Reflection Club, Still Thick As A Brick, March 3, 2021
Tracks: Prelude (2:00), Time Out (4:03), Years on the Fast Track (3:31), Rellington Town (6:17), The Club of Hopeful Pinions (3:47), The Foray of the Sharks (5:45), Sentimental Depreciation (5:19), Nervesoothers (3:09), The Great Dance around the Golden Calf (3:36), Bedlam (5:48), Look Across the Sea (4:24)
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.