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Jethro Tull - This Was CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

3.32 | 858 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Whatever else it may or may not be, their 1968 debut will always provide a welcome reminder that at one time Jethro Tull was an actual band, and not just a convenient vehicle for the musical advancement of Ian Anderson. Subsequent changes in style and personnel have left the album sadly orphaned in the greater Tull discography, except to those few blues-rock purists who dismiss later efforts as mercenary sell-outs (Syd Barrett partisans hold a similar grudge against every Pink Floyd album after "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn").

But I've always enjoyed the first Jethro Tull album precisely because of its relative simplicity, at least when stacked against ambitious classics like "A Passion Play" or "Thick as a Brick". What it offers is a rare glimpse of an alternative Tull, from an innocent age when few people even knew what a concept album could be. Even (or maybe especially) with forty years of hindsight, it's still refreshing to hear Ian Anderson navigating the more or less straightforward blues of "It's Breaking Me Up", "Beggar's Farm", and "Someday the Sun Won't Shine For You", leaning on his mouth organ more than his trademark flute.

Unlike original guitarist Mick Abrahams, Ian Anderson wasn't, in retrospect, a dedicated much the same way that he wasn't a genuine folk-rocker or heavy metal head in later incarnations. The Blues was just one more stylistic seed taking root in his always fertile imagination, or another piece of what would soon become a very eclectic musical puzzle.

As a slice of late '60s cultural nostalgia, and a textbook example of British Blues-Rock, the album merits four-plus stars, easily. But from a Prog Rock perspective it's strictly a three-star novelty at best, with only a few recognizable signposts pointing toward the later, superstar Tull. The groovy "Serenade to a Cuckoo" is one, anticipating the upcoming classic cover of "Bourée", and the furious "Cat's Squirrel" is another, proving that an old blues hound like Mick Abrahams could shred his guitar as effectively as any rock star.

But because the album pre-dates anything we now recognize as true Progressive Rock, four stars it is...with enthusiasm.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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