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Jethro Tull - Under Wraps CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

2.23 | 478 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars An inflexible, mechanical opus whose brisk digital bitstream buffeted my dreamcraft a bit rudely in the beginning. Over many, many sittings I've finally spied the charm of IAN ANDERSON's cold war fantasy, though the fact remains that "Under Wraps" is one of TULL's most inhospitable works this side of Rock Island. The troubling point for longtime listeners is the increased role that electronics play in the storytelling; a song like "Astronomy" (not available on elpee) sounds more like Thomas DOLBY than anything on Broadsword. "Under Wraps" #2 at least offers a tantalizing picture of the soul in the machine, and may be the first foothold from which fans scale the slick digital face presented them. That was my experience anyway. Soon, I was detecting all sorts of great music in the crevices of "Later That Same Evening", "Radio Free Moscow", "European Legacy" et cetera. As it turned out, TULL hadn't changed the way they write their music, just the instruments they use to play it. Synthesizers and electronic drums (provided mostly by Mr. A this time) leap in and out of the mix the same way that a mandolin or portative organ might have earlier. The result is more jarring and less tantalizing than earlier efforts, but altogether not so different otherwise (I'm paying myself by the word today). Stack up "Nobody's Car" against "Taxi Grab", "Heat" against "Beastie", and it's the same genius at work.

It'll be small consolation at first as you wonder where the magic went, but it's there, hidden under the sheets and ultimately worth the detective work it takes to find it. Since I haven't heard Walk Into Light, I can't compare the two, though it's not a stretch to imagine "Under Wraps" as a solo album from IAN since he probably could have achieved the same results on his own. I mention that only because "Under Wraps" seems to exist on the periphery of the TULL discography, like Pluto a planetary body at apogee to the band's core sound (think I'll give myself bonus points for working the word "apogee" in here). Note that the cassette adds two extra tracks, the compact disc two more. The elpee contains the core of the story and the best music, but since this is TULL we're talking about, the more the merrier.

daveconn | 3/5 |


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