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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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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I don't know why for some reason I listen to old albums recently. It's probably I'm heavily influenced by the program in our new radio: The Jakarta Alternative Station which broadcasts music of the seventies, including late sixties as well. To me it creates a childhood period with classic rock nuance - or I call it in my locality with "nuansamatik". So I listen to old albums like Bloodrock, Led Zeppelin, Golden Earring, Ten Years After, Colosseum, Mott The Hopple, Humble Pie, Trapeze, James Gang, Johny Heartsman, John Mayall and also Jethro Tull. Oh man . what a beautiful experience enjoying these bands / artists, especially when I find that the sound quality are most of them not truly "hi-fi" but they represent and characterize the era of early rock music. On some albums I even played both formats: CD and cassette because at the time the cassette was the only format that I could afford to buy. How could I afford an LP while I was just 12 years old? I was not from a rich family, financially, even though I felt rich musically (because I could enjoy beautiful music at that age). Music rulez!

Talking about Tull, it's very clear that the band was originally a blues influenced band. Their first line-up included Mick Abrahams, Glenn Cornick, Clive Bunker, and Ian Anderson. I only knew the band through their "War Child" album so I knew "This Was" was very late - six years after its release date. I was quite surprise knowing that "This Was" had different style than the medieval "War Child". But it's very clear that if I draw a line between 1968 to 1974 each album of Tull has a unique sound that has made the true Tull sound. Blues with flute? That was something that reminded me to a multi- instrumentalist gentleman Johny Heartsman (born February 9, 1937 in califormia) who played guitar, bass, piano, organ (Hammond!), flute and also arranged & composed his music. Many of his blues compositions contain flute as main instrument as also the case with "This Was" of Tull. The only difference was that while Heartsman played the music in R & B style, Tull's "This Was" was more on jazz style. But it's interesting to compare the music of Heartsman and Tull's debut album "This Was".

In June, just before this album was recorded, Jethro Tull began a residency at London's famed Marquee Club (where the 'Stones and The Who also launched their careers). Band advisers failed to get Ian to give up the flute and let Mick do all the singing. The album was recorded without any record company contract presuming, correctly, that a deal could be made afterwards. - quoted from the band's website. What a daring musician they were!

As for my personal taste, this album has really satisfied me as each song is an excellent one. - there is no such thing as mediocre or good song, all of them are excellent. It's very rewarding experience listening to this album in its entirety - especially when I enjoy it during midnight waiting for my sahur (it's a very early morning breakfast - around 3:30-4:00 AM during fasting month which is due this time until 3 Nov 2005) while sipping a cup of coffee and have some reading. What a life man! The album kicks off with dynamic drumming followed with obvious flute in "My Sunday Feeling" (3:42) which really a Tull music with "some" influence of blues and a more influence of jazz with unique singing style . The combination of guitar and flute during interlude augmented with inventive drum and jazzy walking bass notes is truly awesome. The band moves the music to a heavier blues style with "Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You" (2:49) where guitar fills, bass and harmonica and duet vocal give a very strong texture of the music. Oh .. it reminds me to John Mayall's music. Really cool .

"Beggar's Farm" (4:20) has an aggressive flute with more upbeat music combined with great combination of bass and guitar fills that form as major rhythm section. Again, the band offers a really wonderful interlude with guitar and flute play together. The flute sounds much aggressive in the second interlude. Great music. The short track "Move On Alone" (1:59) provides musical break with light jazz-blues fusion. "Serenade To A Cuckoo" (6:11) is really a wonderful instrumental track that starts off with an ambient jazzy opening through a soft sound of flute with jazzy rhythm sec tion. Having done with relatively long flute solo, the guitar fills with jazz style bring the music with more jazz music than blues. Flute provides great inserts during guitar solo. I cannot deny that this is a very enjoyable track.

"Dharma For One" (4:16) is an excellent instrumental track with flute as lead melody in fast tempo music with great inventive drum solo by Clive Bunker. It's so cool and so uplifting! "It's Breaking Me Up" (5:05) is a purely blues track with harmonica and great guitar fills which feature duet vocals. "Cat's Squirrel" (5:44) is a heavy rock music with some jazz-blues influence through guitar, drum beats and dynamic bass lines. This instrumental track has neither flute nor harmonica - it's like a trio rock band. Who does not know the famous "A Song For Jeffrey" (3:23) ? It's a great track with aggressive flute / harmonica and bass guitar. The album concludes with a nice and short "Round" (0:49). In summary, it's a great album!!!!

As we look at history, "This Was" peaked #10 in the British charts which according to the band's website it was partly due to great airplay from BBC Radio DJ John Peel. Just before the release in the U.S., guitarist Abrahams left to form "Blodwyn Pig," primarily due to Anderson's preference for a less blues-orientated future. Tull began their first US tour in January 1969, immediately after securing the services of guitarist Martin Barre. The album had little commercial impact in the US charts (#62) but the U.S. tour did earn the band a strong cult following. "This Was" was recorded for around just $1200 pounds (roughly $1800 dollars)!

Even though it's not truly prog rock / folk, but this album is a masterpiece. Highly recommended!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 4/5 |

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