Sequels with beloved characters dominate at the box office. So why not bring back a character from an iconic classic rock album? That was (sort of) the reasoning behind Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson revisiting Gerald Bostock, the lead character from Tull’s 1972 classic Thick As A Brick. Next week, Anderson will release Thick As A Brick 2 (under his own name, not the Tull moniker) which answers the question, “Whatever happened to Gerald Bostock?”

Anderson says, “It wasn’t about going back and dwelling in some nostalgic moment of what would have happened in 1972 or 1973. It wasn’t about what happened next, it was a leap 40 years into the future and looking at what might have happened to young Gerald Bostock, and using that as subject material for a concept album. It’s about the world today. Gerald Bostock is a convenient mechanism to look at the way our lives fundamentally changed by chance intervention or decisions we made. In that way, it’s an album for us old folks looking back, it’s also an album for people in their teens or early 20s looking forward.”

The first single, “Banker Bets, Banker Wins,” could double as an anthem for the occupy movement, but was written well before protesters camped out in New York’s Zuccotti Park. But it was inspired by the global meltdown of the late ’00s: “I’d just moved all of my personal funds from the Royal Bank of Scotland in disgust at the then-chief executive Fred Goodwin who’d awarded himself huge bonuses and obscene levels of remuneration for a job very, very badly done, paying people for sub-substantial performances, and home-wrecking and life-wrecking failures. It disgusted me, so I took all my money from that bank and moved it elsewhere. Goodwin recently had his knighthood stripped from him. When I wrote (“Banker Bets, Banker Wins”) in 2011, I was concerned that in 2012 we wouldn’t still be talking about it, but we certainly are still talking about it.”

The financial meltdown is a topic that Anderson has strong feelings about: “We’re talking about a different kind of fallout which actually touches on one of the fundamental changes that I think are evident in the world today, which is that capitalism has become more and more extreme, and the sharp divisions between the mega-rich and the… not the mega-poor, but the people who are in the lower echelons… are sharper.”

He continues: “I think people have lost their way morally and ethically, that’s the reality of it. We have to think in terms of moral codes and ethical standards, in areas of commerce and banking and industry, and that seems to have been overtaken by the greed of the personal wealth of the people who are the movers and shakers.”

Thick As A Brick 2 ends with a song called “What-Ifs, Maybes, Might-Have-Beens,” which is about seminal life-changing choices. “I could think of people for whom life went horribly wrong as the result of one of those moments and making a decision and it was really a big bad thing. I know this for sure because I was the best man at the wedding for both of them!”

Back to Gerald Bostock, you can follow his adventures not only on Thick As A Brick 2, but also on his Facebook and Twitter pages and on the online newspaper “It was always a given that in this day and age that when we were going to embark upon a new album it was going to necessarily have an online component including the St. Cleve Chronicle newspaper and it would have to work within the realms of social media in order to make his presence felt at all.”

Thick As A Brick 2 is released on April 3, and Anderson’s U.S. tour kicks off in Miami in September.

Brian Ives CBS Local

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