing album!"
Sascha Seiler (02/2021)
"Tull prog that isn‘t copied, but is inspired, arranged and produced with passion and compositional substance. Singer Paul Forrest shines, the marvelous presentation leaves nothing to be desired."
Marcus Wicker (02/2021)
In view of the album's title, you inevitably make an assumption, which is also quickly coroborated during the first listening session. Here, someone is paying homage to the Jethro Tull classic Thick As A Brick, not by refurbishing the original, but by creating their own version, which is, though, in many respects strongly based on the original. This is also a concept album, which already scores with the excellent and lovingly designed presentation. Instead of a newspaper, they have integrated a monthly issue of a music magazine called Rellington Stone in the large format edition, similar to the Steven Wilson remixes.
So who is behind this Reflection Club? The name of the label gives a valuable clue for the head of this international formation is Lutz Meinert, who released an excellent album Psychedelic Teatime in 2014 under the name Margin, among others. He developed the concept, composed all the songs and is a multi-instrumentalist, as the listing shows: drums, percussion, organ, piano, harpsichord, electric bass, double bass, vibraphone, glockenspiel, backing vocals. The choice of the singer turns out to be a stroke of luck. His name is Paul Forrest, he also plays the acoustic guitar on this album and the flute on one track. He imitates the vocal idiosyncrasies of Ian Anderson almost perfectly and is the ideal complement for realizing of Lutz Meinert's ideas. That he also plays in a Jethro Tull cover band, among other things, should hardly comes as a surprise. In addition, there are always fine interludes on the electric guitar, by Crystal Palace musician Nils Conrad. The harmonious overall picture is rounded off by flutist Ulla Harmuth. Guests include The Rellington Resort Orchestra, The Little Indian Restaurant Ensemble (sitar, percussion) and Willy Scott (bagpipes, whistles).
With eleven songs and almost in 50 minutes they deftly conjure up the classic's atmosphere in their own version. After a two-minute symphonic intro, singer Forrest comes into play for the first time, and after just a few minutes it becomes clear that many characteristic elements of Tull's musical cosmos are incorporated here, and this is not limited to the flute and the special sound on the acoustic guitar. In addition, there are haunting melodies, some of which settle quite quickly into your ear canals. For example a song Rellington Town is mentioned, in which also a glockenspiel evokes the great role model. So Still Thick As A Brick is a very succesful bow to a classic! An unconditional recommendation of this great comprehensive work, which offers so much for ears and eyes!
Jürgen Meurer (03/2021)
It is always quite risky to attempt covering or copying an iconic group or album, in this case Jethro Tull’s 1972 groundbreaking masterpiece Thick as a Brick. So I cautiously approached the Reflection Club’s Still Thick as a Brick. To provide a bit of background, Lutz Meinert of the Berlin psych group Margin (keyboards, bass, drums, percussion, and backing vocals) launched the Reflection Club in 2017 with German guitarist Nils Conrad (Crystal Palace, For Your Pleasure), American flautist Ulla Harmuth, and Engliish singer, acoustic guitarist, and flautist Paul Forrest (Jethro Tull Experience, Dayglo Pirates). They immediately began work on their debut album, Still Thick as a Brick, which took four years to assemble, record, and release. Similar to Tull’s original, this new album is one long composition divided into eleven parts, referencing at times themes or lyrics from the original and expanding upon it with elements of jazz and prog fusion. The most fascinating aspect of the Reflection Club is that Paul Forrest sounds remarkably like Ian Anderson, both in tone and phrasing. Obviously the entire band has studied Jethro Tull and have created what could be considered a long lost Tull record. Though not as groundbreaking as Tull’s 1972 album, Still Thick as a Brick is amazing. And if the music is not enough, the album comes housed in a hardback 74 page glossy covered book, that contains articles from Rellington Stone - The Magazine for Music and Culture in Rellington and the Rest of the World. The book contains the song lyrics, bogus music and concert reviews, band background, and adverts. And then there is the accompanying DVD with a stock art image slide show that supports the music and you can choose to display the sub-title lyrics in the language of your choice. So the Reflection Club took a risk and they beat the odds. Still Thick as a Brick is well worth your attention.
Henry Schneider (05/2021)
Two full-length LP sides and an elaborate fake local newspaper as record cover: Thick As A Brick (1972) was the opus magnum of the British rock band Jethro Tull. 40 years after the release of this album, Ian Anderson, the band's head, tried his hand at a sequel. But Thick As A Brick 2 (2012) was a disappointment for many fans. Also for the Berlin musician and visual artist Lutz Meinert, for whom the Tull album from 1972 was always particularly close to his heart. The disappointment, however, gave him the impetus to try his hand at a "sequel" himself. Since 2017, he has been writing pieces, lyrics, recording basic tracks. In Nils Conrad, he found the right person for the "role" of Tull guitarist Martin Barre. The classical musician Ulla Harmuth played the flute parts. And finally, Paul Forrest from the English Tull cover band The Dayglo Pirates joined in: he took over the vocals and the acoustic guitar and sounds amazingly like Ian Anderson. Still Thick As A Brick has not become a cover album, but a new work in the style of the original. "I wanted to capture the progressive Tull spirit, but I wanted it to sound fresh and unspent," says Meinert. Some things are on the verge of plagiarism, other passages - especially the jazz-rock instrumental parts - definitely have something of their own to offer. Even the presentation of the album - a fake music magazine! - competes with Jethro Tull. Chapeau!
Adrian Teufelhart (07/2021)
Already the album title makes clear the direct reference to THICK AS A BRICK by Jethro Tull. The Berlin multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert now releases a tribute to the classic under the name Reflection Club. Like the original, the namesake is an elaborate concept album, which is not accompanied by a daily newspaper, but by a fictitious issue of the music magazine "Rellington Stone". The wonderful feel of the album, which is presented as a 70-page book, and the way the text concept is based on the original are one thing, but the other is the musical realization. This succeeds Lutz Meinert with support of Nils Conrad (g) and Ulla Harmuth (fl) outstanding. A central part is played by Paul Forrest (voc, g), who has been in various tribute bands. Forrest indeed comes very close to the very individual vocal style of art-rock legend Ian Anderson. Even if the CD doesn't quite reach the milestone, the loving homage is convincing, exploring the musical ingredients of the original - from gentle acoustic parts, dynamic outbursts, organ and electric guitar solos, as well as chimes and sprinkles of folk, classical and jazz - in a new way. Not only fans of classical art rock should have great pleasure.
Ralf Günther (03/2021)
Hi-Res Edition (USA)
When one closes their eyes and listens to “Still Thick as a Brick” it is hard not to imagine that these are lost recordings by Jethro Tull from yesteryears. But, one cannot ignore the fact that the Reflection Club has an uncanny ability to carry forward those early 70’s prog sounds of the famed band led by Ian Anderson. A significant key mirrored sound is easily attributed to English singer, guitarist and flutist Paul Forrest who performed with the Jethro Tull Experience for many years. Yet, it is the genius of multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert of Margin who also formed this collaboration along-side guitarist Nils Conrad of Crystal Palace and For Your Pleasure, plus Ulla Harmuth who added flute.
For high resolution enthusiasts a CD + DVD Edition comes in a 72-page mediabook package that is similar in size to the Jethro Tull anniversary series. The music is accompanied by a slide show extending over the entire Hi-Res 96kHz / 24-bit LPCM Stereo and 48kHz / 24-bit 5.1 DTS and Dolby AC3 Surround mixes found on the DVD.
Lutz launched this prog project back in 2017, immediately recording the Still Thick as a Brick album extending into new territory from the sound of his Canterbury Psychedelic band Margin. He comments that it is no coincidence that the title of the album brings to mind Jethro Tull’s masterpiece “Thick as a Brick,” but it is not just a blatant remake, instead it picks up from that era and expands on it with elements of jazz-rock and fusion to creates a novel, near 48-minute-long, original composition.
Musically this is a superb production that is seriously close to that 70’s Jethro Tul sound, and the vocalist Paul Forrest has all the style and nuances of Ian Anderson’s voice off to a tee, which you might expect given he is a member of a wonderful Jethro Tull tribute band. Of course, for high resolution and surround enthusiasts sound is a critical piece, and I am pleased to say listeners will be delighted with Still Thick as a Brick.
Starting with a very progy classically-based track “Part 1, Prelude” immediately immerses the listener. While there are moments that the mix is front centric, throughout the album the back channels fire with plenty of discrete action, along with spatial reverberation. As the band kicks in, an extremely vibrant acoustic guitar strums and the bass resiliently digs into the bottom region with solid drums hitting all across the front channels. Vocals are distinct and absolutely mimic the spacious sound that is attributed to the unique characteristic of Ian Anderson’s vocal treatment.
There is excellent use of the center channel with soaring guitar solos that bite through revving up the dynamics of the music. Discrete elements pour from the back channels including keyboard and secondary vocal parts, making this a very immersive listen. Overall dynamics are incredibly good with instruments punching through and especially the drums which feel extremely alive.
The transparency of the DVD is excellent, with fantastic channel separation along with occasional fun ear candy wherein parts move from side to side and from the front to the back. The snare is extremely round, and the kick yields a punchy fwap along with a zingy tingle to the symbols. Each part has clearly been meticulously recorded and blended together to make for an enveloping surround mix.
The Dolby AC3 codec is naturally compressed and lacks the robustness of the rich bass heard on the DTS codec. However, this difference does provide a slightly better balance between the front and back channels allowing for a mix that feels even more immersive. For reasons of dynamics and spectral richness, I still prefer the DTS codec, and this review has been based on that version.
The 96kHz / 24-bit LPCM stereo layer naturally is flattened compared to the surround mix. Furthermore, it does have some tonal differences but overall mimics the surround version. As one would expect it maintains the wide channel separation and transparency heard on the surround version, plus in certain ways is a little bit more musically cohesive given the layering of the various parts. In no way do I feel there is any crowding on the stereo version, which can be the case with pieces like this that have many parts.
Highly recommended for fans of Jethro Tull, high resolution and surround enthusiasts who enjoy collecting everything, along with progressive rock lovers. Truly, this could be some lost recordings of Jethro Tull time travelling fifty years forward for fans to discover, and all in high resolution surround none the less!
Wesley Derbyshire (03/2021)
Hooked on Music (Germany)
Let's get it straight: "Still Thick As A Brick" is neither a remake of the legendary JETHRO TULL album, nor a continuation of the story about Gerald Bostock, which was done by Ian Anderson himself in 2012 with "TAAB2".
This album is simply a homage (you can also call it a tribute) to JETHRO TULL and of course above all to their probably most progressive time.
The "band" that has tackled this here can - at least for the time being - probably rather be called a "project". The basis is the band MARGIN, which was founded 10 years ago by multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert and was already more of a project than a band. Nevertheless, progressive rock was already the goal back then and the debut album "Psychedelic Teatime", released in 2014, also earned very good reviews.
If you feel at home in progressive rock, the early 70s are more than fertile and of course you can't avoid JETHRO TULL. Especially not the aforementioned concept album. After Meinert was able to recruit Paul Forrest, probably the best possible singer (including the current Ian Anderson) for this project - Forrest has sung in highly acclaimed TULL tribute bands in England as well as in America - and CRYSTAL PALACE guitarist Nils Conrad, a string tamer who is said to be stylistically related to Martin Barre, the American flutist Ulla Harmuth completes the quartet. In addition, there are guests such as the Rellington Resort Orchestra, the Little Indian Restaurant Ensemble and 'The Bagpipe Club'.
And I think the effort was worth it. After the rather classical Prelude, the album begins in a similarly calm and acoustic way as its inspiration. When Paul Forrest sings "I really don't mind if it's my turn to sit this one out", you don't have to be a TULL insider to recognise the textual proximity.
Musically, they are close anyway, without copying in any way, even if I think I recognise a flute melody here and there. Life Is A Long Song comes to mind once in Rellington Town. In this song, the line "Time has come for a psychedelic tea" recalls the aforementioned MARGIN debut album.
Roughly speaking, the story is about the seaside town of Rellington and its development, but basically it is a description of our society and a critique of what it has become. So it can't end any other way than with "But the game goes on with those wise men who still don't know it feels to be thick as a brick".
If you're not into lyrics, you can enjoy sprawling instrumental parts with jam-character, like in Years On The Fast Track, or the almost frightening resemblance of Paul Forrest's vocals to Ian Anderson's voice. Especially in The Club Of Hopeful Pinions, which could lead quite a few JETHRO TULL fans up the garden path anyway. And yet, as already said, there is no copying here. Inspiration yes, imitation no.
Personally, I would have preferred a more present electric guitar, but Lutz Meinert has worked so hard on the sound design for this album - for the CD/DVD as well as for the vinyl album - in order to create a "natural sound character that is as transparent as possible" that you can be convinced that it serves the overall sound. On the DVD, the album is available as dts Digital 5.1 surround sound and AC3 Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The music is illustrated by a slide show. The lyrics can also be displayed.
The whole project is so well thought out, so well done in every respect, that it can be recommended to TULL fans as well as to those interested in prog rock in general.
Anderson's "TAAB2" was released 40 years after the original work, as was the "40th Anniversary Set" of "Thick As A Brick". Just like the latter, "Still Thick As A Brick" also comes in a beautiful media book, which in addition to the CD and DVD also contains a 72-page booklet with texts and background articles and of course follows the newspaper look of the original. And next year it will already be 50 years ago and we are pretty sure that we are still "thick as a brick".
Epi Schmidt (03/2021)
In 1972 Jethro Tull released Thick As A Brick (TAAB). Forty years later, the sequel TAAB 2 was released. Now there is a third part with the telling title Still Thick As A Brick, only it is not produced by Tull or by Ian Anderson solo, but by Reflection Club.
There are only a few groups and artists that sound like Tull; Reflection Club sounds like an almost exact copy including the vocals. The members of this international band are experienced musicians with the bandleader Lutz Meinert (Margin) from Germany on keyboards, bass, drums and background vocals, Nils Conrad (Crystal Palace, For Your Pleasure) from Germany on guitar, Ulla Harmuth from U.S.A. on flute and Englishman Paul Forrest (Dayglo Pirates, Jethro Tull Experience - search on YouTube) on vocals, acoustic guitar and flute.
TAAB wass packaged in a newspaper and was based on lyrics by the fictional young writer Gerald Bostock. Still Thick As A Brick takes a similar approach: the CD and DVD were embedded in book form in the Rellington Stone magazine, which tells the album‘s story. The financial expert George Boston from Rellington wrote the text.
While this is not a remake of TAAB, the music is as expected quite similar. After the orchestral prelude with flute, Forrest begins to sing Time Out, backed by acoustic guitar. His voice resembles Ian Anderson's like two peas in a pod. The music follows TAAB cleverly with a driving rhythm section, vocals accompanied by acoustic guitar, flute parts, a roaring organ and cool excesses on the electric guitar. Moreover there is skillful switchover between vocal parts and instrumental passages. The musicians do a great job, for instance the wonderful instrumental Years On The Fast Track. Quite impressive. The melody lines are also quite versatile as the highlight Sentimental Depreciation shows. Sometimes as in Nerveshooters I can hear some jazz influences. In Bedlam, Conrad plays a brilliant solo. All in all the music is captivating. Very well done, with a love for the original. More prog classics should be picked up in this way.
Paul Rijkens (02/2021)
The strange story about the eight-year-old schoolboy Gerald Bostock, which Ian Anderson spun so incredibly close to reality with Jethro Tull in 1972, has been spun on by the British flautist and singer 40 years later. The concept of embellishing the world around a fictional hero down to the last detail so that it is almost covered by reality has now been taken up by the Berlin multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert with his project band Reflection Club. The result is astonishing and fascinating - and extremely successful. Based on Jethro Tull's epochal work, it is called "Still Thick As A Brick". Associations with the British prog-rock pioneers are quite welcome.
By Dylan Cem Akalin
Albums like this already fascinated us in the 70s. The equipment and conception goes into so much detail that one can spend hours with it. We think of Rick Wakeman's fabulation and the artwork of "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" by Genesis, of "Tales from Topographic Oceans" by Yes or "Tales of Mystery and Imagination of Edgar Allan Poe" by The Alan Parsons Project. One became absorbed in the music and in the details of the record covers.
"Still Thick As A Brick" is released as a "Mediabook". The cover is based on a music magazine. Even small fictitious advertisements are placed in the 72-page "Rellington Stone". In the editorial ("On our own behalf"), the financial difficulties of the paper are explained. The (equally fictitious) record label Madvedge Records has pledged its support, so this wonderful publication by Lutz Meinert comes as part of a special edition of the fake magazine to save the paper from bankruptcy. Background information about the musicians, song lyrics, "album reviews", an interview with a certain Martin Perkins from a "legendary" music studio - you can read it all.
Meanwhile, the whole story revolves around the "financial mogul" George Boston. Even the name is reminiscent of Jethro Tull's Gerald Bostock. Like him in the Urfaust "Thick As A Brick", in Meinert's story his hero has supposedly written all the lyrics.
And because all this is not enough, there is also a DVD that graphically reworks the musical work with surround sound. Meticulously adapted to the rhythms, the music is accompanied by images, like a grandiose slide show. If you are not yet impressed, pay attention to the excellent sound.
The orchestral intro is followed by Paul Forrest's first vocal part - and he sounds more like the Ian Anderson of the 70s than the master himself does today. This is irritating at first, and one inevitably thinks of a tribute band. But the overall result is far from a cover. Even if the style and instrumentation (with the ever-present flute) are very reminiscent of Jethro Tull, the band still manages to do its own thing despite all the parallels. A small musical theme, which appears again and again in various arrangements, drills itself into the ear in the end in such a way that you find yourself humming it all day.
The instrumental part between "Time Out" and "Part 3: Years on the Fast Track" is a fantastic piece of progressive rock with extended melodic guitar parts by Nils Conrad, excellent organ playing and creative drumming by mastermind Meinert, plus the Anderson-like flute tones by Ulla Harmuth.
Stylistically, Reflection Club orientate themselves similar to their idols on art rock with hard rock structures and folk sprinkles. The arrangements play with elements of Renaissance and Baroque, Jazz and Psychedelic Rock. At times, memories of early Genesis or Focus come to mind. The alternation of electronic and acoustic instrumentation, between heavy rock and tender parts, the love of playful structures and virtuoso free spaces between complex formations, which are repeatedly broken up by the central theme, make the album a wonderful event. It makes you want to experience it live.
Meinert himself says that he didn't want to create a mere continuation of "Thick As A Brick", but to pay homage to Jethro Tull from that time in the early 70s. He has more than succeeded. Is the band aware of what a masterpiece they have created? I would love to know what Ian Anderson himself thinks of it...
Dylan Cem Akalin (03/2021)
Lee Speaks About Music (Great Britain)
Well, this is a turn up for the books and just like how Ian Anderson has been repackaging his back catalogue of music it comes in a book. I am sure all Jethro Tull fans will remember their 1972 iconic concept album Thick As A Brick. He even did a sequel under his own name back in 2012 with TAAB2. Well, now the saga continues with Still Thick As A Brick only not by Anderson or Tull but by an entirely new band that goes by the name of The Reflection Club. Many might very well regard this as plagiarism although I would not entirely call it that because just like what Rob Reed did for Mike Oldfield with his Sanctuary series this is all original material and I have to say done with sheer BRILLIANCE! That much that I could easily make this my favourite album of the year.
I stumbled upon this release via a review by Bryan Morey on the Progarchy website and thank him sincerely for his review and heads up for putting me onto the album. Thick As A Brick has always been my personal favourite album by Jethro Tull although I have many favourite albums by the band especially from 1969 – 1978. What you are getting here is something that very much replicates the band, Jethro Tull, down to a tee from that early period and I would even go as far as to say that this could easily be mistaken for a long lost Tull album that came out of that magic decade with how well it’s been done.
So just who are these people that make up this band? And where do they come from? Well before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as ever.
Packaging & Artwork…
Well as can see in the picture above they have gone out of their way to release this album in the same formula of a book that Ian Anderson has been doing with the 40th and 50th Anniversary Editions of the back catalogue of the Jethro Tull discography. Although both are quality packages and the discs come in hardback books. There are quite a few differences and the first would be that the book we have here is slimmer than what you get with the Tull packages. The other difference is how the discs are stored as you can see below.
The discs in the JT package are stored in quality plastic trays with hubs that make it easy to retrieve the discs. Whereas this package comes with the discs stored in a die-cut slip pocket in the front and back of the book and they can be buggers to get at and try and retrieve them.
The book itself tries to throw in some humour in a similar vein to what Ian Anderson and the rest of the band did with the album cover back in 1972. There is a bit of tongue and cheek going on here, however, whereas the articles in Thick As A Brick were quite hilarious and PYTHON ESC! I find it hard to find anything remotely funny here at all. Maybe it’s a German thing 😊😊😊.
The book does however provide some detailed informative content regarding the band and how the album came about and comes with all the usual linear production notes, lyrics and other articles and photographs. To be honest the book you get here does also come with near enough as many pages as what you get with the Tull packages. But for some reason, they have duplicated the contents that make up the book twice as seen in the picture above. For example, the first 16-pages are in small print and they have used a further 70-pages to display exactly the same content in larger print. For the life of me, I cannot see why they did this and maybe once again this is a German thing 😊😊😊.
Overall it is however a very good quality package and even at its price point of under £20, you are getting good value for the buck considering it comes with a CD & DVD with a 5.1 mix of the album. I ordered my copy from Amazon and paid £19.66 for it and it’s still available around that price or slightly cheaper today.
It was also released on blue coloured 180gram vinyl in a Limited Edition package of 500 copies to which you also got the CD & DVD and the book in the form of a newspaper. Sold at a bargain price too considering all you are getting here and it was priced at €30 from the bands website.
Unlike all those involved in putting all the content into Jethro Tull’s Thick As Brick back in 1972 the design we have here was all done by one man Lutz Meinert, who happens to be the guy behind the project and who wrote all the material on the album. Overall, I think he has done a very good job even if there is a German thing about it 😊😊😊.
The Album In Review…
Still Thick As A Brick by The Reflection Club was released on the 3rd of March 2021. The album contains 11 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 47 minutes, 38 seconds. Just like the 1972 album Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull, it runs along the lines of a concept album. The way the album has been presented in the form of a newspaper or magazine called Rellington Stone instead of the St. Cleve Chronicle also suggests certain things are being replicated. Although the story we have here is poles apart from the story that Ian Anderson wrote about the fictional character Gerald Bostock and in no way is it a continuation of that story. It’s an album that is done more in the way of a tribute to that classic album more than anything else and perhaps could be seen as a labour of love.
Everything about the album we have here is highly original written material and was conceived by the multi-instrumentalist, musician and songwriter Lutz Meinert. Although it was going to take a lot more than himself to pull off a project like this and I believe he assembled the other members that make up The Reflection Club back in 2017. Meinert himself is from Berlin, Germany and is no stranger to working on other projects and collaborating with other musicians. Back in 2011 he put together another one of his studio projects and formed the Psychedelic/Space Rock band Margin and released one album under this project name.
Psychedelic Teatime is perhaps an album that is more along the lines of Pink Floyd with the material he wrote for it. Even the PROGMATIC! band Gong springs to mind with the title he chose here. I did take the liberty to listen to this album on the Tube but it was not my cup of tea. It did not speak to me like Floyd whereas what we have with this new project of his says everything about Jethro Tull back in the early 70’s and I guess that is down to other quality musicians he has onboard with him here, especially the singer who is English and is in a Tull tribute band who go by the name of The Jethro Tull Experience.
To be honest I have never heard of this tribute band though you can see why Paul Forrest would fit in a band like this with his voice which is as close as you could get to Anderson’s voice back in the early 70’s. He also plays acoustic guitar and flute in the band which are all part of Anderson’s attributes. Although it is his voice that is more predominantly utilised for this album and taking care of the flute side of things we have American flautist Ulla Harmuth. She really can play the flute although missing are the other characteristics that Anderson applies to the flute such as vocal breathing, grunts and snarls. I would also say that it is really only those characteristics that differentiate this album from it sounding like a long lost Tull album from the 70’s.
The final musician who makes up the lineup is also from Germany and he is Nils Conrad who contributes electric guitar to the album. All the other instruments such as the keyboards, bass and drums are played by Meinert himself and there is also quite a few additional musicians and voices that also contribute to making up the album which I will go into later. There is even a whole football team that contributes to it although like many of the guests who appear on the album there does seem to be a spoof going on here 😊😊😊.
The album is very much a studio project were the main core members of the band recorded their parts at their home studio’s. Like many musicians today, they have their own little studio setups at home and its not as if they met up with each other and internationally collaborated via contact from their homes. The final mixing and mastering of stereo and 5.1 surround sound was done by Lutz Meinert at Imago-Studio, Berlin.
I will go into the album tracks on the CD later in the “Album Tracks” section of my review. But first, let’s take a look at the DVD that comes with the package which was another one of my incentives to buy the album.
The DVD’s main menu looks quite pristine and as sharp as a Blu Ray. Looking at the photo they have used you would think that more than somebody has had a bad day at the office 😊😊😊. The navigation runs quite smooth and it’s easy to navigate your way along with the 4 choices of “Play Album”. “Track Select”. “Audio Setup” and “Subtitles For Lyrics”.
The “Track Select” menu displays all the 11 album tracks on one page and although you do have to load a page to get to it the transition is quite quick and smooth. I quite like the way they have done things here by using a different picture for this menu.
The “Audio Setup” menu gives you a choice of three soundtracks the PCM Stereo mix has the highest resolution of 96K/24Bit at 4.5Mbps. The DTS 5.1 mix comes with a 48k/24Bit resolution at 754Kbps. Whilst the Dolby Digital mix is 48K at 448Kbps. Even though the stereo mix has been given more priority in the resolution department it is still possible to get better results with both the 5.1 mixes down to the separation.
It also comes with subtitles which is good for those who want to follow the concept story and get to know what it’s all about. The “Subtitles” menu gives the choice of five different languages English, Deutch, French, Spanish and Italian. By default is set to none.
The other good thing is that it comes with an array of pictures for you to feast your eyes on whilst listening to the album. I say an array of pictures and it would be impossible to count them but there could be at least a thousand if not more. The pictures portray the concept of the album and run along in sequence to the story, they are all high-quality HD snaps. Overall, quite an impressive job has been done putting it all together and a quality job has been done here.
Picture & Audio Quality.
Everything regarding the DVD was done by Lutz Meinert and I have to say he has done a quality job all around here. The pictures he has used are all high-quality HD pictures and when playing this DVD on a Blu Ray player you would not tell the difference between the picture quality of both formats. Although that is obviously down to the Blu Ray player upscaling the picture and many players can do a really good job of it and give DVD’s that pristine sharpness and quality that you would get with a 1080p Blu Ray.
Regarding the audio quality, I think it’s fair to say that not only does Meinert have a good vision to do the job he did so well with the video side of things, but he also has a good ear. I would even go as far as to say a very good one too because although most engineers have no problem mixing stereo. 5.1 surround mixes tend to be the hardest thing to do for many engineers and I will say that this guy also has the right ear and know how to do them well. I am not saying he’s in Steve Wilson’s league when it comes to doing surround mixes, but overall he has done quite a very good job here with both the stereo and surround mixes and I would even give the surround mix an 8.5 out of 10. It does give you a very good immersive experience.
Musicians & Credits…
All tracks were composed, arranged and produced by Lutz Meinert. Together with George Boston he also wrote all the lyrics. Published by Madvedge Records. Recorded sometime between 2017 – 2021. Mixed & Mastered by Lutz Meinert at Imago Studio Berlin, Germany. Album Design by Lutz Meinert. 5.1 Surround Mix by Lutz Meinert.
Lutz Meinert: Piano – Organ – Harpsichord – Vibraphone – Glockenspiel – Electric & Double Bass – Drums & Percussion & Occasional Background Vocals.
Paul Forrest: Lead Vocals – Acoustic Guitar – Flute (Track 2).
Nils Conrad: Electric Guitar.
Ulla Harmuth: Flute (Except Track 2).
The Rellington Resort Orchestra, conducted by Laura Palmer.
Vanessa Wiltshire: – Solo Violin (Tracks 6 & 10).
The Little Indian Restaurant Ensemble – Sitar and Percussion.
The Bagpipe Club Willy Scotty – Bagpipes and Piccolo Flutes.
The Rellington Football Club – Shouts and Insane Noise.
The Album Tracks In Review…
The whole concept and idea behind Still Thick As A Brick was done by Lutz Meinert and to some degree, there are some similarities between his fictional story and Ian Anderson’s. For example the spoof idea of how Gerald Bostock wrote the lyrics he has used the same initials and claimed that George Boston co-wrote the lyrics with him. I would also stick my neck out and say that the “Guest Musicians” listed above is entirely a spoof and all the instrumentation and sounds in that section are all part of his own production work.
Like Anderson’s idea, the story is based around the fictional character who wrote it, only here it’s set in a fictional town called Rellington. It deals with Boston’s busy life of work, finance, women, drugs, and many of the issues we deal with in our complex modern world sort of thing. Another similarity is that the album was released on the 3rd of March as was the original album some 49 years ago. Although the album is split into 11 tracks or parts it does run along seamlessly and portrays the story very well so let’s now dive into the album.
Track 1. Part 1: Prelude.
The opening introduction sounds nothing like Tull at first and the orchestral section to my ears sounds like the orchestration was played on the keyboards with the use of modelling soft synth software. The so-called Rellington Resort Orchestra directed by Laura Palmer is a spoof and neither does the town or resort exist. As far as I can make out Laura Palmer is a fictional character from the American TV series Twin Peaks. The soundtrack from the series also has a theme of the same name. One of the other things that tell me it’s a spoof is the way it’s worded as “Directed” by her and not “Conducted”.
I have to confess that I am not that keen on this orchestrated opening and it’s not in league with some of the skilful orchestral arrangements David Palmer did for Jethro Tull that used a real orchestra. Though I will say Lutz Meinert has done a very good job and it does more or less sound like a real orchestra and to be fair it’s not as if Meinert would be in the same financial situation as Anderson to hire an orchestra so it’s perhaps understandable.
It is only a short 2-minute piece and things start to sound more like Tull around the 1.5-minute mark when he brings in the Hammond at first then the drums and bass right at the very end to tailspin into the next track. Ulla Harmuth also contributes some fine flute to it as well and those are the only two musicians on this opening piece.
Track 2. Part 2: Time Out.
As soon as this track opens up there is no doubt that the album now sounds like you are listening to a Jethro Tull album from the 70’s. It’s really down to one man and this particular track features Paul Forrest using all three of Anderson’s attributes which are his voice, acoustic guitar and this is the only track he also plays the flute on as well. It is without any doubt the best track on the album and is the main theme of the album with how it reoccurs in other parts as it runs along.
I am pretty sure that if Meinert would have released this track as a single this album would be selling like hotcakes. It’s a shame really because as it stands I don’t think the album is getting enough recognition and that would really be down to the very few who have heard it. However, you can get to hear it on Bandcamp along with the next four tracks that come after it so it gives you a good idea of how the album flows.
This song actually puts me in mind of the album Passion Play rather than Thick As A Brick which is most likely down to the melody played on the acoustic guitar. I can also imagine it being on Warchild and coming into play after the words “Would you like a cup of tea dear” on the intro of that album.
“Time Out” really is a very well written and arranged song and even the string arrangement done by Meinert sits in well here. Nils Conrad also lends support to the song though he is perhaps more utilised as the album progresses along. This is my personal favourite track on the album and merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 3. Part 3: Years on the Fast Track.
This is the first track on the album to feature all four musicians although Forrest’s voice only comes into play in the dying last few seconds for it to tailspin into the next track so this is very much more of an instrumental track. No doubt the Hammond organ puts you in mind of TAAB but I quite like how well Meinert’s bassline stands out so well on this track. Conrad gets to do more with his electric guitar and plays some fine lead lines and embellishes the main theme of the previous track towards the end. Harmuth’s flute also plays a fine contribution here too. It’s a piece that very much picks up the pace of the album and they all do a GRAND! job of it.
Track 4. Part 4: Rellington Town.
This next song is the longest track on the album and another of my personal favourite tracks on the album. Forrest is back with his Anderson voice and acoustic guitar and here he is accompanied by Harmuth on flute and all 4 musicians do another TOP JOB! here. There is some fine progression in this song with how it develops and it does put you in mind of Jethro Tull. In this part, George Boston is reflecting on some of the finer points of the fictional town he grew up in.
As Rellington Town does not exist I decided to use a picture of a town that very much exists namely Wellington Town. Even though the song is some 6 minutes, 17 seconds long it does seem to be over in no time. I guess that is really down to how good the song is and this is very much one of the highlights of the album along with “Time Out“.
Track 5. Part 5: The Club Of Hopeful Pinions.
If there is a track on this album that sounds like it’s been lifted from TAAB this is definitely it, although it has been done in their own way you do however get the feel of that classic Tull album with all that’s been done here. The combination of electric and acoustic guitars work very well throughout and Harmuth’s flute is well utilised in the lengthy solo and once again all 4 musicians are firing on all cylinders. It’s very much another highlight on the album and a GREAT ONE!
Track 6. Part 6: The Forary Of The Sharks.
This next track is one of two tracks on the album that features Vanessa Wiltshire supposedly on solo violin and once again this is a spoof and the idea of how Meinert came up with the name was most likely by seeing the top violinist Vanessa-Mae appear in the Wiltshire Gazette. A solo violin or violin solo is perhaps one of the hardest sounds to emulate with a keyboard and to be honest if there is one in this song I cannot hear it. There are some strings around the 4:24 mark though they are a combination of strings and not a solo violin on its own.
This is the only video of a full song from the album that Meinert has uploaded on the bands Tube channel and this gives you an idea of how well he has synchronised each clip to run along with the story. You will also notice that every now and then he does put clips of the instrumentation used and you can see for yourself where the so-called solo violin comes into play. Although he has also edited this video to display the album promotion in parts too.
There is even a Sitar amongst the pictures just before the string section and it’s obvious that it’s not played by The Little Indian Restaurant Ensemble which is another spoof. Though even in my research I could not find anything regarding how he come up with the name and my guess is that perhaps like Anderson Indian restaurants may have curried his brain 😊😊😊.
Track 7. Part 7: Sentimental Depreciation.
This is another fine song that utilises not just Forrest’s voice but his acoustic guitar. The other thing that is notable here is that there is indeed a solo violin and to my ears it does sound like one. There is obviously an error regarding the couple of tracks Wiltshire’s violin is alledged to be played on. To be honest with how real it sounds it even has me thinking if she is part of a spoof. However, I am still gonna stick my neck out and say that it is a spoof 😊😊😊.
This is another GREAT! track on the album to which is mostly acoustic and the reoccurring theme of “Time Out” is brought back into play once again. It also features some fine vibes and piano from Meinert and Conrad gets to fly out another fine solo on the electric at the end to round it all off.
Track 8. Part 8: Nervesoothers.
This next song ticks over at a steady relaxing pace and perhaps a soothing pace to calm the nerves as the title might suggest sort of thing. Ulla Harmuth is back in the fold with her flute and musically this song is very much acoustically driven along by the piano, vibes, double bass and drums and there was no need for Conrad’s electric guitar. Forest gets to stretch out his lungs a bit more than Anderson on this song too.
Track 9. Part 9: The Great Dance Around The Golden Calf.
The pace is brought back to the fold and this one is very much guitar-driven and Conrad’s services are very much required and things are hotting up over these next couple of tracks. I quite like Meinert’s pumping dominant bassline and he works in the keyboards and drums very well too. Harmuth also contributes some excellent flute work to and the services of the so-called Little Indian Restaurant Ensemble are also banging it out on the kettle drums. They are all pretty much cooking on gas and doing a GRAND! job.
Track 10. Part 10: Bedlam.
The bedlam in question happens to be at a football match and this is where the so-called Rellington Football Club are utilised with their shouts and insane noise. The song itself is a bit like a game of two halves with how the transition comes into play at the halfway point sort of thing. There are quite a few transitions and bags of progression throughout and this is, even more, hotter than the previous track with all that’s been put into it and they are all on fire.
There are flashes throughout that remind you of the original TAAB especially the hammond organ and I like how Meinert has combined it with the harpsichord as well. Conrad gets to fly out another TASTY! guitar solo and the so-called Vanessa Wiltshire throws in a bit of violin. This is quite a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT! and another of the album’s highlights.
Track 11. Part 11: Look Across The Sea.
Everything is brought down smoothly and Meinert’s piano trickles out the waves of the sea with a nice little flourish on the keys. The so-called Willy Scotty Bagpipe Club comes nicely into play with the bagpipes and piccolo flutes and I have no idea where he got the bagpipes from but they do sound 100% real to my ears and even more impressive is the military roll on the snare drum that accompanies them.
Once again the theme from the opening song “Time Out” gets nicely replenished with Conrad’s electric guitar and it all nicely fizzles out to allow Forrest to come in with his acoustic guitar in the way of a reprise of the main song and end it all off in the same style that Anderson did on the original album more or less. It’s the perfect way to put the album to bed and I have to say it’s one hell of a satisfying album.
Summary & Conclusion…
The sum up Still Thick As A Brick by The Reflection Club. What we have here is an album that has obviously taken some time to put it all together and one that has very well skillfully been woven together. It’s very much a labour of love and all four musicians have done a stellar job on it. It does without doubt sound like a long lost Jethro Tull album from the early 70’s and no doubt Paul Forrest’s voice does have Ian Anderson’s characteristics and without that this album and the way it’s been tributed to the band would not have really worked.
The material is all highly original and in no way could you really accuse it of plagiarism though no doubt some die-hard Tull fans might. In all honestly, I personally think this album is better than the last couple of Tull albums I reviewed Stormwatch and “A” with how it’s been put together and my personal highlights from the album are “Time Out“. “Rellington Town“. “The Club Of Hopeful Pinions” and “Bedlam“. Although this is really an album you will get more pleasure out of by playing it in its entirety and it’s been very well stitched seamlessly together.
In conclusion of my review of this GREAT! album I very much think this album will appeal to many Tull fans and whether you are adventuring through the mind of Gerald Bostock or George Boston I am sure you will enjoy the ride. The production standards speak for themself and it even comes with a 5.1 mix that I am sure will delight surround FREAKS! such as myself and give them a well-pleasing immersive experience. I personally think it’s the PROG! album of the year so far and one that will be very hard to beat.
It’s been very well presented with the package it comes in and is well worthy of every penny and is bang on for the buck or in this case it may even be “Book”. It will be interesting to see what Lutz Meinert is planning for his next project. Hopefully, it will be another Tull album but for now, I highly recommend you check this album out. Here is the official album trailer that was put out.
The CD Tracklisting is as follows:
01. Part 1: Prelude. 2:00.
02. Part 2: Time Out. 4:03.
03. Part 3: Years On The Fast Track. 3:30.
04. Part 4: Rellington Town. 6:17.
05. Part 5: The Club Of Hopeful Pinions. 3:47.
06. Part 6: The Forary Of The Sharks. 5:45.
07. Part 7: Sentimental Depreciation. 5:19.
08. Part 8: Nervesoothers. 3:09.
09. Part 9: The Great Dance Around The Golden Calf. 3:36.
10. Part 10: Bedlam. 5:48.11. Part 11: Look Across The Sea. 4:24.
The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10.
The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.
The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 8.5/10.
The Album Rating Score. 9/10.
Lee Lucas (08/2021)
The audiophile recording: Reflection Club Still Thick As A Brick
A fresh band project by experienced musicians: The Reflection Club created with their debut album a powerfully creative reminiscence of a mega-classic of progressive rock: "Thick As A Brick" by Jethro Tull. Nice: The fabulous sound gives the work additional wind under its wings. Reflection Club Still Thick As A Brick is therefore our audiophile CD of the week.
What an album, what an idea that Ian Anderson and his boys carried out from England into the then extremely colorful music world in 1972: The successor to the legendary longplayer "Aqualung" (1971) spread a single track over two LP sides. Thick As A Brick" combines a hybrid of different styles - folk, rock, classical, jazz finesse arranged, with extremely accentuated vocals as well as partly wild, versatile flute tones à la Bandchef. The disc was to become a milestone of the progressive rock genre. Incidentally, Ian Anderson released 17 songs on Thick As A Brick II in 2012, but many critics found them rather average.
And now a freshly launched quartet approaches this almost half a century old material. Brave or naive? Lutz Meinert, an old hand in the music business, is the mastermind of the Reflection Club. For a couple of decades, the Berlin multi-instrumentalist has been singing and playing in various bands, preferably in the rock, progressive and jazz-rock genres. He founded the Madvedge label and is also into good sound. This is almost a tradition: His 2014 album "Psychedelic Teatime" won the title "Best Studio Recording of 2014" (German Rock and Pop Musicians Association) and the colleagues of Stereoplay named the disc "Audiophile CD of the Month" in the February 2015 issue.
On "Thill Thick As A Brick," the Berliner again pulled out many stops: he composed, arranged and produced, took over mixing and mastering, also in HiRes and Surround. He also played drums, percussion, electric and double bass, organ, piano, spinet, vibraphone or glockenspiel and sitar.
Ulla Harmuth stands for the flute tones of the album - except for "Part 2 Time Out", which was played by singer and acoustic guitarist Paul Forrest in the USA. Guitarist Nils Conrad finally made the electric guitars glow and jubilate - more info in the interview with Lutz Meinert.
The band name "Reflection Club" is somewhat reminiscent of the neologism "poets and thinkers" - in fact, retrospection, reflection and the revival play. For the album, like the Tull classic from 1972, comes in multimedia form. The progressive material thus fills a Mediabook with CD, DVD ("PCM Stereo 96kHz/24bit, dts Digital 5.1 surround mix 48kHz/24bit, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix 48kHz/24bit") as well as an 88-page hardcover book with a fictional newspaper. In it, the reader encounters cleverly staged, partly ironic articles, artwork and corporate identity, i.e. CI, included. A total work of art, so to speak. The title of the newspaper, "The Rellington Stone," alludes to the music magazine "The Rolling Stone.
The music and sound of Reflection Club Still Thick As A Brick.
The four international musicians have been active in the scene for years, Forrest as a long-time Jethro Tull cover singer, who has also been on stage with his "idols". He understands an almost miraculous light approach to Anderson - but at the same time sets a clear own note in terms of phrasing and timbre. Flutist Ulla Harmuth manages just as confidently not to let paste-and-copy arise in the first place. She rather stages "her" Anderson homage, but of course with allusions. Finally, Lutz Meinert has laid the compositional DNA to all this, placed the arrangements fluently, pointedly with twists along with corners and edges stylishly threaded.
Can be that some are nevertheless reservations with the "cover". Often wrongly. Because perhaps it is similar to (earlier) in school with the memorization. If all words and sentences were perfectly reeled off, there was an "A". If you had asked for content, general or personal meaning, some answers would have been poor. Will say: A deep understanding and penetration and inspiration would serve the world course probably rather than to reel down word shells. The parallel in the music could be measurably perfectly played notes. Nobody should say, one plays wrongly. But whether what is presented is emotionally gripping, appeals to heart and mind?
In any case, you can hear that the project of the Reflection Club was and is a matter of the heart. The pieces live from the inside out, so they can unfold with stylistic confidence and finesse. And so, within the genre of progressive rock, something new was created on the basis of what is basically known. Musically they do it with grace and perhaps even to use the old-fashioned word: Nobility.
And so the opener and "Time Out (Part 2) draw you almost magically into the imaginary happenings in the place "Rellington". The Hammond organ rattles, the bass pumps sonorously, the drums bang mightily. Pure fun. Especially since the sound impresses amazingly differentiated and concise. Low-frequency pressure and timbres are just right, as are resolution and attention to detail. Even if spatial depth and plasticity do not reach the audiophile maximum - which is ultra-difficult for a rock recording anyway.
Wonderful prog rock attitudes follow, such as mood changes, instrument variety like piano, guitar or glockenspiel and even a sitar. The total of eleven pieces interweave with each other harmoniously, give each other the acoustic handle, so to speak, vary themselves here and there playfully and yet remain recognizably delineated. We hear folk, classical, jazz or rock. Or moods and associations, derivatives thereof.
Beautiful On "The Foray Of The Sharks (Part 6)" flutes and driving drums plus organ flit around each other and remind for a small moment of another prog rock icon: Kansas. And in the final piece "Look Across The Sea (Part 11)" flute, piano and even a small bagpipe orgy surge up again to release the listener again into the dreary reality.
But the songs also live thanks to the lyrically condensed allusions to economic and social (mis)conditions, respectively their readily denied abysses and structures - in Rellington Town as well as in our reality.
"Down by the seashore, close to the river lies a small village, a place lost in reverie." ... "Painters, musicians, artists and actors, they bring new life and new style by and by into town."
The ideal world is tilting...:
"For a qualified puppet master secret doors open faster, give you warm welcome to the secret league of finance jugglers an willing butlers..." "...Receiving generous donations or later a pole position in a supervisory board." "...All the golden calves are made of cheap fool's gold."
Back to the future: a new work, transformed with its own character. The music does not at all presuppose to know the 50 years old original work of Jethro Tull. "Still Thick As A Brick" impresses as an independent album that will delight many friends of the genre.
Claus Dick (04/2021)
Rating: 4,5/5 points - audiophile CD of the week
I cannot begin otherwise than to say that we are dealing with an exceptional release. And in every respect. Firstly, it contains incredibly interesting music, presented in a very surprising way, and secondly, the two silver discs (CD and DVD) are tucked into an extremely impressive looking package. And although the album is very serious, the whole thing is served with a lot of humour, a real twist and a wink. In the end, the effect is more than excellent. But one thing at a time...
Do you remember the German band Margin? As a possible reminder, I recommend our little-lexicon review of the 2014 album "Psychedelic Teatime". Their leader, multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert, founded his parallel project called Reflection Club a few years ago. What was this musical contemplation club of his supposed to do? In short, the idea Lutz had in mind was a kind of homage to the work of Jethro Tull. He invited the guitarist Nils Conrad, known from the band Crystal Palace, the American flutist Ulla Harmuth and the English singer Paul Forrest, who has some Jethro Tull experience, as he is active in a tribute band called Jethro Tull Experience. In collaboration with songwriter George Boston, the entire international troupe set to work on the album, which
is extraordinary in every respect. The title alone - "Still Thick As A Brick" - says it all...
In the past, by the way, Ian Anderson was tempted to make a successful sequel to his epochal 1972 work (the 2012 album "Thick As A Brick 2: Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock?"). The album in question today could boldly be titled "Thick As A Brick 3". I assure you that hardly anyone would notice that it contains music not by Jethro Tull but by Lutz Meinert's band. And I write this with great admiration, emphasising the fact how successfully they have anaged to recreate the atmosphere of this legendary group under the name "Reflection Club". However, it should be stressed that "Still Thick As A Brick" is not a remake of this masterpiece. Instead, Reflection Club takes Jethro Tull's musical style from the heavily progressive phase of their career, expands it with elements of jazz and fusion, creating an innovative, almost 48-minute-long original composition divided into 11 parts.
Like the classic 1972 album, Still Thick as a Brick is a complex and multi-layered concept album. The packaging contains a thick 70-page booklet (actually a book) in the style of a 'music newspaper' "Rellington Stone" (the allusion to the classic Rolling Stone magazine seems more than obvious) in A5 booklet format with numerous articles that serve as background and illustrate the context of the entire album. Not only do you find the song lyrics and album credits (they take up just under two pages of said 'newspaper'), but also numerous articles illustrating the narrative background of the album, album reviews (including a review of the album... "Still Thick As A Brick"! ), concert reviews, interviews and publicity (including for Margin's aforementioned album "Psychedelic Teatime").... There is more to read than to listen to and the individual articles are a perfect complement to the musical content of this release. Everything is presented in an effective and clear way, which is a special charm of this release. It's fair to say that Reflection Club goes a step, or perhaps
two steps, further than Jethro Tull did in 1972.
Inside the thick covers of the Rellington Stone "newspaper" are two discs: the first, a CD, contains 11 seamless tracks (at least some of which, like "Rellington Town", "Sentimental Depreciation" and "Look Across The Sea", could easily stand on their own) and 48 minutes of music, and the second, a DVD, with visuals in the form of a film, or rather a fabulously colourful slide show, backed by an HD stereo and surround sound mix.
I realise that I have spent most of this review describing the context of this release and the extremely impressive packaging. And what about the music itself? Well, I have already mentioned that most listeners will certainly have quite a problem distinguishing whether it is the real Jethro Tull or Reflection Club referencing their work. Moreover, the music composed by Lutz Meinert contains no quotations or, heaven forbid, plagiarisms of compositions by Ian Anderson and co. Rather, it is a perfect presentation of the features, elements and atmosphere familiar from the classic period of Jethro Tull's activity. The
omnipresent flutes repeatedly evoke the spirit of that band, Paul Forrest's voice is one hundred percent reminiscent of the young Anderson, and the instrumentation, for which the originator of the whole enterprise is responsible (Lutz Meinert plays drums, organ, piano, harpsichord, harp, bells, electric bass, double bass and vibraphone) is such that all fans of Jethro Tull's output will be overjoyed.
I am. I was thrilled by this album, the idea behind it and the appealing booklet. And above all, I was thrilled by the performance: perfect, professional, definitely more than competent and, above all, incredibly pleasant to listen to. Perhaps what I write at the very end will be unfair to Reflection Club, but I have the impression that in the form of "Still Thick As A Brick" we are dealing with another very successful album by... Jethro Tull. So don't be surprised that I put the reviewed release on my shelf of albums under the letter J, not R....
Artur Chachlowski (03/2021)
Musik an sich (Germany)
Dealing with Still thick as a Brick takes some time. There is not only a good 45 minutes of prog rock in an up to date 70's style to process here. The CD is tucked into a pocket inside the front cover of a more than 70-page hardcover book filled with articles, concert reviews, record reviews and the like.
That makes sense. For even the title of the CD reveals what mastermind Lutz Meinert was inspired by. And just as the legendary Jethro Tull album Thick as a Brick appeared in April wrapped in an issue of the fictional newspaper St. Cleve Chronicle & Linwell Advertiser, Still Thick as a Brick is now included in an issue of the monthly Rellington Stone newspaper.
The Rellington Stone is a cultural magazine published in the small seaside town of Rellington, which is on the verge of going out of business in the face of galloping gentrification and its attendant changes. And so - according to the fictional plot - the Madvedge label supports the Rellington Stone by providing it with a free advance version of the Reflection Club debut as a supplement for the current issue.
The lyric concept of Still Thick as a Brick deals with the decline of Rellington's cultural scene due to the influx of people who 20 years ago would have been called yuppies, lured on one side by the cultural vibrancy but strangling it at the same time. So the plot could also be set in Kreuzberg in the late 80s and 90s, in Prenzlauer Berg a decade later, and currently probably in the northern regions of Neukölln. The lyrics are of course also printed in the newspaper.
As for the music Reflection Club tie in at least equally as clearly with their idols. Rightly so the articles continually repeat the observation that the band sounds like Jethro Tull in the first half of the 70s. The whole thing is just as diverse and just as difficult to trace back to individual tracks. In principle, we are dealing with a single longtrack, which takes up its themes and motifs over and over and reinterprets them. Of course, the flute is at the center. Elements of folk, rock, jazz and classical music are incorporated. In the case of "Part 3: Year on the fast Track" it can even sound a bit like Kansas. There are no real hooklines or "parts" that immediately make you want to hear a single. This also prevents consuming the album too quickly.
And when you are eventually through with listening to the CD and reading the Rellington Stone, there is the back cover of the book. Inside you´ll find a DVD that basically contains an ultra-long video clip of the entire album, illustrating the story (and instrumentation!!) with visionary imagery. In addition the lyrics are subtitled in five languages (English, German, Italian, French, Spanish).
Norbert von Fransecky (03/2021)
Musiker Magazin (Germany)
The flute wizard Ian Anderson could be proud of this work if it had been penned by him. A whopping 49 years after the Jethro Tull masterpiece "Thick As A Brick", an album by tribute musicians based on the original is being released. Multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert and George Boston contributed the lyrics, which REFLECTION CLUB adapted into "Still Thick As A Brick". Singer Paul Forrest is confusingly close to his original. With classic Jethro Tull instrumentation, the band revels in rock, classical and jazzy spheres with virtuosity and freshness, just like the prog original in its day. As in those days, it seems to be cast from one mould, a song without having to turn over the vinyl record, a concept album. How does the story of the album's protagonist Gerald Bostock, told in it, continue? Perhaps it will find a continuation here? After Ian Anderson presented a sequel, titled "Thick As A Brick Part II" in 2012, REFLECTION CLUB's edition seems like an alternative and worthy successor. In any case, the "Hear and Feel" is very close to Jethro Tull. An ambitious and masterful album from REFLECTION CLUB.
Christian Schöning (09/2021)
"The legend is perpetuated..." (Reflection Club in 'Rellington Stone')
Are there any true music lovers left among us? Really true ones?
So here are these a bit crazy, extremely passionate, but also somewhat addicted fellows, for whom music is not just a pastime, but a genuine attitude towards life, to which you can give yourself completely - and which lends you a helping hand in almost every situation. Music as a pleasure dispenser and medicine, as the one and only in a time that is mainly characterized by superficiality and living on the fast lane as well as egomania and the quest for power and profit.
Music as an anchor in a world seemingly more and more out of joint, and a virus is by no means to blame. We should search ourselves for that. In such a situation, you sometimes simply have to dive into your own little self-created illusory world, in which you live as in a city playing all the roles simultaneously. If you then have a band, which realizes exactly this invented world on a completely real music concept album and as a listener you feel immediately at home, then this band successfully created the musical miracle of an eternally unforgotten masterpiece. This is what happened in 1972, when JETHRO TULL released their LP "Thick As A Brick", wrapped in a newspaper that appeared real but was full of fictional articles. A moment of joy for the progressive music world.
But let's dwell on the music lovers for a moment. For they are all sure to have one album (or even more) in their collection that significantly influenced or even changed their lives, and still accompanies them without turning stale. Now finally we have arrived at LUTZ MEINERT and his band REFLECTION CLUB as well as JETHRO TULL's "Thick As A Brick".
REFLECTION CLUB with "Still Thick As A Brick" actually achieves what an IAN ANDERSON didn't really manage with his solo reissue in 2012 for the 40th album birthday of "Thick As A Brick" with "Thick As A Brick 2" - namely to transfer the atmosphere of the 1972 JETHRO TULL original into the present. And with his compositions multi-instrumentalist Meinert takes it even one step further than for example a ROBERT REED, when he clearly 'imitates' MIKE OLDFIELD with his "Sanctuary" albums quite impressively. Because REFLECTION CLUB takes in the 1972 idea behind Tull's "Thick As A Brick" and recharges it with a wholly original idea with the only intention is to perpetuate the almost 50 year old masterpiece with a novel concept, based on the Tull pillars: musical atmosphere, lyrical and conceptual foundations as well as presentation; and to top it off to add several dolby digital sound variants (PCM 96/24 Stereo Sound and AC3 Dolby Digital 5. 1 as well as dts Digital 5.1 Surround Sound) as well as an animated slide show closely adapted to the music and the plot plus text translations as subtitles.
REFLECTION CLUB actually continue the writing of the legend instead of copying it or obviously plagiarizing it and expanding it with a few independent stylistic devices. Thus they succeed in creating a complete work with a colored LP (plus CD plus DVD plus newspaper) and as a mediabook with CD and DVD, which after almost 50 years may be understood as an all-around worthy continuation and even expansion of "Thick As A Brick".
Incidentally Lutz Meinert asserts this about the optical realization of the album on DVD: "I thought that if I release a DVD with the surround mix and, by the way, also with the HD stereo mix, the graphic possibilities that a DVD offers should not remain unused. I always found it a pity when the surround mix of studio albums only shows the album cover or the same 10 photos are shown on the screen in an endless loop the whole time. Instead I wanted to have a video running the whole time, illustrating the story. A feature film of almost 48 minutes was financially not feasible. So I came up with the idea of creating a relatively elaborate animated slideshow. If I had known how much work it would take to dig through thousands of photos, to structure everything dramaturgically, and to cut and add effects exactly on time and on break, I probably would have been satisfied with just the album cover as a video image. Not to mention the license fees for the many photos."
A real stroke of genius for the realization of "Still Thick As A Brick" is the engagement of PAUL FORREST as singer, who contributes the acoustic guitar parts and in "Time Out" the flute. Forrest, the Englishman living in America, is the head of two JETHRO TULL cover bands and actually sings like IAN ANDERSON at his best, i.e. also those of the "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play" era. In addition, he has already performed together with JETHRO TULL and really manages not only to sing an Anderson, but also to live it. This is exactly what you can now enjoy with amazement on "Still Thick As A Brick".
With "Still Thick As A Brick" LUTZ MEINERT pays homage especially to the two concept albums "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play", as you can hear in the interview we had with him. No cloning or replaying, but tapping into the spirit behind these albums and applying it to his own music. This is an art that only few are proficient in - REFLECTION CLUB mastered this 'artful' task with bravura!
Conclusion: Mission clearly accomplished. REFLECTION CLUB has definitely succeeded in creating a progressive highlight of the year 2021 with this album inspired by JETHRO TULL's "Thick As A Brick" - a real total work of art consisting of book, newspaper, vinyl, CD and DVD! With "Still Thick As A Brick" all Tull fans will have a true déjà vu music experience and will be presented with a completely new audio-visual work of art through the DVD to boot.
Thoralf Koß (03/2021)
Reflection Club is the name of a new band around Berlin-based multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert (keyboards, electric bass, double bass, glockenspiel, vibraphone, drums, percussion). In 2014 he released the album "Psychedelic Teatime" with his band Margin. Then, since 2017, he has dedicated himself to his ambitious progressive rock project Reflection Club together with German electric guitarist Nils Conrad (Crystal Palace, For Your Pleasure), American flutist Ulla Harmuth and English singer, acoustic guitarist and flutist Paul Forrest (Jethro Tull Experience, Dayglo Pirates). The result is the album "Still Thick As A Brick".
If you now think of Jethro Tull's 1972 masterpiece because of the cover and the title, you are exactly right. However, Reflection Club have not simply replayed or modified the original, rather they have recorded their own modern version - similar to what Ian Anderson did with his album "TAAB2" from 2012. In doing so, they captured the spirit of the music and created something completely new, but quasi a continuation of the Tull classic. And it's no coincidence that the album comes out on 03.03.2020, exactly 49 years to the day after the first release of Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick".
The fact that the sound in many passages comes very close to that of Jethro Tull is due, among other things, to Nils Conrad, whose guitar playing comes close to that of Martin Barre. In addition, Paul Forrest, who is a member of the Jethro Tull cover band Jethro Tull Experience, provides the best Tull feeling with his vocals, which are in close proximity to Ian Anderson's voice, as well as his acoustic guitar playing. The only thing missing to the illusion of a lost Jethro Tull album is the distinctive flute playing of Ian Anderson, who keeps breathing into his instrument and embellishing his playing with vocal tones. Ulla Harmuth takes a somewhat different approach here, as her playing is very clean. But the difference is not very noticeable in the overall context, rather her interpretation fits perfectly into the pieces.
Lutz & Co. also make a small allusion on the cover. While in Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick" the protagonist was the fictional Gerald Bostock, Reflection Club's album features a certain financial mogul George Boston.
Thus, the "lead" on the cover reads, "What do the lost legendary financial mogul George Boston and the well-known Rellington prog musician Lutz Meinert have to do with each other? The debut album "Still Thick As A Brick" by the newly founded Reflection Club, which will be released on March 3, 2021, could provide an answer. What's behind it and why the complete album is included free of charge in this issue even before the official release date can be found in detail on the following pages. One thing can be said in advance: rarely has a debut created such a strong buzz. And not for nothing it has become our album of the month...". You can see right away that Lutz Meinert, who created the album on his own (composed, arranged, mixed and produced everything) and virtually financed it in advance, is convinced of his work. And right away: he can be, because he and his fellow musicians have succeeded in creating a truly outstanding work.
Thematically, the concept album is about George Boston, who looks back on his professional career in the shark tank of the financial industry. The practices of global financial players and their unscrupulous pursuit of more are depicted. But this can also be applied to many other large companies in our market economy, just think of the automotive industry.
The album is divided into eleven parts, but they all flow seamlessly into each other, creating a nearly 48-minute longtrack. I also recommend to listen to the album in one, only so it unfolds its full radiance. And this is really extraordinary.
Musically, a terrific style mix of rock, prog, folk, jazz, classical music and ethnic elements is offered. Starting with the instrumental "Prelude" up to the last part "Look Across The Sea" one is captivated by this album. There are no fiddly passages in it, rather all parts are highly melodic and interspersed with great solos.
The album begins with the two-minute "Prelude", an overture with a slightly classical approach. A very nice start, where strings and organ sounds initially provide a retro touch. Towards the end it goes into the first song "Time Out" with a real bang. Quickly Paul's vocals come on, sounding immediately like Ian Anderson, and you're immediately in this fantastic cosmos the Brits have created on their 1972 prog classic. Acoustic guitar and vocals are really incredibly close. A song with earworm character, which has its charm, in addition to the acoustic guitar, especially through the flute. It becomes quite proggish with some breaks, which alternate between quiet and powerful passages and are interspersed with wonderful solos in the 3:31minute "Years On The Fast Track", which is instrumental for long stretches.
Some pieces take up musical motifs from previous pieces and continue them or are varied - as for example in the two consecutive pieces "The Foray Of The Sharks" and "Setimental Depreciation" - so that a compact work is created. Partly also jazzy passages are inserted as for example in the song "Neversoothers". These are just a few examples of the complete album, which is on a high level.
The album comes in a hardcover book with a 88-page booklet. The first 16 pages fill the Rellington Stone magazine in a glossy print, while the contents, also in English, were printed again on 72 pages on "normal" paper and in a larger font. This also includes numerous photos, info on the musicians and the song lyrics. The album is available on CD as well as on DVD. The DVD offers versions in PCM 96/24 stereo, dts Digital 5.1 surround sound and AC3 Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Sonically, the surround sound is quite outstanding. The special thing about the DVD, however, is that Lutz Meinert has taken so much trouble to add a film to the music, consisting of very appealing and appropriate photos. Sometimes you see the just played instruments, then again great photos which remind in style of pictures of Hipgnosis. So they visualized the story with the pictures perfectly. This makes the product stand out from others, which usually only offer still images or a repetitive slide show with a few photos. Hats off to so much perfection.
Now there will certainly be voices about the album that label it as pure plagiarism, but from my point of view the progressive rock project Reflection Club around multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert has succeeded with the album "Still Thick As A Brick" a grandiose work. He and his musicians approached the matter with a lot of heart and soul and created a masterpiece that has the radiance of the 1972's Tull album. If you like the music of Jethro Tull and especially the album "Thick As A Brick", you will love this album - as long as you free yourself from the idea of plagiarism. An absolute highlight without any weak points. "Still Thick As A Brick" belongs for me already in the selection for the album of the year.
Stephan Schelle (01/2021)
Lavish tribute to the JETHRO TULL milestone
The concept album "Thick As A Brick" by JETHRO TULL is not only a highlight in the musical oeuvre of this band itself, but also a timeless progressive rock classic in general. This should be sent in advance, because REFLECTION CLUB is not simply musically in the waters of JETHRO TULL, but here quite deliberately celebrates a tribute to Ian Anderson and Co. - already alone the title "Still Thick As A Brick" is unmistakable. However, this project is not about reproducing the TULL songs, but about creating an own version of this concept album - with the same musical and conceptual orientation, but with own songs and own story. And that's what makes the undertaking so interesting, because you certainly wouldn't have to go to such lengths for just a cover version (but more on that later).
As far as the musical aspect is concerned, you can tell that there are experienced musicians at work here, who have certainly invested a lot of time in recording this album, even though Lutz Meinert was the sole songwriter of the material (he started the project in 2017) and was also responsible for the lyrics, production and graphic design. And as far as the songs are concerned, I really have to say that on "Still Thick As A Brick" you are served wonderfully catchy, mature and versatile compositions, which - and this is perhaps even the most remarkable thing about them - have no lengths at all. The harmonious vocals and the rich instrumental performance up to the bagpipes mesh almost perfectly, and the whole thing is garnished with catchy melodies and hooklines. The original "Thick As A Brick" consists of only one song (A- and B-side of the LP) and this feeling is definitely present here - there are no musical breaks or abrupt stylistic jumps and the whole thing seems like a coherent piece, which is also only divided into different parts, but eleven in number.
JETHRO TULL anno 1972 sounds in places a bit more airy and playful (especially the B-side of "Thick As A Brick"); there I feel the songs of the REFLECTION CLUB already as more straightforward and at times also harder and rockier ('Part 9: The Great Dance Around The Golden Calf'). The vocals are relatively close to those of Ian Anderson, which is surely also due to the fact that Paul Forrest, a singer of several JETHRO TULL cover bands, has taken over these vocals. In my opinion, the flute is a tad less present, somewhat less in the foreground of the sound picture than with TULL (although with Ulla Harmuth an own flute player is on board). This clarifies even more that with REFLECTION CLUB flute, guitar, organ, vocals or even the orchestral parts are on an equal footing, which makes for a very coherent and harmonious overall atmosphere. Also in terms of sound, it doesn't sound too much like the seventies, but quite contemporary - so this balancing act has also been mastered. Especially since, in contrast to TULL, jazzy sprinkles ('Part 8: Nervesoothers') creep in from time to time.
Let's come to the presentation and it is definitely worth a closer look. The audio CD and DVD are inserted in a 72-page mediabook. While JETHRO TULL included a newspaper ("St. Cleve Chronicle & Linwell Advertiser"), here the mediabook is also designed in newspaper optics (the music magazine "Rellington Stone", which offers background information, all song lyrics and other articles). In general, the parallels and adaptations in concept and presentation are almost innumerable. The fictional character Gerald Bostock, who is also credited as co-author, is called George Boston here (here, however, a financial mogul who eventually turns his back on the industry). On the DVD there is a video of the complete 47 minutes of music with slideshow, which basically illustrates the story about George Boston.
Conclusion: A very successful project, which is equally independent and based on the great idols. And in terms of music as well as the overall package, it offers real added value compared to re-inhaling "Thick As A Brick". After "Thick As A Brick" was given the highest score (5/5) in the real Rolling Stone in 1972, it is only consistent that "Still Thick As A Brick" was chosen as album of the month in the Rellington Stone (and is also given a very good rating here with us).
Stephan Voigtländer (03/2021)
Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick is considered by many (but not all as per recent PA posts suggesting it may be overrated) but truth is the opus has a definite quality of ongoing revelation and joy, that transcends time, decades and space. From many 'First time listen" sites on You tube, there has been a plethora of prog neophytes who anointed this epic with glowing reviews. That many musicians like Geddy Lee consider it to be a classic that keeps on giving is another clear sign that it deserves acclaim. Of this , there is little doubt or debate.
Canadian electronic artist Tona Ohama invited me 10 years ago to assist in the mixing of his synth-dominated all- instrumental tribute to TAAB, and I have the 001 pressing, as well as a copy (002) that I sent to huge JT fan Lutz Meinert, a Berlin multi-instrumentalist whose prog career is highlighted by bands Margin and For Your Pleasure. Lutz is incredibly talented, with a great sense of humour and impeccable class as he mailed me 2 copies of his tribute Still Thick as a Brick, and you guessed it, the second one for Tona. What goes around comes around. Love it! The media book with the CD and DVD is quite the package, again emulating the newspaper of yore The St-Cleve Chronicle now called amusingly and with tongue firmly in cheek, Rellington Stone, as a fully documented and entirely sarcastic magazine that is nothing more the figment of an imaginary mind. If you happen to be a politician, a corporate raider, a profiteer, or a banker, you will really hate what you read. For the rest of us, panacea. The idea was to continue with a modern version of the story, replacing the young Gerald Bostock with George Boston, the financial mogul and providing an 11-song set list that naturally flows, as one would rightfully expect, into the next, telling this new version of the current protagonist and his adventures. Lutz handles the keys, bass and drums, Long- time pal Nils Conrad (Margin, For Your Pleasure and recently in Crystal Palace) mans the fretwork, Ulla Harmuth takes care of the many flute parts and finally, the voice of Ian Anderson sung by Paul Forrest who does an admirable job of sounding like Ian without exactly coming across as a copycat. This work is not meant in any way as a piggyback on a well-proven classic but a rather obvious and loving appreciation for the original piece, and this feeling comes across in spades within the delivery as well as the instrumental palette.
"Prelude" sets the folky tone, more classical symphonic than one would expect, with playful orchestrations, paved along with flute and organ until we arrive at the transition to "Time Out", a wink at the opening line of the original 'Really don't mind if you sit this one out', where the voice finally enters the stage. This is when the collective eyebrows are raised and the comfortable familiarity kick in. Paul knows his craft and his performance is astonishing. The sprawling organ and strident guitar introduce "Years on the Fast Track", propelled by some frantic bass pull, and things really, a start cooking, 'the kettle almost boiling'*1 and Nils pulling a wickedly short solo. "Rellington Town" is as JT as it gets, typically a folky story telling melody that sears the mind, most definitely "creating a hippie vibe", certainly retro and lucky are we. The flute meanders like a stream in the valley down below. "The Club of Hopeful Pinions" is the quirky piece where the shifts are endless, laden by electric guitar blasts and organ swells, tempered by gentle flute breezes, twisting on a dime, a little glockenspiel to boot. All the love is tossed 'in the sink'.*2 This flows into an even more raucous and explosive "The Foray of the Sharks", where Lutz' dexterity on keys and bass are evident. Nils rips a series of filthy solos, before unleashing a corker, in 'the newfangled way'.*3 Pastoral returns to "Sentimental Depreciation" but it is bookended by a rabid guitar driven theme that is the highlight of the album, with a central evocation that touches the sensibilities. "Nervesoothers" is another whirlwind folk melody, loads of flute, stop and start rhythms, bulging bass burps, a reminder that JT was a highly efficient and proficient band that had no fear of the complex (as best expressed by the eternally misunderstood album "the Passion Play") and this madness is sustained on the commanding "The Great Dance around the Golden Calf". "Bedlam" sounds like the title, a wild shuffle where Nils get to shred away in full throttle, muscled along by the driving arrangement, flute in tow. Great piano work, orchestrations that punctuate the theme relentlessly and 'moving with authority'*4. With a spirited finale like the majestic "Look Across the Sea" , featuring another Nils Conrad foray (and a damn good one too) and perfectly sung melody , the tribute ends with an inescapable smile at a work worthy of its source. A reprise of the "Time Out" melody shows one how it feels to be Thick as a Brick.
Perhaps 'the master of the house is far away'*5 but Lutz has kept 'the home fire burning'*6 .
4.5 Gerald Bostons
Thomas Szirmay (03/2021)
*1 allusion to „the kettle almost boiling" original quote from „Thick as a brick"
*2 allusion to „your love's in the sink" original quote from „Thick as a brick"
*3 allusion to „the newfangled way" original quote from „Thick as a brick"
*4 allusion to „moving with authority"original quote from „Thick as a brick"
*5 allusion to „the master of the house is far away" original quote from „Thick as a brick"
*6 allusion to „the home fire burning" original quote from „Thick as a brick"
First of all: this is not a cover of the original album. Still thick as a brick is the nearly perfect third part of the Jethro Tull's masterpiece. It starts in a very classical way, but when the part 2 arrives it does with full 70's Tull flavour. In this work you will find pastoral passages, very similar Ian Anderson-like vocals, electric guitars, flutes, and organ (maybe in some moments it reminds more of Yes's Tony kaye). I want to recommend it to fans of progressive rock, and especially to Jethro Tull fans, I'm sure that you will get a lot to adore here.
One of the best albums of the year so far, 4.5 stars!
Reflecting Tull: Reflection Club’s “Still Thick As A Brick”
Berlin-based progressive rock project Reflection Club have mastered the spirit and sound of the classic era of Jethro Tull. A frequent critique from some people regarding the current wave of progressive rock is that it often sounds like it’s copying the sounds of the 70s – particularly Genesis and Yes. Reflection Club avoid that critique by making it abundantly clear where they get their influence. They aren’t pretending to make their own unique sounds, but they place themselves out on a ledge by blatantly “reflecting” Jethro Tull, because in doing so they have to live up to the hype they’re creating. Thankfully, they do.
Reflection Club is primarily the creation of German multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert together with German guitarist Nils Conrad, American flautist Ulla Harmuth, and English vocalist Paul Forrest. Not surprisingly, Forrest sings in a tribute band called Jethro Tull Experience. He expertly matches the tone and style of Ian Anderson’s voice circa 1972. Lyrics are written by one George Boston… Ok they’re really written by Meinert.
In the style of the original Thick As A Brick, the group created a beautiful hardcover booklet in a magazine style satirizing music magazines, album and concert reviews, and interviews. It’s really quite hilarious if you take the time to read it. The booklet comes with a CD and a DVD, which has the album on a 5.1 mix or a high quality stereo uncompressed stereo mix. The DVD has a slideshow to go along with the album, helping tell the story. The album is also available on vinyl.
While this music certainly sounds like Jethro Tull, it in no way sounds like a copy of Thick As A Brick. It is a concept album like the original, and the lyrics are written in Anderson’s style. The album is split into 11 tracks, but it’s really one long song with seamless transitions between tracks. The lyrics deal with many of the issues we deal with in our complex modern world. Thankfully there’s no mention of the pandemic.
The album starts off with the protagonist unplugging from his busy life to reflect on his life: a busy life of work, finance, women, drugs, etc. It’s a story that the listener is bound to connect with at some points along the way. The story unfolds over repeated listens, and it’s densely packed similar to Tull’s TAAB. The lyrics and the way they are sung even occasionally include double entendres similar to the kind Ian Anderson has made in his music over the years. That they were able to nail that aspect of Jethro Tull really goes to show how well this group knows and understands Tull’s music.
The album excels musically as well. I found no low points on the record. Obviously the music sounds like Tull, but there is also a heavy baroque classical influence. The baroque influenced Tull as well, but that sound is very pronounced on Still Thick As A Brick. It shows up in the symphonic elements, the flute-playing, and the organ. The guitar work is excellent, with clear solos and Martin Barre’s heavy style. Meinert plays the drums, keyboards, and bass, and he does a very good job. There are many instrumental passages throughout the record, and they make their nods to Tull without copying any of Jethro Tull’s songs. This music is all original. It just happens to sound similar to the kind of music Jethro Tull made in the early 70s. The bagpipes that come in on the last track were a pleasant surprise, and they help bring the album to a grand finale.
The album is steeped in nostalgia, even for someone young like me who wasn’t around in 1972 when Jethro Tull released Thick As A Brick. I was introduced to Tull back in 2012 by fellow Progarchist Connor Mullin. We lived in neighboring dorm rooms in college, and we met our first week of freshman year as I was playing Rush probably a bit too loudly. He walked over and introduced himself, and we quickly bonded over music, with Connor introducing me to many classic bands over the ensuing weeks. A couple months later we were fighting Detroit traffic to get to an Ian Anderson concert featuring Thick As A Brick and Thick As A Brick 2 in their entirety. Listening to Reflection Club’s tribute to that classic early-70s Jethro Tull sound, I’m drawn back nine years ago to when I first dived into Tull’s music. I’m enjoying Still Thick As A Brick in the same way that I enjoyed the original Thick As A Brick when I discovered it. I don’t know if I can make a recommendation higher than that.
Bryan Morey (05/2021)
Progressive Rock Journal (international)
Reflection Club is a Folk Prog band born in Germany in 2017 from an idea of multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert who, with the participation of international guests, immediately started recording the debut album. Entitled “Still Thick As A brick,” this concept wants to be a tribute to the British masterpiece by Jethro Tull, masters in blending Folk and Progressive sounds. Reflection Club also incorporates also elements of Jazz and modern sounds, proposing this work divided into 11 tracks, released for Madvedge Records on March 3, 2021. Like its 1972 predecessor, this record also features elaborate songs with a complex structure, resulting pleasant and well built. The album opens with “Part 1: Prelude,” a short 2 minute introductory piece featuring pompous orchestral sounds and classical sounds. The presence of the organ, the flute and at the end of the rhythmic session immediately catapult us into the Prog atmospheres of the album. “Part 2: Time Out” begins with a soft acoustic guitar and a vocal that is sometimes reminiscent of the voice of Ian Anderson. With the passage of the piece the other instruments enter, giving life to delicate, markedly Folk, pleasant and enveloping sounds. The intensity increases with the passing of the minutes, as do the Progressive traits that intertwine with those of traditional instruments, above all flute. Being a concept, the tracks are all connected to each other, and here is “Part 3: Years on the Fast Track” which starts where the previous theme ends. Drum and organ markedly open this section markedly Prog, with punchy bass lines and fine electric guitar inserts. The phrasing between keyboards and guitar catapult us to the 70s, with virtuous ideas to which the flute is added in the second part. A nice passage for lovers of retro sounds, sounds difficult to find in modern albums, ending with a vocal verse that introduces us to the next song. “Part 4: Rellington Town” is the longest part of the album, where we find at the opening sounds closer to Folk Prog, with acoustic guitar, keyboards and a warm and expressive vocal. Another strong point is certainly the amount of instruments available to the band, which give the possibility to use a wide range of sounds. The atmospheres are at times oriental in the first part, and then give space to an instrumental section with keyboards and winds in evidence. In the final with the entry of the drum, the intensity increases and the vocal returns which leads us to the end with pleasant inserts of electric guitar. “Part 5: The Club of Hopeful Pinions” continues on atmospheres steeped in Folk, with a more marked presence of Prog sounds, where the inspiration of Tull is strong. The tempo changes in this section are a winning weapon, and the flute and guitar and electric inserts take the sound to another level. The instrumental section gives us a well-made flute solo, and then returns to the initial theme with the vocals and guides us to the finale. We are about halfway through the album with “Part 6: The Foray of the Sharks” featuring a deep double bass, flute melodies and intertwining keyboards. With the entry of the vocal the piece evolves with positive melodies, recalling the more rhythmic pieces of their predecessors, from which they take inspiration, always adding personal and original elements. Even songs like this are not a copy, but they are inspired by the 70s and by Jethro Tull, the instrumental section is good, intense and of strong impact, with precise tempo changes and notable solo parts with different instruments involved. “Part 7: Sentimental Depreciation” is characterized by a more emotional, soft and delicate atmosphere with very well articulated guitar arpeggios and symphonic parts. The second part of the piece presents a background with violins and piano and then evolves with an intricate instrumental section with jazzed features. Closes an electric guitar solo insert that maintains the most delicate character, guiding us to the closure. With the double bass and the piano joining the two parts, “Part 8: Nervesoothers” begins, which presents an intricate structure and a particular rhythm. Good vocals and bass lines are load-bearing, one of the shorter parts of the album, but still very intense and pleasantly developed with virtuous passages. “Part 9: The Great Dance Around the Golden Calf” begins with the vocals and the horns and then changes abruptly with drum rolls and harder sounds. The structure is very engaging which always keeps the listener’s concentration high and by increasing the intensity offers a valuable flute solo. The guitar ending opens the way to the following “Part 10: Bedlam” which keeps the intensity high, with the addition of the choral parts. The flute is again the protagonist and together with the keyboards it guides the melodies, if you close your eyes it will seem to be in the 70s. The guitar is added, offering together with the other instruments an instrumental section where the phrasing is well developed, as well as the tempo changes. In the second part the vocal returns and the song is transformed into a pleasant Prog ride where the sounds are those of quality Folk Prog. We have come to the final song “Part 11: Look Across the Sea” which initially softens the tones after the intense previous Prog outburst. With a mixture of traditional instruments and sounds that soon join those of Rock, a symphonic section comes to life with a good guitar solo, intense and emotional. The vocal part almost seems to want to say hello, indeed I assure you that it will only be a goodbye, as I am convinced that this record will certainly be appreciated and therefore listened to several times. The references to Jethro Tull are not only in the title of the disc, but also in the musical proposal, which is however of a high level. The sung parts are very reminiscent of Ian Anderson’s voice, as well as some musical passages. The Reflection Club have managed to propose a tribute to the 1972 masterpiece, without being banal, the compositional and executive technique allow the band to propose a quality album, blending Folk elements with Prog. A listening recommended for lovers of retro sounds, reinterpreted in a modern way, a pleasant, flowing album with intense moments, instrumental and sung parts that follow one another involving you in listening.
Jacopo Vigezzi (08/2021)
Album tribute for a concept album
Lutz Meinert must be obsessed with Jethro Tull: The multi-instrumentalist has rounded up a highly competent team to pay tribute to the classic Thick As A Brick. An idea as likeable as it is insane, because the Tull album was already designed as a kind of parody of the genre concept album. The counterpart, composed and arranged by Meinert, imitates the sound, atmosphere and compositional style of Ian Anderson's band at the beginning of the seventies in an amazingly genuine way with independent music. First of all there is singer Paul Forrest, who has his Ian Anderson down to the finest nuances of typical phrasing and accentuation. There is flautist Ulla Harmuth, who manages the flute notes just as baroque, perhaps a little less beat as the original. Only the rhythm section doesn't play quite as dynamically and guitarist Nils Conrad a tad less biting than Martin Barre. Still Thick As A Brick, however, is not only music, but also a total work of art, packaged in a booklet that purports to be a music magazine called Rellington Stone. It's worth a close study, especially the history of the legendary Seashore Studios, where the Rellington sound was created and which produced such sensational albums as Beyond The Edge by the band Starship Trooper and Strange Milkways by Deep Crimson. The package is rounded out by a DVD that features a kind of slide show of the entire album, including lyrics written by financial manager George Boston. Who, of course, does not exist any more than Anderson's Gerald Bostock. Lutz Meinert, however, really exists. Ian Anderson could hire him if he ever runs out of things to say.
Rating: 8/10 points
Thomas Zimmer (issue 03/2021)
Stone Rock (Germany)
In March 2021, after a whole 4 years of preparation, "Still Thick as a Brick", a remarkable concept album, appears relatively inconspicuously on the German market. The music is initially characterised by a sonorous deeper vocal and by flute and guitar. The work consists of 48 minutes of music divided into 11 tracks, but designed as one piece in its entirety for listening at a stretch.
Part 1: Prelude
Part 2: Time out
Part 3: Years on the Fast Track
Part 4: Rellington Town
Part 5: The Club of Hopeful Pinions
Part 6: The Foray of the Sharks
Part 7: Sentimental Depreciation
Part 8: Neversoothers
Part 9: The Geat Dance around the Golden Calf
Part 10: Bedlam
Part 11: Look across the Sea
Thick as a Brick? Sonorous deep singing? Flute? There was something... Right! The parallels to one of the most important albums of progressive rock ("Thick as a Brick" by JETHRO TULL) are quite intentional. Even with the classic we have spread a complete piece over two LP sides. Of course, REFLECTION CLUB's first album is comparable to its role model, and purists will surely wave it off in boredom. But if you take a closer look, you will find a very individual work in retro garb, which takes up current topics in its extensive lyrics.
The whole album sounds like a musical narrative. Classic verse-chorus structure is missing, the individual pieces have flowing transitions. It surges gently up and down, the waves carry the listener pleasantly through the music. If you try to approach the lyrics, the content bracket "Time Out" and "Look across the Sea" is about longing for escape, for change and questions about the meaningfulness of the daily striving for more money. The fictional town of Rellington is the place of these longings, "Rellington Town". Otherwise, the texts describe the lives of money-grubbing financial moguls and denounce their machinations. Co-author George Boston, Rellington's big financial mogul, is said to have written the story and lyrics together with his old buddy and father of the project Lutz Meinert, which gives the album a certain autobiographical touch (at least from George Boston's point of view). In JETHRO TULL's original work, the story there is said to have been written by an 8-year-old schoolboy Gerald Bostock, the next deliberately drawn parallel.
The DVD is a completely different experience. The 5.1 sound in the selected DTS format sounds clearly and pleasantly richer than on the CD and clear, surround sound is something else to enjoy. For the visualisation of the music, photos are used as a slide show that exactly match what you are listening to. Pictures of instruments or sceneries that are timed exactly to what is taking place in the lyrics. The whole thing is so rich in detail that, for example, a small built-in bell is visually underlined by a very short photo sequence with a bell. Many ideas simply put a grin on my lips again and again while watching. In addition, the texts are offered as subtitles in 5 languages (!)! Of course, reading along with the German translation as well as the slide show makes it much easier to access the content of the work.
"Still Thick as a Brick" was produced entirely by Madvedge Records and is also marketed independently. This makes the layout all the more remarkable. In addition to LP and download versions, the work is available exclusively (!) in book form with CD and DVD. The book is supposed to be a hardcover version of the fictional music magazine "Rellington Stone" and contains 70 pages of mega text illustrated with pictures. There we are at the next deliberate parallel to the prog rock classic "Thick as a B rick"; back then the LP was published in the layout of a newspaper. The hardcover edition of the "Rellington Stone" here is supposedly accompanied by the two sound carriers free of charge - all a matter of opinion 🙂 .
When leafing through and reading the magazine, one senses a quiet wit and a twinkle in the eye everywhere. Entirely in English, the REFLECTION CLUB album is presented as the cover story of the current issue of the magazine, including background information. A download with a German-language translation is offered via the website. The lyrics of the work are printed in block form as newspaper articles to support the musical narrative style of the music. The "magazine" is peppered with other fictional things like reports or cultural advertisements for record shops from Rellington, but also with reviews of fictional musicians or other projects . It is a pleasure to feel this creativity and to leaf through this book, even if you don't have the music on at the moment! The book with the music and the surround DVD with the slide show as visualisation makes the whole thing beyond the pure concept album to a definite total work of art, where you don't really need the orientation to the classic model of JETHRO TULL. No matter on which level you approach the work, you can only marvel at the enormous creativity that has been displayed here.
REFLECTION CLUB also features old acquaintances. Singer Paul Forrest sounds familiar not only because of his vocal proximity to Ian Anderson, he has already toured German clubs with Martin Barre and his JETHRO TULL EXPERIENCE. And Nils Conrad's guitar is already familiar to many fans of CRYSTAL PALACE. But above all stands Lutz Meinert, for whom it was a matter of the heart to take four years for this mega-project and now present it to us prog rock fans. I wish the project every success, which it definitely deserves. JETHRO TULL fans who are open to new things should definitely get this. For those who want to try it first - the four and a half minute long youtube album trailer gives a very good first insight into this work.
Rating: 9 / 10
The Berlin multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert (MARGIN, FOR YOUR PLEASURE) makes you sit up and take notice with a new project: REFLECTION CLUB's debut album "Still Thick As A Brick" is not only strikingly reminiscent of JETHRO TULL in its title, it sees itself as a kind of homage (or maybe even a sequel?) to the heyday of the British flute rockers at the beginning of the seventies, and this is already more than transparent in the opener "Time Out". Also the Mediabook has been designed as an info-newspaper, although not quite as elaborate as the 1972 original newspaper cover, but at least wittily pointed and with many (fictional) stories and also again and again information about the album. The varied 48-minute track is divided into eleven sequences, which, as always, can also be heard as individual songs, and plays with hippie-esque folk-prog ("Rellington Town", "The Dance Around The Golden Calf") with a GENESIS-flavor as well as with large-scale, yet accessible art-rock ("The Foray Of Sharks") or even a little jazz ("Sentimental Depreciation"). Of course, a flute may not be missing, which is used here if, then discreetly and expediently accentuated. Remarkable on top of that the fact that Mr. Meinert has played almost all instruments himself. Only on the guitar he was supported by Nils Conrad (CRYSTAL PALACE) and for the flute parts they got with Ulla Harmuth and Paul Forrest two old hands on board, whereby the latter is also responsible for the warm, unobtrusive vocals.
With the fictitious "financial mogul" George Boston mentioned in the accompanying fake magazine "Rellington Stone", a counterpoint as well as an (almost too obvious) parallel to JETHRO TULL's Gerald Bostock, around whom "Thick As A Brick" and its successor originally revolve, is created. The fictional character also wrote the lyrics - another small detail in this musical performance, which is quite rich in details. Back to the roots it goes naturally somewhere, the song material, one imagines oneself in colorful flower meadows, while in the background the Hammond flute duel "Bedlam" is running, the air, which is saturated with incense and red wine, hangs deep and evocative in the room with "Rellington Town" and "Years On The Fast Track", and soon the time travel is over again with the strong "Look Across The Sea", which is accompanied by bagpipes. But that doesn't matter, because you can always start it from the beginning.
As with MARGIN's "Psychedelic Teatime" (which is even mentioned once here in the text) the inclined listener may embark on a wonderful, extensive and imaginative musical journey, which of course often quotes JETHRO TULL, but also likes to flirt with STEVE HACKETT or with the solo albums of MARTIN ORFORD (IQ). And who also likes optical nicely made releases, will be delighted here on top of that. On top of that, there's a "slide show" covering all tracks (also comes in the form of a 72-page booklet!), all in heartwarming 5.1 sound, of course. A refreshing album, rich in detail and despite the many Tull borrowings never a mere copy of the British heroes. Artrock nerds and proggies with just a little bit of sense grab here without hesitation!
Mike Seidinger (03/2021)
"Rellington Stone" is the name of the English magazine we flip through in 2021. In 1972, we saw an English daily newspaper with the name "St. Cleve Chronicle & Linwell Advertiser" in front of us. The headline once read: "THICK AS A BRICK". There was an article about the English group JETHRO TULL, horoscopes and the radio program - a thoroughly humorous newspaper reading. Of course, this newspaper was part of the first edition of JETHRO TULL's concept album of the same name. To create a legend, bandleader Ian Anderson also wrote the entire text under the pseudonym of a schoolboy named Gerald Bostock, which JETHRO TULL supposedly took from this clueless as well as precocious eight-year-old.
The headline of the "Rellington Stone" 49 years later is "STILL THICK AS A BRICK" and concerns the international formation REFLECTION CLUB. There is a vinyl edition of 'Still Thick As A Brick' that comes with the "Rellington Stone" as a newspaper or a CD edition in a mediabook. The magazine is, of course, a Rellington journal, as the enclosed work simultaneously echoes "The Rellington Resort Orchestra" and chants of the "Rellington Football Club".
Rellington Stone? Remington Steele? Rolling Stone? The city in New Zealand is called Wellington, of course. And if the story told in the "Rellington Stone" is true, which is said to have been written by an old school friend of the bandleader of the REFLECTION CLUB named George Boston, everybody has to find out for himself. Because another friend offered the "Rellington Stone" to introduce 'Still Thick As A Brick'. But the "Rellington Stone", in its precarious financial situation, not only considered the album 'Still Thick As A Brick' offered to it, but wrote other reviews of recordings and concerts, a theater review and a studio report. Editors have printed their playlist on top of that. The detailed review of 'Still Thick As A Brick' naturally includes the lyrics, a critique and background reports - all in endless loop within the Mediabook.
Gerald Bostock's poem 'Thick As A Brick' once provided a source of controversy. George Boston's tales from the world of finance 'Still Thick As A Brick' should provide just such. The narrator longs for a break from high-tech society, although in the end it's all about financial sharks and money laundering, while real artists, in contrast to the gray financial world, bring fresh and new colors into society at all times. The enclosed DVD can be played as a multi-media experience, showing the corresponding images and texts to the music.
However, REFLECTION CLUB did not create a plagiarism with their first work 'Still Thick As A Brick', but the most dignified and valuable homage to the progressive rock days of JETHRO TULL. To the sound of JETHRO TULL between 1972 and 1973 a few splashes of Folk, Jazz Rock and Psychedelic Rock are added. Not only followers of JETHRO TULL will be blown away by the 48-minute concept album, which is divided into eleven parts.
Still Thick As A Brick' was conceived by multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert, who is also active under the project name MARGIN. Englishman Paul Forrest (JETHRO TULL EXPERIENCE, ex-DAYGLO PIRATES) is responsible for vocals and the acoustic guitar in REFLECTION CLUB, the electric guitar is played by German Nils Conrad (CRYSTAL PALACE, ex-FOR YOUR PLEASURE) and the flute by US-American Ulla Harmuth. Berlin's Lutz Meinert personally handles the keys, bass and drums.
Prelude' is the name of the symphonic prelude with flute and Hammond. At the latest the following 'Time Out' makes all listeners freeze. With the voice sounding to the acoustic guitar, of course, not only the feeling of 1972 is restored, but this wonderful songwriter song lives out with flute solo and at the end with jam factor completely in the classic JETHRO TULL and prog sound. The instruments then really let off steam for the first time with guitar and keyboard solo in 'Years On The Fast Track'. Bells or briefly oriental touched to the chorus, the variety is kept high in 'Rellington Town' with folk. Also 'The Club Of Hopeful Opinions' leaves no one standing still. Extremely lively songs already grow out of the percussion and drum playing. For orchestral decoration the melody sequences in 'The Foray Of The Sharks' are energetically emphasized by flute and guitar, in 'Sentimental Depreciation' also additionally with the acoustic guitar. The vocals reverberate in 'Nervesoothers' before that inimitable groove returns in 'The Great Dance Around The Golden Calf'. Dramatically, 'Bedlam' treads the finale of the story that ultimately ends 'Across The Sea' with bagpipes, long guitar solo and a return to the starting point of the concept.
"I think it's time to take a break, to take a time out, looking at the passing years and the precious time that remains.
But the game goes on with those wise men who still don't know how it, how it feels to be thick as a brick."
Michael Haifl (03/2021)
Reflection Club – Still Thick As A Brick
This seems to become a new trend! Whereas in the past cover bands bowed down to their great idols by trying to play the songs they loved as authentically as possible, now they play their own songs as if they were forgotten pieces from their great idols.
Robert Reed started with his Sanctuary series and produced albums that sound as if Mike Oldfield had recorded them in the 70s and not released them. This year, a German is now attracting attention with a project that pays homage to the music of Jethro Tull. Lutz Meinert is a musician and multi-instrumentalist from Berlin, who already attracted attention a few years ago with the band Margin. This was also rooted in progressive rock and was strongly reminiscent of Pink Floyd through its psychedelic interludes. Now Jethro Tull!
It is easy to recognize from the title that the 1972 album Thick As A Brick was taken as a blueprint. In an interview Meinert reported that this longplayer was his entry into music at that time. Years later, he was curious to see how the second part of the album would sound, which Ian Anderson released as a solo album in 2012. However, this was different than he had personally imagined a sequel, so that at some point the thought came that he would then just have to make one himself.
The creative output of which Meinert now released as the band Reflection Club. Like Margin before it, Reflection Club is largely a solo project of Meinert. He played most of the instruments himself, and was only supported on guitar, flute and vocals.
In keeping with the current reissues of Jethro Tull in book format, STILL THICK AS A BRICK, the title of the album, also came out in a corresponding deluxe edition, see photo below. In addition to a CD, a DVD is included, which contains a surround mix created by Lutz Meinert. Unlike Jethro Tull, it's also worth turning on the TV here. Because while you can listen to the surround mix, you can also see a slide show on the TV, matching the lyrics of the album. Genesis had already done something similar on the tour for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and later, when this album could also be heard in surround, made it available on DVD as a bonus.
The booklet in the deluxe edition is a lovingly compiled issue of the imaginary music magazine Rellington Stone, retelling the (imaginary) history of the Reflections Club. However, it is somewhat incomprehensible to me why this "magazine" was printed twice in two layouts.
The illusion is almost perfect! One has immediately the impression as if one would hear an old Jethro Tull album for the first time. Especially me, who actually got to know the band only through these reissues. This is not so much due to the music and the arrangement. It all sounds familiar Jethro Tull, no question. But it is the voice of singer Paul Forrest that makes the difference. It bears a strong resemblance to the vocals of Ian Anderson. Forrest is a Brit living in the U.S. and is known there with the cover band The Jethro Tull Experience.
Musically, STILL THICK AS A BRICK is a concept album. Unlike the original, however, there are not two long pieces here, each of which spans the entire LP side, instead there are shorter tracks, but they all blend into each other. Here and there themes appear again and again in a modified way, as you know it from concept albums. Meinert has come up with some really good melodies that immediately stick in the ear and are also recognized on the very first listen.
What also makes the album interesting is that it doesn't just contain music in the style of Jethro Tull in 1972, but also develops this sound further. So there are on this album also small excursions into jazz, which are unknown from Jethro Tull in the kind. A really good album!
The surround mix of STILL THICK AS A BRICK is not the most discrete thing I've come across. The songs usually start quite front-heavy. Only in the course of time they unfold also into the rear channels and a certain staggering of the instruments takes place. I suspect that Lutz Meinert was still a bit restrained at the controls here and didn't want to overdo it too much. Once he does then, however. In the track Sentimental Depreciation there is briefly a wild panning of the vocals through all channels, which sounds a bit strange.
As for the distribution of instruments into the rear channels, Meinert makes no distinctions here. He occasionally allows guitars, keyboards as well as the flute and percussion to have their say in the rear channels. As I said before, a uniform distribution throughout the room instead of an occasional pop would have been preferable to me personally. Sound-wise, however, the album is very listenable and exceedingly transparent. You can hear all the nuances very well. Only the drums I find here and there a bit too dominant. But that is already complaining on a high level.
I am most convinced by parts 4 and 5 in the surround mix, where the distribution of the instruments in the room succeeds best. In Rellington Town (Part 4), for example, tablas from the rears support the rhythms of the piece, which again stands out nicely from the familiar Jethro Tull sound cosmos.
The album starts in stereo when you simply press the enter button after inserting it. You can switch to 5.1 via the audio button. If you want to do this beforehand via the menu, you should already have the TV on, because this is hardly manageable in blind flight:
RIGHT > RIGHT > ENTER > LEFT > LEFT > ENTER > RIGHT > RIGHT > ENTER.
Then jump back from the AUDIO SETUP menu item to FULL ALBUM and board.
Devaluation: -3 %
Over the whole album you can see a picture show matching the lyrics.
Upvaluation: +1 %
For me the discovery of the year. Worthwhile!
Pros / Cons:
+ very good sound and good surround mix
+ bonus material (+1%)
- Album start in surround a bit awkward (- 3%)
OVERALL RATING: 86
Robert Schlegel (06/2021)
The Progressive Aspect (TPA) (Great Britain)
I really don’t mind if I sit this one out…
This was my initial reaction when I first read about – but prior to hearing – this release from multi-national quartet Reflection Club. Taking a STAAB (I see what you did there) at Jethro Tull’s iconic 1972 album surely must be folly and one fraught with lampoonery, however, the expression ‘never judge a book by its cover’, or as it is here a 72-page media-book cover, certainly applies.
To clarify, Still Thick As A Brick isn’t an attempt to make a direct copy of its progenitor, but rather a musical homage, inspired by early ’70’s Tull and specifically TAAB. I suppose in many respects, comparisons to Tull’s TAAB 2 and Homo Erraticus releases might be appropriate.
Requisite to this of course is – do they have a comprehensive understanding of the music and the necessary chops to pull it off?
The project is led by German multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert with Nils Conrad (Crystal Palace) on guitar. Vocalist (acoustic guitarist and flautist) Paul Forrest sounds uncannily like Ian Anderson, perhaps to be expected as he also fronts the Jethro Tull Experience. However, barring one track, the flute on STAAB is undertaken by Ulla Harmuth, who I have to say does an impeccable job. STAAB also features a number of guests, however as this is an ADA... ("a different aspect" - editor's note) I’ll refer you to their website for more information.
So to answer the above question – yes, Reflection Club have an overarching, in depth knowledge of the music and they certainly have the chops!
Like its predecessor, STAAB is also a concept album, with newspaper (72-page media-book including CD & DVD in 2021), and “…a background article illuminating on the narrative background of the album, which can also be gleaned from the printed lyrics included.”. Unfortunately, I cannot do justice to the package as a whole, as this review was undertaken from a download, but what I have seen of the media-book, Rellington Stone magazine, it’s certainly in keeping with the concept.
So what about the music?
Excellent really, and what I found most gratifying about Still Thick As A Brick was that Reflection Club have taken the template and then created an album that embodies the spirit of Tull in the creative spirit of the originators. So much so that they have confidently added their own stamp into the music, without distracting from the template. Complementing the music and again in keeping with the original, the tracks are chock full of wry and satirical lyrics. So convincing is this tribute album I would go as far as to say: if you DON’T like Jethro Tull, then you definitely WON’T like Reflection Club.
Concluding: I’m really glad I didn’t sit this one out.
Bob Mulvey (07/2021)
Time For Metal (Germany)
Multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert, who has made a name for himself in various psychedelic bands such as For Your Pleasure from 1979 to the present day and more recently with his band Margin, is now venturing into a new project with Reflection Club, which tries to musically in Still Thick As A Brick. The title already evokes associations with Jethro Tull's record of almost the same name from 1972. Now I will test the classic prog rock event and see to what extent there are parallels. The disc will be released by JPC and has a surprise in store. There will be no pure CD, but the record will appear as a Mediabook, which is based on a (fictional) music magazine, the Rellington Stone. The 72-page magazine contains all the lyrics, interviews with a studio owner, a review of Still Thick As A Brick and other content that could possibly save the magazine, which is facing financial ruin. Of course, there's also music, and so a CD with the eleven songs is included as well as a DVD, which makes the musical work even more interesting with surround sound. Furthermore, the debut album will be released as a colored, limited vinyl edition. There, too, the CD and the DVD will be included.
As collaborators Lutz Meinert got the guitarist Nils Conrad (known from Crystal Palace), Paul Forrest, who can be heard as a lead singer, acoustic guitarist and also on the flute (known from the Jethro Tull Experience) and the flutist Ulla Harmuth from the States. In addition, the Rellington Resort Orchestra, The Little Indian Restaurant Ensemble, The Bagpipe Club Willy Scotty and (which I found particularly successful), some vocal members of the soccer club FC Rellington, who are responsible for "shouts and insane noises", were also allowed to participate.
So what can we expect in the almost 48 minutes? The concept album begins with Prelude, which is impressively intoned by Ulla Harmuth and the orchestra. Seamlessly it continues. Acoustic guitars and vocals dominate the progressive piece, which comes across so typically in the style of the early 70s. In addition to the hard rock elements, folk rock and jazz elements are also integrated. It continues in this style. The Part 3: Years On The Fast Track is Hammond organ- and guitar-heavy aligned and beside the jazzy influences also still fusion beginnings are to be noticed. Clearly light-footed, like in the best Jethro Tull times, it goes through the tracks. The alternation between rocky parts, folk and sequences reminiscent of world music make the album varied. Here, the prog fan of the early 70s is clearly addressed. Noteworthy are also the creative drumming of Lutz and the vocal presence of Paul Forrest. This runs through the disc like a red thread. Again and again parts remind of Jethro Tull and bow so before the masters of the subject at that time. In doing so, Meinert knows how to compensate for the homogeneity that may have been lacking at the time. This is to be noticed extremely successfully in Part 7: Sentimental Depreciation. Slight psychedelic influences, as in Bedlam, which incidentally also features the vocally powerful men of FC Rellington, complete the musical influences. In Part 11: Look Across The Sea Nils Conrad is allowed to prove his class once again.
I can recommend this project without a bad conscience to anyone who enjoys early Jethro Tull up to 1976. If you expect more hard rock, you will be disappointed, although there are many approaches to be found. However, this is clearly a tribute to the Thick As A Brick times and that's a good thing. For metal fans this is rather nothing and thus the target group of lovers of early prog rock with jazz and folk influences is addressed. I was more into hard rock in the early 70s and couldn't get into the Jethro Tull universe. That has changed over the years and so I can also gain something from the record. Praiseworthy also the presentation of the issues, which offer an additional incentive. Nevertheless, I would recommend everyone to listen in advance.
Tips for playing: Prelude, Bedlam and Look Across The Sea
Kay L. (02/2021)
Velvet Thunder (Great Britain)
A warm homage to the Tull output of the 1970s…
It’s important to address a few points right away with this one before anyone rolls their eyes in instant judgment. Yes, Still Thick As A Brick is clearly a Jethro Tull-inspired release. Yes, it’s a pastiche of the original Thick As A Brick in appearance, and yes, it’s operating within that general domain of sound. However, it is not a cover or remake of the original, nor is it a sequel, nor is it supposed to be considered a replacement (assuming that could even be possible for such a classic). Labours of love such as these are rarely created in naive attempts to better their predecessors. Instead, international outfit Reflection Club have crafted a standalone work that takes Tull’s 1972 prog concept opus and uses it as a blueprint for their own story and their own album to stand alongside the original… with surprisingly strong results.
Most of us have that ‘buyer’s remorse’ album on our shelf – the band that someone recommended because ‘they sound so much like that other band you love’ – but upon listening, we find we’d much rather just listen to that other band we love. This is not that scenario. Some might consider this a long-lost Tull album, or ‘Tull junior’ or ‘son of Thick As A Brick‘, or even, as I’ve heard in some circles, ‘What 2012’s Thick As A Brick 2 should have been’ – and nobody would be right or wrong. Without sounding too nebulous, this album is somehow all of those things and none of them, and that’s what makes it such an intriguing listen.
Despite the packaging and presentation, this is actually less a specific tribute to Thick As A Brick than it is a warm homage to the Tull output of the 1970s. Of course, there are obvious musical and lyrical Brick references, but little flashes here and there remind us of some other favourite moments – I smiled at one section highly reminiscent of Wond’ring Aloud, for instance. But the album never devolves into mindless ‘Spot the reference’ games, as its own music is too strong to need such crutches. More importantly, and unlike the more mimetic ‘clone’ bands out there, Reflection Club take numerous opportunities to forge their own paths and steer the music down different avenues that Tull didn’t always explore in full, like the odd jazzy bit for example. Sprinklings of sitar, bagpipes and violin also inject distinct flavours to the more typical and familiar rock instrumentation.
The songwriting from band leader and multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert is the strongest aspect of Still Thick As A Brick. It’s no small task to compose a work of such complexity and epic scope and have it succeed – particularly as an underdog viewed through the lens of some Tull fans in 2021 who might understandably over-scrutinize right out of the gate. There are gorgeous melodies, skillful arrangements and memorable lyrics throughout, and while instrumental prowess and technique might not reach the heights of players like Barrie Barlow and John Evan, there’s little need for concern with songs as robust as these. Transitions between the eleven main sections are seamless as they build with appropriate momentum and settle gently into their softer acoustic sections with a hint of sweetness to the vocals.
It will come as no surprise that Paul Forrest fronts tribute act The Jethro Tull Experience, as he delivers a strong and convincing Ian Anderson (look him up on YouTube actually performing with Tull in 2008 and prepare your soon to be plummeting jaw). He seems naturally blessed with that vocal tone and knows full well how to utilize it without sounding strained, and it’s a pleasure to hear him voicing original material where he gets to be himself a tad more. He provides acoustic guitar and some flute here, too, though main flute is handled by Ulla Harmuth. Rounding out the Club is Nils Conrad on electric guitar, who shines when given the chance, but is perhaps used too sparingly.
The elaborate 73-page book that houses the discs is an absolute delight that must be seen and read to be believed. The incredibly detailed pages within are a hybrid of truth and fiction that expand on the original Thick As A Brick‘s faux newspaper: absurdist humour, advertisements, interviews, stories, lyrics, colour photos and liner notes. It’s all tied together under the guise of an issue of a music magazine called The Rellington Stone with lyrics allegedly penned by one George Boston (hmm…) – and it’s not always clear where reality and fantasy begin or end. This impressive inclusion adds another dimension to the overall experience of the album.
The DVD is included in the CD version as well as the limited vinyl release, and features 5.1 surround mixes as well as a rather engaging slideshow that plays concurrent with the music. Unlike most visual accompaniments, these aren’t the same dozen images in an endless loop, and make for an entertaining watch for those of us who like such experiences. It really is a whole other dimension when one is immersed in surround sound with visuals like these. Background music, this ain’t.
For those of us who are major Tull-heads, it’s a comfort and a pleasure to have an album of such quality to add to our listening repertoire. This risky release could have been a major disappointment, but I am happy to report that it is precisely the opposite: a surprisingly excellent slab of Tull-inspired material that’s likable straight away and grows more so with successive listens. Much like the album(s) it gleaned its inspiration from, Still Thick As A Brick grabs hold of your attention and is over before you know it. This could easily wind up (no pun) as a top 10 album of the year. Fantastic!
Lorne Murphy (06/2021)
The bar is set very high for upcoming prog rock LPs
"Still Thick As A Brick" - this is probably one of the best prog records of our days and anything but a copy of the famous classic by Jethro Tull! Lutz Meinert has created a highly exceptional concept album with the newly founded project "Reflection Club", which is very rare in its kind. The review explains what's behind it.
The effort behind this total work of art perhaps only becomes clear when one looks at the enclosed DVD. In the elaborate slide show, the pictures that match the music come exactly on point and on beat, which thus project the artistic content. One can guess how long Lutz Meinert sat on it. Apart from the undoubtedly also laborious studio stays and the design of cover and the enclosed newspaper. Speaking of recordings: since this album has already been described and praised many times in the press, I would like to focus here in this review on the vinyl and its overall impressions.
For all vinyl fan readers who don't know this record yet or have heard something about it, here's the info about the music and its background first.
"Still Thick As A Brick" is an idea of Lutz Meinert, a multi-talented musician and producer. The fact that he also realizes Dolby Surround 5.1 sound worlds with this project does not diminish the fact that he also recalls a work of his youth that shaped him in a most appealing way. "Thick As A Brick" was a defining work of rock history in 1972, but the now released "Still Thick As A Brick" is not a copy of it!
Although the stylistics of the classic are amazingly well taken up, this 2021 LP has its own characteristics. With typical English snobbish charm, the story of the (freely invented) financial genius George Boston is told. Progressive rock is to be experienced in its entirety. Meinert and his fellow players have very cleverly packed in a lot of musical ideas, from folk elements like those present in Tull's original to strings, sitar and bagpipes to jazzy parts and many details more. Everything seems perfectly staged and played to the point.
This points to first-class musicians. Already the singing of the British Paul Forrest, reminiscent of the young Ian Anderson, makes a significant contribution to the effect of this music. Nils Conrad impresses with his classy guitar parts, which always stand out, but seem well integrated in the overall concept. Very strong and also extremely formative is the flute playing of the American Ulla Harmuth, whereby she is also supported on this instrument by Paul Forrest. Lutz Meinert himself is a multi-instrumentalist, his organ runs are in any case another treat in the prog action of this record. The names declared as "guests" are probably also invented like the whole story of "Still Thick As A Brick", presumably their instruments are played by the main protagonists.
So, now I looked more at the content than at the record itself. So now: the dark blue marbled and slightly translucent vinyl disc in front of me is quite appealing sonically, especially in the very present acoustic sections. The fine detail is successful, although the lack of depth or spatiality points to a typically digital recording. Accordingly, the dynamics could be a bit more extensive. Nevertheless, the overall sound image seems homogeneous and expressive, which in my opinion is due to the skillful arrangements and at the same time the artistic performance. The pressing itself is not perfect, but it is okay despite the colored vinyl used.
Great is in any case the entire design, which includes, in addition to the gatefold cover, the magazine "Rellington Stone", which is modeled after a (small) newspaper. In it, in addition to, of course, freely invented stories, the song lyrics are also illustrated. It is also nice that in addition to the above-mentioned DVD, a CD is also included, after all, you can use it to enjoy "Still Thick As A Brick" in the car. And, that it is a pleasure, one can say as a rock fan in any case. For this work, despite its intentional proximity to the 72 "Thick As A Brick", is an independent project that very quickly breaks away from the stigma of imitation as soon as you listen to it.
With "Still Thick As A Brick" the bar is set very high for upcoming prog rock records in 2021 - let's see if anyone will break it.
Manfred Krug (03/2021)