It’s nice to feel that the music can be improved, and in the case of Aqualung [which saw a 40th anniversary box-set reissue in 2011 with new stereo and 5.1 mixes by Steven Wilson], that wasn’t difficult because it wasn’t a very good recording. Being made back in 1971 at a time when it was designed for vinyl release, so many compromises had to be made during the mixing and mastering to get the damn thing onto vinyl. Plus the fact that it was a pretty awful studio I was working in back then [Island Studios on Basing Street in London]. I was never very happy with the end results of the Aqualung album from a sonic point of view.
Steven Wilson was able to tackle those mixes and clear them up and clean them up, and that was a very good thing to happen. He went on pretty much straightaway to mix the Thick as a Brick album in 5.1. And he did Thick as a Brick 2 as well.
How did Thick as a Brick 2 come about after all these years, roughly 40 of them? I’d been having conversations with Derek Shulman, formerly of Gentle Giant and later a record executive in the United States. He’d been bending my ear to do a follow-up to Thick as a Brick for several years. I didn’t want to take a kind of Rocky 7 approach and recreate what was essentially a spoof concept album. But in late 2010, either he or I said, “I wonder what Gerald Bostock would be doing today?” — he being the fictitious composer of the Brick lyrics. And in the same breath, “I wonder what the St. Cleve Chronicle, the 16-page newspaper, would be like today?”
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