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Jethro Tull - This Was CD (album) cover

THIS WAS

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.31 | 541 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
3 stars (This was...a 3.5)

This was...a decent album. It's generally disregarded in lieu of later, proggier albums. Which is a sin. We shouldn't over look This Was simply because it's a particularly bloozy record (and, it's not like Tull doesn't have at least one blues inspired track on every other record anyway).

We should, however, keep in mind that it's not the greatest blooz record ever recorded. In fact, compared to the debuts of some other innovative blues acts (namely Led Zep and Cream), it comes off as a bit light. This Was lacks the consistency of Fresh Cream and the sheer song power of Led Zeppelin I. It even lacks the near perfection God gave to Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum, the OTHER forgotten progressive blues record). This Was, however, not without its merit.

We start off with "My Sunday Feeling," a rough and tumble little blues rocker. It's pretty energetic, and I love the bassline that closes it. "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine For You" is a much slower number, with the Ian on harmonica instead of flute. "Beggar's Farm" a pretty good number with a haunting, stuttering flute line, thick guitar and a start and stop format that points the way for things to come.

My two favorite numbers come next. "Move On Along," a pure Abrahams number, is a bouncy little pop rocker with some strings snuck in. It's short, sweet and very sixties. First thing on the album I instantly loved. But my favorite number is the instrumental "Serenade to a Cuckoo." Of course, it's not quite as good as the Roland Kirk original, but it is arguably the catchiest thing on the album, and shows you the roots of the "Bouree."

Up to this point everything's been fine. Unfortunately, we're about to kick all that down the drain. "Dharma for One" is an instrumental excuse for a drum solo, the most attractive aspect of which is the use of the "claghorn" (Jeffrey made it) by Ian. The instrumental part was later improved on stage, but it's still a drum solo.

"It's Breaking Me Up" is another straight blues number. It's inoffensive enough, but not particularly amazing (I like the opening harmonica riff though). "Cat's Squirrel" is, however, dreadful. It wasn't particularly good when Cream did it either, but for some reason here, it sucks more. Lesser musicians perhaps? I dunno.

If the second side has any reason to exist, it's the psycho blues number "Song For Jeffrey." This was, at one point, my favorite song on the album, and it's possibly the track that has survived the best from the Abrahams era. Bouncy guitar, driving harmonica, blazing flute, encoded vocal effects. Yep. This is totally what King Crimson ripped off when they did "21st Century Schizoid Man," further proving that Tull created progressive rock.

I might be kinder to the album, for "Jeffrey's" sake, but instead we close with "Round," a silly, and utterly useless, sixty second album closer. It's just sort of some instruments tuning around. Oh well, it paves the way for "Grace" I guess.

So This Was an album that could have been great. As it stands, it's harmless, occasionally innovative, occasionally annoying, blues. The songs could have been stronger, and the musicians could have been better. Oh well, this is all cleaned up by Stand Up. Naturally fans of Tull should get this, as should anyone in the market for some proto-progressive blues. This Was an overused joke, but don't look at me; Ian started it.

(The remaster comes complete with three, count 'em, three, xtra numberz!!! Sorry. "One For John Gee" is a jazzy little instrumental dedicated to...someone, I forget. "Love Story" is a catchy blues rocker, the last thing Abrahams did with the band. Oh well. He was a nice chap and all, but the sooner we get Tony Iomi, er, Martin Barre, the better. "Christmas Song" is the first thing recorded without Abrahams, and the only survivor from the period. It's also probably my favorite of the three. It's the whole flute/mandolin/string quartet number with the clever build and allusions to drinking. You know. Play on you Tullers. All in all, three enjoyable, if not amazingly ingenious, numbers. No change in the rating.)

The Whistler | 3/5 |

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