This Was

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This Was
Jethro Tull - This Was fron cover.jpg
Studio album by Jethro Tull
Released 25 October 1968 (UK)
3 February 1969 (US)
Recorded 13 June 1968 – 23 August 1968
Studio Sound Techniques, Chelsea, London
Genre Blues rock, jazz fusion, folk rock
Length 38:21
Label Island (UK)
Reprise (US)
Producer Terry Ellis, Jethro Tull
Jethro Tull chronology
This Was
(1968)
Stand Up
(1969)
Singles from This Was
  1. "A Song for Jeffrey" / "One for John Gee"
    Released: 1968

This Was is the debut album by the progressive rock band Jethro Tull, released in 1968. Recorded at a cost of only £1200, it is the only studio album to feature guitarist Mick Abrahams, who was a major influence for the sound and music style of the band's first songs. When the album was released the band was already performing at the Marquee Club in London, where other successful British groups, such as the Rolling Stones and The Who, had started their careers.[1]

Music[edit]

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" 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, including the supergroup Cream. 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.
  • The coda of "My Sunday Feeling" incorporates quotes from two well-known jazz tunes, Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther Theme" (specifically the song's bass line, played as a short solo by Glenn Cornick) and Nat Adderley's and Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Work Song".

This Was also contains the only Jethro Tull lead vocal not performed by Ian Anderson on a studio album, in "Move On Alone". Mick Abrahams, the song's author, provided 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 Abraham's' 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. This song featured the "claghorn",[2] an instrument invented by Jeffrey Hammond.[3] Anderson also claims to have invented the instrument.[4]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[5]
Robert Christgau C−[6]
Record Collector 3/5 stars[7]

This Was received generally favourable reviews and sold well upon its release. Melody Maker review thoroughly recommended the album in 1968 for being "full of excitement and emotion" and described the band as a blues ensemble "influenced by jazz music" capable of setting "the audience on fire".[8] Allen Evans of New Musical Express wrote in his review that the album "sounds good and has a lot of humour about it" and that the band "play jazz really, in a soft, appealing way, and have a bit of fun on the side with tone patterns and singing".[9] American critic Robert Christgau, on the contrary, was appalled by the success of a band that combined "the worst of Roland Kirk, Arthur Brown, and your nearest G.O. blues band."[6]

Recent reviews of the remastered edition underline the duality of Anderson and Abrahams' songwriting and stage presence, as well as the strong ties of the band to blues in their early days. Sid Smith of BBC Music wrote that "what made Tull stand out from the great-coated crowd (of touring bands) was the high-visibility of frontman Ian Anderson's on-stage Tourette's-inspired hyper-gurning and Mick Abraham's ferocious fretwork."[10] AllMusic reviewer remarks how Jethro Tull on their vinyl debut appears "vaguely reminiscent of the Graham Bond Organization only more cohesive, and with greater commercial sense".[5] David Davies of Record Collector reminds how "This Was only hints at the depth and majesty of the ensuing seven albums", but also wrote that "the direct, unfussy and predominantly blues-based" tracks of the original recordings and the extra tracks of the collector's edition "could well come as something of a surprise" and "be of the greatest interest to Tull aficionados."[7]

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[11] and number 62 on the US Billboard 200.[12]

Track listings[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "My Sunday Feeling"   Ian Anderson 3:43
2. "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You"   Anderson 2:49
3. "Beggar's Farm"   Mick Abrahams, Anderson 4:19
4. "Move On Alone"   Abrahams 1:58
5. "Serenade to a Cuckoo" (instrumental) Roland Kirk 6:07
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Dharma for One" (instrumental) Anderson, Clive Bunker 4:15
7. "It's Breaking Me Up"   Anderson 5:04
8. "Cat's Squirrel" (instrumental) Traditional, arranged by Abrahams 5:42
9. "A Song for Jeffrey"   Anderson 3:22
10. "Round" (instrumental) Anderson, Abrahams, Bunker, Glenn Cornick, Terry Ellis 1:03
  • The 2001 remastered CD added three bonus tracks (which had been on the 20 Years of Jethro Tull box-set) and extensive liner notes.

40th anniversary collectors' edition[edit]

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".

Personnel[edit]

Jethro Tull

Additional musicians

Production

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Discography: This Was". Jethro Tull Official Website. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  2. ^ "The Dharma for One Claghorn". Rhythm in Gold. WordPress.com. 26 October 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Nollen, Scott Allen (15 December 2001). Jethro Tull: A History of the Band, 1968-2001. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 36. ISBN 978-0786411016. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Morton, Tom (27 August 2001). "BBC Radio Scotland: Old Wild Men". Tull Press.com. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Eder, Bruce. This Was – Jethro Tull at AllMusic. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (14 August 1969). "Consumer Guide (3)". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Davies, David (June 2008). "Jethro Tull - This Was: Collector's Edition". Record Collector. No. 350. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  8. ^ "Jethro Tull LP Sets Fans on Fire". Melody Maker (Tull Press.com). 2 November 1968. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  9. ^ Evans, Allen (26 October 1968). "This Was: Jethro Tull". NME (Tull Press.com). Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  10. ^ Smith, Sid (2008). "Jethro Tull - This Was review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 282. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  12. ^ "This Was Billboard Albums". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 

External links[edit]