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Jethro Tull

Prog Folk

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Jethro Tull This Was album cover
3.30 | 970 ratings | 85 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. My Sunday Feeling (3:42)
2. Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You (2:49)
3. Beggar's Farm (4:20)
4. Move On Alone (1:59)
5. Serenade to a Cuckoo (6:11)
6. Dharma for One (4:16)
7. It's Breaking Me Up (5:05)
8. Cat's Squirrel (5:44)
9. A Song for Jeffrey (3:23)
10. Round (0:49)

Total Time 38:18

Bonus tracks on 2001 remaster:
11. One for John Gee (2:06)
12. Love Story (3:06)
13. Christmas Song (3:06)

2008 2CD remaster (40th anniversary collector's edition) :

Disc 1 (71:18)
1-10. - Original mono album remastered (38:21)
- John Peel's "Top Gear" BBC sessions:
11. So Much Trouble (3:19) *
12. My Sunday Feeling (3:49) *
13. Serenade to a Cuckoo (3:37) *
14. Cat's Squirrel (4:38) *
15. A Song for Jeffrey (3:13) *
16. Love Story (3:04) °
17. Stormy (4:09) °
18. Beggar's Farm (3:22) °
19. Dharma for One (3:46) °

* 23 July 1968 Session
° 5 November 1968 Session

Disc 2 (55:09)
1-10. New stereo album mix (38:10)
- Additional new stereo mixes:
11. Love Story (new stereo mix) (3:05)
12. Christmas Song (new stereo mix) (3:13)
- Original mono recordings remastered:
13. Sunshine Day (non-LP single) (2:26)
14. One for John Gee (B-side of "Song for Jeffrey" single) (2:05)
15. Love Story (A-side of single WIP 6048 released in November 1968 on Island) (3:05)
16. Christmas Song (B-side of "Love Story" single) (3:05)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ian Anderson / vocals, flute, harmonica, "claghorn" (6), piano (10)
- Mick Abrahams / guitar, 9-string guitar (4), lead (4) & backing vocals
- Glenn Cornick / bass
- Clive Bunker / drums, melodica, charm bracelet

- David Palmer / brass (4) and string quartet (2001-tr. 13) arranger & conductor

Releases information

Artwork: Terry Ellis with Ian Anderson (concept) and Brian Ward (photo)

LP Island Records ‎- ILP 985 (1968, UK) Mono version
LP Island Records ‎- ILPS 9085 (1968, UK) Stereo version

CD Chrysalis ‎- CCD 1041 (1986, UK)
CD Chrysalis ‎- 7243 5 35459 2 5 (2001, Europe) Remastered
2xCD Chrysalis ‎- 206 4972 (2008, Europe) Remastered and mixed by Peter Mew w/ Mono & Stereo versions, 1968 BBC sessions,extras

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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JETHRO TULL This Was ratings distribution

(970 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (49%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

JETHRO TULL This Was reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

One of the first pop/rock records to feature a flute, (but Jefferson Airplane had been using them sporadically since spring 67, when this one is from October 68), this album is the start of a long and successful string of excellent albums, always daring if sometimes flawed. And as you might guess this debut is hardly perfect, but still a must for progheads. While strongly bluesy but with a very present folk influence, the album boasts an unusual four instrumental (a record for the group) and a real tightness for such a young group.

Get a load of Serenade To A Cuckoo (where the Tramp/Mad Flauter learned and lived on Jazzman Roland Kirk's stuff) and tell me this is not worth four stars at least. Listen to the guitar solo of Cat's Squirrel and then to War Pigs of Black Sabbath and you will hear what Iommi learned from J T as he replaced Abrahams for four weeks, as Mr Barre is still to come. Get a whiff of Beggar's farm and tell me that this better than anything from Minstrel (tension between the guitars and the superb flute interventions). Listen to the claghorn on Dharma For One, and every other track is a minor gem in its own right, especially the My Sunday Feeling and A Song For Jeffrey.

Mick Abrahams will leave JT after this one and create another fine outfit called Blodwyn Pig in the honour of the Tramp with whom he was having disagreements about musical directions. If you listen well to those two albums from BP, you will see that although bluesier, this should also be on this site, and one really wonders if it was musical differences they disagreed upon. Two very much underrated albums as well as this one from Tull.

Back to This Was, the remastered version comes with a few bonus tracks including a lovely jazzy instrumental One For John Gee (yet never available elsewhere), the Love Story (sounding a bit like Song For Jeffrey) and Christmas Song (the first Tull track to feature strings), both available as non-album singles and on the compilation Living In The Past. Great added value to this debut and making it even more essential to have.

Review by daveconn
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.
Review by Proghead
4 stars Not as bad as some people say it is. This was the original TULL, when they were a blues- rock band, and they performed as a band, rather than Ian ANDERSON with musicians backing him up, still calling themselves JETHRO TULL (nothing against that, as TULL continued to make great albums until the late '70s). Martin Barre wasn't here, instead it was Mick Abrahams, who was big on the likes of Clapton and Peter Green (of the early FLEETWOOD MAC, way before they became the slick, multi-platinum band most people associate them with). The rest of the band was rounded out with Clive Bunker on drums and Glenn Cornick on bass. And unlike following TULL albums, other band members got to write some of their material too, like Bunker and Abrahams.

"My Sunday Feeling", "Someday the Sun Won't Shine For You" and "A Song For Jeffrey" all demonstrate the most bluesy side of the band. Jeffrey, in this case, refers to Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, who was in one of ANDERSON's previous bands, and later a member of JETHRO TULL from "Aqualung" to "Minstrel in the Gallery". "Dharma For One" is a more rocking number with an extended drum solo from Bunker. For some reason this inspired other bands to do their version, like from EKSEPTION (from their 1969 self-entitled debut) and by Pesky Gee (the pre-BLACK WIDOW band that released "Exclamation Mark"). "Beggars Farm" points more to the next couple of TULL albums. "Round" is a nice, short jazzy number, while "Serenade to a Cuckoo" is a cover of the Roland Kirk song. Roland Kirk was obviously a big inspiration for ANDERSON's flute playing. "Cats Squirrel", another cover (I think it was some old blues or folk song, not sure), is a lengthy guitar venture for Mick Abrahams, I remembered how much this song blew me away with its intensity. These songs are the rare time TULL ever covered material that wasn't from TULL themselves (the next time I know for sure TULL did a non-TULL song was a version of the traditional "John Barleycorn" for their 1992 live album A Little Light Music). "Move On Alone" features Abrahams on vocals instead, and was the very first time David PALMER used his orchestrations on a TULL song, the orchestrations here were strictly horns (no strings).

Nice album, and if you don't mind TULL doing the blues, then you should like this album.

Review by Jimbo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It should be pretty obvious by now, but in case you still haven't figured it out, I'll make it clear for you. This album has absolutely nothing to do with prog. Jethro Tull's debut still sees them as a band - Ian Anderson hadn't taken complete control yet. For that reason, this is a fairly unique effort in JT's catalogue. Martin Barre is completely absent from the album, as Mick Abrahams was still in the band at this point - and he's one of the main figures here as well. The music, while fairly professionally done, brings nothing new to the blues/folk-rock scene, which was extremely popular those days. You can hear traces of what was to come of Anderson later on, as his songwriting style was already quite daring and unconventional. That said, don't go expecting to hear anything too intricate, This Was is a very straightforward blues album - they get to the point quickly and effectively. Not that that's a bad thing per se, I like my blues-rock just as much as the next guy, but it does not have the sophistication (I hate that word in music, aarrggh!) many prog fans expect from their music. This Was is a good effort from the lads surely, but better things were yet to come.
Review by Philrod
3 stars Tull's first album, the band was still heavily under the influence of bluesy lead guitarist Mick Abrahams. The band is still not really progressive, but more of a british blues one. The musicianship is great, especially from drummer Clive Bunker who demonstrates his talent on songs like ''My sunday feeling'' and ''Dharma for one''. ''Serenade to a cuckoo'' is also known as the first song Ian Anderson learned on the flute. This is definitely not a classic Tull album, but still a very pleasant one, with a nice happy side to it. Anderson and co. seems to have fun playing it. 3.5/5
Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The first album from Jethro Tull is quiet different to the the remaining first prog/rock/blues' albums (the superb Stand Up and the great Benefit). In these days the group is returned performing live many tracks from this work, expecially the jazz-rock Serenade To A Cuckoo (the Roland Kirk's song Ian has learned play flute) and the dark-bluesy Beggar's Farm. I saw them the 16 july in Matua (Italy) and the performance was very good (even if Ian's voice has had some diffulties in the first half). This album was also digitally remastered in 2001 with some interesting piece from the group early singles: the interesting Love Story (wich represents the last contribution from the first JT guitarist Mick Abrahams, then passed to form the blues-inspired goup Blodwin' Pig), the mithic A Christmas Song (of wich there's a revisited version in the Jethro Tull Christmas Album -2003-) and another jazzy played named One For John Gee (is a sort of tribute song to the Marquee Club manager).


Review by 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

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This debut album by this classic band is totally awesome. It continues the process of molding art music from the standards of British 1960's blues revival movement. Year 1968 saw the end of the hugely successful trio Cream, which I believe had given Jethro Tull guidelines for this work. A hint of their influence can be found from the album song list, which has the "Cat's Squirrel" among them, as this was also played and recorded by the super group mentioned before. But unlike Jack, Bruce and Ginger, these youthful looking guys didn't wander very far to the straits of psychedelics, but they mixed the basic rhythm blues instead with jazzy elements. The jazzier side of the band is presented best in tracks like "Move On Alone", which has nice brass arrangements, and the mellow "Serenade To A Cuckoo", which reminds me the music heard on the background of the 1960's Pink Panther cartoons. "Dharma for One" is also a great fast instrumental track, and this number was also played and recorded by the British band Pesky Gee.

All of the players are great instrumentalists, but it's the drummer Clive Bunker who really shines on this record in my opinion. He's truly in the same category with his opposite numbers Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell. The opener "My Sunday Feeling" is a very dynamic song driven by his great rhythm and Ian's sharp flute verses. "A Song for Jeffrey" is a quite similar track, and these two pearls from this album made it to many of the compilations, and they were also long in their concert repertoire. There are also some more basic blues tunes here, like "Some Day The Sun Won't Shine for You" and "It's Breaking Me Up", both great but more traditional performances. "Beggar's Farm" has a 20's blues oriented hypnotic guitar melody running in the background, upon which Ian sings and plays some furious flute runs. The album is closed by a short tune called "Round", but this is not an end but merely beginning of a wonderful career, which continues still this day. Have though not yet found record with so solid quality content as this one from the band's release catalogue.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars JETHRO TULL's debut was not really helpful to flair the band's style in years to come. Album is witnessing the fact that Ian Anderson didn't took the control in the band, he was sharing it with guitarist Mick Abrahams. Abrahams' fascination with blues is obvious.

Everything would be alright if this was only one more blues-oriented proto-prog album, but the problem lays in the fact that this album is reminding a listener of "Fresh Cream" (CREAM's debut), that we can use the term "plagiarism" without hesitation. Indeed, every tune from "This Was" is got it's competitor on "Fresh Cream" - "Someday The Sun Won't Shine For You" is leaning on "Rollin' & Tumblin'", "Move On Alone" is comparable with blues easy listening ballads like "Wrapping Paper" or "Four Until Late". "It's Breaking Me Up" is the shameless copy of "Sleepy Time Time".

Drum solo "Toad" is reincarnated in "Dharma For One", and this is the only case where copying effort is better than it's exemplar.

The only track that is standing out of the crowd is "A Song For Jeffrey", the only one that survived the test of time.

Needless to say, blues standard "Cat's Cradle" is almost a carbon-copy of the CREAM's interpretation, lost in Abrahams' unnecessary guitar bravurosities to whom the only remaining value is the historical one.

Do not give this album a try unless you are a blues fan, blues-based-proto-prog fan (ugh!) or Jethro Tull fan. Actually, this album contains of one component above the mere completionists' value: it's an introduction to Tull's roots and it's showing the evolution line of the band's creativity, meriting half a star on that account.

But to be very honest with you, I'd rather like the JOHN EVAN BAND's material seeing the light of the day. This one should be left for the fans of the BLODWYN PIG, COLOSSEUM, John Mayall and the like.

Review by hdfisch
4 stars Actually it's very hard for me to rate any album by this great seminal band (which is one of my all-time favs) starting from their very first one, here in review, until let's say 1975 (or "Too old.." which had been their first true flaw IMHO) lower than four stars since they all have been just excellent and moreover they passed the test of time very well and don't sound any dated if listened to nowadays. Though being still strongly blues-oriented their debut revealed nonetheless already significant progressive leanings and covered different music genres like folk, jazz and folk. Surely the even better and more sophisticated things are still to come from them later on but there are already many amazing tracks on here like the bluesy and flute-drenched ones "My Sunday Feeling" and "Beggar's Farm", the jazzy Kirk-inspired "Serenade To A Cuckoo", "Dharma For One" (with awesome flute and drums), the foot-stomping "Cat's Squirrel" (featuring a great guitar and drum solo) and the all-time classic "A Song For Jeffrey". Although the remaining four songs are less exciting without being bad at all there's just too much brilliant stuff on here to give less than 4 stars if you ask me!
Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars I’m probably in the minority of Tull fans who feel the band would have developed a more interesting character had Mick Abrahams stayed with the band after this debut, or at least have come back some time before 1980. Ian Anderson’s overpowering influence and unmistakable flute playing were present even here in the beginning. But the harmonica would largely disappear in later years, and Abraham’s heavy blues-rock influence would take a decidedly more jazz orientation with Martin Barre. Too bad, because I think that the versatility of the blues guitar would have given a greater sense of variety and life to most of the rather bland eighties album the band released. Probably wouldn’t have done much for ‘Aqualung’ or ‘Thick as a Brick’ though, but in my opinion the band went rather steadily downhill after these albums anyway.

This isn’t on par with the best Tull albums, a bit uneven frankly with a couple tunes that don’t sound at all like classic Tull (“Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You”, “It's Breaking Me Up”). But the rest are all strong, cleverly blending folk, blues and rock into a unique and engaging sound. “My Sunday Feeling” and “Beggar’s Farm” have the most recognizable Tull sound, while Abrahams rips off some tasty and dirty blues riffs on “Cat’s Squirrel”.

The two extremes are probably “It's Breaking Me Up”, all blues, all the time; and “Serenade To A Cuckoo”, which marked the first time I’d ever heard a flute solo on what was supposed to be a rock album.

Not my favorite Jethro Tull album by a long shot, although for years I only collected Tull albums out of habit and not really for any strong liking for the band anyway, so my threshold of tolerance is rather high for what I can listen to from these guys. This is a three star album, although on the lower range of three. ‘Stand Up’ the following year was better, and the band would rip off three or four more before sinking into that period of dullness I mentioned earlier. You know, the one where Abrahams might have been of some help.

Not a bad album for your collection, probably considered essential for Tull fans (but not for anyone else). Three stars.


Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Good stuff, considering it's the first band album. The guys show a certain experience thanks to some years 'on the road' and the active presence in that swinging era that hit exceedingly the UK. Sound is basically jazzy or bluesy, a bit folky - progressive moments may be heard only in some flute passages, an announcement of things to happen years later.

Musically, this production is pleasant to listen to: agreeable, even catchy, here and there; nice to be felt in a lazy Sunday afternoon. Seeing the progressive side, it's poor, but for God's sake, This Was 1968, and the real prog scene was far from taking shape.

'My Sunday feelings' is a fine opener, aggressive in the appropriate dosing, just like waking the hearer for the rest of the tracks. 'Someday the Sun won't shine for you' is a bit dull, there's a feeling of hearing this kind of tune hundreds of times before. 'Beggar's farm' has good flute segments; Anderson's voice has that drunken touch one should hear extensively in the years to come. 'Move on alone' is short and tasty, a nice segue-like song.

'Serenade to a cuckoo' is real good, as a Brazilian I see touches of bossa-nova amid the general jazz atmosphere. 'Dharma for one' shows a kind of proggy intro, followed by some rock parts, very hearable; excessive drumming however spoiled the song. 'It's breaking me up' brings some R&B vocals that make a lovely counterpoint to previous track. The harmonica solo is pleasant.

'Cat's squirrel' is an instrumental blues- rock piece, dated as observed from today's ears but still more than audible. Guitars here do a great job. 'A song for Jeffrey', probably the best-known track here is doubtless a good song, a JETHRO TULL's standard among many others released lately. Playing action is really fine. 'Round', the ender, is just a catchy filler.

Evaluating the general progressiveness (none), this album could be a collectors/fan only, however once we consider all JT output I'll raise the rating by one extra star, hence good, but non essential . Total: 3

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars First work of a giant and one of my beloved band. Like most of those first albums (Genesis, Purple, Tramp, Camel ...), I am not convinced by this one. Of course, the Tull style is already present here and there but this one lacks in true memorable moments. The album is quite bluesy and jazzy (this is the influence of Mick Abrahams who will write a few songs here). There won't be lots of albums in which other band members will be involved in the songwritting. So, the Tull that I like so much is not yet this one. It is very hard for me to give such high ratings (4 to 5 ? stars) as lots of reviewers have done.

Don't get me wrong, Tull is one of my favorite bands : I got to know them in 1971 with "Aqualung" and owe almost their whole official catalog (plus some thirty boots). For me the Tull starts with "Benefit", but that's another story. Let's go back to "This Was".

"My Sunday Feeling" is a good opener with an "airspacey" Ian's voice. "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You" is a short bluesy song with no interest. "Beggar's Farm" ends up in a good instrumental flute solo (so typical of what they will deliver later on). One of the best track. Skip "Move On Alone", a short jazzy track from another age.

Since jazz is not my cup of tea, I can hardly rate the instrumental "Serenade To A Cuckoo" as being a gem. It appears that this was Ian first attempt to play flute. "Dharma for One" is another instrumental which will be often celebrated live (the format being seriously expanded to more than ten minutes like in their Isle of Wight show). The drum solo is quite unusual on a studio album to be mentioned (Led Zep will also do that on "Moby Dick" in 1969), but this is a rather average track (not "Moby Dick" but "Dharma").

Same applies to " It's Breaking Me Up" : again 100% blues number. "Cat's Squirrel" starts like "Caroline" from Status Quo (actually it is "Caroline" that sounds like "Cat's" since it was released in 1973), then you think : oh good, a rocky track at last ! Not quite though : this almost six minute long intrumental track (another one) sounds like a jam.

"A Song For Jeffrey" is a good track with an excellent riff, but Ian's voice is quite bizzarre and a bit lost amongst the instruments (which is quite unusual). "Round" closes the original LP and is another instrumental piece of ...1'03" ! Quite dispensable. There are three bonus tracks one the remastered edition : "One for John Gee" is in the vein of the rest. "Love Story" is the best track : good rock song like Tull can produce.

Globally this album might be a good jazz or blues album. Two stars really because I am so found of this band, but I almost never spin "This Was".

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An album steeped in the sounds of traditional blues. Great flute work that is so reminiscent of Gravy Train it is painstakingly obvious that the latter band were hugely influenced by this great band called Jethro Tull. It is hard to believe JT had started thgeir studio albums now almost 40 years ago. This Was is a flawed album as most were for debut albums at this time or era however the album as a whole is steadfastedly engaging, intriguing and deliciously listenable. Inoffensive but most of all incredible to think that This Was was such a good album and yet the band had much more to evolve into with later studio releases showing subtle movement in styles. Highlights would have to be ' My Sunday Feeling' and the ever so popular ' Song For Jeffrey'. Three and a half stars.
Review by The Whistler
3 stars (This was...a 3.5)

This was...a decent album. It's generally disregarded in lieu of later, proggier albums. Which is a sin. We shouldn't over look This Was simply because it's a particularly bloozy record (and, it's not like Tull doesn't have at least one blues inspired track on every other record anyway).

We should, however, keep in mind that it's not the greatest blooz record ever recorded. In fact, compared to the debuts of some other innovative blues acts (namely Led Zep and Cream), it comes off as a bit light. This Was lacks the consistency of Fresh Cream and the sheer song power of Led Zeppelin I. It even lacks the near perfection God gave to Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum, the OTHER forgotten progressive blues record). This Was, however, not without its merit.

We start off with "My Sunday Feeling," a rough and tumble little blues rocker. It's pretty energetic, and I love the bassline that closes it. "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine For You" is a much slower number, with the Ian on harmonica instead of flute. "Beggar's Farm" a pretty good number with a haunting, stuttering flute line, thick guitar and a start and stop format that points the way for things to come.

My two favorite numbers come next. "Move On Along," a pure Abrahams number, is a bouncy little pop rocker with some strings snuck in. It's short, sweet and very sixties. First thing on the album I instantly loved. But my favorite number is the instrumental "Serenade to a Cuckoo." Of course, it's not quite as good as the Roland Kirk original, but it is arguably the catchiest thing on the album, and shows you the roots of the "Bouree."

Up to this point everything's been fine. Unfortunately, we're about to kick all that down the drain. "Dharma for One" is an instrumental excuse for a drum solo, the most attractive aspect of which is the use of the "claghorn" (Jeffrey made it) by Ian. The instrumental part was later improved on stage, but it's still a drum solo.

"It's Breaking Me Up" is another straight blues number. It's inoffensive enough, but not particularly amazing (I like the opening harmonica riff though). "Cat's Squirrel" is, however, dreadful. It wasn't particularly good when Cream did it either, but for some reason here, it sucks more. Lesser musicians perhaps? I dunno.

If the second side has any reason to exist, it's the psycho blues number "Song For Jeffrey." This was, at one point, my favorite song on the album, and it's possibly the track that has survived the best from the Abrahams era. Bouncy guitar, driving harmonica, blazing flute, encoded vocal effects. Yep. This is totally what King Crimson ripped off when they did "21st Century Schizoid Man," further proving that Tull created progressive rock.

I might be kinder to the album, for "Jeffrey's" sake, but instead we close with "Round," a silly, and utterly useless, sixty second album closer. It's just sort of some instruments tuning around. Oh well, it paves the way for "Grace" I guess.

So This Was an album that could have been great. As it stands, it's harmless, occasionally innovative, occasionally annoying, blues. The songs could have been stronger, and the musicians could have been better. Oh well, this is all cleaned up by Stand Up. Naturally fans of Tull should get this, as should anyone in the market for some proto-progressive blues. This Was an overused joke, but don't look at me; Ian started it.

(The remaster comes complete with three, count 'em, three, xtra numberz!!! Sorry. "One For John Gee" is a jazzy little instrumental dedicated to...someone, I forget. "Love Story" is a catchy blues rocker, the last thing Abrahams did with the band. Oh well. He was a nice chap and all, but the sooner we get Tony Iomi, er, Martin Barre, the better. "Christmas Song" is the first thing recorded without Abrahams, and the only survivor from the period. It's also probably my favorite of the three. It's the whole flute/mandolin/string quartet number with the clever build and allusions to drinking. You know. Play on you Tullers. All in all, three enjoyable, if not amazingly ingenious, numbers. No change in the rating.)

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

THIS WAS was the first album relesed by one of my all time favorite bands JETHRO TULL back then in 1968 ( almost 40 years old..scary!!). JETHRO TULL has build a monumental catalogue of wonderful music through the ages, wonderful albums for the ages!! There is only one JETHRO TULL, there have never been clones of JETHRO TULL, because the music, their sound, their voice , ...and their flute were so unique , it' impossible to copy.

This is not blues, this is not Jazz, this is not folk, this is not hard rock,this is not britsh country, this is not prog, this is JETHRO TULL, the only band that has assimiliated every kind of music, only to produce something unique; the JT sound.

Did i mention the name of IAN ANDERSON yet? this is the genial scot architect behind this venture and should be remembered as one of the best composer of the second part of the 20th century: he had everything, a voice, an ability to play many instruments, and canny creativity to come up with wonderful music year after year.Just imagine the world of ROCK without JT!

At the time of the release of TIME WAS, Great Britain music scene was under the blues boom.This was the time of CREAM, FLEETWOOD MAC (Peter Green version), JOHN MAYALL. Even the Beatles were recording some kind of blues (YER BLUES remember!) Of course, if you wanted to make it as a successfull band back then, it was a wise idea to play blues; you know, follow the trend! Unless your name was SYD BARETT or KEVIN AYERS, it was the recommendable thing to do!

And among many new bands coming out in 1968, JETHRO TULL came out with a --relatively--blues album! the best way to succeed,i guess. Also it is worth noticing that at this time JETHRO TULL was a band with 2 heads!! Yes, IAN ANDERSON is well present, singing, playing his flute and composing but he had to share the spotlight with no slouch guitarist MICK ABRAHAMS, the bluesman of the band. This is the first time-and last time- that IAN ANDERSON would share writing credits with someone else. To give you an idea, there are 4-no less- instrumentals like CATS SQUIRELL giving ABRAHAMS plenty of room to show his skills.

So what do we have here? a very interesting album, with a lot of blues of course, but also with a lot of signs that tell us which way JETHRO TULL would go in the future. Just listen to A SONG FOR JEFFREY , the JT sound is there already. There are ABSOLUTELY no bad tracks on this album; each one of them is pleasure to listen to such as the jazzy cover of SERENADE TO A CUCKOO from R. KIRK to the energetic MY SUNDAY FEELING.

TIME WAS a blues album?? yes, of course but it was already more than that!! that was already JETHRO TULL, a lot of Andersoneries, a lot of flute, a lot of what will makr JT great!!

One more thing: JETHRO TULL is the only band that have all their albums released in remastered CDs with WORTHY ''bonus'' tracks. Almost each one! and TIME WAS in no exception ; THE 3 additional tracks are wonderful music, especially CHRISTMAS SONG! This is one of the JT album i listen to often, and still with a great deal of pleasure!

Don't you wish someone would release in 2007 music like that? let's be honest! TIME WAS and it was great!

3 STARS for original labum i would give 3.5 to 4 stars because of the bonus tracks , so will be..


Review by fuxi
4 stars Can't think of any other classic prog band with a debut as fine as this. THIS WAS may be old-fashioned blues-rock, but even so it contains many of the elements of Jethro Tull's mature style, albeit in embryonic state. 'Beggar's Farm', for example, is based on a bluesy Mick Abrahams riff, but it also has a thoughtful vocal line that would fit right on to any of the band's later albums. And then there's Ian Anderson's flute, of course. Right from the start, Ian acknowledges his debt to the jazz-player Rahsaan Roland Kirk, one of whose compositions he covers in the delightful 'Serenade to a Cuckoo', a clear precursor to the better-know 'Bourree'.

I think I can imagine Ian's face when guitarist Mick Abrahams announced he wanted to do a five-and-half-minute instrumental number on his own, simply accompanied by bass and drums ("What? You mean without... without FLUTE?") but 'Cat's Squirrel' sounds totally delightful, even though I have no idea what blues specialists will make of it. All the other numbers are just as much fun - including the bonus tracks. Tull freaks need not hesitate!

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars OK, This Was the first JT album and it was also my first LP record that I obtained "from abroad" via mail order, so I am emotional about it.

Prog or not, this is the early work of a band which already established main ingredients of their sound, namely the unique flute playing. Album is largely based in blues-rock and British blues scene influence is evident. But, unlikely THE ANIMALS or JOHN MAYALL, JT already pushed further the blues structures, incorporating folk and traditional elements, as well as jazz.

"Serenade to a Cuckoo" is a wonderful marriage between Baroque and jazz with amazing flute. "My Sunday Feeling" is powerful and heavy blues number that rock starts hard, while "Beggar's Farm" is already a Tull classic. Frequently neglected, even among the Tull fans, "This Was" is a powerful debut that, when re-listening today after almost 40 years, shows how strong the ideas and musical innovation were present at the very beginning. Kudos to Anderson, Bunker, Cornick and Abrahams (his single affair with Tull, unfortunately).


P.A. RATING: 4/5

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "From the ashes of the John Evan Band had risen, staggering uneasily to its feet, the bluesy and hopeful young quartet of Anderson, Abrahams, Cornick and Bunker" recalls Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull's first album, a session put to tape without a recording deal. "I pushed for the name 'This Was' to make some kind of statement regarding the temporary nature of the band's then musical style, and in the hope that we might move on from the musically blues-based tunes to incorporate the other influences which I was assimilating from various sources".

In other words, Tull were becoming a progressive rock band but hadn't arrived yet and though that is quite evident on This Was, it makes it a very interesting snapshot of a band that would become one of a tiny number of highly influential groups. Groups that would take from the best of what the Western world's music had to offer, attach some wit, solid musical dynamics and a bit of fun... and continue expanding on that idea, album after album.

Make no mistake, Tull's debut is mostly a blues record and not a particularly great one. If you were down at the Crossroads in 1968 you'd better have some fire; Hendrix was peaking, Cream had few rivals and Zeppelin were just getting started. But scattered throughout the slightly soggy 12-bar beats of 'Someday the Sun Won't Shine for You', 'Move On Alone', and 'Its Breaking Me Up' are 'Beggar's Farm', still blues-based but starting to slip away into a warm amalgam of jazz and folk rock, and the cool adult swing of 'Serenade to a Cuckoo'. Blustery classic 'Dharma For One' exudes just the kind of liberated energy the band would increasingly show, while 'A Song For Jeffery' features Mick Abrahams' slide guitar and Anderson channeling some ambiguous American bluesman. And as with many of the Tull remasters, the bonus tracks are not to be dismissed, some worthy of actual reinstatement as official cuts. The energetic pre-progressive single 'Love Story' sports a burgeoning trademark Tull sound with Baroque melodies and folkie tendencies, plus the delicate dulcimer-rock of 'Chistmas Song', the last cut on this re-release and ironically the most Tull-like song here. Good but non-essential? Yeah, that's just about right.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The debut album from Jethro Tull This Was is basically a collection of blues rock songs and the trademark sound of Jethro Tull was only hinted at on this release. Songs like Some Day The Sun Won´t Shine and It´s Breaking Me up is even real blues songs.

There are more exciting things on display though, like the flute solo track Serenade to a Cuckoo and the song Beggar´s Farm which could have been on Benefit a few years later. It has the same mood as that album. Move on Alone is pretty special too with a trumpet arrangement and a mellow mood. The most known song from This Was is A Song for Jeffrey, but this one is really nothing special in my book. Blues rock like most of the songs on This Was. There is a drum solo in Dharma for One which should also be noted as it is pretty cool.

The sound quality is ok for 1968 but nothing special.

This is a decent debut album from this legendary band, but don´t expect too much, and if I was new to the band I´d skip this one and go straight for Jethro Tull´s second album Stand Up which is much more exciting and groundbreaking. This is pretty average but still good album. 3 stars.

Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
3 stars Firstly, I'd like to extend my thanks to the Senior Press Officer at EMI for providing a promotional copy of the 40th anniversary re-issue of 'This Was' ahead if its official release date on 28th April 2008 - many thanks, Sarah!

In early 1968, at the tail end of the British blues boom, the John Evan band imploded & Jethro Tull, as they became known started to make a name for themselves in the blues clubs of London and the south of England (John Evan would later return to the fold & make a huge contribution during Tull's 1970s progressive rock heyday); ostensibly guitarist Mick Abraham's band, they became known more for their charismatic front man (vocalist & flautist Ian Anderson) and their sometimes curious mix of blues, jazz and folk influences.

Recorded between June and August 1968 (during which period they opened for The Pink Floyd at Hyde Park in London) 'This Was' is not what you would call your typical Jethro Tull album; centred around Abraham's playing, this was a straight blues album with an occasional twist. Most tracks on the album follow a fairly well travelled road for the late 60's, being standard, albeit well played, 12 bar blues, but there are distinct exceptions, which showed occasional flashes of what was in store for later years - 'Beggars Farm' 'A Song For Jeffrey' and 'Serenade To A Cuckoo' particularly breaking away from the standard blues format, as does 'Move On Alone' with its brass arrangements by David Palmer - another name to feature large in later lineups of the band (which makes you wonder if the Anderson-less instrumental 'Cats Squirrel' is Abraham trying to bring the band back into a more traditional furrow), and 'Dharma For One' being an instantly recogniseable (even 40 years later) Tull classic: Bunkers solo a distinct precursor to the percussion section of the later 'Thick As A Brick'.

2008's re-issue includes recordings taken from the late lamented John Peel's 'Top Gear' radio programme (Peel had long supported the band) & it's these which show the 1968 Tull Model at their best; a blistering 'My Sunday Feeling' and a version of 'Cats Squirrel' (which you could be forgiven in thinking was an early Led Zeppelin out-take...) showing the blues boom was far from over, but brought back into line by Anderson on 'Song For Jeffrey' & 'Beggars Farm', between which there's a wonderful version of the Delta blues classic 'Stormy Monday', given a completely new twist by a moody flute solo & finishing on 'Dharma For One' with Bunker in fine form.

The re-issue also includes a new stereo re-master of the original album; although the original was only recorded on 4 track, the sound was remarkably good for its time - the stereo version brings little to the table in its own right, but I'll leave it to the audiophiles to argue ad infinitum as to whether the original was a 'warmer' sound or if the stereo version is too 'clinical' - it's certainly a 'clearer' sound, but I'm unsure whether this is relevant in the context of a 40 year old album.

With the different directions the band was pulling in from its inception, this lineup was never going to be stable, and the remastered singles at the end of the second disc of this collection includes 'Love Story', the final recorded contribution by Mick Abrahams, who was to leave less than a month later to be replaced by one Martin Lancelot Barre...

There's no doubt this is a good British blues album with a twist, but it's not a Jethro Tull album to compare with the later greats of their catalogue; having said that, given the creative tensions within the band & its low budget (£1000 borrowed by Manager Terry Ellis's father), it's a bloody good first effort.

Review by LiquidEternity
3 stars This album is a bit of an odd duck in the Jethro Tull discography, but then, debut releases often are.

I went into listening to This Was with something of a closed mind, mostly because I was a big fan of Thick as a Brick and, and because both Stand Up and Benefit, the two albums after this one, did almost nothing for me. I did not expect it to be all that great of an album. And, truth told, it's mostly only average. However, it hits a level that Tull does not hit again till Aqualung. There is a spirit here, a creative energy that drives the songs. This energy seems to be the hit or miss mark for the band, as albums like Aqualung, Thick as a Brick, and Songs from the Wood all draw heavily from it, while many of the less popular ones seem to lack it entirely. I tell you all this to say that, even for a casual Jethro Tull fan, This Was is a good album to get ahold of.

True, we may not see the genius masterwork that Tull would soon be seen performing, but the songs here are tightly constructed and well played. Dharma for One, for example, showcases long, fast, and difficult drum solos similar to those seen in the beginning of the second side of Thick as a Brick. Cat's Squirrel is a roaring instrumental featuring some absolutely divine guitar work. A Song for Jeffrey and Beggar's Farm are both classic Tull tracks, and both ones I have heard on the radio. There may not be an abundance of flute on this album, which turns many off to it, I understand, but the music is solid and well written. Each song can hold its own, and though there is no absolutely amazing track, neither is there any absolutely terrible one.

Basically, this is a wonderful debut, and not as highly regarded as it probably should be. Not as progressive, not as complicated as peak Tull, but still one of their stronger albums. I'd recommend it to any fan of the band.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars This was... a historical document

Jethro Tull's somewhat immature debut album is a very long shot from Aqualung and Thick As A Brick (and indeed from almost everything the band did after that). Ian Anderson's flute and vocals are already recognizable here, but apart from that there is very little here to relate this music to what came later. This is basically a straightforward Blues Rock album and it would be stretching it quite a bit to even call this proto-Prog.

This Was sounds very dated to me and, unlike on the next album, none of the tracks stand out here. Prog fans should begin with Aqualung and ignore the band's three first albums at least until they have acquired most or all of the band's post-Aqualung output, most of which is better than these early albums. Still, this is not bad music as such, and for me as a big fan of the band this can certainly be interesting for historical reasons and even moderately enjoyable in its own right.

Recommended for fans and collectors, but absolutely not the place to begin

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars They basically covered most of blues melodies. And by covered I mean performed, not stolen from somewhere else. So first song where true form of Jethro Tull (crazy flutter Ian) can be seen is Beggar's Farm. With flute's work, which we all love (raise your hand who does not), same thing happening again in Serenade For Cuckoo shows his great ability to give his feelings into performance. It's not just that we hear crazy whistler, we also know that he's standing on his right foot for sure. And Dharma's For One drums solo in the end (which other songs also partially contains) is bad ? I don't think so. Yes, there's big blues influence, but rock, jazz and blues always worked closely. This is nothing to be worried about, let alone in 1968. And A Song For Jeffrey and band's + band's frontman eccentricity was reason why they made it to Lennon/Jagger's Rock'n'Roll Circus. That's it, band's style was evolving and I can blame them that they was more blues than folk in these times, just because they're classified as prog folk.

4(-), great blues prog (it works, really) with medieval lyrics, stage setting, topics and behaviour. OK, they had a long road before them, but hell, this album isn't bad.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Ian Anderson really pushed to have this album called "This Was" because he knew their style would be different on the next record. Mick Abraham's wanted to keep playing this Blues styled music and left when Anderson wouldn't give in. I thought i'd like this album better because I do like heavy Blues rock in the style of LED ZEPPELIN and CREAM, but there is really a lack of heaviness and guitar for my tastes.

"My Sunday Feelings" is uptempo with flute and drums leading the way. Vocals join in.The guitar is laid back 1 1/2 minutes in. "Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You" features harmonica and guitar with dual vocals. "Beggar's Farm" is my second favourite song on here. The focus is on Anderson's vocals.The flute is soft after a minute. The tempo picks up as the guitar comes in. They're going full out 3 1/2 minutes in. "Move On Alone" is kind of a catchy mid-paced tune.

"Serinade To A Cuckoo" is an instrumental led by flute, drums and guitar. "Dharma For One" is uptempo with a drum solo. "It's Breaking Me Up" is very Bluesy with harmonica and vocals. "Cat's Squirrel" is my favourite. Heavy like ZEPPELIN to open with some nice guitar. "A Song For Jeffrey" opens with bass and flute as guitar and drums join in. The tempo picks up and the vocals arrive. "Round" is a short laid back tune with flute.

It's interesting to see TULL's evolution from this Blues flavoured debut to the second album in which Anderson incorporated many styles, to the third ("Benefit") where we hear that classic TULL sound. They had arrived.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When checking my albums after having moved fr0om my old house, discovered that some CD's were missing and "This Was" is one of this albums, so being one of my favourite albums, went to the store and couldn't find anything except the "2008 Expanded "Deluxe" Remastered" version for which I don't care, being that I wanted the old simple version of "This Was in the way JETHRO TULL recorded it originally, not a box set with songs repeated two or three times, but nothing more was available so I went for it, after the owner took it to 50% it's price because he had it for several months with no interest.

With my new acquisition, went to my house and read the reviews of Prog Archives, and really surprised me the low ratings, seems that people don't understand that this JETHRO TULL is not the same Folksy one of "Thick as a Brick", but an excellent Blues band that deserves to be listened.

The album starts with "A Sunday Feeling", a fantastic Blues in which the peculiar sound of Ian's voice is obvious, the guy seems born for the this genre rather than for Folk (something that would change with the pass of time), and the use of the flute makes a good innovation for the era.

But the song wouldn't be complete without the outstanding guitar of Mick Abrahams, who really provides the Blues atmosphere to the track, fantastic opener if you don't expect a pastoral song.

"Some Day the Sun won't Shine for You" is an exceptional Southern Blues by a British band, with Ian Anderson demonstrating his versatility with a nostalgic harmonica performance, even the vocals are simply delightful, if I didn't knew this is JETHRO TULL; I would believe we're talking about a Mississippi band.

"Beggar's Farm" is an early transitional song, the first steps that JETHRO TULL gave towards their definitive sound, but still ascribed to Blues. Again the guitar of Abrahams really rocks, creating the perfect atmosphere, and the final flute section is breathtaking.

"Move on Alone" is a nice rack but not among the best in the album, some sort of light Blues with poppy orientation, so lets move to the jazzy "Serenade to a Cuckoo", a song in which they play some sort of ambient Jazz with a fantastic flute performance that finds a point of encounter with Classical music. another interesting performance.

"Dharma for One" is some sort of Psyche song in which all the members are allowed to jam a bit, and of course Clive Bunker plays one of his most memorable drum solos, JETHRO TULL was still in an internal fight between Ian Anderson and Mick Abrahams to decide what road they should take, and this eclectic material is a prove of this situation.

"It's Breaking me Up" and "Cat Squirrel" are two more excellent Blues, the first one more paused in the line of Classical Blues with harmonica and the second one closer to Blues based Rock with another impeccable guitar work by Abrahams.

"Song for Jeffrey" is pure aggression, with everything the recently born band had in the armoury, but now you can see the seeds of later TULL blended with Southern Blues, simply

The album ends with the short soft and jazzy "Round", nice ,music but only 1 minute long, works as a coda for the album and for the first Bluesy phase of JRTHRO TULL.

As usual, will ignore the bonus material, despite there are real masterpieces like "Teacher", but I like to review an album the way the artist released it originally. Of course I enjoy all the album, but my concern is to review the albums in the way I heard them back in the 70's.

Even when this is not what TULL fans will expect, I love this album from start to end, a good and well elaborate Prog Blues album with excellent moments that deserves 4 stars.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Jethro Tull is a versatile band that went through many incarnations and style changes. Next to their big progressive albums TaaB and Passion Play, I mainly enjoy their initial bluesy side. It made this debut very enjoyable and it really flourished on the outstanding Stand Up and, to a lesser degree, it persisted through Benefit.

When it comes to proggyness, this album scores low of course, but the song quality is strong throughout and Ian Anderson still has real passion in his voice. Besides, the band regularly adds some folk and slight jazz influences into their sound and of course it introduces the flute into rock music.

This is a unique venture in the Jethro Tull catalog and simply a very strong blues rock album in its own right. 3.5 stars

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars It's not surprising that in three short years, by the time Aqualung was released, only Ian Anderson and Clive Bunker (and technically, David Palmer) were left from this lineup of Jethro Tull. And by the next album, Bunker had left. This group was primarily a blues band. And compared to many other British blues bands of the time, nothing special.

However, there are some very slight hints of what Anderson would accomplish in the coming years. My Sunday Feeling and A Song For Jeffrey heve been played in concert by the band for years. But Roland Kirk's Serenade To A Cuckoo, a jazzy number that hints of Bouree highlight's Abrahams' shortcomings as anything but a blues guitarist, and makes you long for Martin Barre.

2.5 stars.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars Jethro Tull's debut effort sounds like nothing else before it or since, not even some of the band's later efforts. This crazy hybrid of blues and jazz is certainly an eye-opener when it works, but it's a laughable experiment when it doesn't. The thing to remember is that Ian loads the album with tons of lead flute passages.

''Beggar's Farm'' is the one song where every positive aspect of THIS WAS culminates into one beautiful package. With a hypnotic, haunting riff from Mick Abrahams and stellar flute playing from Ian Anderson, this track is sure to please. Also here are four instrumental tracks eager to please the ears with intensity. The rendition of ''Serenade to a Cuckoo'' is the strongest of these, but the guitar work of ''Cat's Squirrel'' and the riff and drum solo of ''Dharma for One'' are hard to ignore.

Unfortunately, the band decided to include two straight-out slow blues numbers in ''Someday...'' and ''It's Breaking Me Up''; I absolutely loathe slow blues tunes (all the ones I've heard are very boring), but Tull isn't the only group to annoy me like this as Led Zeppelin did this on their debut the following year as well. And would you believe me if I told you ''Song for Jeffrey'' is rather bland?

Make sure you're a real fan of Jethro Tull before you pick this one up, but it's a nice find. While it doesn't sound much like later efforts from this group, it does have the roots of that distinct Jethro Tull sound. Rather overlooked even if not that essential.

Review by Warthur
4 stars An album reflecting the conflicted character of the band at the time, This Was is a strange little Jethro Tull album and the only one to feature Mick Abrahams as a full member of the band - and the tension between him and Ian Anderson over the direction of the band is fully apparent. How else to explain tracks such as Cat's Squirrel, an instrumental cover of a traditional blues number, and the other blues influences popping up here and there throughout the album? Not that they aren't welcome - although prog was born out of the incorporation of non-blues/RnB influences into rock music, I think adding a bit of blues to prog can lead to a very interesting mix - but it doesn't yet quite sound like Jethro Tull on some tracks, though it never sounds boring. Other reviewers have mentioned the raw and dirty guitar sound which made Tony Iommi seem like a natural fit for the group before he opted to devote himself to making Black Sabbath a success, and later Tull albums wouldn't quite have that same sound.

Not that the roots of later Tull aren't apparent here too - Dharma For One and Song for Jeffrey would both eventually have prominent places on the classic Living In the Past compilation and feature Anderson's wonderful flute-playing. But there's a mixture on here that isn't around on later Tull albums. It's an interesting mix - and the album was good enough to win the boys a spot on the Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus extravaganza - but I think the band couldn't have sustained it in the long term. Those interested to see what Mick Abrahams got up to after leaving might be interested in listening to some Blodwyn Pig, but for my part I think the right man remained in command of Tull.

Review by J-Man
3 stars Before rising into progressive rock stardom, Jethro Tull released this humble debut in 1968. Drawing more heavily from blues than any of their succeeding efforts, This Was is very much an odd album in this British band's discography. On this debut you'll find plenty of bluesy guitar licks, psychedelic overtones, and an (at the time) nearly unheard of use of flute on a rock album. The extended song structures and progressive sound on their later albums is nowhere to be found here, but for what it is, This Was is a fairly decent debut from Jethro Tull. Fans of late sixties' blues rock will want to check this out, even if it's nothing too spectacular.

This Was has a stronger influence from blues and jazz than we would ever hear again from Jethro Tull. The pure blues of "Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You", the jazzy flute in "Serenada to a Cuckoo", and the blues rock sound of "It's Breaking Me Up" will probably surprise those only acquainted with Jethro Tull's later offerings. There are some psych-influenced rock tunes too like "My Sunday Feeling", "Dharma For One", "Cat's Squirrel", and "A Song For Jeffrey" - while all of these tunes also have heavy blues leanings, they should also appeal to those who enjoy sixties' proto-prog music. While the songs may not be nearly as intricate as they would be on later albums, Jethro Tull were clearly gifted musicians from the beginning. All of the musicians are pretty impressive, and Clive Bunker's drumming is particularly interesting - just listen to his drum solo in "Dharma For One"! The production is also pretty good, and while it's not spectacular, it's decent considering when the album was recorded.

This Was is certainly a competent debut from Jethro Tull, but it's fairly unremarkable when all is said and done. The songwriting just doesn't have the power that their later efforts would achieve, and thankfully the band would mature greatly as composers over the next few years. Though this isn't one of the first Tull albums I'd recommend, it should impress fans of sixties' blues rock with a few twists and turns. This Was is a pretty good example of a 3 star album. While this is definitely a solid effort from Jethro Tull, it is not essential within the context of their discography.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars Usually you can tell something about an album's contents by its cover. Usually. There are exceptions to that notion and Jethro Tull's debut is one of them. The same drummer friend that turned me and my fellow hoodlums onto Yes and King Crimson in the summer of 1970 when he joined our band also introduced us to Jethro Tull via "This Was." The staged, macabre photograph on the front still kinda freaks me out to this day because it looks so weird and for the fact that it doesn't have anything to do with music at all. Looks like four gnome-ish, backwoods ne'er-do-wells slyly gloating with their canines over the spoils resulting from bagging their pelt limit to me. But despite the strange visuals dear old Tommy Cline insisted that this was a definite "You gotta hear this" record and, after he played a few selected cuts for us, we had to agree. It was most decidedly a different sound and, in those days, that's all the qualifier we needed to fully embrace it. Not only did I and my cohorts instinctively gravitate towards the group's eclectic attitude, we even worked up a few of their tunes to see if we could play them at our gigs and get away with it. They confused and frustrated the prom crowd no end but the partiers at the frat throw-downs didn't give a flip as long as it was loud so we sorta broke even when it came to covering early Jethro Tull material. We were happy and that's all that counted.

The album opens with front man Ian Anderson's "My Sunday Feeling," a strong dose of progressive blues/rock that caught us unawares because we didn't know that anyone was even dabbling in that territory. Ian's breathy flute literally blew in like a gust of fresh ocean air and instantly set the band apart from the herd. Anderson's voice was quite distinctive and their short excursion into the outskirts of jazz toward the end of the song was nothing less than tantalizing. Ian's "Someday the Sun Won't Shine" is next. It consists of just Mick Abraham's guitar and Anderson's harmonica subtly accompanying Ian's vocal but we could still tell that these guys were intent on presenting a novel slant on standard folk fare. One of the tunes our combo rushed to work up as soon as humanly possible was "Beggar's Farm." Co-written by Ian and Mick, this intriguing number confirmed that Jethro Tull wasn't destined to be your run-of-the-mill group but one that marched to the beat of a rebel, off-the-reservation beat-keeper. This song's delightful mix of jazz, blues and rock was a revelation to us that we wanted to share with the world whether they were ready for it or not. (Most weren't) Abraham wrote and sung "Move on Alone." It owns a swinging jazz groove punctuated by an unadorned horn section and is a precursor to the direction he'd take with Blodwyn Pig, the outfit he formed after leaving Jethro Tull. It's a short number but highly entertaining.

The story goes that, realizing he'd never be as influential on guitar as Eric Clapton (duh), Anderson gave up on mastering the electric guitar and picked up the flute a mere six months before recording this LP. If that's the case then he was born to play it because he performs Rahssan Roland Kirk's classic "Serenade to a Cuckoo" like a seasoned pro. This is a splendid rendition of a fine jazz instrumental and it demonstrated to the citizens of planet Earth that the incorporation of the flute into a rock & roll setting was no fluke nor was it a slick gimmick. An honorable mention is due to Mick for his guitar solo that incorporates an unmistakable Wes Montgomery vibe. Ian and drummer Clive Bunker teamed up to compose "Dharma for One," an aggressive jazz/rock fusion instrumental wherein Clive shines brightly throughout his tasteful solo. Anderson's "It's Breaking Me Up" follows, a number possessing a rather typical blues pattern and structure. His harmonica playing is spirited yet it's nothing I haven't heard before. The nadir of the album is their version of "Cat's Squirrel." I'm not sure why they felt compelled to include this since Cream had already been there and done that in arresting fashion but perhaps Abraham selfishly demanded his moment in the spotlight come hell or high water. A little guitar noodling goes a very long way with me so this track grows tiresome in a hurry. Ian's "A Song for Jeffrey" is a return to a more inventive melding of jazz and blues with his flute and harp along with Mick's slide guitar emphasizing the band's cool eccentricity. The false ending is a nice touch, too. "Round" ends things with a jazzy waltz moment of bliss but, at only 48 seconds in duration, blink and you'll miss it.

Released in America in February of 1969, this record (spread mostly by word-of-mouth) was one of a host of pivotal records that heralded the start of a new decade of unbelievable creativity and helped to pour the foundation for what would become the heyday of prog rock. Abraham jumped ship soon after and was replaced with the more adventurous Martin Barre who assisted greatly in making the group's sophomore effort, "Stand Up," a true masterpiece. Yet Mick's bluesy presence on "This Was" distinguishes it from everything else in the Jethro Tull catalog and gives it an odd hue that I find somewhat quaint and curious. Especially in retrospect. 3.2 stars.

Review by Neu!mann
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.

Review by Guillermo
3 stars This first album by Jethro Tull really shows the differences in musical direction that Ian Anderson and Mick Abrahams had for the band and which by the time the recording of the album was finished led Abrahams to leave the band. Anderson wanted a musical style more influenced by Folk, Jazz and Rock, while Abrahams wanted a musical style more influenced by Blues. So, both musical directions are shown in this first album. But despite this, the very original musical style of Jethro Tull (more inlfuenced by Anderson than by Abrahams) is very present in this album. So, maybe the best songs in this album are the songs which were composed by Anderson. "Dharma for One" was composed by Anderson and drummer Clive Bunker, and in this song there are some influences from Jazz, including a very good drums solo by Bunker. In contrast, "Move On Alone" (sung by Abrahams) and "Cat`s Squirrel" show Abrahams` Blues influences. Even with all these Blues influences (with even Anderson playing some Harmonica) this album was a very good debut album by this band. Anderson`s flute playing (and his humour while playing it and singing in some parts) in a Rock band really defined the musical style for the band better than the Blues influences. The recording and mixing are not very good for my taste. It seems that the album was recorded using a low budget, so maybe that is the reason this album doesn`t sound verry well for my taste. With a new guitarist for their next albums (Martin Barre) who was more compatible with Anderson`s musical vision, the band was going to record better albums than this first album.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Jethro Tull crawled into prog legend status gradually and it happened way after their 1968 debut. The Tull sound on the first release is indeed miles away from "Thick as a Brick" and far removed from "Benefit" for that matter. "This Was" is a blues driven beast with some hard driving guitar riffs thrown in the mix. The classy heavy riff on opener 'My Sunday Feeling' is typical of the late 60s progressive sound, all guitars locked into a riff and allowing some flute augmentation.

'Beggar's Farm' is a trippy hippy thing with glorious flute soloing and a cool guitar phrase driving it, played by Mick Abrahams. A definitive highlight found on many compilations, this song along shows what the band are capable of and where they will head in the future. Some tracks are pure blues such as 'Someday the sun won't shine for you', and odd jazz brass blues on 'Move On Along'. 'Serenade to a Cuckoo' is all 12 bar blues with beautiful flute warbling drifting across. Anderson shines as usual on flute even in these early recordings, and his vocal groanings are heard as he plays which became a trademark of his playing style over the years.

'Dharma For One' follows, a more well known song and heavier pumping along with grinding guitar and fast flute flutters. The vocals disappeared on this and the previous track but the musicianship is excellent so no matter. The drums feature on this one with killer solos crashing in by Clive Bunker. Abrahams guitar solo also features in this proverbial jam session.

'It's Breaking Me Up' is 4 on the floor slow Blues with harmonica, sounding like Canned Heat or Ten Years After and I don't mind that at all, though I didn't expect this sound from Tull. 'Cat's Squirrel' is a heavier song with great guitar soloing and improvised sections along a driving beat with a psychedelic vibe, not unlike early Led Zeppelin.

'A Song For Jeffrey' is the other good song that is better known in the Tull catalogue. It crashes through as a shining beacon with elements of Tull as we will know them on subsequent albums. The flute is blazing, along with harmonica, fiery slide guitar and estranged vocals. "This Was" is Tull in their earliest phase so tread gently. It may not be prog but it's got some cracking blues rock and is the beginning of their journey into greatness. This was where it began? though we "don't see, see, see where they are goin'!"

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars The debut album THIS WAS by one of progressive rocks most celebrated bands JETHRO TULL is a strange little album when you come to this after hearing all the music that came after. THIS WAS the last holdout for me in the JT canon. What we get here is a democratic JETHRO TULL where instruments vie for the limelight, various members contribute to the songwriting and musical styles change at the drop of a hat offering one of the most diverse sounding JT albums in their entire discography. After the band took the name of the famous agriculturist after their formation in 1967, they didn't waste any time putting together a bunch of material for their first album. This is the one album to feature Mick Abrahams as the guitarist and his love of the blues is stamped on each and every track which is, of course, the main reason he and Ian Anderson butted heads over musical direction.

The album starts out with "My Sunday Feeling" sounding almost like a regular JT song from the "Stand Up" or "Benefit" albums upon first listen but then not too far into it, it's clear that this sounds like Ian Anderson joined Peter Green's version of Fleetwood Mac as the flautist. It sounds rather strange but actually works. I do believe JT was the first band to incorporate flute into a rock sound as a full-time instrument. The album has other quirks too like the instrumental "Serenade To A Cuckoo" which has a swanky jazzy exotica feel to it. "Dharma For One" incorporates perhaps the only extended drum solo on any JT album and "Cat's Squirrel" is a heavy hard rock blues track that could possibly be adopted by Cream. Perhaps the most recognizable cut on THIS WAS is that of "A Song For Jeffrey" as it seems to be the song that sounds most like early 70s TULL. It has a beautiful melody that has both flute and harmonica, a nice bluesy slide guitar and Anderson's vocals reminding me of the sound effects he utilizes on "Aqualung."

All in all not a bad debut. I actually find myself liking this one. Although a little inconsistent in its sound and layout it has enough good quality material to make a good listen and the surreality effect is worth the price of admission alone. Although I prefer the democratic approach to songwriting and band efforts, it is clear that once in a while a strong personality like Anderson has more than enough talent to warrant the role of musical dictator and in the case of JETHRO TULL I think it all worked out for the better by his taking the helm and steering the band into the progressive seas that spawned all those classic gems that would come later. Abrahams would go on to continue his blues guitar playing in Blodwyn Pig and we all know that Martin Barre's entry would cement a new sound that would carry the band to great heights. THIS WAS and IS a recommended album.

I have the 40th anniversary remastered edition and it's chock full of all kinds of goodies including John Peel BBC Session recordings, unreleased tracks, different versions of tracks in mono and stereo and cool extensive packaging and liner notes as well. 3.5 rounded up

Review by ALotOfBottle
3 stars Jethro Tull started out in about the same place as most of their contemporaries. A blues-rock band like a lot of bands of their time. Not as artsy sounding as Pete Brown & Piblokto!, rarely as heavy and psychedelic as Cream, band's work of this period could be put alongside Steamhammer (who's singer, Kieran White had a similar voice to Ian Anderson and which also featured a flute by a future Tangerine Dream member Steve Jolliffe), Fleetwood Mac, and sometimes even John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. This is Jethro Tull's only album with a legendary guitarist Mick Abrahams, who would go on to create a fascinating jazz/blues-rock act called Blodwyn Pig.

"This Was" could be considered as Progressive Blues Rock. Having strains of what would be to come in later years (and what we came to know as prog rock), it still is far behind some of the more say "advanced" bands of the same time. However, this is not a con at all. Many enjoyable blues tunes with nice bluesy guitar, harmonica and Ian Anderson's legendary vocals and flute playing. Worth mentioning, Jethro Tull didn't have a keyboardist at that time. "A Song For Jeffery" is definitely the best tune from the album as well as its highlihgt. Other than that, this album is very repetative and doesn't bring anything new to the game. However, it deserves good 3.5 star rating for its entertaining value. The music flows peacefully and is not demanding at all.

Not an admirable progressive rock album and not progressive in any significant way, but this is a fun listen.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars 'This Was' was the debut album in 1968 for an up and coming band called Jethro Tull. Back then, the line-up consisted of Ian Anderson, Glenn Cornick on bass, Clive Bunker on drums, and the only album by Jethro Tull that would feature original guitarist Mick Abrahams, who would leave the band because he wanted the band to go in a blues direction while Anderson wanted to take it in a more folk and jazz direction. Of course, we all know who won out here, but at least for this album, we get a mostly blues-rock fusion under the direction of Abrahams. Abrahams and Anderson shared songwriting credits on this album.

The first three tracks on this album were based on blues progressions, namely 'My Sunday Feeling', 'Some Day the Sun Won't Shine For You' and 'Beggar's Farm'. There were some nods to jazz in 'My Sunday Feeling' however with the bass line from Henry Mancini's Pink Panther and the song called 'Work Song' by Nat Adderley and Oscar Brown, Jr. In 'My Sunday Feeling', Anderson introduces us to his flute playing and features the full band, but on 'Some Day'' he plays the harmonica along with only a guitar accompaniment (based on the arrangement of the blues standard 'Key to the Highway), and harmonized vocals from both Anderson and Abrahams, while the entire band joins again for 'Beggar's Farm'. The blues and jazz combo featured on the instrumental break is a great mix of styles, and the fact that a heavy guitar and flute can work together beautifully.

'Move on Alone' is a short track written and sung by Abrahams and is the only song by Jethro Tull sung by someone other than Anderson. It also features French horn and orchestral arrangement provided by David Palmer, who would go on to be a regular in Jethro Tull until 1980, and has a slight swing feel to it. 'Serenade to a Cuckoo' is an instrumental cover by the band. The original was a jazz standard written by Roland Kirk and it was one of the first songs that Anderson learned to play on flute. The main themes are played and improvised on by Anderson and then a nice jazz style guitar solo is performed by Abrahams in the middle section.

On side 2 of the LP, we start off with 'Dharma for One', which is another instrumental. This song usually incorporated a drum solo when performed in concert. The middle instrumental break has a strange sounding instrument that takes the lead, called a claghorn, which is a combination of a recorder, toy trumpet and a saxophone's mouthpiece. The studio version does have a drum solo section also, but shorter than the concert version. Next is another blues inspired track called 'It's Breaking Me Up' where we hear the return of Anderson's harmonica and Abrahams use of blues progression again.

The third instrumental from this album is 'Cat's Squirrel', which is based on a traditional theme. The band claimed this track was included because 'people liked it'. Again, it is a strong blues number with Abrahams improvisation. 'A Song for Jeffrey' was the only single released from any songs on this album. It was only released in the UK as an A-side. It was written for Anderson's friend (who would later become Tull's bassist), Jeffrey Hammond and again features the blues harmonica played by Anderson. The last track is the fourth instrumental, a short, jazzy track called 'Round'.

The 2001 remaster features 3 bonus tracks. The first one is the b-side to the 'Song for Jeffrey' single called 'One for John Gee' which was written by Abrahams. This is an upbeat jazz inspired instrumental with some killer flute work and nice bass breaks. 'Love Story' is an A-side for a non-album single that was released in the US. This one is more of a straightforward rocker mostly led by the guitar, but includes some flute and mandolin segments that harkens to the folk sound that would come later. The last bonus track is 'Christmas Song' which is the b-side to 'Love Song'. This is based on an old carol and later adds more updated lyrics and sounds more like the Jethro Tull that we all know, with a strong folk sound.

The original album has points where things are a big muddled and rough. The remasters get rid of a lot of this, but you can also tell that the band isn't as tight as it would become. The album 'Stand Up' would prove to be an improvement on this album and would feature the long-time guitarist Martin Barre who would replace Abrahams. The rest of the band would remain the same and the music would still remain mostly a blues-rock hybrid, but there would also be more foreshadowing of where the band would eventually end up. As far as 'This Was', however, you can easily tell that this was definitely JT in their early years, and there are hardly any progressive elements to this album. However, the talent is there, and the album works as a foreshadowing of a major progressive rock act to come. Even though this album is a bit shakey, it is still fun to listen to and remains and important progressive document of a major band in it's infancy.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nº 257

'This Was' is the debut studio album of Jethro Tull and was released in 1968. With this release, Jethro Tull became as one of the first bands that would be designated as one of the pioneers of the progressive rock music, with bands such as Pink Floyd, Caravan, The Moody Blues, Van Der Graaf Generator, Procol Harum, Renaissance and King Crimson.

The line up on the album is Ian Anderson (vocals, flute, mouth organ, harmonica, claghorn and piano), Mick Abrahams (vocals, guitar and 9 string guitar), Glenn Cornick (bass guitar) and Clive Bunker (drums). David Palmer (French horn and orchestral arrangements), appears on the album as a guest musician. Following this album, guitarist Mick Abrahams left the group after a falling out with Ian Anderson. There were a number of reasons for his departure, but the main reason was surely that he was a blues purist while Ian Anderson wanted to explore many other forms of music.

'This Was' was an album where Ian Anderson shared some songwriting duties with the guitarist Mick Abrahams. The album also contains the only Jethro Tull's lead vocal not performed by Ian Anderson on any studio album of the band, 'Move On Alone'. Mick Abrahams, who was the songwriter of 'Move On Alone', provides the lead vocals on this track.

'This Was' has ten tracks. The first track 'My Sunday Feeling' written by Ian Anderson is clearly a song with some influences of blues and even more influences of jazz. It's a song with good and energetic drumming very well followed by the flute and also by the voice of Ian Anderson used in a very unique style. The second track 'Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You' was also written by Ian Anderson and is a typical and short blues song, much slower than the previous track and where Ian Anderson changes his flute by the harmonica. This is a real cool song but when we hear the song we remain with the feeling that we had already heard this kind of tune many other times before. The third track 'Beggar's Farm' written by Ian Anderson and Mick Abrahams is a song with good instrumental parts of flute and where the voice of Ian Anderson appears entrained with a light drunken touch. It has also great combination of guitar and bass and it has also a good rhythm section. The fourth track 'Move On Alone' written by Mick Abrahams is the shortest track on the album and is a song sung by Mick Abrahams. It's a very simple song with a mix fusion between jazz and blues. The only thing I can say about it is that it's short and nice but it seems to belong to another age, the 60's. The fifth track 'Serenade To A Cuckoo' written by Roland Kirk is an instrumental track and is the lengthiest on the album. It represents, without any doubt, one of the best musical moments on the album. This is really a wonderful instrumental song that is more jazz music than blues. It has a great and perfect instrumental performance all over the song, especially by the flute and guitar. The sixth track 'Dharma For One' written by Ian Anderson and Clive Bunker is one of the most known Jethro Tull's songs of this album. It's another instrumental track on the album where Clive Bunker performed a great and inventive drum solo. This is a song with a more rock feeling than the other previous songs. The seventh track 'It's Breaking Me Up' written by Ian Anderson is another traditional and classical blues number. It has good harmonica performance, but like 'Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You', it still is also a real cool song, but when we hear the song we remain with the feeling that we had already heard this kind of tune many other times before, too. The eighth track 'Cat's Squirrel' is a traditional song arranged by Mick Abrahams, and like 'Dharma For One' is also one of the most known Jethro Tull's songs of this album. This is a good instrumental track, a blues/rock song with a nice and interesting guitar work. It's true that saw from our days it seems to be a bit dated, but I think it still remains a good song. The ninth track 'A Song For Jeffrey' written by Ian Anderson is also one of the best known tracks of the album. This is a very good song and represents one of the best musical moments on the album. We may say this is one of the first standard songs from the group that better represent the first musical period of Jethro Tull. The tenth and last track 'Round' written by Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker, Glenn Cornick and Terry Ellis is the smallest song on the album. It's an instrumental and very simple track with catchy filler. But I've nothing more to say about it.

Conclusion: In part due to Mick Abrahams' influence, 'This Was' incorporates more blues and jazz influences, than the following releases of Jethro Tull. It was only after 'This Was' that was possible to see the progressive rock lines that later became as one of the best marks of the group. So, 'This Was' is practically a blues/jazz album with very few or even nothing of progressive rock music on it. I can see some similarities between 'This Was' and the debut albums of Genesis and Van Der Graaf Generator, 'From Genesis To Revelation' and 'The Aerosol Grey Machine', respectively. All these three albums aren't really great works, all have few progressivity and all have very little with what would be the future sound of those three bands. Besides, in my humble opinion, 'This Was' is with 'War Child' and 'Too Old To Rock'n'Roll: Too Young To Die!' one of the three weakest studio albums released by Jethro Tull in the decade of 70's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I like blues. Said so, I can't not like the Jethro Tull debut. It's 1968, Armstrong hasn't walked on the moon yet and this debuting blues revival British band releases an album which already contains some of the characteristics which will later make this band one of the big six of prog. It's a blues album, even if the only real standard blues is the second track of the first side: "Some Day The Sun Won't Shine". Throughout the album we can find the voice and the flute of Ian Anderson. He's already the one we will know better in the following years. There's not yet Barre, and Abrahams at guitar is more oriented to blues than to the British folk which will come later.

This album gifts us with the efforts of a proper band, before it became an Anderson's thing. I don't remember if there's any other Tull album including a long drum solo, just to say. So, even if many think that this is not a full prog album, first of all is a very good one. A Tull fan can't miss it and the symptoms of the future highs are already there. Also, the blues influence will never disappear from the band's music. It will just be diluted into the British folk revival.

An album that shouldn't be missed

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
3 stars It was in October of 1968 when Jethro Tull released their debut studio album, the very laid-back, may I say, 'This Was', quite certainly the cheapest Jethro Tull album recorded. Emerging in a musical scene dominated by the psychedelic and the borderline-hard rock, Tull started doing their own thing from the very beginning, releasing a gnarly good bag of great tunes, presenting a very atypical for a band like Tull sound of bluesy, almost R&B at moments songs, with tints of jazz and definitely folk.

This very first line-up of Tull included, of course, the irreplaceable Ian Anderson, Glenn Cornick on bass, Clive Bunker on drums, and Mick Abrahams on guitars (this is his only studio album with the band). As the 'chieftain' of the troop, Anderson wrote most of this album but the man who really influenced it was Mr Abrahams - or the guy who carried the blues sensibility; In fact, most of the songs are based on blues progressions, which resulted in a very digestible sound, really recognizable but not necessarily groundbreaking.

Some really cracking good songs here include 'My Sunday Feeling', 'Beggar's Farm', 'Serenade to a Cuckoo', 'Dharma for One' and 'Cat's Squirrel', alongside 'One for John Gee' and 'Love Story' that appear on the 2001 remastered edition. Almost half-instrumental, Jethro Tull managed to create an album that for me has a really cinematic atmosphere - the strange recording quality, the vocal effects they used, the flutes and the harmonicas all add up for an enjoyable listening experience, and as much as this album is far from Tull's best, it is undoubtedly a well-written one, a severely promising debut, and always a welcome little listen when one seeks a different kind of Tull.

All this makes 'This Was' one of the unique albums in the prog folk legends' oeuvre; Not the behemoth band from the 70s yet, but the elements of it are already in the making on their very first album. One can only imagine what could have become of this band had Mick Abrahams stayed in the band a little longer?

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
3 stars For a first album, I say Jethro Tull at least got their folk sound across, not really their Prog sound. Debut records for Prog bands vary. For some bands, their first aren't gonna be like the records they'll make in the future, look at The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, heck even King Crimson too some degree with Giles, Giles, and Fripp. With that being said, Jethro Tull at least started out with something pretty fine, if not inoffensive in the Prog world. Some songs like Serenade to a Cuckoo or Dharma for One has a sorta progressive style too them, showcasing early on as little teasers for what this band will do later on in their life in 60s and 70s. However most of the songs here fit in the category of general folk or even hard rock at times in some cases like Cat's Squirrel. Would I call this a Prog rock album, maybe, but will I call it pure blooded folk rock, album, yeah sure. This album is pretty good, it definitely gets Jethro Tull's folk vibes going with some minor but noticeable progressive rock sounds. I like it but it definitely isn't the ideal first Jethro Tull album you should introduce fans of Prog rock who may have never heard of the band before.
Review by DangHeck
2 stars Initially here this morning to review this album's follow-up, Stand Up (1969), here I'll be reviewing this, their 1968 debut (and another 2001 remaster). Unlike what follows, this album has writing responsibilities split between Anderson and original lead guitarist Abrahams (only found here for Tull; I had no idea, but he then went on to found Blodwyn Pig).

"My Sunday Feeling" was a solid opening number. Straight-ahead and upbeat. Then we are into the Bluesy Blues on "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You"... Nice sentiment; thanks, mates... Boring, by the way. To follow is "Beggar's Farm"; very boring and straight in the first half, I had quite a surprise in the final half. This jam picks up and interest builds. "Move on Alone" is pretty interesting, texturally, I guess(?).

Back to the Blues on "Serenade to a Cuckoo", an instrumental number. Clive Bunker has a pretty solid drum solo on "Dharma for One". That's most of the song, anyhow. Pretty alright Blues on "It's Breaking Me Up". More moans, please. Next is the more rockin' "Cat's Squirrel"... Is that a squirrel that is owned by a cat as a pet?... One thing that can be said here is that Abrahams certainly can play. "A Song for Jeffrey" was... a little more interesting, I guess. "Round" closed out the original release low, slow and boring.

Onto the bonus tracks, we have the nice jam "One for John Gee". This has a very lively flute solo from Anderson. I don't really have anything to say on "Love Story". "A Christmas Song" is equally less glowing...

Review by Hector Enrique
3 stars With a meagre production budget (£1,200 at the time, which at today's values would be equivalent to £19,000 or US$ 25,000 approx), Jethro Tull began their musical adventure in October 1968 with Ian Anderson and Mick Abrahams as leading figures, with their seminal album "This Was". A work with a frugal aroma based on a combination of blues influences, with touches of jazz and folk elements, and incorporating the musical instrument that would be the band's characteristic and definitive hallmark from then on: Anderson's transverse flute.

"This Was" is made up of short and direct songs, whose pretensions seem to a large extent to pay homage to Jethro Tull's musical references rather than to define the path they would be taking, as with the blues roots pieces "My Sunday Feeling", Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You (with harmonica included) and "It's Breaking Me Up", where the band is very sober and compact in its posture, or with the instrumental "Serenade to a Cuckoo", an idea adapted from the blind American flautist and saxophonist of the second half of the last century Roland Kirk, from whom Anderson would take such a determined and leading way of playing the flute, or the instrumental version of "Cat's Squirrel", a 1961 composition by the Americans Doctor Ross and the Orbits, also played by Cream in 1966, and which serves to show off Abrahams' guitar playing, as well as that of drummer Clive Bunker in the jazzy "Dharma for One". And if there is one piece that stands out in particular, it is "A Song for Jeffrey", with a wonderful rhythm guitar and Glenn Cornick's bass setting the pace for Anderson's flutes and harmonica, one of the best on the album.

The direction Anderson wanted the band to take differed from the expectations of Abrahams, who hoped to stay in the blues backwater, parting ways once "This Was" was released. As a curiosity, it is worth mentioning that Tony Iommi (yes, the future member of Black Sabbath) appears as guitarist playing (in playback apparently) with Jethro Tull the piece "A Song for Jeffrey" in the event "The Rolling Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus" recorded in December 1968 (released only in 1996), before finally Martin Barré is the definitive replacement of Abrahams.

3/3,5 stars

Latest members reviews

3 stars Jethro Tull's debut, released in late 1968, was This Was. This Was is a blues-rock record with some occasional jazz flourishes. It opens with "My Sunday Feeling", a pretty decent rocker. Anderson's decision to take up the flute was a smart one. It adds a unique character to an otherwise good-but-unr ... (read more)

Report this review (#2903203) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Friday, March 31, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Strong debut album. At this early stage the band had a very different lineup, with blues guitarist Mick Abrahams, Glenn Cornick (bass), and Clive Bunker (drums), and was primarily a straight blues-rock band, with jazz influences. The album is filled with excellent jazz-blues guitar, bass, and drums ... (read more)

Report this review (#2879416) | Posted by BBKron | Monday, January 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is the first album I'm listening to as part of a Jethro Tull studio album crawl. This Was is their 1968 debut, and as implied by the title, was a very particular moment in time. Right off the bat, hearing Ian Anderson do blues vocals is particularly jarring. It's not bad in any way, but per ... (read more)

Report this review (#2578437) | Posted by mental_hygiene | Monday, July 12, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review #58 JETHRO TULL's debut album was released in 1968 and it was a very groovy record with a lot of Blues, Jazz and folky acoustic songs. The band was originally formed by Ian ANDERSON (flute, harmonica and vocals), Glenn CORNICK (bass), Mick ABRAHAMS (guitar) and Clive BUNKER (drums) ... (read more)

Report this review (#2482546) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Saturday, December 5, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars So my goal is to write a review of each of the 18 JT LP's I now own. It is only fitting that this first album of theirs is the last I purchased. And after a couple of complete listens , I find it so much more enjoyable than I thought I would. Yes, most of it is pretty straight forward 60s/70 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2463479) | Posted by yeshead 777 | Friday, November 6, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars London in 1968 lived and breathed blues rock - John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood Mac, The Yardbirds, all these groups were hip and Clapton was god. The biggest group in the pack, Cream, had already released two powerful albums and greatly influenced upcoming bands, paving the way for loud, ... (read more)

Report this review (#2084818) | Posted by thief | Monday, December 10, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Bluesy Serenade. Tull's first album is a mixed bag. It contains some great historic performances, and introduced Anderson's quirky vocals to the world, although at this point the band is more focussed on playing re-interpretations of blues and jazz tunes than writing new original music. The best ... (read more)

Report this review (#1695717) | Posted by Walkscore | Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Let's make a track-by-track review of this beautiful debut by my favorite band! My Sunday Feeling: Very nice blues rocker with a pleasant groove and inspired approach. Good choice for an opener. Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You: My favorite song of the album. Country rock with extraordinar ... (read more)

Report this review (#1378673) | Posted by BigDaddyAEL1964 | Friday, March 6, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "...really surprised me the low ratings, seems that people don't understand that this JETHRO TULL is not the same Folksy one of "Thick as a Brick", but an excellent Blues band that deserves to be listened". Quoted from the reviewer Ivan Melgar M It can be said for other Tull releases n ... (read more)

Report this review (#987193) | Posted by VOTOMS | Thursday, June 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Have had to put on a 1968 hat in order to review this album. The album that I'm reviewing is the original one - not any of the remastered or expanded editions. It strikes me that this is essentially blues rock with a psychadelic twist as well as jazz / fusion here and there - for its time it i ... (read more)

Report this review (#941986) | Posted by sukmytoe | Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I saw this version of the band (as far as I'm concerned, the only real version of the band) on stage several times, and they were great. Sure, the music wasn't as well developed and convoluted as later Anderson albums would soon be, but there was a warmth and full blooded excellence about it, and mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#445706) | Posted by giselle | Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This Was ? 1968 (3.4/5) 11 ? Best Song: My Sunday Feeling/Song For Jeffrey Isn't it every man's right to work for the toil of his earth, the fruits of his inevitable labors? If so, then This Was is a fine example of what man has toiled for. Better I should say, what white man has toiled for ? ... (read more)

Report this review (#441641) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, May 2, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars First Jethro Tull album, and yet very distant of the sound that would become band´s mark. I think it happened not because they had a long road to walk and consolidate their music, it was already consolidated on their second work Stand Up, but because Ian Anderson was not in total control of t ... (read more)

Report this review (#436168) | Posted by Antonio Giacomin | Wednesday, April 20, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow... what a great debut album by JT! I've been a huge fan of JT since I saw them live at the Rosemont Horizon (Chicago area) on their Underwraps Tour and realized that they were the best live band I had ever seen. By that time I had most of their albums good ones and some bad ones as w ... (read more)

Report this review (#400604) | Posted by By--Tor | Monday, February 14, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#372340) | Posted by Progosopher | Monday, January 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the real Jethro Tull, never mind Stand Up and all that. There's a contradiction here too though, for the creations (Ian never wrote songs, he created structures) aren't fully formed, they're like children not yet walking, it all had some way to go to reach maturity. Yet in this album you ... (read more)

Report this review (#362247) | Posted by JeanFrame | Thursday, December 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Review #3 Jethro Tull's 1968 album This Was Being an enormous Tull fan for the past 38 years I thought I had better review Thick As A Brick first as this was my first encounter with Tull and then review the rest of the Tull catalogue in the ensuing weeks, months......years! This Was has a fe ... (read more)

Report this review (#349671) | Posted by BarryGlibb | Saturday, December 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This Was is an old classic and it's very enjoyable. This great band's first line up from 1968 were already playing an interesting fusion of blues, rock and jazz. They were yet to develop what I consider the best of the typical early JT sound which would come by the next album. However, what they cam ... (read more)

Report this review (#329417) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Monday, November 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is the original Tull sound- blues rock with a flute. It's not bad, but it is not prog really in any way. However, this is a good blues-rock album and a product of it's time (a year after the summer of love). It seems very dated to me now, and I rarely pull it out to listen to it, but it IS ... (read more)

Report this review (#295147) | Posted by mohaveman | Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#293030) | Posted by mr.cub | Sunday, August 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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