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Jethro Tull - Under Wraps CD (album) cover

UNDER WRAPS

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

2.23 | 500 ratings

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TCat
3 stars 'Under Wraps' is the 15th studio album from Jethro Tull and it has an underlying theme of espionage and the world of spies. Most of the songs on this one were written and/or co-written by the band's keyboardist Peter-John Vettese. Ian Anderson was the usual songwriter in the past and had been since the album 'This Was'. Martin Barre, lead guitarist also co-wrote 2 of the tracks. Barre also said this was one of his personal favorite albums, even though many Tull fans consider it one of their worst. This is also the only Tull album to date to not have a live drummer. All of the drums are programmed by Anderson. Vettese provided the use of heavier synth and electronic use on this album. The combination of programmed drums and electronics is a cause of the complaints of many fans about this album and is the reason this album feels so starchy and dated. Fortunately, the band would find a new drummer after recording this album, Doanne Perry would become a permanent member.

Right from the start, the programmed drums stick out like a buck tooth. Even the synth use isn't as bad sounding as the fake drums, but it does lend itself to the decade it was released in, which pretty much fit in with the new wave sound. All of the other elements for Tull albums are there however, excellent flute and electric guitar passages (though many times the flute has become a supporting instrument, much like "Chicago's" horns also became on their later albums), the usual signature harmonies, but that organic sound of all live instruments is missed right away.

The original vinyl version of the album only had 11 tracks, where the CD and cassette versions had 15. The tracks missing on the vinyl version are 'Astronomy', 'Tundra', 'Automotive Engineering', and 'General Crossing'. The first three were released on a 12' single, but 'General Crossing' became the first Tull track not to be released on vinyl.

There are some pretty good tracks here, so the album might not be as big of a failure as some attest it to be. Despite the automatic rhythm, I still like both parts of 'Under Wraps', 'European Legacy' because of the use of acoustic guitar gives is a more authentic Tull feel, 'Tundra' and 'Nobody's Car', but the others are too synthetic sounding missing that more earthy sound that Tull fans are used to. The over-use of electronics makes the overall sound of the album clinical and somewhat dated. I feel if the tracks were recorded with the use of all organic instruments, it would have sounded better. Also, the vinyl version is actually better because of less tracks as the addition of 4 tracks to the CD even weaken things more.

Even with this somewhat cheapened sound on this album, I still don't think it is as bad as some will say. I still think it pulls off being a good album, but it fits under a 3 star rating because it is definitely non-essential in the Tull discography. It has an even more dated sound than 'A' does, and considering the new wave era it came from, that is not a great thing.

TCat | 3/5 |

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