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Comparisons - Thick As A Brick 2 vs. The Whirlwind

Posted by Rache , in Music Jan 17 2014 · 425 views

prog rock ian anderson transatlantic jethro tull
As I sit here, listening through The Whirlwind for the first time in a couple of years, it strikes me that the vocals on this album compare rather unfavourably to those on Thick As A Brick 2, Ian Anderson's follow-up to Jethro Tull's legendary single-song album, released forty years late.
 
It's not so much anything about the quality of the voices involved - years of smoking certainly were not kind to the pipes of Ian Anderson - but the technique of the singing. With Transatlantic's 70+ minute outing, while the voices don't sound bad, the phrasing and inflections leave much to be desired, lacking, for the most part, the confidence and impact heard from the very first track of TaaB 2. When the 1:37 mark of an old dinosaur's follow-up project is, vocally, stronger than the first fifteen minutes of a prog rock supergroup's intended magnum opus, someone hasn't done their job right.
 
I have, thus far, enjoyed The Whirlwind, but if what I've heard so far is any indication, I rather doubt that my reward for reaching the end will be anything like as powerful as the pairing of Confessional and Kismet in Suburbia. Anderson's vocal work on TaaB 2 may not come close to the original album, but it's still miles ahead of Transatlantic so far.
 
 
EDIT: I was going to cut this album so much more slack before they started padding the length with mindless repetition. I can only hear "Is it really happening" so many times before I conclude that you've run out of ideas.
 
EDIT 2: I was right. In summation, The Whirlwind is an instrumentally fun/kind of impressive album/song with merely okay lyrics and mediocre delivery of those lyrics.

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I'm gonna have to disagree with you here (and also express my disbelief that someone else here has heard the whirlwind lol) but I thought it was a very good song.

I will agree that, at times, certain voices don't jive as well as they could with the music and that Is It Really Happening? is a total drag, but really aside from that, I find it to be a really fun, adventurous song with brilliant musicianship from every member of the band.

On the flip side though, I have not yet heard Thick As A Brick 2, so I can't comment on your comparisons.
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On the whole, I enjoyed The Whirlwind, but I really feel like a lot of the vocal performance was phoned in for much of it - it got pretty good around the 20 minute mark, and had a few more very good moments, but it could have been much better.

 

Comparing it to vocal performances from people like Robert Plant, Ian Anderson, David Bowie, Mathias Nygård and Robert Brown really shows that Transatlantic could have tried much harder to make the vocals match the quality of the rest of the music.

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I've never much been a huge fan of Plant or Bowie's vocals. I enjoy their music well enough but I would never single them out as being above the rest (of course that's just personal taste, they're obviously hugely important). Transatlantic I would also not single out as being superb prog rock, but I still feel it was a better album than you give it credit for. At least, I enjoy the whole thing until Part XI where it loses all its steam, and part XII which kinda' just comes out of nowhere, disjointed from the rest of the song and sort of just fizzles out.

But I don't really see how you would hear the vocals as "phoned in". I'd say for 80% of the song they work just fine.
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The best way I can describe it is that the vocals lack the emotional impact and sense of drama of, for example, the original Thick as a Brick, or Turisas' Stand Up and Fight. The instrumentals do their jobs more than adequately, but the singing doesn't achieve what it's so clearly supposed to be going for, barring a few exceptional moments within the song.

 

Actually, I would say that the great work done with the instruments makes the vocals that much more disappointing when they do come in.

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I should probably clarify that I'm not saying that I don't like The Whirlwind - I would classify it as a good song rather than a bad one, and the vocals, while unsatisfying, are not bad enough that the song is ruined for me. I just feel that it could have been so much better.

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I guess I can kinda' see what your saying, with Neal Morse's voice at least. He doesn't have much of an emotional presence I find. But I enjoy Stolt and Portnoy's parts a lot.

but you're right, compared to the original TAAB it does fall short. But then, most things would lol
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