This Was is the debut album by the rock band Jethro Tull, released in 1968. Recorded at a cost of only £1200 GBP, the album received generally favourable reviews and sold well upon its release. In the documentary film of the Woodstock Festival, portions of the songs "Beggar's Farm" and "Serenade to a Cuckoo" may be heard on the PA system, indicating the level of notice the album achieved in the United States. The album reached number 10 on the UK Albums Chart and number 62 on the Billboard 200.
While vocalist Ian Anderson's creative vision largely shaped Jethro Tull's later albums, on This Was Anderson shared songwriting duties with Tull's guitarist Mick Abrahams. In part due to Abrahams' influence, the album incorporates more rhythm and blues and jazz influences than the progressive rock the band later became known for. In particular:
The music to "My Sunday Feeling", "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You", "Beggar's Farm" and "It's Breaking Me Up" and are based on blues progressions, with "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You" arranged similarly to Big Bill Broonzy's blues standard "Key to the Highway".
"Cat's Squirrel" (included in the album "because people like it", according to the liner notes) was written by Doctor Ross and covered as an instrumental by numerous 1960s British blues bands, perhaps most notably by Cream. Mick Abrahams would later perform the song in his post-Jethro Tull blues band Blodwyn Pig.
The album includes a cover version of Roland Kirk's jazz standard "Serenade to a Cuckoo". According to the liner notes, "Cuckoo" was one of the first tunes Ian Anderson learned to play on the flute.
This Was also contains the only Jethro Tull lead vocal not performed by Ian Anderson on a studio album, "Move on Alone". Mick Abrahams, the song's author, provides vocals on the track; David Palmer provided the horn arrangement. Abrahams left Jethro Tull following the album's completion in a dispute over "musical differences". Thus, the album's title probably refers to Abahams' blues influence on the album and how blues weren't the direction Anderson wanted the band to go. As said in the liner notes of the original record "This was how we were playing then – but things change – don't they?"
The song "Dharma for One", a staple of Tull's early concerts (usually incorporating an extended drum solo by Clive Bunker), was later covered by Ekseption, Pesky Gee! and The Ides of March.
A deluxe two-CD fortieth anniversary edition was released in 2008. It contains the original mono version, a stereo version remixed from the original four-track session tapes, non-LP single tracks and the BBC sessions recorded by the band in 1968 for John Peel's "Top Gear".
Disc one: Original Mono LP (Remastered) & BBC Sessions
"My Sunday Feeling"
"Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You"
"Move on Alone"
"Serenade to a Cuckoo"
"Dharma for One"
"It's Breaking Me Up"
"A Song for Jeffrey"
"So Much Trouble" (John Peel Session: 23 July 1968)
"My Sunday Feeling" (John Peel Session: 23 July 1968)
"Serenade to a Cuckoo" (John Peel Session: 23 July 1968)
"Cat's Squirrel" (John Peel Session: 23 July 1968)
"A Song for Jeffrey" (John Peel Session: 23 July 1968)