Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home

Jethro Tull

This Was

Review by Dan Fredrickson

According to Jethro Tull’s website, This Was got its name from Ian Anderson who wanted to make a statement that the record's blues sound reflected a temporary nature of the band's sound.  Indeed, temporary it was, because after it was recorded, guitarist Mick Abrahams, whose influence largely defined this album’s bluesy nature, left the band to be replaced by Martin Barre, who seemed to more closely share Ian Anderson’s vision.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
My Sunday Feeling
This sounds like standard I-V-I blues, with the main riff being carefully arranged, spotlighting the flute, and bled to death throughout the whole song.  Because the number is fairly short, and the riff is catchy, using that riff at every available opportunity is not a bad thing.
Some Day The Sun Won’t Shine for You
Very simple, very minimalist, very unlike what Jethro Tull would become after Aqualung, this track features one acoustic guitar and two vocalists each singing the same words and the same melody (although each in a quite different style), with a long harmonica lead in the middle.
Beggar’s Farm
Of all the tracks on this disc, this is the one that sounds like it could have been from Aqualung or later to someone who heard it without knowing its album of origin.  This cut seems like it was the most carefully arranged; the band never sounded as if they were simply jamming to a prearranged chord pattern, but instead seemed to be playing parts that had been written with attention to detail.  This is my favorite song on the CD, mellow and yet filled with quiet conflict.
Move on Alone
Written and sung by Mick Abrahams (who would soon be leaving the band) this number sounds the least like Jethro Tull of all the cuts on the album.  Abrahams plays a slide guitar, a la Stevie Ray Vaughn or George Thorogood, accompanying, of all things, a brass section.  The singing and songwriting remind me of Randy Newman, and the overall effect is most unique.  I’m not saying I don’t like it, only that it is unique and very “un-Tull.”
Serenade To a Cuckoo
Nobody in the band wrote this. They were covering a jazz piece by Rahsaan Roland Kirk recorded in 1964. They make it their own and rock it up (and blues it up as well), giving Kirk’s flute lines to Ian Anderson, of course.  This track contains no vocals.
Dharma For One
Again, this song has no vocals.  This is a “drum solo” song, much like “Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin.  The first minute and thirty seconds is a frame for Clive Bunker’s solo, and then he takes off.  The whole piece lasts 4:15, and undoubtedly in concert, it lasted much longer.
It’s Breaking Me Up
Fans of the blues will enjoy this track much more than fans of the band that Jethro Tull would soon become.  With a bluesy guitar, harmonica leads, and no evidence of much time spent arranging this piece, I’m convinced that no Tull album other than this one would ever have included such a piece as this. To a fan of what this band was to become (and not a fan of the blues), this number can be considered a throwaway.
Cat’s Squirrel
Bands in the late 1960’s seemed to record a lot of songs like this one, an instrumental guitar-oriented psychedelic jam session where the guitarist (in this case, Abrahams) goes nuts for about five minutes.  The songwriting credit goes to “Traditional,” because they had to give it to somebody. Actually, not much songwriting happened here.  As far as tunes like this go, this is better than most.  Abrahams did have some chops.
A Song for Jeffrey
A nice Tull-like polyphonic intro featuring flute and bass leads to a bluesy, harmonica-laden main theme.  The song itself, intro and coda notwithstanding, is short and simple.
Finishing off the album is this mellow, easy-listening, mildly-jazzy 1:03 instrumental featuring the flute, with a piano-laden introduction.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
You'll find an audio interview of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
Return to the
Jethro Tull Artist Page
Artists Directory

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./