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Yes, it was
on January 5, 2003
As Ian Anderson intended to convey by the title of this album, "this was" the sort of music Tull were making in 1968.
Having reshuffled a few times (and changed names a few times, too) from the "John Evan Band," Tull at this time consisted of Ian Anderson, guitarist Mick Abrahams (later of Blodwyn Pig), bassist Glenn Cornick (who remained with the band through _Stand Up_ and _Benefit_), and drummer/percussionist Clive Bunker (who stuck around through _Aqualung_). Anderson, who to this day describes himself as a frustrated guitarist, had recently switched to the flute, an instrument on which he figured (correctly) Clapton wasn't likely to outclass him anytime soon. (He had also invented a wee beastie called the "claghorn," a flutelike instrument with a mouthpiece like a saxophone. Jeffrey Hammond made it, and Anderson plays it on "Dharma for One".)
People who know only the later Tull may be surprised by this album. It's mostly blues; Anderson swaps off on harmonica and shares both vocals and cowriting credits with Abrahams (a fine blues guitarist who wrote "Move On Alone" by himself and is credited with the arrangement of the traditional "Cat's Squirrel"). There's also a cover of Roland Kirk's "Serenade to a Cuckoo" (which Anderson says is the first song he ever learned to play on the flute) and the aforementioned "Dharma for One" (a live version of which appeared on _Living in the Past_ a few years later). Most famous, perhaps, is "A Song for Jeffrey," since a song involving Jeffrey Hammond appeared on each of the first three Tull LPs. (Hammond wasn't yet a member of the band; he replaced Cornick as of _Aqualung_.)
Good stuff, at any rate, and this recent remastering is well done. The bonus tracks are good too -- a short "tribute" piece (by Abrahams) to John Gee (manager of the Marquee Club), plus two songs that longtime Tull listeners will recognize from _Living in the Past_. The sound quality is excellent throughout.
As of _Stand Up_, Anderson started moving away from blues-based material and toward the stuff we now know as classic Tull. After this album was released, Abrahams departed and was replaced (briefly) by Tony Iommi (later of Black Sabbath), then (permanently, thank God) by Martin Barre. As of _Benefit_, Anderson's writing had taken a darker and somewhat more cynical turn, John Evan had (re)joined them, and Barre had begun to establish his own guitar style. After that, of course, were _Aqualung_ and history.
But _This Was_ isn't just a glimpse at the beginnings of a great band; it's also in its own right a successful album of British blues. Add it to your Tull collection if it's not there already.