Tuesday, 12 January 2010

"This Was" by JETHRO TULL (April 2008 EMI 'Collector's Edition' 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This review and hundreds more like it can also be found in my 
SOUNDS GOOD Music Book: 
1960s and 1970s MUSIC Volume 2 
- Exceptional CD Remasters 
It contains over 210 in-depth reviews (a whopping 2400+ e-Pages) 
And is available to buy/download at Amazon at the following link...

"…Won't Somebody Tell Me Where I Lay My Head Last Night…"

This April 2008 40th Anniversary 2CD 'Collector's Edition' of Jethro Tull's explosive 1968 debut album "This Was" on EMI/Chrysalis 206 4972 (Barcode 5099920649722) 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
10. Round
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… 

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