This Was

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This Was
Jethro Tull - This Was fron cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released25 October 1968 (UK)
3 February 1969 (US)
Recorded13 June 1968 – 23 August 1968
StudioSound Techniques, Chelsea, London
GenreBlues rock, jazz fusion, folk rock
LabelIsland (UK)
Reprise (US)
ProducerTerry Ellis, Jethro Tull
Jethro Tull chronology
This Was
Stand Up
Singles from This Was
  1. "Sunshine Day/Aeroplane"
    Released: Early 1968
  2. "A Song for Jeffrey/One for John Gee"
    Released: Mid 1968
  3. "Love Story/A Christmas Song"
    Released: December 1968

This Was is the debut studio album by the British progressive rock band Jethro Tull, released in 1968. Recorded at a cost of £1200, it is the only Jethro Tull album with 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]


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; Dee 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 Abrahams' 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] a hybrid instrument invented by Jeffrey Hammond which combined the body of a recorder, the bell of a toy trumpet and the mouthpiece of a saxophone.[3] Anderson also claims to have invented the instrument.[4]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[5]
Record Collector3/5 stars[6]
The Village VoiceC−[7]
The Daily VaultA[8]

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".[9] 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".[10] 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."[7]

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."[11] An AllMusic reviewer remarked how Jethro Tull on their vinyl debut appeared "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."[6]

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[12] and number 62 on the US Billboard 200.[13]

Track listings[edit]

Side one
1."My Sunday Feeling"Ian Anderson3:43
2."Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You"Anderson2:49
3."Beggar's Farm"Mick Abrahams, Anderson4:19
4."Move on Alone"Abrahams1:58
5."Serenade to a Cuckoo" (Instrumental)Roland Kirk6:07
Side two
1."Dharma for One" (Instrumental)Anderson, Clive Bunker4:15
2."It's Breaking Me Up"Anderson5:04
3."Cat's Squirrel" (Instrumental)Traditional, arranged by Abrahams5:42
4."A Song for Jeffrey"Anderson3:22
5."Round" (Instrumental)Anderson, Abrahams, Bunker, Glenn Cornick, Terry Ellis1:03
  • Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–10 on CD reissues.
2001 remaster bonus tracks
11."One for John Gee"Abrahams2:06
12."Love Story"Anderson3:06
13."Christmas Song"Anderson3:06
Total length:42:55
  • 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".


Jethro Tull

Additional musicians



Chart (2018) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[14] 181
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[15] 28
Scottish Albums (OCC)[16] 41
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[17] 78


  1. ^ "Jethro Tull Discography: This Was (October 25, 1968)". Jethro Tull Official Website: Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  2. ^ "The Dharma for One Claghorn". Rhythm in Gold. 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 Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b Eder, Bruce. Jethro Tull - This Was (1968) album review at AllMusic. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b Davies, David (June 2008). "Jethro Tull - This Was: Collector's Edition (1968/Remastered 2008)". Record Collector. No. 350. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (14 August 1969). "Consumer Guide (3) (Album Reviews)". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  8. ^ Thelen, Christopher (2019). "The Daily Vault Music Reviews : This Was". Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Jethro Tull LP Sets Fans on Fire". Melody Maker. Tull 2 November 1968. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  10. ^ Evans, Allen (26 October 1968). "This Was: Jethro Tull". NME. Tull Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  11. ^ Smith, Sid (2008). "Jethro Tull - This Was review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  12. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 282. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  13. ^ "This Was Billboard Albums". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  14. ^ " – Jethro Tull – This Was" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  15. ^ " – Jethro Tull – This Was" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Top 100 Albumes – Semana 46: del 9.11.2018 al 15.11.2018" (PDF) (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España. Retrieved 21 November 2018.

External links[edit]