Ian Anderson - lead vocals, flute, acoustic guitar; Doane Perry - drums and bongos; Dave Pegg - bass; Martin Barre - guitar, electric mandolin; Peter-John Vetesse - keyboards
In 1982, Jethro Tull pushed their Tolkein fantasy rock to the logical extreme by releasing Broadsword and the Beast (which boasted an album cover bedecked with runes) and dressing up in Viking outfits and touring with a lavish show featuring a pirate ship fit for Spinal Tap. It was feared that Ian Anderson's merry assemblage of audio pranksters had run out of ideas.
But in 1984 Jethro Tull hung up their English costumes of yore and adopted a cyberpunk stance. They revamped their sound with synthesizers and turned out Under Wraps to the scorn of critics and fans alike. But in hindsight, listening to the material as a product of the '80s that fit nicely with concurrent releases from contemporaries like David Bowie and Dire Straits, the record seems not only relevant, but likable. But comparing it to other Jethro Tull albums is unfair, as the only hint that it's a Tull project are the swirls of Anderson's flute that crop up every so often.
The synthesized feel is felt on earlier Tull tracks as well, and longtime Tull fans will just have to suck it up and dig the new arrangements: The minstrel in this gallery is wearing a jogging suit with ballcap and headphones (by video accounts of other 1984 tour stops) and running around with a wireless mic rather than perching, one leg up, in front of the micstand. The new sound is introduced immediately with the ambient synth "Introduction" and the completely revamped "Hunting Girl," a Song From The Wood that is buffed with brash, synthetic sheen here.
Anderson sustained vocal issues during this tour and was forced to put the band on a three-year hiatus. They returned in 1987 with another updated sound: Hard-rock. This time it worked and Tull's Crest Of A Knave beat out Metallica's And Justice For All for the 1988 Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Grammy award.