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Jethro Tull - This Was CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.32 | 858 ratings

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3 stars JETHRO TULL hit the scene in 1968 as a blues rock band that fit stylistically between CREAM and TRAFFIC, not exactly a rock and a hard place. Their debut -- and we'll get back to that title -- is softer than CREAM, harder than TRAFFIC, and remarkably confident for a band of unknowns. Despite all turning in fine performances, the band's success clearly rests on the shoulders of frontman IAN ANDERSON -- his wildly expressive flute playing, influenced by Roland KIRK, and wise-beyond-his-years voice clearly distanced TULL from a host of colorless wannabes. When ANDERSON wasn't drawing attention to himself like a man on fire, listeners could groove to the soulful guitar of Mick ABRAHAMS or crack a smile as Clive BUNKER gave his drum kit (and anything else that didn't get out of the way in time) a sound thrashing. Although the band spends about half their time on blues rock, it's clearly not where their fortunes lie -- even when ABRAHAMS takes the lead on a track like "Cat's Squirrel" and burns the place up, it draws the inevitable comparison to other guitar-led acts that simply do this sort of thing better (JIMI HENDRIX, CREAM). Better by far are the songs that allow ANDERSON's songwriting to find a unique voice for the band: "A Song for Jeffrey", "Beggar's Farm", "My Sunday Feeling". The mix of blues and hearty folk music is clearly a winning combination; TRAFFIC and CS&N were both purveyors of a delicate folk influenced by psychedelia -- leave it to a flute player to kick their paisleyed posteriors with some good, gritty folk/blues rock. As "Serenade to a Cuckoo" and "Dharma for One" prove, the flute can be every bit as sweaty and sexual as a guitar. And so JETHRO TULL was plucked from the crowd by the critic's picky fingers and anointed as "Band Most Likely To.", even as fans were snatching up their debut and flocking to live appearances. But there's still the prickly problem of that album title, "This Was". Turns out this TULL character is a restless and unpredictable prankster, not the sort that'll oblige audiences by playing the same old songs. And so what is soon was, with ABRAHAMS leaving the group to form BLODWYN PIG and ANDERSON assuming the reins to ride off to a different destiny.
daveconn | 3/5 |


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