JETHRO TULL

Tull’s de­but cel­e­brates its birth­day with the Steve Wil­son treat­ment.

Prog - - Echoes - MIKE BARNES

Ian An­der­son has de­scribed This Was as a “foot in the door” of the mu­sic busi­ness and reck­ons that it con­sists of “cheer­ful, slightly home-grown, very mid­dle class, white boy English blues”. Jethro Tull were on the edge of the 60s blues boom of mu­si­cians who sought out mu­sic of a greater au­then­tic­ity than Bri­tish pop­u­lar cul­ture could of­fer. But many soon re­alised that their own ren­der­ings were any­thing but au­then­tic and be­gan to adopt a more per­sonal ap­proach.

In 1968, Jethro Tull were al­ready an im­pres­sive unit. Clive Bunker drummed in a fluid, jazzy style, while Mick

Abra­hams played ex­cit­ing in­ci­sive blues gui­tar and their ver­sion of Doc­tor Ross’ Cat’s Squir­rel equals the ver­sion recorded by Cream. But Jethro Tull were also a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent – not least be­cause in Ian An­der­son they had a lead flautist – and so while Some Day The Sun Won’t Shine For You is ba­si­cally a com­pe­tent re-tread of Big Bill Broonzy’s Key To The High­way, songs like the free­wheel­ing My Sun­day Feel­ing and A Song For Jef­frey car­ried a hint of the postBrubeck jazz­i­ness that would in­fuse their work fur­ther on their sec­ond al­bum Stand Up, and on the hit sin­gle Liv­ing In The Past.

In this set of three CDs and one DVD (for 5.1 sound; there is no video footage), Steven Wil­son’s stereo remix nicely buffs up the orig­i­nal 4-track record­ing and the orig­i­nal mono mix is warm, punchy and well worth a lis­ten.

The disc-and-a-half’s worth of as­so­ci­ated record­ings in­cludes out­takes, sin­gles and B-sides, two 1968 Top Gear ses­sions and the pre-This Was sin­gle Sun­shine Day and its B-side Aero­plane (recorded a few months ear­lier as The John Evan Smash).

One par­tic­u­lar av­enue that Jethro Tull de­cided not to pur­sue was the freeform im­pro­vi­sa­tion of the stu­dio out­take Ul­ti­mate Con­fu­sion, but they also be­gan to pull away from blues rock, a change of tack that prompted Abra­hams to leave the group. But one can see why, when com­par­ing An­der­son sing­ing, rather un­con­vinc­ingly, about how his mule got lame on a cover of Brownie McGhee’s So Much Trou­ble to the cap­ti­vat­ing post-al­bum sin­gle Love Story, with its mix of hard rock and folky re­frain.

Right from their in­cep­tion Jethro Tull set them­selves apart with their ec­cen­tric im­age, and This Was made anti-im­age its sell­ing point – the front cover pho­to­graph shows the group made up to look like griz­zled, el­derly farm work­ers. An­der­son has said that he came up with the al­bum’s ti­tle be­cause he knew the group wouldn’t do any­thing like this again, and in that re­spect he was not wrong.

AN­DER­SON SAID THEY’D NEVER DO ANY­THING LIKE

THIS AGAIN.

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