This Was (Collector's Edition)

Jethro Tull

EMI, 2008

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/10/2008

[Editors Note: There was a reissue of This Was with bonus tracks in 2001, this is not the same disc.]

Jethro Tull's first release This Was has been remastered and reissued by Chrysalis, 40 years after its debut. This two-disc reissue includes the entire original album in its 1968 mono mix, and a fully remastered stereo mix of the entire album as well. Additionally, it includes 9 live tracks from the BBC recorded in 1968, as well as additional b-sides and singles from the same era.

This Was would prove to be a very successful first release for the band (for any band), reaching the top 20 on the influential Melody Maker charts. Not surprising as the band had a solid rep on the London club scene as a powerful blues act prior to their debut release. This first outing of Jethro Tull features of course, Ian Anderson (Vocals, flute, harmonica, winds, guitar), Mick Abrahams (guitar) and Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornick on drums and bass respectively. This would be the only album with Tull for Abrahams, and the band would steer slightly away from the bluesy edge after his departure. However, for this album Abrahams’ influence is strongly felt on "A Song For Jeffrey," the driving blues rave-up "Cats Squirrel," and the Delta blues flavored "Someday The Sun Won't Shine For You."nbtc__dv_250

Tull was always tagged as a blues band back then for obvious reasons, but there is an equally strong jazz influence going on as well.  The opening track "My Sunday Feeling" is a blues song in core structure, but give a listen to the percussion, and the frenetic flute of course, and you'll hear the strong thread of beat-era blues churning away just as strongly. The jazz effect shows up more keenly on the straight up jazz instrumentals, "Serenade For A Cuckoo" and "Dharma For One."

This Was is very different from the band’s future work, but there are shadows of things to come. The rocker "Love Story" (previously only available on the 20 Years box set) and the acerbic "Christmas Song" sound much more like the band would several years down the road.

For a band just starting out, and finding its direction, this is a solid release and there’s not a sour song in the bunch. Listening, it's hard to believe Anderson had only been playing the flute for 6 months prior to recording this.

I can't add a whole lot that hasn't been said about the music 40 years down the road. But I can say the reissue is a must-have for Tull fans. The remix really freshens up the sound, and unless you have the 20 Years box set, there are some tasty rarities here. For fans of the later, more progressive and folksy Tull, here’s a chance to check out their roots.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Bruce Rusk and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI, and is used for informational purposes only.