Jethro Tull – This Was (1968)

Steve Lucas

Retired Special Effects Supervisor, aged 72

As a teenager, I was 16 in 1968, I used to go to the Toby Jug Blues Club regularly and  saw a number of bands that went on to much greater things, such as Fleetwood Mac, and  Jethro Tull who I had not really heard of. At that time they were a blues band with a rather  jazz influence; one of the tracks on the album, “Serenade to a Cuckoo”, is by Roland Kirk  and was apparently one of the first things Ian Anderson learned to play on his flute. 

They  changed to a more folk rock style when their first guitarist, Mick Abrahams left, shortly after this album was released. I was struck by their music; I have always enjoyed jazz, and also  the blues, which at the time was so influential for British bands. Also, visually there was  this wild-haired guy playing flute, standing on one leg, a feat not seen much in bands at  the time, nor since. So, I much enjoyed the gig and bought the album on the strength of  what I had seen. 

It didn’t disappoint. Listening to it again after so many years, I was struck  how fresh it sounded, it could have been recorded “live” with all the “looseness” of a band  of skilful musicians playing together in a small club. It even has one track with a rather  extended drum solo, “Dhama For One”. Unheard of now on an album and may be rightly  so! Having said that the drumming throughout is excellent, Clive Bunker driving the music  along with real swing.

 “This Was” is seen as a bit of an outlier in Jethro Tull’s albums, it  was their first, but I found I was still enjoying it and with eyes closed could see the group in that packed, stuffy and smokey room at The Toby Jug in 1968. They say if you can  remember the 1960’s you weren’t really there! But this brought it right back.

Kingston link:

Jethro Tull played at The Toby Jug in Tolworth on 12/6/1968 – just one day before the release of this album!

AMP Kingston:
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