Review Summary: This never happened. This never happened. This never happened. This never happened. This never happened. This never happened.
In defense of Jethro Tull’s fourteenth studio album, Broadsword And The Beast
, frontman Ian Anderson claimed that the album was really nothing more than a collection of folk songs infused with modern, electronic elements. “...Underlying all this were the less-than machine-like, humanly played drums, bass and guitar lines along with flute, mandolin and the other acoustic sounds familiar to Tull fans,” he wrote in the album’s liner notes. This statement was not entirely untruthful and, had the songs off Broadsword And The Beast
been stripped of their synthesizers and vocoders, they would have been at home on releases such as Heavy Horses
. But could the same be said of the album’s heir, Under Wraps
? To make a long story short, no.
But, pray tell, what can be found underneath the synthesizers and now-programmed drums? Well, not very much at all, aside from tuneless crooning and the occasional cursory flute or guitar melody. If one were to take the song Watching Me Watching Watching You
(the weakest link off of Broadsword And The Beast
, an album that by Tull standards was by no means exceptional), and make it one hour long, they would find themselves with something quite like Under Wraps
. Tasteless synths, tasteless programmed drums, and tasteless lyrics inspired by multiple viewings of From Russia With Love
constitute the majority of the album and the entirety of songs such as Lap Of Luxury
, Nobody’s Car
, and Radio Free Moscow
That said, the album has a few half-decent tunes that almost prevent it from becoming an absolute failure. European Legacy
, a mainly-acoustic tune, is surprisingly pleasant despite how much the invasive drums try to spoil it, and Under Wraps #1
sees the band still playing synth-rock, but making the melodies a bit more interesting. The album’s real saving grace, however, is Under Wraps #2
, a brief acoustic reprise of #1
’s main theme. While the song is by no means spectacular (compared to the likes of Moths
and Cold Wind To Valhalla
, it’s a pretty standard tune that would have been a filler track on past albums), the song offers a nice break from the dull, meandering mess that composes the rest of the album.
Aside from these moments of (relative) quality, the album is a monotonous bore that soon blends into one endless, hellish blur of pounding drums and toneless mumbling, with the occasional flute lead trying fruitlessly to add some life to the music.
With Jethro Tull’s next album, Crest Of A Knave
, Anderson would return to playing progressive rock upon realizing that synth-rock was by no means his forte. The band would soon turn to heavy metal and hard rock, and would release albums arguably worse than Under Wraps
, but, as it stands, this remains one of the lowest points in Jethro Tull’s discography.
Under Wraps #2
Under Wraps #1