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Jethro Tull - This Was CD (album) cover

THIS WAS

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.31 | 553 ratings

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Atavachron
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "From the ashes of the John Evan Band had risen, staggering uneasily to its feet, the bluesy and hopeful young quartet of Anderson, Abrahams, Cornick and Bunker" recalls Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull's first album, a session put to tape without a recording deal. "I pushed for the name 'This Was' to make some kind of statement regarding the temporary nature of the band's then musical style, and in the hope that we might move on from the musically blues-based tunes to incorporate the other influences which I was assimilating from various sources". In other words, Tull were becoming a progressive rock band but hadn't arrived yet and though that is quite evident on This Was, it makes it a very interesting snapshot of a band that would become one of a tiny number of highly influential groups. Groups that would take from the best of what the Western world's music had to offer, attach some wit, solid musical dynamics and a bit of fun... and continue expanding on that idea, album after album.

Make no mistake, Tull's debut is mostly a blues record and not a particularly great one. If you were down at the Crossroads in 1968 you'd better have some fire; Hendrix was peaking, Cream had few rivals and Zeppelin were just getting started. But scattered throughout the slightly soggy 12-bar beats of 'Someday the Sun Won't Shine for You', 'Move On Alone', and 'Its Breaking Me Up' are 'Beggar's Farm', still blues-based but starting to slip away into a warm amalgam of jazz and folk rock, and the cool adult swing of 'Serenade to a Cuckoo'. Blustery classic 'Dharma For One' exudes just the kind of liberated energy the band would increasingly show, while 'A Song For Jeffery' features Mick Abrahams' slide guitar and Anderson channeling some ambiguous American bluesman. And as with many of the Tull remasters, the bonus tracks are not to be dismissed, some worthy of actual reinstatement as official cuts. The energetic pre-progressive single 'Love Story' sports a burgeoning trademark Tull sound with Baroque melodies and folkie tendencies, plus the delicate dulcimer-rock of 'Chistmas Song', the last cut on this re-release and ironically the most Tull-like song here. Good but non-essential? Yeah, that's just about right.

Atavachron | 3/5 |

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