The name Jethro Tull comes from an 18th century gardener/inventor and this new group that adopted his name had their roots in the progressive British Folk /Jazz /Blues boom of the late 60’s and the two main members who really spilt this band in two at this point were Scottish flutist and vocalist Ian Anderson and guitarist and singer Mick Abrahams who were joined on bass by the very capable Glenn Cornick and the very very capable Clive Bunker on drums to form the band in 1967.
With both Anderson and Abrahams having strong ideas on the right direction for the group to go, by the time the groups first album release ‘This Was’ appeared, Abrahams had departed their ranks to follow in a more blues direction with his new group Blodwyn Pig who released two great albums called ‘Ahead Ring Out ‘ and ‘ Getting To This ‘ with Abrahams playing his cherry red Gibson SG and singing to great effect. I was lucky to see Blodwyn Pig at the Marquee Club in London and they played a great show with Andy Pyle’s bass going right through your chest if you were standing in the first ten rows which I was.
While Ian Anderson won the battle to move the band in a more folk rock direction with his on stage performance in a ragged beggar’s overcoat and ballet tights playing the flute on one leg while looking like he had just escaped from a local mental institution this image would propel Jethro Tull to being one of the biggest outfits in the 70’s rock world. New guitarist Martin Barre joined the ranks playing a Les Paul and this settled line~up never looked back making albums like ‘Aqualung ‘ and ‘ Thick As A Brick ‘
But for the moment let’s concentrate on this overlooked gem of an album ‘ This Was ” from 1968.
Side One kicks off with the jazzy My Sunday Feeling written by Ian Anderson with him on lead vocals and flute and features a great solo from Mick Abrahams with the rest of the band right on the money! 2) Some Day the The Sun Won’t Shine a slow twelve bar blues with vocals by Abrahams and Anderson who also plays mouth organ. 3) Beggar’s Farm ~ like the Jethro Tull we all got to know with the jazzy flute to the fore and another great solo from Abrahams. 4) Move on Alone ~ a Mick Abrahams song with him on vocals and a brass section featured on this track. 5) Serenade for a Cuckoo ~ Instrumental ~ a Roland Kirk song which shows where Ian Anderson got his jazz influences on flute from. Nice playing all round.
Side Two starts off with Dharma For One another instrumental with a Clive Bunker drum solo. 2) It’s Breaking Me Up ~ another great twelve bar blues with great playing for Abrahams ~ very bluesy. 3) Cat Squirrel ~ This is the track that I think spilt the band in two. An instrument with features all the best points of Mick Abrahams playing. 4) A Song for Jeffrey ~ This was the single from the album and the start of the direction Anderson would lead the band in and a precursor to Living In The Past . 5) Round ~ A short jazz Brubeck idea.
On the Deluxe 2 CD Collector’s Edition reissue of ‘ This Was ‘ you will find excellent BBC sessions from Top Gear, John Peel Show plus Stereo and Mono mixes of the album with extra tracks like ‘ Love Story ‘ which was the last song recorded by Mick Abrahams with the band and it’s my favourite, released as a 45 it featured Christmas Song on the B side which are both worth hearing for the mandolin playing alone as is ‘ Sunshine Day which was their first single released on MGM and credited to Jethro Toe, also ‘ One For John Gee’ who was the manager of the Marquee Club and was responsible for getting the band a residency at the club early on in their career.
Look out for Jethro Tull on the 40th Anniversary 2011 tour playing ‘ Aqualung ‘ in it’s entirety