This Was is the debut album by the rock band Jethro Tull, released in 1968. Recorded at a cost of only £1200 GBP, the album received generally favourable reviews and sold well upon its release. In the documentary film of the Woodstock Festival, portions of the songs "Beggar's Farm" and "Serenade to a Cuckoo" may be heard on the PA system, indicating the level of notice the album achieved in the United States. The album reached number 10 on the UK Album Chart and number 62 on the Billboard 200.
While vocalist Ian Anderson's creative vision largely shaped Jethro Tull's later albums, on This Was Anderson shared songwriting duties with Tull's guitarist Mick Abrahams. In part due to Abrahams' influence, the album incorporates more rhythm and blues and jazz influences than the progressive rock the band later became known for. In particular:
The music to "Beggar's Farm", "My Sunday Feeling", "It's Breaking Me Up" and "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You" are based on blues progressions, with the latter song arranged similarly to Big Bill Broonzy's blues standard "Key to the Highway".
"Cat's Squirrel" (included in the album "because people like it", according to the liner notes) was an instrumental covered by numerous 1960s British blues bands, perhaps most notably by Cream. Mick Abrahams would later perform the song in his post-Jethro Tull blues band Blodwyn Pig.
The album includes a cover version of Roland Kirk's jazz standard "Serenade to a Cuckoo". According to the liner notes, "Cuckoo" was one of the first tunes Ian Anderson learned to play on the flute.
The coda of "My Sunday Feeling" incorporates quotes from two well-known jazz tunes, Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther Theme" (specifically the song's bass line, played as a short solo by Glenn Cornick) and Nat Adderley's and Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Work Song".
This Was also contains the only Jethro Tull lead vocal not performed by Ian Anderson on a studio album, "Move On Alone". Mick Abrahams, the song's author, provides vocals on the track; David Palmer provided the horn arrangement. Abrahams left Jethro Tull following the album's completion in a dispute over "musical differences". Thus, the album's title probably refers to Abahams' blues influence on the album and how blues weren't the direction Anderson wanted the band to go. As said in the liner notes of the original record "This was how we were playing then - but things change - don't they?"
The song "Dharma for One", a staple of Tull's early concerts (usually incorporating an extended drum solo by Clive Bunker), was later covered by Ekseption, Pesky Gee! and The Ides of March.