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Jethro Tull - This Was (1968)

Discussion in 'Album Reviews' started by Khor1255, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    [​IMG]

    I was a late comer to this album. Had I heard it earlier I Tull would have always been one of my favorite bands right up there with Sabbath etc etc. It is a rather straight forward sounding blues rock recording but with enough of a quirk and raw energy to make it even stand out among the fantastic blues rock that was prevalent during this era of rock and roll. It is an absolutely uncompromising example of a successful bar band's transition to recording artistry. The presence of Mick Abrahams permeates this album with a style that makes it truly unique when compared to any other Jethro Tull recording. I remember hearing it one time with a speaker blown out and the singing sounded very different. It seems Anderson and Abrahams both sang on the majority of the songs and their approach is rather different so that the combination makes for a delightful counterpoint type harmony. Unfortunately, this is the only album with Abrahams but considering the fantastic direction the band headed in once they became something quite more than a blues rock act perhaps that's not an entirely bad thing.

    1. "My Sunday Feeling" Is a song written by Ian Anderson that truly sounds as if it might have been penned in the Piedmont or Delta of the US. It is a somewhat typical call and response lyric but with such full bodied accompaniment backing the vocals you sort of get the feeling you are hearing this aboard a speeding freight train. A very cool opening track that must have sounded awesome in any beer hall it previously graced. At 3:43 it is standard length but I could swear it was no longer than 2 minutes because it just speeds on by leaving you wanting more.

    2. "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You" Is a very typical Big Bill Brunzy type piece but with a very busy harmonica lead run that adds a lot of flare to this track. The guitar accompaniment makes an absolutely perfect frame for this Anderson blues number. 2:49 is the length and that is a good fit for the tune.

    3. "Beggar's Farm" This Mick Abrahams, Ian Anderson piece is a very ambitious and I might add successful attempt at creating a new blues standard to the existing vocabulary. The entire feel is original and yet strangely familiar as any blues standard always is when you hear it. The lyric warns of a lifestyle that will eventually lead to 'Beggar's Farm' and strongly advises against it although the exact prescription is delightfully obscure. This one is a gem but requires your full attention lest you miss the incredible nuances contained in it's 4:19 run time.

    4. "Move on Alone" This Mick Abrahams song is another one that sounds so entirely organic you think it must be a cover of a very old blues standard. It speaks of the empty feeling you get after a failed romance and the alienation that follows one after he builds his life around another only to have that 'other half' disappear into the masses. At 1:58, I've always felt this track was painfully short but perhaps that is part of it's charm.

    5. "Serenade to a Cuckoo" (instrumental) Originally by Roland Kirk, this is the only song from this album I hear on the radio with any regularity (and it is rare to hear). It is perfectly named due to it's whimsical care free nature. Excellent background music masterfully executed. At 6:07 it is the longest song on the album. It should also be mentioned that on the liner notes Anderson states that 'Cuckoo' was one of the first tunes he learned on flute.

    6. "Dharma for One" (instrumental) Side one ends with the mellow meandering of 'Serenade' but side two erupts quite suddenly with this blistering instrumental number written by Anderson with special mention to the drummer Clive Bunker without which it would have certainly taken a different direction. This is a rock instrumental of the highest caliber. Unrelenting, heart pounding four minutes and fifteen seconds of audio bliss.

    7. "It's Breaking Me Up" Is another Ian Anderson tune that closely follows traditional blues patterns. The vocal itself seems to try to emulate a few of the back country singers it pays homage to. Neat little tune that features a rather rock and roll handling of a standard piece of music. At 5:04 this is one of the longer songs on the album.

    8. "Cat's Squirrel" (instrumental) Is a traditional piece but arranged by Mick Abrahams into a truly scorching rendition. The guitar work is simply outstanding along with every other instrumental voice in the composition. If you like rock and roll at all you are in for 5:42 of pure delight here. This is truly an inspired piece.

    9. "A Song for Jeffrey" Is a rolling piece of music with a really unusual vocal effect courtesy of the ever unpredictable writer of the tune: Ian Anderson. Between the curious vocalization, the ripping slide guitar and various wind instrument colorings this song hits you from all angles. It's length of 3:22 is about right for the type of song and fits this album quite nicely.

    10. "Round" (instrumental) Is the last song on the original album. Written by Anderson, Abrahams, Bunker, Glenn Cornick, Terry Ellis it has always evoked a scene of the lights going back on and the tables being rearranged in the bar room Tull just thoroughly rocked in the last 40 minutes or so. It has a truly 'closing time' feel that perfectly sends you off from this album feeling as if you've witnessed a great live act in the flesh. In a sense....you really have. At 1:03 the melancholy of the piece is mercifully short.

    Personnel:

    Ian Anderson: Vocals, flute, mouth organ, harmonica, "claghorn",[7] piano
    Mick Abrahams: Vocals, guitar, nine-string guitar
    Clive Bunker: drums
    Glenn Cornick: Bass guitar


    David Palmer: French horn and orchestral arrangements




    I should mention that the cd versions feature a few extra tracks such as one of my favorite Christmas songs anyone has ever written but since these aren't part of the usual album I don't think it's right to list them as if they were.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  2. LG

    LG Fade To Black

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    Very nice review Khor, I managed to get a copy of "This Was" on vinyl a couple months ago. Without doubt the most "bluesy" album in the Tull repertoire, and the only one with Abrahams on guitar.
     
  3. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    Thanks man. I also find it the most rockin of all Tull albums and right up with the very best of any rock album ever recorded but maybe that is because it went under my radar for so many years that finally hearing it felt like a revelation.
     
  4. LG

    LG Fade To Black

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    ^^Tull is an amazing band, they are hard to pigeon-hole. I came late to This Was myself, but it has grown on me over the years.

    Still Songs from the Wood is my favorite album...also the first one I bought other than MU Volume I which is an excellent entry point for anyone interested in Jethro Tull.
     
  5. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    My brother bought me Songs From the Wood for my birthday years ago when we lived in a house with a studio in the basement. It's a very cool album, but the first three recordings have been my favorites since I first heard them. I remember loving the few songs from these albums they play on the radio long before I heard the albums.
     
  6. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    I literally just found a copy of this on vinyl earlier tonight. I haven't had the chance to listen to it yet (the likes of CCR's "Cosmos Factory" and the first Skynyd album get priority) but from your review it sounds like it'll be a good listen. :)
     
  7. AlecFarrington

    AlecFarrington Junior Member

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    Great info. Jethro Tull is my favorite band and I was happy to find this. Compared to every other album of theirs, this album isn't very good at all. Beggars farm is the only great song on the album. My Sunday Feeling and A Song For Jeffrey are good/OK. It was their first album though so it was bound to be very simple.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  8. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    Every other album? Well, maybe it will grow on you. For my part I'm not really a fan of anything passed Heavy Horses and really only listen to their first three albums with any regularity but to each his own.
     
  9. Bowley761

    Bowley761 Junior Member

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    Thanks for info.
     

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