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Jethro Tull - Under Wraps CD (album) cover


Jethro Tull


Prog Folk

2.23 | 479 ratings

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5 stars I have never understood what Tull fans have against Under Wraps. It's arguably, in performance terms, the finest album in the whole of the Tull catalogue, with Anderson's voice never better, Barre's guitar thoughtful and Vetesse's keyboard arrangements always inventive and amusing. Anderson embraced the technology of the earaly 80s and truly mastered it, his drum programming and use of the Fairlight being particularly skilful. Now, yes, this album owes a deep debt to some other contemporary LPs of the time, not least The Golden Age of Wireless by Thomas Dolby and those by the post-John Foxx Ultravox (Chrysalis label mates of course). But these new influences refresh the Tull sound greatly and the whole band sound enthused and engaged.

The full 15 track CD version is the version to seek out. Highlights include the superbly brooding "Later That Same Evening", the thuggish strut of "Saboteur", the rollercoaster ride of "Heat" and the earworm riff of "Paparazzi". Had any of these songs appeared on "Warchild", "Stormwatch" or even "Broadsword and the Beast", with a 'real drummer', they would have stuck in the Tull live set for years. As things turned out, the Tull fan base took its collective ball home and refused to play, which was a real shame. The 1984 live renditions of the UW material (with added 'real drummer'!) are spirited and infectious. Sadly, the band seemed to lose confidence in the material and by the time Tull returned in 1987, they had all been dropped. True, Anderson struggled to sing much of the material live, contributing to the throat problems which have plagued him ever since (although I can't help musing that a 24/7 pipe smoking habit probably wasn't the best idea for the lead vocalist of a rock band), but the material could have been re-arranged, lowered in pitch, played instrumentally and so forth.

Under Wraps is not my favourite Tull album - that would be A Passion Play. But I enjoy UW almost as much... the different sound, instruments and arrangements are just part and parcel of the eclecticism of JT - and truly great progressive artists generally. The album rewards repeated, non-judgemental listening. Don't approach this LP with an insatiable craving for soprano sax and hammond organ; just enjoy it for what it is - an album of fantastically enjoyable progressive pop.

johntetrad | 5/5 |


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