Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jethro Tull - This Was

Since I already blew any cred I had by rantin' about this band's album Stand Up, I thought I'd continue on with this, their 1968 debut. With guitarist Mick Abrahams (later of Blodwyn Pig), the sound here has more blues, r'n'b and jazz influences than the later, more progressive-rock sound of the group, though the move in that direction was somewhat gradual. Several numbers here are based on blues progressions and there are even some "steals" from jazz numbers.

Opening with "My Sunday Feeling", this is Tull as I prefer them - earthy, riffin' and with a nice jazz/blues guitar tone. They were certainly no straight blues/rock band, though - not even to the extent that Cream was - the many influences are obvious and mix well with each other to form their own sound. That said, the acoustic guitar/harmonica workout "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine For You" is a pretty basic blues tune, reminiscent of Big Bill Broozy's "Key to the Highway". "Beggar's Farm" has a cool, bluesy riff and a jazz rave-up and Mick gets to provide the only non-Ian Anderson lead vocal of the band's career in "Move On Alone", a nice enough but fairly inconsequential number. The cats cover Roland Kirk in "Serenade to a Cuckoo", a catchy instrumental, that was supposed the first song that Ian learned on flute - Abrahams gets some time to show his stuff here, as well.

Drummer Clive Bunker gets a drum solo number in "Dharma For One" (later covered by several other groups) before the guys return to a fairly straight-forward blues-rocker in "It's Breaking Me Up" (with Ian on harp instead of flute). A rockin' version of "Cat's Squirrel" follows and then we get "A Song For Jeffrey", the tune done in the Rolling Stones' Rock'n'Roll Circus with Tony Iommi sitting in on guitar before the vinyl album ended with a very brief instrumental, simply titled "Round".

The CD includes 3 bonus tracks: "One for John Gee" (a jazz/blues instro), "Love Story" (a cool, melodic rocker with acoustic guitar) and "Christmas Song" (a stripped down ballad). All in all, a great debut and a cool reissue package.