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Jethro Tull - Under Wraps  CD (album) cover

UNDER WRAPS

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

2.21 | 334 ratings

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Andrea Cortese
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In September 1984, after nine months of recording at Anderson's home studio, Jethro Tull released their most controversial album since A Passion Play: UNDER WRAPS. Working with new electronic used by Ian (together with Peter-John Vettese) for the first time on his solo album Walk Into Light (1983), was taken much further than one would have dared to imagine!

Not true that the flute seems to be completely out of place! It's in Walk Into Light, in fact, that it happens, due to the Ian free experimentation in his solo album. This last, if it's not evidently a "Tull album", whilst being, understandable, a Ian's type one.In progarchives we have not to judge hurried a work making a chart of all albums of that composer or band. We have instead to value the single one for its strict characteristics! In this way someone could legitimately argue that Aqualung not merit the 5 stars of the Masterpiece of PROGRESSIVE music (however I don't agree with all these reviewers yet!).In particular Under Wraps has offered the band members - Anderson, Barre-good electric guitar played, Vettese and Pegg - the time and opportunity to experiment with new forms and 'soundscapes' and work more intensively together in the recording process then had ever been the case before.That's nor mean that UW is not a "Tull album"! In fact here it's only the esterion part to change (instrumentation, not the fundamental arrangements' Tullian basis). The contributions of Martin Barre, Peter Vettese and Dave Pegg led to a very innovative and powerful album brimmed with original musical ideas. The album was recorded with the aid of a Linn drum machine, instead of a proper drummer which might be the main reason why there is no "live feel" to it. That's the ONLY thing I disapprove in this album!!!!! Sorry Ian, I don't manage to listen to you drumming, expecially with that electronic kind!! Only fter the completion of "Under Wraps" Doane Perry was invited to join the band as percussionist.

Most of the songs have a "spy" theme - as Barbara Espinoza states in her book "Driving In Diverse": "contrived espionage and intrigue abound" (1999, p. 89). I for one assume this not to be coïncidal. Ian loves to read spy novels. When this album was to come, it realized that the international political situation of the early eighties had been the context for this album. To put it more specific: the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet army in 1979, the meddling of the Soviets with the internal affairs of that country and the political reaction of the Western world (remember Reagan's Star Wars programme) caused the LAST BIG SPASM OF THE COLD WAR. In addition to these events there were several so called "spy scandals" in the early eighties, such as defecting agents on both sides and double agents revealing "their" secrets.

Like "A Passion Play" eleven years before, this album also divided the Tull-followers into two groups: either they loved it for its inventivity and its energy (in this group am I) or they hated it for sounding too artificial and not sounding anything like "their Tull".

Later, That Same Evening is a good one, one of the many with a "spy" theme. The construction of the lyrics and the imagery applied make the song almost film-like - as if one if watching a spy movie. This technique of visualisation and putting stories into a romantic setting can be traced in most of this album's songs. "Hard - it was hard to keep my mind on what she had to sell": is referenced to industrial or military espionage, esp. the illegal selling and purchasing of classified documents, plans, drawings, Another

Saboteur is another aspect of the "spy" theme: the hitman or hired killer, who eliminates people and destroy "hot" buildings for money.

Radio Free Moscow's title alludes to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Free Europe, Inc., was established in 1949 as non-profit, private corporations to broadcast news and current affairs programs to Eastern European countries behind the Iron Curtain ("promoting democratic values and institutions by disseminating factual information and ideas").

Nobody's Car is a film-like song breathes an atmosphere of threat, of being watched and followed constantly by agents who hide themselves in anonimity: "Mr. No-one at the wheel of Nobody's car." "Black Volga following me". Several models of Volga limousines were used in the Soviet Union by communist party officials, diplomats, and - as in this song - by KGB-agents.

Under Wraps 2 is a reprise of Under Wraps 1, with the same lyrics, however this time in an acoustic setting. It's the only acoustic song on the album and might be included to give a warmer, different kind of expression.

Apogee ("It's apogee") (or "apogeum"): the moon or ARTIFICIAL SATELLITES are orbiting the earth elliptically.

Other good ones are: General Crossing ("generalski"!!!), Heat and Tundra. Excellent 2005 remastered edition with the full video version of Lap Of Luxury. I hope you enjoyed too!

3.5 stars

Andrea Cortese | 3/5 |

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