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Jethro Tull - This Was CD (album) cover

THIS WAS

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

3.32 | 858 ratings

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Progosopher
2 stars Out of the ashes of the John Evans Smash, Ian Anderson and Glen Cornick join up with Mick Abrams and Clive Bunker to form the band that would become known as Jethro Tull. This Was is aptly titled for there is no other Tull album quite like it. The style is more akin to that of John Mayall's Blues Breakers than anything else. A big part of this sound is the presence of Mick Abrams on guitar who takes a traditional Blues approach. So, the album is a part of the late 60s British Blues movement championed by the likes of the Rolling Stones, Alexis Korner, and the above mentioned Mayall. There is, however, a unique quality within, or rather alongside, that traditional approach that shows the potential for something more and we can thank Ian Anderson for that. It is not just the flute, but also Anderson's jaunty song writing that shows his wry humor as well as a devil may care attitude on the instrumental jams.

As Anderson described it later, the band was so terrible they had to change their name on a weekly basis just to get gigs. At one point, they came across the name of Jethro Tull, a major figure in the 18th century British agricultural revolution who invented a then state of the art automatic seeding machine. Something must have begun to click with the band, because I would not call them terrible at all. Some of the recordings, yes (fair to middling at best and awful at worst), but the band sounds very good. Case in point: Compare their version of Cat's Squirrel to the one Cream released on their first album just a year earlier. Besides that song, other favorites of mine include Serenade for a Cuckoo, Beggar's Farm, and the well known Song for Jeffrey.

As a long time Tull skull, and as a fan of the Blues, I enjoy this album a great deal. It not only has good musicianship, even if the music is highly derivative, but it also sounds very fresh. At the same time, this is not the Tull of Thick as a Brick or Songs From the Wood. The band would evolve in numerous ways over the ensuing years, but This Was is where it all started, and it is not a bad start at all, especially for hard core fans such as myself, and that is why I give it two stars.

Progosopher | 2/5 |

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