"This Was" was one of my favourite albums of 1968. I bought it on vinyl LP at the time, then on CD in the early `90s, in 2001 the remaster and now the 40th anniversary edition. Hopefully that's cracked it now!
This 2008 version is superb, if only all reissues were as comprehensive as this - Tim Chacksfield's name under the compilers credit usually guarantees a well researched compilation and this one is no exception. Add Abbey Road's Peter Mew as the remasterer / remixer and you know it's going to sound good too.
On CD 1 the original mono mix has been remastered and sounds just great. In 1968 the mono mix usually got more attention than the stereo mix of many albums and this mix is somewhat different to the more often heard stereo mix from that time. The rest of the first CD is filled with tracks from the BBC's John Peel sessions - many are live versions of tracks from the album, but some are songs from the band's live set of the time. The sound restoration quality of these old tapes is amazing, and gives an idea of how good the band would have sounded live in 1968.
CD 2 is a new (2008) remix of the stereo version of "This Was", and sounds quite different to the original stereo mix - perhaps more like the original mono mix to my ears. This is not just another remastering so any earlier version of the album you have will not become redundant if you purchase this one! This version also includes the three bonus tracks that were on the 2001 reissue, but this time "Love Story" & "Christmas Song" are featured as new stereo mixes and again as mono remasters. "One for John Gee" (B side of "Jeffery" single - and Marque manager) is also a mono remaster as is the new addition, and very rare first single, (on MGM as Jethro Toe!) "Sunshine Day".
This set seems to contain almost all the 1968 original band line-up's recorded material plus nine bonus BBC tracks. The only omission I can see is the B side of the first MGM single, the track "Aeroplane"; whether it was deemed not good enough or perhaps the tape was missing is not mentioned in the booklet.
There are reflections from each original band member, photos and material from the original LP release in the booklet and package. I bought the American Capitol version from one of Amazon's American sellers as the price was competitive, it is very similar to the UK version - the music is identical but the packaging is slightly different.
This was Tull as I liked them best, bluesy and jazzy without the trappings of Prog Rock with which they became bogged down in later life.
on 29 May 2008
I did recollect 'This Was' as a decent if patchy album by one of my favourite bands of yesteryear - until I heard it again in this new reissue, and what a revelation it is. The band is superb with Ian's contribution nicely balanced with all the others; the superb rhythm section of Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornick, and Mick Abrahams in great form. There are some lovely jazz tinges in amongst the overall blues feel of the album that would sadly be lost on their later albums. There is a freshness and lightness of execution about this and their other early albums, that became leaden by the time they turned the guitar amps up, went a bit heavy metal and got lost in the woods of old England. Despite the always fantastic musicianship, I never really got all the elves, squirrels and celtic myth stuff but the eclectic blues and jazz of 'This Was' still does it for me.
This April 2008 40th Anniversary 2CD COLLECTOR'S EDITION of Jethro Tull's explosive 1968 debut album has been a long time coming - but the wait has been so worth it. Sound-wise this peach is simply off the charts good and as a reissue has breathed new life into a long forgotten and largely dismissed album. I suspect that even people who don't like Tull (and they are derided in certain circles) will enjoy this and be duly impressed. There's a lot on here, so here's a detailed breakdown first...
DISC 1 (71:28 minutes):
1. My Sunday Feeling
2. Someday The Sun Won't Shine
3. Beggar's Farm
4. Move On Alone
5. Serenade To A Cuckoo
6. Dharma For One [Side 2]
7. It's Breaking Me Up
8. Cat's Squirrel
9. A Song For Jeffrey
Tracks 1 to 10 are the MONO VERSION of the album "This Was" released 25 October 1968 in the UK on Island ILP 985. February 1969 saw the album released in the USA on Reprise RS 6336 but in Stereo only - the Stereo mix is on Disc 2.
11. So Much Trouble
12. My Sunday Feeling
13. Serenade To A Cuckoo
14. Cat's Squirrel
15. A Song For Jeffrey
Tracks 11 to 15 are live-in-the-studio recordings made for John Peel's "Top Gear" Radio program on BBC 1, recorded 23 July 1968 in London (broadcast August & September 1968)
16. Love Story
17. Stormy Monday
18. Beggar's Farm
19. Dharma For One
Tracks 16 to 19 are more live-in-the-studio recordings as per 11 to 15...recorded 5 November 1968 in London (broadcast December 1968)
DISC 2 (55:18 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are the STEREO VERSION of the album "This Was" released 25 October 1968 on Island ILPS 9085 [credited here as a "New Stereo Mix"]
Tracks 11 and 12 are ADDITIONAL NEW STEREO MIXES of "Love Story" and "Christmas Song" [New to this set]
Tracks 13 to 16 are ORIGINAL MONO RECORDINGS (UK Singles)
13 is "Sunshine Day", their debut UK 7" single issued 16 February 1968 on MGM Records 1348 [miscredited as Jethro Toe]
14 is "One For John Gee", non-album B-side to "A Song For Jeffrey", 2nd UK 7" single issued September 1968 on Island WIP 6043
15 is "Love Story", November 1968, Non-Album Track, A-side of their 3rd UK 7" single on Island WIP 6048
16 is "Christmas Song", also a non-album track on release, B-side to 15
PETER MEW at Abbey Road has expertly remastered the 1st generation original masters tapes and the results are stupendous - the clarity is now unbelievable on both the old MONO MIX and the newly constructed STEREO MIX. Getting your hands on an original UK MONO vinyl copy of this album has always been an expensive and difficult affair - the STEREO version a little less so. So it's great to finally have both on a good CD. The 12-page booklet is a little crammed (pictures of 45's you can barely make out due to their tiny size), but it does features new notes from both Ian Anderson and Mick Abrahams.
Highlights - the opening track "My Sunday Feeling" (lyrics above) is classic Tull - rock with a flute jazz tint. Speaking of which - the track "Serenade To A Cuckoo" first appeared on Rahsaah Roland Kirk's 1964 album "I Talk With The Spirits". Kirk's flute technique of humming and mouthing as you play the instrument clearly blew away the young Ian Anderson, because he's been aping that style ever since (it's also the only time a cover version has appeared on a Jethro Tull album).
The bluesy "Beggar's Farm" is so clear now as are Clive Bunker's drums on "Dharma For One". The Stereo Mix of "Some Day The Sun Won't Shine" absolutely leaps out of the speakers, while the harmonica and guitar duo intro on "It's Breaking Me Up" perfectly compliments the slinky bass line by Glenn Cornick. "Cat's Squirrel" just rocks like a monster too.
The additional BBC stuff is very good (the band was still fresh) as are the properly remastered versions of the early Tull singles (most of which were non-album until the 2LP set "Living In The Past" in 1972).
I'd have preferred a far more expanded booklet, but it's the great remaster that makes me come back to this reissue time and time again... Onwards from here to Mick Abraham's Blodwyn Pig and their stunning 1969 debut "Ahead Rings Out" (see separate review).
EMI are to be praised for this - an absolute winner - recommended big time.
PS: for Peter Mew's work see also Dr. Feelgood's "Down By The Jetty" DELUXE EDITION and Kevin Ayers' "The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories" - both reviewed in my download book SOUNDS GOOD: 1970's Rock and Pop...
on 7 May 2008
Whilst i'm not a huge fan of all the collector's editions which exist, here's one which is well worth buying. Particularly since, at the time of writing, it's just a touch more expensive than the regular version. A lovingly packaged product, which comes with a pleasing booklet and some worthwhile bonus material. The big upside is that purchasers will be rewarded with being able to familiarise themselves with the mythical "reverb-soaked" mono mix. I was fortunate enough to be able to acquire an inexpensive copy of this vinyl rarity, some ten years ago, but this deluxe copy will enable me to enjoy the mono mix a bit more regularly.
The second cd is given over to the supposedly more "compressed" stereo mix of the album, as released by the short-lived line-up of Jethro Tull with the excellent Mick Abrahams on guitar. The group was into a more blues-based sound, as was somewhat fashionable at the time. (Check out the Cream/Clapton-inspired cover of "Cat's Squirrel", for example.) But this album stands up as being a really excellent debut release.
And the bonus material doesn't disappoint in the slightest. There are numerous tracks from John Peel sessions, a couple of tracks released in single form, and there's even the "Sunshine Day" MGM single mega rarity. This is one collector's edition which can wholeheartedly be recommended to anyone who is unfamiliar with this release. And also those who are.
PS. I must say that the mono and "new" stereo mixes generally sound pretty similar. However, "It's Breaking Me Up" and "Cat's Squirrel" sound somewhat different. As do the vocals on "(A) Song For Jeffrey". "Cat's Squirrel", in particular, sounds fabulous in mono and shows Abrahams, Bunker and (particularly) the under-rated Glenn Cornick as a really decent power trio. And check out the mono mixes of "Love Story", which is a bit different, and "Christmas Song". The latter strangely loses the " 'ere Santa..." line.
Jethro Tull's truly superb 1968 debut LP was the sound of a band full-formed and raring to go, musically adventurous, witty, intelligent and steeped in both blues and a dollop of jazz, as well as plenty of that unique quality that Ian Anderson and Tull carried through their entire career (still going strong).
This 2-CD remastered reissue with extra live & studio tracks is so good it almost beggars belief. They've kept the format of the gatefold sleeve - how I remember bringing it home as a teenager, this strange and wild-looking new group with a mad bastard playing flute on one leg - by making this a double fold-out digipak with an excellent booklet, notes courtesy of Anderson with brief contributions from other band members Mick Abrahams, Glenn Cornick and Clive Bunker.
The original record is here in both mono and stereo, the mono sounding especially good for some reason, with several tracks recorded for John Peel's radio show, plus a few odds and ends such as their first official single, the excellent Love Story, and Christmas Song, one of Anderson's typical rock-the-boat subversions of the kind he perfected on later albums such as Aqualung.
This group fizzed, sizzled and rocked! They could really play too, despite Ian Anderson's only having learnt the flute a couple of years earlier, yet they sound like a band making their umpteenth record, not their first. Mick Abrahams - who, perhaps understandably, left to start the fine Blodwyn Pig (their debut Ahead Rings Out is terrific) - is both masterful and eloquent on guitars, while Cornick and Bunker are more than persuasive on bass and drums. (Bunker's drum workout on Dharma For One is that rare thing, a rock drum solo actually worth hearing.)
This Was was Tull at their bluesiest. Their follow-up albums Stand Up and Benefit are even better, with overall more coherent sets of songs, with even more memorable melodies. Even so, This Was was the start of it all.
Tull were and are one of the most original, least dated and musically mature bands from that rich seam of late 60s/early 70s 'progressive' rock music, with a rare quality all their own. They were far closer to Fairport or the Strawbs than, say, Genesis or Yes. Like Led Zep, they happily and fruitfully mined folk idioms as well as being able to rock out with the best.
I've always loved Tull, and it's great to renew my acquaintance with one of their most likeable records, which just happens to be their first.
Buy, as they say, with confidence.
on 12 June 2014
This was JT at the point of recording but then they underwent a series of metamorphoses that, by the time of Aqualung, was starting to confound me a little. 1968 was the start of my ill-judged year at Art School. On the strength of John Peel's championing of the band, their's was the name you were most likely to hear being banded about in the print-room or The Vaults on Manningham Lane, if you could catch it above the blare of Pinball Wizard and Man Of The World from the jukebox. Pennine bitter or Double Diamond when flush. Mmmm! The first two Tull albums are timeless classics for me, evoking all sorts of memories. To hear this remastered version after too many decades is an absolute joy! Bluesier, more jazzy and much earthier than the follow-up, with Anderson and Abrahams both shining and pulling together, to listen to this is like hearing a completely different band. Pristine sound, bonus tracks and the equal of anything they were to produce afterwards. For me this is an ensorcelled time capaule!
I rated the original album 4 stars but the Collectors Edition is simply marvellous - not just the improved sound quality but the tasty extra tracks and great alternative versions. I'm a big fan of Abrahams (and his Blodwyn Pig days) but if he'd stayed there would have been no Thick As A Brick etc. That said his guitar playing is tasty, distinctive and perfect for this early Tull phase and his contribution, even ignoring the blow out on Cats Squirrel, is major. Anderson's songwriting is already showing that he couldn't be shackled by the blues format and the material bears a strong trademark - even if his singing style and flute mastery aren't quite up to the mark he passes himself well and plays some great harmonica. The dream team of Bunker and Cornick are immense - wonderful springing, tonal jazz basslines and an astounding drumming technique that i think is as good as any i've heard. The drum solo on Dharma is still the epitome of the genre for me, inventive, succinct and LISTENABLE !
Really the only weak track is the slight fadeout ending Round. Beggar's Farm is a superb song, Dharma and Song for Jeffrey point the way to a rockier future and Serenade and John Gee give a view of what might have been if Anderson had continued down the jazz route. Then we have other versions from Peel Sessions - all worth listening to and a glimpse of the future with the single Love Story that shows Abrahams' versatility and Anderson's songwriting.
Top blues-rock - essential for Tull fans.
Jethro Tull were never an easy band to categorise, moving effortlessly from the Blues to a more folksy feel, but always maintaining a strange ethereal kind of sound thanks to the flute and vocals of mainman Ian Anderson.
On their debut album Mick Abraham was as influential as Anderson and had the distinction on Move On Alone of being the only vocalist other than Anderson to feature on any of their studio albums. The opening number My Sunday Feeling rather sets out the stall with rather husky, almost out of control, vocals against a blues background. Roland Kirk's Serenade to a Cuckoo sets Anderson's stall out as an instrumentalist and Dharma For One is a typical early Tull rampage style piece featuring flute and drums and the kitchen sink.
Abrahams left the band after this album due to the usual "musical differences" and that gave Anderson more of a chance to express himself on subsequent offerings. Today this has a distinctly dated feel to it, but it does illustrate that in their early days Tull were inventive and original while being true to their blues roots... and you get the distinct feel that there is more to come.
on 24 January 2012
This Was is Jethro Tull's first album and is a fantastic mix of late 60s bluesy rock music. Songs like 'Someday the Sun Won't Shine For You' and 'Beggar's Farm' give a real bluesy feel to the album, which is complemented by the jazzy elements of 'Serenade to a Cuckoo'. Mick Abrahams lays down some lovely guitar work on this album, the only Jethro Tull album to feature him before he left due to musical differences, and it is a rare chance to listen to an album of Jethro Tull playing with such a blues influence, because it is a sound that they quickly left behind. Ian Anderson's voice gives a unique dynamic to the album, along with the added dimension of his flute playing. If you are a Jethro Tull fan it is a very interesting album to own, and if you are not then even more so, as it is very different to their later albums and gives a unique feel to 60s blues.
on 15 May 2008
They may only have been a blues band for a short while but this version of Tull made an album that sounds every bit as fresh now as the day it was released. Featuring strong original songs like "My Sunday Feeling" and "Beggar's Farm" and a distinctive British take on the blues, these guys were every bit a match for their better known blues-boom contemporaries. In truth I'm not much of a Tull fan but this package rocks. I can't think of anywhere else you could find manic flute playing like that on Roland Kirk's "Serenade to a Cuckoo" alongside Mick Abrahams wonderful guitar heavy take on "Cat's Squirrel" There's some inventive bass and drum playing too and even the drum solo isn't completely out of place. The sound has been superbly remastered/remixed and there's a shed-load of excellent extra sessions and bonus tracks. The whole thing is an object lesson in repackaging. I haven't stopped playing this since it arrived. If they can give the same treatment to "Stand Up" I might just be tempted.....