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Jethro Tull - This Was CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.31 | 892 ratings

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4 stars Jethro Tull's first album, This Was, gives us a band on the verge of breaking down barriers within the rock community. While this album is much more bluesy than its follow up Stand Up, This Was nonetheless contains a wonderful blend of Jethro Tull's unique style and flair. Within the first track the listener meets the jazz flute that would soon become instantly identified with the one and only Ian Anderson. This Was exhibits Tull in a larval stage, when listening its clear the relationship between what they were doing on this album and their subsequent releases. The only album with Mick Abrahams on guitar, the six stringer brings a sound a la earlier Fleetwood Mac and packs a bluesy punch. He also manages some fine jazz stylings on Serenade for Cuckoo (the centerpiece of the album). Overall, I find this to be a very well balanced record with a number of strong points.

My Sunday Feeling opens the album with the guitar and flute trading point and counterpoint in the main riff. Some great percussion work from Clive Bunker that gives this piece a jazzy feel, especially during Abrahams solo. A strong blues number to start things off. Beggar's Farm begins with a hypnotic riff as Anderson plays over the top; Anderson's vocals add to the trance like atmosphere of the track. Abrahams solo is set off from the rest of the best by the loose jazz swing of the rhythm section. The track climaxes with an aggressive riff from Abrahams which crescendos the song to its outro.

Serenade for Cuckoo is indicative of the early Tull sound and embodies what they were going for on this record. Ian provides excellent flute work on this track (as the liner notes state this was also the first song he learned to play of the flute). The piece ebbs and flows, picking up pace as Anderson's solo gains in intensity before Abrahams begins his own solo. Those familiar with Martin Barre will find Abrahams style quite different; I'm not a guitar expert but even when mingling in the jazz sense Abrahams' guitar seems to be firmly rooted in the blues. This gives the music quite a unique sound in the Tull catalog since Barre has been a staple in the lineup for over forty years. But alas, Abrahams certainly puts in some excellent work on this album and is quite a guitar player in his own right.

As for the remainder of the album, Dharma for One contains a rocking good drum solo of sorts. Personally find the main theme with the saxes and horns to be very catchy and its quite a tune. Love the urgency in Bunker's playing, especially when he's playing in time on the ride while maneuvering around his kit with that left hand (from a drummer's standpoint I love the power yet precise nature of his drumming). It's Breaking Me Up is a straight blues number with harmonica and guitar harmony to boot, a pretty solid tune but does hold water when alongside Cat's Squirrel. This puppy features Abrahams just dripping with pure blues moxy; combined with a potent riff, this track is a sure fire winner. Abrahams proves he's up there with some of the finer British blues axeman of the mid to late 60's.

A great album, especially noteworthy for Tull's first big hit A Song for Jeffrey but certainly including much more. This is really a hidden gem but not as eclectic and ambitious as their next album which really announced the arrival of The Jethro Tull as we know it.

mr.cub | 4/5 |


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