Jethro Tull

This Was/A

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There are arguably no two more polar opposite albums in the vast Jethro Tull catalog than the two in this release. This Was is Tull's 1968 debut and featured the blues and jazz playing of guitarist Mick Abrahams, who was vying for a greater role in the decision-making process of the band. Ian Anderson was, even then, the dominant force in the group, although his songwriting was barely scratching the surface of his potential. He, too, was influenced by jazz music, and to a lesser degree blues, but the clash of forces was evident as Abrahams desired a more hard blues approach while Anderson preferred an acoustic blues and folk sound. Exit Abrahams, enter Anderson as one of rock & roll's most enigmatic and distinct songwriters. Twelve years later, A was released as Jethro Tull was struggling to survive, and in the process redefine itself as it had 12 years earlier upon Abrahams' departure. The decade of the '80s brought new challenges for Jethro Tull and A addressed them head on. Impressed by the playing of keyboardist and violinist Eddie Jobson when UK opened for Jethro Tull two years earlier, Anderson invited Jobson into the group. The result was a keyboard-heavy sound adorning Anderson's melodic and focused songwriting. A was a vast improvement over 1979's aimless Stormwatch and it kept Jethro Tull relevant amid a rapidly changing rock & roll landscape.